Saturday, December 28, 2013

TODAY'S SAINT : THE FEAST OF THE HOLY FAMILY




CHURCHYEAR REPORT: The Feast of the Holy Family celebrates the family unit and the Holy Family: Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. The feast usually falls on the Sunday after Christmas. If Christmas is a Sunday, then the feast is celebrated on December 30th. In 2011, the feast falls on December 30th.

Basic Facts

Liturgical Color(s)
: 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
Scriptural References
: Matthew 2:13-23; Luke 2:1-24, Psalm 128, Colossians 3:12-21.

Introduction

The Holy Family is the name given to the family unit of Jesus: The Divine Son of God Jesus, his mother Mary, and his foster-father Joseph. We know very little about the life of the Holy Family through the Canonical Scriptures. 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 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. The cult of 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, we sanctify the family unit. Just how does one live out the Church in the family? The best way is by making Christ the center 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. In addition to cultivating positive actions, the Church understands that various actions and behaviors are contrary to God's Divine plan for the family, and these should be avoided. These include abortion, contraception, same-sex marriage, polygamy, embryonic stem-cell research, divorce, spousal abuse, child abuse, and co-habitation. Catholic Teaching is that a marriage must be open to children. Anything artificial that prevents this is contrary to divine law, although spacing births for a just reason is permitted (and may be licitly accomplished through "natural family planning"). Also, poverty, lack of health care, rights violations, government intrusion in the life of communities and families, and other justice concerns must be addressed by faithful Christians because of the negative effect these conditions have on the family unit. St. Paul gives us some 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 (RSV).
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. 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, neighborhoods, and communities.

History

In 1643 Louis and Barbe d'Ailleboust came to Canada in order to devote their lives to the welfare of the natives there. After her husband had passed away, Barbe, with the assistance of the Jesuit Father Chaumonot, founded the Confraternity of the Holy Family. The confraternity and devotion to the Holy Family spread all over Canada and had the effect of promoting good morals. Monsignor François de Laval invited her to Quebec, and gave her the general management if the confraternity, which still exists today. In 1675, the now Bishop de Laval had a little book printed in Paris instructing the members of the confraternity as to virtuous practices. Bishop de Laval also established the feast of the Holy Family, and had a mass and office drawn up which are proper to the Diocese of Québec. The feast was later added in 1921 to the General calendar of the Western Rite as a way to counteract the breakdown of the family. http://www.churchyear.net/holyfamily.html

 

SUNDAY MASS ONLINE : DEC. 29, 2013 - FEAST OF THE HOLY FAMILY - A

Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph
Lectionary: 17


Reading 1  SIR 3:2-6, 12-14

God sets a father in honor over his children;
a mother’s authority he confirms over her sons.
Whoever honors his father atones for sins,
and preserves himself from them.
When he prays, he is heard;
he stores up riches who reveres his mother.
Whoever honors his father is gladdened by children,
and, when he prays, is heard.
Whoever reveres his father will live a long life;
he who obeys his father brings comfort to his mother.

My son, take care of your father when he is old;
grieve him not as long as he lives.
Even if his mind fail, be considerate of him;
revile him not all the days of his life;
kindness to a father will not be forgotten,
firmly planted against the debt of your sins
—a house raised in justice to you.

Responsorial PsalmPS 128:1-2, 3, 4-5

R. (cf. 1) Blessed are those who fear the Lord and walk in his ways.
Blessed is everyone who fears the LORD,
who walks in his ways!
For you shall eat the fruit of your handiwork;
blessed shall you be, and favored.
R. Blessed are those who fear the Lord and walk in his ways.
Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine
in the recesses of your home;
your children like olive plants
around your table.
R. Blessed are those who fear the Lord and walk in his ways.
Behold, thus is the man blessed
who fears the LORD.
The LORD bless you from Zion:
may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem
all the days of your life.
R. Blessed are those who fear the Lord and walk in his ways.

Reading 2                                COL 3:12-21

Brothers and sisters:
Put on, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved,
heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience,
bearing with one another and forgiving one another,
if one has a grievance against another;
as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do.
And over all these put on love,
that is, the bond of perfection.
And let the peace of Christ control your hearts,
the peace into which you were also called in one body.
And be thankful.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly,
as in all wisdom you teach and admonish one another,
singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs
with gratitude in your hearts to God.
And whatever you do, in word or in deed,
do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus,
giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Wives, be subordinate to your husbands,
as is proper in the Lord.
Husbands, love your wives,
and avoid any bitterness toward them.
Children, obey your parents in everything,
for this is pleasing to the Lord.
Fathers, do not provoke your children,
so they may not become discouraged.

