Thought for the Day – 22 December – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
A Christmas Novena VII Prayer and Dedication
“Let us kneel once more before the crib. Like other newborn infants, Jesus is sometimes asleep and sometimes awake, sometimes crying and sometimes smiling. Often His tiny eyes silently watch Mary and Joseph. Surely, this seems a useless existence for Almighty God. But we know that it is not purposeless. This is the first great lesson which God wishes to give to the proud and corrupt human race. It is the lesson of humility, prayer and total dedication to God.
To outward appearances, Jesus is behaving like any other baby. Internally, however, His soul is hypostatically united to the Eternal Word and dwells in the Presence of the Heavenly Father, Whom He loves with a burning and infinite love. Heart and soul, He offers Himself as a holocaust on behalf of sinful humanity and implores His Heavenly Father, to enlighten minds darkened by error, to strengthen weak human wills and to make all men holy. It may well be said, that already, in the silence and obscurity of the cradle, Jesus has begun to redeem the world, for every one of His human-divine actions has an infinite value. Whether He is awake or asleep, crying or smiling, He offers Himself silently to His Eternal Father as a holocaust of propitiation for our sins.
Let us adore the Divine Infant, therefore and thank Him for the priceless gift of our Redemption, which is already accomplished in the silence and obscurity of the manger. Let us implore the grace to love Him and to imitate Him more closely.
As we kneel before the Infant Jesus, let us beseech Him to enable us to grasp the truth of these reflections. Let us take more care of our soul than we do of our external talents and possessions. May God occupy the foremost place in our minds and may He be the principal object of our thoughts, desires and affections. Let us imitate the humble recollection and ardent love for God of the Holy Infant. Like Him, let us offer ourselves entirely to God. Let us ask Him to make us like Him, in complete acceptance of the Divine Will, especially when we are in trouble or in pain, for in this way, we shall be able to show God how sincerely we love Him.”
Quote of the Day – 22 December – Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Advent, O Rex Gentium/O King of all Nations,
“If you want, the Virgin will come walking down the road pregnant with the Holy and say: “I need shelter for the night. Please take me inside your heart. My time is so close.” Then, under the roof of your soul, you will witness the sublime intimacy, the Divine, the Christ, taking birth forever. As she grasps your hand for help, for each of us is the midwife of God, each of us. Yes, there, under the dome of your being, does creation come into existence eternally– through your womb, dear pilgrim–the sacred womb of your soul! As God grasps our arms for help; for each of us is His beloved servant never far. If you want, the Virgin will come, walking down the street, pregnant with Light and sing!”
St John of the Cross (1542-1591) Mystical Doctor of the Church
One Minute Reflection – 22 December – “Month of the Immaculate Conception” – Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Advent, O Rex Gentium/O King of all Nations, Readings: Samuel 1:24-28; First Samuel 2: 1, 4-8; Luke 1:46-56
The Lord is at hand, come let us adore Him.
O KING OF ALL NATIONS and keystone of the Church come and save man, whom You formed from the dust!
“My spirit rejoices in God my saviour” – Luke 1:47
REFLECTION – “My soul magnifies the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour.”. The first interpretation of these words is undoubtedly to acknowledge the gifts granted to her, to Mary in particular, by God. But then she recalls the universal blessing with which God never ceases to surround the human race.
The soul glorifies the Lord, when it consecrates all its inner powers on praising and serving God and when, by its submission to the divine commands, it proves that it never loses sight of His power and majesty. The spirit rejoices in God, its Saviour, when it places all its joy in the remembrance of its Creator, from Whom it hopes for eternal salvation. Without doubt, these words exactly express the thought of all the Saints but it was most especially fitting they should be spoken by the blessed Mother of God, who, filled with a special privilege, burned with a wholly spiritual love for the One she had the joy of conceiving in her flesh. More than any other Saint she had good reason to rejoice in Jesus – that is to say, in her Saviour – because He Whom she acknowledged to be the Eternal Author of our salvation, would in time, as she knew, be born in His own flesh and with such authenticity, that in one and the same Person her Son and her God, would be truly present…
Hence it is a praiseworthy and salutary custom, whose fragrance perfumes Holy Church, when everyday at Vespers, we sing the Canticle of the Virgin. We may well expect from this, that the souls of the faithful, by so often calling to mind the Lord’s Incarnation, will be enflamed with even greater fervour and that, such a frequent reminder of His Holy Mother’s example, will strengthen them in virtue. And Vespers is the best time to come back to this song, since our souls, tired by the day and drawn this way and that by the day’s thoughts, need to come back together again, when the hour of rest draws near, so that they may find, once more, their singleness of focus.” – St Bede the Venerable (673-735) Monk, Father and Doctor of the Church (Homilies on the Gospel, I, 4 ; CCL 122, 25f)
PRAYER –The Magnificat The Canticle of Mary Luke 1:46-55
My soul glorifies the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God, my Saviour He looks on His servant in her lowliness Henceforth, all ages will call me blessed: The Almighty works marvels for me, holy is His Name! His mercy is from age to age, on those who fear Him. He puts forth His arm in strength and scatters the proud-hearted. He casts the mighty from their thrones and raises the lowly. He fills the starving with good things, sends the rich away empty. He protects Israel, His servant, remembering His mercy, the mercy promised to our fathers, to Abraham and his sons forever. Amen.
