Christ has been born for us, come, let us adore Him!
“And the Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us and we saw His glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth.” – John 1:14
REFLECTION – “His glory no-one could see unless he was healed by the lowliness of His flesh. Why could we not see? Concentrate, my beloved people and see what I am saying. Dust, so to speak, had forcibly entered humanity’s eye; earth had entered it, had injured the eye and it could not see the light. That injured eye is anointed; it was injured by earth and earth is put there that it may be healed. For all salves and medicines are nothing but [compounds] of the earth. You have been blinded by dust, you are healed by dust; thus the flesh has blinded you, flesh heals you. For the soul had become carnal by assenting to carnal passions; from that the eye of the heart had been blinded. “The Word was made flesh.” That physician made a salve for you. And because He came in such a way that by His flesh He might extinguish the faults of the flesh and by His death He might kill death, it was, therefore, effected in you that, because “the Word was made flesh,” you could say, “And we saw his glory.” – St Augustine (354-430) Great Western Father & Doctor of Grace –Tractates on the Gospel of John, 2
PRAYER – Almighty God, Your incarnate Word fills us with the new light He brought to men. Let the light of faith in our hearts, shine through all that we do and say. We make our prayer through Jesus Christ, our Lord, with the Holy Spirit, God forever, amen.
The Word was God in the beginning and before all time, today, He is born to us, the Saviour of the world.
Our Morning Offering – 25 December – The Solemnity of the Nativity of Our Lord, Jesus Christ
Afar from Where the Sun Doth Rise A Solis Ortus Cardine By Coelius Sedulius (Died c 450) Trans Fr Ronald A Knox (1888-1957)
Afar from where the sun doth rise To lands beneath the western skies, Homage to Christ our King we pay, Born of a Virgin’s womb this day
Blessed Creator, Thou didst take__ A servant’s likeness for our sake, And didst in flesh our flesh restore To bid Thy creature live once more.
Chaste was the womb where Thou didst dwell, Of heavenly grace the hidden cell; Nor might the blessed Maid proclaim Whence her dread Guest in secret came.
Down from on high God came to rest__ His glory in a sinless breast; Obedience at His word believed, And virgin innocence conceived.
Ere long, that holy child she bore By Gabriel’s message named before, Whom yet unborn, with eager pride, The swift forerunner prophesied.
Fast doth He sleep, where straw doth spread, A humble manger for His bed. A Mother’s milk that strength renewed, Which gives the birds of heaven their food.
Glory to God, the angels cry; Earth hears the echo from on high; Mankind’s true Shepherd and it’s Lord By shepherd hearts is first adored.
“A Solis Ortus Cardine…” (Latin for “From the Pivot of the Sun’s Rising”) is a poem by Christian Poet, Coelius Sedulius (Died c 450), recounting Christ’s life from His birth to His resurrection. Its 23 verses each begin with a consecutive letter of the Latin alphabet, making the poem an abecedarius. It is one of the oldest parts of the Roman Catholic liturgy, with two hymns formed from the first seven and four later verses. There have been monastic translations into Anglo-Saxon and later translations into other languages..
Saint of the Day – 25 December – Blessed Jacopone da Todi OFM (1230-1306) Franciscan Friar, Confessor, Hymnist, Poet, Mystic, Lawyer, – an Italian from Umbria in the 13th century. He wrote several laude (songs in praise of the Lord) in the local vernacular. He was an early pioneer in Italian theatre, being one of the earliest scholars who dramatised Gospel subjects. Born in c 1230 at Todi, Italy as Jacopo Benedetti and died on 25 December 1306 at Collazzone, Italy of natural causes, as the Priest intoned the Gloria from midnight Mass. He is also known as Jacomo da Todi, Jacopo Benedetti, Jacopo Benedicti, Jacopone Benedetti da Todi, Jacopone of Todi, James da Todi.
Jacomo, was born a noble member of the Benedetti family in the northern Italian city of Todi. He became a successful lawyer and married a pious, generous lady named Vanna.
His young wife took it upon herself to do penance for the worldly excesses of her husband. One day Vanna, at the insistence of Jacomo, attended a public tournament. She was sitting in the stands with the other noble ladies when the stands collapsed. Vanna was killed. Her shaken husband was even more disturbed when he realised that the penitential girdle she wore was for his sinfulness. On the spot, he vowed to radically change his life.
Jacomo divided his possessions among the poor and entered the Secular Franciscan Order. Often dressed in penitential rags, he was mocked as a fool and called Jacopone, or “Crazy Jim,” by his former associates. The name became dear to him.
After 10 years of such humiliation, Jacopone asked to be received into the Order of Friars Minor. Because of his reputation, his request was initially refused. He composed a beautiful poem on the vanities of the world, an act that eventually led to his admission into the Order in 1278. He continued to lead a life of strict penance, declining to be ordained a priest. Meanwhile, he was writing popular hymns in the vernacular.
