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Sermons

For Sundays and Holydays

What is the Breviary Online?

 

The Official Prayer of the Church

 

Next to the Holy Mass, the Divine Office (or Breviary) is the most important prayer offered to God.  It is offered by the Church and in the name of the Church, conferring multifold graces and blessings on those who recite it worthily, attentively and devoutly.  Normally the domain of priests and religious, the Church has continued to recommend her official prayer to the faithful.  However, until now, the complexity of the rubrics and a lack of suitable translations has deterred many.

 

Now Accessible to the Layman

 

With the help of modern technology, it has become easier to overcome these problems.  The result is the Roman Breviary published by the Confraternity of Ss. Peter & Paul in both Latin and English.  No knowledge of the liturgy is required.  All you have to do is click on the feastday, and then on the Canonical Hour you want to say.  The rest is just like reading a book—everything is laid out for you in order according to the rubrics of the day.  No more flicking through the ribboned sections of a weighty volume.  No more apprehension that you are forgetting some obscure rubric.  It's all there spelled out, in order, every day.

 

Learn More about the Breviary

 

And if you do want to deepen your knowledge of the Breviary or the Confraternity, this website can help you with that too.  We already provide a short history of the Breviary, instructions on when to recite which Hours, a brief commentary on the psalms, and much more.  And for those who would really like to understand the rubrics in greater depth, we provide in our bookstore a detailed but simply written electronic manual entitled How to Say the Breviary.  We shall be expanding this website regularly with more information, so check back with us frequently.  And may God reward your prayers by bestowing on you all those spiritual favours that come from a devout reading of the Church's Divine Office.

 

Is this Breviary for You?

 

Check out the Features

 

Link to our Features Page to see what a difference our online edition of the traditional Roman Breviary can make in your life.

 

Check out a Sample Day

 

Link to the Office for the Feast of St. Pius X, our secondary patron.  You can browse through the various Hours of the Office and get a feel for what to expect.

 

Check out the artwork, the original photos, play some of the music.  We hope you enjoy the experience.   More importantly do you think this approach to prayer is something that could be spiritually beneficial for you?

How Do I Get Started?

 

Register and Subscribe

 

Register

 

Link to our online Breviary homepage.  Underneath the login form is a box, with the words First-Time User? and Register Here in red letters underlined.  Click on this link and complete the short form.  Click the Sign up link.

 

Subscribe

 

Log in to our webiste using the user name and password you have chosen.  When you first attempt to Recite the Breviary you will be linked to the subscription page.  Here you may choose from our monthly subscription of $2.50 (USD) per month, or $24.00 for an annual subscription.  Or simply send a check to the address provided on our Contacts page.

  Advent Sunday

November 29, 2015

Season of Hope

The theme of Advent is hope. Hope, the cardinal virtue, sandwiched and too often forgotten between the other two cardinal virtues of faith and charity. And yet it is a “cardinal” virtue, cardinal from the Latin word cardo, which means “hinge”. They are the three virtues on which all the other virtues hinge, or depend. So hope is evidently very important. And like every year at this time, as Nature drops her leaves and steels herself for the coming winter, and this year in particular as the world around us plunges ever deeper into despair (which is the vice directly opposed to the virtue of hope), now as Advent begins, we are in greater need of hope than at any other time of the year.

It is no coincidence then that our season of Advent begins four weeks before Christ is born. We have four weeks to look forward to something good happening, so good in fact, that it makes the difference to us between heaven and hell. The birth of the Redeemer brings us the joy that comes from knowing that we are redeemed, that the gates of heaven were re-opened through no merits of our own, but that a loving Saviour took on himself our sins so that we might one day join him in heaven. The four weeks of Advent signify the four thousand years between the fall of Adam and the coming of the Messiah, between the closing of heaven’s gate and its re-opening. The people who lived during those four thousand years and who had been chosen to be God’s people, they were given a glimpse into the future by the prophets of their Old Testament. They were told of a Messiah who would come and transform their dark world of death and bring them life and peace: “The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined. For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.”

Last week we looked at the four last things, death, judgment, heaven and hell. We looked at them through the prism of the tragic events that will accompany the world’s end—dreadful times that fill us with fear for the future. But today is Advent. And although our Gospel today forces us to look at similar events, we are now permitted to see them in an entirely different light. We look at these things, like the people of the Old Testament looking from afar as they anticipate their Redemption. We look at them with hope. We look forward today to that Redemption in all its aspects, not just in the coming birth of the Christ Child, but in those same four last things of death, judgment, heaven and hell—the reasons why the Christ Child came. As we read in the first Responsory of this morning’s service of Matins, “I look from afar, and behold I see the power of God, coming like as a cloud to cover the land with the hosts of his people. Go ye out to meet him and say: Tell us if thou art he, that shalt reign over God's people Israel. All ye that dwell in the world, all ye children of men, high and low, rich and poor, one with another, go ye out to meet him and say: Hear, O thou Shepherd of Israel, thou that leadest Joseph like a sheep. Tell us if thou art he. Lift up your heads, O ye gates, and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors, and the King of Glory shall come in, that shalt reign over God's people Israel.”

