Thought for the Day – 24 December – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
A Christmas Novena IX The Holy Family – Jesus
“We have in the Holy Family, the highest possible models of perfection – Jesus, Mary and Joseph. As God, Jesus is essentially holy. By means of the Hypostatic Union, this sanctity is transmitted also to His human nature. The holiness of Jesus was only gradually revealed as He grew older because He wished to be like us in everything, save in sin. As the Gospel says, He “advanced in wisdom and age and grace before God and men” (Lk 2:52). Jesus gave us an example of holiness which we should find easier to imitate because it was eternally increasing all the time. He offered us, as an example, the kind of sanctity which has its beginning and foundation in utter humility and detachment from worldly goods. “Learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart” (Mt 11:29).
Socrates advised his followers to have few desires and to desire these as little as possible, in order to remain content, for the man who is full of desires is always uneasy and restless. This human counsel is very true but, it is incomplete. It recommends detachment from earthly things but fails to teach the ardent and practical desire for supernatural things. Jesus Christ teaches us both. After He has urged us to become gentle and humble like Himself, after He has told us not to worry about the future and not to fret about what to wear and what to eat, He points out the way in which Providence clothes the lilies of the filed and feeds the birds of the air. Then He adds: “Seek the kingdom of God and all these things shall be given you besides” (Cf Lk. 12:22-31).
We must limit and moderate our desire for earthly goods, therefore but, should ardently yearn to love God, to serve and obey Him in this life and to enjoy Him forever in Heaven. This is what the Infant Jesus wishes to teach us.”
Quote/s of the Day – 24 December – The Nativity of the Lord, Mass at Midnight
The Burning Babe St Robert Southwell SJ (1561-1595) Priest and Martyr
As I in hoary winter’s night stood shivering in the snow, Surprised I was with sudden heat which made my heart to glow; And lifting up a fearful eye to view what fire was near, A pretty Babe all burning bright did in the air appear; Who, scorchëd with excessive heat, such floods of tears did shed As though His floods should quench His flames which with His tears were fed. Alas, quoth He but newly born in fiery heats I fry, Yet none approach to warm their hearts or feel My fire but I! My faultless breast the furnace is, the fuel ,wounding thorns, Love is the fire and sighs, the smoke, the ashes, shame and scorns; The fuel, justice layeth on and mercy blows the coals, The metal in this furnace wrought, are men’s defiled souls, For which, as now on fire I am, to work them to their good, So will I melt into a bath, to wash them in My Blood. With this He vanished, out of sight and swiftly shrunk away, And straight I called unto mind that it was Christmas day.
Verses from the Shepherds’ Hymn Richard Crashaw (c 1612-1649) Canon of the Holy House of Loreto
WE saw Thee in Thy balmy nest, Young Dawn of our eternal day; We saw Thine eyes break from the East, And chase the trembling shades away: We saw Thee and we blest the sight, We saw Thee by Thine own sweet Light.
Poor world, said I, what wilt thou do To entertain this starry stranger? Is this the best thou canst bestow— A cold and not too cleanly manger? Contend, the powers of heaven and earth, To fit a bed for this huge birth.
Proud world, said I, cease your contest, And let the mighty Babe alone; The phoenix builds the phoenix’ nest, Love’s architecture is His own. The Babe, whose birth embraves this morn, Made His own bed ere He was born.
I saw the curl’d drops, soft and slow, Come hovering o’er the place’s head, Off’ring their whitest sheets of snow, To furnish the fair Infant’s bed. Forbear, said I, be not too bold; Your fleece is white, but ’tis too cold.
I saw th’ obsequious Seraphim Their rosy fleece of fire bestow, For well they now can spare their wings, Since Heaven itself, lies here below. Well done, said I but are you sure Your down, so warm, will pass for pure?
No, no, your King ‘s not yet to seek Where to repose His royal head; See, see how soon His new-bloom’d cheek ‘Twixt mother’s breasts is gone to bed! Sweet choice, said we; no way but so, Not to lie cold, you sleep in snow!
She sings Thy tears asleep and dips Her kisses in Thy weeping eye; She spreads the red leaves of Thy lips, That in their buds yet blushing lie. She ‘gainst those mother diamonds tries The points of her young eagle’s eyes.
