One Minute Reflection – 7 January – The Second Day within the Octave of Epiphany, Readings: 1 John 3:22 – 4:6, Psalms 2:7-8, 10-12, Matthew 4:12-17, 23-25 and the Memorial of St Raymond of Peñafort (1175-1275) “Father of Canon Law”
“ …the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light and for those, who sat in the region and shadow of death, light has dawned.”…Matthew 4:16
REFLECTION – “All these things we know to have taken place ever since the three wise men, aroused in their far-off land, were led by a star to recognise and worship the King of heaven and earth. The responsiveness of that star exhorts us to imitate it’s obedience and, as much as we can, to make ourselves servants of that grace which invites us all to Christ. For, whoever lives religiously and chastely in the Church and “sets his mind on the things which are above, not on the things that are upon the earth” (Col 3:2) resembles that heavenly light in a certain sense. So long as he maintains in himself the brightness of a holy life, he points out to many, like a star, the way that leads to God. All having this concern, dearly-beloved… you will shine in the Kingdom like children of light.”… St Pope Leo the Great (400-461) Father & Doctor of the Church
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. Grant we pray, that by the intercession of St Raymond of Peñafort , our way may be smoothed and our troubles eased. We ask this through Jesus, our Lord, with the Holy Spirit, God forever, amen.
Thought for the Day – 6 January – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971) The Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord
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! As a reward for their faith and charity, God showered his graces upon them and an immense supernatural joy pervaded their souls. In that moment of adoration, they received the highest possible reward for their hardships and perseverance. With deep interior joy, they gave Jesus their hearts and never withdrew them. A pious tradition maintains, that they apostles and Saints and, in fact, the Church venerates them as such, today.
We should follow the example of the Magi and promise, before the cradle of the Infant Saviour, that we shall face any sacrifices, even death, rather than offend Him and shall work, in every way possible, for His glory and our sanctification.”
Quote/s of the Day – 6 January – The Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord
In Your Light, we see light!
“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
“Today the Magi gaze in deep wonder at what they see – heaven on earth, earth in heaven, man in God, God in man, One whom the whole universe cannot contain, now enclosed in a tiny body. As they look, they believe and do not question, as their symbolic gifts bear witness – incense for God, gold for a King, myrrh for One who is to die.”
St Peter Chrysologus (c 400-450) Father and Doctor of Homilies
“What are you doing, O Magi? Do you adore a little Babe, in a wretched hovel, wrapped in miserable rags? Can this Child be truly God? … Are you become foolish, O Wise Men … Yes, these Wise Men have become fools that they may be wise.”
St Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153) Doctor of Light
Christ has been born for us, come, let us adore Him.
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth.” – John 1:14
REFLECTION – “God, who gave being to all that is, at the same time united all things together in His providence.
Being master, He became a servant (cf, Phil 2:6-7) and so revealed to the world, the depth of His providence.
God the Word, in becoming incarnate while remaining unchanged, was united through His flesh with the whole of creation.
There is a new wonder in heaven and on earth – God is on earth and man is in heaven.
He united men and angels, so as to bestow deification on all creation.
The knowledge of the holy and co-essential Trinity is the sanctification and deification of men and angels. …
When, in His compassion for man, the Word became flesh (cf. Jn 1:14), He changed, neither what He was, nor what He became.” – Thalassios the Syrian (5th Century) Priest, Hermit and Abbot in Syria – Centuries on Love I
PRAYER – All-powerful, ever-living God, we thank You for the human birth of Your Son, which is the source and perfection of our Christian life and worship. Number us among His people, for the salvation of all mankind is found in Him, for the Word became flesh who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, God, forever and ever, amen.
Thalassius of Syria undertook the call of God to life as a hermit in the fifth century. Thalassius is recorded to have entered into solitude at a young age near a village named Targala in Byzantine Syria. He is said to have dwelt there, living the ascetic life with no shelter for nearly forty years. Thalassius’ was a soul filled with humbleness, simplicity and a gentle nature. God manifested in him, the gifts of powerful intercession and healing for which he gained considerable renown. In time, many came to join Thalassius in the eremitic life and he welcomed them as he would welcome Christ, building them cells with his own hands. BlessedThalassius, Hermit of Syria is said to have died peacefully.
