• Gerard_van_Honthorst_001

     

    Hail, and blessed be the hour and moment at which the Son of God was born of a most pure Virgin at a stable at midnight in Bethlehem in the piercing cold.  At that hour vouchsafe, I beseech Thee, to hear my prayers and grant my desires. (Mention your intentions here)  Through Jesus Christ and His most Blessed Mother

    To be said  from  the feast of St. Andrew (30 November) until Christmas

Saint for the Day

  • saint_maximin_or_mesmin_of_verdun

    ST. MESMIN was a native of Verdun. The inhabitants of that place having proved disloyal to King Clovis, an uncle of our Saint’s, a priest named Euspice, brought about a reconciliation between the monarch and his subjects. Clovis, appreciating the virtues of Euspice, persuaded him to take up his residence at court, and the servant of God took St. Mesmin along with him. While journeying to Orleans with Clovis he noticed at about two leagues from the city, beyond the Loire, a solitary spot called Micy, which he thought well suited for a retreat. Having asked for and obtained the place, he with Mesmin and several disciples built there a monastery, of which he took charge. At his death, which happened about two years after, our Saint was appointed abbot by Eusebius, Bishop of Orleans. During a terrible famine he fed nearly the whole city of Orleans with wheat from his monastery, without perceptibly reducing it; he also drove an enormous serpent out of the place in which he was afterwards buried. Having governed his monastery ten years, he died as he had lived, in the odor of sanctity, on the 15th of December, 520.

    Reflection.—Few are called to serve God by great actions, but all are bound to strive after perfection in the ordinary actions of their daily life.

     

     

  • Creavit Dominus novum super terram

    “The Lord hath created a new thing upon the earth” –Jer.xxxi.22.

     

    Before the coming of the Messias the world was buried in a dark night of ignorance and sins. The true God was hardly known, save in one single corner of the earth, that is to say, in Judea alone: In Judea God is known. [Ps. 75:2] But everywhere else men adored as gods devils, beasts, and stones. Everywhere there reigned the night of sin, which blinds souls, and fills them with vices, and hides from them the sight of the miserable state in which they are living, as enemies of God and condemned to Hell: Thou hast appointed darkness, and it is night; in it shall all the beasts of the wood go about. [Ps. 103:20]

    From this darkness Jesus came to deliver the world: To them that dwelt in the region of the shadow of death, light is risen. [Isaiah 9:2] He delivered it from idolatry by making known to them the light of the true God; and He delivered them from sin by the light of His doctrine and of His Divine example: For this purpose the Son of God appeared that He might destroy the works of the devil. [1 John 3:8] The prophet Jeremias foretold that God should create a new child to be the Redeemer of men: The Lord hath created a new thing upon the earth. This new Child was Jesus Christ. He is the Son of God, Who is the object of the love of all the Saints in Paradise, and is the love of the Father Himself, Who thus speaks of Him: This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. [Matt. 17:5] And this Son is He Who made Himself man. A new Child, because He has given more glory and honor to God in the first moment of His creation than all the Angels and Saints together have given Him, or shall give Him for all eternity. And therefore did the Angels at the birth of Jesus sing, Glory to God in the highest. [Luke 2:14] The Child Jesus has rendered more glory to God than all the sins of men have deprived Him of.

    Let us therefore, poor sinners, take courage; let us offer to the eternal Father this Infant; let us present to him the tears, the obedience, the humility, the death, and the merits of Jesus Christ, and we shall make compensation to God for all the dishonor that we have caused Him by our offenses.

