Our Morning Offering – 4 January – Christmas Weekday “Month of the Most Holy Name”
Of the Father’s Love Begotten (Excerpt) By Prudentius, Aurelius Clemens (c 348-c 413) Trans. J M Neale (1818-1866)
Of the Father’s love begotten Ere the world began to be, He is Alpha and Omega, He the Source, the Ending he, Of the things that are, that have been, And that future years shall see Evermore and evermore.
Blessed was the day forever, When the Virgin, full of grace, By the Holy Ghost conceiving, Bore the Saviour of our race And the Babe, the world’s Redeemer, First revealed His Sacred Face Evermore and evermore.
Glory be to God the Father, Glory be to God the Son Glory be the Holy Ghost, Persons Three, yet Godhead One, Glory be from all creation While eternal ages run, Evermore and evermore.
Aurelius Prudentius Clemens was a Roman Christian Poet, born in the Roman Province of Tarraconensis (now Northern Spain) in c 348. He probably died in the Iberian Peninsula some time after 405, possibly around 413. Prudentius practised law with some success and was twice Provincial Governor, perhaps in his native country. Towards the end of his life (possibly around 392) Prudentius retired from public life to become an ascetic, fasting until evening and abstaining entirely from animal food and writing poems, hymns and controversial works in defence of Christianity. Prudentius later collected the Christian poems written during this period and added a preface, which he himself dated 405. The poetry of Prudentius is influenced by early Christian authors, such as Tertullian and St Ambrose, as well as the Sacred Scriptures and the Acts of the Martyrs. His hymn Da, puer, plectrum – “Of the Father’s Love Begotten”) and the hymn for Epiphany O sola magnarum urbium (“Earth Has Many A Noble City”), both from the Cathemerinon, are still frequently in use today, although many others are too but perhaps less frequently..
The Feast was celebrated in the East before it was in the West but by the 5th Century it was celebrated in France and Spain on the Sunday before Christmas. In Rome, even before the 7th Century, 1 January was used as a celebration of the Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In the 13th and 14th Centuries, the Feast of the Circumcision of Christ had come to replace the Marian Feast on 1 January. The celebration of the Feast of the Circumcision on 1 January was expanded to the entire Catholic Church in 1570 when Pope Pius V promulgated the Missal. In 1914, the Feast of the “Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary” was established in Portugal, occurring on 11 October. In 1931, this Feast was extended to the entire Catholic Church by Pope Pius XI and maintained on 11 October. Following the Second Vatican Council in 1974, Pope Paul VI removed the Feast of the Circumcision of Christ from the Liturgical Calendar and replaced it with the Feast of the “Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God.” In the Extraordinary form of the Roman Rite, Catholics continue to celebrate this Feast day with the old name “The Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary” on 11 October, and 1 January is the Octave Day of the Nativity of the Lord and the Feast of the Circumcision. The feast is a celebration of Mary’s motherhood of Jesus. The title “Mother of God” is a western derivation from the Greek: Theotokos, the God-bearer. The term was adopted at the First Council of Ephesus as a way to assert the Divinity of Christ, from which it follows, that what is predicated of Christ is predicated of God. So, if Mary is the Mother of Jesus, she is the Mother of God. Therefore, the title “Mother of God” which celebrates her under this title, are at once both Mariological and Christological.
Titular Feast of the Society of Jesus – But now celebrated on 3 January, the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus
Bl Adalbero of Liege St Baglan of Wales St Basil of Aix Bl Bonannus of Roio St Brogan St Buonfiglio Monaldi Bl Catherine de Solaguti St Clarus of Vallis Regia St Clarus of Vienne St Colman mac Rónán St Colman Muillin of Derrykeighan St Concordius of Arles St Connat St Cuan St Demet of Plozévet St Elvan St Eugendus of Condat St Euphrosyne of Alexandria St Fanchea of Rossory St Felix of Bourges St Frodobert of Troyes
St Gisela of Rosstreppe St Gregory Nazianzen the Elder Bl Hugolinus of Gualdo Cattaneo Bl Jean-Baptiste Lego Bl Jean of Saint-Just-en-Chaussée St Joseph Mary Tomasi CR (1649-1713) Cardinal, of the Order of Clerics Regular Theatine St Justin of Chieti Bl Lojze Grozde St Maelrhys St Magnus the Martyr Bl Marian Konopinski St Mydwyn
St Odilo of Stavelot St Peter of Atroa St Peter of Temissis Bl René Lego St Sciath of Ardskeagh St Severino Gallo St Telemachus St Thaumastus of Mainz St Theodotus St Tyfrydog Bl Valentin Paquay St Vincent Strambi St William of Dijon St Zedislava Berka St Zygmunt Gorazdowski — Breton Missionaries to Britain Martyred Soldiers of Rome: Thirty soldiers martyred in Rome as a group during the persecutions of Diocletian. We don’t even known their names. They were martyred c 304 at Rome, Italy.
