Saint of the Day – 6 May – St John the Evangelist before the Latin Gate. St John the Apostle and Evangelist – “The Disciple whom Jesus Loved” – (died c 101).
The Roman Martyrology States of this feast today: “At Rome, the feast of St John before the Latin Gate. Being bound and brought to Rome fro Ephesus by the order of Domisian, he was condemned by the Senate to be cast, near the said gate, into a vessel of boiling oil, from which he came out more healthy nd vigorous than before.”
“The seething oil was changed for him into an invigorating bath and the Saint came out more refreshed than when he had entered the cauldron.”
Abbot Dom Prosper Gueranger (1805-1875) relates the story for us.
“The Beloved Disciple John, whom we saw standing near the crib of the Babe of Bethlehem, comes before us again today and this time, he is paying his delighted homage to the glorious Conqueror of death and hell. Like Philip and James, he too is clad in the scarlet robe of martyrdom. The month of May, so rich in saints, was to be graced with the Palm of St John.
Salome one day presented her two sons to Jesus,and, with a mother’s ambition, had asked Him to grant them the highest places in His kingdom. The Saviour, in His reply, spoke of the Chalice which He Himself had to drink,and foretold ,that these two Disciples would also drink of it. The elder, James the Greater, was the first to give His Master this proof of his love; we shall celebrate his victory when the sun is in Leo; it was today that John, the younger Brother, offered his life in testimony of Jesus’ Divinity.
But the Martyrdom of such an Apostle, called for a scene worthy of the event. Asia Minor, which his zeal had evangelised, was not a sufficiently glorious land for such a combat. Rome, whither Peter had transferred his Chair and where he died on his cross and where Paul had bowed down his venerable head beneath the sword, Rome alone deserved the honour of seeing the Beloved Disciple march onto Martyrdom, with that dignity and sweetness which are the characteristics of this veteran of the Apostolic College.
Domitian was then Emperor, the tyrant over Rome and the world. Whether it were that John undertook this journey of his own free choice and from a wish to visit the Mother-Church, or .that he was led thither bound with chains, in obedience to an imperial edict, John, the august founder of the Seven Churches of Asia Minor, appeared before the Tribunal of pagan Rome. He was convicted of having propagated, in a vast province of the Empire, the worship of a Jew that had been Crucified under Pontius Pilate. He was a superstitious and rebellious man and it was time to rid Asia of his presence. He was, therefore, sentenced to an ignominious and cruel death. He had somehow escaped Nero’s power but he should not elude the vengeance of Caesar Domitian!
A huge cauldron of boiling oil was prepared in front of the Latin Gate. The sentence ordered that the preacher of Christ be plunged into this bath. The hour was come for the second son of Salome ,to partake of his Master’s Chalice. John’s heart leaped with joy, at the thought that he, the most dear to Jesus and yet, the only Apostle that had not suffered death for Him, was, at last, permitted to give Him this earnest of his love.
After cruelly scourging him, the executioners seize dthe old man and threw him into the cauldron but, lo! the boiling liquid had lost all its heat, the Apostle felt no scalding, on the contrary,, when they took him out again, he felt all the vigour of his youthful years restored to him. The Praetor’s cruelty was foiled,and John, the Martyr in desire, was to be left to the Church for some few years longer.
An imperial decree banished him to the rugged Isle of Patmos, where God revealed to him, the future of the Church, even to the end of time.
The Church of Rome, which counts the abode and Martyrdom of St John as one of her most glorious memories, has marked, with a Basilica, the spot where the Apostle bore his noble testimony to the Christian Faith. This Basilica stands near the Latin Gate and gives a title to one of the Cardinals.”
O singular happiness of St John to have stood under the Cross of Christ, so near His divine person, when the other disciples had all forsaken Him! O extraordinary privilege, to have suffered Martyrdom in the person of Jesus and been eye-witness of all He did or endured and of all that happened to Him, in that great sacrifice and mystery. Here he drank of his cup; this was truly a Martyrdom and our Saviour exempted all those who had assisted at the Martyrdom of His Cross, from suffering death by the hands of persecutors. St John, nevertheless, received also the crown of this second Martyrdom, to which the sacrifice of his will, was not wanting but only the execution.