    Affections and Prayers

     My eternal God, I have dishonored Thee by so often preferring my will to Thine, and my vile and miserable pleasures to Thy holy grace. What hope of pardon would there be for me, if Thou hadst not given me Jesus Christ on purpose that He might be the hope of us miserable sinners? He is a propitiation for our sins. Yes; for Jesus Christ, in sacrificing His life in satisfaction for the injuries we have done Thee, has given Thee more honor than we have dishonor by our sins. Receive me, therefore, O my Father, for the love of Jesus Christ. I repent, O infinite Goodness, of having outraged Thee: Father, I have sinned against Heaven, and before Thee. I am not worthy to be called Thy son. I am not worthy of forgiveness; but Jesus Christ is worthy to be heard favorably by Thee. He prayed once for me on the Cross, Father, forgive; and even now in Heaven He is constantly begging Thee to receive me as a son: We have an advocate, Jesus Christ, Who ever intercedes for us. Receive an ungrateful son, who once forsook Thee, but now returns, resolved to desire to love Thee. Yes, my Father, I love Thee, and will always love Thee. O my Father, now that I know the love that Thou hast borne me, and the patience Thou hast shown me for so many years, I trust no longer to live without loving Thee. Give me a great love, that may make me constantly lament the displeasure I have given Thee, Who art so good a Father; cause me ever to burn with love towards Thee, Who art so loving a Father. My Father, I love Thee, I love Thee, I love Thee! O Mary! God is my Father, and thou art my mother. Thou canst do all things with God; help me; obtain for me holy perseverance and His holy love.

    –Extracted from The Incarnation, Birth and Infancy of Jesus, by St. Alphonsus Liguori with Nihil Obstat andImprimatur

  • Second Sunday of Advent

    Gospel – Matt. xi. 2-10.- At that time: When John had heard in prison the works of Christ, sending two of his disciples he said to him: Art thou he that art to come, or look we for another? And Jesus making answer said to them: Go and relate, to John what you have heard and seen. The blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead rise again, the poor have the Gospel preached to them: And blessed is he that shall not be scandalized in me. And when they went their way, Jesus began to say to the multitudes concerning John: What went you out into the desert to see? a reed shaken with the wind? But what went you out to see? a man clothed in soft garments? Behold, they that are clothed in soft garments, are in the houses of kings. But what went you out to see? a prophet? Yea, I tell you, and more than a prophet. For this is he of whom it is written: Behold, I send my Angel before thy face, who shall prepare thy way before thee.

     

    St. John the Baptist Sends His Disciples to Christ

     sending disciples

    John the Baptist had been in prison some time; it was not for crime, but for the zeal he showed for the glory of God. Although you have heard the story many times, let us go over it again.

    The impious Herod led a most scandalous life; everybody knew it, still no one dared reprove him for fear of incurring the hatred of this cruel man. But John the Baptist, to whom the glory of God was everything, did not hesitate to say to Herod, “There is a greater king than you, one whom you ought to respect, but whom you despise; it is not lawful to lead such a scandalous life: it is not right.” John saw that this boldness drew upon him the anger of the king, and that in the end it would cost him his life; still he did not cease to say, “It is not right.” Herod, to get rid of these reproofs, and instigated by the wicked Herodias, had John shut up in an obscure prison.

    See then, my young people, the ardent zeal of John the Baptist for the honor and glory of God; the courage he possessed to make a firm stand against vice. If you had but a little of the courage of this sainted man, how much evil could you hinder! When you are with that careless companion, who at play or at his work will break out into blasphemous words, have the courage to say to him, “It is not proper to talk like that, it is not lawful to curse; it is not right. If in church a young man stands beside you who instead of hearing Mass talks and laughs, can you not say to him, “This is the house of God, the house of prayer, it is a holy place and this light conduct is unseemly here”? If you see that he does not improve in his conduct, what should you do? why, tell his parents, consult with them as to the best means of leading him to a better life. You remember it is related that Joseph, having seen his brothers commit a most wicked act, told his father Jacob of it. If all young people would act that way, how many scandals would be avoided. How much good would be effected, even by a child who, when it hears the father’s blasphemous tongue, would with a saddened countenance, but mildly and respectfully, say, “Father, it is not right for you to get into such a rage about so slight a matter.”

    Should the child see that the father troubles himself very little about the observance of Sunday, never approaches the sacraments not even at Easter; in short cares very little for the duties of religion, how much good might the child do by a quiet and determined remonstrance, saying, “Father, it is not right to live in this manner, oblivious of God and your soul.” Should the child see meat on the table on days in which its use is forbidden, what a correction would it be if he said, “I do not eat meat on these days, because I respect the laws of the Church that forbid it. Alas, father and mother, what a dreadful thing you are doing! what scandal you are giving! can there be any blessing from almighty God on a family in which such things are done?”