Jacopone suddenly found himself a leader in a disturbing religious movement among the Franciscans. The Spirituals, as they were called, wanted a return to the strict poverty of Francis. They had on their side two cardinals of the Church and Pope Celestine V. These two cardinals though, opposed Celestine’s successor, Boniface VIII. At the age of 68, Jacopone was excommunicated and imprisoned. Although he acknowledged his mistake, Jacopone was not absolved and released until Benedict XI became Pope five years later. He had accepted his imprisonment as penance. He spent the final three years of his life more spiritual than ever, weeping “because Love is not loved.”During this time he wrote the famous Latin hymn, Stabat Mater.
On Christmas Eve in 1306 Jacopone felt that his end was near. He was in a convent of the Poor Clares with his friend, Blessed John of La Verna. Like Francis, Jacopone welcomed “Sister Death” with one of his favorite songs. It is said that he finished the song and died as the Priest intoned the “Gloria” from the midnight Mass at Christmas. From the time of his death, Brother Jacopone has been venerated as a saint, both within and outside of the Franciscan Order, although never formally Canonised.
Here lie the bones of Blessed Jacopone dei Benedetti da Todi, Friar Minor, who, having gone mad with love of Christ, by a new artifice deceived the world and took Heaven by violence. – from the tomb of Blessed Jacopone
Stabat Mater Dolorosa is a fine example of religious lyric in the Franciscan tradition. It was inserted into the Roman Missal and Breviary in 1727 for the Feast of the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary, celebrated on the Friday before Good Friday. Following changes by Pope Pius XII, it now appears on the Feast of Our Lady’s Sorrows celebrated on 15 September. Many composers have set it to music
His contemporaries called Jacopone, “Crazy Jim.” We might well echo their taunt, for what else can you say about a man who broke into song in the midst of all his troubles? We still sing Jacopone’s saddest song, the Stabat Mater, but we Christians claim another song as our own, even when the daily headlines resound with discordant notes. Jacopone’s whole life rang out our song: “Alleluia!” May he inspire us to keep singing.
The Nativity of the Lord, Jesus Christ (Solemnity) Celebration of the anniversary of the birth of Our Lord. In the earliest days of the Church there was no such feast, the Saviour’s birth was commemorated with the Epiphany by the Greek and other Eastern Churches. First mention of the feast, then kept on 20 May, was made by Clement of Alexandria c 200. The Latin Church began c 300 to observe it on 25 December, though there is no certainty that Our Lord was born on that day. Priests have the privilege of saying three Masses, at midnight, daybreak and morning. This was originally reserved to the Holy Father alone – beginning about the 4th century he celebrated a midnight Mass in the Lateran Basilica (in which according to tradition, the manger of Bethlehem is preserved), a second in the church of Saint Anastasia, whose feast comes on 25 December and a third at the Vatican Basilica. Many peculiar customs of the day are the outcome of the pagan celebrations of the January calender. The Christmas tree, of which the first known mention was made in 1605 at Strasbourg, was introduced into France and England in 1840. The feast is a holy day of obligation, preceded by the preparatory season of Advent and by a special vigil – should it fall on a Friday it abrogates the law of abstinence. Today’s Gospel is the prologue of John.
St Adalsindis of Hamay St Alburga of Wilton St Anastasia of Sirmium Bl Artale St Basilée of the Via Latina Bl Bentivoglio de Bonis Bl Diego de Aro St Eugenia of Rome St Fulk of Toulouse Blessed Jacopone da Todi OFM (1230-1306) Franciscan Friar, Author of the “Stabat Mater” St Jovin of the Via Latina Bl Maria Therese von Wüllenweber Bl Matthew of Albano Bl Michael Nakashima Saburoemon Bl Nera St Romulus of Berry — Martyrs of Nicomedia: 20,000 Christians martyred by order of Diocletian. They were reported to have all been in the single basilica to celebrate Christmas. While there unquestionably was an endless series of martyrs under Diocletian, it’s likely the ancient sources exaggerated the numbers of this incident. And as the Christmas holy day was not celebrated in the East in 303, they were probably gathered for another feast. They were burned alive in 303 in the basilica of Nicomedia.
I offer today, special Prayers for you ALL and for all my extended family on WordPress. Most especially, my heart’s deepest thanksgiving for those most generous and loving Donors, who, in their generosity have constantly contributed to the upkeep of this site. For Rosemary, Hugh, Melanie who have sent Christmas gifts –
“Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise, give thanks to him and praise his name.” Psalm 100:4
And my wishes for a most Holy and Blessed Christmas May the Divine Babe of Bethlehem fill your hearts with His joy, peace and love! Love Ana
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father.
Thought for the Day – 24 December – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
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 tech 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
… Let us keep the Feast, not after the manner of a heathen festival but after a godly sort; not after the way of the world but in a fashion above the world; not as our own but as belonging to Him who is ours, or rather as our Master’s; not as of weakness but as of healing; not as of creation but of re-creation.”
St Gregory of Nazianzen (330-390) Archbishop of Constantinople Father and Doctor of the Church
“Jesus Christ, the God-Man, was born in a manger and is spiritually reborn on the altar. He suffered on Calvary and continues to offer Himself on the altar. In His earthly life, He spread His teaching and worked miracles among the crowds. In the Eucharist, He spans the centuries and communicates Himself to all.”
