Thought for the Day – 31 December – Feast of the Holy Family and the Seventh Day of the Octave

Thought for the Day – 31 December – Feast of the Holy Family and the Seventh Day of the Octave

Sermon of Saint Bernard for the Feast of the Holy Family
(1090-1153) – Doctor of the ChurchVision of St. Bernard_Munich, AP_1493.Perugino, Virgin Appearing to St. Bernard Italian, 1493holy-family41with st bernard

In Mary we praise that which places her above all others, that is, fruitfulness of offspring together with virginity.   For never has it been known in this world that anyone was at the same time mother and virgin.   And see of Whom she is mother.   Where does your astonishment at this so wondrous dignity lead you?   Is it not to this, that you may gaze in wonder yet never sufficiently revere?   Is she not in your veneration, nay, in the esteem of Truth itself, raised above choirs of angels?   Does not Mary address the Lord and God of all the angels as Son, saying: Son, why hast thou done so to us?

Who among the angels may thus presume?   It is enough for them and for them their greatest honour, that while they are spirits by nature they have become and are called angels, as David testifies:  Who makest thy angels spirits. [Ps. 103: 4] Mary, knowing herself mother, with confidence calls that Majesty Son Whom the angels in reverence serve.   Nor does God disdain to be called that which He disdained not to be.   For the Evangelist adds a little later:   He was subject to them.

Who was subject to whom?   A God to men.   God, I repeat, to Whom the angels are subject:   Whom principalities and powers obey:   was subject to Mary and not alone to Mary but to Joseph also, because of Mary.   Admire and revere both the one and the other and choose which you admire the more, the most sweet condescension of the Son, or the sublime dignity of the Mother.   For either am I at a loss for words, for both are wondrous.   For that God should obey a woman is humility without compare and that a woman should have rule over God dignity without equal.   In praise of virgins is it joyfully proclaimed, that they follow the lamb withersoever he goeth. [Apoc. 14: 4]   Of what praise shall you esteem her worthy who also goeth before Him?

Learn, O Man, to obey.   Learn, O Earth, to be subject.   Learn, O Dust, to submit.   The Evangelist in speaking of thy Maker says:   He was subject to them, that is, without doubt, to Mary and to Joseph.   Be you ashamed, vain ashes that you are.   God humbles Himself, and do you exalt yourself?   God becomes subject to men and will you, eager to lord it over men, place yourself above your Maker?   O would that God might deign to make me, thinking such thoughts at times in my own mind, such answer as He made, reproving him, to His apostle:  Go behind Me, Satan: because thou savourest not the things that are of God. [Mark 8: 33]

For as often as I desire to be foremost among men, so often do I seek to take precedence of God and so do I not truly savour the things that are of God.   For of Him was it said and he was subject to them. If you disdain, O Man, to follow the example of a Man, at least it will not lower thee to imitate thy Maker.   If perhaps you cannot follow Him wheresoever He goeth, at least follow in that wherein He has come down to you.

If you are unable to follow Him on the sublime way of virginity, then follow God by that most sure way of humility, from whose straitness should some even from among the virgins go aside, then must I say what is true, that neither do they follow the Lamb withersoever he goeth .  He that is humble, even though he be stained, he follows the Lamb so too does the proud virgin but neither of the two whithersoever He goeth: because the one cannot ascend to the purity of the Lamb that is without stain, nor will the other deign to come down to the meekness of the Lamb, Who stood silent, not merely before the shearer but before the one that put Him to death.   Yet the sinner who makes after Him in humility, has chosen a wholesomer part than the one that is proud in his virtue, since the humble repentance of the one washes away uncleanness but the pride of the other contaminates his own virtue.

Truly blessed was Mary who possessed both humility and virginity.   And truly wondrous the virginity whose fruitfulness stained not but adorned her and truly singular the humility, which this fruitful virginity has not troubled but rather exalted and wholly incomparable the fruitfulness which goes hand in hand with her humility and her virginity.   Which of these things is not wondrous?   Which is not beyond all comparison? Which that is not wholly singular?   It would be strange if you did not hesitate to decide which you regard as most worthy of praise: whether the wonder of fruitfulness of offspring in virginity, or of virginal integrity in a mother, sublimity of Offspring, or humility joined to such dignity, unless it be that we place both together above each one singly and it is truly beyond any doubt more excellent and more joyful to have beheld these perfections united in her, than to see but one part of them.

And can we wonder that God, of Whom it is written that He is wonderful in his saints,[Ps. 67: 36] shows Himself in His own Mother yet more wondrous still.   Venerate then, Ye spouses, this integrity of flesh in our corruptible flesh.   Revere likewise, Ye virgins, fruitfulness in virginity.   Let all men imitate the humility of God’s Mother.   Honour, Ye angels, the Mother of your King, you who adore the Offspring of our Virgin, Who is your King and our King, the Healer of our race, the Restorer of our fatherland.  Who among you is so sublime, yet among us was so lowly, to Whose Majesty as well from you as from us. let there be adoration and reverence, to whose Perfection be there honour and glory and empire for ever and ever. Amen

Mary and Joseph be our teachers and our guides, pray for us and for all the families of the world.holy family pray for us no 2 - 31 dec 2017


Sunday Reflection – 31 December – Feast of the Holy Family and the Seventh Day of the Octave

Sunday Reflection – 31 December – Feast of the Holy Family and the Seventh Day of the Octave

While they were eating, He took some bread, and after a blessing He broke it, and gave it to them, and said, “Take it; this is My body.”   And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them and they all drank from it.   And He said to them, “This is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many..…Mark 14:22-24

The only ritual that Christ asks us to repeat, over and over again, is the Eucharist.
In it we remember Him as broken,
poured out,
in anguish.
To celebrate this ritual properly, we need to have in our hearts what Christ has in His at the first Eucharist.
What was He feeling then?

Joy and thanksgiving.   Yes.   LOVE for those at the table with Him.   Surely.  But beyond this, His heart felt anguish, deep longing and fear at the prospect of the pain that was now a certainty before intimacy and community could be achieved.

It would perhaps do all of us good, occasionally when we leave the Eucharist, instead of going to a lively meal with the folks, to go off as Jesus did after the first Eucharist, to a lonely place to have an agony in the garden and to sweat some blood as we ask for strength to drink from the real chalice – the chalice of vulnerability.

Occasionally, when St Augustine handed the Eucharist to a communicant, instead of saying, “the Body of Christ”, he would say, “Receive what you are.”

Augustine had perceived, for whatever reason, that the words of consecration, “this is my body, this is my blood”, are intended more to change the people present, than to change bread and wine.
(Fr R Rolheiser – Light for the World)

Lord Jesus Christ we pray…thank You for abiding with us.
May we always reverence the Holy Eucharist, as Your Real Presence amongst us. Amenthe only ritual - the eucharist - rolheiser - 31 dec 2017


Quote/s of the Day – 31 December – Feast of the Holy Family and the Seventh Day of the Octave

Quote/s of the Day – 31 December – Feast of the Holy Family and the Seventh Day of the Octave

“God, to whom angels submit themselves
and who principalities and powers obey,
was subject to Mary; 
and not only to Mary but Joseph also for Mary’s sake [….].
God obeyed a human creature; 
this is humility without precedent.   
A human creature commands God; 
it is sublime beyond measure.”

St Bernard of Clairvaux – (1090-1153) – Doctor of the Churchgod obeyed a human creature - st bernard - 31 dec 2017

“What was family life in Nazareth like?
In the home of the Holy Family in Nazareth,
Jesus, Mary and Joseph sanctified their ordinary life,
without doing anything spectacular or newsworthy.
They led a life that was to all appearances,
the same as that of their neighbours,
a life that was important, not because
of the material things they did
but because of the love that they put into these things,
in perfect union with the Will of God the Father.”what was the family life in nazareth life - st josemaria - 31 dec 2017

“Marriage is to help married people
sanctify themselves and others.
For this reason they receive
a special grace in the sacrament
which Jesus Christ instituted.
Those who are called
to the married state,
will, with the grace of God,
find within their state
everything they need to be holy.

