Thought for the Day – 20 December – The Swaddling Clothes of the Divine Infant

Thought for the Day – 20 December – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)

A Christmas Novena V
The Swaddling Clothes of the Divine Infant

“Mary, like other mothers in those days, wrapped the Infant Jesus in swaddling clothes.
The Divine Child quietly offered this new humiliation to His heavenly Father.
He saw prefigured in these bands, the ropes with which He would be bound in the garden of Gethsemane, even after He had given sinful humanity, His celestial teaching, example and miracles and finally, His own Body inthe Sacrament of the Eucharist.
He saw in them too, the chains with which He would be secured to the pillar, in order to be scourged in the Praetorium of Pilate among the jeers and insults of the onlookers.
He saw in them, finally, the cords with which, after having been condemned to the ignominious death of the Cross, He would be tied, while being led to the place of execution on Mount Calvary.
Filled with infinite love for stricken humanity, the Heart of the Divine Infant offered all this, in advance, to His Father in heaven.

Are we making any effort to return such great love?
Like Jesus, we are often obliged to endure, both physical and moral anguish.
Have we the resignation to offer it all to Jesus, or do we squander our opportunities in useless complaining or in acts of impatience and rebellion?
We shall have to go on suffering anyway but, in the latter case, we may have to suffer even more and shall lose all merit in the sight of God.

Let us kneel down before the Holy Infant wrapped in His swaddling clothes and, let us promise to endure everything for His sake and in reparation for our sins.”

Antonio Cardinal Bacci


Quote/s of the Day – 20 December – ‘… Answer quickly, O Virgin. …’

Quote/s of the Day – 20 December – Monday of the Fourth Week of Advent, Readings: Isaiah 7: 10-14; Psalm 24: 1-6; Luke 1: 26-38

“And Mary said,
‘Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.
May it be to me according to your word

Luke 1:38

The price of our salvation
is offered to you.
We shall be set free at once, if you consent.
In the eternal Word of God, we all came to be
and behold, we die.
In your brief response,
we are to be remade.
in order to be recalled to life.

… Answer quickly, O Virgin.
Reply in haste to the Angel,
or rather, through the Angel to the Lord.
Answer with a word,
receive the Word of God.
Speak your own word,
conceive the Divine Word.
Breathe a passing word,
embrace the Eternal Word!

St Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153)
The Last Father and
the Mellifluous Doctor of the Church

The Annunciation
By Fr Thomas Merton (1915-1968)

Ashes of paper, ashes of a world
Wandering, when fire is done:
We argue with the drops of rain!

Until one comes Who walks unseen
Even in elements we have destroyed.
Deeper than any nerve
He enters flesh and bone.
Planting His truth, He puts our substance on.

Air, earth and rain
Rework the frame that fire has ruined.
What was dead is waiting for His Flame.
Sparks of His Spirit spend their seeds, and hide
To grow like irises, born before summertime.

These blue thinas bud in Israel.

The girl prays by the bare wall
Between the lamp and the chair.
(Framed with an angel in our galleries
She has a richer painted room, sometimes a crown.
Yet seven pillars of obscurity
Build her to Wisdom’s house, and Ark and Tower.
She is the Secret of another Testament
She owns their manna in her jar.)

Fifteen years old –
The flowers printed on her dress
Cease moving in the middle of her prayer
When God, Who sends the messenger,
Meets His messenger in her Heart.
Her answer, between breath and breath,
Wrings from her innocence our Sacrament!
In her white body God becomes our Bread.

It is her tenderness
Heats the dead world like David on his bed.
Times that were too soon criminal
And never wanted to be normal
Evade the beast that has pursued
You, me and Adam out of Eden’s wood.
Suddenly we find ourselves assembled
Cured and recollected under several green trees.

Her prudence wrestled with the Dove
To hide us in His cloud of steel and silver:
These are the mysteries of her Son.
And here my heart, a purchased outlaw,
Prays in her possession

Until her Jesus, makes my heart
Smile like a flower in her blameless hand.

