Friday, December 25, 2015

Saint December 26 : St. Stephen : #Protomartyr : Patron of #Deacons; #Headaches; Horses; Masons

December 26: Saint Stephen the Protomartyr Posted by Jacob
"Christian friends, your voices raise.
Wake the day with gladness. God Himself to joy and praise turns our human sadness:
Joy that martyrs won their crown, opened heaven's bright portal, when they laid the mortal down for the life immortal." Today, December 26, we celebrate Saint Stephen’s Day, the feast day of Saint Stephen the Protomartyr (died 33). Prophetically, Stephen’s name means “crown,” and he was the first disciple of Jesus to earn the martyr’s crown. Saint Stephen recognized the love of Our Lord and Savior, and was willing to die for that love, on the day after the commemoration of his birth. As the light of Christmas burns brightly in our hearts, we turn our attention to this holy man who held true to the teachings of Christ, dying a glorious death for his beliefs!
The little we know about Saint Stephen is recorded in Chapters 6 and 7 of the Acts of the Apostles. As Scripture tells us, Stephen is the most famous of the seven deacons of the early Church—charged with caring for the widows and the poor. He was a man filled with grace and power, through whom God worked many miracles. Such was his wisdom that many were converted and became followers of Christ.
1 In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenistic Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. 2 So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. 3 Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them 4 and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.”
5 This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism. 6 They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them. 7 So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith. 8 Now Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed great wonders and signs among the people. 9 Opposition arose, however, from members of the Synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called)—Jews of Cyrene and Alexandria as well as the provinces of Cilicia and Asia—who began to argue with Stephen. 10 But they could not stand up against the wisdom the Spirit gave him as he spoke.
11 Then they secretly persuaded some men to say, “We have heard Stephen speak blasphemous words against Moses and against God.” 12 So they stirred up the people and the elders and the teachers of the law. They seized Stephen and brought him before the Sanhedrin. 13 They produced false witnesses, who testified, “This fellow never stops speaking against this holy place and against the law. 14 For we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs Moses handed down to us.”
15 All who were sitting in the Sanhedrin looked intently at Stephen, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel. (Acts 6)
As we can read, Stephen’s wisdom, grace, and influencing of hearts caused great concern to certain Jewish leaders-- members of the Synagogue of Roman Freedmen. These men debated with Stephen, but proved no match for the spirit of God shining through his words. Of course, this led to fear, and eventually Stephen was persecuted on false charges of blasphemy. Led before the Sanhedrin, he calmly—peacefully—spoke without fear regarding the Lord’s guidance throughout Israel’s history, as well as Israel’s idolatry and disobedience. He then claimed that his persecutors were showing this same spirit.
Saint Stephen spoke about Jesus, showing that He is the Savior, God had promised to send. He scolded his enemies for not having believed in Jesus. At that, they rose up in great anger and shouted at him. But Stephen looked up to Heaven and said that he saw the heavens opening and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.
1 Then the high priest asked Stephen, “Are these charges true?” 2a To this he replied: “Brothers and fathers, listen to me! 44 “Our ancestors had the tabernacle of the covenant law with them in the wilderness. It had been made as God directed Moses, according to the pattern he had seen. 45 After receiving the tabernacle, our ancestors under Joshua brought it with them when they took the land from the nations God drove out before them. It remained in the land until the time of David, 46 who enjoyed God’s favor and asked that he might provide a dwelling place for the God of Jacob. 47 But it was Solomon who built a house for him.
48 “However, the Most High does not live in houses made by human hands. As the prophet says:
49 “‘Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. What kind of house will you build for me? says the Lord. Or where will my resting place be? 50 Has not my hand made all these things?’
51 “You stiff-necked people! Your hearts and ears are still uncircumcised. You are just like your ancestors: You always resist the Holy Spirit! 52 Was there ever a prophet your ancestors did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him— 53 you who have received the law that was given through angels but have not obeyed it.” 54 When the members of the Sanhedrin heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. 55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”
57 At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, 58 dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep. (Acts 7: 1-2a; 44-59).
Saint Stephen was dragged outside the city gates, and stoned to death for his beliefs. We are reminded of Christ, in the example of Saint Stephen: He embodied a love so strong and pure that he gave himself over completely in love, finding in the midst of suffering, pain, and death the perfect charity to pray for and forgive his executioners! On the day after the joyful triumph of Our Lord in birth, we are confronted with the loving triumph of Saint Stephen in death—and are reminded that self-giving love requires sacrifice and sometimes suffering… like not only Saint Stephen, but our Lord and Savior on the Cross!
Lord,
today we celebrate the entrance of Saint Stephen into eternal glory. He died praying for those who killed him. Help us to imitate his goodness and to love our enemies. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Text Shared from 365Rosaries Blog

