Second Thought for the Day – 24 December – “Silent Night” – May this Holy Infant so tender and mild, bless us all!

Second Thought for the Day – 24 December – The Nativity of the Lord, Mass at Midnight

Last year we celebrated the 200th anniversary of the first performance

of the beloved carol ‘Silent Night’Silent-Night-by-Fr-Joseph-Mohr-1792-1848-24-dec-2018 and 2019

Silent night, holy night!
All is calm, all is bright,
Round yon Virgin Mother and Child!
Holy Infant so tender and mild,
Sleep in heavenly peace,
Sleep in heavenly peace.

Silent night, holy night!
Son of God, how the light
Radiates love from Thy heavenly face,
At the dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus, Lord at Thy birth,
Jesus, Lord at Thy birth.

May this Holy Infant so tender and mild, bless us all!

Read the story here: and 2019


Thought for the Day – 24 December – The Holy Eucharist and Hope – Let us approach Him

Thought for the Day – 24 December – The Nativity of the Lord, Mass at Midnight

The Holy Eucharist and Hope

The greatest source of hope this side of eternity is the Sacrament of hope, the Sacrament of encounter with Christ that is the Holy Eucharist.   The document of the Second Vatican Council that begins with the words “joy” and “hope,” Gaudium et Spes (Pastoral Constitution On The Church in the Modern World), says:

“Christ left to His followers a pledge of . . . hope and food for the journey in the sacrament of faith, in which natural elements, the fruits of human cultivation, are changed into His glorified body and blood, as a supper of brotherly and sisterly communion and a foretaste of the heavenly banquet (38).”

Those who frequent this Sacrament — receiving it often, if not daily — know that one of the fruits of the Sacrament, is the virtue of hope.   Gaudium et Spes refers to this sacrament as a “pledge of hope and food for the journey” that Christ left to His followers.

This document of Vatican II opened with these words:

“The joys and hopes, the grief and anguish of the people of our time, especially of those who are poor or afflicted, are the joys and hopes, the grief and anguish of the followers of Christ as well.   Nothing that is genuinely human, fails to find an echo in their hearts.   For theirs is a community of people united in Christ and guided by the Holy Spirit in their pilgrimage towards the father’s kingdom, bearers of a message of salvation for all of humanity (1).”

In the general intercessions at Holy Mass, we bring the “joys and hopes, the grief and anguish of the people of our time, especially of those who are poor or afflicted.”   We name those needs and address them to God our Father, through the Son and in the power of the Holy Spirit.   We know that those pleas to God register with Him, as they come directly to God through the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the compassionate and merciful heart of Christ.

When we bring our prayers and petitions to Holy Mass, we should trust that they are heard by God and that God will bring a most fitting response — in His good time, His unique way and His providential plan — to all the prayers of our hearts.   We might take them to Christ, with the added prayer:  “Jesus, I trust in you.”

“Let us, at this season, approach Him with awe and love, in whom resides all perfection and from whom we are allowed to gain it.   Let us come to the Sanctifier to be sanctified….
May each Christmas, as it comes, find us more and more like Him, who as at this time became a little child for our sake, more simple-minded, more humble, more holy, more affectionate, more resigned, more happy, more full of God.”

Saint John Henry Newman (1801-1890)let us as this season approach him in awe and love - st john henry newman 24 dec 2019.jpg


Quote/s of the Day – 24 December – The Nativity of the Lord at Midnight “Awake mankind!”

Quote/s of the Day – 24 December – The Nativity of the Lord, Mass at Midnight

“Awake, mankind!
For your sake God has become man.
Awake, you who sleep,
rise up from the dead
and Christ will enlighten you.
I tell you again,
for your sake,
God became man.”awake mankind. for your sake god - st augustine 24 dec 2019.jpg

Man’s maker was made man,
that He, Ruler of the stars,
might nurse at His mother’s breast, 
that the Bread might hunger,
the Fountain thirst,
the Light sleep,
the Way be tired on its journey, 
that the Truth might be accused of false witness,
the Teacher be beaten with whips,
the Foundation be suspended on wood,
that Strength might grow weak,
that the Healer might be wounded,
that Life might die.