St John Chrysostom (347-407) Father & Doctor of the Church
“… For God it was too small a thing that His Son should show us the way, He made of Him the Way (cf Jn 14:6), the Way by which you would go under His direction, the Way you would follow…”
“Awake, mankind! For your sake God has become man. Awake, you who sleep, rise up from the dead and Christ will enlighten you. I tell you again, for your sake, God became man.”
St Augustine 354-430) Great Latin Father and Doctor of the Church
Know today that the Lord will come – in the morning you will see His glory.
“She will bear a son and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” … Matthew 1:21
REFLECTION – “The heavens were glad, earth exulted when Mary gave birth and hell was troubled and aghast. The heavens in their joy produced a shining star and a glorious army of angels, uttering praise and saying: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to people of good will.” (Lk 2:14) The earth, exulting, brought shepherds giving glory and magi adoring and offering gifts, gold, frankincense and myrrh. … Reflect how that night poured forth light in the darkness and instead of blackness, it offered radiance. It gave light before the sun arose and a brightness which, from its exceeding brilliance, obscured the splendour of the sun. Concerning this night the psalmist says: “Night is my light in my delights” and turning to the Lord he says: “The darkness will not be dark for you and the night will be as bright as the day, for the darkness is as light for him” (cf Ps 38:11-12 LXX). … Taking up the newborn Emmanuel, Mary beheld a Light incomparably fairer than the sun and saw a Fire that water cannot quench. She received, in the covering of flesh that she had borne, the Light that enlightens all things and she was worthy to carry in her arms, the Word that carries the universe.” – St Amadeus of Lausanne (1108-1159) Bishop, Cistercian Monk – Homilies in praise of the Blessed Virgin Mary, IV, SC 72
PRAYER – 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. Amen
Our Morning Offering – 24 December – Vigil of the Nativity of the Lord/Mass at Midnight
What Child is This?
What child is this, who, laid to rest On Mary’s lap, is sleeping? Whom angels greet with anthems sweet, While shepherds watch are keeping? This, this is Christ the King, Whom shepherds guard and angels sing: Haste, haste to bring him laud, The Babe, the Son of Mary!
Why lies He in such mean estate, Where ox and ass are feeding? Good Christians, fear, for sinners here The silent Word is pleading. Nails, spear shall pierce Him through, The cross be borne for me, for you. Hail, hail the Word made flesh, The Babe, the Son of Mary.
So bring Him incense, gold and myrrh, Come peasant king to own Him, The King of kings, salvation brings, Let loving hearts enthrone Him. Raise, raise the song on high, The Virgin sings her lullaby: Joy, joy, for Christ is born, The Babe, the Son of Mary!
By William C Dix (1837-1898) English Hymnist and is sung to the tune of Greensleeves.
24 December – Vigil of the Nativity of the Lord/Mass at Midnight In many Western Christian traditions 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, even many of those Christian denominations that do not regularly employ the word “Mass” uniquely use the term “Midnight Mass” for their Christmas Eve liturgy.
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.”
All the Holy Ancestors of Christ – A commemoration of all the holy ancestors of Jesus Christ.
The New Testament has preserved two different genealogies of Our Lord, in Matthew 1; and Luke 3.
Saint Matthew’s list is divided artificially into three equal parts of 14 names each, with several intentional omissions: from Abraham the father of the chosen people to David the king, to whose family the promise was made (2 Kings 7); David and the royal line after him to the Babylonian captivity; the descendants of the royal line from the captivity to Joseph, the legal father of Our Lord.
Saint Luke proceeds in reverse order; he starts from Joseph and goes, beyond Abraham, back to Adam the father of the human race, in accord with the character of his Gospel; and he merely enumerates the names without grouping them according to a thesis or point, as is the case in Saint Matthew.
Few names are common to both lists: viz., those between Abraham and David, then Salathiel and Zorobabel after the captivity, and Joseph the foster-father of Christ; the others are absent from Matthew’s list, or the persons are different. To account for these differences several explanations have been advanced, but no decisive evidence is extant. Not a few authors hold that Saint Luke gives Mary’s genealogy; but this view is more generally considered improbable, so that both lists are taken as giving Joseph’s ancestry. Only it must be supposed that at several points, instead of the actual descent, the one or the other of the lists gives the legal relationship based on adoption in some manner. Our Lord was considered to belong to the family of David; this seems to be taken for granted in the New Testament, where we find no difficulty raised against Him on the ground of His descent. The genealogies show His relationship to the royal family of Juda through Joseph, as it was only through the father, legal or natural, that the rights could be transmitted, and Joseph was the legal father of Jesus. To trace Our Lord’s ancestry through His mother would not have served the purpose of the Evangelists.
The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.
