Thought for the Day – The Weekdays of Advent, 18 December – ‘O Church, true Spouse…’

Thought for the Day – The Weekdays of Advent, 18 December – Readings: Jeremiah 23:5-8, Psalm 72:1-2, 12-13, 18-19, Matthew 1:18-24

When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph … Matthew 1:18

Saint Peter Chrysologus (c 400-450)
Bishop of Ravenna, Father and Doctor of the Church

Sermon 146, on Mt 1:18

“His mother, Mary, was betrothed.”   It should have been enough to say:  Mary was betrothed.   What can a betrothed mother mean?   If she is a mother then she isn’t betrothed, if she is betrothed, then she isn’t yet a mother!   “His mother, Mary, was betrothed” – betrothed by virginity, mother by fecundity.   This was a mother without experience of a man but who yet experienced motherhood.   How could she not be a mother before she had conceived who, after giving birth, remains both virgin and mother?   When was she not a mother, she who is about to conceive Him, who set in motion, the time that gives things their beginning?

Why was the mystery of heavenly innocence given to a betrothed girl and not to a virgin who was still free?   Why did a fiancé’s jealousy put his betrothed in peril?   Why should such great virtue appear to be sin or salvation to be eternal danger?…   What mystery exercises us in all this, my brethren?   There is not a stroke, a letter, a syllable, a word, a name, a person in all the Gospel that is empty of Divine significance.

A betrothed girl was chosen that the Church, Christ’s betrothed, might also be signified according to the word of the prophet Hosea:  “I will betroth you to me in right and justice, in love and mercy;  I will betroth you in fidelity” (Hos 2:21-22).   That is why John said: “The one who has the bride is the Bridegroom” (Jn 3:29).   And Saint Paul:  “I betrothed you to one Spouse to present you as a chaste virgin to Christ” (2 Cor 11:2).

O Church, true spouse, who through the virginal birth [of baptism] conceives a new infancy from Christ!o church true spouse - st peter chrysologus 18 dec 2019.jpg


Quote of the Day – The Weekdays of Advent, 18 December – ‘The one goal – God Alone!’

Quote of the Day – The Weekdays of Advent, 18 December – The Memorial of Blessed Giulia Nemesia Valle (1847-1916)

“Keep a quick pace,
without looking behind
and concentrate on the one goal –
God Alone!

Bl Giulia Nemesia Valle (1847-1916)keep a quick pace without looking behind - bl giulia valle 18 dec 2019.jpg


Advent Reflection – The Weekdays of Advent, 18 December – ‘David’s Lord was made David’s Son’

Advent Reflection – The Weekdays of Advent, 18 December
Jeremiah 23:5-8, Psalm 72:1-2, 12-13, 18-19, Matthew 1:18-24

“See, days are coming — oracle of the LORD — when I will raise up a righteous branch for David. As king he shall reign and govern wisely, he shall do what is just and right in the land.” … Jeremiah 23:5

REFLECTION – “There was only one remedy in the secret of the divine plan that could help the fallen living in the general ruin of the entire human race.   This remedy was, that one of the sons of Adam should be born free and innocent of original transgression, to prevail for the rest by his example and by his merits.   This was not permitted by natural generation.   There could be no clean offspring from our faulty stock by this seed. The Scripture says, “Who can make a clean thing conceived of an unclean seed?   Isn’t it you alone?”   David’s Lord was made David’s Son and from the fruit of the promised branch sprang.   He is one without fault, the twofold nature coming together into one person.   By this one and the same conception and birth, sprung our Lord Jesus Christ, in whom was present both true Godhead for the performance of mighty works and true manhood for the endurance of sufferings.” … St Pope Leo the Great (400-461) Father and Doctor (Sermon 28)david's lord was made david's son - the two requirements in the gospel - pope francis 18 dec 2019.jpg

MEDITATION – “Are we in the core group of Christians who embody and live the purest form of the Gospel?   Or do we find ourselves among the masses that acknowledge Jesus, enjoy being Christian but don’t pursue it at any deep level?   The two requirements in the Gospel are that we repent and believe.   If we repent, we do no wrong and speak no lies. If we believe with all our hearts, we follow the Star to the Manger.” Pope Francis Angelus, 22 December 2013

ADVENT ACTION – “Let these last few days, be a time, when we begin the journey to the Christmas core – to the Christ Child.   “Let us make ourselves ready to celebrate Christmas by contemplating Mary and Joseph – Mary, the woman full of grace who had the courage to entrust herself totally to the Word of God;  Joseph, the faithful and just man, who chose to believe the Lord rather than listen to the voices of doubt and human pride.   With them, let us walk together toward Bethlehem.” …  Pope Francis – Angelus, 22 December 2013



of the House of Israel,

who appeared to Moses in the flame

of the burning bush

and gave him the law on Sinai:

Come and redeem us with outstretched arms.o-lord-and-ruler-18-december 2018, 2019.jpg


Our Morning Offering – The Weekdays of Advent, 18 December – A 6th Century Advent Hymn

Our Morning Offering – The Weekdays of Advent, 18 December

Catholic Advent Hymn
6th Century
tr. E Caswall (1814-1878)

Hark! a Herald voice is calling;
‘Christ is nigh!’ it seems to say,
‘Cast away the dreams of darkness,
waken, children of the day!’