OrCOL 3:12-17

Brothers and sisters:
Put on, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved,
heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience,
bearing with one another and forgiving one another,
if one has a grievance against another;
as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do.
And over all these put on love,
that is, the bond of perfection.
And let the peace of Christ control your hearts,
the peace into which you were also called in one body.
And be thankful.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly,
as in all wisdom you teach and admonish one another,
singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs
with gratitude in your hearts to God.
And whatever you do, in word or in deed,
do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus,
giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Gospel                  MT 2:13-15, 19-23

When the magi had departed, behold,
the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said,
“Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt,
and stay there until I tell you.
Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.”
Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night
and departed for Egypt.
He stayed there until the death of Herod,
that what the Lord had said through the prophet might be fulfilled,
Out of Egypt I called my son.

When Herod had died, behold,
the angel of the Lord appeared in a dream
to Joseph in Egypt and said,
“Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel,
for those who sought the child’s life are dead.”
He rose, took the child and his mother,
and went to the land of Israel.
But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea
in place of his father Herod,
he was afraid to go back there.
And because he had been warned in a dream,
he departed for the region of Galilee.
He went and dwelt in a town called Nazareth,
so that what had been spoken through the prophets
might be fulfilled,
He shall be called a Nazorean.

MOVIE - BECKET - STARRING PETER O'TOOLE - WATCH

FOR AMAZING FREE MOVIES LIKE US ON FACEBOOK
In honor of the Feast of St. Thomas Becket JCE News is sharing the entire film BECKET. This Hollywood production stars the award winning Richard Burton and Peter O'Toole.
St. Thomas Becket

ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY AND MARTYR

Feast: December 29
1118 - 1170 AD
Becket was in conflict with King Henry II of England over the rights and privileges of the Church and was murdered by followers of the king in Canterbury Cathedral.

TODAY'S SAINT : DEC. 29 : ST. THOMAS BECKET

St. Thomas Becket
ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY AND MARTYR
Feast: December 29


Information:
Feast Day:December 29
Born:21 December 1118 at London, England
Died:29 December 1170 in the Cathedral at Canterbury, England
Canonized:21 February 1173 by Pope Alexander III
Patron of:clergy
There is a romantic legend that the mother of Thomas Becket was a Saracen princess who followed his father, a pilgrim or crusader, back from the Holy Land, and wandered about Europe repeating the only English words she knew, "London" and "Becket," until she found him. There is no foundation for the  story. According to a contemporary writer, Thomas Becket was the son of Gilbert Becket, sheriff of London; another relates that both parents were of Norman blood. Whatever his parentage, we know with certainty that the future chancellor and archbishop of Canterbury was born on St. Thomas day, 1118, of a good family, and that he was educated at a school of canons regular at Merton Priory in Sussex, and later at the University of Paris. When Thomas returned from France, his parents had died. Obliged to make his way unaided, he obtained an appointment as clerk to the sheriff's court, where he showed great ability. All accounts describe him as a strongly built, spirited youth, a lover of field sports, who seems to have spent his leisure time in hawking and hunting. One day when he was out hunting with his falcon, the bird swooped down at a duck, and as the duck dived, plunged after it into the river. Thomas himself leapt in to save the valuable hawk, and the rapid stream swept him along to a mill, where only the accidental stopping of the wheel saved his life. The episode serves to illustrate the impetuous daring which characterized Becket all through his life.

At the age of twenty-four Thomas was given a post in the household of Theobald, archbishop of Canterbury, and while there he apparently resolved on a career in the Church, for he took minor orders. To prepare himself further, he obtained the archbishop's permission to study canon law at the University of Bologna, continuing his studies at Auxerre, France. On coming back to England, he became provost of Beverley, and canon at Lincoln and St. Paul's cathedrals. His ordination as deacon occurred in 1154. Theobald appointed him archdeacon of Canterbury, the highest ecclesiastical office in England after a bishopric or an abbacy, and began to entrust him with the most intricate affairs; several times he was sent on important missions to Rome. It was Thomas' diplomacy that dissuaded Pope Eugenius III from sanctioning the coronation of Eustace, eldest son of Stephen, and when Henry of Anjou, great grandson of William the Conqueror, asserted his claim to the English crown and became King Henry II, it was not long before he appointed this gifted churchman as chancellor, that is, chief minister. An old chronicle describes Thomas as "slim of growth, and pale of hue, with dark hair, a long nose, and a straightly featured face.

