Thursday, December 31, 2015
It is known that his father was a Roman by name of Rufinus. He succeeded Pope Miltiades in 314 and reigned for twenty-one years.
With Emperor Constantine’s Edict of Milan in 313, Christianity was finally granted freedom. Legend has it, that having contracted leprosy, Emperor Constantine was healed after receiving baptism at the hand of St. Sylvester, and that afterwards, he made many gifts to the Church.
In any case, with the Edict of Milan, things certainly became easier for the Church. It was during the reign of St. Sylvester that several great basilicas were built by Constantine: The Lateran, Santa Croce, St. Peter in the Vatican, and several cemetery churches over the graves of the martyrs. No doubt, St. Sylvester was involved in the construction of these churches.
St. Sylvester also contributed to the development of the Roman liturgy, and it was during his reign that the first martyrology was drawn up. Sylvester also established a Roman school of singing, and built a church over the Catacomb of St. Priscilla.
Pope Sylvester took part in the Council of Nicaea at which the heresy of Arianism was condemned. He also sent legates to the First Ecumenical Council.
St. Sylvester died possibly on December 31 or was buried on that day of the year 335. At first buried in the church of St. Priscilla, his relics now rest in the church of English Catholics in Rome.
Wednesday, December 30, 2015
Devoted to God since his youth, he succeeded to the see of Worcester in 662. Though a good bishop, protector of orphans and widows, and a fair judge, he incurred the animosity of people who resisted his insistent teaching on marital morality and clerical celibacy.
The resentment of some found its way to his ecclesiastical superiors, and Egwin undertook a pilgrimage to Rome to place his case before the Pope. One account relates that on crossing the Alps with a few companions, there was no water. Parched, those who did not appreciate his sanctity, mockingly suggested that he ask for water, like Moses. But others, who knew him well, reverently beseeched him to, indeed, pray for water. As Egwin prostrated himself in prayer, a stream of crystalline water issued forth from a rock.
On his return to England, Egwin founded the famous abbey of Evesham under the patronage of Mary Most Holy.
Around 709, he again journeyed to Rome, this time in the company of Kings Cenred of Mercia, and Offa of the East Saxons, and received many privileges for his monastery from Pope Constantine. In the tenth century Evesham became one of the great Benedictine abbeys of Medieval England.
St. Egwin died on December 30, 717 and was buried at the monastery he had founded.
Tuesday, December 29, 2015
1. Be honest. Know yourself. What is your strongest virtue? What is your worst vice? Therefore, tailor your resolution so it strengthens your good side and fights your bad one. A one-size fits all resolution is useless.
2. Be specific. Don't use generalities. They don't work. For example, if you need to be more humble, just saying "I am going to be more humble," is useless. You need to zero in on one situation where you need to practice humility and resolve to improve in that one situation.
3. Be simple. Don't make it complicated. Focus on something you can see and measure easily and that does not overwhelm you each time you try to obtain it. Otherwise, you will become distracted and your energy will be dispersed and misdirected.
5. Be consistent. It's far better to do something small everyday to improve on that one key point in your soul than to make a big resolution that you cannot keep for more than a week or two. Slow and steady wins the race!
6. Be humble. Recognize that you cannot do any good action which has value in the supernatural order without God's grace and the intercessory help of the Blessed Mother. Beg God's grace through Our Lady's intercession constantly in all your thoughts, desires and actions.
7. Be disinterested. Remember that God wants us to defend His rights and interests, and to share His thoughts and ways. And therefore, to focus on things, happening and events that are very close to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary that are not necessarily linked to our own personal interests.
9. Public expressions of faith. Don't hide your faith. That's just what the devil wants. He knows when you express your faith publicly, others see you and are encouraged to follow your good example. Say grace openly and proudly before meals in a restaurant so people can see. You'll be surprised with the good reactions you will get.
10. Devotion to Our Lady. Have more devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Devotion to the Mother of God is a panacea. Saint Louis de Montfort said that devotion to Holy Mary is the easiest, safest, fastest, most secure, and surest path to Jesus and to our own salvation. If you can do nothing else, resolve to say the Rosary everyday. Saint Louis de Montfort wrote:
Also known as St. Thomas of Canterbury, he was born in London on December 21 about the year 1118. His parents had come from Normandy and settled in England some years previously. His early education at Merton Abbey was followed by further studies in Paris. He initially employed himself in secretarial work, first with Sir Richer de l’Aigle and then with his kinsman, Osbert Huitdeniers, who was “Justiciar” of London. About the year 1141, he entered the service of Theobald, Archbishop of Canterbury, and so won his master’s favor that he became the most trusted of all his clerks.
Theobald recognized his capacity and made use of him in many delicate negotiations. After studying civil and canon law at Bologna and Auxerre, the Archbishop ordained Thomas a deacon in 1154 and bestowed on him several preferments, the most important of which was the Archdeaconry of Canterbury.
When Henry II came to the throne upon the death of King Stephen, he took “Thomas of London”, as Becket was then most commonly called, for his chancellor, and in that office Thomas at the age of thirty-six became one of the most powerful subjects in Henry’s dominions. Although twelve years his junior, the sovereign “had but one heart and one mind” with his chancellor. Both had the prosperity of the kingdom deeply at heart and in many matters they saw eye to eye. The king’s imperial views and love of splendor were quite to the taste of his minister. When Thomas went to France in 1158 to negotiate a marriage treaty, he traveled with such pomp that the people said: “If this be only the chancellor what must be the glory of the king himself?”
Thomas took a leading role in most operations, be they civil or military. Deacon though he was, he unhorsed knights like the best of them and lead the most daring attacks in person. But although, as men then reported, “he put off the archdeacon”, in this and other ways, he was very far from assuming the licentious manners of those around him. No word was ever breathed against his personal purity. Foul conduct or foul speech, lying or unchastity were hateful to him, and on occasion he punished them severely.