Startled at the solemn warning,
let the earth-bound soul arise.
Christ her Sun, all sloth dispelling,
shines upon the morning skies.

Lo!, the Lamb so long expected,
comes with pardon down from heaven.
Let us meet Him with repentance,
pray that we may be forgiven.

So when next He comes with glory,
wrapping all the earth in fear.
May He then as our Defender,
on the clouds of heav’n appear.

Honour, glory, praise and blessing,
to the Father and the Son,
with the everlasting Spirit,
while unending ages run.hark-a-herald-voice-is-calling-6th-cent-hymn-18-dec-2017 and 2019.jpg

Posted in SAINT of the DAY

Saint of the Day – 18 December – Saint Gatian of Tours (c 251- 301)

Saint of the Day – 18 December – Saint Gatian of Tours (c 251- 301) First Bishop of Tours, Missionary – St Gatian was the founding Bishop of the see of Tours.   He was one of the “Seven apostles of Gaul” commissioned by Pope Fabian to evangelise in the region.   St Gatian is also known as Catianus, Gatianus, Gratianus; French: Cassien, Gatien, Gratien. Patronage – Tours, both the City and the gatienus of tours

Pope Fabian sent out seven Bishops from Rome to Gaul to preach the Gospel – Gatian to Tours, Trophimus to Arles, Paul to Narbonne, Saturnin to Toulouse, Denis to Paris, Austromoine to Clermont and Martial to Limoges.  A community of Christians had already existed for many years in Lyon, where Irenaeus had been bishop.

St Gatien arrived with with St Dionysius of Paris, about the middle of the third century and preached the faith principally at Tours in Gaul, where he fixed his episcopal see.

There were few Christians in Tours at that time and in one of the troubled years of his Episcopate, he is said for a time to have lain concealed in a cave on the banks of the Loire, at a spot where later rose the great Abbey of Marmoutier.   Gratian would go into the city only when opportunities of preaching presented themselves.   He devoted half a century to evangelisation, amid innumerable difficulties but with great success too, for at his death, the diocese of Tours was securely established.

Marmoutier Abbey

In a part of the Empire where Mithraism was a dominating force among the legions, the Abbé Jaud reports that Gatian likewise retreated into a grotto and there celebrated the mystical banquet.   Gatian was often portrayed officiating a ceremony in a cavern-like setting.   Two grottos cut into the limestone hill above the Loire, across from Tours at  Marmoutier Abbey, are designated the first sites where Gatian celebrated the liturgy.

Gatianus established a hospice for the poor outside the walls of Tours.   There he lay, overcome with weariness, after five decades of fasting, penances and toil.   And there, the Sbbé Jaud relates, the Saviour appeared to him, saying, “Fear not!   Thy crown is readied and the Saints await thy arrival in Heaven.”   The date was the 18 December gatien La_Celle-Guenand_Notre-Dame_Vitrail_357.jpg

After his death, the Bishopric of Tours was orphaned for 36 years due to the recent persecution of Christians by the Emperor Diocletian. Only his successor St Litorius (337-371) was able to build the first church in Tours. It replaced a memorial to the martyr Mauritius. Bishop St Martin of Tours found the buriel site of St Gatian and had them transferred to this church, from which today’s cathedral was built. Since then it has been called Saint Gatian.

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Today many towns, institutions, schools, an airport and even a golf course bear the name of Saint Gatian.

St Gregory of Nazianzen wrote this poem in St Gatian’s honour and it appears in the Roman Martyrology:

“You dissolved darkness
and gave birth to Light
in order to create all things in Light
and to give consistency, to unstable matter,
by shaping it into the shape of a world.
You have, here below,
introduced the image of splendour from above,
so that by the Light man looks at the Light
and becomes entirely Light.”


Feast of Our Lady of Expectation and Memorials of the Saints – 18 December

Our Lady of the Expectation – This Feast originated in Spain.   When the feast of the Annunciation (25 March) was transferred to 18 December because of the regulation forbidding feasts in Lent, it remained on this date after the Annunciation was again celebrated on its original date.   It impressed on the faithful, the sentiments of the Blessed Virgin as the time of her delivery approached.

More about the Feast here:

St Auxentius of Mopsuetia
St Basilian of Laodicea
St Bodagisil of Aquitaine
St Desiderius of Fontenelle
Bl Eugenio Cernuda Febrero
St Flannán of Killaloe
St Gatian of Tours (c 251-301)
Bl Giulia Valle (1847-1916)
About Blessed Giulia:

St Malachi the Prophet
St Mawnan of Cornwall
Bl Miguel San Román Fernández
St Phaolô Nguyen Van My
St Phêrô Truong Van Ðuong
St Phêrô Vu Van Truat
Bl Philip of Ratzeburg
St Rufus of Philippi
St Samthann of Clonbroney
St Theotimus of Laodicea
St Winebald of Heidenheim
St Zosimus of Philippi

Martyrs of Northwest Africa – 42 saints:
Mercedarian Redeemers – 6 beati – These are a group of Mercedarian friars who worked together, under the leadership of Saint Peter de Amer, to ransom (e.g., redeem) prisoners and minister to them after.