#Top 5 Christmas Carols to SHARE - #Carols #Video and #History


A Christmas Carol is a song or hymn dedicated to Christmas. They originated in Rome around the 4th Century AD. Here is a little history of the top 5 Christmas Carols in history. 
Silent Night, originally "Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht" in German, was written by the Catholic Priest Joseph Mohr and the melody composed by Franz Xaver Gruber. The tune was written in Austria in 1818. 
O Come, All Ye Faithful 
According to most sources the Adeste Fidelis  (O Come, All Ye Faithful in Latin) was composed there by John Reading about the year 1680. It is believed that the lyrics were written by Cistercian monks much earlier.
What Child is This was written in 1865 by William Chatterton Dix. It was set to the traditional English Tune of Greensleeves which originated around 1580. 
Away in a Manger was published in Philadelphia in 1885. It is uncertain who wrote the lyrics. However, the tune was called St. Kilda and attributed to J. E. Clark. 
Joy To The World was written by Isaac Watts and based on Psalm 98. It was published in 1719 and was arranged to music in 1839 by Lowell Mason. 
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#PopeFrancis "Where God is born, peace is born." #UrbietOrbi #Christmas Message - FULL TEXT - Video - SHARE

Pope Francis this Christmas day delivered his Urbi et Orbi message, to the city and the world from  St Peter's Basilica.
Here is the English translation of the Pope's message:
Message of His Holiness Pope Francis Urbi et Orbi
25 December 2015
Dear brothers and sisters, Happy Christmas! Christ is born for us, let us rejoice in the day of our salvation!
Let us open our hearts to receive the grace of this day, which is Christ himself. Jesus is the radiant “day” which has dawned on the horizon of humanity. A day of mercy, in which God our Father has revealed his great tenderness to the entire world. A day of light, which dispels the darkness of fear and anxiety. A day of peace, which makes for encounter, dialogue and reconciliation. A day of joy: a “great joy” for the poor, the lowly and for all the people (cf. Lk 2:10).
On this day, Jesus, the Saviour is born of the Virgin Mary. The Crib makes us see the “sign” which God has given us: “a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger” (Lk 2:12). Like the shepherds of Bethlehem, may we too set out to see this sign, this event which is renewed yearly in the Church. Christmas is an event which is renewed in every family, parish and community which receives the love of God made incarnate in Jesus Christ. Like Mary, the Church shows to everyone the “sign” of God: the Child whom she bore in her womb and to whom she gave birth, yet who is the Son of the Most High, since he “is of the Holy Spirit” (Mt 1:20). He is truly the Saviour, for he is the Lamb of God who takes upon himself the sin of the world (cf. Jn 1:29). With the shepherds, let us bow down before the Lamb, let us worship God’s goodness made flesh, and let us allow tears of repentance to fill our eyes and cleanse our hearts.
He alone, he alone can save us. Only God’s mercy can free humanity from the many forms of evil, at times monstrous evil, which selfishness spawns in our midst. The grace of God can convert hearts and offer mankind a way out of humanly insoluble situations.
Where God is born, hope is born. Where God is born, peace is born. And where peace is born, there is no longer room for hatred and for war. Yet precisely where the incarnate Son of God came into the world, tensions and violence persist, and peace remains a gift to be implored and built. May Israelis and Palestinians resume direct dialogue and reach an agreement which will enable the two peoples to live together in harmony, ending a conflict which has long set them at odds, with grave repercussions for the entire region.
We pray to the Lord that the agreement reached in the United Nations may succeed in halting as quickly as possible the clash of arms in Syria and in remedying the extremely grave humanitarian situation of its suffering people. It is likewise urgent that the agreement on Libya be supported by all, so as to overcome the grave divisions and violence afflicting the country. May the attention of the international community be unanimously directed to ending the atrocities which in those countries, as well as in Iraq, Libya, Yemen and sub-Saharan Africa, even now reap numerous victims, cause immense suffering and do not even spare the historical and cultural patrimony of entire peoples. My thoughts also turn to those affected by brutal acts of terrorism, particularly the recent massacres which took place in Egyptian airspace, in Beirut, Paris, Bamako and Tunis. To our brothers and sisters who in many parts of the world are being persecuted for their faith, may the Child Jesus grant consolation and strength.
We also pray for peace and concord among the peoples of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi and South Sudan, that dialogue may lead to a strengthened common commitment to the building of civil societies animated by a sincere spirit of reconciliation and of mutual understanding. May Christmas also bring true peace to Ukraine, offer comfort to those suffering from the effects of the conflict, and inspire willingess to carry out the agreements made to restore concord in the entire country. May the joy of this day illumine the efforts of the Colombian people so that, inspired by hope, they may continue their commitment to working for the desired peace.
Where God is born, hope is born; and where hope is born, persons regain their dignity. Yet even today great numbers of men and woman are deprived of their human dignity and, like the child Jesus, suffer cold, poverty, and rejection. May our closeness today be felt by those who are most vulnerable, especially child soldiers, women who suffer violence, and the victims of human trafficking and the drug trade. Nor may our encouragement be lacking to all those fleeing extreme poverty or war, travelling all too often in inhumane conditions and not infrequently at the risk of their lives. May God repay all those, both individuals and states, who generously work to provide assistance and welcome to the numerous migrants and refugees, helping them to build a dignified future for themselves and for their dear ones, and to be integrated in the societies which receive them.
On this festal day may the Lord grant renewed hope to all those who lack employment; may he sustain the commitment of those with public responsibilities in political and economic life, that they may work to pursue the common good and to protect the dignity of every human life. Where God is born, mercy flourishes. Mercy is the most precious gift which God gives us, especially during this Jubilee year in which we are called to discover that tender love of our heavenly Father for each of us. May the Lord enable prisoners in particular to experience his merciful love, which heals wounds and triumphs over evil.
Today, then, let us together rejoice in the day of our salvation. As we contemplate the Crib, let us gaze on the open arms of Jesus, which show us the merciful embrace of God, as we hear the cries of the Child who whispers to us: “for my brethren and companions’ sake, I will say: Peace be within you” (Ps 121[122]:8).