Archbishop Theobald died in 1161, and in the course of the next year Henry seems to have decided that it would be good policy to prepare the way for further schemes of reform by securing the advancement of his chancellor to the primacy. From the first Thomas drew back in alarm. “I know your plans for the Church,” he said, “you will assert claims which I, if I were archbishop, must needs oppose.” But Henry would not be denied, and Thomas at the instance of Cardinal Henry of Pisa, who urged it upon him as a service to religion, yielded in spite of his misgivings. He was ordained priest on Saturday in Whit Week and consecrated bishop the next day, Sunday, 3 June, 1162.
A great change took place in the saint’s way of life after his consecration as archbishop. Even as chancellor he had practiced secret austerities, but now in view of the struggle he clearly saw before him he gave himself to fastings and disciplines, hair shirts, protracted vigils, and constant prayers. Before the end of the year 1162 he stripped himself of all signs of the lavish display which he had previously affected. On August 10 he went barefoot to receive the envoy who brought him the pallium from Rome. Contrary to the king’s wish he resigned the chancellorship. Whereupon Henry seems to have required him to surrender certain ecclesiastical preferments which he still retained, notably the archdeaconry, and when this was not done at once showed bitter displeasure. Other misunderstandings soon followed. The archbishop, having, as he believed, the king’s express permission, set about to reclaim alienated estates belonging to his see, a procedure which again gave offence. Still more serious was the open resistance which he made to the king’s proposal that a voluntary offering to the sheriffs should be paid into the royal treasury.The saint’s protest seems to have been successful, but the relations with the king only grew more strained.
Soon after this the great matter of dispute was reached in the resistance made by Thomas to the king’s officials when they attempted to assert jurisdiction over criminous clerks. The saint himself had no wish to be lenient with criminous clerks. It was with him simply a question of principle. St. Thomas seems all along to have suspected Henry of a design to strike at the independence of what the king regarded as a too powerful Church. With this view Henry summoned the bishops at Westminster (1 October, 1163) to sanction certain as yet unspecified articles, one of the known objects of which was to bring clerics guilty of crimes under the jurisdiction of the secular courts. The other bishops, as the demand was still in the vague, showed a willingness to submit, though with the condition “saving our order”, upon which St. Thomas inflexibly insisted. The king’s resentment was thereupon manifested by requiring the archbishop to surrender certain castles he had hitherto retained, and by other acts of unfriendliness. In deference to what he believed to be the pope’s wish, the archbishop in December consented to make some concessions by giving a personal and private undertaking to the king to obey his customs “loyally and in good faith”. But when Henry shortly afterwards at Clarendon sought to draw the saint on to a formal and public acceptance of the “Constitutions of Clarendon”, under which name the sixteen articles, the avitæ consuetudines as finally drafted, have been commonly known, St. Thomas, though at first yielding somewhat to the solicitations of the other bishops, in the end took up an attitude of uncompromising resistance.
Then followed a period of unworthy and vindictive persecution. When opposing a claim made against him by John the Marshal, Thomas upon a frivolous pretext was found guilty of contempt of court. For this he was sentenced to pay £500; other demands for large sums of money followed, and finally, though a complete release of all claims against him as chancellor had been given on his becoming archbishop, he was required to render an account of nearly all the moneys which had passed through his hands in his discharge of the office. Eventually a sum of nearly £30,000 was demanded of him. His fellow bishops summoned by Henry to a council at Northampton, implored him to throw himself unreservedly upon the king’s mercy, but St. Thomas, instead of yielding, solemnly warned them and threatened them. Then, after celebrating Mass, he took his archiepiscopal cross into his own hand and presented himself thus in the royal council chamber. The king demanded that sentence should be passed upon him, but in the confusion and discussion which ensued the saint with uplifted cross made his way through the mob of angry courtiers. He fled away secretly that night (October 13, 1164) sailed in disguise from Sandwich (November 2), and after being cordially welcomed by Louis VII of France, he threw himself at the feet of Pope Alexander III, then at Sens, on November 23. The pope, who had given a cold reception to certain episcopal envoys sent by Henry, welcomed the saint very kindly, and refused to accept his resignation of his see. On November 30, Thomas went to take up his residence at the Cistercian Abbey of Pontigny in Burgundy, though he was compelled to leave this refuge a year later, as Henry, after confiscating the archbishop’s property and banishing all the Becket kinsfolk, threatened to wreak his vengeance on the whole Cistercian Order if they continued to harbor him.
The negotiations between Henry, the pope, and the archbishop dragged on for the next four years without the position being sensibly changed. Although the saint remained firm in his resistance to the principle of the Constitutions of Clarendon, he was willing to make any concessions that could be reasonably asked of him, and on January 6, 1169, when the kings of England and France were in conference at Montmirail, he threw himself at Henry’s feet, but as he still refused to accept the obnoxious customs, Henry repulsed him. At last in 1170 some sort of reconciliation was patched up. The question of the customs was not mentioned and Henry professed himself willing to be guided by the archbishop’s council as to amends due to the See of Canterbury for the recent violation of its rights in the crowning of Henry’s son by the Archbishop of York. On December 1, 1170, St. Thomas had brought with him, as well as over the restoration by the de Broc family of the archbishop’s castle at Saltwood. How far Henry was directly responsible for the tragedy which soon after occurred on December 20 is not quite clear. Four knights who came from France demanded the absolution of the bishops. St. Thomas would not comply. They left for a space, but came back at Vesper time with a band of armed men. To their angry question, “Where is the traitor?” the saint boldly replied, “Here I am, no traitor, but archbishop and priest of God.” They tried to drag him from the church, but were unable, and in the end they slew him where he stood, scattering his brains on the pavement. His faithful companion, Edward Grim, who bore his cross, was wounded in the struggle.
