Thought for the Day – 30 December – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
The Last Day of the Year
“Now that the year is almost over, cast your mind back to the good resolutions which you made at the beginning of it. Have you put these resolutions into effect? Has there been any improvement in your spiritual life during these twelve months, or must you confess, that it has deteriorated? How often have you committed sin, perhaps even grave sin, during the year? When God appealed to you to perform some good action, how often did you refuse Him?
Your future outlook is very dark if your life has developed into a gradual descent towards evil. Anyday, God could grow tired of your ingratitude and obstinacy and send death to end your infidelity. Then you would almost certainly, be damned forever. If you have surrendered to spiritual languor and mediocrity, therefore, it is time for you to stir yourself. It is time to become more generous with God, to display a greater spirit of self-sacrifice in responding to His appeals and to form further resolutions.
Virtue cannot co-exist with spiritual tepidity, which leads inevitably, towards sin.”
Quote/s of the Day – 31 December – The Seventh Day in the Octave of Christmas, Readings: 1 John 2:18-21, Psalms 96:1-2, 11-12, 13, John 1:1-18
“In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.”
“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.”
“God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son”
“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth…”
“What is the beginning of all things except our Lord and “Saviour of all,” Jesus Christ “the firstborn of every creature?” In this beginning, therefore, that is, in His Word, “God made heaven and earth” as the Evangelist John also says in the beginning of his Gospel: “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him and without him nothing was made.” Scripture is not speaking here of any temporal beginning but it says that the heavens and the earth and all things that were made, were made “in the beginning,” that is, in the Saviour.”
Origen Adamantius (c 185-253) Priest, Theologian, Exegist, Writer, Apologist, Father
(Homilies on Genesis, 1)
“Whoever believes in him … might have eternal life”
“God alone is wise and the Son His wisdom, for “Christ is the power and the wisdom of God” (Rm 16:27; 1 Cor 1:24). So, it is in receiving the Spirit of wisdom, that we possess the Son and gain wisdom in Him. … The Son is Life. He said: “I am the Life” (Jn 14:6). But, it is said, that we are brought to life by the Spirit, as Paul wrote: “The one who raised Christ from the dead will give life to our mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in us” (Rm 8:11). But when we have been brought to life by the Spirit, then Christ will be our life … “I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me” (Gal 2:20).”
St Athanasius (295-373) Bishop of Alexandria, Father and Doctor of the Church
One (maybe 3 minutes today 😘) Minute Reflection – 31 December – “Month of the Immaculate Conception” – The Seventh Day in the Octave of Christmas, Readings: 1 John 2:18-21, Psalms 96:1-2, 11-12, 13, John 1:1-18
“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 – “There is only one God, brethren and we learn about Him only from Sacred Scripture. It is,therefore, our duty to become acquainted with what Scripture proclaims and to investigate its teachings thoroughly. We should believe them in the sense that the Father wills, thinking of the Son, in the way the Father wills and accepting the teaching He wills to give us, with regard to the Holy Spirit. Sacred Scripture is God’s gift to us and it should be understood in the way that He intends: we should not do violence to it by interpreting it according to our own preconceived ideas.
God was all alone and nothing existed but Himself, when He determined to create the world. He thought of it, willed it, spoke the word and so made it. It came into being instantaneously, exactly as He had willed. It is enough then for us to be aware of a single fact, nothing is co-eternal with God. Apart from God, there was simply nothing else. Yet, although He was alone, He was manifold because He lacked neither reason, wisdom, power, nor counsel. All things were in Him and He Himself, was all. At a moment of His own choosing and, in a manner determined by Himself, God manifested His Word and through Him, He made the whole universe.
When the Word was hidden within God Himself, He was invisible to the created world but God made Him visible. First God gave utterance to His Voice, engendering Light from Light and then, He sent His own Mind into the world, as its Lord. Visible before to God alone and not to the world, God made Him visible. so that the world could be saved by seeing Him. This Mind that entered our world was made known as the Son of God. All things came into being through Him but He alone is begotten by the Father.
The Son gave us the law and the prophets and He filled the prophets with the Holy Spirit, to compel them to speak out. Inspired by the Father’s power, they were to proclaim the Father’s purpose and His will.
So the Word was made manifest, as Saint John declares when, summing up all the sayings of the prophets, he announces that this is the Word through Whom the whole universe was made. He says – In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. Through Him all things came into being; not one thing was created without Him. And further on he adds: The world was made through Him, and yet the world did not know Him. He entered His own creation and His own did not receive Him.” – St Hippolytus of Rome (Died c 236) Bishop, Father of the Church and Martyr (An excerpt from his A Treatise against Noetus, Book 1).
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.
Our Morning Offering – 31 December – The Seventh Day of the Octave of Christmas
The Apostles’ Creed
I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried; He descended into hell; on the third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Catholic Church, the communion of Saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and life everlasting. Amen
Saint of the Day – 31 December – Saint Columba of Sens (c 256-273) Virgin Martyr Born as Eporita in c257 in Spain and died by beheading in 273 at Sens, France near a fountain named d’Azon. Patronages – for rain, of bears. St Columba is a Colonnade Saint at St Peter’s – you can find her as Saint Number 40 on the North Colonnade.
Columba was a virgin and martyr at Sens. Though little historical information is known, popular devotion made her one of the most famous and revered Martyrs in the Middle Ages.
The Roman Martyrology states: “At Sens in Lugdunense Gaul, now in France, Saint Colomba, Virgin and Martyr.”
Colomba is presented as belonging to a noble but pagan family of Spain and lived in the third century. To escape the cult of the gods, she left her family and went to Gaul (France) first to Vienne, where she received Baptism, then to Sens. It appears that her real name was Eporita and that she would later be called the Dove (the meaning of Columba) due to her innocence.
In Sens, she was arrested as a Christian in the ongoing persecution throughout the Roman Empire. The Emperor Aureliano Lucio Domizio (270-275), being present in Sens at that time, had Columba and others, brought before him,. In an attempt to make her renounce her Christian virginity, he proposed marriage to her. But then irritated by her refusal, he condemned her to be locked up in the amphitheater in a prostitution cell. When a young soldier arrived there to abuse her, a she-bear who had been kept in the amphitheater, intervened to protect her, putting the man to flight.
Since none of the soldiers, fearful of their lives, now wanted to take his place,Aureliano furiously ordered, that both the Virgin and the Bear be burned but a cloud coming from Africa, procured a providential rain, which extinguished the fire already prepared, while the bear ran away into the forests. The stubborn Emperor then sentenced Colomba to be beheaded, after one last attempt to make her change her faith.