Abraham became the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers. Judah became the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar. Perez became the father of Hezron, Hezron the father of Ram, Ram the father of Amminadab. Amminadab became the father of Nahshon, Nahshon the father of Salmon, Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab. Boaz became the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth. Obed became the father of Jesse, Jesse the father of David the king. David became the father of Solomon, whose mother had been the wife of Uriah. Solomon became the father of Rehoboam, Rehoboam the father of Abijah, Abijah the father of Asaph. Asaph became the father of Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, Joram the father of Uzziah. Uzziah became the father of Jotham, Jotham the father of Ahaz, Ahaz the father of Hezekiah. Hezekiah became the father of Manasseh, Manasseh the father of Amos, Amos the father of Josiah. Josiah became the father of Jechoniah and his brothers at the time of the Babylonian exile. After the Babylonian exile, Jechoniah became the father of Shealtiel, Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, Zerubbabel the father of Abiud. Abiud became the father of Eliakim, Eliakim the father of Azor, Azor the father of Zadok. Zadok became the father of Achim, Achim the father of Eliud, Eliud the father of Eleazar. Eleazar became the father of Matthan, Matthan the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary. Of her was born Jesus who is called the Messiah.
Thus the total number of generations from Abraham to David is fourteen generations; from David to the Babylonian exile, fourteen generations; from the Babylonian exile to the Messiah, fourteen generations.
When Jesus began his ministry he was about thirty years of age. He was the son, as was thought, of Joseph, the son of Heli, the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, the son of Melchi, the son of Jannai, the son of Joseph, the son of Mattathias, the son of Amos, the son of Nahum, the son of Esli, the son of Naggai, the son of Maath, the son of Mattathias, the son of Semein, the son of Josech, the son of Joda, the son of Joanan, the son of Rhesa, the son of Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, the son of Neri, the son of Melchi, the son of Addi, the son of Cosam, the son of Elmadam, the son of Er, the son of Joshua, the son of Eliezer, the son of Jorim, the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, the son of Simeon, the son of Judah, the son of Joseph, the son of Jonam, the son of Eliakim, the son of Melea, the son of Menna, the son of Mattatha, the son of Nathan, the son of David, the son of Jesse, the son of Obed, the son of Boaz, the son of Sala, the son of Nahshon, the son of Amminadab, the son of Admin, the son of Arni, the son of Hezron, the son of Perez, the son of Judah, the son of Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham, the son of Terah, the son of Nahor, the son of Serug, the son of Reu, the son of Peleg, the son of Eber, the son of Shelah, the son of Cainan, the son of Arphaxad, the son of Shem, the son of Noah, the son of Lamech, the son of Methuselah, the son of Enoch, the son of Jared, the son of Mahalaleel, the son of Cainan, the son of Enos, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.
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 surived are six of the names – Drusus, Lucian, Metrobius, Paul, Theotimus and Zenobius. They were martyred in Tripoli, Libya.
Thought for the Day – 17 December – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
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 – 11 December – Friday of the Second week of Advent
“May We Love Only You”
“Stay with us, for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over.”
“You hide your heart from man – hide it from God if you can. … Where will you go? Where will you flee? Do you want to hear some advice? If you want to flee from Him – flee to Him. Flee to Him by Confessing, not from Him, by hiding, for you cannot hide but you can Confess. Tell Him. “You are my refuge” (Ps 32:7) and let there be nursed in yo, the love that alone leads to life.”
St Augustine (354-430) Father and Doctor of Grace
May We Love Only You By St Columban (543-615)
Loving Saviour, be pleased to show Yourself to us who knock, so that in knowing You, we may love only You, love You alone, desire You alone, contemplate only You, day and night and always think of You. Inspire in us the depth of love that is fitting for You to receive as God. So may Your love pervade our whole being, possess us completely and fill all our senses, that we may know no other love but love for You, Who are everlasting. May our love be so great, that the many waters of sky, land and sea cannot extinguish it in us – many waters could not extinguish love. May this saying be fulfilled in us also, at least in part, by Your gift, Jesus Christ, our Lord, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen
“How good and pleasant it is to dwell in the Heart of Jesus! Who is there who does not love a heart so wounded? Who can refuse a return of love to a Heart so loving? Amen.”
St Bernard (1090-1153) Mellifluous Doctor
“Who could ever soften this heart of mine but YOU alone O Lord!”
St Francis Borgia (1510-1572)
“Christ first of all, Christ in the centre of the heart, in the centre of history and of the cosmos. Humanity needs Christ intensely because, He is our “measure.” There is no realm, that cannot be touched by His strength; there is no evil, that cannot find remedy in Him, there is no problem, that cannot be solved in Him. Either Christ or nothing!”
St John Leonardi (1541-1609)
“During the night we must wait for the light.”
St Francis de Sales (1567-1622) Doctor of Charity
“Only God fills the soul and fills it wholly. Let scientists go on asking – Where is God? He is where those clever ones, arrogant in their knowledge, cannot reach.”
Quote/s of the Day – 10 December – Thursday of the Second week of Advent
“But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
“Man’s Maker was made man, that He, Ruler of the stars, might nurse at His mother’s breast, that the Bread might hunger, the Fountain thirst, the Light sleep, the Way be tired on its journey, that the Truth might be accused of false witness, the Teacher be beaten with whips, the Foundation be suspended on wood, that Strength might grow weak, that the Healer might be wounded, that Life might die.”
St Augustine (354-430) Father & Doctor of the Church
“The divine nature and the nature of a servant, were to be united in one person, so that the Creator of time, might be born in time and He, through whom all things were made, might be brought forth in their midst.”