A tremendous reaction of feeling followed this deed of blood. In an extraordinary brief space of time devotion to the martyred archbishop had spread all through Europe. The pope promulgated the bull of canonization, little more than two years after the martyrdom, February 21, 1173. On July 12, 1174, Henry II did public penance, and was scourged at the archbishop’s tomb. An immense number of miracles were worked, and for the rest of the Middle Ages the shrine of St. Thomas of Canterbury was one of the wealthiest and most famous in Europe.
In 1220, St. Thomas Becket’s remains were relocated from this first tomb to a shrine, where it stood until it was destroyed in 1538, by orders of Henry VIII. The king also destroyed St. Thomas Becket’s bones and ordered that all mention of his name be obliterated. The pavement where the shrine stood is today marked by a lit candle.
She is a most pure star by living most purely;
a most radiant star by bringing forth Eternal Light;
a most useful star by directing us to the shores of our true home country.
Monday, December 28, 2015
Did you know that the first church dedicated to the Blessed Mother was built while she still lived?
Becoming the apostle of what today is Spain, Saint James was having a hard time evangelizing the northern region of Zaragoza. One night, as he prayed asking help for his plight, he suddenly beheld a great light in the midst of which he saw Our Lady surrounded by a multitude of angels.
The interesting thing is that Mary was still living in Jerusalem at the time. But as queen of the Church, she was given to see all that concerned her Son’s work, and being shown the prayer of her devotee, had obtained from Jesus to help him in a special way.
On learning of their lady’s wishes, the angels in her retinue promptly built a throne of luminous clouds on which they sat their queen, and swiftly carried her across the Mediterranean, serenading her all the way.
So now, the Blessed Mother consoled her son James, and assured him help for his endeavors. She asked him to build a shrine on the spot she appeared, and as a token of her help to the region, left a marble column or pillar topped by a small statue of herself holding her Infant Son.
By the pillar, she left an angel to ensure the safety of the holy image until the end of time. According to ancient Spanish tradition, this apparition occurred on January 2nd, 40AD. Her Feast day is celebrated on October 12th.
St. James indeed built the first shrine on that hallowed spot, around which grew the present-day Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar of Zaragoza.
Not long after, St. James was recalled to Jerusalem where he was the first apostle to suffer martyrdom. As he prepared to endure death by beheading, Our Lady and her angels again were visibly present to him fortifying and consoling him.
Returned to Spain, St. James’ body rests in Compostela, a place of famous pilgrimages.
This author was able to visit the Basilica of Our Lady of Zaragossa and touch the heavenly pillar. One of the marvels concerning this pillar is that it plunges into the earth, so that none have ever been able to find its end. I was also told that the statue never gathers dust.
As to the angel that was left on guard at the spot, he must be still on watch. As one peruses the architectural marvels of the football-field-sized building, head tilting ever upwards, eyes come to a dead halt at what looks like…bombs…hanging from the ceiling?
On alarmed inquiry, one is told that, O yes, these hit the basilica during Spain’s civil war but never detonated…
But no worries, they are defused now.
By Andrea F. Phillips
as when He came down from His royal throne into the Virgin’s womb.
Day by day He comes to us personally in this lowly form.
Daily He comes down from the bosom of His Father, onto the altar, into
the hands of the priest.
St. Francis of Assisi
Feast of the Holy Innocents
But God Who sees into the hearts of men, warned the three Magi in a dream not to return by way of King Herod. Far from wishing to adore Christ Jesus, the tetrarch wished to destroy Him.
Realizing that he had been found out, Herod raged and ordered all little boys, two years of age and under, to be slaughtered in Bethlehem and its surroundings, hoping thus, to also destroy the Child Jesus.
But warned in time by an angel, St. Joseph had gathered the mother and child and fled to Egypt. Thus was fulfilled the prophecy of the Prophet Jeremiah: “A voice in Rama was heard, lamentation and great mourning, Rachel bewailing her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.” (Matt.2:17-18).
The Church considers those slaughtered babes, the first martyrs, since they shed their blood because of Christ. The Church officially honors their martyrdom on December 28. Several churches in Rome and throughout Europe claim to house their relics.
Sunday, December 27, 2015
an Apostle, a Martyr,
I would fain accomplish
— the spirit of the Crusader burns within me,
and I would gladly die on the battlefield
St. Thérèse of Lisieux
Jesus, Mary, and Joseph
Given their ancestry, Joseph and Mary were a Judean prince and princess.
By a special providence of the Most High, these two holy people were betrothed, though Mary had made a vow of perpetual virginity, which Joseph meant to honor in their marriage. Evidence of their mutual agreement to this effect is the fact that when the Archangel Gabriel appeared to Mary and announced that she was to bear a son, she asked the question foremost in her mind: “How shall this be, since I know not man?” (Luke1:34) – a question, otherwise nonsensical, in a person entering the married state.
Mary’s question was not the result of doubt but of a simple need to understand. And thus, when she was told that the child she was to bear would be Jesus, the Son of the Most High, and that this marvel would occur through the work of the Holy Spirit, she gave her Fiat, “…and the Word was made flesh” (John 1:14).
And Joseph and Mary were married and lawfully constituted a family, in the eyes of God and men. And when Joseph learned of the mystery within Mary, we can imagine him falling to his knees, and adoring the God Child in the world’s first tabernacle.
And as true foster father, he lived to serve the God made man who called him “father”.
In the virtuous, cross-embracing example of the Holy Family, and later by constituting marriage between a man and a woman a Sacrament, God has exalted the Christian Family, giving it the means to be the mainstay of every wholesome society, the “hub” of true culture, and the nest of sanctity.
Saturday, December 26, 2015
St. Stephen Martyr
His election and that of six other men as deacons is related in the Acts of the Apostles: “And they chose Stephen, a man full of faith, and of the Holy Ghost.” (Acts 6:5)
Stephen spoke with such wisdom and fire that his listeners could not resist his words. Thus a plot was begun in certain synagogues against him. At first, they tried to debate with the young deacon but could not withstand his inspired logic. Wanting to silence him by any means, they then conspired to put him to death.