The young woman, just sixteen years old, suffered Martyrdom not far from Sens and was buried by a Christian who, immediately invoking her intercession, recovered his sight. This happened in the second half of the third Century, in the years between 270 and 275, referring to the Emperor Aurelian, who found himself in Sens for his wars in Gaul.
Highly venerated in France at the time, in 620 King Lothair III founded the famous Royal Abbey of Sainte-Colombe-les-Sens on the Tomb of the Saint. In 623 the Bishop of Sens, St Wolf († 623) wanted to be buried at the Martyr’s feet; in 853 the Bishop Wessilone in Consecrating the new Church, found the relics of the two Saints united and had them wrapped in a precious shroud in oriental fabric. Pieces of this shroud were found in the nineteenth Century and are kept in the Treasury of the Cathedral.
The Abbey Church was built a third time and Consecrated in 1164 by Pope Alexander III, then destroyed in 1792 at the time of the French Revolution. The remains of the Abbey and Church complex were purchased in 1842 by the Nuns of the Holy Childhood of Jesus and Mary, who built their Mother House there, safeguarding the remains of the ancient crypt. The relics of St Columba had ,however ,in a803, been transferred to the Cathedral of Sens.
There are numerous Churches dedicated to the holy Martyr in France, Spain, Flanders, Germany and Italy, where her cult spread, most especially in Rimini. According to local traditions, some merchants who sailed in the Adriatic had, with them, a relic of the head of St Columba but were forced to land in Rimini, where the relic was welcomed by Bishop Stennio and placed in the Cathedral.
In 1581 Msgr. Castelli, Bishop of Rimini, being Apostolic Nuncio to France, obtained, from the Monks of the Abbey of Sens, the relics of a rib and two teeth of the Martyr, which since the 18th Century, are preserved in a Reliquary bust now placed in the Malatesta TChurch the new Cathedral , which replaced the other, which was demolished in 1815 AND dedicated to the St Trinità and St Columba. There was talk of a translation of the body of Columba to Bari in the 17th Century but without any serious foundation.
Starting from the Geronymian Martyrology, up to the Roman one, the feast of St Columba is reported to be celebrated on 31 December. The popularity of the cult in France then slowly waned and an attempt to bring it back into widespread circulation in the 14th Century failed. In Sens, however, due to a local festival, concomitant with New Year’s Eve, St Columba’s feast was postponed to 27 July and is still honoured on this day as well as further devotions and celebrations, on the anniversary of the transfer of her relics and the dedication of her Church. All of these memorials are still observed with great devotion in Sens and the neighbouring area.
Santa María la Real de Uxue / Our Lady of Uxue (Uxue, Spain) (8th Century) – 31 December:
The Town of Uxue formed, according to legend, around the site of the discovery of the image of Our Lady of Uxue, whose site was designated by the flight of a dove. By the 8th century, the image was well-known. The settlement takes the form of a fortress and the 11th Century, Church of St Mary, is a medieval jewel of Romanesque art of Navarra, which is very popular and protected by successive Monarchs.
The strong medieval devotion to this image has remained to our times. Among the celebrations and devotions, are the festivities of an annual pilgrimage and the pilgrimage of the Brotherhood of the Twelve of Uxué. Uxué is a small medieval Town full of charm, located in the eastern middle of Navarra (north of Spain and on the border with France), 53 km from Pamplona and 20 km from Tafalla. Its location is unique, as it is located on the top of a mountain overlooking the Sierra de Uxué. With an altitude of 815 meters above sea level, Uxué constitutes an authentic watchtower from which on clear days you can see from the Pyrenean ridge to the north to the banks of the Ebro and the silhouette of the Moncayo to the south. The origins of this Town are unclear, the exact date of its foundation being unknown but the beginnings are attributed to the Virgin Mary accompanied by the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove.
Legend has it that a dove went in and out of the hole in a rock. A boy who was herding sheep, moved by curiosity, approached with the intention of scare the dove away. But the dove continued with its insistent flapping, he approaches and found a beautiful Romanesque image of the Virgin Mary. This is how the Uxué was born. The name of the town comes from Uxua, the Basque language word for “dove“. Already before Roman domination, there was a Basque population scattered throughout the mountains, as recent archaeological discoveries attest. A Sanctuary honouring the Blessed Virgin was immediately built and has retained it’s popularity amongst the pious faithful across the ages. Many miraculous graces and cures have been granted there. A total of 44 members of the Brotherhood of the Twelve Apostles of Our Lady of Uxué, including the Chaplain, participate each year in their traditional night march to the sanctuary of the Virgin of Uxué. This Brotherhood has its origins in 1607 and therefore 2007 commemorated the fourth centenary of its foundation.
Blessed Alain de Solminihac OSA (1593-1659) Bishop of Cahors, Abbot, Reformer, Marian devotee most especially to Our Lady of Rocamadour, Apostle of the Holy Eucharist especially by his promotion of Adoration, he was also a member of the Compagnie du Saint-Sacrement. 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 (c 256-273) Virgin Martyr Bl Dominic de Cubells St Festus of Valencia St Gelasius of Palestine Bl Giuseppina Nicoli St Hermes the Exorcist
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)
“Dissipation leads to tepedity and tepidity leads to sin. Why are we dissipated? So much beauty and goodness surrounds us, created by God for our benefit. It often happens, that when we gaze on worldly beauty, we become inordinately attached to it. We see worldly goods and desire too ardently to possess them. We forget, that the beauty of the earth, is only a fleeting reflection of the eternal beauty of God and that, the good things of creation, are gifts from God. Everything which is good and beautiful in this world, therefore, should raise our minds and hearts towards God and prompt us to love Him Who created it. Unfortunately, we often stop halfway, forget God and begin to seek, in creatures, the perfect satisfaction, which they are incapable of giving us.
Dissipation is the neglect of spiritual things and the inordinate attachment to creatures. It causes us to lead worldly lives and to think only of material interests, money, pleasure and sometimes, sin. If we find that we have fallen into this wretched state, let us act at once. Let us remember, that we were not created like the animals, for the satisfaction of the senses but, were made for everlasting spiritual happiness. Only God can satisfy our immortal souls, whereas created things, loved for their own sake, eventually leaves us bitter and disillusioned. “What does it profit a man,” asks Sacred Scripture, “if he gain the whole world but suffer the loss of his own soul?” (Mt 16:26).”