Quote/s of the Day – 30 December – The Sixth Day in the Christmas Octave
“Maker of the sun, He is made under the sun.
In the Father He remains, From His mother He goes forth.
Creator of heaven and earth, He was born under heaven.
Unspeakably wise, He is wisely speechless.
Filling the world, He lies in a manger.
Ruler of the stars, He nurses at His mother’s bosom.
He is both great in the nature of God and small in the form of a servant.”
St Augustine (354-430) Father and Doctor of Grace
“He has come down to earth to take you to heaven, He became mortal that you might become God and put on your original beauty.”
St Romanos Melodios (c 490-c 556) Monk, Composer of Hymns, Poet
“Has anybody the right to criticise us even if we seem to be beside ourselves with joy to-day over the Birthday of our King?”
St Peter Canisius (1521-1397) Doctor of the Church
“I feel as though I am with Mary and Joseph beside the Crib. It is good to be there. Outside are the cold and the snow, images of the world but in the little cave, lit by the light of Jesus, it is sweet and warm and light.”
One Minute Reflection – 30 December – The Sixth Day in the Christmas Octave, Readings: 1 John 2:12-17, Psalm 96:7-10, Luke 2:36-40
“She spoke about the child to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem” … Luke 2:38
REFLECTION – “O Root of Jesse, who stand as a sign to the peoples” (Is 11: 10), “how many kings and prophets wanted to see you and did not” (Lk 10:24)? Simeon is the happiest of them all because by God’s mercy he was still bearing fruit in old age. For he rejoiced to think that he would see the sign so long desired. He saw it and was glad (Lk 8:56). When he had received the kiss of peace, he departed in peace but first, he proclaimed aloud that Jesus was born, a sign that would be rejected (Lk 2:25-34). And so it was. The sign of peace arose and was rejected, by those who hate peace (Ps 119:7). For what is peace to men of goodwill (Lk 2:14) is a stone to make men stumble, a rock for the wicked to fall over (l Pt 2:8). “Herod was troubled and all Jerusalem with him” (Mt 2:3). He came to His own and His own did not receive Him (Jn 1:11). Happy those shepherds keeping watch at night who were found worthy to be shown the sign of this vision! (Lk 23:8)
For even at that time He was hiding Himself from the wise and prudent and revealing Himself to the simple (Mt 11:25; Lk 10:21). … The angel said to the shepherds, “This is a sign for you” (Lk 2: 12), you who are humble, you who are obedient, you who are not haughty (Rom 12: 16), you who are keeping vigil and meditating on God’s law day and night (Ps 1:2). “This is a sign for you,” he said. What is this sign? The sign the angels promised, the sign the people asked for, the sign the prophets foretold, the Lord Jesus has now made and He shows it to you. …
This is your sign. What is it a sign of? Indulgence, grace, peace, “the peace which will have no end” (Is 9:7). It is this sign: “You will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger” (Lk 2: 12). But this baby is God Himself, reconciling the world to Himself in Him (2 Cor 5: 19). … He is the Kiss of God, the Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus (1Tm 2:5), who with the Father and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns world without end.” … St Bernard (1091-1153) Doctor of the Church
PRAYER – Almighty God and Father, the human birth of Your Only-begotten Son, was the beginning of new life. May He set us free from the tyranny of sin. We make our prayer through Christ, our Lord with the Holy Spirit, God forever and ever, amen.
Our Morning Offering – 28 December – The Feast of the Holy Innocents – The Fourth Day of the Christmas Octave.