Fr Thomas Merton (1915-1968), Trappist Monk and Priest. Thomas Merton expressed his vision in his poetry, novels, essays, devotionals and autobiographical writings.


One Minute Reflection – 20 December – “Hail, full of grace!” – Luke 1:28

One Minute Reflection – 20 December – Monday of the Fourth Week of Advent O Clavis David/O Key of David – Readings: Isaiah 7: 10-14; Psalm 24: 1-6; Luke 1: 26-38

The Lord is at hand, come let us adore Him.

and Sceptre of the House of Israel,
who opens and no-one shuts,
who shuts and no-one opens.
Come and bring forth the captive from his prison,
he who sits in darkness and in the shadow of death.

Hail, full of grace!” – Luke 1:28

REFLECTION – “This woman will be the Mother of God, the door to Light, source of Life; she will reduce to oblivion the judgement that weighed on Eve. “The rich among the people seek the face” of this woman, “the kings of the nations shall pay her homage”, they shall “offer gifts”…, yet the glory of the Mother of God is an interior glory: the fruit of her womb.

O woman, so worthy of love, thrice happy, “blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb.” Daughter of David the king and Mother of God, King of the universe, masterpiece in whom the Creator rejoices…: you are to be nature’s full achievement. For you, life is not yours; you were not born for yourself alone but your life is to be God’s. You came into the world for Him, you will serve for the salvation of all people, fulfilling God’s design established from the beginning: the Incarnation of the Word and our own divinisation. Your whole desire is to feed on the words of God, to be strengthened by their sap, like “a green olive tree in the house of God,” “like a tree planted by running water,” you are the “tree of life” who “yielded its fruit in due season”…

He Who is Infinite, Limitless, came to dwell in your womb; God, the Child Jesus, was nourished by your milk. You are the ever virginal Doorway of God; your hands hold your God; your lap is a throne raised up above the Cherubim… You are the wedding chamber of the Spirit, the “city of the living God, gladdened by the runlets of the stream”, that is to say, the waves of the Spirit’s gifts. You are “all fair, the Beloved” of God.” – St John Damascene (675-749) Monk, Theologian, Father and Doctor of the Church (Homily on the Nativity of the Virgin, # 9 ; SC 80) [( Biblical references : Ps 44[45],13; 71[72],11.10; Mt 2,11; Lk 1,42; Is 62,5; Ps 51[52],10; 1,3; cf Gn 2,9, Rv 22,2; cf Ez 44,2; Ps 79[80],2; cf Sg 1,4; Ps 45[46],5; Sg 4,7].

PRAYER – Lord, at the Angel’s message, Mary, the Immaculate Virgin, became the temple of God and was filled with the light of the Holy Spirit, when she received Your divine Word. Grant that, after her example, we may humbly and steadfastly follow Your will. Through Christ the Incarnate Word, our Lord and Saviour, with the Holy Spirit, one God for all ages, amen.


Our Morning Offering – 20 December – Blessed Shall be Her Name

Our Morning Offering – 20 December – Monday of the Fourth Week of Advent

Blessed Shall be Her Name
Anonymous Author

Praise we the Lord this day,
This day so long foretold,
Whose promise shone with cheering ray
On waiting saints of old.

The prophet gave the sign
That those with faith might read;
A Virgin, born of David’s line
Shall bear the promised Seed.

Ask not how this should be,
But worship and adore;
Like her whom Heaven’s majesty
Came down to shadow o’er.

She meekly bowed her head
To hear the gracious word,
Mary, the pure and lowly maid,
The favoured of the Lord.

Blessed shall be her name
In all the Church on earth,
Through whom that wondrous Mercy came,
The Incarnate Saviour’s Birth.

Jesus, the Virgin’s Son,
We praise You and adore,
Who are with God the Father One
And Spirit evermore.

Posted in SAINT of the DAY

Saint of the Day – 20 December – Saint Philogonius of Antioch (Died 324)

Saint of the Day – 20 December – Saint Philogonius of Antioch (Died 324) Bishop, Widower, Lawyer, Patriarch of Antioch. Defender of the true Faith against Arianism, in fact, he was one of the first to publicly denouce the hereby, Defender of the people against persecution, Ascetic. Died in 324 of natural causes. Patronage – of Lawyers.

