Thought for the Day – 31 December – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
The Last Day of the Year
“The last day of the year has come. It should be a day of reckoning and of resolution. Think of the many benefits which God has conferred on you throughout your life but, especially in the year which is now drawing to a close.
Count the temporal favours which you have received. Many of your friends and acquaintances have died during the year but, you are still alive! God has rescued you from innumerable perils and illnesses. He has allowed you more time in which to perfect your spiritual life and to perform pastoral work on your neighbour’s behalf. Try not to be like the barren tree in the gospel because, this could be your final year of trial.
Count the spiritual blessings which you have received. Think of the graces and good inspirations which God has given you during the past twelve months. How often have you received forgiveness for your sins, been restored to the friendship of God and, experienced anew, the joy and peace of being in the state of grace? How often has Jesus come into your heart under the guise of the Blessed Eucharist? How often have you been enlightened ad ecouraged by hearing or reading the word of God? Think, too, of the good example which you have received in private and in public and recall the many occasions, on which the helping hand of God has reached out to save you from falling into sin.
You could never show sufficient gratitude for all these favours. Spend this day, at least, in acts of repentance and thanksgiving and, promise God, to be faithful to Him in the coming year.”
Quote/s of the Day – 31 December – The Seventh Day in the Octave of Christmas
Are we Ready? Will this be another year from hell?
“Brothers, . . . I can only say, that forgetting all that lies behind me and straining forward to what lies in front of me, I am racing towards the finishing-point, to win the prize of God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus.”
“My brothers, Christ made love the stairway that would enable all Christians to climb to heaven. Hold fast to it, therefore, in all sincerity, give one another practical proof of it and by your progress in it, make your ascent together.”
St Fulgentius of Ruspe (c 462 – 533)
“Love God, serve God, everything is in that.”
St Clare of Assisi (1194-1253)
“In God’s Name, let us go on bravely”
St Joan of Arc (1412-1431)
“Our business is, to gain heaven; everything else, is a sheer waste of time.”
St Vincent de Paul (1581-1660)
St Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort (1673-1716)
“Let us go forward in peace, our eyes upon heaven, the only one goal of our labours.”
St Thérèse of the Child Jesus (1873-1897) Doctor of the Church
Christ has been born for us, come, let us adore Him.
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth.” – John 1:14
REFLECTION – “God, who gave being to all that is, at the same time united all things together in His providence.
Being master, He became a servant (cf, Phil 2:6-7) and so revealed to the world, the depth of His providence.
God the Word, in becoming incarnate while remaining unchanged, was united through His flesh with the whole of creation.
There is a new wonder in heaven and on earth – God is on earth and man is in heaven.
He united men and angels, so as to bestow deification on all creation.
The knowledge of the holy and co-essential Trinity is the sanctification and deification of men and angels. …
When, in His compassion for man, the Word became flesh (cf. Jn 1:14), He changed, neither what He was, nor what He became.” – Thalassios the Syrian (5th Century) Priest, Hermit and Abbot in Syria – Centuries on Love I
PRAYER – All-powerful, ever-living God, we thank You for the human birth of Your Son, which is the source and perfection of our Christian life and worship. Number us among His people, for the salvation of all mankind is found in Him, for the Word became flesh who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, God, forever and ever, amen.
Thalassius of Syria undertook the call of God to life as a hermit in the fifth century. Thalassius is recorded to have entered into solitude at a young age near a village named Targala in Byzantine Syria. He is said to have dwelt there, living the ascetic life with no shelter for nearly forty years. Thalassius’ was a soul filled with humbleness, simplicity and a gentle nature. God manifested in him, the gifts of powerful intercession and healing for which he gained considerable renown. In time, many came to join Thalassius in the eremitic life and he welcomed them as he would welcome Christ, building them cells with his own hands. BlessedThalassius, Hermit of Syria is said to have died peacefully.
Our Morning Offering – 31 December – The Seventh Day of the Octave of Christmas
V. The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary. R. And she conceived of the Holy Spirit. Hail Mary, full of grace, The Lord is with Thee; Blessed art thou among women, And blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, Pray for us sinners, Now and at the hour of our death. Amen V. Behold the handmaid of the Lord. R. Be it done unto me according to thy word. Hail Mary, etc. V. And the Word was made Flesh. R. And dwelt among us. Hail Mary, etc. V. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God. R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ. LET US PRAY Pour forth, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts, that we to whom the Incarnation of Christ Thy Son was made known by the message of an angel, may by His Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of His Resurrection. Through the same Christ Our Lord. Amen
The Angelus (/ˈændʒələs/; Latin for “angel”) is a Catholic devotion commemorating the Incarnation. As with many Catholic prayers, the name Angelus is derived from its incipit—the first few words of the text: Angelus Domini nuntiavit Mariæ (“The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary”). The devotion is practised by reciting as versicle and response three Biblical verses narrating the mystery, alternating with the prayer “Hail Mary.” The Angelus exemplifies a species of prayers called the “prayer of the devotee.”