Martyrs of Africa – 8 saints: Eight Christians martyred together in Africa, date unknown. The only details we have are four of their names – Argyrus, Felix, Narcissus and Victor.
Martyred in the Spanish Civil War: • Blessed Andrés Gómez Sáez
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. Amen
One Minute Reflection – 25 December – The Solemnity of the Nativity of Our Lord, Jesus Christ – Mass during the day – Readings: Isaiah 52:7-10, Psalm 98:1-6, Hebrews 1:1-6, John 1:1-18
Christ has been born for us, come, let us adore Him!
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. … John 1:14
REFLECTION – “Christ has come from the Father, He has come from the Word, He has come from the Holy Spirit, since the whole Trinity accomplished His conception and His incarnation. For to come from the highest Trinity was, no other, than to be conceived and to become, a human being, by the same Trinity. Therefore, it was said: “His going forth is form the highest heaven.” (cf. Ps 18:6) The Only-Begotten … begotten of the Father eternally, begotten in time, He came forth from His Mother, remaining invisibly with the Father and dwelling visibly with us. For to go forth from the Father was this – to enter upon our world, to be seen openly and to become what, from the nature of the Father, He was not. This indeed is wonderful, He came from Him from Whom He did not depart, going forth from Him, with Whom He stayed, so that without intermission, He was wholly in eternity, wholly in time, wholly was He found in the Father, when wholly in the Virgin, wholly in His own Majesty and in His Father’s at the time, when He was wholly in our humanity. If you ask how, gather the truth by means of an illustration. A word conceived in the heart goes forth complete in the voice, so that it comes perfectly to others, yet remains wholly in the heart. So the good Word, spoken forth from the heart of the Father, went forth into the broad plain, yet did not leave the Father.” … St Amadeus of Lausanne (1108-1159) Cistercian Monk and Bishop (On the praises of the Blessed Mary, homily II).
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.
One Minute Reflection – 24 December – “Month of the Immaculate Conception” – “Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel” – The Nativity of the Lord, Mass at Midnight – Readings: Isaiah 62:1-5, Psalms 89:4-5, 16-17, 27, 29, Acts 13:16-17, 22-25, Luke 2:1-14
Know today that the Lord will come – in the morning you will see His glory.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel Shall come to thee, O Israel! May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life.
“For today in the city of David, a saviour has been born for you, who is Messiah and Lord.” – Luke 2:11
REFLECTION – “Brethren, now we have been told about the miracle, let us turn aside to see this unusual sight as Moses did (Ex 3:3) – in Mary, the burning bush is not consumed, the Virgin gives birth to the Light, without defilement … Let us then run to Bethlehem, the town of the Good News! If we are real shepherds, staying awake on our watch, then it is to us that the voice of the angels is addressed, announcing a great joy … “Glory to God in the highest for peace is coming down to earth!” There where, only yesterday, there was nothing but misfortune, battlefields and exile, now earth receives peace for today “Truth shall spring out of the earth and justice shall look down from heaven” (Ps 84:12). Behold the fruit earth gives to humankind, in reward for the goodwill reigning among men (Lk 2:14). God is joined to man, to raise man to the stature of God.