The Roman Martyrology states: “In Antioch in Syria, St Philogonius, Bishop, who, a Lawyer, called by God to govern this Church one day, started together with the Bishop St Alexander and other companions ,the fight for the Catholic faith against Arianism and full of merit, he rested in the Lord. St John Chrysostom celebrated him in a famous commendation.”

Philogonius was a successful Lawyer and Advocate, at the Bar of Antioch. He was known for his eloquence, moral integrity and Christian Faith. He married and had a daughter, but became a Monk and Ascetic after his wife died.

The celebrated and holy Philogonius lived in the reign of Constantine the Great. After having finished his studies, he practised law but in such a manner that he might serve as a model to all in a similar calling. He never undertook any lawsuit before he had thoroughly examined the case and, being entirely frank with those who desired his assistance, he never pleaded a cause which seemed unjust. Nothing could deter him from what he thought right, neither fear of those above him, nor promises nor gifts. The poor he served gratis, and he defended, both by word and writing, the widow and the orphan against the power of the great, never refusing his counsel to those whose means allowed but a small recompense or none at all. Love for his neighbour was to him a greater incentive to work than eagerness to gain temporal goods.

How high these noble qualities raised him in the estimation of the people was especially manifest, when after the death of the Bishop, they were choosing a worthy Successor to their late shepherd. The entire people insisted on having him as Bishop, who, until then, had with so much kindness and justice, assisted them in their temporal affairs. The voice of the people was regarded as the voice of God, and Philogonius was Consecrated Bishop of Antioch.

He administered his sacred functions in the most zealous manner. Saint John Chrysostom, who preached a magnificent sermon on Saint Philogonius, says himself, that to speak worthily in his praise surpassed all eloquence. Licinius, at that period, persecuted the Christians and Philogonius did his utmost to protect them. He animated them to constancy, and taught them not to allow either the loss of their temporal goods, nor other sufferings to separate them from Christ, or to leave the true Church, as they would deprive themselves of their eternal possessions, and would have nothing to expect but the pains of hell. By frequent representations of the unending joys of heaven and the torments of hell, he strengthened his flock so effectually in the true faith, that they were willing to suffer poverty and tortures and even death, rather than leave it. When it happened that one would apparently forsake the true faith through fear of martyrdom, the holy man, though deeply grieved, spoke neither harshly nor unkindly to him but, with a heartfelt compassion, represented the greatness of his sin, exhorted him to do penance and atone for his error and encouraged him to constancy. When he saw that his admonitions were heeded, he greatly rejoiced and always treated the penitent with kindness, without ever reproaching him for his fault, or even alluding to it.

When the persecution of Licinius had ceased, Arius began to disseminate his heresy. No shepherd could be more solicitous to protect his sheep from an attack of wolves than Saint Philogonius was to keep the heresy from his people and retain them in the faith of Christ. Arius confessed that Philogonius had been his strongest adversary and had opposed him most effectually. The holy Bishop explained the wickedness of the new heresy and refuted it as well in public sermons as in private discourses, by which he greatly benefited his flock. Besides this, he zealously endeavoured to uproot all abuses that had crept in and to plant in the hearts of all, a hatred of sin and a love of virtue. Towards this end he directed all his exhortations, which had great influence over the people, as he supported his precepts by the example of his virtue. His conduct was so blameless, that even his enemies could find no fault in it.

He was greatly devoted to prayer, and always sought refuge in it when he was in affliction. He allowed no comfort to his body, not even necessary rest. He guarded his sheep day and night and the result was, that it was said of the Church at Antioch, that true virtue and piety reigned among all classes of people. Saint Chrysostom compares it to a well cultivated and fruitful garden, cleansed from thorns and brambles and says. that it showed the indefatigable care of him who had governed it.