    John was in prison, as is stated in the Gospel, and there he heard of the works of Christ; he was struck with astonishment at the great fame which Our Lord had acquired by His striking miracles. John sent two of his disciples to Our Lord to ask, “Art Thou He that art to come or look we for another?” John the Baptist knew very well that Christ was the Messias, but he wished to introduce his disciples to Our Lord that they might become His followers. While they were on this embassy they saw a great number of miracles and Our Lord took occasion to answer the questions of John: “Go,” He said to them, “and relate to John what you have heard and seen. The blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleaned, the deaf hear, the dead rise again, the poor have the Gospel preached to them: and blessed is he that shall not be scandalized in Me.” Such, then, are the miracles which Our Lord did for the human body; but still greater are those He works on the soul. How many sinners are spiritually blind, and He gives light to their intellects that they may understand the danger they are in! How many are spiritually lame; they do not walk in the path of virtue which is to lead them to heaven, but He cures them so that they run in the road of salvation and of life! How many sinners are spiritual lepers, covered from head to foot with loathsome ulcers of sin; He cleanses them; they be come as white as snow. How many are dead to His grace; He raises them from this death and gives them true life.

    Many such miracles He has wrought on you and many such He is now working. Do you remember when you fell into mortal sin? You were blind, lame, leprous: you were dead to God, but God gave you sight and hearing when He infused into you the grace of desiring to make a good confession: “When we were in sin He revived us in Christ.”

    O, that you could recognize as you should the benefits which God has bestowed on you in calling you back to the life of grace! These are greater miracles than to give light to the eyes of the body or to make the deaf hear. St. Gregory affirms that it was a greater miracle to have converted St. Paul than to raise Lazarus to life. Thank God for those favors you have received, and be grateful for them. Let me suggest another reflection which is very important. Our Redeemer manifested Himself as the true Messias by His good works; and should not also the Christian, who ought to be an imitator of Jesus, show that he is a follower of Our Lord by his works, and the sanctity of his life? But how many Christians are there who, instead of priding themselves on the friendship of Christ, become followers of the devil, are ashamed to imitate Christ and blaspheme His holy name! They are enemies of the cross of Christ. St. Augustine says, “Many are called Christians but they are not found to be connected with Christian works; they are called by a name which does not belong to them.” These are Christians in name only. The true Christian is one who does good works and leads a pure life. St. Bernard says that Christians are called after Christ, and since they have inherited the name, they must also possess the sanctity.

    You, O Catholic youth, show yourselves true followers of Christ by your virtuous lives. The first Christians did this; they boldly confessed Christ before the persecuting tyrants, in face of the most cruel torments.

    The following example will Serve to illustrate the courage of the early Christians. There was a beautiful but delicate young girl, Blandina by name, who was a slave. Her mistress, who was also a Christian and died a martyr’s death, thought that Blandina would be frightened, and would not have the strength to profess herself a Christian; but the slave showed heroic courage and stood firm in her faith, though she tired out her executioners who tortured her cruelly day and night. All were astonished that such a delicate creature should live through torments that were enough to cause death in ordinary circumstances. “I am a Christian,” Blandina said, “Christians abhor doing evil.”

    She went to her death with joy, as if going to a banquet; she was scourged, placed on a fiery chair, and then, inclosed in a net, she was set before an infuriated bull which tossed her in the air. But the virgin martyr hardly felt the torments, for her mind was in heaven. At last she was beheaded, and pagans confessed that they had never witnessed such firmness, such indomitable patience. In this way the martyrs of the first ages of Christianity showed their love for Christ.

    But let us return to our Gospel. The disciples of John the Baptist had g6ne away, and Our Lord turning to the multitude said, “When you went out into the desert to meet John the Baptist, what did you expect to see? A reed shaken by the wind?”