Saint of the Day – 27 December – St John the Apostle and Evangelist.
The days following Christmas are full of symbolic meaning, as on 26 December we honour the first Martyr, St Stephen, who shed his blood for Jesus. 27 December, honours St John the Evangelist, the Disciple of Jesus who wrote the Gospel of John and the book of Revelation. Interestingly enough, he is the only Gospel writer to omit a narrative of Jesus’ birth. Based on this fact alone, it seems strange to include him during the Octave of Christmas. What is the Church’s reason behind this choice? Servant of God, Dom Prosper Guéranger in his Liturgical Year, points to St John’s pure chastity and his focus on the Divinity of Christ, as the reasons why he is honoured now at the Crib of Christ.
Dom Prosper Guéranger OSB (1805-1875)
The Disciple Whom Jesus Loved, the Eagle
“Nearest to Jesus’ Crib, after Stephen, stands John, the Apostle and Evangelist. It was only right, that the first place should be assigned to him, who so loved his God, that he shed his blood in his service; for, as this God Himself declares, greater love than this hath no man, that he lay down his life for his friends [1 John, 15:13] and Martyrdom has ever been counted, by the Church, as the greatest act of love and as having, consequently, the power of remitting sins, like a second Baptism. But, next to the sacrifice of Blood, the noblest, the bravest and, which most wins the heart of Him, who is the Spouse of souls, is the sacrifice of Virginity. Now, just as St Stephen is looked upon as the type of Martyrs, St John is honoured as the Prince of Virgins. Martyrdom won for Stephen the Crown and palm; Virginity merited for John most singular prerogatives, which, while they show how dear to God, is holy Chastity, put this Disciple among those, who, by their dignity and influence, are above the rest of men.
St. John was of the family of David, as was our Blessed Lady. He was, consequently, a relation of Jesus. This same honour belonged to St James the Greater, his Brother; as also to St James the Less and St Jude, both Sons of Alpheus. When our Saint was in the prime of his youth, he left, not only his boat and nets, not only has lather Zebedee but, even his betrothed, when everything was prepared for the marriage. He followed Jesus and never once looked back. Hence, the special love which our Lord bore him. Others were Disciples or Apostles, John was the Friend, of Jesus. The cause of this our Lord’s partiality, was, as the Church tells us in the Liturgy, that John had offered his Virginity to the Man-God. Let us, on this his Feast, enumerate the graces and privileges that came to St John from his being The Disciple whom Jesus loved.
This very expression of the Gospel, which the Evangelist repeats several times — The Disciple whom Jesus loved [John, 13:23, 19:26, 21:7, 21:20] — says more than any commentary could do. St Peter, it is true, was chosen by our Divine Lord, to be the Head of the Apostolic College and the Rock whereon the Church was to be built – he, then, was honoured most but St John was loved most. Peter was bid to love more than the rest loved and he was able to say, in answer to Jesus’ thrice repeated question, that he did love Him in this highest way and yet, notwithstanding, John was more loved by Jesus than was Peter himself, because his Virginity deserved this special mark of honour.
Chastity of soul and body brings him, who possesses i,t into a sacred nearness and intimacy with God. Hence it was, that at the Last Supper – that Supper, which was to be renewed on our Altars, to the end of the world, in order to cure our spiritual infirmities and give life to our souls – John was placed near to Jesus, nay, was permitted, as the tenderly loved Disciple, to lean his head upon the Breast of the Man-God. Then it was, that he was filled and from their very Fountain, with Light and Love, it was both a recompense and a favour and became the source of two signal graces, which make St John an object of special reverence to the whole Church.