Blithe of countenance was he, winning and lovable in conversation, frank of speech in his discourses but slightly stuttering in his talk, so keen of discernment that he could always make difficult questions plain after a wise manner." Thomas discharged his duties as chancellor conscientiously and well.
Like the later chancellor of the realm, Thomas Moore, who also became a martyr and a saint, Thomas Becket was the close personal friend as well as the loyal servant of his young sovereign. They were said to have one heart and one mind between them, and it seems possible that to Becket's influence were due, in part, those reforms for which Henry is justly praised, that is, his measures to secure equitable dealing for all his subjects by a more uniform and efficient system of law. But it was not only their common interest in matters of state that bound them together. They were also boon companions and spent merry hours together. It was almost the only relaxation Thomas allowed himself, for he was an ambitious man. He had a taste for magnificence, and his household was as fine—if not finer—than the King's. When he was sent to France to negotiate a royal marriage, he took a personal retinue of two hundred men, with a train of several hundred more, knights and squires, clerics and servants, eight fine wagons, music and singers, hawks and hounds, monkeys and mastiffs. Little wonder that the French gaped in wonder and asked, "If this is the chancellor's state, what can the Ring's be like?" His entertainments, his gifts, and his liberality to the poor were also on a very lavish scale.

In 1159 King Henry raised an army of mercenaries in France to regain the province of Toulouse, a part of the inheritance of his wife, the famous Eleanor of Aquitaine.

Thomas served Henry in this war with a company of seven hundred knights of his own. Wearing armor like any other fighting man, he led assaults and engaged in single combat. Another churchman, meeting him, exclaimed: "What do you mean by wearing such a dress? You look more like a falconer than a cleric. Yet you are a cleric in person, and many times over in office-archdeacon of Canterbury, dean of Hastings, provost of Beverley, canon of this church and that, procurator of the archbishop, and like to be archbishop, too, the rumor goes!" Thomas received the rebuke with good humor.

Although he was proud, strong-willed, and irascible, and remained so all his life, he did not neglect to make seasonal retreats at Merton and took the discipline imposed on him there. His confessor during this time testified later to the blamelessness of his private life, under conditions of extreme temptation. If he sometimes went too far in those schemes of the King which tended to infringe on the ancient prerogatives and rights of the Church, at other times he opposed Henry with vigor.

In 1161 Archbishop Theobald died. King Henry was then in Normandy with Thomas, whom he resolved to make the next primate of England. When Henry announced his intention, Thomas, demurring, told him: "Should God permit me to be the archbishop of Canterbury, I would soon lose your Majesty's favor, and the affection with which you honor me would be changed into hatred. For there are several things you do now in prejudice of the rights of the Church which make me fear you would require of me what I could not agree to; and envious persons would not fail to make it the occasion of endless strife between us." The King paid no heed to this remonstrance, and sent bishops and noblemen to the monks of Canterbury, ordering them to labor with the same zeal to set his chancellor in  the see as they would to set the crown on the young prince's head. Thomas continued to refuse the promotion until the legate of the Holy See, Cardinal Henry of Pisa, overrode his scruples. The election took place in May, 1162. Young Prince Henry, then in London, gave the necessary consent in his father's name. Thomas, now forty-four years old, rode to Canterbury and was first ordained priest by Walter, bishop of Rochester, and then on the octave of Pentecost was consecrated archbishop by the bishop of Winchester. Shortly afterwards he received the pallium sent by Pope Alexander III.

From this day worldly grandeur no longer marked Thomas' way of life. Next his skin he wore a hairshirt, and his customary dress was a plain black cassock, a linen surplice, and a sacerdotal stole about his neck. He lived ascetically, spent much time in the distribution of alms, in reading and discussing the Scriptures with Herbert of Bosham, in visiting the infirmary, and supervising the monks at their work. He took special care in selecting candidates for Holy Orders. As ecclesiastical judge, he was rigorously just.

Although as archbishop Thomas had resigned the chancellorship, against the King's wish, the relations between the two men seemed to be unchanged for a time. But a host of troubles was brewing, and the crux of all of them was the relationship between Church and state. In the past the landowners, among which the Church was one of the largest, for each hide of land they held, had paid annually two shillings to the King's officers, who in return undertook to protect them from the rapacity of minor tax- gatherers. This was actually a flagrant form of graft and the Ring now ordered the money paid into his own exchequer. The archbishop protested, and there were hot words between him and the Ring. Thenceforth the King's demands were directed solely against the clergy, with no mention of other landholders who were equally involved.

Then came the affair of Philip de Brois, a canon accused of murdering a soldier.

According to a long-established law, as a cleric he was tried in an ecclesiastical court, where he was acquitted by the judge, the bishop of Lincoln, but ordered to pay a fine to the deceased man's relations. A king's justice then made an effort to bring him before his civil court, but he could not be tried again upon that indictment and told the king's justice so in insulting terms. Thereat Henry ordered him tried again both for the original murder charge—and for his later misdemeanor. Thomas now pressed to have the case referred to his own archiepiscopal court; the King reluctantly agreed, and appointed both lay and clerical assessors. Philip's plea of a previous acquittal was accepted as far as the murder was concerned, but he was punished for his contempt of a royal court. The King thought the sentence too mild and remained dissatisfied. In October, 1163, the King called the bishops of his realm to a council at Westminster, at which he demanded their assent to an edict that thenceforth clergy proved guilty of crimes against the civil law should be handed over to the civil courts for punishment.