The devotion is traditionally recited three times daily: 06:00, 12:00 and 18:00. The Angelus is usually accompanied by the ringing of the Angelus bell, which is a call to prayer and to spread goodwill to everyone. The angel referred to in the prayer is Gabriel, a messenger of God who revealed to the Virgin Mary that she would conceive a child to be born, the Son of God (Luke 1:26–38) so honouring the Incarnation of the Saviour, Redeemer – our Messiah, Jesus the Christ.
The words of the prayer are arranged above for leader and community but, of course, most of us pray the prayer alone 3 times each day, for we are always united with each other in faith.
Saint of the Day – 31 December – Saint Melania the Younger (c 383-439) Foundress, Desert Hermit, Married and Mother of 2 children who died very young, Widow. Born c 383 and died in late December 439 at Jerusalem of natural causes. St Melania the younger was the daughter of Publicola, only son of St Melania the Elder. She was foundress of communities of Desert Hermits. Patronages – against the death of children, exiles.
Melania was born to Valerius Publicola – the son of Valerius Maximus Basilius and Melania the Elder – and his wife Albina. She married her paternal cousin, Valerius Pinianus, at the age of fourteen. After the early deaths of their two children, she and her husband embraced Christian asceticism and maintained a celibate life thereafter. Upon inheriting her parents’ wealth, she donated it to ecclesiastical institutions and to the poor through anonymous intermediaries.
Melania and Pinianus left Rome in 408, living a monastic life near Messina (Sicily) for two years. In 410, they travelled to Africa, where they befriended St Augustine of Hippo and devoted themselves to a life of piety and charitable works. Together they founded a convent of which Melania became Mother Superior and cloister of which Pinianus took charge. Melania lived with the women, fasting and wearing sackcloth. She spent many hours transcribing manuscripts, a work at which she was highly skilled.
In 417, they went to Palestine by way of Alexandria, where they visited the principal places of monastic life and hermitages. In Jerusalem, they lived in a hospice for pilgrims and met St. Jerome, whose disciple and collaborato, Paula, was Melania’s cousin. She became a member of Jerome’s circle of helpers. She lived in Jerusalem for twelve years in a hermitage near the Mount of Olives. Her mother died in 431 and after this Melania opened a convent for women on the Mount of Olives, which she inspired and maintained but refused to become its superior. After her husband’s death she built a cloister for men, then a Chapel and later, a larger Church. She attracted many men and women to a solitary way of life, one of whom was her spiritual director and Biographer, Gerontius.
Melania’s Uncle Volusianus, a diplomat at the court of theEemperor Valentinian, wrote inviting her to Constantinople. She did go there and helped in his conversion to Christianity and assisted him as he died on 6 January 437. She also mounted a campaign there against Nestorianism.
Melania spent the Christmas of 439 in Bethlehem and died a week later.
Blessed Alain de Solminihac OSA (1593-1659) His Story: https://anastpaul.com/2019/12/31/saint-of-the-day-31-december-blessed-alain-de-solminihac-osa-1593-1659/ 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 Melania the Younger (c 383-439) Foundress, Desert Hermit 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
Thought for the Day – 30 December – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
“When we have renounced ourselves and have embraced our cross with resignation and love, we must follow Jesus. We must follow Him in a special way as the infallible Teacher of truth. The teachings of men cannot satisfy our intellects. Still less, can they satisfy our hearts. What they teach is either incomplete or false. This is proved by the fact that the doctrines of mean have succeeded and replaced one another, down through the centuries while “the word of the Lord endures forever” (1 Peter 1:25).
The teaching of Christ produces an extraordinary renovation in the individual, in the family and in society. It is this renewal which we call Christianity and Christian civilisation. There is a wide chasm between paganism and Christianity. This gulf would be even wider, only for the fact that Christianity has not yet been fully put into practice throughout the universe. There is only one reform necessary. This is to realise the Christian ideal everywhere. We must begin by carrying it out ourselves. Let us follow Jesus, Who is saying to us: “I am the way and the truth and the life” (Jn 14:6). “He who follows Me does not walk in darkness” (Jn 8:12).
Let us follow our divine Master and we shall be sure that we are travelling towards Heaven!”
Quote/s of the Day – 30 December – The Sixth Day in the Christmas Octave
“Maker of the sun, He is made under the sun.
In the Father He remains, From His mother He goes forth.
Creator of heaven and earth, He was born under heaven.
Unspeakably wise, He is wisely speechless.
Filling the world, He lies in a manger.
Ruler of the stars, He nurses at His mother’s bosom.
He is both great in the nature of God and small in the form of a servant.”
St Augustine (354-430) Father and Doctor of Grace
“He has come down to earth to take you to heaven, He became mortal that you might become God and put on your original beauty.”
St Romanos Melodios (c 490-c 556) Monk, Composer of Hymns, Poet
“Has anybody the right to criticise us even if we seem to be beside ourselves with joy to-day over the Birthday of our King?”
St Peter Canisius (1521-1397) Doctor of the Church
“I feel as though I am with Mary and Joseph beside the Crib. It is good to be there. Outside are the cold and the snow, images of the world but in the little cave, lit by the light of Jesus, it is sweet and warm and light.”