Divine wisdom, wishing to make known to the world, the Mystery of the Word and commit to Scripture, those profound secrets, which, so far, no pen of mortal had been permitted to write — the task was put upon John. Peter had been crucified, Paul had been beheaded and the rest of the Apostles had laid down their lives in testimony of the Truths they had been sent to preach to the world; John was the only one left in the Church. Heresy had already begun its blasphemies against the Apostolic Teachings; it refused to admit the Incarnate Word as the Son of God, Consubstantial to the Father. John was asked by the Churches to speak and he did so in language heavenly above measure. His Divine Master had reserved to this, his Virgin-Disciple, the honour of writing those sublime Mysteries, which the other Apostles had been commissioned only to teach — THE WORD WAS GOD, and this WORD WAS MADE FLESH for the salvation of mankind.
Thus did our Evangelist soar, like the Eagle, up to the Divine Sun and gaze upon Him with undazzled eye, because his heart and senses were pure and, therefore, fitted for such vision of the uncreated Light. If Moses, after having conversed with God in the cloud, came from the divine interview with rays of miraculous light encircling his head – how radiant must have been the face of St John, which had rested on the very Heart of Jesus, in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge! [Col. 2:3] how sublime his writings! how divine his teaching! Hence, the symbol of the Eagle, shown to the Prophet Ezechiel, [Ezechiel 1:10, 10:14] and to St John himself in his Revelations, [Apoc. 4:7] has been assigned to him by the Church and, to this title of The Eagle has been added, by universal tradition, the other beautiful name of Theologian. This was the first recompense given by Jesus to his Beloved John, a profound penetration into divine Mysteries. The second was the imparting to him a most ardent charity, which was equally a grace consequent upon his angelic purity, for purity unburdens the soul from grovelling egotistic affections and raises it to a chaste and generous love. John had treasured up in his heart the Discourses of his Master, he made them known to the Church and, especially, that divine one of the Last Supper, wherein Jesus had poured forth His whole Soul to His own, whom he had always tenderly loved but most so, at the end [John, 13:1]. He wrote his Epistles and Charity is his subject – God is Charity — he that loveth not, knoweth not God — perfect Charity casteth out fear — and so on throughout, always on Love. During the rest of his life, even when so enfeebled by old age as not to be able to walk, he was forever insisting upon all men loving each other, after the example of God, who had loved them and so loved them! Thus, he that had announced more clearly than the rest of the Apostles the divinity of the Incarnate Word, was by excellence, the Apostle of that divine Charity, which Jesus came to enkindle upon the earth.
But, our Lord had a further gift to bestow and it was sweetly appropriate to the Virgin-Disciple. When dying on His cross, Jesus left Mary upon this earth. Joseph had been dead now some years. Who, then, shall watch over His Mother? who is there worthy of the charge? Will Jesus send His Angels to protect and console her? — for, surely, what man could ever merit to be to her as a second Joseph? Looking down, he sees the Virgin-Disciple standing at the foot of the Cross – we know the rest, John is to be Mary’s Son — Mary is to be John’s Mother. Oh! wonderful Chastity, that wins from Jesus such an inheritance as this! Peter, says St Peter Damian, shall have left to him the Church, the Mother of men; but John, shall receive Mary, the Mother of God, whom he will love as his own dearest Treasure and to whom, he will stand in Jesus’ stead; whilst Mary will tenderly love John, her Jesus’ Friend, as her Son.
Can we be surprised after this, that St John is looked upon by the Church as one of her greatest glories? He is a Relative of Jesus in the flesh; he is an Apostle, a Virgin, the Friend of the Divine Spouse, the Eagle, the Theologian, the Son of Mary; he is an Evangelist, by the history he has given of the Life of his Divine Master and Friend; he is a Sacred Writer, by the three Epistles he wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost; he is a Prophet, by his mysterious Apocalypse, wherein are treasured the secrets of time and eternity. But, is he a Martyr? Yes, for if he did not complete his sacrifice, he drank the Chalice of Jesus [Matt. 20:22], when, after being cruelly scourged, he was thrown into a caldron of boiling oil, before the Latin Gate, at Rome. He was, therefore, a Martyr in desire and intention, though not in fact. If our Lord, wishing to prolong a life so dear to the Church, as well as to show how he loves and honours Virginity, — miraculously stayed the effects of the frightful punishment, St John had, on his part, unreservedly accepted Martyrdom.