St Josemaria Escrivá (1902-1975) (Christ is Passing By – no 22)marriage is to help - st josemaria - 31 dec 2017


One Minute Reflection – 31 December – Feast of the Holy Family and the Seventh Day of the Octave

One Minute Reflection – 31 December – Feast of the Holy Family and the Seventh Day of the Octave

Certainly sons are a gift from the Lord, the fruit of the womb, a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the sons born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man who has filled his quiver with them. He will never be shamed.…Psalm 127:3-5psalm 127 - 3-5 - 31 dec 2017

REFLECTION – “How important it is, therefore, that every child coming into the world be welcomed by the warmth of a family!   External comforts do not matter, Jesus was born in a stable and had a manger as His first cradle but the love of Mary and of Joseph made Him feel the tenderness and beauty of being loved.   Children need this, the love of their father and mother.   It is this that gives them security and, as they grow, enables them to discover the meaning of life.   The Holy Family of Nazareth went through many trials …. Yet, trusting in divine Providence, they found their stability and guaranteed Jesus a serene childhood and a sound upbringing.”…Pope Benedict XVI (Feast of the Holy Family 2010)how important it is therefore - pope benedict - 31 dec 2017

PRAYER – Holy Father, trusting in the motherly intercession of Mary Most Holy, Queen of Families and under the powerful protection of St Joseph, her spouse, grant we pray, that we may dedicate ourselves tirelessly to this beautiful mission which You have placed in our hands, as mothers and fathers of Your children.   Strengthen us to protect and guide them in Your ways.   Through the prayers of our Holy Mother and the Guardian of Your divine Son and of His Church, in union with Jesus Christ our Lord and the Holy Spirit, amen.holy-fam-pray-for-us - 2016


Our Morning Offering – 31 December – Feast of the Holy Family and the Seventh Day of the Octave

Our Morning Offering – 31 December – Feast of the Holy Family and the Seventh Day of the Octave

Prayer for the Family
By St Pope John Paul II (1920-2005)

Lord God,
from You every family in Heaven
and on earth takes its name.
Father, You are love and life.
Through Your Son, Jesus Christ, born of woman
and through the Holy Spirit,
the fountain of divine charity,
grant that every family on earth may become,
for each successive generation
a true shrine of life and love.
Grant that Your grace,
may guide the thoughts and actions
of husbands and wives
for the good of their families
and of all the families in the world.
Grant that the young may find in the family
solid support for their human dignity
and for their growth in truth and love.
Grant that love,
strengthened by the grace
of the sacrament of marriage,
may prove mightier than all the weaknesses
and trials through which our families sometimes pass.
Through the intercession of the Holy Family of Nazareth,
grant that the Church may fruitfully carry out
her worldwide mission in the family
and through the family.
We ask this of You,
Who is life, truth and love
with the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amenprayer for the family - st john paul - 31 dec feast of the holy family 2017


31 December – Feast of the Holy Family and the Seventh Day of the Octave

31 December – Feast of the Holy Family and the Seventh Day of the Octave

The Holy Family is the name given to the family unit of Jesus:  The Divine Son of God Jesus, His mother the Virgin Mary and His foster-father Joseph.   We know very little about the life of the Holy Family through the canonical Gospels.   They speak of the early years of the Holy Family, including the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, the flight into Egypt, and the finding of Jesus in the temple.   Various non-canonical works, including the Infancy Gospel of Thomas, try to fill in the blanks.   However, even though these apocryphal works may contain some truth derived from oral tradition, they have been deemed unworthy of canonical status because of the way they present Jesus.   While the exact details of the day-to-day life of the Holy Family may be unknown, we can still learn a lot from the stories we do have.

As far back as St John Chrysostom (347-407) , Christians were urged to make of their home a family church in which the family members would find their sanctification.   That was to be accomplished by putting Christ at the center of all individual and family life, by working and praying together, reading the Scriptures and worshiping as a unit. The cult of the Holy Family grew in popularity in the 17th century and several religious congregations have been founded under this title.   The Holy Family also became portrayed in popular art of the period.   On 26 October 1921 the Congregation of Rites (under Pope Benedict XV) inserted the Feast of the Holy Family into the Latin Rite general calendar.   Until then it had been celebrated regionally.   Popes before and including Benedict XV (especially Leo XIII) promoted the feast as a way to counter the breakdown of the family unit.   Today the Church celebrates the Feast on the Sunday between Christmas and New Year’s Day (Known as the Feast of Mary Mother of God in the Catholic Church).   If both Christmas and New Year’s Day fall on Sundays, no Sunday exists between the two dates, so the Church celebrates the Holy Family Feast on 30 December.

Michelangelo The Doni Tondo, The Holy Family with the infant St John the Baptist

The Holy Family:   Jesus, Mary and Joseph
The devotion to the Holy Family was born in Bethlehem, together with the Baby Jesus. The shepherds went to adore the Child and, at the same time, they gave honour to His family.   Later, in a similar way, the three wise men came from the East to adore and give honour to the newborn King with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh that would be safeguarded by His family.holy-family10-SIMON VOUET

We can go further to affirm that in a certain sense Christ, Himself, was the first devotee of His family.   He showed His devotion to His mother and foster father by submitting Himself, with infinite humility, to the duty of filial obedience towards them.   This is what St Bernard of Clairvaux said in this regard, ‘God, to whom angels submit themselves and who principalities and powers obey, was subject to Mary;  and not only to Mary but Joseph also for Mary’s sake [….]. God obeyed a human creature;  this is humility without precedent.   A human creature commands God;  it is sublime beyond measure.’ (First Homily on the ‘Missus Est’).holy-family41with st bernard

Today’s celebration demonstrates Christ’s humility and obedience with respect to the fourth commandment, whilst also highlighting the loving care that His parents exercised in His keeping.   The servant of God, St Pope John Paul II, in 1989, entitled his Apostolic Exhortation, ‘Redemptoris Custos’ (Guardian of the Redeemer) which was dedicated to the person and the mission of Saint Joseph in the life of Christ and of the Church.   After exactly a century, he resumed the teaching of Pope Leo XIII, for who Saint Joseph ‘.. shines among all mankind by the most august dignity, since by divine will, he was the guardian of the Son of God and reputed as His father among men’ (Encyclical Quamquam Pluries[1889] n. 3).   Pope Leo XIII continued, ‘.. Joseph became the guardian, the administrator and the legal defender of the divine house whose chief he was.[…]   It is, then, natural and worthy that as the Blessed Joseph ministered to all the needs of the family at Nazareth and girt it about with his protection, he should now cover with the cloak of his heavenly patronage and defend the Church of Jesus Christ.’   Not many years before, blessed Pope Pius IX had proclaimed Saint Joseph, ‘Patron of the Catholic Church’ (1870)holy-family18- POUSSIN

Almost intuitively, one can recognise that the mysterious, exemplary, guardianship enacted by Joseph was conducted firstly, in a yet more intimate way, by Mary. Consequently, the liturgical feast of the Holy Family speaks to us of the fond and loving care that we must render to the Body of Christ.   We can understand this in a mystical sense, as guardians of the Church and also in the Eucharistic sense.   Mary and Joseph took great care of Jesus’ physical body.   Following their example, we can and must take great care of His Mystical Body, the Church and the Eucharist which He has entrusted to us.   If Mary was, in some way, ‘the first tabernacle in history’ (St John Paul  Ecclesia de Eucharistia, n. 55) then we, the Tabernacle, in which Our Lord chose to reside in person, in His Real Presence, was also entrusted to us.   holy-family1 - RAPHAEL AND ROMANO

We can learn from Mary and Joseph!   What would they ever have overlooked in the care of Jesus’ physical body? Is there something, therefore, that we can withhold for the right and adoring care of His Eucharistic Body?   No amount of attention, no sane act of love and adoring respect will ever be too much!   On the contrary, our adoration and respect will always be inferior to the great gift that comes to us in the Holy Eucharist.holy-family3 caravaggio

Looking at the Holy Family, we see the love, the protection and the diligent care that they gave to the Redeemer.   We can not fail to feel uneasiness, perhaps a shameful thought, for the times in which we have not rendered the appropriate care and attention to the Blessed Eucharist.   We can only ask for forgiveness and do penance for all the sacrilegious acts and the lack of respect that are committed in front of the Blessed Eucharist.   We can only ask the Lord, through the intersession of the Holy Family of Nazareth, for a greater love for their Son Incarnate, who has decided to remain here on earth with us every day until the end of time.   (From the Congregation for the Clergy.)holy-family42



31 December – The Holy Family’s Feast Day is celebrated today the first Sunday after Christmas and Memorials of the Saints

The Holy Family (or the first Sunday after Christmas)
St Pope Sylvester I (Optional Memorial)

Bl Alan de Solminihac
St Anton Zogaj
St Barbatian of Ravenna
St Columba of Sens
Bl Dominic de Cubells
St Festus of Valencia
St Gelasius of Palestine
Bl Giuseppina Nicoli
St Hermes the Exorcist
St John Francis Regis
St Marius Aventicus
St Melania the Younger
St Offa of Benevento
Bl Peter of Subiaco
St Pinian
St Potentian of Sens
St Sabinian of Sens
St Theophylact of Ohrid
Bl Walembert of Cambrai
Bl Wisinto of Kremsmünster
St Zoticus of Constantinople

Martyrs of Catania – 10 saints: A group of early Christians martyred together, date unknown. The only other information to survive are ten of their names – Attalus, Cornelius, Fabian, Flos, Minervinus, Pontian, Quintian, Sextus, Simplician and Stephen. They were martyred in Catania, Sicily, Italy.

