Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Today's Optional Memorial of St.Margaret of Scotland - CHRIST THE KING & THE LAST JUDGMENT - Welcoming the New Roman Missal

St. Margaret of Scotland(1046-1093)

St. Margaret was the grandaughter of King Edmund Ironside of England through his son Edward the Aethling. She had been exiled to the eastern continent with the rest of her family when the Danes overran England. She was well educated, mostly in Hungary. She returned to England during the reign of her great-uncle, Edward the Confessor, but, as one of the last remaining members of the Saxon Royal Family, she was forced to flee north to the Royal Scots Court at the time of the Norman Conquest.

Beautiful, intelligent and devout, Margaret brought some of the more detailed points of current European manners, ceremony and culture to the Scottish Court and thus highly improved its civilized reputation. She had a taste for the finer things in life and, in 1069, she won over the Scots King, Malcolm Canmore, and married him. Their union was exceptionally happy and fruitful for both themselves and the Scottish nation.

Margaret was one of the principal agents of the reform of the Church of Scotland which was, at the time, at a low point in its history. Church councils now promoted Easter communion and abstinence from servile work on a Sunday. Margaret founded churches, monasteries and pilgrimage hostels, including the revival of Iona, the building of the tiny chapel which still bears her name at Edinburgh Castle and establishment of the Royal Mausoleum of Dunfermline Abbey with monks from Canterbury.

She was especially devoted to Scottish saints and instigated the Queen's Ferry over the Forth so that pilgrims could more easily reach the Shrine of St. Andrew.

In her private life, Margaret was much given to prayer, reading and ecclesiastical needlework. She also gave alms lavishly and liberated a number of Anglo-Saxon captives. Her influence over her husband was considerable and she brought an English slant to Scottish politics for which has sometimes been criticized. King Malacolm's initial rough character was certainly softened by the lady.

Margaret bore the King eight children, all with English names. Alexander and David followed their father to the throne, whilst her daughter, Matilda, brought the ancient Anglo-Saxon Royal bloodline into the veins of the Norman Invaders of England when she marrie and bore children to King Henry I.

Margaret died aged forty-seven, on 16th November 1093, not long after learning of the deaths of her husband and son in a campaign against William Rufus of England. She was buried in Dunfermline Abbey and miracles at her tomb brought her canonization by 1249. The base of her shrine can still be seen at the Abbey, but her body, along with that of her husband, was translated to the Escorial in Madrid during the Scottish Reformation. Her head, which had its own shrine, was acquired by the Jesuits of Douai Abbey, but was destroyed during the French revolution.

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Saint Margaret of Scotland
O God, who made Saint Margaret of Scotland wonderful in her outstanding charity towards the poor, grant that, through her intercession and example, we may reflect among all humanity the image of your divine goodness. Through our Lord.

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Solemnity of Christ the King (Year “A”)  -  November 20, 2011

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[Texts: Ezekiel 34.11-12, 15-17 [Psalm 23]; 1 Corinthians 15.20-26, 28; Matthew 25.31-46]

With the help of volunteers from several countries, the German Salvatorian Sisters direct Beit Emmaus, a nursing home for elderly and abandoned women.  Their small facility on the West Bank in the Holy Land is a haven of love and compassion towards those for whom relatives are unable or unwilling to care.

There are days, to be sure, when fidelity to the gospel mission of serving the occupants demands a great deal of patience and all a person's spiritual energies.  Still, on a visit there some years ago, I noticed how spending time with the residents elicited compassion from those ministering to them, as well as from me their visitor.

Today's parable—the dramatic vision of the Last Judgment which serves as the climax of Jesus' teaching—seems to reveal a spiritual logic hidden within His identification with the “least” of his brothers and sisters.  It explains, as well, the profound import of the corporal works of mercy carried out by the worldwide Church in so many centres like Beit Emmaus.