At this news, my brethren, let us go to Bethlehem to behold … the mystery of the crib, a child wrapped in swaddling clothes rests in a manger. A Virgin, after giving birth, His undefiled Mother, embraces her Son. Let us repeat the words of the prophet along with the shepherds: “As we have heard, so we have seen in the city of our God.” (Ps 47:9)
But why does our Lord seek shelter in this cave at Bethlehem? Why is He sleeping in a manger? Why does He participate in Israel’s census? My brethren, He who brings liberty to the world, comes to be born into our slavery to death. He is born in this cave to reveal Himself to us, who are immersed in darkness and the shadow of death. He rests in a manger because ,He is the One Who makes grass grow for the cattle (Ps 104,14). He is the Bread of Life who feeds us with a spiritual food that we too might live in the Spirit… What more joyful feast is there than that of today? Christ, the Sun of Justice (Mal 3,20), comes to illumine our night. What had fallen, is raised up again, what was overcome, is now set free… what was dead is restored to life… Let us all sing today with one voice over all the earth: “Death came through one man, Adam, today salvation has come through one man (cf Rom 5,17)” … St Gregory of Nyssa (c 335–c 395) Bishop, Father of the Church (Sermon on the Nativity).
PRAYER – Almighty God, Your Incarnate Word fills us with the new Light, He brings to men. Let the light of faith in our hearts shine through all that we do and say. And may the Immaculate Virgin Mother of our Saviour, be ever near to help and protect us. Through Christ, our Lord and Saviour, with the Holy Spirit, one God with You, now and for all time and eternity, amen.
24 December – Vigil of the Nativity of the Lord/Mass at Midnight Midnight Mass is the first liturgy of Christmastide that is celebrated on the night of Christmas Eve, traditionally beginning at midnight when Christmas Eve gives way to Christmas Day. This popular Christmas custom is a jubilant celebration of the Mass in honour of the Nativity of Jesus Christ.
Saint Thomas Aquinas wrote a commentary on these words and explained in his Summa Theologiae, “And from this ,the Mass derives its name … the deacon on festival days ‘dismisses’ the people at the end of the Mass, by saying: ‘Ite, missa est,’ that is, the victim [Jesus] has been sent to God through the angel, so that it may be accepted by God.”
Bl Peter de Solanes Bl Venerandus of Clermont — • Blessed Dionysius Roneo • Blessed Philip Claro • Blessed Giulio Pons • Blessed Peter of Valladolid
Blessed Mercedarian Sisters – (6 beati): Six cloistered Mercedarian nuns at the convent of Vera Cruz in Berriz, Spain. Noted for their devotion to the rules of the Order and for their deep prayer lives. • Blessed Anna Maria Prieto • Blessed Anna de Arrano • Blessed Orsola de Larisgoizia • Blessed Maguna Mary • Blessed Margaret • Blessed Mary of the Assumption Sarria
Martyred Maidens of Antioch – (40 saints): A group of forty virgins martyred in the persecutions of Decius. None of their names have come down to us. They were martyred in 250 in Antioch, Syria.
Martyrs of Tripoli – (6 saints): A group of Christians martyred together, date unknown. The only details that have survived are six of the names – Drusus, Lucian, Metrobius, Paul, Theotimus and Zenobius. They were martyred in Tripoli, Libya.
Thought for the Day – 23 December – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
A Christmas Novena VIII What Jesus Wants From Us
“Let us contemplate Jesus lying on a rough pallet of straw in the manger. When we see Him looking at us, let us ask ourselves what it is that He requires of us. In fact, He wants many things from us. First of all, He wants us to weep for our sins and to promise, never to fall again, as long as we have the assistance of His grace, for which we should pray continually. For this, He has become man and has entered into the world. For this He will work miracles, preach His doctrine and shed His Precious Blood on the Cross. All this He will do to redeem us from sin and to win Heaven for us.
If we return to the path of sin, we destroy the divine work of redemption, inasfar as it applies to ourselves. We make Christ’s passion, death and resurrection useless in our case. We brush aside the chain of favours with which His love has girdled us – the Gospel, the Sacraments and the Church, our good mother who is always at our side to instruct and direct us, to rescue us from peril and, to distribute to us, the gifts of her divine Founder. When we sin, we commit an act of base ingratitude to Jesus and accomplish our own eternal ruin.