Martyrs of Rome – 10 saints: A group of Roman women martyred in an early persecution, date unknown. We known the names of ten of them – Dominanda, Donata, Hilaria, Nominanda, Paolina, Paulina, Rogata, Rustica, Saturnina and Serotina.
Their relics were enshrined in the catacombs of Via Salaria, Rome, Italy.

Martyred in the Spanish Civil War:
• Blessed Leandro Gómez Gil
• Blessed Luis Vidaurrázaga González


Our Morning Offering – 30 December – The Feast of the Holy Family and the Sixth Day of the Christmas Octave

Our Morning Offering – 30 December – The Feast of the Holy Family and the Sixth Day of the Christmas Octave

Prayer to the Holy Family
By Pope Francis from Amoris Laetitia

Jesus, Mary and Joseph,
in you we contemplate
the splendour of true love;
to you we turn with trust.
Holy Family of Nazareth,
grant that our families too
may be places of communion and prayer,
authentic schools of the Gospel
and small domestic churches.
Holy Family of Nazareth,
may families never again experience
violence, rejection and division;
may all who have been hurt or scandalised
find ready comfort and healing.
Holy Family of Nazareth,
make us once more mindful
of the sacredness
and inviolability of the family,
and its beauty in God’s plan.
Jesus, Mary and Joseph,
Graciously hear our prayer.
Amenprayer to the holy famoly - amoris laelitia - pope francis - 30 dec 2017

Apologies folks, no new posts today except this morning prayer – the posts for the Holy Family for last year are here

Posted in CHRISTMASTIDE!, MORNING Prayers, ON the SAINTS, QUOTES - J R R Tolkien and MORE, SAINT of the DAY

Thought for the Day – 29 December – Fifth Day of the Octave and the Memorial of St Thomas a Becket

Thought for the Day – 29 December – Fifth Day of the Octave and the Memorial of St Thomas a Becket

I think we know that the twentieth century is probably the century of the greatest flowering of Christian martyrs:  across Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, Vietnam, in communist regimes in Latin America and other places too.   Now the twenty-first century is following a similar pattern in other parts of the world:  the Middle East, parts of Africa, Pakistan.   This moment of prominence for St Thomas a Becket helps us to remember and focus on this fruitfulness of courage and faith which is always the seed of the Church.

For some, Thomas died a traitor, betraying the loyalty they believe he owed to the King. For others he died a martyr, put to death for his defence of the things of the Lord, in this case the honour and rights of the Church.

We know that this relationship between the role and powers of the state on the one hand and the role and commitment of the Church on the other, is never an easy one.   It is always a point of tension, a daily struggle in conscience and in public debate.   But Thomas’ martyrdom reminds us what can happen when the state seeks to dominate religious belief and reshape it to its own ends, to its own selection of values.   When observance of those particular values becomes absolute requirement then we are on a path of confrontation.   The example of Thomas a Becket stands before us as a reminder to every age that the point may come where there is no longer any space left for that religious freedom, such a basic human right, which permits the holding and expressing of religious belief in word and action in the public forum.

The tensions that can lead to that point were well delineated in the speech given by Pope Benedict XVI in 2010 when he spoke in Westminster Hall. He said:

‘Each generation, as it seeks to advance the common good, must ask anew:  what are the requirements that governments may reasonably impose upon citizens, and how far do they extend?   By appeal to what authorities can moral dilemmas be resolved.   These questions take us directly to the ethical foundations of civil discourse.   If the moral principles underpinning the democratic process are themselves determined by nothing more solid than social consensus, then the fragility of the process becomes all too evident – herein lies the real challenge for democracy.’    Pope Benedict called modern democracies, including our own, to engage in constructive dialogue which brings together faith and reason, affirming that ‘religion is not a problem for legislators to solve, but a vital contributor to national conversation.’

I have only to think of another Thomas, four hundred years after Becket, whose dilemma and heroism echoes that of the earlier Thomas.  Thomas More was also asked to show where his fundamental loyalty lay and he too, lacking support from his fellow clergy, stood alone, an uncompromising figure, yet never seeking conflict or confrontation. What was well summed up of him, in words beautifully attributed to him, can also be applied to Thomas a Becket. ‘I am indeed the King’s good servant, but God’s first.’

Excerpt from the Archbishop of Westminister at the Symposium on St Thomas a Becket at Lambeth Palace on 27 May 2016.

St Thomas a Becket, God’s good servant, pray for us!st thomas a becket pray for us no 2 - 29 dec 2017


Quote/s of the Day – 29 December – Fifth Day of the Octave and the Memorial of St Thomas a Becket

Quote/s of the Day – 29 December – Fifth Day of the Octave and the Memorial of St Thomas a Becket

“If all the swords in England were pointed
against my head,
your threats would not move me.
I am ready to die for my Lord,
that in my blood the
Church may obtain liberty and peace.”

“Many are needed to plant and water
what has been planted now,
that the faith has spread so far
and there are so many people…
No matter who plants or waters,
God gives no harvest,
unless what is planted is the faith of Peter
and unless he agrees to Peter’s teachings.”

“All important questions that arise
among God’s people
are referred to the judgment of Peter,
in the person for the Roman Pontiff.
Under him the ministers of Mother Church
exercise the powers committed to them,
each in his own sphere of responsibility.”quots st thomas a becket - 29 dec 2017

“Hereafter, I want you to tell me,
candidly and in secret,
what people are saying about me.
And if you see anything in me,
that you regard as a fault,
feel free to tell me in private.
For from now on, people will talk about me
but not to me.
It is dangerous for men in power,
if no-one dares to tell them, when they go wrong.” 
 (St Thomas to a friend on his ordination)

St Thomas a Becket (1118-1170)it is dangerous - st thomas a becket - 29 dec 2017


One Minute Reflection – 29 December – Fifth Day of the Octave and the Memorial of St Thomas a Becket

One Minute Reflection – 29 December – Fifth Day of the Octave and the Memorial of St Thomas a Becket

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith.   From now on a merited crown awaits me….2 Timothy 4:72 timothy 4-7 - 29 dec 2017 - thomas a becket

REFLECTION – “Remember then how our fathers worked out their salvation;  remember the sufferings through which the Church has grown and the storms the ship of Peter has weathered because it has Christ on board.   Remember how the crown was attained by those whose sufferings gave new radiance to their faith.   The whole company of saints bears witness to the unfailing truth, that without real effort no-one wins the crown.”……….St Thomas a Becket (1118-1170)remember then how our fathers - st thomas a becket 29 dec 2017

PRAYER – Almighty God, you enable st Thomas a Becket to lay down his life with undaunted spirit for the rights of Your Church.   May his prayer help us to deny ourselves for Christ in this life and so find our true life in heaven.   Through our Lord Jesus Christ, in union with the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever, thomas a becket - pray for us 2017


Our Morning Offering – 29 December – Fifth Day of the Octave and the Memorial of St Thomas a Becket

Our Morning Offering – 29 December – Fifth Day of the Octave and the Memorial of St Thomas a Becket

Hymn/Prayer from the Common of Martyrs

The martyrs living now with Christ
in suffering were tried,
their anguish overcome by love,
when on His cross they died.
Across the centuries they come,
in constancy unmoved,
their loving hearts make no complaint,
in silence they are proved.
No man has ever measured love,
or weighed it in his hand
but God who knows the inmost heart,
gives them the promised land.
Prais Father, Son and Spirit blest
who guide us through the night,
in ways that reach beyond the stars
to everlasting light.
Amenthe martyrs living now with christ - 29 dec - st thomas a becket - 2017




Saint of the Day – 29 December – St Thomas à Becket (1118-1170)

Saint of the Day – 29 December – St Thomas à Becket (1118-1170) – Born on 21 December 1118 at London, England and was murdered on 29 December 1170 in the Cathedral at Canterbury, England.   Patronages – • clergy• Exeter College, Oxford, England•Portsmouth, England• secular clergy.   Attributes – Sword, Martyrdom, episcopal vestments.   St Thomas was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1162 until his murder in 1170.   He engaged in conflict with Henry II, King of England, over the rights and privileges of the Church and was murdered by followers of the King in Canterbury Cathedral.   Soon after his death, he was Canonised by Pope Alexander III.   Someof his relics are enshrined at the Ladyewell Shrine in Lancaster, England.