Quote/s of the Day – 30 December – The Sixth Day in the Christmas Octave, Readings: 1 John 2:12-17, Psalm 96:7-10, Luke 2:36-40
“She [Anna] spoke about the child to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem…”
“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
“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. …”
St Bernard (1091-1153) Mellifluous Doctor of the Church
“Listen! the reason He is called Saviour is because, for all those to whom He is united, He gains salvation. Now salvation means, to be delivered from all ills and, at the same time, to find all blessings forever – Life instead of death, Light in place of darkness and, instead of the slavery of the passions and unworthy deeds, the complete freedom granted to all those, who are united to Christ, Saviour of all beings. Thus they will possess, without being able to lose it, all joy, all happiness, all blessedness (…) that that none can ever know, or conceive, or see, if not sincerely and ardently attached to Christ.”
St Symeon the New Theologian (c 949-1022)
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.
One Minute Reflection – 30 December – “Month of the Immaculate Conception” – 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 – “Inasmuch as the Word was from above, He was and is, the Divine Source of all things but, inasmuch as He has now received the name Christ, consecrated of old and worthy of power, He has been called by me “a new song” (Pss 33, 144, 149, etc.). This Word, then, the Christ, the Cause of both our being (for He was in God) and of our well-being, this very Word has now appeared to us – He alone being both God and man—the Author of all blessings to us. Having been taught by Him to live well, we are introduced by Him to life eternal. For, according to that inspired Apostle of the Lord: “The grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all and training us to reject godless ways and worldly desires and to live temperately, justly and devoutly in this present age as we await the blessed hope, the appearance of the glory of the great God and of our Saviour Jesus Christ” (Tit 2,11-13).
This is the new song, the manifestation of the Word, that was in the beginning and Who comes to shine in our midst. The Saviour, Who has existed before all time, has, in recent days, appeared… For the Word,Who “was with God” and by Whom all things were created (Jn 1,10), has appeared, as our Teacher. The Word, Who in the beginning bestowed life on us as our Creator, taught us to live well when He appeared as our Teacher, that, as God, He might afterwards lead us to the life that never ends. It was not only now, that He took pity us because of our sins but, He pitied us from the first, from the beginning.” – St Clement of Alexandria (c 150- c 215) Father, Theologian, Philosopher (Protreptic 1,6-8 ; SC 2)/).
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. Imitating our Master and following His ways, may His Immaculate Mother, be our hope and our advocate. 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
Beloved and Most Holy Word of God By St James of the Marches (1391-1476)
Beloved and most holy Word of God! You enlighten the hearts of the faithful, You satisfy the hungry, console the afflicted. You make the souls of all, productive of good and cause all virtues to blossom. You snatch souls from the devil’s jaw. You make the wretched holy and men of earth, citizens of heaven! Amen
Saint of the Day – 30 December – Blessed Margherita Colonna (c 1255-1284) Virgin, Nun, Mystic, Apostle of the poor. Born in c 1255 at Palestrina, Rome, Italy and died on 30 December 1284 at Castel San Pietro, Rome, Italy of natural causes. Also known as – Margaret, Margherita, Marguerite.
The Roman Martyrology states: “At Palestrina in Lazio, Blessed Margherita Colonna, Virgin, who preferred poverty for Christ to the riches and pleasures of the world, which she served by professing the Rule of St Clare.”
Margherita was a member of the Italian Colonna family, which was notable in Italian history for centuries. She was born in Palestrina in 1255, daughter of Oddone Colonna and Mabilia Orsini who had two other children – Giovanni and Giacomo. In 1212, Giacomo became Cardinal of St Prassede and Legate of the Pontiff during the Fifth Crusade. It was he who brought the Column to Rome from the East, which, according to tradition, was used for the flagellation of Christ and which, even today, is preserved in the Roman Basilica which was his seat.
The years in which Margherita lived, were complicated and tumultuous for the Church: from 1268 to 1271, the Papal seat remained vacant, for the longest period in history. The Pope had not resided in Rome for twenty years. Long conclaves were followed by short Pontificates – the power of the Pontiff was fundamental eroded in the balance of the antagonism between France (Charles of Anjou occupied many regions of Italy) and the German Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire.
Margherita and the two brothers were soon orphaned. Destined for a prestigious wedding, important for noble alliances in her day, Margherita, in her heart, however, only wanted to be the virginal bride of Jesus. On 6 March 1273, with two pious housewives, she retired to Castel San Pietro, on the mountain overlooking Palestrina, at the Church of St Maria della Costa, to follow her vocation. In the wake of the Franciscan movement, their ideal of life fascinated a multitude of people from all walks of life. Margherita put on the rough habit, under which she put a sackcloth. She began fasting and penance, praying that her wish would come true: – to become a Poor Clare Nun.
She lived there for a few years in retreat. Her life as an anchorite was a scandal for the powerful Colonna family. However, the comfort came from her brother Giacomo, who, although very young, was already a Cardinal (from 1278) at the behest of Pope Nicholas III, while Giovanni was a Senator of Rome. Giacomo sincerely loved Christ as did his sister, so he took Margherita to Rome and together they prayed at the Tomb of the Apostles Peter and Paul. Then a new life began for Margherita. The substantial inheritance no longer belonged to her, it belonged to the poor who are never lacking on the path of the Saints. Her shining example aroused interest, especially from other women eager to spend their lives like her in the service of Jesus.
Margherita asked the General of the Friars Minor Girolamo Masci (future Pope Nicholas IV) for permission to enter the Monastery of Assisi. However, an illness prevented her from doing so. The Lord’s plans were different. She then thought of the Convent of Mentola (between Palestrina and Tivoli) where an image of the Holy Virgin, to which she was very devoted, a place also visited by St Francis. However, it was a fiefdom of the Count of Poli who did not want a Colonna in his territories. Margherita returned home and, with the help of her brother, the Cardinal, founded a Monastery on the nearby mountain, where the Lord was praised night and day.
Margherita took care of the formation of her companions but her charity went further, to the sick and the poor of the neighbouring region. Tradition says ,that once Jesus and the St John the Baptist came to her table, when she fed the poor but then disappeared when Margaret recognised them.
Having exhausted her substantial personal patrimony, she, who was born very rich, reached out to ask for alms and thus be able to continue her works of mercy for the suffering and hungry. She is also remembered for assisting the Friars Minor of the nearby Zagarolo Convent.
Margherita’s union with Christ became more and more intense: she was visibly comforted by Jesus, the Madonna and the Holy Father Francis. She fell into ecstasy several times and for seven years, she patiently endured an ulcerative wound on her side, carried like a stigmata of the Passion of Jesus.