The Infant Jesus longs for us to give our hearts to Him. Since He has given us His own, why should we be unwilling to give ours to Him? Who or what can we love, if we do not love Jesus? Nothing else is capable of giving us peace of soul and resignation in suffering. Jesus alone can bestow these gifts on us, as long as we love and follow Him and abandon ourselves completely to His Holy Will.”
“And so, when God’s birth is proclaimed to you, keep silent. Let Gabriel’s word be held in your mind for nothing is impossible to this glorious Majesty, who humbled Himself for us and was born of our humanity.”
St Ephrem (306-373) Father & Doctor
“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
“He came from Him, from Whom He did not depart, going forth from Him, with Whom He stayed, so that without intermission, He was wholly in eternity, wholly in time, wholly was He found in the Father when wholly in the Virgin, wholly in His own Majesty and in His Father’s, at the time when He was wholly in our humanity. ”
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 – 22 December – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
A Christmas Novena VII Prayer and Dedication
“Let us kneel once more before the crib. Like other newborn infants, Jesus is sometimes asleep and sometimes awake, sometimes crying and sometimes smiling. Often His tiny eyes silently watch Mary and Joseph. Surely, this seems a useless existence for Almighty God. But we know that it is not purposeless. This is the first great lesson which God wishes to give to the proud and corrupt human race. It is the lesson of humility, prayer and total dedication to God.
To outward appearances, Jesus is behaving like any other baby. Internally, however, His soul is hypostatically united to the Eternal Word and dwells in the Presence of the Heavenly Father, Whom He loves with a burning and infinite love. Heart and soul, He offers Himself as a holocaust on behalf of sinful humanity and implores His Heavenly Father, to enlighten minds darkened by error, to strengthen weak human wills and to make all men holy. It may well be said, that already, in the silence and obscurity of the cradle, Jesus has begun to redeem the world, for every one of His human-divine actions has an infinite value. Whether He is awake or asleep, crying or smiling, He offers Himself silently to His Eternal Father as a holocaust of propitiation for our sins.
Let us adore the Divine Infant, therefore and thank Him for the priceless gift of our Redemption, which is already accomplished in the silence and obscurity of the manger. Let us implore the grace to love Him and to imitate Him more closely.
As we kneel before the Infant Jesus, let us beseech Him to enable us to grasp the truth of these reflections. Let us take more care of our soul than we do of our external talents and possessions. May God occupy the foremost place in our minds and may He be the principal object of our thoughts, desires and affections. Let us imitate the humble recollection and ardent love for God of the Holy Infant. Like Him, let us offer ourselves entirely to God. Let us ask Him to make us like Him, in complete acceptance of the Divine Will, especially when we are in trouble or in pain, for in this way, we shall be able to show God how sincerely we love Him.”
Quote of the Day – 22 December – Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Advent, O Rex Gentium/O King of all Nations,
“If you want, the Virgin will come walking down the road pregnant with the Holy and say: “I need shelter for the night. Please take me inside your heart. My time is so close.” Then, under the roof of your soul, you will witness the sublime intimacy, the Divine, the Christ, taking birth forever. As she grasps your hand for help, for each of us is the midwife of God, each of us. Yes, there, under the dome of your being, does creation come into existence eternally– through your womb, dear pilgrim–the sacred womb of your soul! As God grasps our arms for help; for each of us is His beloved servant never far. If you want, the Virgin will come, walking down the street, pregnant with Light and sing!”
St John of the Cross (1542-1591) Mystical Doctor of the Church
One Minute Reflection – 22 December – “Month of the Immaculate Conception” – Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Advent, O Rex Gentium/O King of all Nations, Readings: Samuel 1:24-28; First Samuel 2: 1, 4-8; Luke 1:46-56
The Lord is at hand, come let us adore Him.
O KING OF ALL NATIONS and keystone of the Church come and save man, whom You formed from the dust!
“My spirit rejoices in God my saviour” – Luke 1:47
REFLECTION – “My soul magnifies the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour.”. The first interpretation of these words is undoubtedly to acknowledge the gifts granted to her, to Mary in particular, by God. But then she recalls the universal blessing with which God never ceases to surround the human race.