    To how many young people can these words be applied? Many are slender reeds, which are shaken by the least breath of wind. The devil places before them some temptation, and at once they yield to his suggestion. A bad companion comes along and one is ready to join him in committing any sin. Now you see him weeping at the feet of his confessor for this sin, but tomorrow he is at his old habits again. Today you see him praying devoutly to Mary or the saints, tomorrow you find him again pursuing unlawful pleasures. Sometimes you see him with a good book in his hand, but often he greedily devours bad ones. At one time he resolves to give up bad company, but soon you will find him with them again. Yes, they are slender reeds! The least difficulty in the service of God, and they forget their good resolutions.

    Be ye therefore not slender reeds, but sturdy oaks that bend not to every wind that blows. Imitate the firmness of St. John the Baptist. Say with Job: “Thine, O Lord, I have resolved to be and Thine I shall remain.”  Take me, O Lord, from this world, rather than allow me to prove unfaithful to Thee. “What went ye out to see? a prophet? Yea I tell you and more than a prophet. Behold I send My angel before thy face who shall prepare thy way.” What a beautiful encomium did John the Baptist receive from Our Lord! He calls him a prophet, and more than a prophet, an angel, a messenger of God. And truly St. John was an angel; a messenger of God; an angel not in form but indeed, an angel, though a human being, on this earth; an angel, because he never lost the innocence which was granted him by special favor from his mother’s womb; an angel, by his constant virginity and spotless purity.

    O young man or young woman who have preserved your purity, you also are an angel. I rejoice with you. I beg of you, with all my heart, to remain always pure and innocent before God, and then with John the Baptist and the angels you will forever enjoy the vision of your Creator in heaven.

  • Christmas is a liturgical season of great joy. It lasts forty days, from December 25 to February 2, during which the birth of Jesus Christ our Savior, is celebrated as one continuous festival. The finale comes with His presentation in the temple. A season most dear to Christian hearts,
    Christmas is as distinct in the liturgy as Advent, Lent, Easter, or Pentecost. Four weeks of Advent are scarcely enough to “prepare the way of the Lord” for His coming to us as King. However, if we have used that season as a preparation, we are ready now to receive the Redeemer who will deliver us from sin in answer to our requests. Christ’s coming must be, not a lovely idyll or a pastoral scene, but a reality accomplished in our lives and our children’s. Forty days of rejoicing are not too long a celebration for so great an event.

    The early Church selected December 25, the date of the winter solstice when God the Creator gives the sun an increase of natural light in northern hemispheres, as the day on which to celebrate the birth of the Sun of Justice, Light of the world. Radiating from the Divine Child are a galaxy of wonderful saints whose lives afford a continuing interest in celebrating the feast of His birth.

    Micheas, who lived in the days of Isaias, prophesied the birthplace of the Messiah: “Thou, Bethlehem, art a little one among the thousands in Judah; out of thee shall He come forth unto me that is to be the Ruler of Israel; and His going forth is from the beginning, from the days of eternity.”
    The name Bethlehem signifies House of Bread. To it at Christmas – comes the Savior, who is the Bread of Life. By our participation in this mystery the divine transformation takes place whereby He “reshapes the body of our lowliness after the body of His splendor.”

    Our forbearers gave the name Christmas to the feast of our Lord’s birth because they kept the “Christ Mass” as the heart of their celebrations. Following closely the liturgy of the Church, they centered their customs and wrote their hymns and carols on her practices of the season, adoration, love, joy, and gratitude. Those practices also increased their admiration for His Virgin Mother Mary, who gave Almighty God His human form. He had created heaven and earth by His Word, but His becoming Man depended on a creature’s FIAT, Be it done unto me according to Thy Word. Mary consented. Our forebearers honored her in their great masterpieces because she is God’s Mother. For the same reason the world in our day honors her as Queen of Heaven.

    It is to our Lady that Christian families must look for help to reestablish Christmas as a season of festivities marking Christ’s birth. Either we live the liturgical year with its varying seasons of joy and sorrow, work and rest, or we follow the pattern of the world. Nor is it an easy task to break with the world and the powerful influence of advertising. Their season of Christmas begins around Thanksgiving Day when stores display wares for holiday gift-giving. It lasts until December 24.