St Augustine 354-430)
Great Latin Father and Doctor of the Churchmans maker was made man - st augustine - 17 dec 2019.jpg

Christmas Prayer
Of St Pope John XXIII (1881-1963) 

O sweet Child of Bethlehem,
grant that we may share
with all our hearts
in this profound mystery of Christmas.
Put into the hearts of men and women,
this peace, for which they sometimes seek, so desperately
and which You alone can give to them.
Help them to know one another better
and to live as brothers and sisters,
children of the same Father.
Reveal to them also Your beauty, holiness and purity.
Awaken in their hearts love and gratitude
for Your infinite goodness.
Join them all together in Your love.
And give us Your heavenly peace.
Ameno sweet child of bethlehem by st pope john XXIII 24 dec 2018.jpg


One Minute Reflection – 24 December – ‘Let us go to Bethlehem to behold the mystery of the crib.’

One Minute Reflection – 24 December – The Nativity of the Lord, Mass at Midnight – Readings: Isaiah 9:2-7 (1-6), Psalm 96:1-3, 11-13, Titus 2:11-14, Luke 2:1-14

For to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord.… Luke 2:11

REFLECTION – “Brethren, now we have been told about the miracle let us turn aside to see this unusual sight as Moses did (Ex 3:3) – in Mary the burning bush is not consumed, the Virgin gives birth to the Light without defilement (…) Let us then run to Bethlehem, the town of the Good News!   If we are real shepherds, staying awake on our watch, then it is to us that the voice of the angels is addressed, announcing a great joy (…)   “Glory to God in the highest for peace is coming down to earth!”   There where, only yesterday, there was nothing but misfortune, battlefields and exile, now earth receives peace for today “Truth shall spring out of the earth and justice shall look down from heaven” (Ps 84[85]:12).   Behold the fruit earth gives to humankind in reward for the goodwill reigning among men (Lk 2:14).   God is joined to man to raise man to the stature of God.

At this news, my brethren, let us go to Bethlehem to behold (…) the mystery of the crib, a child wrapped in swaddling clothes rests in a manger.   A Virgin after giving birth, His undefiled Mother, embraces her son.   Let us repeat the words of the prophet along with the shepherds:  “As we have heard, so we have seen in the city of our God.” (Ps 47[48]:9)

he rests in a manger because he is the one who makes the grass grow - st gregory of nyssa 24 dec 2019

But why does our Lord seek shelter in this cave at Bethlehem?   Why is He sleeping in a manger?   Why does He participate in Israel’s census?   My brethren, He who brings liberty to the world, comes to be born into our slavery to death.   He is born in this cave to reveal Himself to us, who are immersed in darkness and the shadow of death.   He rests in a manger because He is the One who makes grass grow for the cattle (Ps 104[103],14).   He is the Bread of Life who feeds us with a spiritual food that we too might live in the Spirit…   What more joyful feast is there than that of today?   Christ, the Sun of Justice (Mal 3,20), comes to illumine our night.   What had fallen is raised up again, what was overcome is now set free…  what was dead is restored to life…   Let us all sing today with one voice over all the earth:  “Death came through one man, Adam, today salvation has come through one man (cf Rom 5,17)” … St Gregory of Nyssa (c 335–c 395) Bishop-Sermon on the Nativity

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel!
May the Lord bless us,
protect us from all evil
and bring us to everlasting life.


