Monday, December 26, 2016

Saint December 27 : St. John the #Apostle : Patron of #Authors, #Theologians, Publishers, Friendships, and Painters

Died:
101, Ephesus, Asia Minor
Patron of:
Authors, burns, poisoning, theologians, publishers, booksellers, editors, friendships, and painters.
John was the son of Zebedee and Salome, and the brother of James the Greater. In the Gospels the two brothers are often called after their father "the sons of Zebedee" and received from Christ the honourable title of Boanerges, i.e. "sons of thunder" (Mark 3:17). Originally they were fishermen and fished with their father in the Lake of Genesareth. According to the usual and entirely probable explanation they became, however, for a time disciples of John the Baptist, and were called by Christ from the circle of John's followers, together with Peter and Andrew, to become His disciples (John 1:35-42). The first disciples returned with their new Master from the Jordan to Galilee and apparently both John and the others remained for some time with Jesus (cf. John ii, 12, 22; iv, 2, 8, 27 sqq.). Yet after the second return from Judea, John and his companions went back again to their trade of fishing until he and they were called by Christ to definitive discipleship (Matthew 4:18-22; Mark 1:16-20). In the lists of the Apostles John has the second place (Acts 1:13), the third (Mark 3:17), and the fourth (Matthew 10:3; Luke 6:14), yet always after James with the exception of a few passages (Luke 8:51; 9:28 in the Greek text; Acts 1:13).
From James being thus placed first, the conclusion is drawn that John was the younger of the two brothers. In any case John had a prominent position in the Apostolic body. Peter, James, and he were the only witnesses of the raising of Jairus's daughter (Mark 5:37), of the Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1), and of the Agony in Gethsemani (Matthew 26:37). Only he and Peter were sent into the city to make the preparation for the Last Supper (Luke 22:8). At the Supper itself his place was next to Christ on Whose breast he leaned (John 13:23, 25). According to the general interpretation John was also that "other disciple" who with Peter followed Christ after the arrest into the palace of the high-priest (John 18:15). John alone remained near his beloved Master at the foot of the Cross on Calvary with the Mother of Jesus and the pious women, and took the desolate Mother into his care as the last legacy of Christ (John 19:25-27). After the Resurrection John with Peter was the first of the disciples to hasten to the grave and he was the first to believe that Christ had truly risen (John 20:2-10). When later Christ appeared at the Lake of Genesareth John was also the first of the seven disciples present who recognized his Master standing on the shore (John 21:7). The Fourth Evangelist has shown us most clearly how close the relationship was in which he always stood to his Lord and Master by the title with which he is accustomed to indicate himself without giving his name: "the disciple whom Jesus loved". After Christ's Ascension and the Descent of the Holy Spirit, John took, together with Peter, a prominent part in the founding and guidance of the Church. We see him in the company of Peter at the healing of the lame man in the Temple (Acts 3:1 sqq.). With Peter he is also thrown into prison (Acts 4:3). Again, we find him with the prince of the Apostles visiting the newly converted in Samaria (Acts 8:14).
We have no positive information concerning the duration of this activity in Palestine. Apparently John in common with the other Apostles remained some twelve years in this first field of labour, until the persecution of Herod Agrippa I led to the scattering of the Apostles through the various provinces of the Roman Empire (cf. Acts 12:1-17). Notwithstanding the opinion to the contrary of many writers, it does not appear improbable that John then went for the first time to Asia Minor and exercised his Apostolic office in various provinces there. In any case a Christian community was already in existence at Ephesus before Paul's first labours there (cf. "the brethren", Acts 18:27, in addition to Priscilla and Aquila), and it is easy to connect a sojourn of John in these provinces with the fact that the Holy Ghost did not permit the Apostle Paul on his second missionary journey to proclaim the Gospel in Asia, Mysia, and Bithynia (Acts 16:6 sq.). There is just as little against such an acceptation in the later account in Acts of St. Paul's third missionary journey. But in any case such a sojourn by John in Asia in this first period was neither long nor uninterrupted. He returned with the other disciples to Jerusalem for the Apostolic Council (about A.D. 51). St. Paul in opposing his enemies in Galatia names John explicitly along with Peter and James the Less as a "pillar of the Church", and refers to the recognition which his Apostolic preaching of a Gospel free from the law received from these three, the most prominent men of the old Mother-Church at Jerusalem (Galatians 2:9). When Paul came again to Jerusalem after the second and after the third journey (Acts 18:22; 21:17 sq.) he seems no longer to have met John there. Some wish to draw the conclusion from this that John left Palestine between the years 52 and 55.
 Both the Epistles and the Apocalypse, however, presuppose that their author John belonged to the multitude of personal eyewitnesses of the life and work of Christ (cf. especially 1 John 1:1-5; 4:14), that he had lived for a long time in Asia Minor, was thoroughly acquainted with the conditions existing in the various Christian communities there, and that he had a position of authority recognized by all Christian communities as leader of this part of the Church. Moreover, the Apocalypse tells us that its author was on the island of Patmos "for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus", when he was honoured with the heavenly Revelation contained in the Apocalypse (Revelation 1:9).
Text : Catholic Encyclopedia 