“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
“You first loved us so that we might love You— not because You needed our love but because, we could not be what You created us to be, except by loving You.”
William of Saint Thierry (c 1075-1148) was a twelfth century French Benedictine Abbot of Saint-Thierry, theologian and mystic who became a Cistercian monk and writer.
Our Morning Offering – 9 December – Wednesday of the Second week of Advent
Let Your goodness, Lord, Appear to Us An Advent Prayer By St Bernard (1090-1153)
Let Your goodness, Lord, appear to us, that we, made in Your image, conform ourselves to it. In our own strength we cannot imitate Your majesty, power and wonder, nor is it fitting for us to try. But Your mercy reaches from the heavens through the clouds to the earth below. You have come to us as a small child but You have brought us the greatest of all gifts, the gift of eternal love. Caress us with Your tiny hands, embrace us with Your tiny arms and pierce our hearts with Your soft, sweet cries. Amen
Quote/s of the Day – 5 December – Saturday of the First week of Advent
“He is the Word of God who dwelt with man and became the Son of Man, to open the way for man, to receive God, for God to dwell with man, according to the will of the Father.”
St Irenaeus (130-202) Father of the Church
“The very Son of God, older than the ages, the invisible, the incomprehensible, the incorporeal, the beginning of beginning, the light of light, the fountain of life and immortality, the image of the archetype, the immovable seal, the perfect likeness, the definition and word of the Father: He it is who comes to His own image and takes our nature for the good of our nature and unites Himself to an intelligent soul for the good of my soul, to purify like by like.”
St Gregory of Nazianzen (330-390) Father and Doctor of the Church
“He became small because you were small – understand how great He is and you will become great along with Him. This is how houses are built, how the solid walls of a building are raised. The stones brought to construct the building increase, you, too, increase, understanding how great Christ is and how He who appeared to be small is great, very great indeed…”
St Augustine (354-430) Father & Doctor of the Church
“If we would please this Divine Infant, we too must become children, simple and humble. We must carry to Him, flowers of virtue, of meekness, of mortification, of charity. We must clasp Him in the arms of our love.”
St Alphonsus Liguori (1696-1787) Most Zealous Doctor
Finally, having traversed the long roads and trials of the desert we have arrived in our new coastal home and after much ado, we are back online at last and I am so happy to be with you. Blessed be God as His many Graces have been poured down upon us and may He bless you all for your many prayers which so kindly accompanied us during this time.
From tomorrow, I will be back in the usual way. May we share this beautiful season of anticipation together.
In the meantime, herewith, a little reminder of the beautiful Catholic tradition of the St Andrew Novena, the Christmas Anticipation Prayer which we began yesterday and pray 15 times everyday until Christmas.
While a Novena is normally a nine-day prayer, the term is sometimes used for any prayer that is repeated over a series of days. It is an ideal Advent devotion; the First Sunday of Advent is the Sunday closest to the Feast of Saint Andrew.
The novena is not actually addressed to Saint Andrew but to God Himself, asking Him to grant our request in honour of the birth of His Son at Christmas. You can say the prayer all 15 times, all at once; or divide up the recitation as necessary (perhaps five times at each meal).
Prayed as a family, the Saint Andrew Christmas Novena is a very good way to help focus the attention of your family and children on the Advent season.
Hail and blessed be the hour and moment, in which the Son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem, in the piercing cold. In that hour vouchsafe, I beseech Thee, O my God, to hear my prayer and grant my desires, ………………… [here mention your request] through the merits of Our Saviour Jesus Christ and of His blessed Mother. Amen
Quote/s of the Day – 21 February – the Memorial of St Peter Damian OSB (1007-1072) Doctor of the Church and St Robert Southwell SJ (1561-1595) Priest and Martyr
The Burning Babe, by Saint Robert Southwell
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.
It’s not surprising, it’s one of the great poems of the English language.
St Robert Southwell S.J. (1561-1595) Martyr, Religious Priest, Poet, Hymnodist, Writer, clandestine missionary was born in 1561 in Horsham Saint Faith, Norfolk, England and he was martyred by being hanged, drawn and quartered on 21 February 1595 (aged 33) in Tyburn, London, England. St Robert was Canonised on 25 October 1970 by Blessed Pope Paul VI. “His poetry – we don’t know exactly when he began to write but it must have been very young because he wrote a great deal of which we have the record and by now the English speaking world knows Robert Southwell. His two outstanding poems are ‘The Burning Babe’ and ‘The Virgin Mary to Christ On The Cross.’” (Ven Fr John A Hardon SJ)
Quote/s of the Day – 11 January – Saturday after Epiphany, Readings: 1 John 5:14-21, Psalm 149:1-6, 9, John 3:22-30
“He must increase but I must decrease.”
“Christ is born, God from His Father, man through His mother. He was born from His Father’s immortality and His mother’s virginity. From the Father, without the aid of a mother, from the mother, without that of a father. From His Father, without time, from His mother, without seed. According to His Father, He is the principle of life, according to His mother, the ending of death. According to His Father, He was born to determine the order of days, according to His mother, to consecrate the day that is here.”
