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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Saint Thomas the Apostle, Dec 21

Saint Thomas the Apostle, Dec 21

The Apostle Thomas ( whose name signifieth a twin, for which reason in Greek he is called Didymus) was a Galilean. The historian Eusebius saith that after the descent of the Holy Ghost Thomas preached the Gospel to many different peoples, such as the Parthians, Medes, Persians, Hyrcanians, and Bactrians. It is believed that he went last of all to India (for his ministry there is mentioned by holy Ephraem the Syrian, blessed Jerome, and others ) where, because of his holiness and wondrous works, he drew many after him, and brought them to Christ Jesus. For which reason he is said to have provoked the anger of the idolatrous king, who condemned him to be pierced with lances, whereby he crowned the dignity of his apostleship with the glory of martyrdom. Eight miles from Madras, on Big Hill in the Coromandel coast (called in the Martyrology Calamina), is a spot still pointed out as the place of his holy death. His relicks were reputed to have been translated to Edessa, thence to Chios in the Aegean, and later to Ortona in the Abruzzi, where they are to this day venerated with much devotion by the faithful.

A Homily by St. Gregory the Pope

Dearly beloved brethren, what do ye chiefly notice in this passage? Think ye that is was by accident that this chosen Apostle was not with them when Jesus came? Or that when he came, he heard? Or that when he heard, he doubted? Or that when he doubted, he touched? Or that when he touched, he believed? None of these things was accidental, but providential. It was a wonderful provision of divine mercy, that this incredulous disciple, by thrusting his fingers into the bodily wounds of His master, should apply a remedy to the spiritual wounds of unbelief in our souls. The doubts of Thomas have done us more good than the faith of all the disciples that believed. While he feeleth his way to faith by touching, our minds are freed from doubt, and settled in faith.

Antiphon on Magnificat:
O Thomas Didymus to whom it was given to touch the risen Christ, and who now with him art evermore on high, * we entreat thee to pray for us who suffer amidst the evils of this world, lest amongst the lost we receive the sentence of doom, when the Judge appeared.
Almighty and everliving God, who for the more confirmation of the Faith didst suffer thy holy Apostle Thomas to be doubtful in thy Son’s resurrection, grant us so perfectly, and without all doubt, to believe in thy Son Jesus Christ; that our faith in thy sight may never be reproved, through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Antiphon on the Benedictus:
Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed, * blessed are they that have not seen and yet have believed.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Fourth Sunday in Advent : From a sermon by St. Leo the Great

Fourth Sunday in Advent

From a sermon by St. Leo the Great

Dearly beloved, if we study diligently the history of the creation of our race, we shall find that man was made in the image of God, to the end that he might grow into his Maker’s likeness. This is the natural dignity of human nature, that in us, as in a mirror, there can be a reflection of the goodness of the divine nature. To help us attain this dignity, we are daily offered the grace of our Saviour, for as in the first Adam all men are fallen, so in the second Adam all men can be raised up again.

The cause of our restoration is the mercy of God, and nothing else. We could not love him unless he had first loved us, and scattered the darkness of our ignorance by the light of his truth. This the Lord promised by Isaiah, where he saith : I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not ; I will lead them in paths they that they have not known : I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight : these things will I do unto them and not forsake them. And again : I was found of them that sought me not ; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me.

From the Apostle John we learn how this was fulfilled : We know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son. And again : we love him, because he first loved us. God, by loving us, reneweth his image in us. And that he may find in us the likeness of his goodness, he giveth us grace to do his works. To this end he lighteth the soul as though it were a candle. And so it is that he doth enkindle in our hearts the fire of his holy charity, in order that we may love both him and whatsoever he loveth.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Fifth day in the Octave of the Conception of BVM, Dec. 12th

Fifth day in the Octave of the Conception of BVM, Dec. 12th

A Homily by St. Tharasius, the Patriarch of Constantinople

O Mary where shall I find words to praise thee? Maiden undefiled, Virgin unstained, exaltation of women, thy glory is in thy guilelessness, and thy name is a name of purity. In thee the curse of Adam is done away, and the debt of Eve paid. Thou art the clean offering of Abel, chosen out of the firstlings of the flock, a pure sacrifice. Thou art the hope of Enoch, that firm hope that he had in god, and was not ashamed.

Thou art the vision of the Prophets and the fulfilment of those things which they foretold. Thou art the gate whereof Ezekiel spake, when he prophesied and said : This gate shall be shut, it shall not be opened, and no man shall enter by it ; because the Lord, the God of Israel, hath entered in by it, therefore it shall be shut. Thou art the Rod of Jesse, whereof Isaiah spake, even the Rod whose flower is Christ, and whose offshoots shall choke out all the seedlings of sin, and fill the earth with plants of grace.