One Minute Reflection – 30 December – The Sixth Day in the Christmas Octave, Readings: 1 John 2:12-17, Psalm 96:7-10, Luke 2:36-40
“She spoke about the child to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem” … Luke 2:38
REFLECTION – “O Root of Jesse, who stand as a sign to the peoples” (Is 11: 10), “how many kings and prophets wanted to see you and did not” (Lk 10:24)? Simeon is the happiest of them all because by God’s mercy he was still bearing fruit in old age. For he rejoiced to think that he would see the sign so long desired. He saw it and was glad (Lk 8:56). When he had received the kiss of peace, he departed in peace but first, he proclaimed aloud that Jesus was born, a sign that would be rejected (Lk 2:25-34). And so it was. The sign of peace arose and was rejected, by those who hate peace (Ps 119:7). For what is peace to men of goodwill (Lk 2:14) is a stone to make men stumble, a rock for the wicked to fall over (l Pt 2:8). “Herod was troubled and all Jerusalem with him” (Mt 2:3). He came to His own and His own did not receive Him (Jn 1:11). Happy those shepherds keeping watch at night who were found worthy to be shown the sign of this vision! (Lk 23:8)
For even at that time He was hiding Himself from the wise and prudent and revealing Himself to the simple (Mt 11:25; Lk 10:21). … The angel said to the shepherds, “This is a sign for you” (Lk 2: 12), you who are humble, you who are obedient, you who are not haughty (Rom 12: 16), you who are keeping vigil and meditating on God’s law day and night (Ps 1:2). “This is a sign for you,” he said. What is this sign? The sign the angels promised, the sign the people asked for, the sign the prophets foretold, the Lord Jesus has now made and He shows it to you. …
This is your sign. What is it a sign of? Indulgence, grace, peace, “the peace which will have no end” (Is 9:7). It is this sign: “You will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger” (Lk 2: 12). But this baby is God Himself, reconciling the world to Himself in Him (2 Cor 5: 19). … He is the Kiss of God, the Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus (1Tm 2:5), who with the Father and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns world without end.” … St Bernard (1091-1153) Doctor of the Church
PRAYER – Almighty God and Father, the human birth of Your Only-begotten Son, was the beginning of new life. May He set us free from the tyranny of sin. We make our prayer through Christ, our Lord with the Holy Spirit, God forever and ever, amen.
Our Morning Offering – 30 December – The Sixth Day of the Octave of Christmas
Who lives in Love By St Robert Southwell SJ (1561-1595) Martyr
Who lives in Love, loves least to live and long delays doth rue, if Him he love by whom he lives, to whom all praise is due, Who for our love did choose to live and was content to die, who loved our love more than His life, and love with life did buy. Let us in life, yea with our life requite His living love, for best we live when least we live, if Love our life remove. Mourn, therefore, no true lover’s death, life only him annoy, and when he taketh leave of life then Love begins his joys.
Saint of the Day – 30 December – Saint Egwin of Worcester OSB (Died 717) Bishop, Benedictine Monk, Reformer and Penitent, miracle-worker – born in the 7th century in England and died on 30 December 717 at Evesham Abbey, Mercia of natural causes.
Egwin of Worcester was of a noble family, possibly a descendant of the Mercian kings.
He was devoted to God since his youth and became a Benedictine Monk. His biographers say that king, clergy and the faithful, all united in demanding Egwin’s elevation to Bishop. He succeeded to the See of Worcester in 662.
Though a good Bishop, protector of orphans and widows and a fair judge, he incurred the animosity of people who resisted his insistent teaching on marital morality and clerical celibacy.
The clergy saw him as overly strict, while he felt he was simply trying to correct abuses and impose appropriate disciplines. Bitter resentments arose and complaints were made against him to this ecclesiatical superiors. Egwin made his way to Rome to present his case to Pope Constantine. The case against Egwin was examined and annulled.
He prepared for his journey by locking shackles on his feet and throwing the key into the River Avon. In Rome, as he prayed before the tomb of the Apostle St Peter, one of his servants brought him this very key—found in the mouth of a fish that had just been caught in the Tiber. Egwin then released himself from his self-imposed bonds and straight away obtained from the Pope an authoritative release from his enemies’ obloquy.
His Vita relates that on crossing the Alps with a few companions, there was no water. Parched, those who did not appreciate his sanctity, mockingly suggested that he ask for water, like Moses. But others, who knew him well, reverently beseeched him to, indeed, pray for water. As Egwin prostrated himself in prayer, a stream of crystalline water issued forth from a rock.
On his return to England, Egwin founded the famous Abbey of Evesham, which became one of the great Benedictine houses of medieval England. It was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, who had reportedly made it known to a swineherd named Eof, just where a church should be built in her honour.
Around 709, he again journeyed to Rome, this time in the company of Kings, Cenred of Mercia and Offa of the East Saxons and received many privileges for his Monastery from Pope Constantine.
St Egwin died on 30 December 717 and was buried at the Monastery he had founded.
A hagiography, the Vita Sancti Egwini, was written by Dominic of Evesham, a medieval Prior of Evesham Abbey around 1130. Egwin’s tomb was destroyed, along with the Abbey Church, at the time of the dissolution of the Abbey in 1540.
