Let us begin: In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen
O Lord, who, by the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary, did prepare a fitting dwelling for Your Son, we beseech You that, as by the foreseen death of Your Son, You did preserve her from all stain of sin, grant that, through her intercession, we may be favoured with the granting of the grace that we seek for at this time… …………………………………. State your intention here… ) O Mary of the Immaculate Conception, Mother of Christ, you had influence with your Divine Son while upon this earth; you have the same influence now in Heaven. Pray for us and obtain for us from Him, the granting of our petition if it be the Divine Will. Amen.
Say the: Our Father… the: Hail Mary… the: Glory Be…
Thought for the Day –32 December – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
The Blessedness of the Merciful
“Let us meditate now on the mercy of God, which is infinite even as His justice is infinite. “His mercy” says St Thomas Aquinas, “does not subtract from His justice but is, the fullness and the perfection of that justice.”(Summa Theologiae, I, q.21, a.2 ad2). All the merits which we can acquire in the sight of God, derive from His gratuitous gift of grace. God’s mercy and justice, therefore, are fused together in a wonderful harmony, which claims our gratitude and fidelity.
References to the mercy of God are numerous in Sacred Scripture. “You Lord, are good and forgiving,” says the Psalmist, “abounding in kindness to all who call upon you” (Ps 85:5). “Blessed be the Lord,” we read elsewhere, “my rock, … my refuge and my fortress, my stronghold, my deliverer ….” (ps 143:2). “Goodness and kindness follow me, all the days of my life and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord for years to come” (Ps 22:6)
When we leave the Old Testament and open the Gospel, we discover that it is a record of the goodness and mercy of God. We have only to recall Christ’s forgiveness of the Magdalen when she wept at His feet for her faults; the merciful judgement which He passed on the poor adulteress; His loving glance in the direction of St Peter who had denied Him; the grace so miraculously granted to St Paul on the road to Damascus and, the parables of the good Samaritan, the prodigal son and the good shepherd who went in search of the lost sheep. Finally, there are the consoling words to the repentant thief: “This day thous shalt be with me in paradise.” When we read this chronicle of infinite goodness and mercy, we should experience a boundless hope and confidence. It does not matter how great our sins, or our ingratitude, may have been. Once we have repented, God is ready to forgive us and to receive us with open arms!”
One Minute Reflection – 3 December – “Month of the Immaculate Conception” – Friday of the First week of Advent – Readings: Isaiah 29: 17-24; Psalm 27: 1, 4, 13-14; Matthew 9: 27-31 and The Memorial of St Francis Xavier SJ (1506-1552)
“And their eyes were opened …” – Matthew 9:30
REFLECTION – “Master, O Christ!, Master Who saves souls, God, Lord of all Powers both visible and invisible because You are the Creator of all in Heaven and under the heavens, of what is under the earth but also of what is on earth …: You hold all things in Your Hand because it is Your Hand, O Lord, that is the great power accomplishing Your Father’s will, shaping, forming, creating and guiding our lives in an inexpressible way.
This, then, is what created me, too and called me into being, from nothing. So I was born into this world yet wholly failed to know You, You my good Master, You my Creator, You Who fashioned me. I was in the world like someone blind and as though without God, since I did not know my God.
Then You, in person, pitied me and looked upon me, when You shone Your Light into my darkness, You converted me and drew me to Yourself, O my Creator. And when You had snatched me out of the depths of the pit … of this life’s pleasures and desires, then You showed me the way and gave me a guide who would lead me to Your commandments. I followed him, followed him without a care … but not only that, when I saw You there – You my Good Master – together with my guide and my Father, I experienced inexpressible love and desire. I was beyond faith, beyond hope and said: “Now indeed I see the good things to come” (cf. Heb 10:1), the Kingdom of Heaven is there. I saw before my eyes those things “that eye has not seen nor ear heard”(Is 64:3; 1 Co 2:9).” – St Simeon the New Theologian (949-1022) Monk (Hymn 37)
PRAYER – Lord, watch over Your people who come to You in confidence. Strengthen the hearts of those who hope in You. Give courage to those who falter because of their failures. In this holy season of Advent, lead them closer to You in faith and hope, by the power of your Holy Spirit. May they proclaim Your saving acts of kindness here on earth and one day, in Your eternal kingdom and may the prayers of the Blessed Virgin Mary conceived without sin and Your great Missionaries, St Francis Xavier, and St Birnus bring us light and strength. Through Jesus Christ our Lord, with the Holy Spirit, God forever, amen.