And now we, the people of God, a holy generation, an acceptable congregation, the nestlings of the dove of peace, the children of grace do with purified minds and unpolluted lips, praise God in the tongues of all nations on this joyful solemnity of the Virgin. This is a noble feast wherein the Angels keep holiday and men do most fitly offer praise, even a feast wherein we echo with reverence and joy that salutation first spoken by Gabriel. Hail Mary! Hail, thou Paradise of God the Father, whence the knowledge of him floweth in broad rivers to the ends of the earth. Hail, Dwelling-place of God the Son, whence he came forth clothed in flesh. Hail, mysterious Tabernacle of God the Holy Ghost. Hail, thou that art full of grace, the Lord is with thee, even the Lord that is before thee, and from thee, and that now is with us. To him, with the Father, and the most holy and lifegiving Spirit, be ascribed all praise, now and ever, world without end. Amen.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Dec. 9th, Second Day in the Octave of the Conception of BVM


A Homily by St. Sophronius, Patriarch of Jerusalem

When the blessed Angel was sent to the most pure Virgin, what did he say? In what words did he break the happy news of redemption? Hail, that that art full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Now this word hail in the original signifieth Rejoice. This this messenger of joy in his first word biddeth her rejoice. He knew well that his message was one of good tidings of great joy to men, yea, to all creatures, a message of healing to sicknesses. He knew well that his message was one of God’s light to a dark world, that it proclaimed the end of error, that it blunted the sting of death, that it broke the power of corruption, that it brought victory over hell. He knew well that it told of salvation to all the fallen children of Adam, groaning under that yoke of malediction which fell on them when they were thrust out of Eden, and banished from that happy home.

Wherefore, when he began to speak, he spake in tones of rejoicing, and opened his message with sounds of gladness. Therefore he made Joy the herald of these tidings of good things where were to be for a joy unto all believers. And, of a truth, it was fitting that God’s proclamation of joy should open with the accents of gladness. And this s the reason why the Angel nameth joy first, because he knew that the coming fruits of his message, and his converse with the Virgin, were to bring joy to the whole world. Can we find any joy or any brightness like the joy and the brightness of that salutation addressed to the Blessed Mother of Holy Joys?

Who will hold himself able to tell of all thy splendour? Thou art the exaltation of humanity ; thou art made much higher that the Angels ; thy brightness hath thrown the brightness of the Archangels into shadow ; thou lookest down upon the lofty seats of the Thrones ; thou makest the height of the Lordships to seem low ; thy rank taketh precedence before the rank of the Principalities ; compared with thee the Powers are weakness ; thou art a mighty one mightier than all the Mights ; thine earthly eyes see further than the contemplation of the Cherubim can reach ; the Seraphim have six wings, but thy flight is nobler than theirs. In a word, thou hast far excelled every other work of God ; for thou wast of a purity beyond any other creature ; and thou hast conceived the Creator of all creatures, carried him in thy womb, and brought him forth ; thou hast been chosen, out of all that he hath made, to be his Mother.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Dec. 6, Saint Nicholas, Bishop and Confessor

Dec. 6, Saint Nicholas, Bishop and Confessor
Nicholas was a most holy bishop of Myra in Asia Minor, who died about the year 352, and was there buried, and thence onwards held in highest veneration. Histories agree that he suffered imprisonment for the Faith, and made a glorious confession thereof in the latter part of Diocletian’s persecution, and that he was one of the conciliar fathers at Nicea. But the extraordinary devotion to him from the earliest days, which hath but increased with time, in the West as well as in the East, would seem to be the fruit of his saintliness and his consequent glory with God. * In the West he is reverenced as the patron of children, because of his miracles wrought to protect their innocence, and because of the prodigies of his own precocious devotion ; whereof it is related that as an infant he kept the fasts prescribed for adults, and hence never suckled more than once on Wednesdays and Fridays, and that always after sunset, according to the Canon Law of that day. Exemplifying his great charity is his secret aid to a certain poor man with three marriageable daughters, who for want of a dowry were in danger of being forced into harlotry ; he went to their house by night, and threw in a window ( some tellings make it the chimney) money sufficient for a dowry ; and this he did a second and third time, so that by his charity all three were honorably given in marriage. * In the East he is reverenced as the patron of sailors because, at their behest, he stilled a great tempest by his prayers whilst journeying by ship on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land ; so that the eastern greeting to seafarers is : May Saint Nicholas hold the tiller. Also, on his return from this pilgrimage, he came to Myra when the bishops of the province were deliberating as to the choice of a bishop for that See ; and they were warned to choose the first man that next crossed the threshold of the church, which same was Nicholas, who entered therein to make his devotions. By the Russians he is accounted with Saint Andrew the joint Patron of their nation. In addition to this, he is reckoned as the Patron also of Greece, Apulia, Sicily, and Lorraine. In 1034 his great shrine at Myra passed into the hands of the Saracens, whereat the merchants of Venice and Bari tried to outbid each other for the ransom of his relicks, and in 1087 the latter were permitted to carry them to Bari in Apulia, where they are still venerated by pilgrims from all over the world.


O God, who didst adorn thy blessed Bishop Saint Nicholas, with power to work many and great miracles, grant, we beseech thee that by his prayers and merits we may be delivered from the fires of everlasting torment, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.