St Anysia of Thessalonica St Anysius of Thessalonica St Egwin of Worcester OSB (Died 717) Bishop
St Elias of Conques St Eugene of Milan St Pope Felix I St Geremarus Blessed Giovanni Maria Boccardo (1848-1913) His Life: https://anastpaul.com/2019/12/30/saint-of-the-day-30-december-blessed-giovanni-maria-boccardo-1848-1913-father-of-the-poor/ St Hermes of Moesia St Jucundus of Aosta St Liberius of Ravenna Bl Margaret Colonna St Perpetuus of Tours Bl Raoul of Vaucelles St Raynerius of Aquila Bl Richard of Wedinghausen St Ruggero of Canne St Sebastian of Esztergom — Martyrs of Alexandria – (5 saints): A group of Christians martyred in the unrest caused by Monophysite heretics. We know the names for five of them – Appian, Donatus, Honorius, Mansuetus and Severus. They were martyred in c 483 at Alexandria, Egypt.
Martyrs of Oia – (6 saints): A group of Christians martyred together, date unknown. The only details to have survived are the names – Cletus, Florentius, Papinianus, Paul, Serenusa and Stephen. They were martyred in Oia, Greece.
Martyrs of Spoleto – (4 saints): A group of Christians martyred in the persecutions of Diocletian – Exuperantius, Marcellus, Sabinus and Venustian. They were martyred in 303 in Spoleto, Italy
Thought for the Day – 29 December – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
The Value of An Hour
“There are twenty four hours in a day, eight thousand seven hundred and sixty, in a year. How have you spent all the hours which God has given you in the past? How do you intend to use the hours which He will give you in the future?
When you examine the past, you will find much to regret. Perhaps you have spent many hours in sin, in idle gossp, in useless or dangerous pastimes, or in innumerable business transactions, all of which will contribute NOTHING towards your eternal salvation, which should be our main concern in this life.
How much time have you spent thinking of God, your Creator and Redeemer? How many hours have you devoted to prayer, thanksgiving and penance. How many have you spent in apostolic work on behalf of your neighbour? It may be that the service of God and your spiritual welfare have, so far, been the least of your worries, on which you have expended no more than the few odd moments left over from your other preoccupations. You are well aware, nevertheless, that the purpose of life is to know, love and serve God. You know that you ought to offer Him all your thoughts, affections and actions, for He alone can make your happy – or do you NOT know and believe this?”
Quote/s of the Day – 29 December – The Fifth Day of the Octave of Christmas and the Memorial of St Thomas à Becket (1118-1170) Martyr, Archbishop of Canterbury
“To Him, I look as my judge, to Him, as the avenger of my wrongs, firm in my own good conscience and secure in the sincerity of my devotion, rooted in faith and confident that those who, in the love of justice suffer injury, can never be confounded, nor those, who break the horns of the persecutors of the Church, be deprived of their everlasting reward.”
“Let it be your consolation, then, that God’s enemies, however honourable and exalted they may have been, shall, nevertheless, fade away like the smoke.”
One Minute Reflection – 29 December – The Fifth Day of the Octave of Christmas, Readings: 1 John 2:3-11, Psalms 96:1-2, 2b-3, 5-6, Luke 2:22-35 and the Memorial of St Thomas à Becket (1118-1170) Martyr, Archbishop of Canterbury
“Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace ”- Luke 2:29
REFLECTION – “The kingdom of God is at hand” (Lk 21:31). The kingdom of God, beloved brethren, has begun to be at hand; the reward of life and the joy of eternal salvation and perpetual happiness and the possession of paradise once lost, are now coming with the passing of the world; now the things of heaven are succeeding those of earth; great things, small and eternal things, transitory. What place is there here for anxiety and worry? …
It is written that “the just man lives by faith” (Rm 1:17). If you are just and live by faith, if you truly believe in Jesus Christ, why do you, who are destined to be with Christ and secure in the promise of the Lord, not rejoice that you are called to Christ …? Take the example of Simeon, the just man who was truly just, who with full faith kept the commandments of God – when the answer had been given him from heaven that he would not die before he had seen Christ and when Christ as an infant had come into the temple with His mother, he knew in spirit that Christ was now born, concerning whom it had been foretold to him before and on seeing Him he knew, that he himself would quickly die.
Happy, therefore, at the death that was now at hand and untroubled at the approaching summons, he took the child into his hands and, blessing God, he cried out and said: “Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation.” Thus he proved surely and bore witness, that the servants of God have peace, they have a free and tranquil repose when, on being released from the storms of this world, they have sought the harbour of our final abode and eternal security … For that is our peace, that is our sure tranquillity, that, our steadfast and firm and everlasting security.” – St Cyprian of Carthage (c 200-258) Martyr, Bishop, Church Father – On mortality, 2-3
PRAYER – God our Father, our human nature is the wonderful work of Your hands. Your Son took to Himself our manhood, grant us a share in His Sonship, that as co-heirs with Him, we may strive evermore obediently to gain our final home with the Blessed Virgin and all Your saints. Through Christ, our Lord, with the Holy Spirit, one God with You now and for evermore, amen.