St Augustine (354-430)
Father & Doctor of the Church
“When His place becomes our place, when His time becomes our time, when His person becomes our life, then the prophecies come to fulfilment in us. Then Jesus is born within us. He becomes the living God for me. Today we are asked to imitate the Magi. They do not debate – they set out. They do not stop to look but enter the house of Jesus. They do not put themselves at the centre but bow down before the One who is the centre. They do not remain glued to their plans but are prepared to take other routes. Their actions reveal a close contact with the Lord, a radical openness to Him, a total engagement with Him. With Him, they use the language of love, the same language that Jesus, though an infant, already speaks. Indeed, the Magi go to the Lord not to receive but to give.
Let us ask ourselves this question – at Christmas, did we bring gifts to Jesus for His party, or did we only exchange gifts among ourselves?
In this Christmas season, now drawing to its close, let us not miss the opportunity to offer a precious gift to our King, who came to us, not in worldly pomp but in the luminous poverty of Bethlehem. If we can do this, His light will shine upon us.”
One Minute Reflection – 10 January – Fifth Day after Epiphany and the Memorial of Bl Dolores Rodríguez Sopeña (1848-1918), Readings: 1 John 5:5-13, Psalm 147:12-15, 19-20, Luke 5:12-16
“Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him” … Luke 5:13
REFLECTION – “Christ said when He came into the world: ‘Sacrifice and offering you did not desire but a body you prepared for me (…) Then I said: Behold I come to do your will’ ” (Heb 10:5.7; Ps 40:7-9 LXX). Can it be true that God wanted to become man to save us from our wretchedness (…) and conquer our love? Yes, it is so true that it is an article of faith: “Who for us and for our salvation came down from heaven… and was made man” (Creed) (…) Yes, this is what God has done, so to be loved by us! (… ) This is how He wanted to make known the immensity of His love for us: “the grace of God our saviour has appeared to all” (Ti 2:11). It is, as though, our Lord said: “Man does not love Me because he cannot see me, I am going to make Myself visible and talk to him, in that way I shall surely make Myself loved”: “He has appeared on earth and spoken with us” (cf. Bar 3:38).
God’s love for humankind is vast, vast from all eternity: “with age-old love I have loved you; so in mercy I have drawn you to myself” (cf. Jer 31:3). But we have not yet seen how great and incomprehensible He is. When the Son of God was seen in the form of a child lying on the straw in a stable then He was made known indeed: “the kindness and generous love of God our saviour appeared” (Ti 3:4). As Saint Bernard observed: “The creation of the world made God’s power shine out, the ordering of the world, His wisdom but the incarnation of the Word, caused His mercy to break forth in the sight of all.” (…)
“By showing disdain towards God,” Saint Fulgentius said, “man was separated from Him forever and, since man could no longer return to God, God deigned to come to find him on earth.” And as Saint Augustine had already said: “We were unable to go to the doctor, therefore the doctor had the graciousness to come to us.” … St Alphonsus Maria de Liguori (1696-1787) – Bishop and Doctor of the Church – 1st address for the Octave of Christmas
PRAYER – Almighty God and Father, by the guidance of a star, You revealed the Birth of the Saviour of the world. Open our minds and hearts to that revelation and may it bear fruit in our lives. May Your nearness, be understood in our hearts and minds, ‘may the Lord Jesus touch our eyes, as He did those of the blind’ and may the prayers of Bl Dolores Rodríguez Sopeña, grant us strength on our journey. We make our prayer, through Christ, our Lord in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God forever and ever, amen.
One Minute Reflection – 7 January – Second day after Epiphany, Readings: 1 John 4:7-10, Psalm 72:1-4, 7-8, Mark 6:34-44 and the Memorial of St Raymond of Peñafort OP (1175-1275)
And taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and blessed and broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to set before the people ... Mark 6:41
REFLECTION – “Christ gave us His flesh to eat in order to deepen our love for Him. When we approach Him, then, there should be burning within us, a fire of love and longing… The wise men paid homage to Christ’s body even when it was lying in a manger… They only saw Christ in a manger, they saw nothing of what you now see and yet they approached Him with profound awe and reverence.
You see Him, not in a manger but on an altar, not carried by a woman but offered by a priest and you see the Spirit bountifully poured out upon the offerings of bread and wine. Unlike the wise men, you do not merely see Christ’s body, you know His power as well and the whole divine plan for our salvation… Let us then awaken in ourselves a feeling of awe and let us show a far greater reverence than did those foreigners so that we do not approach this sacrament casually, without thinking of what we do…
This food strengthens us, it emboldens us to speak freely to our God, it is our hope, our salvation, our light and our life.
