Feast Day of Holy Family

† Feast of the Day †
(December 26, 2021)

✠ The Feast of the Holy Family ✠

Liturgical Color: White

Type of Holiday: Feast Day; Holy Day of Obligation (if on a Sunday)

Time of Year: The Sunday between Christmas and New Year’s Day; If both are Sundays, the feast is celebrated on December 30

Duration: One Day

Celebrates/Symbolizes: The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph

Alternate Names: Holy Family Sunday

Feast day on this (2020) year: December 27

The Holy Family consists of the Child Jesus, the Virgin Mary, and Saint Joseph. The subject became popular in art in the early 16th-century, but the veneration of the Holy Family was formally begun in the 17th century by Saint François de Laval, the first bishop of New France, who founded a confraternity.

The Feast of the Holy Family is a liturgical celebration in the Catholic Church (since 1921) and some Anglican Churches in honour of Jesus, his mother, and his legal father, Saint Joseph, as a family. The primary purpose of this feast is to present the Holy Family as a model for Christian families.

The Feast is held on the Sunday between Christmas and New Year’s Day; If both are Sundays, the feast is celebrated on December 30th.

The Gospels speak little of the life of the Holy Family in the years before Jesus’ public ministry.

Matthew and Luke narrate the episodes from this period of Christ’s life, namely his Circumcision and later Presentation, the flight to Egypt, the return to Nazareth, and the Finding in the Temple. Joseph and Mary were apparently observant Jews, as Luke narrates that they brought Jesus with them on the annual pilgrimage to Jerusalem with other Jewish families.

The Feast of the Holy Family is a liturgical celebration in the Catholic Church in honour of Jesus of Nazareth, his mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and his foster father, Saint Joseph, as a family. The primary purpose of this feast is to present the Holy Family as a model for Christian families.

The Holy Family is the name given to the family unit of Jesus: The Divine Son of God Jesus, his mother the Virgin Mary, and his foster-father Joseph. We know very little about the life of the Holy Family through the canonical Gospels. They speak of the early years of the Holy Family, including the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, the flight into Egypt, and the finding of Jesus in the temple. Various non-canonical works, including the Infancy Gospel of Thomas, try to fill in the blanks. However, even though these apocryphal works may contain some truth derived from oral tradition, they have been deemed unworthy of canonical status because of the way they present Jesus. While the exact details of the day-to-day life of the Holy Family may be unknown, we can still learn a lot from the stories we do have.

Devotion to the Holy Family is a recent development, but one that naturally grows out of a love for Jesus and his family. Devotion to the Holy Family grew in popularity in the 17th century, and several religious congregations have been founded under this title. The Holy Family also became portrayed in popular art of the period. On October 26, 1921, the Congregation of Rites (under Pope Benedict XV) inserted the Feast of the Holy Family into the Latin Rite general calendar. Until then it had been celebrated regionally (see History below). Popes before and including Benedict XV (especially Leo XIII) promoted the feast as a way to counter the breakdown of the family unit. Today the Church celebrates the Feast on the Sunday between Christmas and New Year’s Day (Known as the Feast of Mary Mother of God in the Catholic Church). If both Christmas and New Year’s Day fall on Sundays, no Sunday exists between the two dates, so the Church celebrates the Holy Family Feast on December 30th. If the feast falls on the 30th, attendance is not obligatory. Up until 1969, the Holy Family feast was kept on the first Sunday after the Epiphany. It was transferred to its current date in 1969.

The Feast of the Holy Family is not just about the Holy Family, but about our own families too. The main purpose of the Feast is to present the Holy Family as the model for all Christian families, and for domestic life in general. Our family life becomes sanctified when we live the life of the Church within our homes. This is called the “domestic church” or the “church in miniature.” St. John Chrysostom urged all Christians to make each home a “family church,” and in doing so, this sanctifies the family unit. Just how does one live out the Church in the family? The best way is by making Christ the centre of family and individual life. Ways to do this include: reading scripture regularly, praying daily, attending Mass at least on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation, imitating the actions of the Holy Family, going to confession frequently, and so forth, all done together as a family unit.

St. Paul provides advice on family life in Colossians 3:12-21: Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, and patience, forbearing one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teach and admonish one another in all wisdom, and sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them. Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.

The Holy Family feast is a good time to remember the family unit and pray for our human and spiritual families. We also may take this feast to reflect on the value and sanctity of the family unit and to evaluate our own family life. In what ways may it be improved? What would Jesus, Mary, and Joseph do? Finally, we can use this feast to ask ourselves what are we doing to promote the family within our own cultures, neighbourhoods, and communities.

Feast Day of Holy Innocents.

† Feast of the Day †
(December 28)

✠ The Holy Innocents ✠

Feast: December 28

In the New Testament, the Massacre of the Innocents is the incident in the nativity narrative of the Gospel of Matthew in which Herod the Great, king of Judea, orders the execution of all male children two years old and under in the vicinity of Bethlehem. Most modern biographers of Herod, and probably a majority of biblical scholars, dismiss Matthew’s story as an invention. The Church has claimed the children murdered in Jesus’s stead as the first Christian martyrs, and their feast – Holy Innocents Day – is celebrated on 28 December.

Biographical selection:
A summary from Dom Guéranger: We have in Blessed Stephen the fulfilment of his desire to be a martyr with the act of martyrdom; in St. John, we find the desire, but not the act of martyrdom; in the Blessed Innocents – the children Herod killed with the intent to kill the Messiah – we have the act of martyrdom, but not the desire.

Indeed, St. Stephen wanted to be a martyr and became one. St. John desired the same but was not. The Blessed Innocents did not desire to be martyrs but were.

Is there reason to believe that those children were true martyrs? Where is the merit to obtain the crown of martyrdom? To this doubt, I answer: Would the goodness of Christ be defeated by the cruelty of Herod? Could that impious king order those innocents killed, and Christ not crown those who died because of Him?