    Families, who would not dream of eating their Thanksgiving turkey a week in advance or of having their 4th of July picnic in June, give no thought to the fact that, when they awake on December 25, there is not a shred of Christmas left. Every present has been opened. Every carol has been sung. The tree has dried out Christmas is apt to be a dull day given to over-eating. There was no fast in Advent, so it follows that there can be no feast.

    It is difficult to keep one’s home dark in Advent penance; to keep a tree fresh outside the door; to refrain from singing carols until Christmas Eve. We see their friends’ trees shimmering with ornaments a week before Christmas. Their houses are bedecked with lights. Television and radio blare carols. Not only is it difficult to keep from celebrating beforehand, it is even more difficult to begin forty days of the Christmas season when all around people are concluding their festivities. How then do families return to the spirit of the Church and begin the season of joy and grace on Christmas Eve?

    The simplest way is by keeping Advent. Advent is the beginning of the new liturgical year. It is a season of spiritual preparation, marked by eager longing for the coming of the Saviour through grace at Christmas, and for His second and final coming. It is also an ideal time to establish in our homes liturgical customs which will restore our children to Christ.

    These age-old Advent practices help our children live closer to Christ and His Church during the pre-Christmas season. Time-tested and proven, the customs teach the doctrines of redemption and develop a generosity with God and a coordination of the family’s spiritual efforts as effectively now as they did for our forebears. Their strong and living faith will be the heritage of our children if family religious practices, centered in the Liturgy, “The Normal School of Sanctity for the Laity,” are established in our homes- Secularism has invaded our households. The Bishops of the United States have warned us that “The Christian must make his home holy – the Christian must realize the Christian ideal.” Father Edgar Schmiedler, O.S.B., in his three excellent pamphlets, Your Home a Church in Miniature, says of family customs and blessings: “They are a relatively simple, but highly important, means of union between altar and home. They are a media for channeling from one great spiritual reservoir, given into the Church’s keeping by Christ, the living and transforming waters of grace from the Saviour’s fountain.”

    Children love to anticipate. When there are empty mangers to fill with straws of small sacrifices, when the Mary-Candle is a daily reminder on the dinner table, when Advent hymns are sung in the candlelight of a graceful Advent wreath, children are not anxious to celebrate Christmas before time. That would offend their sense of honor. Older children who make Nativity sets, cut Old Testament symbols to decorate a Jesse tree, or prepare costumes for a Christmas play will find Advent all too short a time to prepare for the coming of Christ the King.

    Children, who love the beauty and simplicity of family religious practices, make the traditions easy to establish. As a rule it is best to begin with one or two customs and others in years to come. It is also highly desirable that families develop their own special customs, at least by adapting traditional ones to their personal circumstances. Once established, customs recall to older members of the family long forgotten practices of their own childhood. These have a special appeal because they belonged to our forefathers and link us to the wealth of national customs now fallen into disuse.

    Celebrating Christmas in its season can be accomplished more easily when several families try it together. Frequently there are families who, if only for sentimental reasons, would like to keep the joy and surprise of Christmas for the eve. Christians of the Eastern rite wait until their particular feast of Christmas comes in January. We should likewise begin ours on its proper day. We also need time for our festivities. As difficult as it may be, we should decline invitations to celebrate Christmas
    at the various parties sprinkled throughout the Advent season. The Church gives us a period of forty days for rejoicing. Instead invite friends and family to your own joyous celebration of Christ’s birth during the many days following December 25th, when for others it is otherwise a disappointing and barren time.

    If during Advent we open our souls fully, the Heavens will rain the Just One.” St. Pius X, whose burning desire was to restore all things to Christ, might well become the patron of parents who wish to restore their children to Christ through these practices. Our Blessed Lady and St. Joseph too will send inspiration from the Holy Spirit, for theirs was a home where feast day cooking, family customs, family prayers and singing abounded, according to prescribed Jewish law. It is to them we must look for help in order to train our children “to live temperately, justly, reverently, in this world, awaiting the Advent of the glory of the great God.”

     

    Taken from Advent and Christmas in a Catholic Home ~ Imprimatur 1950