Brought before the Sanhedrim, he delivered a marvelous defense of the New Order established by Christ as the fulfillment of the Old Order (recorded at length in the Acts of the Apostles),and finished with the stinging words: “You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do you also. Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? And they have slain them who foretold of the coming of the Just One; of whom you have been now the betrayers and murderers: Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it.” (Acts 7:51-54)
The whole assembly raged at Stephen, but he, full of the Holy Ghost, looked up and saw our Savior standing at the right hand of God the Father, and exclaimed: “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.” (Acts 7: 55)
At which words those assembled loudly protested, and stopping their ears, fell upon him and seized him. Dragging the deacon outside the city, they stoned him. Standing by, watching, was a man named Saul, and those hurling the stones laid their cloaks at his feet for safe keeping.
As the martyr felt himself dying under the awful blows, he said, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” And falling on his knees he cried out, “Lord, lay not this sin to their charge” (Acts 7:58-59). After which he fell asleep in the Lord.
St. Stephen is the first to have shed his blood for the Name of Christ Jesus.
is my delight; there I can hide myself and seek rest.
There I find a life which I cannot describe, a joy which I cannot make
others comprehend, a peace such as is found only under the
hospitable roof of our best Friend.
St. Ignatius Loyola
Friday, December 25, 2015
In the account of St. Matthew, wise men follow a mysterious star to Bethlehem and lay gifts at the feet of the Divine Child. He also recounts the massacre, ordered by the envious Herod, of all little boys two years old and under, and the flight of the holy family into Egypt to save the Child Jesus. They later settle in Nazareth.
Though there are records of the feast of the Nativity of Jesus being celebrated as early as the third century in Egypt, the celebration of this feast did not spread throughout the Christian world until the middle of the fourth century. It was at first celebrated along with the feast of Epiphany on January 6, the feast of the arrival of the Wise Men or Magi. Little by little, Christmas became its own feast. Many of the early Church Fathers regarded December 25 as the actual date of Christ’s birth.
Historically and traditionally, Christmas is deemed one of the greatest Christian feasts along with the solemn, grateful remembrance of the Lord’s death on Good Friday, and the joyful celebration of His Resurrection on Easter Sunday.
In all Christian countries, Christmas gives rise to a multitude of cultural expressions of colorful, sparkling joy, in remembrance and thanksgiving for this most charming of divine gifts, a God made a babe for our salvation. Countless songs, and ballads through the ages sing of this Gift of gifts, and people, in turn, have recourse to gift giving as a visible overflow of their gratitude and joy – or so it should be.
Our Lord could have ordered the angels to embellish the
Holy Grotto with the most delicate silks, the most aromatic
perfumes, and the most celestial symphonies. He could have
enjoyed every legitimate material delight from the first
moment of His human life.
Instead, He chose the very opposite. His delicate body lay
not on soft silk, but on coarse straw. His crib was a feeding
trough which, however diligently scoured by Our Lady, did not
exude the sweet smells of exquisite perfumes. Born at midnight
in the middle of winter, the Holy Infant trembled in the cold
night air, warmed only by the breath of beasts. His cradle song
was the lowing of cows.
Thus, Our Lord Jesus Christ showed us how foolish it is
to make this world’s delights the end of our lives. To the
contrary, Christ taught us to disdain them for the glory of
God and the good of souls, in the measure that they distract
and even deviate us from our ultimate end — the eternal
delight of unending life with Him.
Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira
In Search of Christmas: He wandered as His mother had in Bethlehem, on a night like this and on the same date so long ago.
Christmas! Christmas! Joy was universal.
Everyone was celebrating. Christ encountered a policeman completely engrossed in directing traffic in a busy plaza. Christ stepped up to him and asked, “What does this Christmas holiday mean?”
The policeman eyed Him suspiciously. “Where do you come from?”
“Bethlehem,” Our Lord repeated.
“Oh? Wherever that is. Anyway, don’t you know that Christmas is a holiday for kids? It’s a holiday for everybody. On Christmas, everybody is somebody’s
“What is the origin of this holiday?”
Our Lord asked.
“Look, you ask too many questions.
Can’t you see I’m very busy? If you want to know more, go ask the chief.”
* * *
Christmas! Christmas! Every store glittered with worldly displays. Really, what was behind it?
Christ paused by a restaurant advertising “Christmas Party—$50.00.” Ladies and gentlemen in elegant evening attire were entering the place. He stepped
inside. Tables, covered with white linen and lighted with red and green candles, were arranged in rows. Bottles of champagne, with gilded foil around their necks, nestled in ice-filled silver pails.
A woman, turning around and seeing Our Lord, gestured indignantly at one of the waiters. “What is this?” she asked. “You let panhandlers in here?”
The waiter, a young man of fifteen or so, rushed over to Him. “What are you doing in here?” he demanded. “Begging is permitted only out on the sidewalk!”
Christ studied the young man. “If only you knew what it is that I am ‘begging’ . . . ,” He started to reply, but He was already being shoved out into the street as the woman playing the piano sang, “Peace on earth and mercy mild.” Not even the Roman centurions had been so
Outside, Christ allowed Himself to be swept along by the throng that flowed like a river between the stores and markets.
He saw toys everywhere, a few Santa Clauses, but rarely a crèche.
Our Lord then caught sight of a married couple carrying a few small precious bundles. They seemed to be good,
middle-class, peace-loving souls, hurrying somewhere to celebrate Christmas.
Christ followed them, invisible to their eyes. They entered their home and climbed the staircase to their apartment, where others had already gathered.
He watched as they opened bottles, served pastries, and then as they ate and drank.
“Imagine,” said one, “just for a change of pace, I went to Midnight Mass!”
“Oh?” said another, barely considering the remark. “And how was it?”