Welcome—tho’ not to those gay flies, Gilded i’ th’ beams of earthly kings, Slippery souls in smiling eyes— But to poor shepherds, homespun things, Whose wealth ‘s their flocks, whose wit ‘s to be Well read in their simplicity.
Yet, when young April’s husband show’rs Shall bless the fruitful Maia’s bed, We’ll bring the first-born of her flowers, To kiss Thy feet and crown Thy head. To Thee, dread Lamb! whose love must keep The shepherds, while they feed their sheep.
To Thee, meek Majesty, soft King Of simple graces and sweet loves! Each of us his lamb will bring, Each his pair of silver doves! At last, in fire of Thy fair eyes, Ourselves become our own best sacrifice!
The Midnight Hour (Fr or Br) Frederick M Lynk, SVD
The Virgin Mother kneels upon the floor And holds her Baby in her arm, Her heart is gladder than her lips can say, To keep her newborn Baby snug and warm, A Babe more sweet and fair and dear Than any rosebud in the bright sunshine, Whose little eyes look straight into her own, O, blessed maid, God’s Son is also thine.
‘Twas holy midnight, when He came to earth: As pours a sun ray through a limpid glass, Not leaving any mark upon its face; A drop of dew upon the fresh green grass, A little star that fell upon her lap, A cooing Babe, that seeks her virgin breast. The hopes of all the sin-cursed world Upon this Baby’s eyelids rest.
And ever since the midnight hour is holy, And millions of human hearts are stirred, To wonderment and love for Him, Who came, To save the world, God’s own Incarnate Word. He came in darkness, He who was The Light, His Godhead shone from clear blue Baby eyes, The curse of earth’s first sin, was lifted then, That midnight hour re-opened paradise!
One Minute Reflection – 24 December – “Month of the Immaculate Conception” – “Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel” – The Nativity of the Lord, Mass at Midnight – Readings: Isaiah 62:1-5, Psalms 89:4-5, 16-17, 27, 29, Acts 13:16-17, 22-25, Luke 2:1-14
Know today that the Lord will come – in the morning you will see His glory.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel Shall come to thee, O Israel! May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life.
“For today in the city of David, a saviour has been born for you, who is Messiah and Lord.” – Luke 2:11
REFLECTION – “Brethren, now we have been told about the miracle, let us turn aside to see this unusual sight as Moses did (Ex 3:3) – in Mary, the burning bush is not consumed, the Virgin gives birth to the Light, without defilement … Let us then run to Bethlehem, the town of the Good News! If we are real shepherds, staying awake on our watch, then it is to us that the voice of the angels is addressed, announcing a great joy … “Glory to God in the highest for peace is coming down to earth!” There where, only yesterday, there was nothing but misfortune, battlefields and exile, now earth receives peace for today “Truth shall spring out of the earth and justice shall look down from heaven” (Ps 84:12). Behold the fruit earth gives to humankind, in reward for the goodwill reigning among men (Lk 2:14). God is joined to man, to raise man to the stature of God.
At this news, my brethren, let us go to Bethlehem to behold … the mystery of the crib, a child wrapped in swaddling clothes rests in a manger. A Virgin, after giving birth, His undefiled Mother, embraces her Son. Let us repeat the words of the prophet along with the shepherds: “As we have heard, so we have seen in the city of our God.” (Ps 47:9)
But why does our Lord seek shelter in this cave at Bethlehem? Why is He sleeping in a manger? Why does He participate in Israel’s census? My brethren, He who brings liberty to the world, comes to be born into our slavery to death. He is born in this cave to reveal Himself to us, who are immersed in darkness and the shadow of death. He rests in a manger because ,He is the One Who makes grass grow for the cattle (Ps 104,14). He is the Bread of Life who feeds us with a spiritual food that we too might live in the Spirit… What more joyful feast is there than that of today? Christ, the Sun of Justice (Mal 3,20), comes to illumine our night. What had fallen, is raised up again, what was overcome, is now set free… what was dead is restored to life… Let us all sing today with one voice over all the earth: “Death came through one man, Adam, today salvation has come through one man (cf Rom 5,17)” … St Gregory of Nyssa (c 335–c 395) Bishop, Father of the Church (Sermon on the Nativity).
