Thought for the Day – 16 December – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
A Christmas Novena 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).
Quote/s of the Day – 16 December – “Month of the Immaculate Conception” – Thursday of the Third week of Advent, Readings: Isaiah 54: 1-10; Psalm30: 2 and 4-6,11-12a and 13b; Luke 7: 24-30
“I tell you, among those born of women, no-one is greater than John; yet the least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.”
“He who calls us, came here below, to give us the means of getting there. He chose the wood that would enable us to cross the sea – indeed, no-one can cross the ocean of this world, who is not borne by the Cross of Christ. Even the blind can cling to this Cross. If you can’t see where you are going very well, don’t let go of it, it will guide you by itself.”
St Augustine (354-430) Father and Doctor of Grace
“Hate what the world seeks and seek, what it avoids.”
“God’s love calls us to move beyond fear. We ask God for the courage to abandon ourselves unreservedly, so that we might be moulded by God’s grace, even as we cannot see where that path may lead us.”
St Ignatius Loyola SJ (1491-1556)
“Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your belongings and give alms. Provide money bags for yourselves that do not wear out, an inexhaustible treasure in heaven that no thief can reach nor moth destroy.”
One Minute Reflection – 16 December – “Month of the Immaculate Conception” – Thursday of the Third week of Advent, Readings: Isaiah 54: 1-10; Psalm30: 2 and 4-6,11-12a and 13b; Luke 7: 24-30
“Yet the least in the kingdom of God is greater than he” – Luke 7:28
REFLECTION – “Of all that are born of women, none is greater than John.” Were all the saints – righteous, upright and wise – joined together and dwelling within a single man, they would not be able to equal John the Baptist… of whom it has been said that he surpasses, by far, all other men and belongs to the class of angels(Mk 1,2 Gk; Mal 3,1 Heb.).
“But the least in the Kingdom of heaven is greater than he”… By what He has said, concerning John’s greatness, our Lord wanted to make known God’s immense generosity to us and His generosity towards His chosen ones. However great and famous John might be, it is less than the least in the kingdom, as the Apostle Paul said: “Our knowledge is in part… but when what is perfect has come, what is in part, will pass away” (1Cor 13,9-10). Yes, John is great – he who had the presentiment to say – “Behold, the Lamb of God ”(Jn 1,29) – but this greatness is no more than a tiny foretaste, compared to the glory to be revealed to those who are found worthy. To put it another way – all great and wonderful things here below, appear in all their smallness and insignificance, compared to the blessedness above…
John was found worthy of the great gifts of this life – prophecy, priesthood (cf. Lk 1,5) and righteousness… John is greater than Moses and the prophets, yet the old Law has need of the New Covenant, since he who is greater than the prophets, said to the Lord – “I need to be baptised by you” (Mt 3,14). John is great, too because his conception was announced by an Angel, his birth was surrounded with miracles, he announced the One Who bestows life, he baptised for the remission of sins… Moses led the people as far as the Jordan and the Law led humankind to the baptism of John. Yet, if “of all that are born of women none is greater than John,” the Lord’s Forerunner, how much greater must they be, whose feet the Lord washed and into whom He breathed His Spirit? (Jn 13,4; 20,22).” – St Ephrem (c.306-373) Deacon in Syria, Father and Doctor of the Church (Commentary on the Diatessaron, 9, 7-13 ; SC 121).
PRAYER – At Your bidding Lord, we are preparing the way for Christ Your Son. May we not grow faint on our journey, as we wait for His healing presence. May His Immaculate Mother and our Mother Mary, grant us her loving protection on this dangerous road. We make our prayer through Christ, Our Lord with the Holy Spirit, one God for all eternity, amen.
Our Morning Offering – 16 December – Thursday of the Third week of Advent
O Lord, Into Your Hands Morning Offering of St Edmund Campion SJ (1540-1581) Martyr
O Lord, into Your hands and into the hands of Your holy Angels, this day I entrust my soul, my relatives, my benefactors, my friends and enemies and all Your Catholic people. O Lord, by the merits and prayers of the BlessedVirgin Mary and of all Your Saints, keep us today from all evil and unruly desires, from all sins and temptations of the devil, from a sudden and unprovided death and from the pains of hell. Enlighten my heart with the grace of Your Holy Spirit. Grant that I may ever be obedient to Your commandments. Let me never be separated from You, O Jesus, who live and reign with God the Father and the same Holy Spirit forever. Amen.