#PopeFrancis "To follow Jesus means to follow his light, which was lit on that Bethlehem..." #Angelus - FULL TEXT + Video

Angelus address to thousands of pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square, the day after Christmas.

Here is Vatican Radio's translation of the Pope’s remarks at the Angelus 26 December 2016:
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
The joy of Christmas also fills our hearts today, as the liturgy has us celebrate the martyrdom of Saint Stephen, the first martyr, inviting us to receive the witness that through his sacrifice he has left us. It is the testimony with which his sacrifice became glorious, precisely the glory of Christian martyrdom, suffered for love of Jesus Christ; martyrdom which continues to be present in the history of the Church, since Stephen up to this day. 
Of this witness we are told in today’s Gospel (cf. Mt 10:17-22). Jesus forewarns his disciples of the rejection and persecution that they will encounter and he says this: “and you will be hated by all for my name's sake” (v. 22). But why does the world persecute Christians? The world hates Christians for the same reason it hated Jesus because He brought the light of God and the world prefers the darkness to hide its wicked works. We remember that Jesus himself, at the Last Supper, prayed to the Father to defend him from the spirit of worldly wickedness. There is conflict between the mentality of the Gospel and that of the world. To follow Jesus means to follow his light, which was lit on that Bethlehem night, and to abandon the darkness of the world.
The first martyr Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, was stoned because he confessed his faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God. The only Son who comes into  the world invites every believer to choose the path of light and life. This is the meaning of his coming among us. Loving the Lord and obeying his voice, the deacon Stephen chose Christ, Life and Light for every man. By choosing the truth, he became at the same time, the victim of the mystery of evil present in the world. But in Christ, Stephen  triumphed!
Today too the Church, to bear witness to light and truth, experiences harsh persecution in different places, [to the point of] the supreme test of martyrdom. How many of our brothers and sisters in faith suffer abuse, violence, and are hated for Jesus’ sake! I’ll tell you something.  The martyrs of today are greater in number than those of the first centuries. When we read the history of the early centuries, here in Rome, we read about so much cruelty towards Christians.  I tell you, there is this same cruelty today, and in greater numbers with Christians.  Today we want to think about them and to be close to them with our affection, our prayer and our tears. Yesterday, Christmas Day, the persecuted Christians in Iraq celebrated Christmas in their destroyed Cathedral. [Theirs] is an example of fidelity to the Gospel. Despite the trials and the dangers, they bear witness with courage to their belonging to Christ and they live the Gospel committing themselves on behalf of the least, the most overlooked, doing good to all without distinction; they bear witness in this way to charity in truth.
In making space within our heart for the Son of God who gives himself to us at Christmas, we renew the joyous and courageous willingness to follow him faithfully as our only guide, persevering in living in accordance with the Gospel mentality and refusing the mentality of those who dominate this world.
To the Virgin Mary, Mother of God and Queen of Martyrs, we raise our prayer, so that she may guide us and always sustain us in our journey of following Jesus Christ, whom we contemplate in the manger crib and that who is the faithful Witness of God the Father.

