Quote/s of the Day – 25 December – A Child My Choice

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.

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)

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!


Saint of the Day – 25 December – Blessed Jacopone da Todi OFM (1230-1306)

Saint of the Day – 25 December – Blessed Jacopone da Todi OFM (1230-1306) Franciscan Friar, Confessor, Hymnist, Poet, Mystic, Lawyer, – an Italian from Umbria in the 13th century. He wrote several laude (songs in praise of the Lord) in the local vernacular. He was an early pioneer in Italian theatre, being one of the earliest scholars who dramatised Gospel subjects. Born in c 1230 at Todi, Italy as Jacopo Benedetti and died on 25 December 1306 at Collazzone, Italy of natural causes, as the Priest intoned the Gloria from midnight Mass. He is also known as Jacomo da Todi, Jacopo Benedetti, Jacopo Benedicti, Jacopone Benedetti da Todi, Jacopone of Todi, James da Todi.

Jacomo, was born a noble member of the Benedetti family in the northern Italian city of Todi. He became a successful lawyer and married a pious, generous lady named Vanna.

His young wife took it upon herself to do penance for the worldly excesses of her husband. One day Vanna, at the insistence of Jacomo, attended a public tournament. She was sitting in the stands with the other noble ladies when the stands collapsed. Vanna was killed. Her shaken husband was even more disturbed when he realised that the penitential girdle she wore was for his sinfulness. On the spot, he vowed to radically change his life.

Jacomo divided his possessions among the poor and entered the Secular Franciscan Order. Often dressed in penitential rags, he was mocked as a fool and called Jacopone, or “Crazy Jim,” by his former associates. The name became dear to him.

After 10 years of such humiliation, Jacopone asked to be received into the Order of Friars Minor. Because of his reputation, his request was initially refused. He composed a beautiful poem on the vanities of the world, an act that eventually led to his admission into the Order in 1278. He continued to lead a life of strict penance, declining to be ordained a priest. Meanwhile, he was writing popular hymns in the vernacular.

Jacopone suddenly found himself a leader in a disturbing religious movement among the Franciscans. The Spirituals, as they were called, wanted a return to the strict poverty of Francis. They had on their side two cardinals of the Church and Pope Celestine V. These two cardinals though, opposed Celestine’s successor, Boniface VIII. At the age of 68, Jacopone was excommunicated and imprisoned. Although he acknowledged his mistake, Jacopone was not absolved and released until Benedict XI became Pope five years later. He had accepted his imprisonment as penance. He spent the final three years of his life more spiritual than ever, weeping “because Love is not loved.” During this time he wrote the famous Latin hymn, Stabat Mater.

On Christmas Eve in 1306 Jacopone felt that his end was near. He was in a convent of the Poor Clares with his friend, Blessed John of La Verna. Like Francis, Jacopone welcomed “Sister Death” with one of his favorite songs. It is said that he finished the song and died as the Priest intoned the “Gloria” from the midnight Mass at Christmas. From the time of his death, Brother Jacopone has been venerated as a saint, both within and outside of the Franciscan Order, although never formally Canonised.

Here lie the bones of Blessed Jacopone dei Benedetti da Todi, Friar Minor, who, having gone mad with love of Christ, by a new artifice deceived the world and took Heaven by violence. – from the tomb of Blessed Jacopone

Stabat Mater Dolorosa is a fine example of religious lyric in the Franciscan tradition. It was inserted into the Roman Missal and Breviary in 1727 for the Feast of the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary, celebrated on the Friday before Good Friday. Following changes by Pope Pius XII, it now appears on the Feast of Our Lady’s Sorrows celebrated on 15 September. Many composers have set it to music

His contemporaries called Jacopone, “Crazy Jim.” We might well echo their taunt, for what else can you say about a man who broke into song in the midst of all his troubles? We still sing Jacopone’s saddest song, the Stabat Mater, but we Christians claim another song as our own, even when the daily headlines resound with discordant notes. Jacopone’s whole life rang out our song: “Alleluia!” May he inspire us to keep singing.


The Solemnity of the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ

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.