Our Morning Offering – 24 December – The People who in Darkness Walked

Our Morning Offering – 24 December – The Solemnity of the Nativity of Our Lord, Jesus Christ, Mass at Midnight – Readings: Isaiah 9:1-6, Psalm 96:1-3, 11-13, Titus 2:11-14, Luke 2:1-14

The People who in Darkness Walked
From Isaiah 9:1-6

The People who in darkness walked
have seen a glorious light.
The light has shone on them who dwelt
In death’s surrounding night.
To hail You, Sun of Righteousness,
the gathering nations come,
rejoicing as when reapers bear,
their harvest treasures home.
To us a child of hope is born,
to us a son is given,
Him shall the tribes of earth obey,
Him all the host of heaven.
His name shall be the Prince of Peace
for evermore adored,
the Wonderful, the Counsellor,
the great and mighty Lord.the people who in darkness walked 24 dec 2019.jpg


Posted in SAINT of the DAY, VATICAN Resources

Saint of the Day – 24 December – Saint Paola Elisabetta Cerioli (1816-1865)

Saint of the Day – 24 December – Saint Paola Elisabetta Cerioli (1816-1865) Widow, Founder of the Institute of the Sisters of the Holy Family, the male branch – the Religious of the Holy Family, of which orders she is the Patron, Apostle of Charity – born Costanza Cerioli on 28 January 1816 at Soncino, Cremona, Kingdom of Lombardy-Venetia, Italy and died on 24 December 1865 aged 49, at Bergamo, Italy.

Costanza Cerioli was born on 28 January 1816 in Soncino, Italy, the last of 16 children born into the noble family of Francesco Cerioli and Francesca Corniani.   She was a frail child plagued by a heart condition throughout her life.Santa-Paola-Elisabetta-Ceriol-c.png

Comfort found in God alone:
Costanza lived at home until she was 11 years old, when she was sent off to school in Bergamo;  here she remained for five years, suffering terribly from the loneliness of being away from home.   But this experience helped her grow to depend on God, finding her comfort in Him alone.

At age 19, Costanza returned to Soncino where a planned marriage awaited her to the 59-year-old Gaetano Busecchi, widower of a countess, was set to be her husband.   Seeing it as God’s will, she accepted this proposal and was married on 30 April 1835.

Her marriage lasted 19 years and was marked by suffering on all sides, her husband’s difficult character and poor health weighed on her and three of the four children that Costanza gave birth to, died prematurely;  Carlo, her greatest “consolation”, lived to be 16.

Before his death due to serious illness in January 1854, Carlo spoke these prophetic words to his mother:  “Mama, do not cry… the Lord will give you other children”.   At the end of that same year, on 25 December, Gaetano also died.

This marked a dark period for Costanza, causing a profound existential crisis.   Never had she found herself so alone and abandoned, her life so seemingly senseless.   It was during this time that the words spoken by her son became a constant echo in her soul and sustained her, becoming her “guiding light”.

She sought spiritual direction and entrusted her tragedies and entire life into the hands of God, asking constantly for the grace to live her life with eyes of faith.ST PAOLA ELIZABETTA.jpg

Spiritual maternity:
Costanza continued to feel the need to express her “maternity” and to “give of herself” to others, as she had done with Carlo.   She was now 38 years old and, inspired by the Gospel, understood that charity was the only truly meaningful road.

She thus began to visit and assist the sick and share her belongings with the poor and orphans.   Looking into the searching and frightened eyes of the orphaned children who begged along the streets inspired her to make even more courageous decisions.

She began to give all her wealth and belongings to the poor and opened her home to welcome orphans.   Her family and neighbours would remark:  “The anguish that this devout woman passed through must have driven her crazy…  she does not realise what she is doing”.

The money she received once she sold her jewellery was used to purchase materials for the orphanage.   Even before giving away all her goods, she had made the most important decision – to give her entire self to God, making a perpetual vow of chastity on 25 December 1856.   And with her confessor’s approval, she made vows of poverty and obedience on 8 February 1857.

It was not long before other young women desired to join Costanza and “follow” in her works of charity.   God’s plan was unfolding before her eyes with greater clarity;,in silence, prayer and recollection she began to draw up the Rule for her “work.”st paola elisabetta cerioli.jpg

Sisters of the Holy Family:
On 8 December 1857, Costanza, “mother of many orphans”, founded the Institute of the Sisters of the Holy Family in Comonte, Italy.   She took the name “Sr Paola Elisabetta”, and summarised the charism of the Congregation in this way:

“The humility, simplicity, poverty and love of work found in the Holy Family of Nazareth is what makes up the specific spirituality of this Institute.   The Sisters that belong to it must strive to model themselves on this life, full of the recollection, hiddeness and with the same spirit of humble labour that Jesus, Mary and Joseph lived in this blessed home”.