PRAYER – Almighty God, Your Incarnate Word fills us with the new Light, He brings to men. Let the light of faith in our hearts shine through all that we do and say. And may the Immaculate Virgin Mother of our Saviour, be ever near to help and protect us. Through Christ, our Lord and Saviour, with the Holy Spirit, one God with You, now and for all time and eternity, amen.
Saint of the Day – 24 December – Saint Irmina of Oehren (Died c 716) Virgin Princess, Nun, Abbess, Founder and Co-founder of 2 Monasteries, benefactress of St Willibrord, the great Missionary Saint of Germany. Died c 716 at the Monastery of Weissenburg, Germany of natural causes. Patronages – Trier, City and Diocese. Also known as – Irmina of Trier, Irmina of Treves, Irma…Ermina… Hermione… Ymena… Additional Memorials – 3 January in Luxembourg, 30 January in the Diocese of Trier, Germany.
The Roman Martyrology states: “In Trier in Austrasia, in Germany, Saint Irmina, Abbess of the Monastery of Öhren, who, a virgin consecrated to God, gave Saint Willibrord a small Monastery she founded in her villa in Echternach and was a generous giver of her goods.”
Various traditions exist of her parentage but what is certain is that she came from one of the most powerful families in the Merovingian kingdom.
According to many versions of Irmina’s biography, when she was fifteen years old, she was engaged to marry a man named Count Hermann but just before they were to marry, he was killed by one of his servants, who “admired Irmina and could not bear that his master should have he,”
Irmina’s father was ready to marry her to another man but she chose to become a Nun instead, a decision he supported, building her a Convent in Oeren, which was eventually named after her and where she later became its second Abbess. She was succeeded as Abbess by her sister, Saint Modesta.
In 697, Irmina donated lands to help co-found, with Saint Willibrord the Convent in Echternacht. Historian Jamie Kreiner called the founding of the Echternacht Convent “a co-operative venture” between Willibrord and Irmina’s family, who later promised to protect the Convent and its holdings after Willibrord promised fidelity to them in 706.
Another document reports that Irmina was “generous to both Celtic and Saxon missionary Monks“. Irmina died in c 716 at the Monastery at Weissenburg, which was also founded by her father
24 December – Vigil of the Nativity of the Lord/Mass at Midnight Midnight Mass is the first liturgy of Christmastide that is celebrated on the night of Christmas Eve, traditionally beginning at midnight when Christmas Eve gives way to Christmas Day. This popular Christmas custom is a jubilant celebration of the Mass in honour of the Nativity of Jesus Christ.
Saint Thomas Aquinas wrote a commentary on these words and explained in his Summa Theologiae, “And from this ,the Mass derives its name … the deacon on festival days ‘dismisses’ the people at the end of the Mass, by saying: ‘Ite, missa est,’ that is, the victim [Jesus] has been sent to God through the angel, so that it may be accepted by God.”
Bl Peter de Solanes Bl Venerandus of Clermont — • Blessed Dionysius Roneo • Blessed Philip Claro • Blessed Giulio Pons • Blessed Peter of Valladolid
Blessed Mercedarian Sisters – (6 beati): Six cloistered Mercedarian nuns at the convent of Vera Cruz in Berriz, Spain. Noted for their devotion to the rules of the Order and for their deep prayer lives. • Blessed Anna Maria Prieto • Blessed Anna de Arrano • Blessed Orsola de Larisgoizia • Blessed Maguna Mary • Blessed Margaret • Blessed Mary of the Assumption Sarria
Martyred Maidens of Antioch – (40 saints): A group of forty virgins martyred in the persecutions of Decius. None of their names have come down to us. They were martyred in 250 in Antioch, Syria.
Martyrs of Tripoli – (6 saints): A group of Christians martyred together, date unknown. The only details that have survived are six of the names – Drusus, Lucian, Metrobius, Paul, Theotimus and Zenobius. They were martyred in Tripoli, Libya.
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