Not even thirty years old, Margherita’s death was precious in the eyes of the Lord. She died, due to violent fevers, on 30 December 1284. Immediately her Tomb became a pilgrimage destination and the devotees, through her intercession, obtained many graces. In 1285, the community of Poor Clares moved to Rome, by the authorisation of Pope Honorius, taking with them, the venerated body of the Blessed (it remained there until 1871).
Margherita’s first biographer was her brother, the Cardinal and the second was the first Abbess of the St Sylvester Monastery in Rome, where her sisters had moved.
On 17 September1847, the Blessed Pope Pius IX confirmed the “ab immemorabili” cult and the liturgical memorial. Today the relics of Blessed Margherita are venerated in the Church of Castel San Pietro, not far from Palestrina. Here the seed she sowed over seven centuries ago, is still alive today through the Poor Clares of the Monastery of Santa Maria degli Angeli.
PRAYER O God, You have made the Blessed Virgin Margaret admirable in the contempt of earthly goods, ardent with love for You, grant us, through her intercession, that we may be continuously united to You, as we carry our cross. Pour upon us, O Lord, the spirit of holiness that You have given to Blessed Margherita Colonna, so that we can know the love of Christ, which surpasses all knowledge and enjoy the fullness of eternal life. With Christ our Lord and the Holy Ghost. Amen.
Madonna of San Luca / Nostra Signora della Guardia / Our Lady of Saint Luke of La Guardia, Bologna, Italy (433) – 30 December:
The Abbot Orsini wrote: “This picture was in the Church of Santa Sophia, at Constantinople, with this inscription: “This picture, painted by Saint Luke, must be taken to the mountain of La Garde and placed over the Altar of the Church.” A Greek monk set out for Italy about the year 433, with the picture entrusted to him and deposited it on the mountain of La Garde.”
The account mentioned by the Abbot above, is also told in the chronicle of Graziolo Accarisi, who wrote of a Greek hermit who went on pilgrimage to Constantinople where he received from the Priests of the Church of Santa Sofia, the icon of Our Lady of La Guardia. This image was attributed to Saint Luke the Evangelist and there was an inscription on the painting itself that it should one day be taken to the “mountain of the guard.” The hermit took the Icon,and walked throughout Italy in search of the place where the Icon was meant to be,but it was not until he reached the City of Emilia near Bologna that the authorities of the City came out to greet him and processed with the icon back to the mountain. The Icon had finally found its home and it is now more commonly known as the Madonna of San Luca. Among the many miracles attributed to the image is especially noted the “miracle of the rain,” which occurred on 5 July 1433. An extremely heavy spring rain came late in the season, threatening to destroy the crops. Facing the prospect of famine, the people turned to the Blessed Virgin for assistance. The storm and rain stopped suddenly, with the arrival into the City, of a procession carrying the miraculous Icon. Since that time these processions have been repeated annually. There is even an incredible arched walkway that is only a little short of four kilometers in length, that is meant to protect the Icon from the elements, as well as those on procession. The Icon shows the Blessed Virgin Mary holding the Infant Jesus in blessing. She wears a blue-green robe, with a red tunic. The nose, eyes and fingers appear somewhat elongated. The Divine Child wears a tunic of the same colour as His Mothers’, with His right hand in a gesture of giving a blessing and his left hand being closed. In 1625 the image was covered with a silver panel which leaves only the faces of the figures uncovered. The Icon was crowned in 1603 by the Archbishop Alfonso Paleotti. The Sanctuary of Saint Luke, where the Icon is kept, was declared a national monument in the year 1874. In 1907 the Church was raised to the dignity of a Minor Basilica by the holy Pope Saint Pius X.
The Sanctuary is situate some 300 metres above the City plain, just south-west of the historical centre of the City. While a road now leads up to the Sanctuary, it is also possible to reach it along a 3.8 km monumental roofed arcade (Portico di San Luca) consisting of 666 arches, which was built in 1674–1793. It was meant to protect the Icon as it was paraded up the hill. A yearly procession from the Cathedral of San Pietro in the centre of Bologna to the Sanctuary goes along this path. The arches held sacred images or Chapels erected by patron families. There is also a cable car which takes tourists up to the Basilica.
St Anysia of Thessalonica St Anysius of Thessalonica
St Hermes of Moesia St Jucundus of Aosta St Liberius of Ravenna Blessed Margherita Colonna (c 1255-1284) Virgin, Nun
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)
Our Frequent Lapses
“It is sad to have to admit, that in spite of our good resolutions and in spite of the graces which we receive from God, we continue to fall into sin. Our continual lapses can cause us to become discouraged. This, however, is a device of the devil, who has already lured us into sin and now, proceeds to suggest thoughts of despair. He wishes to convince us that resistance is useless, that our nature is completely corrupt and, that there is no escape for us.
“My dear children,” wrote St John to the early Christians, “these things I write to you, in order that you may not sin. But, if anyone sins, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, the just and he is a propitiation for our sins, not for ours only but also, for those of the whole world” (1 Jn 2:1-2). “If we say that that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we acknowledge our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all iniquity.” (1 Jn 1:9). “He who says that he knows him and does not keep his commandments, is a liar and the truth is not in him But he who keeps his word, in him the love of God is truly perfected” (1 Jn 2:5).
It is clear, therefore, that we ought to avoid sin by every means in our power because, it extinguishes our charity and brings death to the soul. Nevertheless, even if we continue to fall into sin, we should never lose heart. Discouragement and despair are stratagems of the devil. No matter how great and how numerous our sins maybe, God is always prepared to pardon them. Let us recall the example of Mary Magdalen, of the repentant thief and of the prodigal son. As long as we repent sincerely, we may be sure that God will forgive us and clasp us to His breast, for God is infinitely merciful.”