“Well, it wasn’t as pleasant as a good concert, but quite amusing nevertheless. Saw a number of friends there.”
The apartment had neither a crucifix nor a crèche. Christ could not long endure the senseless conversation, so
He turned away and slowly descended the staircase.
A short distance down the road, Our Lord found Himself near a large school’s playground. Above the gate a prominent sign proclaimed, “Christmas Party for
the Children of District 10.”
Ah, children, little children! Our Lord went in. There were hundreds of children inside, receiving toys, candy and books.
As they noisily ran and tumbled about, important looking women hurried about under the headmistress’ gaze.
Again, neither a crèche nor a crucifix could be seen, and nobody mentioned the name of the Child Jesus.
As Christ stood there, a feeling of isolation grew in His heart. He was a trespasser.
Finally, He approached a young boy whose arms overflowed with toys. The boy reminded Him of His little
friends of bygone days in Bethlehem.
“Do you love the Child Jesus who has given you so many nice toys?” Our Lord asked the little boy.
The boy stared at Him with a puzzled air. “Child Jesus?”
“Don’t you know Him?”
The headmistress, as if sensing some danger afoot, rushed over. “What did this man say to you?” she frantically asked the boy.
Upon learning what Our Lord had asked and whose Name He had dared mention, her eyes glared at Our
Lord with annoyance, and she snarled, “Be so kind as to leave at once!”
Christ again walked through the streets, no longer entering any of the places He passed. He wandered as His
mother had in Bethlehem, on a night like this and on the same date so long ago. He roamed through the endless
streets, passing innumerable places where His creatures celebrated Christmas without knowing its true meaning.
He hesitated to return to Heaven with such a heavy heart.
* * *
Weary, He came to the edge of a neglected suburb. A white building ablaze with tiny lights caught His eye.
Approaching and looking through one of the windows, He saw His own image prominently displayed on the wall. His
eyes brightened, as if reflecting the hundreds of lights outside, when He noticed that in one corner of the room was a simple but attractively arranged crèche.
Just then, the door opened and a boy came out, a boy like those who frequently come under a parish’s care. The boy
stopped abruptly at the sight of the golden-haired man shivering in the darkness.
Icy gusts blew around them. “Sir, you could freeze out here! You need to get out of the cold.”
“I am quite cold,” answered Our Lord.
“Come in, then. We have a good fire going.”
And so Our Lord entered. Near the fireplace, a group of children closely gathered around a young priest.
As the fire crackled and filled the room with its welcoming warmth and light, the priest told the children about the infinite grandeur and glory hidden within the little figure of the Child Jesus in the crèche. He stopped his tale the moment Our Lord entered the room.
“Come in! You look cold! Please, warm yourself here.”
The children promptly offered the newcomer a place close to the fire. “Have you had anything to eat? Joseph, go ask your mother to prepare something hot for this gentleman.”
Christ’s gaze slowly passed over all of them, one by one, as if He were memorizing every little face.
Above all, He gazed at the young priest. “Are you alone, my friend?” asked the priest kindly.
“Yes.” Seized by soul-stirring curiosity, all eyes turned inquisitively upon the Stranger, waiting.
Christ did not speak. Very slowly, regally, Jesus’ hand moved. He extended it over their heads, reaching beyond the humble cottages of that neglected suburb, and encompassing that immense city whose miseries He had witnessed.
In a tone of voice He exclaimed, “Misereor super turbas!” (“I have pity upon these people!”). Then, slowly, before their astonished eyes, He disappeared.
“It was He!” cried one of the boys. The young priest nodded solemnly.
“Yes, it was.”
Thursday, December 24, 2015
But He willed to come into this world in a manner not at all consistent with His grandeur.
He came as humbly as can be imagined so that we might be more free to approach Him.
St. Louise de Marillac
Sts. Irmina and Adela
Irmina was betrothed to Count Herman but he was assassinated shortly before they were to marry and she professed her desire to embrace the religious life instead. King Dagobert restored a convent at Horren in Trier where she founded a Benedictine community. When a deadly plague threatened her sisters, she sought the help of St. Willibrord. In gratitude for being preserved from this pestilence, she provided the manor where the monastery of Echternach was founded in 698. Her devotion to the poor led to her being honored as a saint after her death in the year 710.
Her sister, Adela, was married to Alberic and they had a son prior to her husband’s untimely death. Despite many marriage offers, the young widow chose to enter religion as well. She founded the convent of Palatiolum outside of Trier on lands that were then undeveloped and governed it as Abbess for many years until her death on December 24, 735. The monastic site later grew into the town of Pfalzel. Her son became the future father of St. Gregory of Utrecht.
The memory of the two royal sisters and foundresses is celebrated jointly on December 24.
Wednesday, December 23, 2015
St. John of Kanti
Country people of some means, his parents saw early on that John was as clever as he was good. At the right time, they sent him to the University of Cracow where he received degrees, was ordained a priest and appointed to a professorship.
Leading a strict ascetic life, when warned about his health, he was wont to reply that the fathers of the desert usually lived to a ripe old age.
Such was his success as a teacher and preacher that inevitably envy reared its ugly head against him. Removed from his post, he was appointed parish priest of Olkusz. Although he gave his all to his new assignment – not without some trepidation – his parishioners did not like him at first; however, he persevered for several years and won his people’s hearts.
Recalled to the University of Cracow, St. John was appointed professor of Sacred Scriptures, a post he held until his death. He was as welcome a guest at the houses and tables of the nobility as he was well-known to all the poor in the city. Whatever he owned was always at their disposition.
A number of miracles were attributed to him during his life. When people heard that he was dying, their sorrow was genuine and general. To those who ministered to him on his death bed he said, “Never mind about this prison that is decaying, but think of the soul that is going to leave it.”
He died on Christmas Eve of the year 1473. He was eighty-three years of age. John of Kanti or Cantius, as he is sometimes called, was canonized in 1767.