Free Catholic Movie : The Nativity Story - Stars Keisha Castle-Hughes

The Nativity Story (2006) 101 min - Drama | Family - 1 December 2006 (USA) A drama that focuses on the period in Mary and Joseph's life where they journeyed to Bethlehem for the birth of Jesus. Director: Catherine Hardwicke Writer: Mike Rich Stars: Keisha Castle-Hughes, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Oscar Isaac |
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Christmas Holy Mass Online : Readings and Video : December 25, 2015


The Nativity of the Lord (Christmas)
Mass at Midnight
Lectionary: 14
Reading 1IS 9:1-6
The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom
a light has shone.
You have brought them abundant joy
and great rejoicing,
as they rejoice before you as at the harvest,
as people make merry when dividing spoils.
For the yoke that burdened them,
the pole on their shoulder,
and the rod of their taskmaster
you have smashed, as on the day of Midian.
For every boot that tramped in battle,
every cloak rolled in blood,
will be burned as fuel for flames.
For a child is born to us, a son is given us;
upon his shoulder dominion rests.
They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero,
Father-Forever, Prince of Peace.
His dominion is vast
and forever peaceful,
from David’s throne, and over his kingdom,
which he confirms and sustains
by judgment and justice,
both now and forever.
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this!

Responsorial PsalmPS 96: 1-2, 2-3, 11-12, 13

R. (Lk 2:11) Today is born our Savior, Christ the Lord.
Sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all you lands.
Sing to the LORD; bless his name.
R. Today is born our Savior, Christ the Lord.
Announce his salvation, day after day.
Tell his glory among the nations;
among all peoples, his wondrous deeds.
R. Today is born our Savior, Christ the Lord.
Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice;
let the sea and what fills it resound;
let the plains be joyful and all that is in them!
Then shall all the trees of the forest exult.
R. Today is born our Savior, Christ the Lord.
They shall exult before the LORD, for he comes;
for he comes to rule the earth.
He shall rule the world with justice
and the peoples with his constancy.
R. Today is born our Savior, Christ the Lord.

Reading 2TI 2:11-14

Beloved:
The grace of God has appeared, saving all
and training us to reject godless ways and worldly desires
and to live temperately, justly, and devoutly in this age,
as we await the blessed hope,
the appearance of the glory of our great God
and savior Jesus Christ,
who gave himself for us to deliver us from all lawlessness
and to cleanse for himself a people as his own,
eager to do what is good.

AlleluiaLK 2:10-11

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I proclaim to you good news of great joy:
today a Savior is born for us,
Christ the Lord.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelLK 2:1-14

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus
that the whole world should be enrolled.
This was the first enrollment,
when Quirinius was governor of Syria.
So all went to be enrolled, each to his own town.
And Joseph too went up from Galilee from the town of Nazareth
to Judea, to the city of David that is called Bethlehem,
because he was of the house and family of David,
to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.
While they were there,
the time came for her to have her child,
and she gave birth to her firstborn son.
She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger,
because there was no room for them in the inn.

Now there were shepherds in that region living in the fields
and keeping the night watch over their flock.
The angel of the Lord appeared to them
and the glory of the Lord shone around them,
and they were struck with great fear.
The angel said to them,
“Do not be afraid;
for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy
that will be for all the people.
For today in the city of David
a savior has been born for you who is Christ and Lord.
And this will be a sign for you:
you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes
and lying in a manger.”
And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel,
praising God and saying:
“Glory to God in the highest
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

Saint December 25 : Birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ



Information:
Feast Day:December 25

Birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ
Feast: December 25
 Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, took human flesh in the womb of the Virgin Mary, and being made man, was born, for the redemption of mankind, at Bethlehem of Judea. Joseph and Mary had come up to Bethlehem to be enrolled, and, unable to find shelter elsewhere, they took refuge in a stable. The Blessed Virgin gave birth and wrapped the Infant in swaddling-clothes, and laid Him in the manger. Poor shepherds were seized with great fear, when heavenly messengers said to them: "Fear not: for behold I bring you good tidings of exceeding great joy, that shall be to all the people. For this day is born to you a Saviour, Who is Christ the Lord, in the  city of David. And this shall be a sign to you: you shall find the Child wrapped in swaddling-clothes, and laid in a manger." The shepherds said to one another: "Let us go over to Bethlehem, and let us see the word that is come to pass, which the Lord hath shown to us." They found Mary and Joseph, and the Infant lying in the manger.