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
“A light for revelation to the Gentiles” – Luke 2:32
REFLECTION – “Who is there today who, as he holds a lighted candle in his hand, does not immediately think of the old man who today received Jesus in his arms, the Word in the flesh, the Light in the wax and who bore witness ,that He was the Light that shines upon all nations? The old man was himself a burning flame that enlightens and gives witness to the Light, he who, in the Holy Spirit with which he was filled, came to receive, O God, your love within your Temple (Ps 47,10) and bear witness, that You are the Love and Light of Your people…
Rejoice, just old man, look now at what you had once foreseen, darkness has disappeared from the world, the nations walk by Your Light (Is 60,3). The whole earth is filled with the glory (Is 6,3) of this Light which, in the past, you used to hide in your heart and which today, illumines your eyes… Embrace the Wisdom of God, O blessed old man and may your youth be renewed (Ps 102,5). Receive the mercy of God in your heart and your old age will know the sweetness of mercy. “He will rest in my bosom,” says Scripture (Wsd 1,12). Even when I give Him back to His Mother, He will continue to dwell with me, my heart will be filled with His mercy and, even more, the heart of His Mother… I give thanks and rejoice for you, full of grace, for you gave birth to the Mercy I have received – the Candle which you prepared, I am holding in my hands…
And you, brethren, look at the Candle that burns in the hands of Simeon, light your candles with His Light… Then, not only will you bear a Light in your hands but you yourselves, will be a light for others. A Light in your hearts, a Light in your lives, a Light for your brothers and sisters.” – Bl Guerric of Igny (c 1080-1157), Cistercian Abbot (1st Sermon for the Purification, 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, St Thomas à Becket 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 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 – 29 December – Saint Ebrulf of Ouche (c 626c -706) Abbot, Hermit. Founder of many Monasteries, Married but separated by mutual agreement, miracle-worker. Born in c 626 in Bayeux, Normandy, France and died in c 706 of natural causes, at the Monastery he had founded. Also known as – Ebrolfo, Ebrulfo, Ebrulfus, Ebrulphus, Evroul, Evroult, éVroult. Additional Memorial – 30 August, in England, where some of his relics are venerated.
Of noble birth, Ebrulf received a careful education and gave proofs of profound virtue.
He became a highly-ranked Official of King Childeric II. Ebrulf was a cup-bearer to the King and an Administrator of the Royal Palace but he desired a life consecrated to God.
It was some time before he was given leave to detach himself from his duties at the Court to become a Monk. As he was married to a woman of his own social rank, the two separated by mutual consent, he to lead a life of greater perfection and she, it is believed, became a Nun.
He joined the Monastery of Deux-Jumeaux (Bayeux) before deciding to become a Hermit at Exmes but there, crowds came to visit him and ask for his advice. He then settled, with some companions, in the forest of Ouche, which was infested with wild beasts and brigands. A legend states, that he converted a robber to Christianity when the robber visited Ebrulf’s the rough settlement which consisted of a hedge enclosure and wattle and daub huts. The robber warned Ebrulf of the dangers of the forest but Ebrulf informed him that he feared no-one. Repenting of his own sins, the robber brought a gift consisting of three loaves baked in ashes and a honeycomb, and asked to be admitted as a Monk.
This settlement became the Abbey of Saint-Evroul. He founded other monastic houses, fifteen in total, all of which placed emphasis on manual labour both as a spiritual and economic exercise. Members of the nobility came to Ebrulf offering him money, land, to build monasteries. He founded, after 560, several Monasteries in the Diocese of Séez; one of them became the important Abbey of St-Martin-de-Séez.
The Saint worked numerous miracles and even raised the dead . In the 12th century John of St-Evroult composed a work in verse in his honour and many miracles were worked at his tomb.
During the Norman invasions, his remains were transported to Orleans. Later, an attempt was made to bring them back to the Abbey of Saint- Ebrulf but without success.
He was venerated in England as a result of the Norman invasion and the link between Ebrulf and England was maintained, by the fact, that four Abbots from Saint-Evroul Abbey ruled English Monasteries in the 11th and 12th Centuries. They brought to England some of Ebrulf’s relics. A Feast commemorating the translation of his relics is kept at Deeping Abbey in England on 30 August.
Unsere Liebe Frau vom Speyer / Our Lady of Speyer, Germany Featuring the Salve Regina and St Bernard (1146) – 29 December:
The Abbot Orsini wrote: “Our Lady of Spire (Speyer), in Germany. Saint Bernard, entering this Church on the 29th of December, 1146, was honourably received there by the Canons, who conducted him to the choir, singing the Salve Regina. The antiphon being finished, Saint Bernard saluted the image of the Blessed Virgin in these terms: “O clems, O pia, O dulcis Virgo Maria!” and she answered: “Salve Bernarde!” The words of this Saint to the image are seen engraved in a circle on the pavement of the Church, on the same spot where he pronounced them and they have since been added to the Salve Regina, which was composed in the year 1040, by Herman, surnamed Contractus, a Benedictine monk.” [He is Blessed Herman of Reichenau (often known as Blessed Herman the Cripple OSB (1013–1054) – his Biography here: https://anastpaul.com/2019/09/25/saint-of-the-day-blessed-herman-of-reichenau-the-cripple-osb-1013-1054-the-wonder-of-his-age/ ]
This date on the Marian calendar, Our Lady of Speyer, actually refers to the Cathedral of Speyer, dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary and known as Kaiserdom zu Speyer in Germany. Construction began on the Romanesque style Cathedral in the year 1030 and was completed in 1106. It is 134 metres long and 43 metres wide, which made it one of the largest buildings constructed at that time and is now thought to be, the largest surviving Romanesque building in the world.
During the Nine Years’ War the entire Town of Speyer was burned to the ground and the heat from the inferno caused part of the nave to collapse. In 1792 the Town was occupied by the French revolutionary troops and the Church pillaged. It was in that century that the ruins of the Chapel of Saint Bernard were removed. The Cathedral was subsequently used as a warehouse and hospital. In 1957 the Cathedral was restored and, although much of the plaster and 19th century paintings were removed, the scenes of the life of the Blessed Virgin were left undisturbed. n 1981 the Cathedral was added to the World Heritage List of UNESCO.
St Aileran of Clonard St Albert of Gambron St Aproniano de Felipe González St David the King St Ebrulf of Ouche (c 626-c 706) Abbot, Hermit 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
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 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 – 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
“Whoever says he abides in Christ, ought to walk, even as Christ walked…”
1 John 2:6
“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!?”
St Cyprian of Carthage (c 200-258) Martyr, Father of the Church
“Our pilgrimage on earth cannot be exempt from trial. We progress by means of trial. No-one knows himself except through trial, or receives a crown, except after victory, or strives, except against an enemy or temptations.”
St Augustine (354-430) Father and Doctor of Grace
“He gives according to the love He bears us …, according to the courage He sees in each and the love each has for His Majesty. He will see, that whoever loves Him much, will be able to suffer much for Him; whoever loves Him little, will be capable of little. I myself hold, that the measure for being able to bear, a large or small cross, is love …”
St Teresa of Avila (1515-1582) Doctor of Prayer of the Church
One Minute Reflection – 28 December – The Feast of the Holy Innocents and 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 – “Why, Herod, do you fear when you hear a King is born? He has not come to dethrone you but to overthrow the devil. But you fail to understand, you take fright and fall into a fury. Because you lost the single child you were seeking, you become the cruel murderer of the many. Neither the weeping mothers’ love, nor the mourning of fathers weeping for their sons, nor the screams and howling of the children themselves, holds you back. You massacre these little ones in their bodies because fear is killing you, in your heart. And you think that, if you achieve your end, you will live on for a long time, whereas it is Life itself you are trying to kill! He Who is the source of grace, Who is both small and great, Who is lying in a manger, causes your throne to topple. He accomplishes His design through you, without your knowing it. He gathers together the children of your enemies and makes of them, children of adoption.