There is a mutual attraction between Jesus and the souls of men.
Mary drew Him down from heaven. Our nature attracted Him rather than the nature of angels.
Our misery caused Him to stoop to our lowness.
Even our sins had a sort of attraction for the abundance of His mercy and the predilection of His grace.
Our repentance wins Him to us. Our love makes earth a paradise to Him; and
our souls lure Him as gold lures the miser, with irresistible fascination.
Fr. Frederick William Faber
Tuesday, December 22, 2015
Sts. Chaeremon, Ischyrion and other Martyrs
St. Dionysius particularly mentions a very old man, the Bishop of Nilopolis, by name of Chaeremon who, with a companion, disappeared into the mountains of Arabia. Though a search was carried out, not even their bodies were found.
In the same letter St. Dionysius also mentions the name of Ischyrion, the procurator of a magistrate of Egypt. When ordered by the Egyptian official to sacrifice to the idols, Ischyrion refused so steadfastly that neither abuse nor threats could make him change his mind. The enraged magistrate then had him mutilated and impaled.
Monday, December 21, 2015
Satanist Covers Mary's Statue in Sulpher - Ash - Stage Blood. Show your love for Mary...Protest Now!
I Love Mary And Will Always Defend Her Ever-Virginity - PROTEST NOW
Send your Protest message to the Mayor of Oklahoma City.
Here’s why: a Satanist has apparently been granted a permit by the city of Oklahoma City, to perform a public outdoor Satanic desecration of a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The permit allows the Satanist group’s “display” of the statue to pour stage blood on it and cover it in sulfur powder and ash. The Satanist plans to “pray” to the statue. He says “The Virgin birth is a lie.” And the blood is “to add another layer of corruption to Mary, which is an emblem of the Catholic Church.”
Send Your Respectful Protest Message to the Mayor – PROTEST NOW
St. Peter Canisius
Peter Kanis – his name was later Latinized to “Canisius” – was born in Nijmegen, Holland, then a German province of the archdiocese of Cologne. He originally thought of becoming a lawyer to please his father, a wealthy public official, but after a retreat directed by St. Peter Faber, one of the first companions of St. Ignatius of Loyola, the young Canisius decided to become a Jesuit.
Shortly after his ordination to the priesthood, he accompanied the Bishop of Augsburg to the Council of Trent and attended two sessions of the Council as a delegate. He was later summoned to Rome by St. Ignatius who retained him by his side for five months.
In response to an appeal by Duke William IV of Bavaria for Catholic professors capable of countering heretical teachings then permeating the schools, after his solemn profession, Peter Canisius was sent to Germany with two other brother Jesuits.
From then on Peter Canisius spent his life helping people in Germany, Austria, Bohemia, Moravia and Switzerland to hold firmly to their Catholic Faith in opposition to the errors of the Protestant reformation then spreading throughout those countries. The restoration of the Catholic Faith in Germany is largely due to the work of the Jesuit fathers which Canisius led.
He combined powerful preaching, with teaching and ceaseless works of charity. In Austria, he at first preached to almost empty churches, partially due to his Rhineland German which grated on the ears of the Viennese. But his tireless ministrations to the sick and dying during an outbreak of the plague, won the citizens’ hearts, after which his accent was of little importance.
The king, the nuncio and even the Pope wished to appoint him to the vacant see of Vienna, but St. Ignatius would only allow him to administer the diocese for a year without episcopal orders. It was at this time that St. Peter began work on his famous catechism, Summary of Christian Doctrine.
Appointed to Prague, he practically won the city back to the Faith. The college he established in the city was so highly regarded for its excellent academics that even Protestants sought to send their sons to it. During this time he was also made Provincial Superior of the Jesuit Order for an area covering Czechoslovakia, South Germany, Austria and Bohemia.
Not only did Peter Canisius found several colleges, but prepared the way for many others. He also wrote extensively throughout his life. His books were catechetical, instructional, historical and apologetic, refuting the errors of Protestantism.
Canisius was already advanced in age when he was instructed to found a college in Fribourg, Switzerland, capital of the Catholic canton, sandwiched between two powerful Protestant neighbors. Surmounting all obstacles, including numerous financial difficulties, St. Peter founded a university operative to this day. The preservation of the Catholic faith in Fribourg in a critical time of its history can be confidently attributed to him.
Increasing bodily illness obliged Peter Canisius to give up preaching. In 1591 he suffered a paralytic seizure which brought him near death, but recovering sufficiently, he continued writing with the help of a secretary until shortly before his passing on December 21, 1597.
Peter Canisius was simultaneously canonized and declared a Doctor of the Church in 1925 by Pope Pius XI.
would take on the appearance of bread to become our food unless He Himself had already done so?
Even though we cannot see Him in the Eucharist, He sees us and is really present there.
He is present so that we can possess Him, but hidden in order that we might desire Him.
Until such time as we come to our homeland, Jesus wishes to give Himself completely to us
and to remain completely united with us.
St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori
Sunday, December 20, 2015
A mysterious star had appeared, shepherds spoke of an angel in the night, and of a royal babe in a manger, kings from the East had come, and gone, and now Holy Simeon and Anna rejoiced at having seen the promised of the Lord, and God’s salvation.
On his throne, King Herod seethed with envy, and squirmed with anxiety lest a Child take his crown. And his evil mind conceived one of the most heinous crimes in history, the murder of all male children ages two and under, just so he could be sure one Child died.
Warned by an angel, the young family left in the dead of night. Once more Saint Joseph led the donkey that had brought Blessed Mary to Bethlehem. But now, the happy beast carried the Creator of the Universe as well.
Into 180 miles of wilderness went Joseph, Mary and Baby Jesus to face frightful perils and hazards. And it was the time of year when the desert is frigid by night. At times, all the Holy Family had in the way of shelter was the side of a hill, with Joseph’s cloak propped on his staff for a bit of respite against the cold.