Thomas was appointed Chancellor of England in 1155 and was a close associate of King Henry II.   However, shortly after Thomas was named Archbishop of Canterbury, their relationship soured, eventually resulting in Thomas’ six-year exile in France.   Not long after his return to England, Thomas was murdered by four of the King’s knights inside Canterbury Cathedral, making him an instant martyr.   Miracles began to occur soon after his death and Canterbury became one of the most popular pilgrimage destinations in Europe.

Excerpt from The Golden Legend

And forthwith four knights took their counsel together and thought they would do to the king a pleasure and [devised] to slay St Thomas and suddenly departed and took their shipping towards England.   And when the king knew of their departing he was sorry and sent after them but they were on the sea and departed [before] the messengers came, wherefore the king was heavy and sorry … And these four knights aforesaid came to Canterbury on the Tuesday in Christmas week about Evensong time and came to St Thomas and said that the king commanded him to make amends for the wrongs that he had done and also that he should assoil all them that he had accursed anon, or else they should slay him … And then smote each at him, that they smote off a great piece of the skull of his head, that his brain fell on the pavement.   And so they slew and martyred him and were so cruel that one of them [broke] the point of his sword against the pavement.

And thus this holy and blessed Archbishop St Thomas suffered death in his own church for the right of all holy church…And anon it was known all about, how that he was martyred and anon after took this holy body and unclothed him and found bishop’s clothing above and the habit of a monk under.    And next his flesh he wore hard hair, full of knots, which was his shirt.   And his breech was of the same and the knots slicked fast within the skin and all his body full of worms;  he suffered great pain.   And he was thus martyred the year of our Lord one thousand one hundred and seventy-one and was fifty-three years old.   And soon after tidings came to the king how he was slain, wherefore the king took great sorrow and sent to Rome for his absolution.

DSC04170 Thomas Becket

Below is the Reliquary Chasse with Scenes of the Martyrdom of Thomas Becket.


Memorials of the Saints and the 5th Octave Day of Christmas – 29 December

St Thomas a Becket (Optional Memorial) –
St Aileran of Clonard
St Albert of Gambron
St Aproniano de Felipe González
St David the King
St Ebrulf of Ouche
St Enrique Juan Requena
St Florent of Bourges
Bl Francis Ruiz
St Girald of Fontenelle
St Jacinto Gutiérrez Terciado
Bl José Aparicio Sanz
Bl José Perpiñá Nácher
St Juan Bautista Ferreres Boluda
St Libosus of Vaga
St Marcellus the Righteous
St Martinian of Milan
Bl Paul Mary
Bl Peter the Venerable
St Quartillosa of Carthage
St Thaddeus of Scythia
St Trophimus of Arles
St Trophimus of Ephesus
Bl William Howard

Martyrs of North Africa – (8 saints): A group of Christians executed together for their faith. The only details to survive are eight names – Crescentius, Dominic, Honoratus, Lybosus, Primian, Saturninus, Secundus and Victor.

Martyrs of Rome – (3 saints): A group of Christians executed together for their faith. The only details to survive are three names – Boniface, Callistus and Felix.

Martyrs of Seoul – (7 saints): Additional Memorial – 20 September as part of the Martyrs of Korea.
A group of seven lay woman in the apostolic vicariate of Korea who were martyred together.
• Barbara Cho Chung-I
• Barbara Ko Sun-I
• Benedicta Hyong Kyong-Nyon
• Elisabeth Chong Chong-Hye
• Magdalena Han Yong-I
• Magdalena Yi Yong-Dok
• Petrus Ch’oe Ch’ang-Hub
They were born in South Korea and were martyred by beheading on 29 December 1839 at the Small West Gate, Seoul, South Korea. They were Canonised on 6 May 1984 by St Pope John Paul II.

Martyred in the Spanish Civil War:
Thousands of people were murdered in the anti-Catholic persecutions of the Spanish Civil War from 1934 to 1939.
• Blessed Aproniano de Felipe González
• Blessed Enrique Juan Requena
• Blessed Jacinto Gutiérrez Terciado
• Blessed Juan Bautista Ferreres Boluda



Christmas is………….

One of the great blessings we have as Catholics is that Christmas is not just one day and the Liturgical Calendar shows us that the Season of Christmas continues until the Baptism of the Lord (inclusive) – roughly 15-20 days after 25 December.

Christmas is………….

… a gift of love wrapped in human flesh and
tied securely with the strong promises of God.
… angelic music in the form of a carol
and oratorio with a celestial descant.
… “glory to God,” “good will to man,”
and “joy to the world.”
… “peace on earth” for those who accept it
and live in unity with God’s will.
… a man on duty tending sheep, or machine,
who senses the upward call and stops to worship.
… a tall green tree which serves as festive altar
for any household which discovers the true meaning behind it all.
… a ringing bell calling a distraught humanity
to gladness and hope.
… a glowing hearth gently placed
in the winter of man’s loneliness.
… an altar to which man can bring his heartache for comfort,
his lostness for guidance and his sin for forgiveness.
… the sparkle of anticipation and the steady light of faith
in the eyes of a little child as he hears the old, old story.
… the shining star of hope in the sky of all mankind.
… more than words can tell,
for it is a matter for the heart to receive, believe and understand

Author UnknownCHRISTMAS IS - 2017 - no 2


Thought for the Day – 28 December – The Feast of the Holy Innocents – The 4th Octave Day of Christmas

Thought for the Day – 28 December – The Feast of the Holy Innocents – The 4th Octave Day of Christmas

An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother and flee to Egypt and remain there till I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.”   And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt…  Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, was in a furious rage and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region, who were two years old or under, according to the time which he had ascertained from the wise men….Matthew 2:13-18

We call martyrs those saints who chose to give their lives for Jesus Christ.   These innocent children also gave their lives but they didn’t choose to  . They were chosen for martyrdom.   For centuries innocent lives have been taken and people can’t help asking ‘why?’   The suffering of innocent children is still a scandal for our human hearts.   That happened during WWII in a concentration camp.   The Nazi guards decided one day to hang a child in front of thousands of prisoners in formation.   Elie Wiesel, who writes the story, explains that the child was so light that he hanged, struggling to gasp, for more than half an hour.   ‘Where is God now?’ asked one of those prisoners forced to contemplate the suffering of the child.   “Behind me,” writes Wiesel, “I heard the same man asking:   ‘For God’s sake, where is God?’   And from within me, I heard a voice answer-   ‘Where is He? This is where – hanging here from this gallows…’”

God’s agony didn’t finish on Calvary.   When innocent children cry, God mixes His Tears with theirs, when they bleed, God’s Heart bleeds with them.   If they ask you ‘where is God?’, tell them that God is on Calvary still, dying every day in the womb of some mothers, He is the Victim of famines, of epidemics, of wars, of abuses, of bullying, of mafias, of trafficking, of abandonment, of persecution, of terrorism, of injustice of any kind.   God is still in agony in the suffering of innocents.

But we are with you, Mary, Mother of all Innocents, helping Jesus to bear His Cross, comforting Him with our prayer and reminding Him with our love that all that He suffers for us is worthwhile, and asking God for the end of all this injustice.

Fr George Boronat M.D. S.T.D is a Catholic priest from the Prelature of Opus Dei,
working in the Archdiocese of Southwark in London.

Holy Innocents, Pray for us!holy innocents - pray for us no 2 - 28 dec 2017


Quote of the Day – 28 December – The Feast of the Holy Innocents – The 4th Octave Day of Christmas

Quote of the Day – 28 December – The Feast of the Holy Innocents – The 4th Octave Day of Christmas

”The precious death of any martyr
deserves high praise
because of his heroic confession;
the death of these children
is precious in the sight of God
because of the beatitude
they gained so quickly.
For already, at the beginning
of their lives, they pass on.
The end of the present life
is for them the beginning of glory.”