These little ones died for Christ without knowing it ; their parents weep for the death of Martyrs. Although they were unable to speak, Christ made them capable of being His Witnesses. See how this King reigns. Already He is setting free and bestowing salvation. But as for you, Herod, you are oblivious of what is happening, you take fright and fall into a rage. And when you get annoyed with a little Child, you are already placing yourself at His service without realising it.
How great the gift of grace is! What are the merits by which these children won the victory? They could not yet speak but already, they are confessing Christ. Their little bodies are as yet unable to engage in combat but already, they are carrying off the Palm of Victory.” – St Quodvultdeus (Died c 453) Father, Bishop at Carthage fromc 437-c 450 (Second sermon on the Creed; PL40, 655).
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 and the Fourth |Day of the Octave of Christmas
O Jesus, Dear Holy Child By St Thérèse of the Child Jesus (1873 – 1897) Doctor of the Church
O Jesus, dear Holy Child, my only treasure, I abandon myself to Thy every whim. I seek no other joy than that of calling forth Thy sweet Smile. Vouchsafe to me, the graces and the virtues of Thy Holy Childhood, so that, on the day of my birth into Heaven, the Angels and Saints may recognise in Thy Spouse, Thérèse of the Child Jesus. Amen
Saint of the Day – 28 December – Saint Anthony of Lérins (c 428-c 520) Monk, Hermit, miracle-worker. Born in c 468 at Valeria, Lower Pannonia (in modern Hungary) and died in c 520 at Lerins, Provence, France of natural causes. Also known as – Antony of Lérins, Anthony the Hermit.
The Roman Martyrology states: “Commemoration of Saint Anthony, a Monk, who, a man distinguished by grace and preparation, after having led a solitary life, retired, by now an old man in the Monastery of Lérins in Provence, where he piously fell asleep in the Lord.”
He was born in the ancient Roman Province of Valeria (now Hungary), then part of the Hunnic Empire. When he was eight years old, his father died and he was entrusted to the care of the holy Abbot Severinus of Noricum, in modern-day Austria. Severinus, however, died when the boy was in his early teens and Anthony moved in with his uncle, Bishop Constantius of Lorsch, Bavaria (in modern Germany).
When he was of age, Anthony entered the monastic life, making himself immediately appreciated for his great humility.
In 488, at about 20 years of age, Anthony moved to Italy to take up an eremitical life with a small group of hermits living on an island in Lake Como. He was eventually joined by numerous disciples seeking to emulate his holiness.
Anthony’s fame, which soon spread to the surrounding areas, caused him a curious accident. A man, who had been sentenced to death for killing his wife in a fit of jealousy, took refuge with Anthony to escape punishment, simulating the desire to become his disciple. But Anthony unmasked the hypocrite and threw him out of his cell to face his crime. Naturally, this episode greatly increased his fame and he, disturbed by numerous visitors, finally crossed the Alps and settled in Lérins, where he found the peace he had always sought
He lived in various solitary places until two years before his death he became a Monk at the Abbey of Lérins, where he again was an icon of piety locally and attracted those seeking spiritual aid. The holiness of his life and the miracles he performed, encourage many to visit him.
Saint Ennodius of Pavia wrote a Life of Saint Anthony.
Notre-Dame de Pontoise / Our Lady of Pontoise, France (13th Century) – 28 December:
Pontoise is an old Town built around a bridge across the Oise and its Shrine dates from around the 13th Century, as is evidenced by a charter of donation from the year 1231. Our Lady of Pontoise is about seven leagues from Paris. This image, is celebrated for many miracles which are wrought there. The Statue of Our Lady of Pontoise is of marble and stands over 1,8 metres in height. The Madonna wears a short veil and a dress with long tight sleeves. Our Lady’s face is framed by her hair. The Divine Child lays His hands on an orb that His mother holds. The Statue was, according to tradition, carved by a pious youth in the quarry at Blangis, near Abbeville and brought to Pontoise. In 1226 the Archbishop of Rouen dedicated a Chapel there and in 1249 it was made a Parish Church, and the sSatue was placed outside, over the main entrance. The Church was visited by the Saint-king, Louis IX. In around 1434 the Church was destroyed by the English soldiers fighting in the area. The faithful Catholic, determined to rebuild the Shrined. It was partly finished when the French reconquered the territory. They finished the rebuilding in 1484. During the years of 1580 and 1650, when the plague was destroying the country, people flocked to Our Lady of Pontoise and the danger was averted. Again in 1849 a cholera epidemic was averted through her intercession, so that the Shrine had the name of being powerful against plagues. In Reformation times, a devout Protestant tried to steal the Statue and failing that, knocked off the head of the Infant and threw it into the river. A fisherman had spread his nets just below the bridge and the severed head was saved and returned to the Statue. In 1585 the Church was destroyed again by the English; in 1790 by the revolutionaries. Each time the Statue was saved and returned; the last time by a man who bid on it at an auction-house and kept it until the troubled days were over. The Church was rebuilt in 1800 and a century later was still extant; the yearly thanksgiving procession for Our Lady’s protection from the plague is held annually. The Statue now resides inside the Church. Replicas of the statue were placed over many doorways of the City after the plague of 1640 and some are still there today.
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 – 27 December – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
St John the Apostle and Evangelist
“St John proved himself worthy of His Master’s special favour. He never deserted Christ. He was present at the Agony in Gethsemane. He was in the courtyard of the High Priest, when Peter denied Christ but he remained faithful. He was the only Apostle present at the foot of the Cross on Mount Calvary, where, he was privileged to hear Our Lord’s last words.
After the Resurrection, John was one of the first to hurry to the sepulchre. Like the other Apostles, he proved his undying love for Jesus, by enduring the pains of Martyrdom, although his life was miraculously spared. He spent his long life studying how to love and serve Jesus Christ. Can the same be said for us? We have not been granted the privileges given to St John but, we have received countless favours from God.
Let us learn from the example of this great Apostle, how to co-operate generously with the grace of God, for how many times have we deserted Christ!”
Quote/s of the Day – 27 December – Feast of St John the Apostle and Evangelist and the Third Day of the Christmas Octave
“Look into Peter’s wide open eyes and John’s intense gaze. Their eyes contain a mix of anxiousness and hope, the way a parent or grandparent’s eyes look at the news of an impending birth. A new life is about to emerge but there is still uncertainty because it is a mystery beyond full human comprehension or control. Peter and John’s faces capture the same sense of anticipation.