The soul glorifies the Lord, when it consecrates all its inner powers on praising and serving God and when, by its submission to the divine commands, it proves that it never loses sight of His power and majesty. The spirit rejoices in God, its Saviour, when it places all its joy in the remembrance of its Creator, from Whom it hopes for eternal salvation. Without doubt, these words exactly express the thought of all the Saints but it was most especially fitting they should be spoken by the blessed Mother of God, who, filled with a special privilege, burned with a wholly spiritual love for the One she had the joy of conceiving in her flesh. More than any other Saint she had good reason to rejoice in Jesus – that is to say, in her Saviour – because He Whom she acknowledged to be the Eternal Author of our salvation, would in time, as she knew, be born in His own flesh and with such authenticity, that in one and the same Person her Son and her God, would be truly present…
Hence it is a praiseworthy and salutary custom, whose fragrance perfumes Holy Church, when everyday at Vespers, we sing the Canticle of the Virgin. We may well expect from this, that the souls of the faithful, by so often calling to mind the Lord’s Incarnation, will be enflamed with even greater fervour and that, such a frequent reminder of His Holy Mother’s example, will strengthen them in virtue. And Vespers is the best time to come back to this song, since our souls, tired by the day and drawn this way and that by the day’s thoughts, need to come back together again, when the hour of rest draws near, so that they may find, once more, their singleness of focus.” – St Bede the Venerable (673-735) Monk, Father and Doctor of the Church (Homilies on the Gospel, I, 4 ; CCL 122, 25f)
PRAYER –The Magnificat The Canticle of Mary Luke 1:46-55
My soul glorifies the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God, my Saviour He looks on His servant in her lowliness Henceforth, all ages will call me blessed: The Almighty works marvels for me, holy is His Name! His mercy is from age to age, on those who fear Him. He puts forth His arm in strength and scatters the proud-hearted. He casts the mighty from their thrones and raises the lowly. He fills the starving with good things, sends the rich away empty. He protects Israel, His servant, remembering His mercy, the mercy promised to our fathers, to Abraham and his sons forever. Amen.
Thought for the Day – 21 December – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
A Christmas Novena VI 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 quietly 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)
A Christmas Novena V The Swaddling Clothes of the Divine Infant
“Mary, like other mothers in those days, wrapped the Infant Jesus in swaddling clothes. The Divine Child quietly offered this new humiliation to His heavenly Father. He saw prefigured in these bands, the ropes with which He would be bound in the garden of Gethsemane, even after He had given sinful humanity, His celestial teaching, example and miracles and finally, His own Body inthe Sacrament of the Eucharist. He saw in them too, the chains with which He would be secured to the pillar, in order to be scourged in the Praetorium of Pilate among the jeers and insults of the onlookers. He saw in them, finally, the cords with which, after having been condemned to the ignominious death of the Cross, He would be tied, while being led to the place of execution on Mount Calvary. Filled with infinite love for stricken humanity, the Heart of the Divine Infant offered all this, in advance, to His Father in heaven.
Are we making any effort to return such great love? Like Jesus, we are often obliged to endure, both physical and moral anguish. Have we the resignation to offer it all to Jesus, or do we squander our opportunities in useless complaining or in acts of impatience and rebellion? We shall have to go on suffering anyway but, in the latter case, we may have to suffer even more and shall lose all merit in the sight of God.
Let us kneel down before the Holy Infant wrapped in His swaddling clothes and, let us promise to endure everything for His sake and in reparation for our sins.”
Thought for the Day – 19 December – Meditations withAntonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
A Christmas Novena IV The First Hours of the Childhood of Jesus Christ
“Enter in spirit into the stable at Bethlehem and humbly kneel before the Word of God made man. What do we find Jesus doing in these first moments of His mortal life. By a single act of His divine will, He could have instantly transformed the human race. But, He came to redeem men and preach to them before anything else, the virtues which they most needed – humility, indifference to worldly possessions and the acceptance of suffering. He taught them to endure suffering, neither rebelliously, nor even as a disagreeable necessity but, as a means of purification and sanctification. Before the time of Jesus Christ, suffering was dreaded and abhorred. He taught us to love it because it is the salt of the earth which saves us from corruption because, it detaches us from worldly things and because, it lifts our thoughts towards Heaven.