Let us begin our preparations today, firstly for the anniversary of his first coming, as a little Child, born to us in a stable at Bethlehem, born into this world to the great rejoicing of the Angels, the adoration of shepherds and kings, simple men and wise men, Jews and Gentiles. Let us prepare for the great day of his nativity by decorating our towns and homes with lights and Christmas trees and manger scenes, baking special cakes and puddings, sending greeting cards, wandering round the mall shopping for gifts. The smell of roasting chestnuts, pine trees, cinnamon and spices are in the air, the sound of a hundred familiar Christmas carols echo about us, and we are drawn with increasing excitement, like the wise men following the star, ever onwards towards the stable in Bethlehem when. Turn a deaf ear to the annual whining of the godless, those who hate the sight of the things of God and force us to hide our joy, our nativity scenes, our happy Christmas greetings. The joy of the Christmas season is so great that it cannot be prevented. Like a cup that runneth over, the joys of Christmas overflow into the weeks that precede it. Like little children we can’t help anticipating that joy, even during the penitential season of Advent. There is a magic in the air which cannot be dispelled, cannot be put off. And I think the good Lord understands our need to hasten his coming at this time, and simply smiles indulgently at our childlike impatience.

But let’s not forget, as we prepare for the joyful anniversary of our Messiah’s birth, and today’s Gospel reminds us quite firmly of this, that we should also be preparing in two entirely different ways. The joy of our Saviour’s birth at Christmas will eventually give way to our sorrow at his Passion and Death, which in turn give way to our renewed joy at Easter. Christ came for a reason. To die for our sins, certainly, but more importantly to conquer death by his Resurrection, and to open those gates of heaven that we may pass through them when it is our turn to die, there to enjoy forever the everlasting joy of God’s presence.

The second preparation therefore must take place within ourselves. We must prepare our own souls to receive Our Lord, not just at Christmas, but now, before that death that must surely come one day (we don’t know when) to claim us. We must follow the advice of St. Paul in today’s Epistle to the Romans, where he tells us that we must cast off the works of darkness, and put on the armour of light. We must get rid of our attachment to sin, and replace it with sanctifying grace. Are we in a state of mortal sin? We must do whatever it takes to get ourselves to the Sacrament of Penance. This is the only way we will be acceptable to Our Lord at Christmas. Do we want the Christ Child to see us clothed with darkness and sin on Christmas night? Do we want to present ourselves at the manger, only to have the eyes of our Blessed Mother eyes fill with tears as she beholds the state of our soul? Can we handle it when she turns her back on us, not because she hates us, but to protect her infant Son from the stench and ugliness of our sins. Let’s make sure we get to Confession before Christmas. Even if our sins are venial, let’s make our souls as white and pure, as stainless as they can be, so that the Immaculate Virgin Mary can smile when she sees you approaching the Christmas manger. That manger is in fact the Communion rail, and through the hands of the priest she will give her Divine Son to you, to hold and cherish within your soul in Holy Communion. Prepare for this. Do whatever it takes.

And finally our third preparation is described in the Gospel today, with its woeful description of the end of the world, with signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations; the sea and the waves roaring; men's hearts failing them for fear. We must prepare for that day. Not in fear, but in the hope which that day brings, when Christ will come to avenge all the evil that has been done to his children, to judge the wicked and reward the good. Any horror that accompanies these terrible times will be shortened for our benefit, and the end result shall be the coming of Christ the King in all his glory. Yes, he came to us that first Christmas, humble, as a little infant. But he will come again, this time in all his glory, to judge both the quick and the dead, and of his kingdom there shall be no end. It is a picture that gives hope to this world, it gives us the meaning of life, the reason we are all here in this Vale of Tears, patiently suffering our slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. Last week we rightly feared for our death and last judgment, but now we have passed through the door to a new liturgical year, a door that swings on the hinges of hope, and into a world where all things are made new.

If there’s only one prayer you can find time to make during this holy penitential season of Advent, let it be the Christmas Novena that we begin tomorrow on St. Andrew’s Day. Let it be for us a fervent prayer that we may accompany our Blessed Mother on her arduous journey with St. Joseph from the safety of her home in Nazareth to that stable in Bethlehem, where at midnight in the piercing cold the Son of God was born. May he be born in our souls that night, and let us spend the next four weeks in joyful preparation for that time. Hail and blessed be that hour and moment!


 Sermons from the Chaplain