Thomas stiffened the bishops against yielding. But finally, at the council of Westminster they assented reluctantly to the instrument known as the Constitutions of Clarendon, which embodied the royal "customs" in Church matters, and including some additional points, making sixteen in all. It was a revolutionary document: it provided that no prelate should leave the kingdom without royal permission, which would serve to prevent appeals to the Pope; that no tenant-in-chief should be excommunicated against the Ring's will; that the royal court was to decide in which court clerics accused of civil offenses should be tried; that the custody of vacant Church benefices and their revenues should go to the King. Other provisions were equally damaging to the authority and prestige of the Church. The bishops gave their assent only with a reservation, "saving their order," which was tantamount to a refusal.

Thomas was now full of remorse for having weakened, thus setting a bad example to the bishops, but at the same time he did not wish to widen the breach between himself and the King. He made a futile effort to cross the Channel and put the case before the Pope. On his part, the Ring was bent on vengeance for what he considered the disloyalty and ingratitude of the archbishop. He ordered Thomas to give up certain castles and honors which he held from him, and began a campaign to persecute and discredit him. Various charges of chicanery and financial dishonesty were brought against Thomas, dating from the time he was chancellor. The bishop of Winchester pleaded the archbishop's discharge. The plea was disallowed; Thomas offered a voluntary payment of his own money, and that was refused.

The affair was building up to a crisis, when, on October 13, 1164, the King called another great council at Northampton. Thomas went, after celebrating Mass, carrying his archbishop's cross in his hand. The Earl of Leicester came out with a message from the King: "The King commands you to render your accounts. Otherwise you must hear his judgment." "Judgment?" exclaimed Thomas. "I was given the church of Canterbury free from temporal obligations. I am therefore not liable and will not plead with regard to them. Neither law nor reason allows children to judge and condemn their fathers.

Wherefore I refuse the King's judgment and yours and everyone's. Under God, I will be judged by the Pope alone."

Determined to stand out against the Ring, Thomas left Northampton that night, and soon thereafter embarked secretly for Flanders. Louis VII, Ring of France, invited Thomas into his dominions. Meanwhile King Henry forbade anyone to give him aid.

Gilbert, abbot of Sempringham, was accused of having sent him some relief. Although the abbot had done nothing, he refused to swear he had not, because, he said, it would have been a good deed and he would say nothing that might seem to brand it as a criminal act. Henry quickly dispatched several bishops and others to put his case before Pope Alexander, who was then at Sens. Thomas also presented himself to the Pope and showed him the Constitutions of Clarendon, some of which Alexander pronounced intolerable, others impossible. He rebuked Thomas for ever having considered accepting them. The next day Thomas confessed that he had, though unwillingly, received the see of Canterbury by an election somewhat irregular and uncanonical, and had acquitted himself badly in it. He resigned his office, returned the episcopal ring to the Pope, and withdrew. After deliberation, the Pope called him back and reinstated him, with orders not to abandon his office, for to do so would be to abandon the cause of God. He then recommended Thomas to the Cistercian abbot at Pontigny.

Thomas then put on a monk's habit, and submitted himself to the strict rule of the monastery. Over in England King Henry was busy confiscating the goods of all the friends, relations, and servants of the archbishop, and banishing them, first binding them by oath to go to Thomas at Pontigny, that the sight of their distress might move him. Troops of these exiles soon appeared at the abbey. Then Henry notified the Cistercians that if they continued to harbor his enemy he would sequestrate all their houses in his dominions. After this, the abbot hinted that Thomas was no longer welcome in his abbey. The archbishop found refuge as the guest of King Louis at the royal abbey of St. Columba, near Sens.

This historic quarrel dragged on for three years. Thomas was named by the Pope as his legate for all England except York, whereupon Thomas excommunicated several of his adversaries; yet at times he showed himself conciliatory towards the King. The French king was also drawn into the struggle, and the two kings had a conference in 1169 at Montmirail. King Louis was inclined to take Thomas' side. A reconciliation was finally effected between Thomas and Henry, although the lines of power were not too clearly drawn. The archbishop now made preparations to return to his see. With a premonition of his fate, he remarked to the bishop of Paris in parting, "I am going to England to die." On December 1, 1172, he disembarked at Sandwich, and on the journey to Canterbury the way was lined with cheering people, welcoming him home. As he rode into the cathedral city at the head of a triumphal procession, every bell was ringing. Yet in spite of the public demonstration, there was an atmosphere of foreboding.