Saint of the Day – 16 December – Saint Everard of Friuli (c 815-867) Duke, Soldier and in contrast, peacemaker, a humble and loving Master with a social conscience, striving always to free serfs, wherever possible or at least to free them from their burdens and assisting the poor and needy in all their deprivations. Even during his life, Everard was loved and celebrated throughout the region and the Church. Born in c 815 in France and died on 16 December c 867 Also known as – Everard, Evrard, Erhard, Eberard, Everardus.
Everard was of noble birth and his father served in the Court of the Frankish Emperor Charlemagne before retiring to a Moonastery toward the end of his life.
As soon as his age permitted him to carry arms, Everard took part in numerous military expeditions. He was named Duke of Friuli and Count or Marquis de Trévise, in Italy. He defended his country against invasion by the Bulgars and managed to completely drive them from the peninsula. In this role as a young soldier, Evrard manifested both bravery and a deep purity of heart. A Biographer has noted of his life as a soldier:
“Everard has a reputation for being both a courageous soldier and able leader throughout these battles. In the tradition of Charlemagne, Evrard entreated the vanquished to convert to Christianity, meritoriously teaching them the Gospel, himself.”
He rendered service unto Louis the Pious, the Emperor after his father Charlemagne, that was still more distinguished. During the tragic years (830-839) where the Emperor had suffered the most undignified treatment, at the hand of his son’s revolt, Count Everard remained inviolably loyal to King Louis. He exercised his influence in Lothair’s sphere (the elder son of the Emperor) to bring about a reconciliation between father and son. It is certain that it was on his counsel in 839 that Lothaire went to Worms to implore the pardon of his father.
In return for his services, the Emperor ,Louis the Pious gave Count Everard the highest honour possible: the hand of his daughter, the Princes Gisèle, a woman of piety and virtue, in marriage. The devout couple used their wealth to relieve the poor and to found Churches, Chapels and later the French Abbey of Cysoing.
Everard organised his home in a way so perfectly, that it was more like a Monastery than a castle. He was seconded in this task by his pious wife, Gisèle, who dedicated herself to the education of their many children. The poor and ill were sure of finding not only security at Cysoing but also help and protection. The social question of the time, that of serfs, also preoccupied Saint Evrard. He had freed a good number. In their Will, he expressly refrained from impeding their liberty. He never forgot those who he had not freed and tried to improve their lives. Although he was a courageous and formidable Soldier, he worked all his life for peace. His private virtues were no less remarkable. In his elevated position, he strove to preserve modesty and humility, to avoid splendor and arrogance. His zeal for the glory of God, to spread the Truth, to convert the infidels, was celebrated throughout the Church. Also, his piety, his taste for ceremonies of worship, his devotion to the Saints and his respect for the precious relics, was apparent in his every act.
Everard and Gisela had three daughters and four sons – two of the latter became Abbots. A conscientious father, Everard gave much attention to his children’s religious and moral formation.
He had a special love for the relics of saints. For Cysoing Abbey, which he had dedicated to the Saviour and His |Blessed Mother and where Everard often prayed and sang with the Monks, he obtained from Rome, the body of Pope Saint Callistus I, which was thereupon carried from Italy to France on the shoulders of several Priests. Miraculous healings and reconciliations of enemies occurred along the route of this cortege.
In 867. Eberhard and his consort, meticulously recorded not only their lands and possessions within a prepared will, but the identities and relationships of family members and neighbouring royals. With the agreement of his spouse, Gisèle, Eberhard portioned his goods among his seven children. Although a layman, Everard was not only literate but possessed an extensive library, which is detailed in his will, in which he bequeathed a large number of religious objects, including vestments, thuribles, candlesticks, liturgical books and prayer books, one of which was a Psalter bearing his signature, that is now in the Vatican Library. Here is a translation of St Everard’s Will into English: http://turbulentpriests.group.shef.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/The-Will-of-Count-Eberhard-and-Gisela.pdf
Everard died on 16 December 867 and was later Canonised.
St Everard of Friuli (c 815-867)Duke, Count, Soldier, Founder of Churches and a Monastery. Bl Filip Siphong Onphithakt St Irenion Bl James of Tunis Bl Jaume Mases Boncompte St Jean Wauthier St Macarius of Collesano