Thought for the Day – 17 December – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
The Cave of Bethlehem
“Why, asked Bossuet, should the Eternal Word of God, infinitely and everlastingly happy, have deigned to assume in time, the fallen state of humanity? Why should He have chosen, as the scene of His miraculous life of love, this insignificant world, a planet almost imperceptible among the myriads of gigantic heavenly bodies? It was for the very same reason, Bossuet replied, that propmpted Him, once He had become man, to choose as His birthplace, the tiny and unknown village of Nazareth in Galilee rather than Rome, the centre of power, or Athens, the centre of learning, or Jerusalem, the capital of the State of Israel. Our world is the Nazareth of creation, one of the smallest planets in the firmament.
God did not even choose, moreover, to be born in the poor but comparatively comfortable house at Nazareth. He preferred to be born in the strange town of Bethlehem. It was the cradle of His ancestral line but it gave Him no welcome and compelled Him to be born in a cold and squalid barn on the straw of a manger. God had no need of human grandeur. His power and majesty shone more brightly through the insignificance of the objects and means which He employed in order to fulfil His purpose. It would be ridiculous to imagine, even for a moment, that He had any need of human aid in order to accomplish His designs. God chooses the weak things of the world in order to confound the strong!” (Missale Romanum, Miss. Virg et Mart).
O Sapientia, quae ex ore Altissimi prodiisti, attingens a fine usque ad finem, fortiter suaviterque disponens omnia- veni ad docendum nos viam prudentiae.
O Wisdom, coming forth from the Mouth of the Most High, reaching from one end to the other, mightily and sweetly ordering all things- Come and teach us the way of prudence.
“You, Judah, shall your brothers praise your hand on the neck of your enemies; the sons of your father shall bow down to you.” – Genesis 49:8
REFLECTION – “This text appears to be directed to the Patriarch Judah, indeed but more so that later Judah is meant, the true Confessor who was born of that tribe and who alone is praised by His brothers; of them He says, “I will declare your name to my brothers.” He is the Lord by nature but a brother by grace; His hands, which He stretched out to an unbelieving people, are on the back of His enemies. For with those same hands and by that same passion, Christ protected His own, subjugated hostile powers and made subject to Himself, all people who were without faith and devotion. Of these the Father says to His Son, “And you will rule in the midst of your enemies.” It was their own wickedness that made them enemies, not Christ’s will. In this there is a great gift of the Lord. Previously, spiritual wickedness generally used to make our neck bend to the yoke of captivity. Thus even David wrote that he felt, in some way, the hands of those who triumphed over him, for he said, “Upon my back sinners have wrought.” But now spiritual wickedness is subject to the triumph of Christ and to His hands, as it were; that is, wickedness undergoes the affliction of captivity, being subject forever in deeds and in works. And, it is He indeed, to whom the sons of His Father bow down, when we bow down to Him; for he has permitted us to call upon the Father and, to be subject to the Father, is to be subject to virtue.” – St Ambrose (340-397) One of the original four Doctors of the Latin Church – (The Patriarchs, 4)
PRAYER – Collect: O God, Creator and Redeemer of human nature, Who willed that Your Word should take flesh in an ever-virgin womb, look with favour on our prayers, that Your only Begotten Son, having taken to Himself our humanity, may be pleased to grant us a share in his divinity. Who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel Shall come to thee, O Israel
Our Morning Offering – 17 December – O Wisdom/O Sapientia
Awaiting Baby Jesus Traditional Catholic Advent Prayer
My heart is beating, filled with joy, awaiting Mary’s baby boy. For with this child, we embrace the birth of God’s most precious grace. Baby Jesus, soon to come! For us comes the Promised One. Baby Jesus, God’s own Son, you will be the Chosen One to lead our flock into salvation. Our eternal life awaits. The birth of Jesus brings us nearer Heaven’s holy gates. Sing with joy and count the days, for soon to come, the Lord we’ll praise. Rejoice that Jesus will soon arrive, the Messiah and our faith alive. Amen
Saint of the Day – 17 December – Saint Sturmi of Fulda (c 705-779) Priest, Monk and Abbot, Missionary, disciple of Saint Boniface and Founder and first Abbot of the Benedictine Monastery and Abbey of Fulda. Sturmi’s tenure as Abbot lasted from 747 until 779. Also known as Apostle of the Saxons, Apostle of Germany, Sturm, Sturmius.
Sturmi was born c 705 in Lorch, Austria and was most likely related to the Agilolfing Dukes of Bavaria. He met Saint Boniface when the latter was carrying out the church reorganisation in Bavaria and Austria (founding the Bishoprics of Salzburg, Regensburg and Würzburg). He joined Boniface and was educated in the Benedictine monastery of Fritzlar by Abbot Saint Wigbert. He was then active as a Missionary in northern Hesse, where in 736 he established a monastic settlement in Haerulfisfeld (Hersfeld).
Sturmi was Ordained in 740 as Priest in Fritzlar. In 744 he was instructed by St Boniface in 744 to establish a Monastery in the region of Eichloha, which had been granted to Boniface by the Frankish Mayor of the Palace Carloman. He established the Monastery in the ruins of a 6th-century Merovingian royal camp, destroyed 50 years earlier by the Saxons, at a ford on the Fulda River.
Following studies at St Benedict’s Monastery in Monte Cassino in 747–748, Sturmi was named first Abbot of the Fulda Monastery by St Boniface. In 751, St Boniface and his disciple and successor Lullus, obtained an exemption for Fulda, having it placed directly under the Papal See and making it independent of interference by Bishops or worldly princes.
After the death of St Boniface, this exemption led to serious conflicts between Lullus, then Archbishop of Mainz and Abbot Sturmi. Nevertheless, Sturmi prevailed over the Bishops of Mainz and Utrecht in having Boniface, buried in Fulda after his Martyrdom in 754. This made Fulda a major place of pilgrimage for many peoples, including Anglo-Saxons and brought much prestige and a stream of gifts and donations to Fulda.
Building on this success, Sturmi was able to fend off efforts by the Bishops of Mainz and Würzburg to invalidate the Abbey’s exemption. He was sent into exile from 763 to 765 at Jumièges (Normandy) but was rehabilitated in 765 by Pippin the Younger. In 774, the Abbey of Fulda received Royal protection from Charlemagne. In the same year, Fulda was assigned missionary territories in heathen Saxony. Sturmi later established the Abbey of St Boniface at Hamelin. In 779, he accompanied Charlemagne into Saxony but fell ill and died soon after returning to Fulda on 17 December 779, where he was buried in the Cathedral.
Sturmi was recognised as a Saint prior to the East–West Schism in 1054, hence the Orthodox Church continues to honour him. He was formally Canonised in 1139 by Pope Innocent II. His life was recorded in the Vita Sturmi by the fourth Abbot of Fulda, Eigil of Fulda (died 822), a relative of his, who had been a Monk in Fulda for over 20 years under Abbot Sturmi.
Martyrs of Eleutheropolis – (60+ Martyrs-Beati): Approximately 60 Christian soldiers in the imperial Roman army of emperor Heraclius; they were murdered as a group for their faith by invading Saracen Muslims. We know the names of two of them – Calaoicus and Florian. 638 in Eleutheropolis (Beit Jibrin), Palestine.