St. Dominic de Silos
Developing a taste for silence and solitude, he entered the monastery of San Millán de la Cogolla. As he made great progress in the religious state, he was entrusted with works of reform and became prior of his monastery.
Refusing to hand over to King Garcia III of Navarre some of the monastery’s lands which the monarch coveted, he and two of his companions were forced into exile by the king. They were warmly received by Ferdinand I of Castille and León who entrusted to Dominic the monastery of San Sebastián de Silos, in a remote part of the diocese of Burgos. The ancient Benedictine monastery, however, was decaying – structurally and spiritually.
As Abbot of San Sebastian, Dominic restored order to both the physical structure of the edifice and the spiritual edifice of the souls within, and made Silos famous throughout Spain.
Dominic was a great miracle worker, and it was said that there was no disease that he had not, at one time or another, cured. His charitable solicitude embraced not only the poor and the infirm but Christians enslaved by the Moors. These he endeavored by all means within his powers to free from their cruel captivity.
About one hundred year after his death, a young woman, Blessed Juana de Aza de Guzmán, made a pilgrimage to his tomb, asking to conceive a child. The child she effectually conceived and bore, she named Dominic after the holy abbot of Silos. This Dominic became the great St. Dominic de Guzmán, founder of the Dominican Order.
Dominic of Silos died on December 20, 1073.
Saturday, December 19, 2015
It's OK to say
Just as the Christ Child was rejected 2,000 years ago, and had nowhere but a cold stable for a birthplace, our world has little to do with Christmas.
Articles questioning the existence of Christ, the virginity of Mary, and other Catholics tenets are disseminated by the media, and lawsuits aim to remove “offensive” Nativity scenes from the public square.
What can be done? TFP Student Action has compiled a list of very concrete actions you can take to celebrate Our Lord’s coming this Christmas Season.
1. Never use the “H” words: “Happy Holidays.” The secular term means nothing and only serves to erase the memory of Christ from Christmas and the Holy Season we celebrate. Avoid “X-Mas” too. Wherever you go, make it a point to wish others a Merry Christmas: at the supermarket, in class, in the cafeteria, on the phone, in e-mails. You’ll be surprised. Many people will appreciate your Christian convictions.
2. Decorate your college dorm: Hang beautiful Christmas ornaments from your dorm window. Pick up some large poster board and markers at the bookstore and make signs that read, for example, “Just Say Merry Christmas!” Write with big clear letters. Tape one sign to your dorm window facing out for everyone to see. Place another on your dorm door. Encourage your friends to do the same.
3. Send Christmas cards: Send a Christmas card with a religious message to your most liberal professor. Mention that you will pray for him/her. You can also send a card to the president of your college or university. Also, look for an opportunity to write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper about Christmas. Letters receive avid and wide readership. Try it.
4. Organize a Christmas celebration: Set up a Nativity scene on the quad or “free speech” area of campus. Invite your friends to help you. Be creative. Sing traditional Christmas carols. St. Augustine said: “He who sings prays twice.” You might also choose to pray the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary as a group. Close the celebration with Silent Night. Meet somewhere for refreshments. Talk about Christmas.
5. Plan a Eucharistic adoration: Find an Adoration Chapel near you, ask your friends to join you for a holy hour before Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament in honor of Christmas. Mark your calendar for a convenient time before Christmas break. Evenings are best for students. After your holy hour, go out for coffee.
Find a chapel near you.
6. Visit the sick: Those suffering in hospitals and nursing homes faintly remember the joy of Christmas. Illness, pain and loneliness overwhelm them as they spend their last days. It is a work of mercy to visit the sick and suffering. You can bring joy and Christmas cheer to someone forgotten in a hospital or old folks home. Your local nursing home will likely welcome visitors. Take something to give away; for example, Miraculous Medals. Everyone likes them. To order free Miraculous Medals, call 1-888-317-5571.
7. Prepare yourself spiritually: The Season of Advent prepares us to celebrate the Birth of Our Lord worthily. We should erect a throne in our souls to receive the King of kings. For that reason, it is an excellent time to make a good Confession and make sacrifices. For example, give up watching TV or surfing the Internet.
8. Write a Christmas message to the troops: Thank them for their sacrifice and service. Show them your support. Wish the troops a blessed Christmas and tell them you will remember them in your prayers. Remind them that people back home appreciate them. Send a message to the troops.
9. Do you have any suggestions? Please contact TFP Student Action with your suggestions to complete number nine. We would like to hear from you. Send your e-mail to: email@example.com and thank you for your efforts to restore the real meaning of Christmas.
Stunning Story: Searching for Christmas...
Video of Handel's Hallelujah Shows the Impact of Beauty
Pope St. Anastasius I
Born a Roman, son of Maximus, Anastasius was the successor of St. Siricius, and was pope from 399 to 401.
During his short reign, he fought the heresy of Origen. In 400 he called a Council to discuss the man and his doctrines. The Council condemned Origin’s errors.
He also opposed Donatism, another heresy in Northern Africa.
Sts. Jerome, Augustine and Paulinus, were his friends and admirers.
Friday, December 18, 2015
He became a monk at the monastery of Killaloe, and at a certain point made a pilgrimage to Rome where Pope John IV consecrated him bishop. He was the first bishop of Killaloe, the diocese becoming one of twenty-four established at the Synod of Rathbreasail in 1111. St. Flannan's diocese of Killaloe is operative to this day.
Following Flannan’s example of dedication and holiness, his devout father, King Turlough, retired in his old age and entered religion, becoming a monk in the Abbey of Lismore.
Renowned for the eloquence and ardor of his preaching, St. Flannan, also performed remarkable miracles. When he sensed death approaching, he instructed those present on the importance of observing natural and human justice, blessed his relatives and died on December 18.