O Dearest Infant By St Alphonsus Liguori (1696-1787) Most Zealous Doctor
O dearest Infant, tell me what You came on earth to do. Tell me whom You are seeking. Ah, yes, I now understand… You have come to die for me, a lost sheep, in order that I may no more hide from You but love You. O Jesus, my treasure, my life, my love, my all, if I do not love You, then whom shall I love? Where can I ﬁnd a mother or father, a friend, or a spouse more loving than You? And who has ever loved me more than You have? I am sorry that I have lived so many years in this world and yet still love You so little, even having offended You and sometimes forgotten You. Amen
Our Morning Offering – 26 December – Feast of St Stephen the ProtoMartyr and The Second Day in the Christmas Octave
Sleep, Holy Babe By Fr Edward Caswell C.Orat. (1814-1878)
Sleep, holy Babe, Upon Your Mother’s breast! Great Lord of earth and sea and sky, How sweet it is to see You lie In such a place of rest! Sleep, holy Babe, Your angels watch around, All bending low with folded wings Before th’incarnate King of kings In rev’rent awe profound! Sleep, holy Babe, While I with Mary gaze In joy upon that face awhile, Upon the loving Infant smile Which there divinely plays. Sleep, holy Babe, And take Your brief repose; Too quickly will Your slumbers break And You to lengthened pains awake, That death alone shall close.
Thought for the Day – 25 December – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
The Feast of the Nativity
“While the earth, plunged in darkness, ignores the birth of Jesus, the sky brightens above the lowly barn in which the Infant is lying. The voices of Angels are heard singing a sweet refrain which will echo through the centuries. “Glory to God in the highest,” they chant “and on earth, peace among men of goodwill (Lk 2:14).”
The world rejects and despises Jesus; one day, moreover, He will be condemned as a criminal and Crucified. What happens to Jesus is what always happens to TRUTH and JUSTICE, which are often spurned by men but are always victorious in the end. For a time, truth and justice may seem to have been defeated once and for all but then, they triumph in an extraordinary manner. The example of Christ is enough to convince us of this.
Let us never reject Jesus Christ, however. Let us refuse to trample on His holy law or to crucify Him again, by our sins! Let us listen to the chorus of Angels singing. Let us make our lives a hymn of praise to Almighty God and then, we shall have that peace of heart which is rserved for men of goodwill.”
Quote/s of the Day – 25 December – The Solemnity of the Nativity of Our Lord, Jesus Christ and remembering Blessed Jacopone da Todi OFM (1230-1306)
“Blessed is the Child, Who gladdened Bethlehem today. Blessed is the Babe, Who today renewed the youth of humankind. Blessed is the Fruit, Who bowed Himself down to our hunger. Blessed is the gracious One, Who suddenly enriched our poverty and supplied our need. Blessed is He, Whose tender mercy Led Him to heal our infirmities. Blessed is He, Whom freedom crucified because He permitted it. Blessed is He, Whom also the wood bore because He gave it leave. Blessed is He, Whom the grave bound, when He set limits to Himself. Blessed is He, Whose free choice brough Him to the womb and to birth. Blessed is He, Who sealed our soul and adorned and betrothed her to Himself. Blessed is the beautiful One, Who remade us in His image. Blessed is He, Who made our flesh a tabernacle for His hiddenness. Blessed is He, Who with our tongue spoke out His secrets. Blessed is the Word of the most high, Who became flesh today for us. Amen”
St Ephrem (306-373) Father & Doctor of the Church
“He was created of a mother, whom He created. He was carried by hands, that He formed. He cried in the manger, in wordless infancy. He, the Word, without Whom, all human eloquence is mute.”
St Augustine (354-430) Father & Doctor of Grace
“Christ is the Morning Star, Who, when the night of this world is past, gives to His saints, the promise of the light of life, and opens everlasting day.”
St Bede the Venerable (673-735) Father & Doctor of the Church
“He came from His royal throne, the stern Conqueror of error and the gentle Apostle of love.”
William of Saint Thierry (c 1075-1148)
“Let all your desires then be, directed toward Him, the Infinite One, the Giver of all Good.”