What then do we find Jesus doing in these first moments of His mortal life|? He is weeping and smiling by turns, as a newborn infant does. How can we understand the mystery behind these divine tears? Jesus does not weep because it is cold and damp, nor because He is uncomfortable on His bed of straw. He could have remedied these inconveniences, if He had so desired by a single act of His will. No, He weeps for us, for the human race, immersed in sin. He weeps and suffers, so that we also may learn to weep and suffer for our sins and to do penance for them. This is the explanation of the tears of the Divine Child. Let us learn to weep with Him and we shall be purified and comforted.”
Thought for the Day – 18 December – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
A Christmas NovenaIII 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 cradle for the Baby Jesus, they place Him upon some straw in a manger and cover Him with a rough linen cloth. 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?”
One Minute Reflection – 17 December – O Wisdom … O Sapientia … – Friday of the Third Week of Advent, Readings: Genesis 49: 2, 8-10; Psalm 72: 1-4, 7-8, 17; Matthew 1: 1-17
O Wisdom O Sapientia
O Sapientia, quae ex ore Altissimi prodiisti, attingens a fine usque ad finem, fortiter suaviterque disponens omnia- veni ad docendum nos viam prudentiae.
O Wisdom, coming forth from the Mouth of the Most High, reaching from one end to the other, mightily and sweetly ordering all things- Come and teach us the way of prudence.
The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. … Matthew 1:1
REFLECTION – “The Incarnation of the Word only contributed to the doing of those things that were done and the mystery of humankind’s salvation was never, even in the remotest age, at a standstill. What the propehts foretold, the apostles announced, nor were those things fulfilled too late, which had always been believed. But the wisdom and goodness of God, made us all the more receptive of His call … as the foretelling of it had been ancient and oft-repeated.
And so it was no new counsel, no tardy pity, whereby God took thought for us but from the foundation of the world, He ordained one and the same cause of Salvation for all. For the grace of God, by which the whole body of the saints is continually made righteous, was increased, not initiated, when Christ was born. And this mystery of God’s great love, with which the whole world is now filled, was so effectively pre-signified, that those who believed the promise, obtained no less, than those who were the actual recipients.
And so, dearly beloved, since that loving-kindness is now manifest with which all the wealth of divine goodness has been showered on us, Whose call to eternal life has been promoted, not only by the supportive example of those who went before us but, by the visible and bodily appearance of Truth itself, we are bound to keep the day of our Lord’s Nativity with a joy beyond this world… By the illumination of the Holy Spirit consider who it was who received us into Himself and Whom we have received, since as the Lord Jesus became our flesh by being born, so we also became His Body by being re-born… For God suggested to us the standard of His own gentleness and humility… Let us imitate His humility, then, to whose glory we would wish to be conformed. 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 (3rd sermon on the Feast of the Nativity, 4-5).
PRAYER – Collect: O God, Creator and Redeemer of human nature, Who willed that Your Word should take flesh in an ever-virgin womb, look with favour on our prayers, that Your only Begotten Son, having taken to Himself our humanity, may be pleased to grant us a share in his divinity. Who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel Shall come to thee, O Israel
Thought for the Day – 16 December – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
A Christmas Novena 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 – 12 December – “Gaudete Sunday” – Readings: Zephaniah 3: 14-18; Psalm Isaiah 12: 2-6; Philippians 4: 4-7; Luke 3: 10-18
“Gaudete in Domino semper”
“Rejoice in the Lord always”
“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 the soul, to purify like by Like.”
St Gregory of Nazianzen (330-390) Father and Doctor of the Church
“Awake, you who lie in the dust, awake and give praise. Behold, the Lord comes with salvation. He comes with salvation, He comes with unction, He comes with glory. Jesus cannot come without salvation, Christ cannot come without unction, nor the Son of God without glory. For He Himself is salvation, He is unction, He is glory, as it is written, ‘A wise son is the glory of his father.‘”
St Bernard (1090-1153) MellifluousDoctor of the Church
Quote/s of the Day – 5 December – The Second Sunday of Advent – Readings: Baruch 5: 1-9; Psalm 126: 1-6; Philippians 1: 4-6, 8-11; Luke 3: 1-6
“Prepare the way of the Lord make his paths straight” …
“There is still time for endurance, time for patience, time for healing, time for change. Have you slipped? Rise up! Have you sinned? Cease! Do not stand among sinners but leap aside!”