Our Morning Offering – 29 December – The Fifth Day of the Octave of Christmas
Jesu, Dulcis Memoria Prayer, Poem, Hymn By St Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153) Doctor Mellifluous Tr. Fr Edward Caswell C.Orat. (1814-1878)
Jesus, the very thought of Thee With sweetness fills the breast! Yet sweeter far Thy face to see And in Thy presence rest. No voice can sing, no heart can frame, Nor can the memory find, A sweeter sound than Jesus’ Name, The Saviour of mankind. O hope of every contrite heart! 0 joy of all the meek! To those who fall, how kind Thou art! How good to those who seek! But what to those who find? Ah! this Nor tongue nor pen can show The love of Jesus, what it is, None but His loved ones know. Jesus! our only hope be Thou, As Thou our prize shall be; In Thee be all our glory now, And through eternity. Amen
Jesu, Dulcis Memoria is a celebrated 12th century prayer/hymn by St Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153), Doctor Mellifluous. The entire hymn has some 42 to 53 stanzas depending upon the translation. Parts of this hymn are used for the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus on 3 January.
Saint of the Day – 29 December – Blessed William Howard (1614–1680) Martyr, Married Layman and Father, 1st Viscount Stafford – born on 30 November 1614 in Strand, London, England and died by being beheaded on 29 December 1680 on Tower Hill, London, England.
William was the grandson of the Venerable Philip Howard, Earl of Arundel, fifth son of Earl Thomas (the first great art collector of England) and Uncle of Thomas Philip – Cardinal Howard. Brought up as a Catholic, he was made a Knight of the Bath, at the Coronation of Charles I, on 1 February 1626 and married Mary, sister of the last Baron Stafford, in October 1637; the title was revived for him on 12 September 1640 and he was immediately afterwards created a Viscount.
He is said to have joined the Royal army during the Civil War but perhaps erroneously, for in 1642 he was in Holland, attending the exiled Royal family and his mother and father. He was also employed by the Emperor Ferdinand in a missions to Flanders and Switzerland. After his father’s death on 4 October 1646, many painful quarrels with his nearest relatives ensued. The Howard properties in England having been sequestrated by Parliament, the family was much impoverished and William’s eldest surviving brother, Earl Henry Frederick, was induced to commence a series of unjust and vexatious lawsuits against his mother and practically robbed her of her dowry. William, as her representative, was involved in these painful and prolonged quarrels and even after both mother and brother had passed away, his cousins and their agents continued against him a quasi-persecution for several years.
The details of these transactions are obscure but it would seem that the Viscount was, under foreign law, twice actually arrested, at Heidelberg, in 1653 and at Utrecht in January 1656. In the latter case, he was acquitted with honour, though the charges, of which the particulars are not now known, were insulting and vexatious. In these troubles, his most dangerous opponents were perhaps Junius and other literary adherents of his father, who were claiming manuscripts and rarities from the Arundel Collections in payment of their debts, while Lord William successfully proved that those collections were not liable to such charges. After the Restoration in 1660, his rights were firmly established and his life within his large family circle must have been extremely happy. The brightest hours were perhaps those spent in conducting his nephew Philip to receive the Cardinal’s hat in Rome (1675).
Three years later, the infamous anti-Catholic Titus Oates and his abetters, included Lord Stafford in their list of Catholic Lords to be proscribed and eventually, he was put first upon the list. It has been supposed that this was done because his age, simplicity and the previous differences with other members of his family, suggested that he would prove comparatively easy prey. On 25 October, 1678, he was committed to the Tower and it was more than a year before it was decided to try him. Then the resolution was taken so suddenly that he had little time to prepare. The trial, before the House of Lords, lasted from 30 November to 7 December and was conducted with great solemnity. But no attempt was made to appraise the perjuries of Oates, Dugdale and Tuberville and the Viscount was, of course, condemned by 55 votes to 31.
It is sad to read that all his kinsmen but one (that one, however, the Lord Mowbray, with whom he had had many of the legal conflicts above here noticed) voted against him. His last letters and speeches are marked by a quiet dignity and a simple heroism, which give us a high idea of his character. Blessed William was condemned to execution by beheading.
His fellow prisoner and confessor, Father Corker OSB, says: “He was ever held to be of a generous disposition, very charitable, devout, addicted to sobriety, inoffensive in words, a lover of justice.” A portrait of him, see below, by Sir Antony Van Dyck belongs to the Marquess of Bute.
Blessed William was Beatified on 15 December 1929 by Pope Pius XI.
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 Blessed William Howard (1614–1680) Martyr, Layman — 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
Thought for the Day – 28 December – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
The Gospel contains a frightening condemnation of those who give scandal. “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it were better for him to have a great millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world because of scandal! … If thy hand or thy foot is an occasion of sin to thee, cut it off and cast it from thee! It is better for thee to enter life, mained or lame, than, having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the everlasting fire …” (Cf Mt 18:6-9). Why was Christ so strict on scandal-givers? He condemned them because they are the accomplices of the devil. Not satisfied with doing evil themselves, they seek by means of bad example, to draw others towards ruin as well. They try to destroy Christ’s work of Redemption and the fruits of the shedding of His Precious Blood. Let us examine our own conduct. If we discover anything which could provide an occasion of sin for others, let us remedy it immediately. Thoughtlessness in such matters can be very dangerous. Something which seems perfectly innocent to us, could be a source of scandal to others. Prudence and delicacy are necessary in our relations with our fellow-men.