Strikingly different in this parable, wherein Jesus reveals that “just as you did to the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did it to me”, is its starting-point.  Ordinarily, parables begin with situations in this world which reveal the Kingdom of God mysteriously present.  This parable's scenario, by contrast, begins with an other-worldly representation of the Parousia—the coming of “the Son of Man [=Jesus] in his glory, and all the angels with him”—that uncovers the deep meaning in God's eyes of simple deeds done for the needy every day in this world.

The parable reveals that in this present age, today's world, there are two, rival kingdoms competing for people's hearts, minds and souls. The first, prepared “for you from the foundation of the world”, is called the “Kingdom of God”.  It is made up of the Son of Man, his angels and the righteous whom Jesus declares “blessed by my Father”.  All who have ministered to Jesus, who is found in those who suffer any need—whether people know him to be present in them or not—are invited to “inherit the Kingdom”.

The other, opposing kingdom belongs to “the devil and his angels”, to whose ranks are added “you that are accursed”.  These are people who have closed their hearts to the hungry, thirsty, stranger, naked, those in hospital or in prison and who, by neglecting the needy, implicitly choose to depart “from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels”.

Though such a punishment had not been readied for them, but for the angelic spirits who had rebelled against God, those who do not let themselves be moved by the needs of “the least of these”, Jesus' family (“my brothers and sisters”), in effect opt for the lot of those opposed to God.

In the Church's interpretation of the “least of my brothers and sisters”, a large number of important interpreters (Origen, Augustine, Bede, Thomas Aquinas) have proposed that Jesus identified himself only with Christian disciples, particularly missionaries and leaders.  But some (Gregory of Nyssa and John Chrysostom) maintain Jesus identifies himself with everyone in need, whether Christian or not, the view widely held today.

Surprisingly, the criterion which, at the end of time, will distinguish the righteous from the cursed is not whether they have expressly confessed faith in Christ.  Nor does the parable use the theological language of justification, grace or the forgiveness of sins.  Rather, whether one has acted with loving compassion toward those in need is what ultimately counts.

For when a person acts with compassion towards the needy—whether these needy ones are good or bad—one is acting as God does.  Earlier in the gospel, Jesus taught that his disciples were to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and the good; and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous” (Matthew 5.45). 

People, even those who do not know that Christ Jesus is present in the needy, by deeds of compassion show themselves to be “children of your Father in heaven”.
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Copies of the new Roman Missal (the Third Edition, freshly translated) are being received in Ottawa parishes for the offical launch of the new translation on the First Sunday of Advent (November 27, 2011).  To prepare for this, Father Geoffrey Kerslake, a priest of the Archdiocese who is studying for a Licentiate in liturgical theology at St. Mary of the Lake University (Mundelein, Chicago) has prepared a series of explanatory backgrounders. 

Here is one of these explanatory texts; others will be posted in coming days.  They are all also available on the web site of the Archdiocese ( 
Why Does the New Mass Sound So Different?

When the Church decided to translate the New Latin Missal into English, the most up to date translation methods were used. Experts in Latin, liturgy, English, poetry, music and translation, as well as many other disciplines were all consulted in order to produce the best translation possible.

The previous translation tried to keep the sense of the words in English but it was not trying to be as literally accurate as possible. After thirty years of experience with the current translation we saw that we had lost some important content by loosely paraphrasing the Latin prayers into English. We also noticed how we had compromised the Roman-Latin style of the prayers. The New Missal has the most accurate translation of the Latin prayers and it is closest to what the Church prayed for centuries.

Sometimes the translators had to use words or phrases that sound more formal or ‘old fashioned’ to translate the Latin words and ideas into English because that was the most accurate way to keep the original meaning. But almost all of the translations were able to balance a good, accurate translation with simple and dignified language and a Roman ‘style’ of prayer that help us to remember that we are speaking to God who is deserving of all of our love and respect.

1 comment:

  1. I totally love this place and have to visit again this coming December for holiday season with my family.

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