St Augustine (354-430) Father & Doctor of the Churchthe precious death - st augustine - 28 dec 2017


One Minute Reflection – 28 December – The Feast of the Holy Innocents – The 4th Octave Day of Christmas

One Minute Reflection – 28 December – The Feast of the Holy Innocents – The 4th Octave Day of Christmas

We praise you, O God,
we acclaim you as Lord;
the white-robed army of martyrs praise you. (from the Te Deum)we praise you o god - te deum - 28 dec 2017

REFLECTION – “These then, whom Herod’s cruelty tore as sucklings from their mothers’ bosom, are justly hailed as “infant martyr flowers”;   they were the Church’s first blossoms, matured by the frost of persecution during the cold winter of unbelief.”… St Augustine (354-430) Father & Doctor of the Churchthese then - 28 dec 2017

PRAYER – O God, whom the Holy Innocents confessed and proclaimed on this day, not by speaking but by dying, grant, we pray, that the faith in You which we confess with our lips may also speak through our manner of life.   Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Holy Innocents Pray for us! amenholy innocents - pray for us - 28 dec 2017


Our Morning Offering – 28 December – The Feast of the Holy Innocents – The 4th Octave Day of Christmas

Our Morning Offering – 28 December – The Feast of the Holy Innocents – The 4th Octave Day of Christmas.   When you think about the slaughter of these innocent children and the continuing slaughter of the unborn through the horrors of abortion, it becomes clear that they come from the same supreme act of selfishness.   Even though Herod heard the message coming from the prophets of his own people, he had no desire to align his heart with the purposes of God.

 A Prayer for Life
By St Pope John Paul II (1920-2005)

O Mary,
bright dawn of the new world,
Mother of the living,
to you do we entrust the cause of life.
Look down, O Mother,
upon the vast numbers of babies
not allowed to be born,
of the poor whose lives are made difficult,
of men and women
who are victims of brutal violence,
of the elderly and the sick killed
by indifference or out of misguided mercy.
Grant that all who believe in your Son
may proclaim the Gospel of life
with honesty and love to the people of our time.
Obtain for them the grace to accept that Gospel
as a gift ever new,
the joy of celebrating it with gratitude
throughout their lives
and the courage to bear witness to it resolutely,
in order to build,
together with all people of good will,
the civilization of truth and love,
to the praise and glory of God,
the Creator and lover of life.

Taken from Pope John Paul II’s 1995 encyclical, “The Gospel of Life” ( prayer for life - st pope john paul - 28 dec 2017


Saints of the Day – Feast of the Holy Innocents – 28 December – 4th Day of the Christmas Octave

Saints of the Day – Feast of the Holy Innocents – 28 December – 4th Day of the Christmas Octave – Patronages – • against ambition•against jealousy• altar servers•babies•children• children’s choir• choir boys• foundlings• students.   The Massacre of the Innocents is the biblical account of infanticide by Herod the Great, the Roman-appointed King of the Jews.   According to the Gospel of Matthew, Herod ordered the execution of all young male children in the vicinity of Bethlehem, so as to avoid the loss of his throne to a newborn King of the Jews whose birth had been announced to him by the Magi.   In typical Matthean style, it is understood as the fulfilment of an Old Testament prophecy:

Then was fulfilled that which was spoken through Jeremiah the prophet, saying,  A voice is heard in Ramah, mourning and great weeping,  Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted because her children are no more.’

The number of infants killed is not stated.   The Holy Innocents, although Jewish, have been claimed as martyrs for Christianity and the Feast of the Holy Innocents has long been celebrated.holy-innocents-day-4-christmasholy-innocents2016

Taken from THE LITURGICAL YEAR, Christmas II, by Abbot Dom Guéranger.
1 A.D.

THE feast of the beloved Disciple, St John is followed by that of the Holy Innocents.   The Crib of Jesus, where we have already met and venerated the Prince of Martyrs and the Eagle of Patmos, has today standing round it a lovely choir of little Children, clad in snow-white robes and holding green branches in their hands.   The Divine Babe smiles upon them:  He is their King and these Innocents are smiling upon the Church of God. Courage and Fidelity first led us to the Crib;  Innocence now comes and bids us tarry there.

François-Joseph NavezThe massacre of the innocents, 1824

Herod intended to include the Son of God amongst the murdered Babes of Bethlehem. The Daughters of Rachel wept over their little ones and the land streamed with blood but the Tyrant’s policy can do no more, it cannot reach Jesus and its whole plot ends in recruiting an immense army of Martyrs for Heaven.   These Children were not capable of knowing what an honour it was for them to be made victims for the sake of the Saviour of the world but the very first instant after their immolation, all was revealed to them, they had gone through this world without knowing it and now that they know it, they possess an infinitely better.   God showed here the riches of His mercy, He asks of them but a momentary suffering and that over, they wake up in Abraham’s Bosom, no further trial awaits them, they are in spotless innocence and the glory due to a soldier who died to save the life of his Prince belongs eternally to them.

They died for Jesus’ sake, therefore, their death was a real Martyrdom and the Church calls them by the beautiful name of the Flowers of the Martyrs because of their tender age and their innocence.   Justly then does the ecclesiastical Cycle bring them before us today, immediately after the two valiant Champions of Christ, Stephen and John.   The connection of these three Feasts is thus admirably explained by St Bernard- “In St Stephen, we have both the act and the desire of Martyrdom;   in St John, we have but the desire;   in the Holy Innocents, we have but the act. . . . Will anyone doubt whether a crown was given to these Innocents? . . . If you ask me what merit could they have that God should crown them?   Let me ask you what was the fault for which Herod slew them?   What! is the mercy of Jesus less than the cruelty of Herod and whilst Herod could put these Babes to death, who had done him no injury, Jesus may not crown them for dying for Him?”santos-inocentes-2holy-innocents-matteo-di-giovanni600px-Matteo_di_Giovanni_002

GiottoMassacre of the Innocents

Stephen, therefore, is a Martyr by a Martyrdom of which men can judge, for he gave this evident proof of his sufferings being felt and accepted, that, at the very moment of his death, his solicitude both for his own soul and for those of his persecutors increased;  the pangs of his bodily passion were less intense than the affection of his soul’s compassion, which made him weep more for their sins than for his own wounds.   John was a Martyr, by a Martyrdom which only Angels could see, for the proofs of his sacrifice being spiritual, only spiritual creatures could ken them.   But the Innocents were Martyrs, to none other eye save Thine, O God!   Man could find no merit,  Angel could find no merit, the extraordinary prerogative of Thy grace is the more boldly brought out.   From the mouth of the Infants and the Sucklings Thou hast perfected praise.   The praise the Angels give Thee is- Glory be to God in the highest and peace on earth to men of good will it is a magnificent praise, but I make bold to say that it is not perfect till He cometh Who will say:   “Suffer little Children to come unto me, for of such is the kingdom of Heaven.”

RubensMassacre of the Innocents,

28 December – Feast of the Holy Innocents, Memorials of the Saints – 4th Octave Day

Holy Innocents (Feast) –  –

St Anthony of Lérins
St Caesarius of Armenia
BL Claudia Weinhardt
St Conindrus
St Domitian the Deacon
St Domnio of Rome
St Eutychius
St Gowan of Wales
Bl Gregory of Cahors
Bl Hryhorii Khomyshyn
St Iolande of Rome
Bl Johannes Riedgasser
Bl Nicolas Mello
Bl Otto of Heidelberg
St Romulus
SiSt mon the Myroblite
St Theonas of Alexandria
St Theodore of Tabenna
St Troadius of Pontus

20,000 Martyrs of Nicomedia:  20,000 Christians who were murdered during in 303 in Nicomedia, Bithynia (modern Izmit, Turkey) during the persecutions of Diocletian. Many of them were killed en masse when they were ordered, during Christmas Mass, to sacrifice to idols; when they refused, they were locked in the churches and the buildings burned around them. We know some details of a few of them, but most are known only to God. The names we have are – Agape, Anthimos, Domna, Domna, Dorotheus, Esmaragdus, Eugene, Euthymius, Glykerios, Gorgonius, Hilary, Indes, Mardonius, Mardonius, Maximus, Migdonius, Migdonus, Peter, Peter, Theophila, Theophilus and Zeno.    303 in Nicomedia, Bithynia (modern Izmit, Turkey).

Martyrs of Africa – (3 saints):  Three Christians murdered together in Africa for their faith. The only details to survive are their names – Castor, Rogatian and Victor.