Our Morning Offering – 3 December – Friday of the First week of Advent and The Memorial of St Francis Xavier SJ (1506-1552)
I Love Thee, God, I Love Thee By St Francis Xavier (1506-1552) Translated by Gerard Manley Hopkins SJ (1844-1889)
I love Thee, God, I love Thee— Not out of hope for heaven for me Nor fearing not to love and be in the everlasting burning. Thou, my Jesus, after me Didst reach Thine arms out dying, For my sake suffered nails and lance, Mocked and marred countenance, Sorrows passing number, Sweat and care and cumber, Yea and death and this for me, And Thou could see me sinning. Then I, why should not I love Thee, Jesu so much in love with me? Not for heaven’s sake, not to be Out of hell by loving Thee, Not for any gains I see, But just the way that Thou didst me I do love and will love Thee. What must I love Thee, Lord, for then? For being my King and God. Amen
Saint of the Day – 3 December – St Birinus of Dorchester (c 660-650) the first Bishop of Dorchester, England, “Apostle to the West Saxons,” for his conversion of the Kingdom of Wessex to Christianity., Benedictine Monk. Born in c 600 in France and died on 3 December 650 at Dorchester, of natural causes. Also known as – Birinus of Genoa. Apostle of Wessex, Berin, Birin, Birch.Patronages – Berkshire county and Dorcester City and Diocese.
In the 7th century, an Italian Monk, (though probably born in France), named Birinus was consecrated Bishop in Milan by Archbishop Asterius. Subsequently, he was sent to Britain by Pope Honorius I to continue the conversion of the Anglo-Saxons to Christianity began so courageously by St Augustine of Canterbury and his fellow Missionaries. Our Saint definitely seems to be endowed with a great Missionary spirit, zeal and charism of a great preacher, for in a very short time after his arrival in what is now Southampton, he had endowed the area with a Church dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, which still remains, although of course, restored many times.
Bishop Birinus’ original plan was to penetrate well into the interior of the country where no teacher had been before. But we know from Bede’s Ecclesiastical History that ‘on arriving in Britain and first coming to the nation of the West Saxons, where he found all to be confirmed pagans, he thought it more useful to preach the word there, rather than to go further looking for people to whom he should preach’.
In 635 King Oswald of Northumbria, who had already been converted to Christianity by Celtic Christians in Iona (Scotland), wanted to marry the daughter of Cynegils, King of the West Saxons and, therefore, came to Dorchester to visit Cynegils. There he found Cynegils receiving instruction in the Christian faith from Birinus. The outcome was that Birinus Baptised Cynegils, with Oswald standing as Godfather. The two Kings then granted land to Birinus in Dorchester for the establishment of his Episcopal See and Cathedral. Birinus thus became the first Bishop of the West Saxons.
Birinus died in 650 and was buried in Dorchester; he was canonised soon after. His relics (bones) were moved to Winchester around 690 by Bishop Hedda of Winchester but they were moved again to new Shrines in 980, by Bishop Ethelwold and in 1150, by Henri de Blois. In the early part of the 13th century the Augustinian Canons of Dorchester claimed to possess the relics of Birinus and this was accepted on very slender evidence following an enquiry instigated by Pope Honorius III and presided over by Stephen Langton, the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Whatever the truth about the Birinus relics, the Abbey became a popular place of pilgrimage. This led to an extensive programme of rebuilding including in c1320 the south choir aisle and a marble Shrine dedicated to St Birinus. The Shrine was destroyed and the relics lost in 1536 by the excesses of the English reformation but fragments of the vaulting were found in a walled-up doorway in the 1870s and these were incorporated in the 1960s in the reconstructed shrine that stands today in the south aisle of St Birnus’ Cathedral in Dorchester..