Burnand created a sparse, simple painting capturing two of the most important players in the greatest story ever told. Meditate upon their faces, as Burnand intended you to do and through them, discover the empty tomb.” (Elisabeth Ehrhard-Crises Magazine).
Oh Teach Me then, Dear Saint! An Invocation of St John, Apostle and Evangelist Unknown Author
Saint of the Sacred Heart, Sweet teacher of the Word, Partner of Mary’s woes And favourite of thy Lord!
Refrain Oh teach me then, dear Saint! The Secrets Christ taught thee; The Beatings of His Heart, And how it beat for me!
We know not all thy gifts But this Christ bids us see, That He Who so loved all, Found more to love in thee. Refrain
When the last evening came, Thy head was on His breast, Pillowed on earth, where now In Heaven the Saints find rest. Refrain
Dear Saint! I stand far off, With vilest sins opprest, Oh may I dare, like thee, To lean upon His Breast? Refrain
His Touch could heal the sick, His Voice could raise the dead, Oh that my soul might be Where He allows thy head. Refrain
The gifts He gave to thee He gave thee to impart And I, too, claim with thee His Mother and His Heart! Refrain
One Minute Reflection – 27 December – Feast of St John tApostle and Evangelist 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
The disciple who “entered into the mystery of God, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge …” – Col 2:2-3
REFLECTION – “In proportion to the grace that caused Jesus to love him and enabled him to rest on Jesus’ Breast at the Supper (Jn 13:23), John abundantly received [the Spirit’s gifts] of understanding and wisdom (Is 11:2) – understanding with which to comprehend Scripture, wisdom with which to compose his own books with wonderful skill. As a matter of fact, ,he did not receive this gift right from the time when he rested on our Lord’s Breast,, even if he was subsequently able to draw from that Heart “in which are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col 2:3). When he says, that when he went into the tomb “he saw and he believed,” he acknowledges that “they did not yet understand the Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead” (Jn 20:9). Like all the other Apostles, John received its fullness, when the Holy Spirit came [at Pentecost] and when grace had been given to each of them “according to the measure of Christ’s gift” (Eph 4:7). …
The Lord Jesus loved this disciple more than all the others … and opened the secrets of Heaven to him … to make of him the author of that profound Mystery which man can say nothing about, of himself: the Mystery of the Word, God’s Utterance, the Word made flesh. This is the fruit of that love. Yet even though He loved him, it was not to him that Jesus said: “You are Peter, and on this rock I shall build my Church” (Mt 16:18) … While He loved all His disciples and especially Peter, with a love in mind and soul, our Lord loved John with the love of His Heart …. In the order of Apostleship, Simon Peter received the first place and the “keys of the Kingdom of heaven” (Mt 16:19) but John, won another inheritance, the spirit of understanding, “a wealth of joy and gladness” (Sir 15:6).” – Rupert of Deutz (c 1075- c 1130) Benedictine Monk, Theologian and Writer (The Works of the Holy Spirit, IV, 10 SC 165)
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 Your Blessed Mother intercede for us that we may love You Lord with all our hearts, minds and souls!
Our Morning Offering – 27 December – Feast of St John the Evangelist and the Third Day of the Christmas Octave
An Exile for the Faith Trans. from the Latin Fr Edward Caswall C. Orat. (1814–1878)
An exile for the faith Of thy Incarnate Lord, Beyond the stars, beyond all space, Thy soul imprisoned soared: There saw in glory Him, Who liveth and was dead; There Judah’s Lion and the Lamb That for our ransom bled.
There of the Kingdom learnt The mysteries sublime; How, sown in Martyrs’ blood, the faith Should spread from clime to clime. The Holy City, bathed In her dear Spouse’s Light, Pure seat of bliss, thy spirit saw And gloried in the sight.
Now to the Lamb’s clear fount, To drink of life their fill, Thou callest all; O Lord, in me This blessed thirst instil. To Jesus, Virgin-born, Praise with the Father be, Praise to the Spirit Paraclete, Through all eternity. Amen.
Saint of the Day – 27 December – 27 December – St John the Apostle and Evangelist.
St John, Apostle and Evangelist by Father Francis Xavier Weninger SJ (1805-1888)
St John, Apostle and Evangelist of Jesus Christ, a brother of St James and son of Zebedee and Salome, was born at Bethsaida, a Town in Galilee. Christ, our Lord, called him and his brother James to follow Him, at the time when they were mending their nets in a boat, on the shore of the Sea of Genesareth. John, without delay, left all he possessed, even his own father and, with his brother, followed the Lord. Although the youngest of the Apostles, he was beloved by the Saviour above all the others – whence he is several times mentioned in the Gospel, as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” The cause of this special love of Jesus for him, was, according to the Holy Fathers, his virginal purity, which he kept undefiled and the tender love he bore to the Lord. “He was more beloved than all the other Apostles,” writes St Thomas Aquinas, “on account of his purity.” “For the same reason,” says St. Anselm, “God revealed more mysteries to him, than to the other Apostles. Justly,” says he, “did Christ the Lord reveal the greatest mysteries to him, because he surpassed all in virginal purity.“
It is evident from the Gospel, that St John was one of the most intimate of the friends of the Lord, and was, in consequence, sometimes admitted into Christ’s presence, when, except Peter and James, no other Apostle was allowed to be near. Thus, he was with Christ when He healed the mother-in-law of Peter; when He raised the daughter of Jairus from the dead and when He was transfigured on Mount Thabor. He also accompanied Christ when He suffered His Agony in the Garden of Olives. The other two above-named Apostles ,shared these favours with John but none was permitted to lean upon the Saviour’s bosom, at the last supper, save John; none was recommended as son to the divine Mother but John. Only he, of all the Apostles, followed Christ to Mount Calvary,and remained there with Him, until His death. To recompense this love, Christ gave him to His Mother as her son, when He said: “Behold thy Mother!” Christ, who had lived in virginal chastity, would trust His Virgin Mother to no-one else but John, who himself lived in virginal purity. As St.Jerome says: “Christ, a virgin, recommended Mary, a virgin, to John, a virgin.” No greater grace could John have asked of Christ; no more evident proof could he have received of His love. The most precious thing which the Lord possessed on earth, His holy Mother, He commended to His beloved disciple. He took him as brother, by giving Him as son to His Mother. Who cannot see from all this, that Christ loved and honoured St John above all others?