Stephen was a martyr before the eyes of men who witnessed his passion which he voluntarily embraced to the point of praying for his persecutors. Thus he showed that he was more sensitive to the crime they were committing than to his own wounds.

John was a martyr before the eyes of the Angels because those spiritual creatures saw the disposition of his soul.

Certainly, those children were Thy martyrs, O God, but neither men nor Angels could see their merit, which was before Thy eyes alone. The favour of Thy grace stood in place of their merit. We who have been baptized by water should be all the more ready to honour those little ones who were baptized in their own blood and therefore linked to all the mysteries of the Divine Infancy.

Dom Guéranger has two beautiful thoughts to justify the Holy Innocents being venerated as saints without having personal merit. The first is that it is an act of pure goodness of God. That is since they did not desire to be martyrs, like St. Stephen and St. John – whose feasts the Church places respectively on the 26th and 27th of December, just after Christmas – how could they merit such an honour? He answers: By an act of the overflowing goodness of God.

The second thought is that we should consider them martyrs by the baptism of blood. In anticipation of the infinite merits of His Redemption, Our Lord would have granted those children the same status as those who died after being baptized, after the Sacrament was instituted by Our Lord. This would be an exception to the rule, and the Holy Innocents should be considered martyrs by the baptism of blood.

I don’t know all the details of the theological discussion on this topic, but I highly respect the opinion of Dom Guéranger. I believe he helps to explain why Holy Mother Church considers them Holy Innocents who are enjoying the beatific vision.

This feast day of the Holy Innocents also includes all those children who died soon after being baptized and are in Heaven. Then, we have a legion of innocents who are in Heaven and continuously pray for us. We understand that the population of Heaven increases daily with the great number of children who die in this condition. The thrones of the angels who followed Satan in his rebellion are being taken by these children.

But our epoch is so revolutionary and evil that many children cannot be baptized before they die. First, because of the general paganization of customs, whereby many parents do not care about the spiritual benefit of their children and let them die without being baptized. Second, we have the monstrous practice of abortion that takes the lives of children still in the womb of their mothers, or immediately after the child is removed from it. Neither the mother nor the surgeon is concerned about baptizing the child in those few moments he is still alive. It is another reason for us to fight against the Revolution and against abortion.

If we were to have a canonized person in our families, we would be strong devotees of that saint. This is understandable. Now then, in almost all our families we have some children, sons or daughters, brothers or sisters, cousins or other relatives, who died soon after being baptized. They are in Heaven and are able to see God face-to-face and to perfectly understand our needs. So, when we are in difficulties, we should remember those children and ask their intercession. They are the natural patron saints of the families to whom they belonged. It is very advantageous and worthwhile to pray to them and ask them to protect us.

This is my suggestion on this feast day of the Holy Innocents.

Beginning of Birth Pain: Beginning of the end of Age.

Mathew 24 : Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.

“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. 10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

We may wonder why this pandemic followed by War in past Couples of years. As I was reflecting upon these events I remembered Mathew Chapter 24 , where Jesus predicted the signs of the end of Age. If we reflect upon this chapter almost all the signs are matching with the reality of today. Does that mean that the end of the World has Come? We are not sure of the end of the Age but one thing is sure that all these are the beginning of birth pains. When the birth pains start , they start much ahead of the delivery and these pains are the beginning and are mild but as the child birth is getting closer and closer the pain increases to the greater altitude.

There are three Spiritual things we must note of the signs i.e. Persecutions of the Faithful, preaching of the Gospel to the Whole World as testimony to all nations, False Prophets and False Messiahs. God is faithful and does not want a single soul to go in the hand of Satan. The Gospel of Good News comes by default to every soul as a saving power of God. It is for people to accept or deny the Gospel of love. On the judgement day the books of the living will be opened and there will be claiming of souls. Satan will claim his followers in this World and the people who lived the Gospel of love will be given eternal life. Many will try to defend themselves that they were ignorant or did not get the opportunity to believe in the Gospel , to counter this claim the Gospel must reach each and every person as a testimony. Every denial of the act of love is recorded in this Testimony and read aloud during the judgement Day.

Persecutions are the spiritual warfare which must happen when the Gospel of love is preached to the end of the Earth. The Evil in the World will be disturbed and become Violent and attack God’s people to take revenge, these are called persecutions of the faithful. We see the persecutions of the Early Christians , they were so severe that they could not show their identity as Christians. When the end of time comes these persecutions will be much more than of the Early Christians because the Goodnews is preached all over the World.

False Prophets and False Messiahs are already visible in our times. There are many people who claim themselves as Gods are false Messiahs. False Prophets are all those leaders who preach the Gospel and do not practice it.They are Wolves in Sheep clothes. Their main aim is Money, Success, selfishness and power. When the persecutions will come at the behest of the Gospel , these false Prophets will run away leaving God’s People in the hands of the Persecutors in order to save their life.

Who will be saved? The people who will remain firm in their faith till the end will be saved and will meet the Lord. What is firm in faith means to a faithful. If we have a trusting relationship with our Lord in all circumstances we will be saved ….rest everything will fall in line.

Saint of the Day : St.Stephen

† Saint of the Day †
(December 26)

✠ St. Stephen ✠

Deacon and Protomartyr:

Born: AD 5

Died: AD 34
Jerusalem, Judaea, Roman Empire

Venerated in:
Roman Catholic Church
Eastern Catholic Churches
Eastern Orthodox Church
Oriental Orthodox Churches
Assyrian Church of the East
Anglican Communion

Feast: December 25

Altar Servers; Acoma Indian Pueblo; Casket makers; Cetona, Italy; Deacons; Headaches; Horses; Kessel, Belgium; Masons; Owensboro, Kentucky; Passau, Germany; Serbia; Republic of Srpska; Prato, Italy

Saint Stephen traditionally venerated as the protomartyr or first martyr of Christianity, was according to the Acts of the Apostles a deacon in the early church at Jerusalem who aroused the enmity of members of various synagogues by his teachings. Accused of blasphemy, at his trial, he made a long speech denouncing the Jewish authorities who were sitting in judgment on him and was then stoned to death. His martyrdom was witnessed by Saul of Tarsus, a Pharisee who would later become a follower of Jesus and known as Paul the Apostle.