If we go to the next world fortified by this sacrifice, we shall enter its sacred portals with perfect confidence, as though protected all over, by armour of gold. But why do I speak of the next world? Because of this sacrament earth becomes heaven for you. Throw open the gates of heaven, look through and you will see the proof of what I say. What is heaven’s most precious possession? I will show you it here on earth. I do not show you angels or archangels, heaven or the heaven of heavens but I show you the very Lord of all these. Do you not see how you gaze, here on earth, upon what is most precious of all? You not only gaze on it but touch it as well. You not only touch it but eat it. So cleanse your soul from sin and prepare your mind to receive these mysteries.” … St John Chrysostom (345-407) Bishop of Constantinople, Father and Doctor of the Church
PRAYER – Almighty God, our Father, when Your only-begotten Son revealed Himself in flesh and blood, we came to know Him as our fellow-man . Now He feeds us by His mysteries and cleanses us by His Blood to transform us inwardly, until we bear His likeness. As You inspired St Raymond of Peñafort with an immense compassion for sinners and captives, grant us, through his prayer, freedom from sin and the grace to do Your will. Through our Lord, Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit, one God forever with You, amen.
One Minute Reflection – 6 January – First Day after Epiphany, Readings:
1 John 3:22–4:6, Psalm 2:7-8, 10-11, Matthew 4:12-17, 23-25
” .. The people who sit in darkness have seen a great light, on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death, light has arisen.” … Matthew 4:16
REFLECTION – “In speaking of vision, or rather of a great light, Matthew undoubtedly intends us to understand our Saviour’s luminous preaching, the radiance of the Good News of the Kingdom of God. The land of Zebulon and of Naphtali heard it from our Lord’s own mouth before anyone else…
For in fact it was in this particular land that our Lord began to preach, it was there His preaching was inaugurated… And the apostles, who were the first to see this true light over these regions of Zabulon and Naphtali, themselves became “lights of the world”... As Isaiah’s text continues: “They rejoice before you as at the harvest, as men make merry when dividing the spoils.” This joy will indeed become the apostles’s joy, it will be a twofold joy when “they come back like reapers carrying their sheaves” and “as conquerors sharing the spoil”, that is to say of the conquered devil…
For it was You, our Lord and Saviour, who removed from their shoulders “the yoke that burdened them”, that yoke of the devil’s who in former times lorded it over the world when he reigned over all the nations and caused their necks to bow beneath the yoke of a grievous slavery… You it was who, without troops, without bloodshed, in the secret of Your power, freed us to place us at Your service… Yes, the devil will be “burned as fuel for the flames” because “a child is born to us”, the lowly Son of God “upon whose shoulders dominion rests” because, being God, He is able to possess the pre-eminence by His own strength… And His “dominion extends” since He will not only reign over the Jews, as David did but He will have the sovereignty over all nations “both now and forever”.” … Rupert of Deutz OSB (c 1075-1130) Benedictine Monk, Theologian, Exegete, Writer.
PRAYER – Lord, may the radiance of Your glory, light up our hearts and bring us through the shadows of this world, until we reach our homeland of everlasting light. May the prayers of St Andre Bessette and all Your saints who stand beside You, be an assistance in our moments of trial. Through Christ, the Light which shows us light and the Holy Spirit, God now and forever, amen.
Our Morning Offering – 6 January – First Day after Epiphany and the Month of the Most Holy Name
Write Your Blessed Name, Upon My Heart By Thomas à Kempis (1380-1471)
Write Your blessed name,
upon my heart,
there to remain so indelibly engraved,
that no prosperity,
no adversity shall ever move me
from Your love.
Be to me a strong tower of defence,
a comforter in tribulation,
a deliverer in distress,
a very present help in trouble
and a guide to heaven
through the many temptations
and dangers of this life.
The equation is written to be the first two digits of the year,
followed by the initials C, M, and B,
followed by the last two digits of the year.
Each portion is split by plus signs.
For this year, the equation would be written as “20 + C + M + B + 20.”
The chalking holds two meanings.
The C, M and B, refer to the traditional names
of the Magi: Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar.
The letters also stand for the Latin phrase “Christus mansionem benedicat” which means “May Christ bless the house.”
The plus signs represent the cross
and the 20 and 20 simply refer to the year.
Thought for the Day – 5 January – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971) The Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord
“Let us consider the faith of the Magi, a faith which was willing, lively and active.
They saw in the sky, the star which heralded the Infant Jesus and experienced the divine inspiration in their hearts.
Immediately, they went in search of Him.
They were not even deterred by the long and hazardous journey, which lay before them.
When they arrived at Jerusalem, they found Herod, who did not know what they were talking about. The star disappeared and the priests replied coldly to the questions they asked.
But all the time, their trust in the divine call continued to grow.
Eventually, they reached a poor barn, where they found, not an earthly King but a little child, who was crying on the straw bed of a manger.
As a reward for their trouble and perseverance, a voice in their hearts told them, that this was Jesus, the King of Kings and Saviour of the world.
Unfortunately, when we hear the divine call, no matter how clear and simple it is, we find a thousand excuses for delaying and perhaps for not responding to it at all.
Let us humbly promise to be more generous in listening for it and more energetic in complying with it, regardless of the cost!
It was love which inspired the Magi. Love sustained them on their journey and made them fall prostrate in adoration before the Infant Jesus. Even before they offered Him material gifts, they offered Him, their hearts!”
Quote/s of the Day – 5 January – The Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord
“If the Magi had come in search of an earthly King, they would have been disconcerted at finding that they had taken the trouble to come such a long way for nothing. Consequently they would have neither adored nor offered gifts. But since they sought a heavenly King, though they found in Him no signs of royal pre-eminence, yet, content with the testimony of the star alone, they adored – for they saw a man and they acknowledged God.”