POST ANGELUS
After the Angelus, Pope Francis expressed his condolences to the Russian people and the families of victims of the Christmas day plane crash that took the lives of 92 people near Sochi.
I express my sincere condolences for the sad news of the Russian plane that crashed into the Black Sea.  May the Lord console the dear Russian people and the families of the passengers who were on board: journalists, crew and the excellent choir and orchestra of the armed forces.  May the blessed Virgin Mary sustain the search operations underway.  In 2004, the choir performed in the Vatican for the 26th year of the pontificate of Saint John Paul II.  Let us pray for them
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
in the climate of Christian joy that emanates from the Birth of Jesus, I greet you and thank you for your presence.
To all of you who have come from Italy and from different Nations, I renew my good wishes for peace and serenity: may these, for you and for your family, be days of joy and brotherhood. Greetings and I send best wishes to all of the people named Stephen or Stefanie!
In recent weeks I have received many well-wishing messages from around the world. Not being possible for me to answer each one, I express my heartfelt thanks to all today, especially for the gift of prayer. Thank you so much!  May the Lord reward you with his generosity!
Have a happy feast day! Please do not forget to pray for me. Enjoy your lunch and goodbye.

Powerful Performance of O Holy Night with Images of the Nativity by #JoshGroban goes #Viral - SHARE

An amazing performance of  O Holy Night - by Josh Groban - Set to scenes from The Nativity Story...SHARE this beautiful tribute to Christ's Birth!

What are the 12 Days of Christmas - Hidden #Meaning #Revealed...SHARE

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
28 - The feast of the Holy Family, Jesus, Mary and Joseph (2014)
29 - St. Thomas Becket, Martyred Bishop of England under Henry II
31 - St. Sylvester I, Pope 314-335 AD
Jan. 1 - Feast of Holy Mary Mother of God
2 - St. Basil and St. Gregory
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
6 - Epiphany - 3 Kings visit baby Jesus - Melchior, Gaspar, Balthasar


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 
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.

Today's Mass Readings and Video : Monday December 26, 2016 #Eucharist


Feast of Saint Stephen, first martyr
Lectionary: 696


Reading 1ACTS 6:8-10; 7:54-59

Stephen, filled with grace and power,
was working great wonders and signs among the people.
Certain members of the so-called Synagogue of Freedmen,
Cyrenians, and Alexandrians,
and people from Cilicia and Asia,
came forward and debated with Stephen,
but they could not withstand the wisdom and the spirit with which he spoke.

When they heard this, they were infuriated,
and they ground their teeth at him.
But he, filled with the Holy Spirit,
looked up intently to heaven
and 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 Man
standing at the right hand of God.”
But they cried out in a loud voice, covered their ears,
and rushed upon him together.
They threw him out of the city, and began to stone him.
The witnesses laid down their cloaks
at the feet of a young man named Saul.
As they were stoning Stephen, he called out
“Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”

Responsorial PsalmPS 31:3CD-4, 6 AND 8AB, 16BC AND 17

R. (6) Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.
Be my rock of refuge,
a stronghold to give me safety.
You are my rock and my fortress;
for your name’s sake you will lead and guide me.
R. Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.
Into your hands I commend my spirit;
you will redeem me, O LORD, O faithful God.
I will rejoice and be glad because of your mercy.
R. Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.
Rescue me from the clutches of my enemies and my persecutors.
Let your face shine upon your servant;
save me in your kindness.
R. Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.

AlleluiaPS 118:26A, 27A

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD:
the LORD is God and has given us light.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelMT 10:17-22

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Beware of men, for they will hand you over to courts
and scourge you in their synagogues,
and you will be led before governors and kings for my sake
as a witness before them and the pagans.
When they hand you over,
do not worry about how you are to speak
or what you are to say.
You will be given at that moment what you are to say.
For it will not be you who speak
but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.
Brother will hand over brother to death,
and the father his child;
children will rise up against parents and have them put to death.
You will be hated by all because of my name,
but whoever endures to the end will be saved.”

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