Biographical selection:
“Now Stephen, full of grace and fortitude, did great wonders and miracles among the people.

“Now there arose some of that which is called a synagogue, of the Libertines, and of the Cyrenians, and of Alexandrians, and those of Cilicia and Asia, disputing with Stephen. And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit that spoke ….

“Now hearing these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed with their teeth at him. But he being full of the Holy Ghost, looking up steadfastly to Heaven, saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. And he said: Behold I see the heavens opened, and the Son of the man standing at the right hand of God.

“And they, crying out with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and with one accord rushed violently upon him. And casting him out of the city, they stoned him and the witness laid down their garments at the feet of a young man, whose name was Saul.

“And they stoned Stephen, invoking and saying: Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.

“And falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, saying: Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep in the Lord” (Acts 6:8-10; 7:54-59).

The text is so beautiful that almost every phrase deserves a commentary. The scene develops in successive steps, each one with its own character.

The first step presents St. Stephen as doing wonderful things. The imponderables of the language of Scriptures transmit the picture of a virginal man, and then the text adds that he was full of grace and strength. To describe St. Stephen, the Holy Ghost utilized the same expression – “full of grace” – that the Archangel Gabriel used to greet Our Lady, which is a great honour for St. Stephen. He was a man with the plenitude of strength, and also the plenitude of virtue and grace that acted in him.

In the second step, we learn about the people to whom he was preaching. He was working his miracles in the midst of those apostate Jews. Jerusalem was a convergence point for Jews from many parts of the world. This is why Scriptures specifies the different synagogues of peoples – the Libertines, Cyrenians, Alexandrians, and so on. Witnessing the miracles of St. Stephen, these people hated him and began to resort to chicaneries and sophisms in order to embarrass him.

In the third step, we see his disputation with the Jews. He responded so well to his adversaries that the polemic begun by the Jews backfired on them. They became confused and dumbfounded. Prior to this, they could not support his miracles, and after he argued, they could not support his superb argumentation. Their hatred increased to the degree St. Stephen manifested the admirable aspects of his soul.

In the fourth step, that hatred increased and the people who opposed St. Stephen began to gnash their teeth in fury. What was the object of that hatred? It was good, in and of itself. They hated the good because the good is good, and not for any other reason. A person who does not understand reality would say: “No, they didn’t like him because he made this or that small error when he was explaining his topic, or he lacked the skill to address a particular matter.” Such a person has an erroneous interpretation of reality.

Those Jews understood perfectly what St. Stephen was saying and doing. They saw that those things were marvellous, and they hated those things because they were good. The nature of evil is such that it attacks well because it is good. This is the perfidy of evil. This is the essence of its iniquity. The more good and truth manifest themselves, the more the sons of darkness hate them.

Those were the same people who had preferred Barrabas to Our Lord and had called for His death. This is the iniquity of evil and the malice of sin. This malice is different from that of a person who commits a sin. This kind of malice comes from one who has rejected the good and loves the evil that he does.

In the fifth step, after closing the polemic, St. Stephen raised his eyes to Heaven and gave testimony to the divinity of Our Lord, Whom he was seeing in a vision. He spoke in a way that left no room for doubt that he was speaking the truth. His words reflected the Holy Ghost Who was filling his soul. He was experiencing a mystical ecstasy, and this supernatural reality was made apparent to those around him.

Someone could object that it would have been more prudent and efficacious for St. Stephen to have fled the challenge. He would have lived longer and perhaps converted those men. The answer is that St. Stephen was filled with the Holy Ghost when he responded as he did. Therefore, he acted correctly.

Also at the beginning of the disputation, it was not certain that the mob would murder him. If those people had corresponded to grace, they would have converted. He acted as he did to convert them. He showed them ever greater wonders. He was trying to touch those souls and conquer them for the good. But they refused all those graces. As the episode reached its apex, they made the decision to stone him. He used the perfect method of apostolate: he tried to illuminate their intelligence and move their hearts.

The sixth step is murder. Those present pretended to be shocked by the supposed blasphemous words of St. Stephen and covered their ears. At the same time, they decided to kill him. They left their mantles next to a man called Saul, who would be the future St. Paul according to many interpreters, and went to stone the Saint.

Like the second Lamb of God, he stood alone, looking up toward Heaven, blood pouring from his wounds, but serene and saying the prayer: “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” You can imagine the impression this made on the spectators.

Then, as the stones continued to hit him, he fell onto his knees and asked Our Lord to forgive those criminals. Finally, “he fell asleep in the Lord.” Everything was finished. His body was covered with blood and wounds, but on his face was a tranquil expression. He had entered into the sleep of the just. His martyrdom was consummated, and his soul flew to Heaven. We see a scene truly worthy of being the first martyrdom of the Church, described with the inspired language of Scriptures.

Committed Christians of love.

Thursday of the 4th week of Advent
December 22, 2022

Today’s Readings:

1 Samuel 1:24-281 Samuel 2:1, 4-7, 8abcd
Luke 1:46-56
USCCB Podcast of the Readings:

I see many people follow Jesus, some have even given their life for the Lord in theory but in practical they do not live in the love of God but live in double standard. For the World they are committed people of God but in reality they are Wolves in Sheep clothes. Their life is full of selfishness and love for this World. Some people are lukewarm , sometimes they follow the Lord and other times they are with the Worldly ways. This is the reason these kind of people are not anointed and no mission has been assigned by the Lord. They assign their own missions and exalt themselves as God’s servants, these are false Prophets and false Virgins of our times. Their work is full of Worldly prosperity and Show off and there is no charity or Evangelisation.