Bl Jacopone da Todi (1230-1306)
A Child My Choice By St Robert Southwell (1561-1595) Martyr
Let folly praise that fancy loves, I praise and love that Child Whose heart no thought, whose tongue no word, whose hand no deed defiled.
I praise Him most, I love Him best, all praise and love is His; While Him I love, in Him I live, and cannot live amiss.
Love’s sweetest mark, laud’s highest theme, man’s most desired light, To love Him life, to leave Him death, to live in Him delight.
He mine by gift, I His by debt, thus each to other due; First friend He was, best friend He is, all times will try Him true.
Though young, yet wise; though small, yet strong; though man, yet God He is: As wise, He knows; as strong, He can; as God, He loves to bless.
His knowledge rules, His strength defends, His love doth cherish all; His birth our joy, His life our light, His death our end of thrall.
Alas! He weeps, He sighs, He pants, yet do His angels sing; Out of His tears, His sighs and throbs, doth bud a joyful spring.
Almighty Babe, whose tender arms can force all foes to fly, Correct my faults, protect my life, direct me when I die!
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..
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.
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.
“In adoring our Saviour’s birth, it is our origin that we celebrate. Christ’s temporal generation is the source of the Christian people, the birth of His Mystical Body. All of us encounter in this Mystery, a new birth in Christ.”
St Pope Leo the Great (400-461) Father & Doctor of the Church
“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 into 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.
Yet 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
“No-one can celebrate a genuine Christmas without being truly poor. The self-sufficient, the proud, those who, because they have everything, look down on others, those who have no need, even of God- for them there will be no Christmas. Only the poor, the hungry, those who need someone to come on their behalf, will have that Someone. That Someone is God. Emmanuel. God-with-us. Without poverty of spirit there can be no abundance of God.”
Advent Reflection – 23 December – O Emmanuel – Readings: Malachi 3:1-4, 23-24, Psalms 25:4-5,8-9, 10 and 14, Luke 1:57-66
The Lord is at hand, come, let us adore Him.
“He spoke, blessing God ” – Luke 1:64
REFLECTION – [John the Baptist said:] “I am the voice, the voice crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way for the Lord.” So I cannot be silent, Lord, in Your presence. “I need to be baptised by you and do you come to me?” (Mt 3:3.14). At my birth I took away my mother’s barrenness and while still an infant, I healed my father’s dumbness, for You gave me in childhood, the gift of working miracles. But when You were born of the Virgin Mary, in the way You willed and in a manner known to You alone, You did not take away her virginity but while preserving it intact, You gave her, in addition, the name of “mother.” Her virginity did not hinder Your birth, nor did Your birth destroy her virginity. On the contrary, two opposites, motherhood and virginity, were easily united by You, because the laws of nature have their origin in You. I am a mere man, sharing in the grace of God but You are both God and man because of Your love for humankind (cf. Wis 1:6). ” – Homily attributed to Saint Gregory the Illuminator (c 213-270) Bishop – Homily on the holy Incarnation, 4
PRAYER O Emmanuel, King and Lawgiver Desire of the nations, Saviour of all people, Come and set us free, Lord, our God!
O Come, O come, Emmanuel And ransom captive Israel, That mourns in lonely exile here Until the Son of God appear.
Refrain: Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel Shall come to thee, O Israel!
O come, Thou Wisdom, from on high And order all things far and nigh, To us the path of knowledge show And teach us in her ways to go. Refrain
O come, o come, Thou Lord of might, Who to thy tribes on Sinai’s height In ancient times did give the law, In cloud, and majesty and awe. Refrain
O come, Thou Rod of Jesse’s stem, From ev’ry foe deliver them That trust Thy mighty power to save And give them vict’ry o’er the grave. Refrain
O come, Thou Key of David, come And open wide our heav’nly home, Make safe the way that leads on high, That we no more have cause to sigh. Refrain
O come, Thou Dayspring from on high And cheer us by thy drawing nigh. Disperse the gloomy clouds of night And death’s dark shadow put to flight. Refrain
O come, Desire of nations, bind In one the hearts of all mankind. Bid every strife and quarrel cease And fill the world with heaven’s peace. Refrain
The favourite O Come, O Come Emmanuel carol was originally written in Latin text in the 12th Century. The author of the words and composer to the music of O Come, O Come Emmanuel is unknown. It is, however, believed that the melody was of French origin and added to the text a hundred years later. The Latin was translated into English by John Mason Neale in 1851.