The stained glass roundel below, dated c1225, is in the east window of the St Birinus Chapel. It shows Birinus (spelt Bernius) with bowed head being blessed by an enthroned Archbishop, probably Asterius of Milan who consecrated Birinus for his mission to Britain. The third person is a layman, shown praying.
The Great East Window has a panel depicting Birinus preaching before King Cynegils and some of his people.
St Birinus built many Churches and we have records of him laying the foundations for St Mary’s Church in Reading and others such as the Church of St Peter and St Paul, Checkendon, near Reading. Tradition believes that Birinus built the first Church at Ipsden, as a small Chapel on Berins Hill, about two miles east of the present Church. Birinus Baptised King Cynegils’s son Cwichelm in 636 and grandson, Cuthred in 639, to whom he stood as Godfather too. The Catholic Church in Dorchester, one of the first built after the restoration of the Catholic hierarchy in the United Kingdom in 1850 by Pope Pius IX and was dedicated to Birinus.
Vergine di Montesanto / Our Lady of the Holy Mountain, Rome, Italy (1659) – 3 December:
On the Piazza del Popolo in Rome, there used to be a small Church run by Carmelite Friars, called St Mary of the Holy Mountain after Mount Carmel in the Holy Land. The Church housed a miraculous Madonna and Child, believed to have been painted by a young aspiring female painter, Plautilla Bricci, with supernatural help. It is said that Plautilla Bricci, a Roman painter but also to become the first female architect, had some difficulties in shading Mary’s face and, at a certain point, decided to put down her brush and rest – upon awakening from sleep, she found the face of the Virgin finished to perfection!
After the painting was canonically crowned on 3 December 1659, Cardinal Gerolamo Gastaldi decided to build the Madonna a more splended Sanctuary. It was the work of three great architects. Gian Lorenzo Bernini modified Carlo Rainaldi’s original plan to give the building an oval shape more in keeping with its site and Carlo Fontana supervised its completion in 1679. Around the same time the “twin” Church of Santa Maria dei Miracoli was built next door. The painting, hard to date but typical of the 1500s, occupies a large columned Altarpiece with stucco angels by Filippo Carcani. In 1953, Pope Pius XII designated the Basilica di Santa Maria in Montesanto the official Church for artists, who still come before the Virgin seeking divine help.
St Francis Xavier SJ (1506-1552) (Memorial) Priest, Missionary, co-Founder with St Ignatius Loyola (1491-1556) and St Peter Faber (1506-1546) of the Society of Jesus. One of the Greatest Missionaries since St Paul. His body is incorrupt.
St Abbo of Auxerre St Abran St Agapius St Agricola of Pannonia St Alvaro González López St Anthemius of Poitiers St Attalia of Strasbourg Bl Bernard of Toulouse OP Martyr St Birinus of Dorchester (c 660-650) Bishop, “Apostle to the West Saxons,” St Cassian of Tangiers St Claudius of Africa St Claudius the Martyr St Crispin of Africa St Edward Coleman St Eloque of Lagny
St John of Africa St Juan Bautista Ferris Llopis St Julián Heredia Zubia St Lucius St Lucy the Chaste St Magina of Africa St Mamas St Manuel Santiago y Santiago St Marcos García Rodríguez St Maurus the Martyr St Seleucus St Stephen of Africa St Theodore of Alexandria St Theodulus of Edessa St Valeriano Rodríguez García St Veranus Zephaniah the Prophet
Martyrs of Nicomedia: Christians martyred together in the persecutions of Diocletian – Ambicus, Julius and Victor. c 303 in Nicomedia, Bithynia (modern Izmit, Turkey).
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 Alvaro González López • Blessed Francisco Delgado González • Blessed Francisco Fernández Escosura • Blessed Juan Bautista Ferris Llopis • Blessed Julián Heredia Zubia • Blessed Manuel Santiago y Santiago • Blessed Marcos García Rodríguez • Blessed Valeriano Rodríguez García