Thought for the Day – 27 December – the Feast of St John the Apostle and Evangelist “The Disciple whom Jesus Loved”  and the 3rd Octave Day

Thought for the Day – 27 December – the Feast of St John the Apostle and Evangelist “The Disciple whom Jesus Loved”  and the 3rd Octave DayJesus_last_supper-1014x487Bookmark-St-John

Taken From THE LITURGICAL YEAR, Abbot Dom Guéranger OSB, Book II

NEAREST to Jesus’ Crib, after Stephen, stands John, the Apostle and Evangelist.   It was only right that the first place should be assigned to him, who so loved his God that he shed his blood in his service;   for, as this God Himself declares, greater love than this hath no man, that he lay down his life for his friends, [St. John xv 13] and Martyrdom has ever been counted by the Church as the greatest act of love and as having, consequently, the power of remitting sins, like a second Baptism.   But next to the sacrifice of Blood, the noblest, the bravest sacrifice and that which most wins the heart of Him Who is the Spouse of souls, is the sacrifice of Virginity.   Now just as St Stephen is looked upon as the type of Martyrs, St John is honoured as the Prince of Virgins.   Martyrdom won for Stephen the Crown and palm;   Virginity merited for John most singular prerogatives, which, while they show how dear to God is holy Chastity, put this Disciple among those who by their dignity and influence are above the rest of men.

St John was of the family of David, as was our Blessed Lady.   He was consequently a relation of Jesus.   This same honour belonged to St James the Greater, his brother;  as also to St James the Less and St Jude, both sons of Alpheub.   When our Saint was in the prime of his youth, he left not only his boat and nets, not only his Father Zebedee but even his betrothed, when everything was prepared for the marriage.   He followed Jesus, and never once looked back.   Hence the special love which our Lord bore him.   Others were Disciples or Apostles, John was the Friend of Jesus.   The cause of this our Lord’s partiality was, as the Church tells us in the Liturgy, that John had offered his Virginity to the Man-God.   Let us, on this his Feast, enumerate the graces and privileges that came to St. John from his being the Disciple whom Jesus loved.

This very expression of the Gospel, which the Evangelist repeats several times—–The Disciple whom Jesus loved [St. John xiii 23; xix 26; xxi 7; xxi 20]—–says more than any commentary could do.   St Peter, it is true, was chosen by our Divine Lord to be the Head of the Apostolic College and the Rock whereon the Church was to be built:  he, then, was honoured most;   but St John was loved most.   Peter was bid to love more than the rest loved and he was able to say, in answer to Jesus’ thrice repeated question, that he did love Him in this highest way:  and yet, notwithstanding, John was more loved by Jesus than was Peter himself, because his Virginity deserved this special mark of honour.

Chastity of soul and body brings him who possesses it into a sacred nearness and intimacy with God.   Hence it was that at the Last Supper—–that Supper which was to be renewed on our Altars to the end of the world, in order to cure our spiritual infirmities and give life to our souls—–John was placed near to Jesus, nay, was permitted, as the tenderly loved Disciple, to lean his head upon the Breast of the Man-God.   Then it was that he was filled, from their very Fountain, with Light and Love:   it was both a recompense and a favour and became the source of two signal graces, which make St John an object of special reverence to the whole Church.jesus and john

Divine wisdom wishing to make known to the world the Mystery of the Word and commit to Scripture those profound secrets which, so far, no pen of mortal had been permitted to write, the task was put upon John.   Peter had been crucified, Paul had been beheaded and the rest of the Apostles had laid down their lives in testimony of the Truths they had been sent to preach to the world; John was the only one left in the Church.   Heresy had already begun its blasphemies against the Apostolic Teachings;  it refused to admit the Incarnate Word as the Son of God, Consubstantial to the Father. John was asked by the Churches to speak and he did so in language heavenly above measure.   His Divine Master had reserved to this His Virgin-Disciple the honour of writing those sublime Mysteries which the other Apostles had been commissioned only to teach—–THE WORD WAS GOD, and this WORD WAS MADE FLESH for the salvation of mankind.   Thus did our Evangelist soar, like the Eagle, up to the Divine Sun and gaze upon Him with undazzled eye, because his heart and senses were pure and therefore fitted for such vision of the uncreated Light.   If Moses, after having conversed with God in the cloud, came from the Divine interview with rays of miraculous light encircling his head:  how radiant must have been the face of St John, which had rested on the very Heart of Jesus, in Whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge [Col. ii 3] how sublime his writings! how Divine his teaching!   Hence the symbol of the Eagle, shown to the Prophet Ezechiel, [Ezech. i 10; x 14] and to St John himself in his Revelations, [Apoc. iv 7] has been assigned to him by the Church:  and to this title of The Eagle has been added, by universal tradition, the other beautiful name of Theologian.

This was the first recompense given by Jesus to His Beloved John—–a profound penetration into Divine Mysteries.   The second was the imparting to him of a most ardent charity, which was equally a grace consequent upon his angelic purity, for purity unburdens the soul from grovelling egotistic affections and raises it to a chaste and generous love.   John had treasured up in his heart the Discourses of his Master:  he made them known to the Church, and especially that Divine one of the Last Supper, wherein Jesus had poured forth His whole Soul to His Own, whom He had always tenderly loved but most so at the end. [1 St. John xiii 1]   He wrote his Epistles and Charity is his subject: God is Charity—–he that loveth not, knoweth not God—–perfect Charity casts out fear—–and so on throughout, always on Love.   During the rest of his life, even when so enfeebled by old age as not to be able to walk, he was for ever insisting upon all men loving each other, after the example of God, Who had loved them and so loved them!  Thus, he that had announced more clearly than the rest of the Apostles the Divinity of the Incarnate Word, was par excellence the Apostle of that Divine Charity which Jesus came to enkindle upon the earth.

But our Lord had a further gift to bestow and it was sweetly appropriate to the Virgin-Disciple.   When dying on his Cross, Jesus left Mary upon this earth. Joseph had been dead now some years.   Who then shall watch over His Mother? Who is there worthy of the charge?   Will Jesus send His Angels to protect and console her?   For, surely, what man could ever merit to be to her as a second Joseph?   Looking down, He sees the Virgin-Disciple standing at the foot of the Cross:   we know the rest, John is to be Mary’s Son:   Mary is to be John’s Mother.   Oh! wonderful Chastity, that wins from Jesus such an inheritance as this!   Peter, says St Peter Damian, shall have left to him the Church, the Mother of men; but John shall receive Mary, the Mother of God, whom he will love as his own dearest Treasur, and to whom he will stand in Jesus’ stead;   whilst Mary will tenderly love John, her Jesus’ Friend, as her Son.beloved by dyce

Can we be surprised after this, that St John is looked upon by the Church as one of her greatest glories?   He is a Relative of Jesus in the flesh;   he is an Apostle, a Virgin, the Friend of the Divine Spouse, the Eagle, the Theologian, the Son of Mary; he is an Evangelist, by the history he has given of the Life of his Divine Master and Friend;  he is a Sacred Writer, by the three Epistles he wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost;  he is a Prophet, by his mysterious Apocalypse, wherein are treasured the secrets of time and eternity.   But is he a Martyr? Yes, for if he did not complete his sacrifice, he drank the Chalice of Jesus, [St. Matt. xx 22] when, after being cruelly scourged, he was thrown into a caldron of boiling oil before the Latin Gate at Rome.   He was therefore a Martyr in desire and intention, though not in fact.   If our Lord, wishing to prolong a life so dear to the Church, as well as to show how he loves and honours Virginity, miraculously stayed the effects of the frightful punishment, St John had, on his part, unreservedly accepted Martyrdom.

Such is the companion of Stephen at the Crib, wherein lies our Infant Jesus.   If the Protomartyr dazzles us with the robes he wears of the bright scarlet of his own blood;  is not the virginal whiteness of John’s vestment fairer than the untrod snow?   The spotless beauty of the Lilies of Mary’s adopted Son and the bright vermilion of Stephen’s Roses——what is there more lovely than their union?   Glory, then, be to our New-Born King, Whose court is tapestried with such heaven-made colours as these!   Yes, Bethlehem’s Stable is a very Heaven on earth and we have seen its transformation.   First we saw Mary and Joseph alone there:  they were adoring Jesus in His Crib;   then, immediately, there descended a heavenly host of Angels singing the wonderful Hymn;  the Shepherds soon followed, the humble, simple-hearted Shepherds;  after these entered Stephen the Crowned and John the Beloved Disciple;   and even before there enters the pageant of the devout Magi, we shall have others coming in, and there will be each day grander glory in the Cave, and gladder joy in our hearts.   Oh! this birth of our Jesus!   Humble as it seems, yet how Divine!   What King or Emperor ever received in his gilded cradle, honours like these shown to the Babe of Bethlehem?   Let us unite our homage with that given Him by these the favoured inmates of His court.   Yesterday the sight of the Palm in Stephen’s hand animated us and we offered to our Jesus the promise of a stronger Faith:   today the Wreath that decks the brow of the Beloved Disciple breathes upon the Church the heavenly fragrance of Virginity:  an intenser love of Purity must be our resolution, and our tribute to the Lamb.