Thought for the Day – 21 December – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
The Silence of the Divine Infant
Jesus Christ is the Eternal Word of God, made man, the infinite and substantial image of the Divine Intellect. Nevertheless, the Divine Infant, Whom we adore in the stable at Bethlehem, is mute and silent. The voluntary humiliation of the Son of God is such, that He, the Word of God, cannot utter a single human syllable. By this chosen silence, however, He teaches us many things. In the first place, He teaches us humility and self-denial. He teaches us, moreover, to recollect ourselves in the Presence of God, so that it may be easier for us to speak with Him and for Him, to make known what He requires of us. The silence of prayer brings forth divine consolations and inspirations to holiness,
Do we love to be silent? It is not necessary to become hermits but, it is essential, from time to time, to place ourselves quietyly in the Presence of God. God cannot be heard through the noise and confusion of the world, whereas, He speaks clearly to the soul, which seeks the silence of prayer. In any case, if we go about looking for the gossip and idle chatter of the world, it is almost impossible not to offend God. “Avoid profane and empty babblings,” St Paul urges us, “for they contribute much to ungodliness” (2 Tim 2:16). “If anyone does not offend in word,” adds St James, “he is a perfect man” (Js 3:2). “The tongue is a little member,” he continues but, goes onto emphasis that it is capable of doing either a great deal of good or a great deal of harm. “With it, we bless God the Father and, with it, we curse men, who have been made after the likeness of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. These things, my brethren ought not to be so” (Js 3:5-10).
There are two main lessons which we should learn, therefore, from the silence of the Divine Infant. We should learn to love recollection and, we should learn to make proper use of the gift of speech, which can be an equally powerful weapon, in the cause of good, or, in the cause of evil!”
Thought for the Day – 20 December – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
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.”
Thought for the Day – 19 December – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
The Cradle of the Divine Infant Jesus
Enter once more with faith and love into the stable of Bethlehem. As soon as her Son has been miraculously delivered without any damage to her virginity, Mary adores Him and, with such maternal love as we could never conceive of, she takes Him to her heart. Joseph, kneeling in ecstasy at the sight, bows reverently and kisses the forehead of the Divine Infant. In this moment of blis, he is well rewarded for his unshaken faith and for all the sacrifices which he has made from his youth until the time of his alliance with Mary.
Now Mary and Joseph look around and, since they can find no better cradel for the Baby Jesus, they place Him upon some straw in a manger and cover Him with a rough linen coth. They have nothing else to give the Son of God, King of Kings and Lord of the Universe, Who wishes, at this early stage, to present us with this wonderful example of humility and voluntary poverty. But each of them has once treasure to offer, for they offer and dedicate their hearts to Jesus. Mary’s heart is only less beautiful and pure than that of our Divine Redeemer and St Joseph’s is similar to hers.
Jesus did not come to look for human wealth or greatness but, He came in search of men’s hearts, so that He might make them holy. Throughout the centuries there have been many generous-hearted people who joined with Mary and Joseph in loving Jesus and in dedicating themselves entirely to Him. Does your heart belong completely to Jesus?
Quote of the Day – Saturday of Advent – 19 December
“I speak out in order to lead Him into your hearts but He does not choose to come where I lead Him, unless you prepare the way for Him.”
St Augustine (354-430) Father and Doctor of the Church
“Unreasoning and stupid that you look for God where He is not! Listen and be filled with awe – God is in our hearts, I know it. God lives in the human heart when this heart lives withdrawn from all that is not Him, when this heart heeds God’s knock at it’s door (Rv 3,20) and, sweeping and cleaning all its rooms, makes itself ready to welcome Him who alone truly satisfies.”