At the reconciliation in France, Henry had agreed to the punishment of Roger, archbishop of York, and the bishops of London and Salisbury, who had assisted at the coronation of Henry's son, despite the long-established right of the archbishop of Canterbury to perform this ceremony and in defiance of the Pope's explicit instructions. It had been another attempt to lower the prestige of the primate's see. Thomas had sent on in advance of his return the papal letters suspending Roger and confirming the excommunication of the two bishops involved. On the eve of his arrival a deputation waited on him to ask for the withdrawal of these sentences. He agreed on condition that the three would swear thenceforth to obey the Pope. This they refused to do, and together went to rejoin King Henry, who was visiting his domains in France.
At Canterbury Thomas was subjected to insult by one Ranulf de Broc, from whom he had demanded the restoration of Saltwood Castle, a manor previously belonging to the archbishop's see. After a week's stay there he went up to London, where Henry's son, "the young King," refused to see him. He arrived back in Canterbury on or about his fifty-second birthday. Meanwhile the three bishops had laid their complaints before the King at Bur, near Bayeux, and someone had exclaimed aloud that there would be no peace for the realm while Becket lived. At this, the King, in a fit of rage, pronounced some words which several of his hearers took as a rebuke to them for allowing Becket to continue to live and thereby disturb him. Four of his knights at once set off for England and made their way to the irate family at Saltwood. Their names were Reginald Fitzurse, William de Tracy, Hugh de Morville, and Richard le Bret.

On St. John's day Thomas received a letter warning him of danger, and all southeast Kent was in a state of ferment. On the afternoon of December 29, the four knights came to see him in his episcopal palace. During the interview they made several demands, in particular that Thomas remove the censures on the three bishops. The knights withdrew, uttering threats and oaths. A few minutes later there were loud outcries, a shattering of doors and clashing of arms, and the archbishop, urged on by his attendants, began moving slowly through the cloister passage to the cathedral. It was now twilight and vespers were being sung. At the door of the north transept he was met by some terrified monks, whom he commanded to get back to the choir. They withdrew a little and he entered the church, but the knights were seen behind him in the dim light. The monks slammed the door on them and bolted it. In their confusion they shut out several of their own brethren, who began beating loudly on the door.

Becket turned and cried, "Away, you cowards ! A church is not a castle." He reopened the door himself, then went towards the choir, accompanied by Robert de Merton, his aged teacher and confessor, William Fitzstephen, a cleric in his household, and a monk, Edward Grim. The others fled to the crypt and other hiding places, and Grim alone remained. At this point the knights broke in shouting, "Where is Thomas the traitor?" "Where is the archbishop?" "Here I am," he replied, "no traitor, but archbishop and priest of God!" He came down the steps to stand between the altars of Our Lady and St. Benedict.

The knights clamored at him to absolve the bishops, and Thomas answered firmly, "I cannot do other than I have done. Reginald, you have received many favors from me.

Why do you come into my church armed?" Fitzurse made a threatening gesture with his axe. "I am ready to die," said Thomas, "but God's curse on you if you harm my people." There was some scuffling as they tried to carry Thomas outside bodily.

Fitzurse flung down his axe and drew his sword. "You pander, you owe me fealty and submission!" exclaimed the archbishop. Fitzurse shouted back, "I owe no fealty contrary to the King ! " and knocked off Thomas' cap. At this, Thomas covered his face and called aloud on God and the saints. Tracy struck a blow, which Grim intercepted with his own arm, but it grazed Thomas' skull and blood ran down into his eyes. He wiped the stain away and cried, "Into Thy hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit!" Another blow from Tracy beat him to his knees, and he pitched forward onto his face, murmuring, "For the name of Jesus and in  defense of the Church I am willing to die." With a vigorous thrust Le Bret struck deep into his head, breaking his sword against the pavement, and Hugh of Horsea added a blow, although the archbishop was now dying. Hugh de Morville stood by but struck no blow. The murderers, brandishing their swords, now dashed away through the cloisters, shouting "The King's men! The King's men!" The cathedral itself was filling with people unaware of the catastrophe, and a thunderstorm was breaking overhead. The archbishop's body lay in the middle of the transept, and for a time no one dared approach it. A deed of such sacrilege was bound to be regarded with horror and indignation. When the news was brought to the King, he shut himself up and fasted for forty days, for he knew that his chance remark had sped the courtiers to England bent on vengeance. He later performed public penance in Canterbury Cathedral and in 1172 received absolution from the papal delegates.

Within three years of his death the archbishop had been canonized as a martyr. Though far from a faultless character, Thomas Becket, when his time of testing came, had the courage to lay down his life to defend the ancient rights of the Church against an aggressive state. The discovery of his hairshirt and other evidences of austerity, and the many miracles which were reported at his tomb, increased the veneration in which he was held. The shrine of the "holy blessed martyr," as Chaucer called him, soon became famous, and the old Roman road running from London to Canterbury known as "Pilgrim's Way." His tomb was magnificently adorned with gold, silver, and jewels, only to be despoiled by Henry VIII; the fate of his relics is uncertain. They may have been destroyed as a part of Henry's policy to subordinate the English Church to the civil authority. Mementoes of this saint are preserved at the cathedral of Sens. The feast of St. Thomas of Canterbury is now kept throughout the Roman Catholic Church, and in England he is regarded as the protector of the secular clergy.