St Basil the Great (329-379) Father and Doctor of the Church
“Open wide your door to the One who comes. Open your soul, throw open the depths of your heart to see the riches of simplicity, the treasures of peace, the sweetness of grace. Open your heart and run to meet the Sun of eternal Light that illuminates all men.”
St Ambrose (340-397) Father and Doctor of the Church
“If we wish to make any progress in the service of God, we must begin everyday of our life, with new eagerness. We must keep ourselves, in the presence of God, as much as possible and have no other view or end, in all our actions but the divine honour.”
St Charles Borromeo (1538-1584)
“Come, O come, for without You there will be no happy day or hour because You are my happiness and without You my table is empty. I am wretched, as it were imprisoned and weighted down with fetters, until You fill me with the Light of Your Presence, restore me to liberty and show me a friendly countenance.”
Our Morning Offering – 5 December – The Second Sunday of Advent
A Great and Mighty Wonder By St Germanus (c 640-c 733)
A great and mighty wonder, a glorious mystery, a Virgin bears an Infant who veils His Deity. Refrain: Proclaim the Saviour’s birth, “To God on high be glory and peace to all the earth!” The Word becomes incarnate and yet remains on high, and Cherubim sing anthems to shepherds from the sky. … [Refrain] While thus they sing your monarch, those bright angelic bands, rejoice, O vales and mountains and oceans, clap your hands. [Refrain] Since all, He comes to ransom, by all, be He adored, the Infant born in Bethl’em, the Saviour and the Lord. [Refrain] All idols then shall perish and Satan’s lying cease, and Christ shall raise his sceptre, decreeing endless peace. [Refrain]
St Germanus was one of the Greek hymnwriters and one of the grandest among the defenders of the Icons. He was born at Constantinople of a patrician family, was ordained there and became subsequently Bishop of Cyzicus. He was present at the Synod of Constantinople in 712, which restored the Monothelite heresy but in after years he condemned it. He was made Archbishop of Constantinople in 715. In 730 he was driven from the See, not without blows, for refusing to yield to the Iconoclastic Emperor Leo the Isaurian. He died shortly afterwards in exile at a good old age. His Life below: https://anastpaul.com/2021/05/12/saint-of-the-day-12-may-saint-germanus-of-constantinople-c-640-733/
Our Morning Offering – 1 December – Wednesday of the First Week of Adven
Awaiting Baby Jesus Traditional Catholic Advent Prayer
My heart is beating, filled with joy, awaiting Mary’s baby boy. For with this child, we embrace the birth of God’s most precious grace. Baby Jesus, soon to come! For us comes the Promised One. Baby Jesus, God’s own Son, you will be the Chosen One to lead our flock into salvation. Our eternal life awaits. The birth of Jesus brings us nearer Heaven’s holy gates. Sing with joy and count the days, for soon to come, the Lord we’ll praise. Rejoice that Jesus will soon arrive, the Messiah and our faith alive. Amen
Thought for the Day – 5 October – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
“Month of the Holy Rosary” The Third Joyful Mystery The Birth of Jesus
“Like the simple shepherds, let us protrate ourselves with faith and with love before the Manger. Let us offer, as our gifts, our good resolutions; let us offer our hearts and ask God to change them and make them entirely His forever.
Quite suddenly, the darkness of the night and the wretchedness of the cave was illuminated by a bright light from Heaven. While men were unaware of, or indifferent to, the miraculous event which had taken place, bands of Angels descended from Heaven and sang: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth, peace among men of goodwill” (Lk 2:13-14). Joseph bent over the divine Infant and silently adored Him, while the Blessed Virgin knelt at His Feet in loving contemplation.
Let us too, learn to adore and love Him, as His Mother and Foster-Father did.”
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.