If we look at today’s Readings we have two Biblical figures i.e. Samuel and Mother Mary.Samuel was born to Hannah after her heartfelt prayers and Mother Mary was born to Jochim and Anne in their old age. Both the children were dedicated to the Temple in their childhood. The vow of Chastity as Virgin even existed in the old testament and among the Jews. Holiness and a dedicated life of love is the original plan of God. Many Spiritualities emerged in the medieval which embraced the vow of Chastity, poverty and prayer . This was not limited to the religious orders but even the lay people lived in imitation of Christ. The dedicated people have always made a difference in the Plan of Salvation.

We need dedicated and committed people to change the World in the modern World. Prophet Samuel was a great Prophet who anointed King Saul and King David. Mother Mary became Mother of the Saviour and Redeemer in this World. When men and Women of God commit themselves to the love of God, God assigns them a mission and anoints them with power and Grace. When man takes one step towards God, God comes forward with a thousand steps.

When we commit our life to the Lord, the anointing or commissioning is automatic , it empowers us and directs us. This is the Spirit of God who leads in our Spiritual journey, this is called the pilgrim church who walks towards Jerusalem to meet our Lord. Church is not a Worldly institution but the spiritual body of Christ. Providence , protection and direction must be sought from the Spirit of God. The Church teachings and Canon Law is inspired by the Spirit of God but implementation of these teachings and Law must be done in love and not as an obligation or Law and order.

As we approach the birth day of our Lord, we must realise why Jesus was born in the World and why we are born in this World. If we have a genuine reflection of these questions then we are not far from our mission.

Prayer: Lord Make us your committed and dedicated followers in love , charity and discipline. Amen.

Saint of the Day December- 22

† Saint of the Day †
(December 22)

✠ Blessed Jacopone da Todi ✠

Franciscan Friar/ Lay Brother:

Born: 1230 AD
Todi, Umbria, Papal States

Died: December 25, 1306
Collazzone, Umbria, Papal States

Major shrine:
Church of San Fortunato, Todi, Perugia, Italy

Fra Jacopone da Todi was an Italian Franciscan friar from Umbria in the 13th century. He wrote several Laudi (songs in praise of the Lord) in the local vernacular. He was an early pioneer in Italian theatre, being one of the earliest scholars who dramatised Gospel subjects.

About the year 1230, a son was born to the noble family of the Benedetti at Todi in northern Italy. He received the name of Giacomo (Jacomo) or James in baptism. As a young man, he devoted himself to the study of law and soon became a very capable and celebrated lawyer. At the same time, Blessed Jacopone of Todi was very proud, vain, and worldly-minded. His young wife Vanna, on the other hand, was humble, devout, and generous. She regretted the worldly disposition of her husband and endeavoured to make amends before God for many of his failings.

One day in 1268, yielding to the wish of her husband, she attended a public tournament that was being held at Todi. Suddenly and unexpectedly, the stand-in which she and many other noblewomen were seated, collapsed, and she was fatally injured. When her clothes were removed, it was seen that she wore about her waist a penitential girdle. James was deeply shaken at the sight. It was surely for me, he thought to himself, that she was doing such penance.

On the spot, Blessed Jacopone of Todi resolved to abandon the vanities of the world, to live in extreme poverty, and for Christ’s sake to become a fool. He divided his possessions among the poor and entered the Third Order. Clothed in rags, he went about the streets of the city, an object of derision to the children and horror to the adults, laughed at and mocked as a fool and despised as a penitent by many who had once admired him as a learned and prominent man. In derision he was given the name of Jacopone, that is, “Crazy Jim.” He rejoiced in the name so much that he never wanted to be called otherwise.

After ten years of such humiliation, Blessed Jacopone of Todi asked to be admitted into the Order of Friars Minor. The repute of his folly, however, had gone ahead of him to the convent, and so he met with difficulties. He then composed a beautiful poem, which is still extant, on the vanity of the world, and its merit opened the way for his admission into the order in 1278. From that time forward he lived an unusually rigorous life, striving hard to achieve perfection in every virtue. Out of humility, he declined to be ordained a priest, yet he accomplished much good by his thoughtful and tender hymns, which he wrote in the vernacular.

Is it possible for a good and holy man to find himself suddenly on the wrong side in a conflict? That is what happened to Brother Jacopone in his old age. Having become a leader of the Spirituals, those friars who sought to imitate the poverty of St. Francis in a very strict manner, Jacopone also became associated with the two Colonna cardinals, Jacopo and Pietro, who were regarded as protectors of the Spirituals. These cardinals were also friends of Pope St Celestine V, who ruled the Church during the latter half of 1294 and then resigned. Unfortunately, the Colonna cardinals rebelled against Celestine’s successor, Boniface VIII, and questioned the validity of his election. Jacopone, who was undoubtedly in good faith, was with the Colonna cardinals when their fortress at Palestrina fell in September 1298; and so, at the age of sixty-eight, he was excommunicated and thrown into prison. Although Jacopone now realized he had made a mistake and begged Boniface VIII for absolution, it was only five years later, in October 1303, that Boniface’s successor, Benedict XI, absolved him and released him from his dungeon.

Jacopone had borne the hardships of his imprisonment in the spirit of penance; and he now spent the last three years of his life among his brethren, a more spiritual man than before. It was probably at this time that he wrote that masterpiece of Latin hymnology, the Stabat Mater. During those last years, Blessed Jacopone of Todi did not cease to weep.

“I weep,” he said, “because Love is not loved.”

On Christmas eve, 1306, while he and some of his brethren were in the Poor Clare convent at Collazzone, Jacopone knew that his last hour had come; and, like St Francis, he welcomed Sister death with song. His friend, Blessed John of La Verna, miraculously appeared on the scene and administered the last sacraments to him. Then Jacopone sang one of his favourite poems:

“Jesus, In Thee is all our trust, high hope of every heart.”