Such is the companion of Stephen at the Crib, wherein lies our Infant Jesus. If the Protomartyr dazzles us with the robes he wears of the bright scarlet of his own blood — is not the virginal whiteness of John’s vestment fairer than the untrod snow? The spotless beauty of the Lilies of Mary’s adopted Son and the bright vermilion of Stephen’s Roses — what is there more lovely than their union? Glory, then, be to our New-Born King, whose court is tapestried with such heaven-made colours as these! Yes, Bethlehem’s Stable is a very heaven on earth and we have seen its transformation. First, we saw Mary and Joseph alone there — they were adoring Jesus in his Crib; then, immediately, there descended a heavenly host of Angels singing the wonderful Hymn; the Shepherds soon followed, the humble simple-hearted Shepherds; after these, entered Stephen the Crowned and John the Beloved Disciple; and, even before there enters the pageant of the devout Magi, we shall have others coming in and there will be, each day, grander glory in the Cave and gladder joy in our hearts. Oh! this Birth of our Jesus! Humble as it seems, yet, how divine! What King or Emperor ever received, in his gilded cradle, honours like these shown to the Babe of Bethlehem? Let us unite our homage with that given him by these the favoured inmates of his court. Yesterday, the sight of the Palm in Stephen’s hand animated us and we offered to our Jesus the promise of a stronger Faith: to-day, the Wreath, that decks the brow of the Beloved Disciple, breathes upon the Church the heavenly fragrance of Virginity — an intenser love of Purity must be our resolution and our tribute to the Lamb.
Saint of the Day – 6 December – St Nicholas (270-343) Also known as – • Nicholas of Bari• Nicholas of Lpnenskij • Nicholas of Lipno • Nicholas of Sarajskij • Nicholas the Miracle Worker • Klaus, Mikulas, Nikolai, Nicolaas, Nicolas, Niklaas, Niklas. Nikolaus, Santa Claus. Priest, Abbot, Bishop, Miracle-Worker, Apostle of Charity, Confessor.
Patronages -• against fire • against imprisonment • against robberies • against robbers • against storms at sea • against sterility • against thefts • altar servers • archers • boys • brides • captives • children • choir boys • happy marriages • lawsuits lost unjustly • lovers • maidens • penitent murderers • newlyweds • paupers • pilgrims • poor people • prisoners • scholars • schoolchildren, students • penitent thieves • spinsters • travellers • unmarried girls • apothecaries • bakers • bankers • barrel makers • boatmen • boot blacks • brewers • butchers • button makers • candle makers • chair makers • cloth shearers • coopers • dock workers • druggists • educators • farm workers, farmers • firefighters • fish mongers • fishermen • grain merchants • grocers • grooms • hoteliers • innkeepers • judges • lace merchants • lawyers • linen merchants • longshoremen • mariners • merchants • millers • notaries • parish clerks • pawnbrokers • perfumeries • perfumers • pharmacists • poets • ribbon weavers • sailors • ship owners • shoe shiners • soldiers • spice merchants • spinners • stone masons • tape weavers • teachers • toy makers • vintners • watermen • weavers • Greek Catholic Church in America • Greek Catholic Union • Varangian Guard • Germany • Greece • Russia • 3 dioceses • 78 cities.
Attributes – • anchor • bishop calming a storm • bishop holding three bags of gold • bishop holding three balls • bishop with three children • bishop with three children in a tub at his feet • purse • ship • three bags of gold • three balls • three golden balls on a book • boy in a boat. Saint Nicholas’ reputation evolved among the faithful, as was common for early Christian saints and his legendary habit of secret gift-giving gave rise to the traditional model of Santa Claus through Sinterklaas. St Nicholas was generous to the poor and special protector of the innocent and wronged. Many stories grew up around him prior to his becoming associated with Santa Claus.
Some examples of the Miracles of St Nicholas and the reasons for various Patronages:
• Upon hearing that a local man had fallen on such hard times that he was planning to sell his daughters into prostitution, Nicholas went by night to the house and threw three bags of gold in through the window, saving the girls from an evil life. These three bags, gold generously given in time of trouble, became the three golden balls that indicate a pawn broker’s shop.
