Tuesday, December 03, 2019

The Immaculate Conception

Hail, Queen of the Heavens, hail, Mistress of earth;
Hail, Virgin most pure of Immaculate Birth.
Clear Star of the morning, in beauty enshrined,
O Lady, make speed to the help of mankind.
Thee God in the depth of eternity chose,
And formed thee all fair as His glorious spouse.
And called thee His Word's own Mother to be,
By Whom He created the earth, sky and sea.

Sunday, December 01, 2019

Bishop Paul Sirba of Duluth

Died suddenly this morning.

He was a friend and my confessor for awhile.  He was a holy man.  He was only 59.

Bishop Paul Sirba has died

Dec 1, 2019
 With sad hearts, we share the following message regarding the sudden death of our beloved Bishop Paul Sirba that was sent out to diocesan clergy and employees this morning and which is being announced at Masses today.
Following is the message from Father Bissonette, who has served as Bishop Sirba’s vicar general:
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
It is with an incredibly heavy heart that I must inform you of tragic news regarding our Bishop. Bishop Paul Sirba suffered cardiac arrest at St. Rose Church in Proctor, MN this morning, December 1st. He was rushed to Essentia Health St. Mary’s Medical Center in Duluth, where life-saving measures were attempted, but were unsuccessful. He was attended to by Father John Petrich who administered the last rites to him at the hospital. He was declared to have passed away at just after 9:00 A.M. this morning. Words do not adequately express our sorrow at this sudden loss of our Shepherd. We have great hope and faith in Bishop Sirba’s​ resurrection to new life, and have confident assurance that he will hear the words of our Lord: “Well done, good and faithful servant, enter in the joy of your Master.”
Arrangements for Bishop Sirba’s funeral Mass and burial will be forthcoming. Please pray for the repose of Bishop Sirba’s soul, as well as for his mother, Helen, and his siblings, Father Joe, Kathy, and John, and their families. Let us also hold each other up in prayer during this most difficult time.
Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord ...
- And let perpetual light shine upon him.
May he rest in peace ...
- Amen.
May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God ...
- Rest in peace, Amen.
Reverend James B. Bissonette
Diocese of Duluth 

Always Darkest Before the Dawn

The Immaculate Conception.

Hail, City of Refuge, hail, David's High Tower,
With battlements crowned and girded with power.
Filled at thy Conception with love and with light,
The dragon by thee was shorn of his might.
O Woman most valiant, O Judith thrice blest,
As David was nursed in fair Abisag's breast;
As the Saviour of Egypt upon Rachel's knee,
So the world's great Redeemer was cherished by thee.

In his book on Carmelite spirituality, Pere Marie-Eugene, OCD, points to Our Lady as our help and model in the dark night.  So many spiritual writers today refer to our times as a dark night of faith for the Church.  It seems so to me, and of course, with Advent, we are awakened in anticipation for the light of Christ on Christmas.  Our Lady is the dawn.

Her presence is quiet, and interior for those who live with her, and in her.  "This life with Mary and in Mary has thereafter its deep foundations in a purified spiritual love; it radiates exteriorly in continual and touching manifestations." (P. Marie-Eugene)  Yet Our Lady "does not dispel the darkness nor do away with the suffering" of the night.  The darkness is as it were necessary "for the purification and development of love."  Perhaps I'm unable to apply this intelligibly to the crisis in the Church and how it affects many of the faithful, but these considerations seem to help me.

Just as with the individual soul, Our Lady's interventions do not obstruct the Divine purpose.  As P. Marie-Eugene says: "Mary excels in intervening without disturbing the realization of God's design, without diminishing the salutory power of his light, nor the efficacy of his action.  She does of course intervene; but her manifestations are of a delicacy so subtle, so tender."  The author compares it to the episode in the life of S. Therese and the sweet smile Our Lady gave to Therese when she had been so sick.  

It seems to me that the reports of apparitions over the past decades can be seen in a comparable manner to the Blessed Virgin's interventions in the lives of the saints, who experienced the dark night.  Following her requests, especially those requests to avoid sin, keep the commandments and pray her rosary, is the way to find in her refuge and support in difficult times.

Hail, dial of Achaz, on thee the true Sun
Told backward the course which from old He had run.
And that man might be raised, submitting to shame,
A little more low than the Angels became.
Thou wrapt in the blaze of His Infinite Light,
Doth shine as the morn on the confines of night.
As the moon on the lost through obscurity dawns,
The serpent's destroyer, a lily amid thorns.