When Blessed Jacopone of Todi had finished his song, he closed his eyes; and, it is claimed, he died from an excess of love for the Infant Jesus, just as the priest who was celebrating the midnight Mass intoned the Gloria in Excelsis Deo; “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men of goodwill!”

From the time of his death, Brother Jacopone was venerated as a saint; and in popular devotion, he has been called Blessed Jacopone through the centuries. In 1596 his remains were enclosed in a magnificent tomb and placed in the Church of San Fortunato at Todi. At different times, for instance, in 1868-1869, attempts were made to have his cause of beatification introduced in Rome; but thus far his veneration as Blessed has not been officially approved.

Daily Readings – December 21

Daily Readings: December -21

Optional Memorial of Saint Peter Canisius, priest and doctor of the Church

Lectionary: 694

Below are the readings suggested for today’s Memorial. However, readings for the Memorial may also be taken from the Common of Pastors, #719-724, or the Common of Doctors of the Church, #725-730.

Reading 1

2 Tm 4:1-5

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus,
who will judge the living and the dead,
and by his appearing and his kingly power:
proclaim the word;
be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient;
convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching.
For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine but,
following their own desires and insatiable curiosity,
will accumulate teachers and will stop listening to the truth
and will be diverted to myths.
But you, be self-possessed in all circumstances;
put up with hardship;
perform the work of an evangelist;
fulfill your ministry.

Responsorial Psalm

Ps 40:2 and 4, 7-8a, 8b-9, 10, 11

R.    (8a and 9a)  Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.
I have waited, waited for the LORD,
and he stooped toward me and heard my cry.
And he put a new song into my mouth,
a hymn to our God.
R.    Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.
Sacrifice or oblation you wished not,
but ears open to obedience you gave me.
Burnt offerings or sin-offerings you sought not;
then said I, “Behold I come.”
R.    Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.
“In the written scroll it is prescribed for me,
To do your will, O my God, is my delight,
and your law is within my heart!”
R.    Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.
I announced your justice in the vast assembly;
I did not restrain my lips, as you, O LORD, know.
R.    Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.
Your justice I kept not hid within my heart;
your faithfulness and your salvation I have spoken of;
I have made no secret of your kindness and your truth
in the vast assembly.
R.    Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.


Mt 5:16

R.    Alleluia, alleluia.
Let your light shine before others,
that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.
R.    Alleluia, alleluia.


Mt 5:13-19

Jesus said to his disciples:
“You are the salt of the earth.
But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned?
It is no longer good for anything
but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
You are the light of the world.
A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden.
Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket;
it is set on a lampstand,
where it gives light to all in the house.
Just so, your light must shine before others,
that they may see your good deeds
and glorify your heavenly Father.

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets.
I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.
Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away,
not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter
will pass from the law,
until all things have taken place.
Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments
and teaches others to do so
will be called least in the Kingdom of heaven.
But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments
will be called greatest in the Kingdom of heaven.”

Saint of the Day: December-21

† Saint of the Day †
(December 21)

✠ St. Peter Canisius ✠

Priest, Religious and Doctor of the Church:

Born: May 8, 1521
Nijmegen, Duchy of Guelders, Habsburg Netherlands

Died: December 21, 1597 (Aged 76)
Fribourg, Switzerland

Venerated in: Catholic Church

Beatified: 1864 AD
Pope Pius IX

Canonized: May 21, 1925
Pope Pius XI

Major shrine:
College of St. Michael, Fribourg, Switzerland

Feast: December 21

Catholic Press, Germany

Biographical selection:
Peter Canisius was a renowned Dutch Jesuit Catholic priest. He became known for his strong support for the Catholic faith during the Protestant Reformation in Germany, Austria, Bohemia, Moravia, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. The restoration of the Catholic Church in Germany after the Protestant Reformation is largely attributed to the work thereof the Society of Jesus, which he led. He is venerated in the Catholic Church as a saint and as a Doctor of the Church.

In 1555, Emperor Ferdinand of Austria wrote to St. Peter Canisius this letter about the first part of the catechism he had written:

“Most worthy Father, and dear friend.

“We have read and examined the first part of your catechism. With God’s help, we judge that the publication of such a work will greatly help the eternal salvation of our faithful subjects. We ask, therefore, that you finish it without delay and send us a complete copy of it so that we might have it translated into the German language. After it is published in Latin and German, it will be used to teach the youth in all our schools, to the exclusion of any other. Whosoever will not obey this decree will incur severe penalties and our indignation.

“We order that you include in the margins references to the books and chapters of the texts from Scripture, the Church Fathers, and Doctors, as well Canon Law, which you quote with such great erudition throughout the work. This will permit the less instructed masters and people to refer to those originals.

“We have great hope that by this means, those who have fallen into error will be brought back to the bosom of Holy Mother Church, and that many will adhere to the doctrine of your work after examining the original sources you used. You will help thousands of souls and will receive a hundredfold from Almighty God in recompense.

“As a Christian King sincerely concerned about the eternal salvation of our faithful subjects, we will provide with our royal munificence financial compensation for you and your religious society.” Presbourg, March 16, 1553.

We also have an excerpt to read from a sermon by St. Peter Canisius about the corruption of the clergy in Germany: “We have dishonoured the altar of God with impure hands and corrupted lips, with our polluted hearts, scandalous lives, and enormous abuses. Our sin is all the greater because we insult the [priestly] dignity that was bestowed upon us. Therefore, because of us, the name of God is blasphemed. For such men, there is no honesty in the home, no sobriety at the table, no continence in the bed, no studying from their books, and no devotion in their hearts.”

Each of the two texts deserves a commentary.