Thought for the Day – 18 December – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
Preparation for the Nativity
“The Birth of Our Lord is the most wonderful and most moving mystery of divine omnipotence and goodness. At first thought, the idea of the infinite God becoming man, would seem impossible. Between God and man, there is a vast abyss. Why should God have bridged this gap and assumed our poor mortal nature, becoming like us in everything but sin, while still remaining God? It is a hard question for the human mind to answer. There is only one reply, however. The immensity of God’s power and justice is equalled, by the immensity of His love. It was simply because God loved us infinitely that He took pity on us, lost as we were in sin. He assumed a human body and became man and, He suffered and died for us, so that we might love and obey Him more easily and follow in the way of goodness.
To our poor intellects, God seems not only immense and infinite but also, very remote. For this reason, God determined to come closer to us, so that He became as one of us. He was a tiny infant, crying in a manger; then, He was a lovable young boy Who spoke words of eternal wisdom among the doctors in the Temple; then, He was a prophet Who traversed the countryside of Palestine, teaching and working miracles; finally, He died a martyr’s death on the Cross in the cause of truth and goodness. Reflecting on this mystery of infinite love, let us adore and love Him.”
Our Morning Offering – 18 December and also the Feast of Our Lady of Expectation
O Virgo Virginum
O Virgin of Virgins, how shall this be? For neither before thee was any like thee, nor shall there be after. Daughters of Jerusalem, why marvel ye at me? That which ye behold, is a divine mystery.
Maiden yet a Mother By Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) Tr Msgr Ronald A Knox (1888-1957)
Maiden yet a mother, daughter of thy Son, high beyond all other, lowlier is none; thou the consummation planned by God’s decree, when our lost creation nobler rose in thee!
Thus His place prepared, he who all things made ‘mid his creatures tarried, in thy bosom laid; there His love He nourished, warmth that gave increase to the root whence flourished our eternal peace.
Nor alone thou hearest When thy name we hail; Often thou art nearest When our voices fail; Mirrored in thy fashion All creation’s gird, Mercy, might compassion Grace thy womanhood.
Lady, let our vision Striving heavenward, fail, Still let thy petition With thy Son prevail, Unto whom all merit, prayer and majesty, With the Holy Spirit And the Father be.
Most authors agree that there were seven original ‘O Antiphons’ and that they are a very ancient expression of Christian Prayer. While their author is unknown, they are cited in at least two works as early as the eighth century. Both Cynewulf, an Anglo-Saxon author and Amalarius, a liturgist and the Archbishop of Trier (died 850), who was a student of the teacher St Alcuin, cite the existence of the ‘O Antiphons’ as early as the seventh/eighth century.
The ‘O Antiphons’ get their name from the fact that they all begin with the interjection ‘O’: O Sapientia (Wisdom); O Adonai (Lord); O Radix Jesse (Root of Jesse); O Clavis David (Key of David); O Oriens (Dawn of the East); O Rex Gentium (King of Gentiles); O Emmanuel.
While the original ‘O Antiphons’ numbered seven, over time a number of others were added to the liturgy of particular regions and sometimes for particular religious feast days which fell during Advent, or even in the liturgy of some medieval religious orders. Some medieval religious churches had as many as twelve O Antiphons which were sung in the Advent Liturgy leading up to Christmas Eve.
Among these, there was an important Marian ‘O Antiphon’ which appears in both the Gallican (France) and Sarum (England) liturgies. Although it is difficult to establish just when this antiphon was first introduced, it was certainly known in the Middle Ages.
This Marian Antiphon is still used today in the liturgy of the Norbertine Order. While the Latin Liturgy begins the O Antiphons on 17 December with ‘O Sapientia,’ and ends on 23 December with ‘O Emmanuel,’ the Liturgy of the Norbertine Order begins their O Antiphons on 16 December with ‘O Sapientia,’ and ends on 23 December with the beautiful Marian Antiphon ‘O Virgo Virginum.’
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).