O Magnum Mysterium!

O Magnum Mysterium!

The semester draws to a close today and all I can think about are the melody and words of the great choral work, O Magnum Mysterium.

A YouTube search will take you to any number of arrangements and performances of it.  The words are simple and moving:

O magnum mysterium,
et admirabile sacramentum,
ut animalia viderent Dominum natum,
jacentem in praesepio!
Beata Virgo, cujus viscera
meruerunt portare
Dominum Christum.

O great mystery,
and wonderful sacrament,
that animals should see the new-born Lord,
lying in a manger!
Blessed is the Virgin whose womb
was worthy to bear
Christ the Lord.

As Christmas approaches, I marvel at the majesty of little Jesus who comes to us and needs us.  He thirsts for us, for you and me, sinners that we are.

On Tuesday Pope Francis said, “It is he who seeks us!  It is he who comes to encounter us!  This will be a year in which we grow ever more convinced of God’s mercy.  How much wrong we do to God and his grace when we speak of sins being punished by his judgment before we speak of their being forgiven by his mercy (cf. Saint Augustine, De Praedestinatione Sanctorum, 12, 24)!  But that is the truth.  We have to put mercy before judgment, and in any event God’s judgement will always be in the light of his mercy.”   With those words the Jubilee year of Mercy began! 

Ave Maria already is harvesting the first fruits of the Jubilee year.  This past week on our campus was, as John’s Gospel in chapter one described, was “grace following grace.”  And you would expect as much for a university that is named to honor the moment in salvation history when the angel Gabriel greeted Mary, “Hail, full of grace!”

O magnum mysterium!  He entered and enters our world through Mary.  As Mother Teresa said so succinctly, “No Mary, no Jesus.” That is why we Catholics honor her whole heartedly.

Grace following grace!  The new shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe now defines the westernmost edge of our campus.  The University learned on the day of the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception that we have been reaccredited for 10 years, through 2025.  We also had an important conference on religious liberty that Dr. Michael Breidenbach organized successfully.  And last night at a holiday reception the faculty, administration and staff gathered in this second week of Advent to celebrate (spoiler alert) the birth of Christ.  The conviviality and communion were evident and it was the largest Christmas gathering the University has ever had.  The Accidentals, AMU’s a cappella group, performed to the delight of us all and provided an exclamation point to the week.

And now final exams come! 

For this my final post of 2015, I want to extend to our beloved AMU students my heartfelt wishes for a joyful Jubilee year and Merry Christmas.  Finish strong, and travel safely.  See you in 2016!