Quote/s of the Day – 28 December – The Feast of the Holy Innocents – The Fourth Day of the Christmas Octave, Readings: 1 John 1:5-2:2, Psalm 124:2-5, 7-8, Matthew 2:13-18
“A voice was heard in Ramah, sobbing and loud lamentation; Rachel weeping for her children and she would not be consoled, since they were no more.”
“Thus, parents, I say, are more vicious, more cruel than child-murderers; for, a murderer of children, as Herod was, separates only the body from the soul; while the others, give the souls and bodies of their children to eternal flames! Further, those who are killed would have died in the course of time, though they had not been murdered; while children, neglected by their parents, might have avoided eternal death, had not the wickedness of their parents prepared it for them. Besides this, the general resurrection would have compensated for the bodily death, while the death and destruction of the soul, nothing can restore. A child, condemned by the parent’s fault, has no hope of salvation but has to suffer eternal pains. Hence I am right in saying, that such parents are worse than child-murderers.”
One Minute Reflection – 28 December – The Feast of the Holy Innocents – The Fourth Day of the Christmas Octave, Readings: 1 John 1:5-2:2, Psalm 124:2-5, 7-8, Matthew 2:13-18
When Herod realised that he had been deceived by the magi, he became furious. He ordered the massacre of all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity, two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had ascertained from the magi. – Matthew 2:16
REFLECTION – “The Apostle John said: “Whoever says he abides in Christ, ought to walk even as Christ walked” (1 Jn 2:6). Moreover, the blessed Apostle Paul exhorts and teaches us, saying: “We are God’s children but if children, then heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him that we may also be glorified together” (Rm 8:16f.) … Let us, beloved brethren, imitate righteous Abel, who initiated martyrdom, he being the first to be slain for righteousness’s sake (Gn 4:8) …; let us imitate the three children Ananias, Azarias and Misael, who … overcame the king by the power of faith (Dn 3) … What of the prophets whom the Holy Spirit quickened to a foreknowledge of future events? What of the Apostles whom the Lord chose? Since these righteous men were slain for righteousness’ sake, have they not taught us also to die?
The nativity of Christ at once witnessed the martyrdom of infants, so that they who were two years old and under were slain for His name’s sake. An age, not yet fitted for the battle, appeared fit for the crown. That it might be manifest that they who are slain for Christ’s sake are innocent, innocent infancy was put to death for His name’s sake … How grave is the case of a Christian, if he, a servant, is unwilling to suffer when his Master first suffered! … The Son of God suffered that He might make us sons of God and the son of man will not suffer that he may continue to be a son of God! … The Maker and Lord of the world also warns us, saying: “If the world hates you, remember that it hated me before you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own but because you are not of the world but I have chosen you out of the world … remember the word that I said to you: “The servant is not greater than his lord” (Jn 15:18-20).” – St Cyprian of Carthage (c.200-258) Martyr, Bishop of Carthage, Father of the Church – Letter 55
PRAYER – We praise You, O God, we acclaim You as Lord, the white-robed army of martyrs praise You. (from the Te Deum).
Our Morning Offering – 28 December – The Feast of the Holy Innocents – The Fourth Day of the Christmas Octave.
O Dearest Infant By St Alphonsus Liguori (1696-1787) Most Zealous Doctor
O dearest Infant, tell me what You came on earth to do. Tell me whom You are seeking. Ah, yes, I now understand… You have come to die for me, a lost sheep, in order that I may no more hide from You but love You. O Jesus, my treasure, my life, my love, my all, if I do not love You, then whom shall I love? Where can I ﬁnd a mother or father, a friend, or a spouse more loving than You? And who has ever loved me more than You have? I am sorry that I have lived so many years in this world and yet still love You so little, even having offended You and sometimes forgotten You. Amen
Saint of the day – 28 December – Blessed Matthia de Nazzarei OSC (1253-1319) Virgin, Nun of the Poor Clares, Abbess, gifted with the charism of miracles and prophecy – born on 1 March 1253 in Matelica, Macerata, Italy and died on 28 December 1319 in Matelica, Macerata, Italy of natural causes. Also known as Mattia, Matthias Nazarei. Her body is incorrupt. Patronage – Matelica, Italy.
Matthia’s life mirrored that of St Clare in many respects besides simply sharing the same life and charism. She ran away to a Monastery at a tender age, immediately sheared her tresses and donned the habit, resisted the drastic attempts of her relatives to remove her and served as Abbess for 46 years.
Blessed Matthia, whose name is derived from the Hebrew meaning “given by God,” was born to aristocratic Italian parents in 1253. Perhaps the significance of this year escaped her parents at the time but every Poor Clare remembers, this was the year St Clare died. Little did anyone know that this little baby would grow up to emulate that great but simple Abbess.