Beloved Disciple of the Babe of Bethlehem!  how great is thy happiness!  how wonderful is the reward given to thy love and thy purity!  In thee was fulfilled that word of thy Master:  Blessed are the clean of heart;  for they shall see God.   Not only didst thou see this God-Man:  thou wast His Friend and on His Bosom didst rest thy head.   John the Baptist trembles at having to bend the head of Jesus under the water of Jordan; Magdalen, though assured by his own lips that her pardon was perfect as her love, yet dares not raise her head, but keeps clinging to his feet;  Thomas scarce presumes to obey Him when He bids him put his finger into His wounded Side;  and thou, in the presence of all the Apostles, sittest close to Him, leaning thy head upon His Breast!   Nor is it only Jesus in his Humanity that thou seest and possessest;  but, because thy heart is pure, thou soarest like an eagle up to the Sun of Justice and fixest thine eye upon Him in the light inaccessible wherein He dwells eternally with the Father and the Holy Ghost.

Thus was rewarded the fidelity wherewith thou didst keep intact for Jesus the precious treasure of thy Purity.   And now, O worthy favourite of the great King!  forget not us poor sinners.   We believe and confess the Divinity of the Incarnate Word Whom thou hast evangelised unto us;  but we desire to draw nigh to Him during this holy season, now that He shows himself so desirous of our company, so humble, so full of love, so dear a Child, and so poor!   Alas! our sins keep us back;   our heart is not pure like thine; we have need of a Patron to introduce us to our Master’s crib. [Isa. i 3] Thou, O Beloved Disciple of Emmanuel!   Thou must procure us this happiness.   Thou hast shown us the Divinity of the Word in the bosom of the Eternal Father;  lead us now to this same Word made flesh.   Under thy patronage Jesus will permit us to enter into the Stable, to stand near His Crib, to see with our eyes and touch with our hands [1 St. John i 1] this sweet Fruit of eternal Life.   May it be granted us to contemplate the sweet Face of Him that is our Saviour and thy Friend;  to feel the throbs of that Heart which loves both thee and us, which thou didst see wounded by the Spear, on Calvary.   It is good for us to fix ourselves here near the Crib of our Jesus and share in the graces He there lavishes and learn, as thou didst, the grand lesson of this Child’s simplicity:  thy prayers must procure all this for us.

Then too, as Son and Guardian of Mary, thou hast to present us to thine own and our Mother.   Ask her to give us somewhat of the tender love wherewith she watches over the Crib of her Divine Son; to see in us the Brothers of that Child she bore;  and to admit us to a share of the maternal affection she had for thee, the favoured confidant of the secrets of her Jesus.

We also pray to thee, O holy Apostle! for the Church of God.   She was planted and watered by thy labours, embalmed with the celestial fragrance of thy virtues and illumined by thy sublime teachings; pray now that these graces may bring forth their fruit, and that to the end of her pilgrimage faith may be firm, the love of Jesus fervent, and Christian morals pure and holy.   Thou has told us in thy Gospel of a saying of thy Divine Master:  I will not now call you my Servants but my Friends: [St. John xv 15] pray, dear Saint, that there may come to this, from our hearts and lips, a response of love and courage, telling our Emmanuel that, like thyself, we will follow Him whithersoever He leads john pray for us - 27 dec 2017

Let us, on this second day after our Divine Infant’s Birth, meditate upon the Sleep He deigns to take.   Let us consider how this God of all goodness, Who has come down from Heaven to invite His creature man to come to Him and seek rest for his soul, seeks rest Himself in our earthly home and sanctifies by His Own Divine sleep that rest which to us is a necessity.   We have just been dwelling with delighted devotion on the thought of His offering His Breast as a resting-place for the Beloved Disciple and for all souls that imitate John in his love and devotedness:  now let us look at this our God, sweetly sleeping in His humble Crib, or on His Mother’s lap.Brooklyn_Museum_-_Saint_Peter_and_Saint_John_Run_to_the_Sepulchre_(Saint_Pierre_et_Saint_Jean_courent_au_sépulcre)_-_James_Tissotbeloved runs to the tomb -



Quote/s of the Day – – 27 December – the Feast of St John the Apostle and Evangelist “The Disciple whom Jesus Loved”  and the 3rd Octave Day

Quote/s of the Day – – 27 December – the Feast of St John the Apostle and Evangelist “The Disciple whom Jesus Loved”  and the 3rd Octave Day

“God is love”..1 John 4: 8, 16

“God so loved the world that he gave his only Son”..John 3: 16

“Having loved his own
who were in the world,
he loved them to the end” ..John 13: 1

“A new commandment
I give to you,
that you love one another;
even as I have loved you,
that you also love one another”..John 13: 34

let us love
not in word
or speech
but in deed and truth.”..1 John 3:18

St John the Apostle and Evangelist “The Disciple whom Jesus Loved” god is love - from various of John's texts - 27 dec 2017


One Minute Reflection – 27 December – the Feast of St John the Apostle and Evangelist “The Disciple whom Jesus Loved”  and the 3rd Octave Day

One Minute Reflection – 27 December – the Feast of St John the Apostle and Evangelist “The Disciple whom Jesus Loved”  and the 3rd Octave Day

Beloved:  What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we looked upon and touched with our hands concerns the Word of life (for the life was made visible;  we have seen it and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was made visible to us.…1 John 1:1-21 john 1 - 1 to 2

REFLECTION – “Life itself was therefore revealed in the flesh. In this way what was visible to the heart alone could become visible also to the eye and so heal men’s hearts. For the Word is visible to the heart alone, while flesh is visible to bodily eyes as well.   We already possessed the means to see the flesh but we had no means of seeing the Word. The Word was made flesh so that we could see it, to heal the part of us, by which we could see the Word…”…St Augustine (354-430) – Father & Doctor of the Churchlife itself was therefore revealed - st augustine - 27 dec 2017

PRAYER – Almighty God, who through Your Apostle John, unlocked for us the hidden treasures of Your Word, grant that we may grasp with fuller understanding, the message he so admirably proclaimed. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, in union with the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever, - 2016

Posted in CHRISTMASTIDE!, DOCTORS of the Church, FATHERS of the Church, MORNING Prayers, PRAYERS of the SAINTS, The CHRIST CHILD

Our Morning Offering – 27 December – the Feast of St John the Apostle and Evangelist “The Disciple whom Jesus Loved” and the 3rd Octave Day

Our Morning Offering – 27 December – the Feast of St John the Apostle and Evangelist  “The Disciple whom Jesus Loved” and the 3rd Octave Day

Rejoice! For Jesus Christ is Born
By St Augustine (354-430) – Father & Doctor of the Church

Let the just rejoice,
for their Justifier is born.
Let the sick and infirm rejoice,
for their Saviour is born.
Let the captives rejoice,
for their Redeemer is born.
Let slaves rejoice,
for their Master is born.
Let free men rejoice,
for their Liberator is born.
Let All Christians rejoice,
for Jesus Christ is born.
Amen.rejoice, for jesus christ is born - st Augustine - 27 dec 2017


Saint of the Day – 27 December – St John the Apostle and Evangelist –

Saint of the Day – 27 December – St John the Apostle and Evangelist – “The Disciple whom Jesus Loved”  – (died c 101)  Also known as • The Apostle of Charity • The Beloved Apostle • Giovanni Evangelista • John the Divine • John the Evangelist • John the Theologian  Patronages – • against burns; burn victims• against epilepsy• against foot problems• against hailstorms• against poisoning• art dealers• authors, writers• basket makers• bookbinders• booksellers• butchers• compositors• editors• engravers• friendships• glaziers• government officials• harvests• lithographers• notaries• painters• papermakers• publishers• saddle makers• scholars• sculptors• tanners• theologians• typesetters• vintners• Asia Minor (proclaimed on 26 October 1914 by Pope Benedict XV)• 6 Diocese• 7 Cities,   Attributes – • book• cauldron• chalice• chalice with a serpent in allusion to the cup of sorrow foretold by Jesus• eagle, representing his role as the evangelist who most concentrated on Jesus’s divine nature• serpent.   The author of five books of the Bible (the Gospel of John, the First, Second, and Third Letters of John and Revelation), Saint John the Apostle was one of earliest disciples of Christ.   Commonly called Saint John the Evangelist because of his authorship of the fourth and final gospel, he is one of the most frequently mentioned disciples in the New Testament, rivaling Saint Peter for his prominence in the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles.   Yet outside of the Book of Revelation, John preferred to refer to himself, not by name but as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.”   He was the only one of the Apostles to die, not of martyrdom but of old age, around the year 101.

st john - header 2 - Cliffecastlemus_068
st john - header - maxresdefault
st john the evangelist

St John the Evangelist was a Galilean and the son, along with Saint James the Greater, of Zebedee and Salome.   Because he is usually placed after St James in the lists of the apostles (see Matthew 10:3, Mark 3:17 and Luke 6:14), John is generally considered the younger brother, perhaps as young as 17-18 at the time of Christ’s death.