Saint of the Day – 22 December – Saint Flavian of Acquapendente (Died 363) Martyr, Married Layman, Prefect of Imperial Rome, Husband of Saint Dafrosa, Father of Saint Bibiana and Saint Demetria. The Roman Martyrology states: “At Rome, ex-Prefect, who, under Julian the Apostate, was condemned to be branded for Christ and banished to Aquae Taurinae, where he gave up his soul to God in prayer.”
Saint Flavian, the father of two holy daughters, Bibiana and Demetria and the husband of Saint Dafrosa, was a descendant of a noble Roman family. His incomparable talents, great knowledge and holy life, made him so beloved and esteemed, not only by the people but also by Constantine the Great, that the latter raised him to the high office of Governor of Rome. The duties of this exalted dignity he fulfilled untiringly but, at the same time, neglected nothing that his faith demanded of him, on the contrary, his principal thought was to disseminate more and more the Catholic Faith among his subjects. Those who had already embraced Christianity he endeavoured to assist whenever an opportunity presented itself. After the death of Constantine the Great, his son Constantius, persuaded by his wicked Empress, favoured the Arian heresy and persecuted the Catholics, almost as much as had formerly been done, by the heathen Emperors.
Flavian endeavoured to strengthen the Catholics in their faith and to defend the divinity of Jesus Christ against the Arian blasphemies. This zeal made him hateful to the Emperor and, as neither promises, nor menaces, had any power to change him, he was divested of the high office which he had filled for so many years, to the satisfaction of all Rome. Flavian was not cast down but rather, rejoiced because, for the sake of the true Faith, he suffered so great a loss and no less ignominy. . The Officers whom Julian had appointed to apprehend and torture the Christians, took no notice of this for some time, as Flavian was still greatly esteemed on account of his high rank and the dignity, of the office with which he had been invested but at last, they informed the tyrant of it.
The latter commanded his new Governor, Apronian, to apprehend Flavian immediately and either force him to abandon his faith, or to take his life, by the most cruel tortures. Apronian obeyed the order, Flavian was seized and brought before him. The Governor endeavoured to persuade him to forsake his faith but Flavian said fearlessly: “I am a Christian and will remain a Christian and, further, I consider it the greatest honour to give, not only all I possess but also my life, for the honour of Christ.” The Governor, greatly embittered, sentenced him to be dispossessed of his nobility and placed in the rank of the most abject slaves, which, to a high-minded man, must have been more cruel than death. Hence, they tore off the insignia of his nobility and of his former high office from his body and, with a red-hot iron, burned a mark on his forehead. The pain was great, the ignominy and disgrace much greater but Flavian bore it cheerfully. “I receive,” said he, “this disgrace as the greatest honour that was ever bestowed upon me.” Apronian would have tortured him still more but as he knew that Flavian was highly esteemed on account of the faithfulness with which he had laboured for the public, he desisted, fearing a revolt. He deprived him, therefore, of all his possessions, and sent him into banishment, giving orders to those who were to transport him, to torment him on the road in every possible manner, in order that misery and grief might soon kill him. Flavian received the sentence of his banishment with the same joy that he had manifested at the preceding ignominy.