SOURCE: http://www.ewtn.com/saintsHoly/saints/T/stthomasbecket.asp#ixzz1hvx5xacP

WHAT ARE THE 12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS - A HIDDEN MEANING

THE 12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS are 12 days from December 25 till January 5 that are spent celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, Savior of mankind.
There are several feast days that are traditionally celebrated on the 12 days including:
Dec. 26 - St. Stephen, 1st Martyr of the Church
27 - St. John the Evangelist, Apostle
28 - Holy Innocents, Martyred children by Herod in search of Jesus
29 - St. Thomas Becket, Martyred Bishop of England under Henry II
29 - The feast of the Holy Family, Jesus, Mary and Joseph (Sunday after Christmas)
30 - Bl.  Eugenia Ravasco
31 - St. Sylvester I, Pope 314-335 AD
Jan. 1 - Feast of Holy Mary Mother of God
2 - St. Gregory Nanzianzen and St. Basil the Great
3 - Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus - commemorating the Circumcision 8 days after Christ's birth
3 - St. Genevieve - Patroness of Paris
4 - St. Elizabeth Ann Seton of USA established Catholic schools
5 - St. John Neumann - Bishop and also established the Catholic school system in the US
FOR MORE GREAT STORIES LIKE US ON FACEBOOK


The playwright Shakespeare wrote his play "Twelfth Night, or what you will" circa 1601 in honor of these days. 
The lyrics of the song "The 12 Days of Christmas", written circa 1645, hold a special meaning. This was written during the persecution of Catholics in England. They serve as a hidden catechesis. Some dispute the claim that this was used by persecuted Catholics as a hidden song.
On the 1st day of Christmas my true love sent to me…
A Partridge in a Pear Tree  
The partridge is representative of Jesus Christ and the pear tree is the cross. Jesus is symbolically rendered as a mother bird protecting her young. This recalls Christ's words: “Jerusalem! Jerusalem! How often would I have sheltered you under my wings, as a hen does her chicks, but you would not have it so . . . .” (Luke 13:34) 
Two Turtle Doves 
The 2 doves symbolize the two natures in Jesus: human and divine or the Old and New Testaments.
Three French Hens
The 3 hens are the Three Persons in One God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit; but can also refer to the three Theological Virtues: Faith, Hope and Charity.
Four Calling Birds
The birds represent the 4 Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. They tell of the Good News throughout the world.
Five Gold Rings
The 5 rings represent the five books of the Old Testament also known as the Torah or the Pentateuch:  1) Genesis, 2) Exodus, 3) Leviticus, 4) Numbers, and 5) Deuteronomy.
Six Geese A-laying
The geese symbolize the six days of Creation;  or the 6 Precepts of the Church:
  • to keep the Sundays and Holy Days of obligation holy, by hearing Mass and resting from servile work;
  • to keep the days of fasting and abstinence appointed by the Church;
  • to go to confession at least once a year;
  • to receive the Blessed Sacrament at least once a year and that at Easter or thereabouts;
  • to contribute to the support of our pastors;
  • not to marry within a certain degree of kindred nor to solemnize marriage at the forbidden times.

Seven Swans A-swimming
These are the 7 Sacraments: Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Communion, Confession, Marriage, Holy Orders, and the Anointing of the Sick.
Eight Maids A-milking
Represent the 8 Beatitudes 1) Blessed are the poor in spirit, 2) those who mourn, 3) the meek, 4) those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, 5) the merciful, 6) the pure in heart, 7) the peacemakers, 8) those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake. (Matthew 5:3-10)
Nine Ladies Dancing
The 9 choirs of angels;  or the 9 fruits of the Holy Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22)
Ten Lords A-Leaping
The 10 Commandments: 1) I am the Lord your God; you shall not have strange gods before me; 2) You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain; 3) Remember to keep holy the Lord’s day; 4) Honour your father and mother; 5) You shall not kill; 6) You shall not commit adultery; 7) You shall not steal; 8) You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour; 9) You shall not covet your neighbour’s wife; 10) You shall not covet your neighbour’s goods. 
Eleven Pipers Piping