The first selection presents the position of Emperor Ferdinand of Austria about the dissemination of the Catholic Faith in his Empire.

You can note that in this excerpt the Emperor took some positions influenced by the error of Royalism (or Regalism), that is, an undue interference of the Monarch in Church affairs. He decreed on the use of St. Peter Canisius’ catechism as if he were a spiritual authority. He stated that the royal authority would forbid the distribution of any other catechism in Austria and favour only this one. Then, he gave an order to St. Peter Canisius to reference his quotations in the margins as if the saint were his functionary.

While it is true that this disagreeable note appears in the letter, there is, notwithstanding, an aspect that is very praiseworthy. It even offers a lesson of virtue for today’s man, who has become accustomed to the massive laicism of our days. In this letter, we can see the remarkable desire of a Catholic King to disseminate the true doctrine in his kingdom.

You can see that he received the first part of the catechism, analyzed it, and formed a high judgment of it and of St. Peter Canisius. Then, he ardently desired to spread it everywhere in his kingdom. To this end, he requested that the work be completed as soon as possible. He explained to the Saint the good results he expected from his catechism and also promised to translate it into German. The dissemination of that catechism was a great work of the Counter-Revolution; therefore, the Emperor was doing great good for the Church.

This particular catechism was important because many other authors who were writing Catholic catechisms were making concessions to the errors of the time, and for this reason, had a Protestant flavour. So it was rare, even then, to find a good catechism that was orthodox and simultaneously accessible to the average youth and children. Therefore, you can understand the eagerness of the Emperor to take advantage of this opportunity. The good Catholic Emperor took a position of zeal.

The Emperor wanted to establish St. Peter Canisius’ catechism as the only one because it was his mission to defend the Faith. First, because he was Catholic, but second, because the greatest concern of the public power should be to spread the Catholic Faith. If the Catholic Faith is well taught and disseminated in a kingdom, much good can be expected. If it is poorly taught and spread, no good will come from it, since the entire good comes only from the Holy Catholic Faith.

This fundamental concern is at the heart of the letter, and it is good to see the representative of the highest power on earth so diligent in spreading solid Catholic doctrine.

If you compare his position with that of many powerful politicians of our time, you will understand how much the whole social order has declined, and healthy religious influence has diminished in the contemporary world. In this sense, the letter is edifying.

The second text is from a sermon of St. Peter Canisius who spoke about the situation of the German clergy of his time.

He spoke in the plural “we” not because he judged himself guilty, but as a courtesy to the others. A rule of courtesy says that when one has to reprimand another, instead of saying: “You have this defect,” one should say, “We have this defect.” This “we” is a polite way of saying things, anyone who is not a fool understands this.

It is a way of speaking that reveals his desire not to offend others, which is an action of politesse, a refined way of exercising the virtues of charity and justice. It reveals the respect we should have for someone we are reprimanding.

He very clearly and tersely pointed out the defects of the clergy of his time. It is always useful to see a saint reproving the clergy because the normal tendency of Catholic laymen is to take a position of respect, complacency and sympathy toward the clergy. While this tendency is good, what is not good is to close one’s eyes to the truth and reality. Also, a layman has the obligation to analyze the defects of the clergy. He should not deny the truth in the name of respect. This is clearly wrong. It is useful to see that the saints did not take this attitude.

St. Peter Canisius said that the clergy was composed of men whose lives were not honest. He said they were not sober at the table or pure in their beds. They had no care for the books in their studies and no devotion in their hearts. What is left? Nothing! It is a very strong reprimand. The saint looked and saw the situation clearly and objectively, and then he spoke with words that forcefully condemned the errors. It is good for us to see the example of a great saint like St. Peter Canisius to show us that we should be fearless of soul and speech in speaking out against the errors of today’s clergy as far as circumstances demand us to do so.

We should ask St. Peter Canisius to give us this grace!

Saint of the Day: December-19

† Saint of the Day †
(December 19)

✠ Pope Blessed Urban V ✠

200th Pope:

Birth name: Guillaume de Grimoard

Born: 1310 AD
Grizac, Languedoc, Kingdom of France

Died: December 19, 1370 (Aged 60)
Avignon, Papal States

Venerated in: Catholic Church

Beatified: March 10, 1870
Pope Pius IX

Feast day: December 19


Pope Urban V, born Guillaume de Grimoard, was Pope from 28 September 1362 until his death in 1370 and was also a member of the Order of Saint Benedict. He was the sixth Avignon Pope, and the only Avignon pope to be beatified.

There is so much information on this holy pontiff that it is only possible to touch on a few aspects of his life in this short article.

William de Grimoard was born into a noble family in the year 1310 at Grisac, Languedoc, France. He joined the Benedictine order and became a monk in Chirac, near his home. After being ordained, he studied theology and canon law at the universities of Toulouse, Montpellier, Paris, and Avignon, and received his doctorate in 1342. He went on to teach canon law at Montpellier and Avignon and served as Vicar General at Clermont and Uzes. Pope Clement VI appointed him Abbot of St. Germanus at Auxerre in 1352 and he served on many diplomatic missions to Italy.

Later the pope appointed him Abbot of St. Victor’s in Marseilles and legal advisor to Queen Joanna of Naples. In September of 1362, William de Grimoard was elected pope and took the name Urban V. He so loved the Benedictine order that even after becoming pope, he wore the Benedictine habit.

As pope, Urban immediately went about reforming the Church. He made peace with Barnabo Visconti and tried to suppress the marauding bands of soldiers in France and Italy, but was unsuccessful. During the time of Urban V, the papacy was in Avignon, and had been there for fifty years; however, at the urging of Emperor Charles IV, Urban returned the papacy to Rome. Rome had become rundown and the faithful had lost their zeal from the absence of the papacy. To the world, the return of the pontiff to Rome was seen as both a great event as well as a religious action. Urban V went to work right away restoring the rundown city, the basilicas, and papal palaces. To the poor and unemployed, he offered employment restoring the gardens of the Vatican. He introduced strict discipline within the clergy and encouraged frequent use of the sacraments.

