Thought for the Day – 27 December – Feast of St John the Evangelist and the Third Day of the Christmas Octave
“There are [Saints] … who are so absorbed in the divine life, that they seem, even while they are in the flesh, to have no part in earth or in human nature but, to think, speak and act under views, affections and motives, simply supernatural.
If they love others, it is simply because they love God and because man is the object, either of His compassion , or of His praise.
If they rejoice, it is in what is unseen, if they feel interest, it is in what is unearthly, if they speak, it is almost with the voice of Angels, if they eat or drink, it is almost of Angels’ food alone – for it is recorded in their histories, that for weeks, they have fed on nothing else but that Heavenly Bread, which is the proper sustenance of the soul.
Such we may suppose, to have been St John!”
St John Henry Newman (1801-1890)
“The love of Jesus is noble and generous, it spurs us onto do great things and excites us to desire always, that which is most perfect. Love will tend upwards and is not to be detained by things beneath. Love will be at liberty and free from all worldly affections… for love proceeds from God and cannot rest but in God above all things created. The lover flies, runs and rejoices, he is free and not held. He gives all for all and has all in all, because he rests in one sovereign Good above all, from Whom all good flows and proceeds”
Thomas à Kempis, The Imitation of Christ, Book III, Chapter V, 3-4
Quote/s of the Day – 27 December – Feast of St John the Evangelist and the Third Day of the Christmas Octave
“John’s God-illumined mind, conceived the incomparable height of divine wisdom, when he reclined on the Redeemer’s breast, during the holy Last Supper meal (Jn 13:25). And because “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col 2:3) are within the heart of Jesus, it is from there, that he drew and from there, that he greatly enriched our wretchedness, as people who are poor and generously distributed these goods, taken from their source, for the salvation of the whole world. And because this blessed John speaks about God in a marvellous way, that cannot be compared to that of anyone else, it is only right that the Greeks as well as the Latins have given him the name of “Theologian”. Mary is “Theotokos” because she has truly given birth to God; John is “Theologos” because he saw in an indescribable way, that the Word of God, was with the Father before the beginning of time and was God (Jn 1:1) and because, too, he spoke about this, with extraordinary depth.”
St Peter Damian (1007-1072) Doctor of the Church
“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!”
“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.”
One Minute Reflection – 27 December – Feast of St John the Evangelist the Memorial of Blessed Sára Salkaházi (1899–1944) Martyr and the Third Day of the Christmas Octave, Readings: 1 John 1:1-4, Psalm 97:1-2, 5-6, 11-12, John 20:2-8
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 1:1-2
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 Church
PRAYER – “I am grateful to You for the love You have given me. My dear Jesus, I place this love into Your hands: keep it chaste and bless it, so that it may always be rooted in You. And increase in me my love for You. I know that if I love You, I can never get lost. If I want to be Yours with all my heart, You will never let me stray from You. Amen. May St John the Evangelist, beloved of the Lord and Blessed Sára Salkaházi, intercede for us that we may love You Lord with all our hearts, minds and souls!
Saint of the Day – 27 December – St Fabiola (Died 399) Physician, divorced and then widowed in her second marriage, apostle of the poor and the sick, Foundress of the first known hospital and hospice, disciple of St Jerome, benefactress of the Church – born during the 4th century in Rome, Italy and died in 399 in Rome, Italy of natural causes. Patronages – Divorced people, difficult marriages, victims of abuse, adultery; unfaithfulness, widow, Hospice Movement.
As Isaiah had prophesied, Christ came to preach the gospel to “the poor.” His church has always given a special option to the penniless. But sometimes rich people are even poorer than paupers because they are subject to greater temptations.
Fabiola was a member (as her name indicates) of the Fabii, one of ancient Rome’s most aristocratic and wealthy families. She was a Christian but a socialite and rather headstrong, probably because she had been raised to have her own way.
When Fabiola married, it was also to a man of social prominence. But, through no fault of hers, he proved to be so dissolute that she was unwilling to continue living with him. She therefore obtained a civil divorce. This was understandable. As so often happens today, Fabiola, still young, vigorous and companionable, took another spouse while her separated husband was still alive. Then as now, this was adultery. Fabiola remained strong in faith perhaps but proved weak in morals.
Providentially, Fabiola’s second mate did not live long. His death gave her the long-desired opportunity to seek reconciliation with the Church. Having performed the long public penance that was demanded in those days of public sinners, this Roman divorcee was re-admitted to the Sacraments by Pope St Siricius. Thenceforth, she sought to make amends for her waywardness by expending her great wealth on worthy causes. To churches and congregations in Rome and elsewhere she gave large sums. She also founded a Roman hospital for the sick poor, whom she gathered in from the streets and alleys and took care of personally, she treated citizens rejected from society due to their “loathsome diseases.” As far as is known, this was the first great Christian public hospital to be opened in western Europe.
In those days, St Jerome, the famous monk and scripture scholar, was exercising an influential apostolate among Roman Christian women of high position. Some of these had become nuns and gone to live near the saint in his chosen locale, Bethlehem. In 395 Fabiola herself went to the Holy Land to visit and learn from him. She stayed with two of his spiritual advisees, the nuns Sts Paula and Eustochium, both also Romans by origin. She applied herself, under the St Jerome’s direction, with the greatest zeal to the study and contemplation of the Scriptures and to ascetic exercises. Fabiola revered St Jerome and would have liked to join his community but the silent monastic life did not appeal to this gregarious and sociable woman.
Eventually, the rumour reached St Jerome’s little community that the Asiatic Huns were about to swarm into the area of Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Jerome and all his associates quickly fled for safety to the seacoast. The alarm proved to be false, however, so they moved back to Bethlehem – all except Fabiola, who had decided to return to Rome. She remained, however, in correspondence with St Jerome, who at her request wrote a treatise on the priesthood of Aaron and the priestly dress.
There is some indication that Fabiola was tempted once more to remarry. At least she did not yield to that temptation. Once back in Rome she renewed her program of good works. Co-operating with another prominent Roman Christian, the former senator Saint Pammachius, she set up a large hospice at Porto, the Roman port of entry on the Mediterranean coast. Intended to serve travellers and paupers arriving by sea, this guest-house, like her hospital in Rome, was both novel and welcome. As St Jerome tells us, within a year of its foundation, the good news of Fabiola’s hospice had spread across the Roman Empire from Britain to Persia. Even after the hospice, St Fabiola started to plan still another institution of charity but death now spoiled her plans.
All Rome, it is said, attended the funeral of its benefactress, who had shared her wealth with the needy. It was a wonderful manifestation of the gratitude and veneration with which she was regarded by the Roman populace.
St Jerome wrote a eulogistic memoir of Fabiola in a letter to her relative Oceanus.
The story of Fabiola has a curiously modern quality. This socially gifted woman can serve as a good example to today’s women whose marriages break up. Woman is endowed by God with talents both as a wife and a mother. Even when she loses her status as wife, she can still live out her status as mother, not only to her own children but to all who need a mother’s touch and a mother’s love.
The English Cardinal Nicholas Wiseman (1802-1865), wrote a fictional book, called Fabiola of the Church of the Catacombs and includes many saints and martyrs.