The 11 Apostles: 1) Peter, 2) Andrew, 3) James the Greater, 4) John, 5) Philip, 6) Bartholomew, 7) Matthew, 8 ) Thomas, 9) James the Less, 10) Simon the Zealot, 11) Jude Thaddaeus. This does not include Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus.
Twelve Drummers Drumming
These are the 12 main beliefs of the Catholic Church as dictated in the Apostles Creed: 1) I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth; 2) And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord; 3) Who was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, 4) Suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. 5) He descended into hell; on the third day He rose again from the dead; 6) He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty; 7) From thence He shall come again to judge the living and the dead. 8 ) I believe in the Holy Spirit, 9) the Holy Catholic Church, the Communion of Saints, 10) the forgiveness of sins, 11) the resurrection of the body, 12) and life everlasting.
FOR MORE GREAT STORIES LIKE US ON FACEBOOK

POPE FRANCIS AND POPE BENEDICT MEET FOR LUNCH

(Vatican Radio) Benedict XVI, the Pope Emeritus, joined Pope Francis for lunch on Friday at the papal residence at Casa Santa Marta. 

Earlier this week, Pope Francis had paid a visit to his predecessor (pictured) to offer his Christmas greetings. It was during that visit that Pope Francis invited Benedict to Casa Santa Marta for a holiday meal. 

The Pope and his predecessor were joined by their respective secretaries. Also present at the festive event were Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, the Secretary for Relations with States, and Monsignor Peter Brian Wells, Assessor for General Affairs of the Secretariat of State.


SHARED from Vatican Radio 

ONE CHILD POLICY OF CHINA IS EASED AND ENDS RE-EDUCATION LABOR CAMPS

ASIA NEWS REPORT: 
One-child policy eased as laojiao centres close
by Bernardo Cervellera
The Standing Committee of the National People's Congress announces the decision today. Easing the one-child policy should only result in "a slight increase in births," as the state will retain power over population controls. Re-education through labour centres will also be abolished, but all standing legal laojiao penalties remain in place and no one released will be able to suit his or her jailers. Bishops and priests imprisoned for years should be able to return to their dioceses. The abolition of laojiao could however just be a cosmetic operation.


Rome (AsiaNews) - The Standing Committee of the National People's Assembly today adopted a resolution loosening the country's one-child policy. It also formally abolished Re-education through labour camps, also known as laojiao centres.
Since 1979, China has implemented, often with violence, a policy of one child per family in order to boost the nation's economic development. Ethnic groups and farmers were later allowed to have two children if the first was a baby girl, but the law was often enforced with violence. Violators often received huge fines, or had to submit to forced sterilisation and late pregnancy abortions.
With family planning officials and managers receiving rewards for implementing the law and meeting quotas, corruption and abuse of power followed.
Although in recent years, ordinary Chinese have used the Internet to voice their criticism against the violence perpetrated on parents and their offspring, changes to the one-child policy appear tied to demographic trends and the policy's psychological impact.
On the one hand, the overall population is expected to drop by 3.45 million per year, leaving many factories without needed workers. An aging of the population will mean that by 2050 more than a quarter of China's population will be over 65 years old, driving up social and health care costs.
On the other, due to a preference for boys and the resulting widespread practice of sex-selective abortions, China's sex ratio rose to 115 boys for every 100 girls. Over the next few years, China will thus have 24 million "leftover men" who, because of China's gender imbalance, will not be able to find a wife.
Various scientists have been calling for some time for the one-child policy to be scrapped. Concerned about a declining labour force, the authorities in Guangdong and Shanghai have also called for two children per family
The new more liberal policy will now allow couples where one partner is already an only child to have two children. At least ten million couples will be affected by it with "only a slight increase in births" according to Xinhua.
Reining in state power in matters of population control does not mean taking it away. "Easing the one-child policy does not mean an end to family planning," said NPC Standing Committee member Chi Wanchun.
Similarly, "We cannot risk the population growing out of control," said Jiang Fan, an NPC deputy and member of the NPC Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee
The guidelines should be phased in gradually by provincial authorities according to local demographic conditions.
With laojiao's abolition, one of the harshest and most arbitrary systems of violation of human rights would disappear. Used against political leaders, pro-democracy dissidents, Catholic bishops and priests, Protestants, members of the Falun Gong movement, the system had even come in for criticism by the United Nations, which had repeatedly called for its abolition.
The Re-education through labour system was set up in 1957 as a speedy way to handle petty offenders. But it was soon used to crack down on the Communist Party's political enemies and on people who strayed from its path, giving police the power to hold anyone under "administrative detention" for up to four years without trial and without notification to their families.
In laojiao centres, in addition to forced labour, prisoners had to attend political sessions to be "re-educated" in accordance with the values of a socialist society "with Chinese characteristics".
A 2009 UN Human Rights Council report estimated that some 190,000 people were held in 320 labour centres across the country. At the start of this year, 260 labour camps held 160,000 inmates.
Announced earlier this year, laojiao's abolition only began today, following the meeting of the Third Plenum of the Communist Party last November.
In Hebei province, Catholics hope that Bishops James Su Zhimin of Baoding and Cosma Shi Enxiang of Yixian, as well as Fr Joseph Lu, vicar general of Baoding, will be released with the end of laojiao camps. The clergymen have been in police custody for 15, 12, and 9 years respectively.
At least ten more clergymen from the underground Church are in laojiao centres for celebrating Mass in unregistered locations, or teaching catechism or holding retreats for young people. Some of the imprisoned priests have suffered serious physical and psychological harm as a result of torture.
Under the Standing Committee's resolution, all legal laojiao penalties imposed before the abolition of the system remain valid. People who are released will thus not be able to suit their jailers.
According to Yang Huanning, vice minister of public security, amendments to the Criminal Law and new laws on public security and drugs have gradually rendered the laojiao redundant.
Still, various human rights organisations are concerned that laojiao's abolition is only cosmetic, and that it would be replaced by other forms of control and isolation.
The dismantling of the laojiao system does not in fact change China's policy of "administrative detention," which grants the police the power to detain people without trial.