With St James, he is always listed among the first four apostles (see Acts 1:13), reflecting not only his early calling (he is the other disciple of St John the Baptist, along with St Andrew, who follows Christ in John 1:34-40) but his honoured place among the disciples. (In Matthew 4:18-22 and Mark 1:16-20, James and John are called immediately after the fellow fishermen Peter and Andrew.)

Like Peter and James the Greater, John was a witness to the Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1 ) and the Agony in the Garden (Matthew 26:37).    His closeness to Christ is apparent in the accounts of the Last Supper (John 13:23), at which he leaned on Christ’s breast while eating and the Crucifixion (John 19:25-27), where he was the only one of Christ’s disciples present.   Christ, seeing St John at the foot of the Cross with His mother, entrusted Mary to his care.   He was the first of the disciples to arrive at the tomb of Christ on Easter, having outraced Saint Peter (John 20:4) and while he waited for Peter to enter the tomb first, St John was the first to believe that Christ had risen from the dead (John 20:8).

van weyden - at the cross.jpg

As one of the two initial witnesses to the Resurrection, St John naturally took a place of prominence in the early Church, as the Acts of the Apostles attest (see Acts 3:1, Acts 4:3, and Acts 8:14, in which he appears alongside St Peter himself.)   When the apostles dispersed following the persecution of Herod Agrippa (Acts 12), during which John’s brother James became the first of the apostles to win the crown of martyrdom (Acts 12:2), tradition holds that John went to Asia Minor, where he likely played a role in founding the Church at Ephesus.

Exiled to Patmos during the persecution of Domitian, he returned to Ephesus during Trajan’s reign and died there.

While on Patmos, John received the great revelation that forms the Book of Revelation and likely completed his gospel (which may, however, have existed in an earlier form a few decades before).

Traditional iconography has represented St John as an eagle, symbolising “the heights to which he rises in the first chapter of his Gospel.”   Like the other Evangelists, he is sometimes symbolised by a book  and a later tradition used the chalice as a symbol of St John, recalling Christ’s words to John and James the Greater, in Matthew 20:23, “My chalice indeed you shall drink.”

Christ’s reference to the chalice inevitably calls to mind His own Agony in the Garden, where He prays, “My Father, if this chalice may not pass away but I must drink it, thy will be done” (Matthew 26;42).   It thus seems a symbol of martyrdom and yet John, alone among the apostles, died a natural death.   Still, he has been honoured as a martyr from the earliest days after his death, because of an incident related by Tertullian, in which John, while in Rome, was placed in a pot of boiling oil but emerged unharmed.

St.-John-Evangelist.- - MY SNIP - MASTER OF MOULINS


27 December – Feast of St John the Apostle and Evangelist, the Third Day of the Christmas Octave and Memorials of the Saints

St John the Apostle (Feast) –

Bl Adelheidis of Tennenbach
Bl Alejo Pan López
Bl Alfredo Parte-Saiz
Bl Christina Ebner
St Fabiola of Rome
Bl Francesco Spoto
Bl Hesso of Beinwil
St José María Corbin-Ferrer
St Maximus of Alexandria
St Nicarete of Constantinople
Bl Odoardo Focherini
Bl Raymond de Barellis
Bl Roger of Verdun
Bl Sára Schalkház
St Theodore of Apamea
St Theophanes of Nicaea
Bl Walto of Wessobrünn


Thought for the Day – 26 December – The Memorial of St Stephen the First Martyr and the Second Day in the Octave of Christmas

Thought for the Day – 26 December – The Memorial of St Stephen the First Martyr and the Second Day in the Octave of ChristmasSt. Stephen [Large]

Today the Church remembers the witness of Saint Stephen, the first of the Church’s martyrs. The cruelty of his death is recorded in the Acts of the Apostles, as is the manner in which he died, transforming the violence that took his life into an occasion to give witness to an authority greater than those fallen powers who would rule us by fear and threats.

That the Church remembers Saint Stephen today is no accident.  Strip away the sentimentality that obscures the story of Christ’s Nativity and one realises that Christ came into this world and from the first instant He showed His infant face, He was opposed.   Recall yesterday’s excerpt from the magnificent prologue to the Gospel of John which testifies that Christ came to His own (us) and His own (again, that means us) “knew him not.”   But worse than this- we refused Him.

And many still do.

The Holy Child came ready for this fight and the world was willing to fight Him. However, the world discovered that it was outmatched and the fallen powers of this world turned against those whom the Holy Child loves.   Unable to harm the Body of His human nature any longer, the world strikes at His Body, the Church.

Therefore, when the Church remembers its martyrs, like Saint Stephen, it is not merely out of a concern that the faithful become conversant in the details of Church history. Instead it is to keep us honest- not only about the past but also about the present.   It has never been easy to be a Christian and being a Christian has always been counter-cultural.   If lived authentically, it is lived in defiance against the fallen powers of the world.

This means that like our Saviour we have to be ready.   We have to learn the strategy that He used to defeat the fallen powers of this world and how He claimed victory when it seemed that these fallen powers could not be defeated.   We must learn His strategy- enacted in the witness of Saint Stephen and all the Church’s martyrs, past and present- lest in our opposition to the powers of this world, we become just like them.  (Fr Steve Grunow)

Grant, Lord we pray,
that we may imitate what we worship,
and so learn to love even our enemies,
for we celebrate the heavenly birthday
of Saint Stephen, who knew how to pray for his persecutors.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

St Stephen, pray for us!st stephen - pray for us - 2017


Quote/s of the Day – 26 December – The Memorial of St Stephen the First Martyr and the Second Day in the Octave of Christmas

Quote/s of the Day – 26 December – The Memorial of St Stephen the First Martyr and the Second Day in the Octave of Christmas

“The deep bond which links Christ
to His first martyr Stephen, is divine Charity –
the very Love which impelled the Son of God
to empty Himself and make Himself obedient
unto death on a Cross …It is always necessary
to notice this distinctive feature of Christian martyrdom,
it is exclusively an act of love for God and for man,
including persecutors.”

Pope Benedict XVI – 26 December 2007

” …Like his Master, St Stephen died forgiving his persecutors
and thus makes us realise that the entry into the world
of the Son of God gives rise to a new civilisation,
the civilisation of love that does not yield to evil
and violence and pulls down the barriers
between men and women, making them brothers and sisters
in the great family of God’s children.”

Pope Benedict XVI – 26 December 2009the deep bond - pope benedict - 26 dec 2017


One Minute Reflection – 26 December – The Memorial of St Stephen the First Martyr and the Second Day in the Octave of Christmas

One Minute Reflection – 26 December – The Memorial of St Stephen the First Martyr and the Second Day in the Octave of Christmas

“When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say;   for what you to say will be given to you in that hour;   for it not you who speak, but the Spirit of your father speaking through you.” …Matthew 10:19-20

REFLECTION – “Yesterday, we celebrated, the birth in time of our eternal King.   Today, we celebrate the triumphant suffering, of his soldier.   Yesterday our king, clothed in His robe of flesh, left  His place in the virgin’s womb and graciously visited the world.   Today His soldier, leaves the tabernacle of his body and goes triumphantly to heaven.”…from a sermon by Saint Fulgentius of Ruspe (460-533)yesterday we celebrated - st fulgentius - 26 dec 2017

PRAYER – O God, the teacher and ruler of all that minister unto Thee, who did adorn the first beginnings of thy Church both with the ministrations of Thy blessed Deacon Stephen and with the precious blood of his martyrdom:   grant, we beseech Thee, that we, in the hour of our departure, obtaining Thy pardon, may be followers of his example and assisted by his prayers. Amen. – Milanese Sacramentaryst stephen pray for us