An only child, Matthia grew up, according to one account, “humble and intelligent,” a rare and attractive combination. She preferred a simple life and rejected all pomp of court life that demonstrated what she felt was excessive wealth. Naturally, her parents hoped to arrange a successful marriage in the world for her. But she spent long hours in the Chapel of the local Benedictine Monastery and eventually decided this life of penance was her calling.
At the age of eighteen a marriage was arranged for her. When she heard this, she left her home and fled to the Benedictine Convent of Santa Maddalena at Matalica. It was there that she became a Benedictine nun and served as its Abbess for four decades from 1279.
She feared her father’s retribution for her fleeing and remained hidden until he found her. But her father was so impressed with her that he allowed her to remain and the two reconciled. She took her solemn profession on 10 August 1271. The Convent later adopted the rule of the Poor Clares.
Considerable work was done during her term – the Convent and Chapel were both rebuilt – but the interior work she did for souls by her charitable service far surpassed any earthly accomplishment, however monumental. She also possessed the charisms of healing, prophecy and even turning spoiled wine into the best vintage.
When her end drew near, she told her sisters, “It is time to go to the Father.” Then after exhorting her community to faithfulness to their chosen way of life, she said, “God is love!” and commended her soul to God. She died on 28 December 1319 in Matelica. The Convent was renamed “Beata Matthias” in her honour in 1758. She was reinterred near the high altar of her Convent Chapel and was exhumed in 1536. It was found incorrupt and also was seen sweating. The remains were again exhumed in 1756 and still found to be incorrupt and is on display for veneration in the Chapel.
She was Beatified on 27 July 1765 after developing a pious following. Napoleon’s troops stole her incorrupt body in 1811 but it was returned a few months later to Matelica, where it rests to this day. In 1972, a sample from the red liquid that periodically comes forth from her body underwent a hematological study. It was found to be human blood.
Many miracles have been worked through this blood over the centuries. Today a case has been ratified locally, on 14 November 2014 and has now been sent to the Congregation of the Causes of Saints and is being examined.
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 Blessed Matthia de Nazzarei OSC (1253-1319) Virgin, Nun Bl Nicolas Mello Bl Otto of Heidelberg St Romulus St Simon 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 – 26 December – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971) – Feast of St John the Apostle and Evangelist, the Beloved
St John the Apostle and Evangelist
“St John was the beloved disciple of Jesus Christ. He was allowed, along with St Peter and St James, to enjoy the glory of the Transfiguration and, he was invited with them into the Garden of Gethsemane to witness the agonu ofour divine Redeemer. In the Cenacle, moreover, after he had received the Blessed Eucharist, he was the only one of the Apostles privileged to rest his head on the breast of Jesus. He stood at the foot of the Cross on Mount Calvary and heard his Master entrust to him, with His dying breath, the most precious treasure which still remained to Him on earth, the Blessed Virgin Mary. “Son, behold thy Mother.”
It is true, that Jesus loved all His Apostles, to all of whom He granted the happiness of enjoying His company, listening to His teaching and witnessing, His miracles. Even so, He had a special affection for St John. This was because John was a virgin when Jesus called him and remained so, all his life. The state of virginity is especially pleasing to God. It makes us like the Angels and, in a sense, superior to them, since these pure spirits are naturally chaste and, we can only succeed in being so, by means of great self-control. “Blessed are the pure of heart,” says Jesaus in the Gospel, “for they shall see God” (Mt 5:8).
The privilege of the vision of God is attributed, in a special way, to the pure of heart. Therefore, St John, the virgin Apostle, begins his Gospel with a descriptio of the intimate life of the eternal God. “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word, was God” (Jn 1:1). He soars above the earth like an eagle, as St Jerome observes and penetrates into the presence of God Himself.
We know that we shall never be called to scale such heights. We may not even have a vocation to live as virgins. But, we are all required to be clean of heart. Purity is a virtue which all Christians should possess in whatever manner is appropriate to their position in life. Let us examine ourselves strictly on this matter and make suitable resolutions for the future.”
Quote/s of the Day – 27 December – Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph – On the Family by Pope Pius XII
“Since God has given the family its existence, its dignity, its social function, it must answer to God for them. Its rights and its privileges are inalienable … It has the duty, primarily, before God and secondarily, before society, to defend, to vindicate and to promote effectively, these rights and these privileges, not only for its own good but, for the glory of God and the welfare of the community.”
“ … The family is not made for society; rather, it is society, which is made for the family.”
“God did not create a human family made up of segregated, dissociated, mutually independent members. No; He would have them all united by the bond of total love of Him and consequent self-dedication to assisting each other to maintain that bond intact.”
“Christian mothers, if only you knew the future of distress and peril, of shame ill-restrained, that you prepare for your sons and daughters in imprudently accustoming them, to live hardly clothed and in making them lose the sense of modesty, you should be ashamed of yourselves! and of the harm done the little ones whom heaven entrusted to your care, to be reared in Christian dignity and culture.”
“With good reason, it has often been pointed out that large families have been in the forefront as the cradles of saints. We might cite, among others, the family of St Louis, the King of France, made up of ten children, that of St Catherine of Siena who came from a family of twenty-five, St Robert Bellarmine, from a family of twelve and St Pius X from a family of ten.”