In 1368, Urban V crowned Emperor Charles IV’s consort German empress and Charles agreed to respect the Church’s rights in Germany. The pope also received Greek Emperor John V Palaeologus back into the Church. All Urban’s attempts at peace, however, were disrupted when Perugia revolted and caused great unrest in Italy. Then war broke out between France and England. Urban had a great love for his country and decided to go there to try to bring about peace, even though St. Bridget had warned him that his return to Avignon would bring about his death. Deeply saddened by the state of affairs, he embarked on the journey anyway and three months after returning to Avignon, he died.

Urban was a peacemaker even though most of his efforts were in vain. He had all the right intentions and worked zealously to bring about peace in Europe. He was a great scholar and did much in the area of education by founding universities in Cracow and Vienna. He caused the emperor to build the University of Orange. He also provided financial aid to students who wanted to attend these universities.

Heavenly Father, we are grateful for all that Blessed Pope Urban V accomplished during his papacy and we thank you, Father, for the holy men who watch over our souls. Amen!
[12/19, 2:53 AM] Sr Mary Sumalata: † Saint of the Day †
(December 19)

✠ St. Anastasius I ✠

39th Pope:

Born: Not known

Died: December 19, 401

Venerated in: Catholic Church

The papacy began: November 27, 399

Papacy ended: December 19, 401

Predecessor: Pope Siricius

Successor: Pope Innocent I

Feast: December 19

Pope Anastasius I, served as pope from 27 November 399 to his death in 401. He stands out as a little known man, with one unusual characteristic: he was succeeded by his own son, Innocent I.

Anastasius was known as a pious youth and, apparently, cared nothing for material things as an adult. He was born about the year 330AD, a Roman, whose father’s name was Maximus. When he was a young man, Anastasius must have married and had at least one son. Relatively early, it would appear, Anastasius was widowed and never remarried.

It was a time of peace and growth for the Catholic Church and, despite wars in far off regions of the empire, it was a time of relative peace in the Western provinces. Anastasius became a cleric, and, it would make sense to assume, so did his son.

However, just a few years before Anastasius became pope, in 395, Emperor Theodosius died, leaving his eleven-year-old son, Honorius, to govern. The half-Vandal Stilicho became regent and power behind the throne. Within three years, Stilicho declared war on the North African province, when he heard rumours of the province succeeding and moving to the Eastern Empire. Africa was Rome’s breadbasket. The city of Rome panicked and civil turmoil resulted. The rebellion was quashed within a year and Anastasius was consecrated with the promise of more peace.

The Church had converted to Latin as its universal language, due to the expansion of the faith. It became necessary to have a common language for councils and synods, at this point. Many of the fathers of the Church and theologians thus wrote in or had works translated into, Latin. It often happened that the original authors were long dead at the time of the translation. Thus was the scenario when Anastasius ascended the Chair of Peter. The new pope, consecrated November 27, 399, received a letter from Patriarch Theophilus of Alexandria, expressing strong doubt about Origen’s fidelity to the Church. Rufinus of Aquileia had taken the time to translate Origen’s “First Principles” from the original Greek. St. Jerome, the elderly man who had worked so hard on the “Vulgate Bible”, had attacked Rufinus’ work. He felt the writings of Origen did not meet his sense of orthodoxy. Not being familiar with Origen’s work, Anastasius called a council to consider the problem. The council ultimately agreed with Jerome and claimed that Origen’s work was heterodox, thus eliminating it from acceptable belief.

Meanwhile, on the south side of the Mediterranean, the North African Christians were battling another heresy: the Donatists. Their main argument, in a nutshell, was that sacraments were valid, depending on the spiritual character of the priests and bishops. For the better part of one hundred years, the arguments had been continuing, despite the death of Donatus in 355, and several synods trying to straighten it out. In the late 300s, Augustine of Hippo argued and tried to settle the question. This was apparently of high interest to Anastasius, who encouraged the fight against this heresy. He did not live to see Emperor Honorius’ secretary of state declare Donatism illegal. But Augustine did.

Anastasius died December 19, 401, having ruled just over two years. He was buried in the cemetery of Pontian. Innocent I, succeeded his father.

Saint Anastasius, pray for us!

Saint of the Day: December-17

† Saint of the Day †
(December 17)

✠ St. John of Matha ✠

Confessor and Founder of the Trinitarians:

Born: June 23, 1160

Died: December 17, 1213

Venerated in: Roman Catholic Church

Canonized: October 21, 1666
Pope Alexander VII

Feast: December 17

Biographical selection:
Saint John of Matha was a Christian saint of the 12th century and founder of the Order of the Most Holy Trinity, dedicated to ransoming captive Christians.

St. John of Matha (1160-1213) was born of noble parents at Faucon in Provence, France. After a brilliant success in his studies in Paris, he became a priest.

At his first Mass, he had an inspiration to dedicate his life to the ransom of Catholic warriors made slaves by the Muslims in the Crusades.

To prepare himself for this work, he went to visit a hermit, St. Felix of Valois, to be instructed in the practice of perfection. When he revealed his plan, St. Felix was convinced that the design was from God, and offered to help him. Together they founded the Order of the Holy Trinity to ransom the captives. Soon, countless vocations came to the Order. The Trinitarians travelled with the Crusaders, teaching the soldiers, taking care of the sick, and dealing with the redemption of the captives.

St. John of Matha managed to free a great number of Catholic slaves in Morocco, Tunis, and Spain. On his second trip to Tunis in 1210, he suffered much from the infidels, who were enraged at his zeal and his success in exhorting the slaves to remain constant in their faith.