• He raised to life three young boys who had been murdered and pickled in a barrel of brine to hide the crime. These stories led to his patronage of children in general and of barrel-makers besides.
• Induced some thieves to return their plunder. This explains his protection against theft and robbery and his patronage of them – he’s not helping them steal but to repent and change. In the past, thieves have been known as Saint Nicholas’ clerks or Knights of Saint Nicholas.
• During a voyage to the Holy Lands, a fierce storm blew up, threatening the ship. He prayed about it and the storm calmed – hence the patronage of sailors and those like dockworkers who work on the sea.
St Nicholas died in 346 at Myra, Lycia (in modern Turkey) of natural causes and his relics are believed to be at Bari, Italy.
Here is the story of St Nicholas by Prosper Dom Gueranger:
Nicholas was born in the celebrated city of Patara, in the province of Lycia. His birth was the fruit of his parents’ prayers. Evidences of his great future holiness were given from his very cradle. For when he was an infant, he would only take his food once on Wednesdays and Fridays and then not till evening but on all other days he frequently took the breast: he kept up this custom of fasting during the rest of his life.
Having lost his parents when he was a boy, he gave all his goods to the poor. Of his Christian kindheartedness there is the following noble example. One of his fellow-citizens had three daughters but being too poor to obtain them an honourable marriage, he was minded to abandon them to a life of prostitution. Nicholas having learned of the case, went to the house during the night and threw in by the window a sum of money sufficient for the dower of one of the daughters; he did the same a second and a third time and thus the three were married to respectable men.
Having given himself wholly to the service of God, he set out for Palestine, that he might visit and venerate the holy places. During this pilgrimage, which he made by sea, he foretold to the mariners, on embarking, though the heavens were then serene and the sea tranquil, that they would be overtaken by a frightful storm. In a very short time, the storm arose. All were in the most imminent danger, when he quelled it by his prayers.
His pilgrimage ended, he returned home, giving to all men example of the greatest sanctity. He went, by an inspiration from God, to Myra, the Metropolis of Lycia,which had just lost its Bishop by death and the Bishops of the province had come together for the purpose of electing a successor. Whilst they were holding council for the election, they were told by a revelation from heaven, that they should choose him who, on the morrow, should be the first to enter the church, his name being Nicholas. Accordingly, the requisite observations were made, when they found Nicholas to be waiting at the church door: they took him and, to the incredible delight of all, made him the Bishop of Myra.
During his episcopate, he never flagged in the virtues looked for in a bishop; chastity, which indeed he had always preserved, gravity, assiduity in prayer, watchings, abstinence, generosity and hospitality, meekness in exhortation, severity in reproving. He befriended widows and orphans by money, by advice and by every service in his power. So zealous a defender was he of all who suffered oppression, that, on one occasion, three Tribunes having been condemned by the Emperor Constantine, who had been deceived by calumny and having heard of the miracles wrought by Nicholas, they recommended themselves to his prayers, though he was living at a very great distance from that place: the saint appeared to Constantine and angrily looking upon him, obtained from the terrified Emperor their deliverance.
Having, contrary to the edict of Dioclesian and Maximian, preached in Myra the truth of the Christian faith, he was taken up by the servants of the two Emperors. He was taken off to a great distance and thrown into prison, where he remained until Constantine, having become Emperor, ordered his rescue and the Saint returned to Myra. Shortly afterwards, he repaired to the Council which was being held at Nicaea: there he took part with the three hundred and eighteen Fathers in condemning the Arian heresy (Tradition has it that he became so angry with the heretic Arius during the Council that he struck him in the face).
Scarcely had he returned to his See than he was taken with the sickness of which he soon died. Looking up to heaven and seeing Angels coming to meet him, he began the Psalm, In thee, O Lord, have I hoped and having come to those words, Into your hands I commend my spirit, his soul took its flight to the heavenly country. His body, having been translated to Bari in Apulia, is the object of universal veneration.
For St Nicholas traditional cookies see here: https://anastpaul.wordpress.com/2016/12/06/st-nicholas-6-december/