Second photo by: JJM
Thursday, December 17, 2015
Who doesn’t love a Christmas Tree?
What Christmas would be complete without the glittering fir, filling the house with color and warmth?
But whence the custom of the Christmas Tree? The pine fir certainly wasn’t present in Oriental Bethlehem, when Jesus was born. Rather, palm trees grow in the East, and are often depicted around the Crèche.
So, why don’t we decorate a palm tree, rather than a fir tree? Is the custom even Christian, we may ask?
Indeed, that Christmas tree standing in our living room has an ancient, wonderful history. And though the custom began pagan, it was “baptized” and adopted by the wisdom of a great saint.
St. Boniface was an English man who lived in the ninth century and who felt called to evangelize the German nation.
One of the pagan German gods was a great oak tree called “Thunder Oak” in honor of the god Thor. Every winter, the locals offered a sacrifice to Thor, usually a child, under the mighty oak.
One year, fired by holy anger, Boniface decided to do away with the barbaric custom and bravely showed up with an ax just in time to prevent the killing. Before the astounded revelers, he proceeded to hack away at the massive trunk.
Legend has it that a miraculous gust of wind pushed down the tree at the first blows. Impressed that the “god” did not strike down the daring priest, the pagans accepted Christianity.
As the giant oak collapsed, standing there was a small fir tree that, somehow, escaped destruction.
Pointing to it, the holy man said:
“This little tree, a young child of the forest, shall be your holy tree tonight. It is the wood of peace… It is the sign of an endless life, for its leaves are ever green. See how it points upward to heaven. Let this be called the tree of the Christ-child; gather about it, not in the wild wood, but in your own homes; there it will shelter no deeds of blood, but loving gifts and rites of kindness.”
Thus using strength, St. Boniface did away with an idol.
Yet, also showing amazing tact, he wisely filled the vacuum left by a cancelled custom with another tree, now used merely as a symbol or as a type of “sacramental” directing the new Christians to the true God.
So was the evergreen taken into homes at Christmas, from that time on becoming a loving sentinel to the birth of Christ, a symbol of hope, peace and good-will.
With time, small and large decorated evergreens were used as an actual backdrop to the holy Crèche, another custom begun by another great saint, Francis of Assisi.
So as you gather around the Christmas Tree this year, share its holy origins with your children, so they may not only love it’s lights and colors, but also the rich Catholic heritage that is theirs.
By Andrea F. Phillips
References: EWTN Online, Catholic Answers, Wikipedia
Christmas Tree: Dreamstime.
St. Boniface and Thunder Oak: Wiki Commons; attribution: Jdsteakley
In due course ordained a priest, Sturmi was a missionary in Westphalia for three years, after which he took to an eremitical life.
Later, when St. Boniface founded the monastery of Fulda in 744, he appointed Sturmi abbot. The favorite foundation of St. Boniface, Fulda became a point from which Germany could be effectively evangelized and the pattern-seminary of priests for all Germany.
Soon after the foundation, Sturmi traveled to Italy to study Benedictine observance at Monte Cassino. There seems to be evidence that Pope St. Zachary granted the Abbey of Fulda to be subject directly to the Pope, free from episcopal jurisdiction. After the martyrdom of St. Boniface, St. Lull as his successor, acted differently toward the abbey claiming it should be subject to his jurisdiction as bishop. In the ensuing struggle, Sturmi was banished and another appointed abbot, but the monks did not accept him and expelled him, threatening to appeal to the king.
Eventually, Sturmi returned to the helm of Fulda Abbey, but his efforts to evangelize the Germans was somewhat truncated by Charlemagne’s conquests and his rather truculent enforcement of religion. When Charlemagne turned to Spain to fight the Moors, the Saxons drove out the monks from Fulda.
In 779 when Charlemagne returned, incurring some victories against the Saxons, St. Sturmi was in a better position but he did not live to continue his missions.
The saintly abbot fell gravely ill, and despite the efforts of Charlemagne’s own physician, he died on December 17, 779.
Wednesday, December 16, 2015
Silent Night, the Christmas carol that has spread all over the world, translated into more than forty-five languages, began in a small town in Austria.
In 1816, a young Fr. Joseph Mohr, wrote the verses, some say inspired one Christmas night as he returned from visiting a family with a newborn babe high up in the Alpine hills.
When assigned as co-pastor to the charming village of Oberndorf in 1818, he looked for his friend, Franz Gruber, choir master, who set the inspired verses to a simple tune on his guitar.
At Midnight Mass that Christmas, the small church of St. Nicholas in Oberndorf resounded to the first strains of Silent Night. The two men who brought the song into being, could hardly have imagined that day, in a small snow-covered village in Austria, how their song would make the rounds of the world.
Divine Providence had a plan.
One day, an organ master from the Tyrol was called to Oberndorf to fix the church’s organ. When finished, he invited Franz Gruber to try out the keys, and the choir master played the new song. Enthralled by the attractive, simple “heavenliness” of the tune, the organ master took Silent Night back with him to his province.
There, families of young singers, similar to the Von Trapp Family, avidly picked up the new song, and carried it throughout Europe.
Noticing that the mere first strains of the melody gathered a crowd, the little song became a favorite in their repertoire, winding its way even into courts.
Its origin having been lost, it was soon known as “The Song from Heaven”.
Finally, King Frederick William IV of Prussia, whose favorite Carol it had become, wishing to obtain the song in its purest format, insisted that the history of Silent Night be traced.
After a long search, Frederick’s emissaries were finally led to St. Peter’s Abbey in Salzburg, from whence the connection was made to Oberndorf. There, they found Franz Gruber advanced in age, who gladly confirmed the song’s origins.
Thus, the little tune penned by an unknown priest, and a village musician, conquered the world by a quiet storm. Indeed, wherever and whenever Silent Night is sung or played, hearts are quieted and spirits are lifted–after all, who says it isn’t “The Song from Heaven”?