In recent weeks - and this is just one example - new "black jails" were discovered in Beijing where people who had come to the capital to deliver petitions demanding justice were held for months.
SHARED FROM ASIA NEWS IT

TAIZE MEETING OF 25000 YOUTH RECEIVES MESSAGE FROM POPE FRANCIS

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis issued a message through his Secretary of State, Archbishop Pietro Parolin, to the 25,000 young adults participating at the 36th annual European encounter of the Taizé community. The meeting begins on Saturday and this year is being held in Strasbourg, France. 

In the message, Archbishop Parolin spoke of the closeness the Pope feels to the young adults gathered for the meeting. He spoke of the region as “a land lacerated by wars, which had innumerable victims, but a land that also brings great hope, that of the building of the European family”.

“Europe, which has lived and continues to live difficult moments, needs your commitment, your faith, your courage,” he wrote.

Addressing the theme of the gathering—“Seek the visible communion of all those who love Christ”—he recognized that the young adults “are aware that the division among Christians constitutes an huge obstacle for the realization of the mission that was entrusted to the Church” and that the credibility of the Christian message would be much greater if Christians could overcome their divisions. 

“The Pope shares with you the conviction that we can learn many things from each other, for the realities that unite us are numerous,” he continued. “The Pope is counting on you so that through your faith and witness, the Gospel spirit of peace and reconciliation shines among your peers.” 

He then conveyed that the Pope gives the young people, the Taizé brothers, the pastors and all of the hosts of the meeting his benediction. 


SHARED from Vatican Radio 

TODAY'S MASS ONLINE : SAT. DEC. 28, 2013

Feast of the Holy Innocents, martyrs
Lectionary: 698


Reading 1             1 JN 1:5—2:2

Beloved:
This is the message that we have heard from Jesus Christ
and proclaim to you:
God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all.
If we say, “We have fellowship with him,”
while we continue to walk in darkness,
we lie and do not act in truth.
But if we walk in the light as he is in the light,
then we have fellowship with one another,
and the Blood of his Son Jesus cleanses us from all sin.
If we say, “We are without sin,”
we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
If we acknowledge our sins, he is faithful and just
and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from every wrongdoing.
If we say, “We have not sinned,” we make him a liar,
and his word is not in us.

My children, I am writing this to you
so that you may not commit sin.
But if anyone does sin, we have an Advocate with the Father,
Jesus Christ the righteous one.
He is expiation for our sins,
and not for our sins only but for those of the whole world.

Responsorial Psalm                    PS 124:2-3, 4-5, 7CD-8

R. (7) Our soul has been rescued like a bird from the fowler’s snare.
Had not the LORD been with us—
When men rose up against us,
then would they have swallowed us alive,
When their fury was inflamed against us.
R. Our soul has been rescued like a bird from the fowler’s snare.
Then would the waters have overwhelmed us;
The torrent would have swept over us;
over us then would have swept the raging waters.
R. Our soul has been rescued like a bird from the fowler’s snare.
Broken was the snare,
and we were freed.
Our help is in the name of the LORD,
who made heaven and earth.
R. Our soul has been rescued like a bird from the fowler’s snare.

Gospel                   MT 2:13-18

When the magi had departed, behold,
the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said,
“Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt,
and stay there until I tell you.
Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.”
Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night
and departed for Egypt.
He stayed there until the death of Herod,
that what the Lord had said through the prophet might be fulfilled,
Out of Egypt I called my son.

When Herod realized that he had been deceived by the magi,
he became furious.
He ordered the massacre of all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity
two years old and under,
in accordance with the time he had ascertained from the magi.
Then was fulfilled what had been said through Jeremiah the prophet:

A voice was heard in Ramah,
sobbing and loud lamentation;
Rachel weeping for her children,
and she would not be consoled,
since they were no more.