On his return with the 120 Catholics whom he had ransomed, he found that the Muslims had damaged the rudder of his ship and ripped its sails to prevent its safe arrival and cause the ship to perish at sea. But St. John of Matha, full of confidence in God, begged Him to be their pilot. He sewed together the cloaks of his companions and made new sails. Then, with a crucifix in his hands, he recited his Psalter as the ship sailed. They had a successful voyage and landed safely in the port of Ostia, near the mouth of the Tiber.

The Order of the Trinitarians founded by St. John of Matha was an extremely useful apostolate to maintain the Crusades in the elevated spirit intended by the Church when she convoked them. It was the noblest apostolate that indicates the close solidarity of this Saint with the movement of the Crusades.

Today those who speak against the Crusades do a very bad thing. The true saints were cooperators with and enthusiasts of the Crusades. The main goal of the Trinitarians, which was to ransom the captives, also had a favourable effect on the Crusaders, who had less fear to be captured and remain slaves of the Moors for a long period of time, or even indefinitely. St. John of Matha and his Order gave them the hope to be ransomed and return to the fight. Therefore, the work of the Saint was a very important support for the Crusades.

All this is very beautiful, a crown of gold. But the precious stone inlaid in this crown was the last fact in the narration. St. John of Matha embarked on a journey to cross the Mediterranean with 120 men in a ship with torn and useless sails. He improvised by making new sails, but they were insufficient. He did everything he could to restore the destroyed sails, but he knew his efforts were not enough. So, he had recourse to God. He prayed, he chanted the psalms with a crucifix in his hand as the ship continued on its way.

You can imagine the varying sentiments of those liberated captives on the ship. At times, they experienced a movement of confidence and enthusiasm for the Saint and his bold faith; at other times, they would feel a real panic to be lost at sea and die. St. John of Matha had to preach to them to have confidence in God. It was an adventure based upon the faith of one man. When the episode was told and spread throughout Christendom, it generated a great surge of good spirit and desire to go to the Crusades.

The principle that inspired St. John of Matha was the same that St. Ignatius of Loyola would formulate centuries later: Do everything as if it depended only on your action, then recognize that everything relies on God and not on you.

St. John of Matha applied this principle perfectly. He repaired the sails as well as he could and ordered the trip to go forward. At the same time, he prayed, recognizing that only God could make the voyage successful.

That vessel at sea, abandoned to its fate, reminds us of the fight to which we dedicate our lives. Our counter-revolutionary movement is also an abandoned ship, and the means we have to go ahead are nothing more than improvised sails in a small craft.

We should ask St. John of Matha and all saints who were in fights similar to ours, that they be spiritually present to help us in the dangers we will face so that we will do what we are supposed to do. As he did, we should sing prayers at the feet of Our Lady asking her that our ship arrives at a good port. That is to say, the complete defeat of the Revolution and the installation of the Reign of Mary on earth.
[12/17, 12:00 AM] Sr Mary Sumalata: † Saint of the Day †
(December 17)

✠ St. Olympias the Deaconess ✠


Born: 361–368 AD
Antioch or Constantinople

Died: July 25, 408

Venerated in:
Roman Catholic Church
Eastern Orthodox Church

Canonized: Pre-Congregation

Feast: December 17

Saint Olympias, sometimes known as Olympias the Younger to distinguish her from her aunt of the same name was a Christian Roman noblewoman of Greek descent.

This pious, charitable, and wealthy disciple of St. John Chrysostom came from an illustrious family in Constantinople. Her father (called by the sources Secundus or Selencus) was a “Count” of the empire. One of her ancestors, Ablabius, filled the consular office in 331 and was also praetorian prefect of the East.

As Olympias was not thirty years of age in 390, she cannot have been born before 361. Her parents died when she was quite young and left her an immense fortune. In either 384 or 385, she married Nebridius, the Prefect of Constantinople. St. Gregory of Nazianzus, who had left Constantinople in 381, was invited to the wedding, but wrote a letter excusing his absence, and sent the bride a poem. Within a short time, Nebridius died, and Olympias was left a childless widow. She steadfastly rejected all new proposals of marriage, determining to devote herself to the service of God and to works of charity. Nectarius, Bishop of Constantinople (381-97), consecrated her deaconess.

On the death of her husband, the emperor had appointed the urban prefect administrator of her property, but in 391 (after the war against Maximus) he restored to her the administration of her large fortune. She built beside the principal church of Constantinople a convent, into which three relatives and a large number of maidens withdrew with her to consecrate themselves to the service of God. When St. John Chrysostom became Bishop of Constantinople in 398, he acted as the spiritual guide of Olympias and her companions, and, as many undeserving approached the kind-hearted deaconess for support, he advised her as to the proper manner of utilizing her vast fortune in the service of the poor. Olympias resigned herself wholly to Chrysostom’s direction and placed at his disposal ample sums for religious and charitable objects. Even the most distant regions of the empire received her benefactions to churches and the poor.

When Chrysostom was exiled, Olympias supported him in every possible way, and remained a faithful disciple, refusing to enter into communion with his unlawfully appointed successor. Chrysostom encouraged and guided her through his letters, of which seventeen are extant. These are a beautiful memorial of the noble-hearted, spiritual daughter of the great bishop.

Olympias was also exiled, and died a few months after Chrysostom on July 25, 408, probably at Nicomedia. After her death, she was venerated as a saint. A biography dating from the second half of the fifth century, which gives particulars concerning her from the “Historia Lausiaca” of Palladius and from the “Dialogus de vita Joh. Chrysostomi”, proves the great veneration she enjoyed. During the riot of Constantinople in 532, the convent of St. Olympias and the adjacent church was destroyed.

Emperor Justinian had it rebuilt, and the prioress, Sergia, transferred there the remains of the foundress from the ruined church of St. Thomas in Brokhthes, where she had been buried. We possess an account of this translation by Sergia herself. The feast of St. Olympias is celebrated in the Greek Church on July 24, and in the Roman Church on December 17.