The most difficult sorrow for him to bear ,was to leave his spouse and his two daughters, as he foresaw that they would not be treated better than he had been. But this, also, he bore heroically and placing them under the protection of the Most High, he went into his banishment, guarded by a troop of soldiers, who delighted in obeying the orders of Apronian and maltreated him most cruelly. Not much better was the treatment which he received at the place to which he was exiled, where he soon ended his life. His only comfort was prayer, which so greatly supported him that, notwithstanding the hardships he endured, he was never seen looking downcast but always joyful. It was also in prayer that he closed his holy life for, one day, when conversing with God, his head sank quietly upon his breast and his heroic soul became free. He was, indeed, worthy to be placed among the greatest martyrs of the holy Church; as what he had suffered for his faith will appear to many much harder to endure than the bodily martyrdom of so many other Saints.
Notre-Dame de Chartres / Our Lady of Chartres, (Pèlerinage de Chartres / The Chartres Pilgrimage) Mother of Youth (1935): also known as the Pilgrimage of Christendom, has been gathering thousands of people on the Solemnity of Pentecost for a three-day trek from the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris to the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Chartres.
Our Lady of Chartres, or Notre-Dame de Chartres, is a beautiful Gothic style Cathedral located in Beauce, France, which is about 80 kilometres southwest of Paris. This Cathedral, which was first built in the time of the Apostles, was demolished several times over the centuries. It was re-erected in its present state by Saint Fulbert, the fifty-fifth Bishop of Chartres at the end of the 12th Century into the beginning of the 13th century. The Pilgrimage was inspired by French-Catholic writer Charles Péguy, who made a solitary Pilgrimage from Notre Dame of Paris to the Marian Sanctuary of Chartres in 1912, covering more than 136 kilometres in four days, 14-17 June, to ask the intercession of the Virgin Mary to help his ill son. He undertook the same Pilgrimage a year later, shortly before losing his life on the battlefield at the beginning of World War I in 1914.
The student’s Pilgrimage to Chartres started in 1935 with a group of fifteen young men and girls of the Sorbonne, who sacrificed their Pentecostal holidays in prayer to the Holy Spirit and to Mary. They marched 100 kilometres to the Shrine in Chartres and prayed there together. The next year there were 36 who went and in the following year 150. Then the war came but during the eight hard years that followed, the Pilgrimages were not deserted. The numbers increased, until in 1948, about 6,500 students formed a line to march to Mary. Most of the Pilgrims were in their early twenties or late teens, from the universities, colleges and schools of Paris and the Provinces, although some were from foreign countries. The number of unbelievers, atheists and Communists has always been high even among the students; while Protestants and Jews also make up a goodly portion of the number (very much like the Santiago de Compostela). Some come out of curiosity, some following the persistent urgings of a friend; some for the sport of hiking, or to answer an invitation to test their grit and endurance but whatever their reasons for starting, few end, without a definite spiritual “joy.” Many make the Pilgrimage in bare feet over gravel roads; the sick and crippled go, too. In our day there are thousands, perhaps 10,000 Pilgrims who walk through the French countryside to Chartres. Their trek is an open act of faith and reparation, something almost never seen in modern times.
In making the Chartres Pilgrimage, these young people help to give France a new birth of devotion to Mary; something new and spotless has been born as in the warmth of endless glorious Saints – re-lit in the hearts of young moderns. France must now place her hope in youth, the youth of France and the youth of the Church, through Our Blessed Mother, Mary the Lady of Chartres. Although this is primarily a Pentecost Pilgrimage, many smaller groups commence a Pilgrimage on 22 December to be in time for Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve and, in fact, all year round. Below, a French flag displaying the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus with ‘Hope and Salvation of France.’ A Priest hears confession while other Pilgrims participate in Adoration in the background (at the final campsite of the pilgrimage in Gas, France, about 12 miles from Chartres).
St Abban of New Ross Bl Adam of Saxony St Amaswinthus of Málaga St Athernaise of Fife St Bertheid of Münster St Chaeremon of Nilopolis St Flavian of Acquapendente (Died 363) Martyr Layman St Honoratus of Toulouse
Martyrs of Ostia – (3 saints): A group of Christians martyred together. The only details about them to survive are three names – Demetrius, Florus and Honoratus. They were martyred at Ostia, Italy.
Martyrs of Rhaitu – (43 saints): 43 monks martyred by Blemmyes, in Raíthu, Egypt, date unknown.
Martyrs of Via Lavicana – (30 saints): A group of 30 Christians martyred together in the persecutions of Diocletian. c 303 in Rome, Italy and were buried between two bay trees on the Via Lavicana outside Rome.