From that day, Mother Paola dedicated herself to the growth and development of the religious community.   On 4 November 1863, in Villacampagna, a male branch was also founded by her, the Religious of the Holy Family.ST PAOLA CERIOLI.JPG

Under the protection of St Joseph:
With the House of Nazareth as the model of both branches, Mother Paola entrusted her “work” to the special protection of St Joseph and willed that the orphans under their care be known as the “sons and daughters of St Joseph”.

She was very attentive to the education of these parentless children and to the problem of poverty.   Her motherly spirit was limitless and she understood the importance of carefully and properly forming her religious sons and daughters, so that they would be able to love and educate well the children God placed under their care, these “neglected and lost ones”.

Mother Paola Elisabetta died unexpectedly in her home in Comonte on 24 December 1865.   She was 49 years old.

She was Beatified by Pope Pius XII on 19 March 1950, the Solemnity of St Joseph….

Saint Paola was Canonised by St Pope John Paul II on 16 May 2004.


Vigil of the Nativity of the Lord and Memorials of the Saints – 24 December

24 December – Vigil of the Nativity of the Lord/Mass at Midnight
In many Western Christian traditions Midnight Mass is the first liturgy of Christmastide that is celebrated on the night of Christmas Eve, traditionally beginning at midnight when Christmas Eve gives way to Christmas Day.   This popular Christmas custom is a jubilant celebration of the Mass in honour of the Nativity of Jesus, even many of those Christian denominations that do not regularly employ the word “Mass” uniquely use the term “Midnight Mass” for their Christmas Eve liturgy.

Saint Thomas Aquinas wrote a commentary on these words and explained in his Summa Theologiae, “And from this the Mass derives its name … the deacon on festival days ‘dismisses’ the people at the end of the Mass, by saying: ‘Ite, missa est,’ that is, the victim [Jesus] has been sent to God through the angel, so that it may be accepted by God.”

St Adam the Patriarch
St Adela of Pfalzel
Bl Alberic of Gladbach
Bl Brocard of Strasbourg
St Bruno of Ottobeuren
St Caran of Scotland
St Delphinus of Bordeaux
St Emiliana and St Trasilla (died sixth Century)
St Euthymius of Nicomedia
St Eve the Matriarch
Bl Francesco dei Maleficii
St Gregory of Spoleto
St Hanno of Worms
Bl Ignacio Caselles García
St Irmina of Oehren
St Mochua of Timahoe
Bl Pablo Meléndez Gonzalo
St Paola Elisabetta Cerioli (1816-1865)
Bl Peter de Solanes
Bl Venerandus of Clermont

All the Holy Ancestors of Jesus: A commemoration of all the holy ancestors of Jesus Christ.
• Blessed Dionysius Roneo
• Blessed Philip Claro
• Blessed Giulio Pons
• Blessed Peter of Valladolid

Blessed Mercedarian Sisters – (6 beati): Six cloistered Mercedarian nuns at the convent of Vera Cruz in Berriz, Spain. Noted for their devotion to the rules of the Order and for their deep prayer lives.
• Blessed Anna Maria Prieto
• Blessed Anna de Arrano
• Blessed Orsola de Larisgoizia
• Blessed Maguna Mary
• Blessed Margaret
• Blessed Mary of the Assumption Sarria

Martyred Maidens of Antioch – (40 saints): A group of forty virgins martyred in the persecutions of Decius. None of their names have come down to us. They were martyred in 250 in Antioch, Syria.

Martyrs of Tripoli – (6 saints): A group of Christians martyred together, date unknown. The only details that have surived are six of the names – Drusus, Lucian, Metrobius, Paul, Theotimus and Zenobius. They were martyred in Tripoli, Libya.