St John Chrysostom (347-407)
Father and Doctor of the Church
“The Gospel account of the Magi describes their journey from the East as a journey of the spirit, as a journey toward the encounter with Christ. They are attentive to signs that indicate His presence, they are tireless in facing the trials of the search, they are courageous in deducing the implications for life that derive from encounter with the Lord. This is life – Christian life, is a journey but being attentive, tireless and courageous. A Christian, journeys like this. Journey attentively, tirelessly, courageously!”
“And as they fell to their knees before the small, poor and vulnerable Infant, the unexpected and unknown Child of Bethlehem, they discovered the glory of God.”
Sunday Reflection – 5 January – The Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord
“At Christmas He was born a man, today He is reborn sacramentally.
Then He was born from the Virgin, today He is born in mystery.
When He was born a man, His mother Mary held Him close to her heart, when He is born in mystery, God the Father embraces Him with His voice when He says: This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased, listen to Him.
The mother caresses the tender baby on her lap, the Father serves His Son by His loving testimony.
The mother holds the child for the Magi to adore, the Father reveals that His Son is to be worshipped by all the nations.”
St Maximus Of Turin (380 to 465) Bishop of Turin, Theologian
One Minute Reflection – 5 January – The Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord, Readings: Isaiah 60:1-6, Psalm 72:1-2, 7-8, 10-13, Ephesians 3:2-3, 5-6, Matthew 2:1-12
“… They fell down and worshipped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.” … Matthew 2:11
REFLECTION – “But if with careful thought we wish to see how their threefold kind of gift is also offered by all who come to Christ with the foot of faith, is not the same offering repeated in the hearts of true believers? For he that acknowledges Christ the King of the universe brings gold from the treasure of his heart, he that believes the Only-begotten of God to have united man’s true nature to Himself, offers myrrh and he that confesses Him in no wise inferior to the Father’s majesty, worships Him in a manner with incense.” … St Pope Leo the Great (400-461) Father and Doctor of the Church
PRAYER – “Give me, therefore, I pray Thee, this gold, this incense and this myrrh. Give me the gold of Thy holy love, give me the spirit of holy prayer, give me the desire and strength to mortify myself in everything that displeases Thee. I am resolved to obey Thee and to love Thee but Thou knowest my weakness, oh, give me the grace to be faithful to Thee!” … St Alphonsus Liguori (1696-1787) Doctor of the Church
Our Morning Offering – 5 January – The Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord
Who lives in Love By St Robert Southwell SJ (1561-1595) Martyr
Who lives in Love, loves least to live
and long delays doth rue,
if Him he love by whom he lives,
to whom all praise is due,
Who for our love did choose to live
and was content to die,
who loved our love more than His life,
and love with life did buy.
Let us in life, yea with our life
requite His living love,
for best we live when least we live,
if Love our life remove.
Mourn, therefore, no true lover’s death,
life only him annoy,
and when he taketh leave of life
then Love begins his joys.
One Minute Reflection – 4 January – Saturday of Christmas, Readings:
1 John 3:7-10, Psalm 98:1, 7-9, John 1:35-42
He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where he was staying and they stayed with him that day … John 1:39
REFLECTION – “John was there and two of his disciples with him.” John was such “a friend of the Bridegroom” that he did not seek his own glory, he simply bore witness to the truth (Jn 3:29.26). Did he dream of keeping back his disciples and preventing them from following the Lord? Not in the least. He himself showed them the one they were to follow (…) He declared: “Why cling to me? I am not the Lamb of God. Behold the Lamb of God (…) Behold him who takes away the sins of the world.”
At these words the two disciples who were with John followed Jesus. “Jesus turned and saw that they were following him and said to them: ‘What are you looking for?’ They said to him: ‘Rabbi, where are you staying?” As yet they were not following Him definitively, as we know, they joined themselves to Him when He called them to leave their boat (…), when He said to them: “Come after me and I will make you fishers of men” (Mt 4:19). That was the moment they joined Him definitively, no longer to leave Him. But for now they wanted to see where Jesus was living and put into practice the words of Scripture: “If you see an intelligent man, seek him out at daybreak; let your feet wear away his doorstep! Learn from him the precepts of the Lord” (cf. Sir 6:36f.). So Jesus showed them where He was living, they went and stayed with Him. What a happy day they spent! What a blessed night! Who can say what it was they heard from the Lord’s mouth? Let us, too, build a dwelling in our hearts, construct a house where Christ can come to teach and converse with us.” … St Augustine (354-430) Bishop of Hippo, Father & Doctor of the Church – Sermons on Saint John’s Gospel, no 7
PRAYER – Almighty God, the light of a new star in heaven, heralded Your saving love . Let the light of Your salvation dawn in our hearts and keep them always open to Your life-giving grace. May we stay with Your Son, for He will teach us Your ways. Kindly hear the prayers on our behalf of Mary our mother and of all Your saints and may St Angela of Foligno intercede today on our behalf. Through Christ, our Lord, with the Holy Spirit, God now and forever, amen.