The Almighty wished, at last, to give the promised reward to His true and faithful servant. A sickness, apparently of no consequence, prepared his way. The thought of the labours he had undergone in his functions during his life, for the honour of God and the salvation of souls, gave him inexpressible comfort in his last hour and the hope of going to Heaven gave him the most ardent desire to die and rest in God. This wish the Almighty granted, to the great grief of the people of Antioch.

Saint John Chrysostom preached a beautiful eulogy on St Philogonius.


Notre-Dame de Bon Retour à Île-Molène / Our Lady of Molene, France (1075), Christmas Novena Day Five and Memorials of the Saints – 20 December

Christmas Novena to the Christ Child – DAY FIVE:

Vigil of St Thomas, Apostle.

Notre-Dame de Bon Retour à Île-Molène / Our Lady of Molene, France (1075) – 20 December

The Abbot Orsini wrote: “The Shrine of Our Lady of Molene is in the Abbey of the Order of Saint Benedict in Langres. It was founded on the 20th of December, 1075, by Saint Robert who was the Abbot.”

The Benedictine Monastery in the Diocese of Langres founded by Saint Robert was actually the famous Molesme Abbey. As the Abbot Orsini mentioned, it was indeed founded by Saint Robert, henceforth known as Saint Robert of Molesme O.Cist (1028-1111), in the year 1075. He had been the Abbot of Saint Michael Abbey but left and founded a new Abbey when they refused to accept his necessary reforms.
Saint Robert was born in the year 1029 and had a deep, childlike devotion to the Mother of God – by reason of a vision his mother saw, before Robert was born – and he instilled the same into the hearts of his Monks. Saint Robert’s holiness attracted many sincere men to join him, and as many of them were also noblemen, they provided Saint Robert with the financial means necessary to build a magnificent Abbey. Among those who flocked to Saint Robert was St Bruno of Cologne, who was the future Founder of the Carthusian Order.
When Saint Robert died in the year 1111, he was buried in the Ahurch at the Abbey he founded. St Alberic, Robert’s Successor, decided that the Order should be dedicated to Mary. According to legend, Mary bestowed on Alberic a white mantle; for that reason, the Monks changed their black habit and wore white. All their Churches were dedicated to the Virgin and each had its Mary Altar before which the office of Mary was chanted every Saturday.
The Church and Monastery were destroyed and any remaining property stolen in 1472 during the war between Burgundy and France. The Huguenots burned what had been rebuilt the following century during the French Wars of Religion. The end came during the French Revolution when the Abbey was suppressed and the buildings and Church destroyed.
The small Church pictured is the Church of Sainte-Croix, built in the 13th century as a Chapel for the novices at the Abbey. Even this building was damaged in 1940 during combat between the French and German troops and some of that damage can still be seen. However, this is now a thriving Parish with an annual pilgrimage to honour Our Lady. The Grotto above and below, stands in the open field previously the site of the Monastery.
The Abbey site has been an historical monument since 1985. The once thriving community is gone and the site now is only accessible by prior arrangement.
The Monastery seal pictured the Virgin Mary crowned.

St Attala of Strasbourg
St Bajulus of Rome
St Crescentius of Africa
St Dominic of Brescia

St Dominic de Silos OSB (1000-1073) Monk, Abbot.

St Eugene of Arabia
St Gabriel Olivares Roda
St Hoger of Hamburg-Bremen
Bl John de Molina
St Julius of Gelduba
Bl Lorenzo Company
St Liberatus of Rome
St Macarius of Arabia
St Malou of Hautvillers

Blessed Michal Piaszczynski (1885-1940) Priest and Martyr.
His Life and Death:

St Paul of Latra
Bl Peter de la Cadireta
Bl Peter Massalenus
St Philogonius of Antioch (Died 324) Bishop

St Thomas of Dover
St Ursicinus of Saint-Ursanne

St Vincenzo Romano (1751-1831) “A Priest of the People.”
His story:

St Pope Zephyrinus (Died 217) Bishop of Rome from 199-217, Confessor, Defender of the Faith especially of the Doctrine of the Holy Trinity. He is known for combatting heresies and defending the Divinity of Christ.
About Pope Zephyrinus: