Thought for the Day – 17 December – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
A Christmas Novena II Preparation for the Nativity
“The Birth of Our Lord is the most wonderful and most moving mystery of divine omnipotence and goodness. At first thought, the idea of the infinite God becoming man, would seem impossible. Between God and man, there is a vast abyss. Why should God have bridged this gap and assumed our poor mortal nature, becoming like us in everything but sin, while still remaining God? It is a hard question for the human mind to answer. There is only one reply, however. The immensity of God’s power and justice is equalled, by the immensity of His love. It was simply because God loved us infinitely that He took pity on us, lost as we were in sin. He assumed a human body and became man and, He suffered and died for us, so that we might love and obey Him more easily and follow in the way of goodness.
To our poor intellects, God seems not only immense and infinite but also, very remote. For this reason, God determined to come closer to us, so that He became as one of us. He was a tiny infant, crying in a manger; then, He was a lovable young boy Who spoke words of eternal wisdom among the doctors in the Temple; then, He was a prophet Who traversed the countryside of Palestine, teaching and working miracles; finally, He died a martyr’s death on the Cross in the cause of truth and goodness. Reflecting on this mystery of infinite love, let us adore and love Him.”
“Let us fix our thoughts on the Blood of Christ and reflect how Precious that Blood is, in God’s eyes, inasmuch, as its outpouring f or our salvation, has opened the grace of repentance to all mankind.”
St Pope Clement I (c 35 – c 99)
“Do you desire security? Here you have it. The Lord says to you, “I will never abandon you, I will always be with you.” If a good man made you such a promise, you would trust him. God makes it and do you doubt? Do you seek a support, more sure than the Word of God, which is infallible? Surely, He has made the promise, He has written it, He has pledged His Word for it, it is most certain!”
St Augustine (354-430) Father and Doctor of Grace
“I send you a very little word, THE WORD, made little in the crib, THE WORD, made flesh for us …. THE WORD, of salvation and grace THE WORD, of sweetness and glory THE WORD Who is good and gentle – JESUS CHRIST!”
One Minute Reflection – 17 December – O Wisdom … O Sapientia … – Friday of the Third Week of Advent, Readings: Genesis 49: 2, 8-10; Psalm 72: 1-4, 7-8, 17; Matthew 1: 1-17
O Wisdom O Sapientia
O Sapientia, quae ex ore Altissimi prodiisti, attingens a fine usque ad finem, fortiter suaviterque disponens omnia- veni ad docendum nos viam prudentiae.
O Wisdom, coming forth from the Mouth of the Most High, reaching from one end to the other, mightily and sweetly ordering all things- Come and teach us the way of prudence.
The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. … Matthew 1:1
REFLECTION – “The Incarnation of the Word only contributed to the doing of those things that were done and the mystery of humankind’s salvation was never, even in the remotest age, at a standstill. What the propehts foretold, the apostles announced, nor were those things fulfilled too late, which had always been believed. But the wisdom and goodness of God, made us all the more receptive of His call … as the foretelling of it had been ancient and oft-repeated.
And so it was no new counsel, no tardy pity, whereby God took thought for us but from the foundation of the world, He ordained one and the same cause of Salvation for all. For the grace of God, by which the whole body of the saints is continually made righteous, was increased, not initiated, when Christ was born. And this mystery of God’s great love, with which the whole world is now filled, was so effectively pre-signified, that those who believed the promise, obtained no less, than those who were the actual recipients.
And so, dearly beloved, since that loving-kindness is now manifest with which all the wealth of divine goodness has been showered on us, Whose call to eternal life has been promoted, not only by the supportive example of those who went before us but, by the visible and bodily appearance of Truth itself, we are bound to keep the day of our Lord’s Nativity with a joy beyond this world… By the illumination of the Holy Spirit consider who it was who received us into Himself and Whom we have received, since as the Lord Jesus became our flesh by being born, so we also became His Body by being re-born… For God suggested to us the standard of His own gentleness and humility… Let us imitate His humility, then, to whose glory we would wish to be conformed. He Himself will help us and lead us to what He has promised.” … St Pope Leo the Great (400-461) Father and Doctor of the Church (3rd sermon on the Feast of the Nativity, 4-5).
PRAYER – Collect: O God, Creator and Redeemer of human nature, Who willed that Your Word should take flesh in an ever-virgin womb, look with favour on our prayers, that Your only Begotten Son, having taken to Himself our humanity, may be pleased to grant us a share in his divinity. Who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel Shall come to thee, O Israel
Our Morning Offering – 17 December – “Month of the Immaculate Conception” – Friday of the Third Week of Advent
Queen on Whose Starry Brow Doth Rest St Venantius Fortunatus (c 530-c 609) Translation by Monsignor Ronald A Knox (1888 – 1957)
Queen, on whose starry brow doth rest The crown of perfect maidenhood, The God who made thee, from thy brest Drew, for our sakes, His earthly food.
The grace that sinful Eve denied, With thy Child-bearing, re-appears; Heaven’s lingering door, set open wide, Welcomes the children of her tears.
Fate, for such royal progress meet, Beacon, whose rays such light can give, Look, how the ransomed nations greet The virgin-womb that bade them live!
O Jesus, whom the Virgin bore, Be praise and glory unto Thee. Praise to the Father evermore And His life-giving Spirit be. Amen!
Saint Venantius Fortunatus (c 530 – c 609) Bishop, Poet, Hymnist, Writer – born c 530 at Rreviso, Italy and died c 609 at Poitiers, modern France of natural causes. St Venantius was unique, first a travelling lay poet, he later became a Priest and then a Bishop. But he always remained a professional author of poetry, a “Troubadour” of Christ. He is the attributed author of the Ave Maris Stella, amongst many others.
Saint of the Day – 17 December – Saint Lazarus of Bethany (1st Century) Friend amd Disciple of Jesus, raised to life by Jesus after having been in his tomb for 4 days, brother of Sts Martha and Mary of Bethany, Bishop of Marseilles, France, , Martyr, Missionary. Died by being beheaded in the 1st century in a cave near Marseilles, France. Patronages – Autun, France, Diocese of, Marseille, France, Archdiocese of. Also known as – “Eleazar (the Hebrew version – which means ‘God helped‘),” Lazarus of the Four Days, Lazarus the Resurrected, Lazare…
According to a tradition, or rather a series of traditions combined at different epochs, the members of the family at Bethany, the friends of Christ, together with some holy women and others of His disciples, were put out to sea by the Jews hostile to Christianity in a vessel without sails, oars, or helm and after a miraculous voyage landed in Provence, at a place called today the Saintes-Maries. It is related that they separated there to go and preach the Gospel in different parts of the southeast of Gaul.
Lazarus went to Marseilles and, having converted a number of its inhabitants to Christianity, became their first Bishop. . During the first persecution under Nero, he hid himself in a crypt, over which the celebrated Abbey of St-Victor was constructed in the fifth century. In this same crypt he was interred, when he shed his blood for the Faith., during the new persecution of Domitian. He was cast into prison and beheaded in a spot which is believed to be identical with a cave beneath the prison Saint-Lazare.
His body was later translated to Autun, and buried in the Cathedral of that Town. But the inhabitants of Marseilles claim to be in possession of his head which they still venerate.
Like the other legends concerning the Saints of the Palestinian group, this tradition, which was believed for several centuries and which still finds some advocates, has no solid foundation. It is in a writing, contained in an eleventh century manuscript, with some other documents relating to St Magdalen of Vezelay, that we first read of Lazarus in connection with the voyage that brought Magdalen to Gaul. Before the middle of the eleventh century there does not seem to be the slightest trace of the tradition according to which the Palestinian Saints came to Provence.
At the beginning of the twelfth century, perhaps through a confusion of names, it was believed at Autun, that the tomb of St. Lazarus was to be found in the Cathedral dedicated to St Nazarius. A search was made and remains were discovered, which were solemnly translated and were considered to be those of him whom Christ raised from the dead but it was not thought necessary to inquire why they should be found in France.
The account of Jesus raising Lazarus occurs only in the Gospel of John, the Gospel which most strongly focuses on Jesus as the Son of God. Lazarus served as an instrument for Jesus to provide indisputable proof that he was the Saviour.
Now a man was ill, Lazarus from Bethany, at the village of Mary and her sister Martha. Mary was the one who had anointed the Lord with perfumed oil and dried his feet with her hair; it was her brother Lazarus who was ill. So the sisters sent word to him, saying, “Master, the one you love is ill.” When Jesus heard this he said, “This illness is not to end in death but is for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. But, when he heard that he was ill, he remained for two days in the place where he was. Then after this he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.” The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just trying to stone you and you want to go back there?” Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in a day? If one walks during the day, he does not stumble because he sees the light of this world. But if one walks at night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” He said this,and then told them, “Our friend Lazarus is asleep but I am going to awaken him.” So the disciples said to him, “Master, if he is asleep, he will be saved.” But Jesus was talking about his death, while they thought that he meant ordinary sleep. So then Jesus said to them clearly, “Lazarus has died. And I am glad for you that I was not there, that you may believe. Let us go to him.” So Thomas, called Didymus, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go to die with him.” When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, only about two miles away. And many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them about their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him but Mary sat at home. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. [But] even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise.” Martha said to him, “I know he will rise, in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the One who is coming into the world.” When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary secretly, saying, “The teacher is here and is asking for you.” As soon as she heard this, she rose quickly and went to him. For Jesus had not yet come into the village but was still where Martha had met him. So when the Jews, who were with her in the house comforting her saw Matha, they got up quickly and went out to followed her, presuming that she was going to the tomb to weep there. When Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping and the Jews who had come with her weeping, he became perturbed and deeply troubled, and said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Sir, come and see.” And Jesus wept. So the Jews said, “See how he loved him.” But some of them said, “Could not the One who opened the eyes of the blind man have done something so that this man would not have died?” So Jesus, perturbed again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay across it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the dead man’s sister, said to him, “Lord, by now there will be a stench; he has been dead for four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believe you will see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. And Jesus raised his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you for hearing me. I know that you always hear me but because of the crowd here I have said this, that they may believe that you sent me.” And when he had said this, he cried out in a loud voice,
“Lazarus, come out!”
The dead man came out, tied hand and foot with burial bands and his face was wrapped in a cloth. So Jesus said to them, “Untie him and let him go.”
Madonna del Terremoto (Madonna del Carmine) / Our Lady of the Earthquake, Paterno, Potenza, Basilicata, Italy (1857) – 17 December. (As Patron-Our Lady of Carmel – 26 July):
In the evening of 16 December 1857 a terrible earthquake struck the population of Basilicata and neighbouring regions. In the entire area, the earthquake wreaked havoc devastating the region. The next day, the residents of Paterno began to pray and they processed with the Statue of the Madonna del Carmine, Out Lady of Carmel, who is the Patron of the Town. As soon as the procession reached the devastated area where the destroyed buildings and carts containing the bodies of the dead stood, Our Lady turned her face and her eyes shed blood. This miraculous event is commemorated every year on 17 December with a procession and Holy Mass.
Martyrs of Eleutheropolis – (60+ Martyrs-Beati): Approximately 60 Christian soldiers in the imperial Roman army of emperor Heraclius; they were murdered as a group for their faith by invading Saracen Muslims. We know the names of two of them – Calaoicus and Florian. 638 in Eleutheropolis (Beit Jibrin), Palestine.