How deeply this beloved disciple must have suffered by seeing his Saviour die, so ignominious a death, is easily to be conceived; and St Chrysostom hesitates not to call him, therefore, a manifold Martyr. After Christ had died on the Cross, had been taken from it, and interred with all possible honours, St John returned home with the divine Mother, who was now also his mother, and waited for the glorious Resurrection of the Lord. When this had taken place, he participated in the many apparitions of the Lord, by which the disciples were comforted and, doubtless received again, particular marks of love from the Saviour. He afterwards assisted, with the divine Mother and the Apostles and other disciples of Christ, at the wonderful Ascension of the Lord. With these, also, he received, after a ten days’ preparation, the Holy Ghost, on the great festival of Pentecost.
Soon after this, he and Peter had, before all others, the grace to suffer for Christ’s sake. For when these two Apostles had, in the name of Christ, miraculously healed a poor cripple who was lying at the door of the temple of Jerusalem and used this opportunity, to show to the assembled people, that Jesus of Nazareth was the true Messiah.
They were seized, at the instigation of the chief priests,and were cast into prison. On the following day, the priests came together and John and Peter were called before them and asked in whose name and by what power, they had healed the cripple. Peter and John answered fearlessly, that it had been done in the Name of Jesus Christ. The high priest dared not do anything further to them but, setting them free, prohibited them from preaching, in future, the Name of Christ. The two holy Apostles, however, nothing daunted, said: “If it be just in the sight of God to hear you rather than God, judge ye: for we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.“
St. John remained for some time in Jerusalem after this and, with the other Apostles, was zealous in his endeavors to convert the Jews. When the Apostles separated, to preach the Gospel over all the world, Asia Minor was assigned to St John. Going thither, he began with great zeal his apostolic functions and, by the gift of miracles, he converted many thousands to the Faith of Christ. The many Bishoprics which he instituted in the principal cities sufficiently prove this. In the course of time, he went also to other countries, preaching everywhere the Word of Christ, with equal success..
The Emperor Domitian, who, after the death of the Emperor Nero, again began to persecute the Christians, ordered his officers to apprehend John and bring him to Rome. Hardly had the holy Apostle arrived there, when he was commanded by the Emperor to sacrifice to the gods. As the Saint refused this and fearlessly confessed Christ, the Emperor had him most cruelly scourged and afterwards, cast into a large caldron, filled with boiling oil. The Saint signed himself and the cauldron with the Holy Cross and remained unharmed, when he was cast into it. This gave him an opportunity to announce, with great energy, to the assembled people, the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The tyrant, who could not suffer this, had him taken out of the cauldron, and sentenced him to banishment on the island of Patmos, to work in the mines and perform other hard labour, in company with other Christians. St John had, at that time, reached his ninetieth year but was willing to undergo the unjust sentence.
After his arrival on the island, he had many and wonderful visions, which, by command of God, he put down in writing. The book which contains them, is a part of Holy Writ, called the Apocalypse, or Revelation of St John, a book which,, according to St Jerome, contains almost as many mysteries as words. After the death of Domitian, St John was liberated and returning to Ephesus, remained there until his death. He outlived all the other Apostles, as he reached the age of 100 years. His great labours, wearisome travels and the many hardships he endured, at last enfeebled him to such an extent, that he could not go to the Church without being carried. F
Frequently he repeated, in his exhortations, the words: “My little children, love one another.” Some, annoyed at this, asked him why he so often repeated these words. He answered: “Because it is the commandment of the Lord and if that is done, it suffices.” By this he meant, that if we love each other rightly, we also love God and when we love God and our neighbour, no more is needed to gain salvation – as love to God and to our neighbour contains the keeping of all other commandments.
The holy Apostle, who had suffered and laboured so much for his beloved Master, was, at length, in the year 104, called by Him into heaven to receive his eternal reward.
Besides the Apocalypse, to which we referred above, St John also wrote three Epistles and his Gospel, on account of which, he is called Evangelist. In his Gospel he gives many more facts than the other Evangelists, to prove the Divinity of Jesus Christ; as, at that period, several heretics, as Cerinthus, Ebion and the Nicolaites, fought against this truth. In his Epistles, he exhorts particularly, to love God and our neighbour,and to avoid heretics. In the first, among other things, he explains that love to God consists in keeping the commandments of God, which are not difficult to keep. “For this is the charity of God,” writes he, “that we keep His commandments;and His commandments are not heavy.” Of the love of our neighbour he says, that it must manifest itself in works, that is, we must assist our brethren in their need and, if necessary, give even our lives for them, after the example of Christ. The holy Apostle exemplified his words by his actions.
Several holy Fathers relate the following of him. The Saint had given a youth in charge of a Bishop, with the commendation to instruct him carefully in virtue and sacred sciences. After some years, when the Saint returned to this Bishop and asked for the young man, he heard with deep sorrow, that he had secretly left and had joined the highwaymen and had even become their chief. The holy Apostle set out at once and went, not without danger to his life, into the woods, where the unhappy young man was said, to be. Finding him, he spoke most kindly to him and succeeded in bringing him back. It is touching to read how the holy, man promised to atone for the youth’s sins, if he would repent and lead a better life. The youth followed the Saint’s admonition and did penance with such fervour and zeal, that the Saint hesitated not to give him charge of the Church at Ephesus. (1876)
St John, Pray for Holy Mother Church, Pray for us all!
Nossa Senhora do Rosário / Our Lady of the Rosary (Atibaia, São Paulo, Brazil) (1817) – 27 December:
In 1763, slaves who couldn’t attend St John the Baptist’s, the main Church in Atibaia, began building their own. Completed in 1817, the Church is often called Nossa Senhora do Rosário dos Pretos, Our Lady of the Rosary of the Blacks. This agricultural City is home to the oldest and most active tradition in the region. The five indigenous groups in Atibaia combine African and Portuguese religious practices, centered around devotion to St Benedict and Our Lady of the Rosary. On 27 December, as they have for over 200 years, the locals gather outside Our Lady’s Church at dawn, dressed in brilliant uniforms of scarlet, green, blue, pink, or white and carrying swords, banners and musical instruments.
The day begins with a serenade and ends with fireworks. In between, to the sound of drums, guitars and pealing bells, the faithful process dancing through the City: young, old, male, female, black and white. The festa of Our Lady of the Rosary is part of a Christmas celebration beginning on 25 December with the erection of two towering poles topped with images of the Saints in Rosary Plaza and concluding 28 December with processions and Holy Mass honouring St Benedict.
Bl Adelheidis of Tennenbach Bl Alejo Pan López Bl Alfredo Parte-Saiz Bl Christina Ebner