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Newsletter of Mater Dei Seminary
January 2004

Other articles in this newsletter:
   Baptism of Desire and of Blood
   Moral Theology: Presence at Non-Catholic Services

Dear friends and benefactors,

Oh, the wonderful effects of Divine grace in the lives of men! Although we cannot see this supernatural gift, we certainly can see its effects. The grace of God enlightens the minds of men and strengthens their wills to rise above fallen human nature to do great things for God. And what better example of this can we find during this Epiphany season than in the lives of the holy Magi, Gaspar, Melchior, and Balthazar. When “the grace of God our Saviour appeared” to them, these men of good will were enlightened to understand that the Star of Bethlehem was the prophetic announcement of the Divine birth of the promised Messias. Without delay they hastened to follow the Star despite many hardships and inconveniences and they remained undaunted in their quest to find the newborn King of the Jews.

Even when the Star that guided them had disappeared, they were not dismayed: they sought guidance from those in the holy city of Jerusalem who should have knowledge of the prophecies of this wonderful event.

How wonderfully God rewarded their perseverance! “And behold the Star that they had seen in the East went before them, until it came and stood over the place where the Child was. And when they saw the Star, they rejoiced exceedingly.” For those who cooperate with Divine grace and overcome the trials and temptations of life, God rewards with a peace and a joy that the world cannot give.

On the passage in the Gospel of St. Matthew, “and entering the house,” it is interesting to note that there is a difference of opinion among Scripture scholars about the actual place where the Three Kings found the holy Child and His mother. According to Cornelius a’Lapide: “From this passage some are of the opinion that, after their enrollment, the wealthier people, who had come to Bethlehem for the purpose, were departed; so that there were now many houses in Bethlehem at liberty for the purpose of hospitality, and that Christ had been removed from the stable in which He was born, to some worthier abode of one of the citizens, and was there worshipped by the Magi. For it is said, they entered the house.

“But the more common opinion is, that the stable in which Christ was born is called the house. For the Hebrews call any place in which people live, a house, as Ps. civ. 17. The house — i.e., the nest, of the coot (Ital.) is their leader — namely, of birds and flying creatures. For since the census of the whole people proclaimed by Augustus was being taken during some weeks and months, and since during that period a succession of wealthy people kept arriving for enrollment, and afterwards departing, there was no room for Mary and Joseph, who were poor people, in the hostelry until the thirteenth day after Christ’s birth. And God ordered this, both to try the constancy of the Magi, and to teach them and others that Christ’s kingdom consists in poverty, humility, and contempt of the world, not in earthly wealth, and pride, and pomps, and palaces.”

“And entering the house, they found the Child with Mary his mother, and falling down they worshipped him.” St. Fulgentius tells us in his sermon for the feast of the Epiphany: “Consider what they offered and you will know what they believed.”

“And opening their treasures they offered Him gifts of gold. frankincense, and myrrh.” Cornelius a’Lapide explains in his commentary on the Gospels: “...Illuminated by the Holy Ghost they offered gold to Christ as the most wise King; frankincense as to God and, according to His Humanity, as the High Priest and Pontiff; myrrh to Christ as man, about to die and to be buried for the redemption of the human race....”

What a tremendous faith the Holy Magi had! Having made a long and difficult journey, outwardly they beheld the Child wrapped in swaddling clothes with His humble mother surrounded by poverty, but inwardly they recognized, by divine grace, the Divine Messias.

How often we can witness the effects of divine grace in the lives of men in our own times. Sometimes we see this in the conversion of non-Catholics to the true Faith and what a wonderful spiritual transformation takes place in their lives. Other times, to our great amazement, great sinners are moved by divine grace and abandon their ways of sin to become a great inspiration by their new lives of holiness. And still at other times we witness young people follow the Star of their vocation to the priesthood or religious life and do tremendous things for Almighty God and for Holy Mother the Church.

With our prayers and blessing,
Most Rev. Mark A. Pivarunas, CMRI

Other articles in this newsletter:
   Baptism of Desire and of Blood
   Moral Theology: Presence at Non-Catholic Services

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Printed copies of Adsum, a publication by the seminarians of Mater Dei Seminary for the reading enjoyment of friends and benefactors, are sent free of charge to all who request it. Most issues also contain photos of recent events involving the seminarians. If you would like to put on this mailing list, please use this form.

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