“… he [Simeon] took him [Jesus] into his arms and blessed God, saying: “Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word…” – Luke 2:28-29
REFLECTION – “The Son came to the servant not to be presented by the servant but so that, through the Son, the servant might present to his Lord, the priesthood and prophecy that had been entrusted to his keeping. Prophecy and priesthood, which had been given through Moses, were both passed down and came to rest on Simeon. He was a pure vessel who consecrated himself, so that, like Moses, he too could contain them both. These were feeble vessels that accommodated great gifts — gifts that one might contain because of their goodness but that many cannot accept because of their greatness. Simeon presented our Lord and in Him he presented the two gifts he had, so that what had been given Moses in the desert, was passed on by Simeon, in the temple. Because our Lord is the vessel in which all fullness dwells, when Simeon presented Him to God, He poured out both of these upon him – the priesthood from his hands and prophecy from his lips. The priesthood had always been on Simeon’s hands, because of ritual purifications. Prophecy, in fact, dwelt on his lips because of revelations. When both of these saw the Lord of both of these, they were combined and were poured into the Vessel that could accommodate them both, in order to contain Priesthood, Kingship and Prophecy. That Infant who was wrapped in swaddling clothes by virtue of His goodness, was also dressed in Priesthood and Prophecy by virtue of His Majesty. Simeon dressed Him in these and presented Him to the One who had dressed Him in swaddling clothes. Then, as the old man returned Him to his mother, he returned the Priesthood with Him. And when he prophesied to her about Him: “This child is destined for the downfall and rising,” he gave her Prophecy with him as well. So Mary took her firstborn and left. Although He was visibly wrapped in swaddling clothes, He was invisibly clothed with Prophecy and Priesthood. Thus, what Moses had been given, was received from Simeon and it remained and continued with the Lord of these two gifts. The former steward and the final treasurer handed over the keys of Priesthood and Prophecy, to the One in authority over the treasury of both of these. This is why His Father gave Him the Spirit without measure because all measures of the Spirit are under His hand. And to indicate that He received the keys from the former stewards, our Lord said to Simon, “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven.” Now how could He give them to someone unless He had received them from someone else? So the keys He had received from Simeon the Priest, he gave to another Simeon, the Apostle. So even though the Jewish nation did not listen to the first Simeon, the Gentile nations would listen to the other Simeon.” – St Ephrem (306-373) Father and Doctor of the Church –Homily on Our Lord, 53
PRAYER – God, our Father, in the Holy Family of Nazareth, You have given us the true model of a Christian home. Grant, that by following Jesus, Mary and Joseph in their love for each other and in the example of their family life, we may come to Your home of peace and joy. We make our prayer through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, God, now and forever, amen.
Our Morning Offering – 27 December – Sunday within the Octave of Christmas and the Feast of the Holy Family
Lord, Kindle our Lamps By St Columban (543-615)
Lord, kindle our lamps, Saviour most dear to us, that we may always shine in Your presence and always receive light from You, the Light Perpetual, so that our own personal darkness may be overcome and the world’s darkness driven from us. Amen
Saint of the Day – 27 December – St John the Apostle and Evangelist.
The days following Christmas are full of symbolic meaning, as on 26 December we honour the first Martyr, St Stephen, who shed his blood for Jesus. 27 December, honours St John the Evangelist, the Disciple of Jesus who wrote the Gospel of John and the book of Revelation. Interestingly enough, he is the only Gospel writer to omit a narrative of Jesus’ birth. Based on this fact alone, it seems strange to include him during the Octave of Christmas. What is the Church’s reason behind this choice? Servant of God, Dom Prosper Guéranger in his Liturgical Year, points to St John’s pure chastity and his focus on the Divinity of Christ, as the reasons why he is honoured now at the Crib of Christ.
Dom Prosper Guéranger OSB (1805-1875)
The Disciple Whom Jesus Loved, the Eagle
“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 [1 John, 15:13] 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 and, 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 Alpheus. When our Saint was in the prime of his youth, he left, not only his boat and nets, not only has lather 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 [John, 13:23, 19:26, 21:7, 21:20] — 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 i,t 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 and 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.
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. 2:3] how sublime his writings! how divine his teaching! Hence, the symbol of the Eagle, shown to the Prophet Ezechiel, [Ezechiel 1:10, 10:14] and to St John himself in his Revelations, [Apoc. 4:7] 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 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 [John, 13:1]. He wrote his Epistles and Charity is his subject – God is Charity — he that loveth not, knoweth not God — perfect Charity casteth 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 forever 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 by 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 Treasure and to whom, he will stand in Jesus’ stead; whilst Mary will tenderly love John, her Jesus’ Friend, as her Son.
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 [Matt. 20:22], 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: to-day, 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.
Today is the Feast day of the Holy Family but also every family’s feast day, since the Holy Family is the Patron and model of all Christian families. Today should be a huge family feast, since it is devoted entirely to the Holy Family as a model for the Christian family life. As Rev. Edward Sutfin states: