READING OF THE DAY: 31 DECEMBER, 2013

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“Sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all you lands.
Sing to the LORD, bless his name;
Announce his salvation day after day.

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 let all the trees of the forest exult.

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.” -Psalms 96(95):1-2.11-12.13.

SAINT OF THE DAY: 31 DECEMBER, 2013

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Saint John Francis Regis
Jesuit missionary
(1597-1640)

Saint John Francis Regis was born at Fontcouverte in Languedoc, in January, 1597, of a noble Catholic family. From his tenderest years he showed evidence of uncommon sanctity by his innocence of life, modesty, and love of prayer; when he was five years old he fainted when he heard his mother speak of the terrible misfortune of being eternally damned.

After being educated by the Jesuits, when he was nineteen years old he decided, with the approbation of his confessor, to enter the Society of Jesus at Toulouse.

There he was viewed as a model of every virtue, and was called the Angel of the College. He was sent in 1628 to study theology in Toulouse, and ordained a priest in 1630.

His first ministry in Toulouse was for the victims of the plague.

His superiors feared to expose his youth to the contagion, but he pleaded successfully to be allowed to do so, and God spared His servant for future labors.

He was sent to visit his family for a time, and began in Fontcouverte to occupy himself first of all with the poor.

The numerous conversions effected there made his Superiors decide to assign their young Saint to the mission lands of France.

He began his apostolic work in Montpellier, and spent himself in preaching to the unlettered people of Languedoc and Auvergne; in these regions where heresy had made serious inroads, he made many converts among the Huguenots.

He established an association of women to procure aid for prisoners, and founded numerous confraternities of the Blessed Sacrament.

The winters he spent in the missions of the mountainous districts, where the people were seen to travel long miles on foot through the snows and across ice, to hear the servant of God and make their confessions.

Many of them accompanied him on his journeys from one place to another, leaving all things to hear him. Some fragments of his torn cloak, which a charitable lady repaired for him one day, cured her two sick children.

The reputation of the sanctity of the missionary spread everywhere in the mountains.

During the summer he preached in Le Puy, which soon changed its aspect by his catechisms.

Up to five thousand listeners crowded in to hear him at the church of the Benedictines of Saint-Pierre-le-Moustiers.

He visited hospitals and prisons, preached and instructed, and assisted all who in any way stood in need of his services.

In November of 1637 the Saint set out for his second mission at Marthes in the mountains. His road lay across valleys filled with snow and over frozen and precipitous peaks.

In climbing one of the highest, a bush to which he was clinging gave way, and he broke his leg in the fall; nonetheless, with the help of his companion and a staff, he managed to continue his journey for the remaining six miles.

Then, instead of seeing a surgeon, he insisted on being taken straight to the confessional.

After several hours, the parish priest found him still seated, and when his leg was finally examined the fracture was found to be miraculously healed.

Saint John Francis was so inflamed with the love of God that he seemed to breathe, think, and speak of Him alone.

He offered up the Holy Sacrifice with such attention and fervor that those who attended it could not but experience with him something of the fire consuming him.

After twelve years of unceasing labor, having taken a wrong turn on a strange road, and having remained for the night in a cabin open to the wind, he contracted a severe pleurisy and rendered his pure and innocent soul to his Creator at the age of forty-four.

He was mourned, invoked for assistance and then venerated as a miracle-working Saint; his place of sepulcher at Louvesc in the mountains is still the site of fervent pilgrimages.

He was canonized by Pope Clement XII in 1737.

The Curé of Ars obtained a famous miracle with a medal of our Saint.

The orphanage of Ars had no more grain for bread, and the harvest had been so scanty the people could not be asked for any more aid.

The Curé of Ars put a medal of Saint John Francis behind the door of the empty storeroom, and the next day they could scarcely open that door, so full had the room become overnight.

Reflection: When Saint John Francis was struck in the face by a sinner he was reproving, he replied, “If you only knew me, you would give me much more than that.”

His gentleness converted the man.

How much might we do if we would forget our own wants to remember those of others, and put our trust in God!

(SOURCE: Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butler’s Lives of the Saints, and other sources by John Gilmary Shea (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894); Heavenly Friends: a Saint for each Day, by Rosalie Marie Levy (Saint Paul Editions: Boston, 1958))

SAINT OF THE DAY: 30 DECEMBER, 2013

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Saint Sabinus and his Companions
Bishop of Spoleto and his Companions
Martyrs
(† 303)

When the cruel edicts of Diocletian and Maximin Hercules were published against the Christians in the year 303, it required more than ordinary force in the bishops and clergy, to encourage the people to undergo martyrdom rather than apostatize.

All were forbidden even to draw water or grind wheat, if they would not first incense idols placed for that purpose in the markets and on street corners.

Saint Sabinus, Bishop of Spoleto, with Marcellus and Exuperantius, his deacons, and several other members of his clergy who were worthy of their sacred mandate, were apprehended in Assisi for revolt and thrown into prison by Venustianus, Governor of Etruria and Umbria.

He summoned them before him a few days later and required that they adore his idol of Jupiter, richly adorned with gold.

The holy bishop took up the idol and threw it down, breaking it in pieces.

The prefect, furious, had his hands cut off and his deacons tortured on the rack and burnt with torches until they expired.

Saint Sabinus was put back into prison for a time. He was aided there by a Christian widow of rank, who brought her blind nephew to him there to be cured.

Fifteen prisoners who witnessed this splendid miracle were converted to the Faith.

The prefect left the bishop in peace for a month, because he himself was suffering from a painful eye ailment. He heard of the miracle and came to the bishop in prison with his wife and two sons, to ask him for help in his affliction.

Saint Sabinus answered that if Venustianus would believe in Jesus Christ and be baptized with his wife and children, he would obtain that grace for him.

The officer consented, they were baptized, and he threw into the river the pieces of his broken statue.

Soon all the new converts gave their lives for having confessed the Gospel, sentenced by Lucius, whom Maximus Hercules sent to Spoleto after hearing of their decision, to judge and condemn them.

As for Saint Sabinus, he was beaten so cruelly that on December 7, 303, he expired under the blows.

The charitable widow, Serena, after seeing to his honorable burial near the city, was also crowned with martyrdom.

A basilica was later built at the site of the bishop’s tomb, and a number of monasteries in Italy were consecrated under his illustrious name.

(SOURCE:: Les Petits Bollandistes: Vies des Saints, by Msgr. Paul Guérin (Bloud et Barral: Paris, 1882), Vol. 14)

READING OF THE DAY: 30 DECEMBER, 2013

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“There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher.

She was advanced in years, having lived seven years with her husband after her marriage, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four.

She never left the temple, but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer.

And coming forward at that very time, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem.

When they had fulfilled all the prescriptions of the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth.

The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.” -Luke 2:36-40.

SAINT OF THE DAY: 28 DECEMBER, 2013

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The Holy Innocents
Martyrs at the time of the Nativity of Our Lord
(†1 A.D.)

The wily king Herod, who was reigning in Judea at the time of the birth of Our Saviour, learned from three Wise Men from the East that they had come to Jerusalem, advised by a star in the heavens, in search of the newborn King of the Jews.

Herod’s superstitious fear of losing his throne was awakened, and he grew troubled.

He called together the chief priests, questioned them, and learned from them that the awaited Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem, the city of David.

He said to the strangers: When you have found Him, bring me word, that I too may go and adore Him.

The star which had guided the Magi re-appeared over Bethlehem, and they found the Infant and adored Him, and offered Him their royal gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, recognizing by these His perfect Divinity, His royalty, and His prophesied sufferings.

God warned them in a dream afterwards not to go back to Herod, and they returned to their lands, rejoicing, by a different route.

Saint Joseph, too, was warned during his sleep by an Angel to take the Child and His Mother and flee into Egypt, for Herod will seek the life of the Infant.

When Herod realized that the Wise Men would not return, he was furious, and in his rage ordered that every male child in Bethlehem and its vicinity, of the age of two years or less, be slain.

These innocent victims were the flowers and first-fruits of the Saviour’s legions of martyrs; they triumphed over the world without having ever known it or experienced its dangers.

(SOURCES: The New Testament: Acts of the Apostles; Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butler’s Lives of the Saints and other sources, by John Gilmary Shea (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894).)

READING OF THE DAY: 28 DECEMBER, 2013

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“Now this is the message that we have heard from him 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.” -1 John 1:5-10.2:1-2.

READING OF THE DAY: 27 DECEMBER, 2013

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“What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we looked upon and touched with our hands concerns the Word of life–

for the life was made visible; we have seen it and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was made visible to us–

what we have seen and heard we proclaim now to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; for our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.

We are writing this so that our joy may be complete.” -1 John 1:1-4.

SAINT OF THE DAY: 27 DECEMBER, 2013

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Saint John
Apostle, Evangelist, and Prophet
(† 103)

Saint John, brother of Saint James the Greater, the Apostle of Spain, is the beloved disciple.

He was privileged, with his brother and Saint Peter, to behold the Saviour raise up a dead child to life, then saw Him transfigured on the mountaintop; he alone reposed his head on His breast at the Last Supper.

After the crucifixion it is he who, with Saint Peter, hastened to the empty tomb on the morning of the Resurrection.

Standing beside Mary at the Cross, he had heard his Master confide that Blessed Mother to him to be henceforth his Mother also.

He took his precious treasure for refuge to Ephesus when the persecution of the Jerusalem Christians became too intense; and from there he went out to evangelize Asia Minor, of which he became the first Archbishop.

He was later exiled to the Island of Patmos, where he wrote the Apocalypse, but afterwards returned to Ephesus.

Compared with an eagle by his flights of elevated contemplation, Saint John is the supreme Doctor of the Divinity of Jesus of Nazareth.

Endowed with an astounding memory, he was able even in his later years, to reproduce the discourses of Christ in such a way as to make the reader experience their power and impact on their audiences as if present to hear them.

He is the author of five books of the New Testament, his Gospel, three Epistles, and the last canonical prophecy, the Apocalypse or Revelation of Saint John — all of which were composed after the ruin of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.

In his extreme old age he continued to visit the churches of Asia, and Saint Jerome relates that when age and weakness grew upon him so that he was no longer able to preach to the people, he would be carried to the assembly of the faithful by his disciples, with great difficulty; and every time said to his flock only these words: My dear children, love one another.

Saint John died in peace at Ephesus in the third year of Trajan, that is, the hundredth of the Christian era, or the sixty-sixth from the crucifixion of Christ, Saint John then being about ninety-four years old, according to Saint Epiphanus.

(SOURCE: The New Testament: Acts of the Apostles; Heavenly Friends, by Rosalie M. Levy (St. Paul: Boston, 1958).)

READING OF THE DAY: 26 DECEMBER, 2013

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“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.

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.

Rescue me from the clutches of my enemies and my persecutors.
Let your face shine upon your servant;
save me in your kindness.” -Psalms 31(30):3cd-4.6.8ab.16b.17.

READING OF THE DAY: 25 DECEMBER, 2013

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“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

He was in the beginning with God.

All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be.

What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

A man named John was sent from God.

He came for testimony, to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him.

He was not the light, but came to testify to the light.

The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.

He was in the world, and the world came to be through him, but the world did not know him.

He came to what was his own, but his own people did not accept him.

But to those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God, to those who believe in his name,who were born not by natural generation nor by human choice nor by a man’s decision but of God.

And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth.

John testified to him and cried out, saying, “This was he of whom I said, ‘The one who is coming after me ranks ahead of me because he existed before me.'”

From his fullness we have all received, grace in place of grace,
because while the law was given through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

No one has ever seen God.

The only Son, God, who is at the Father’s side, has revealed him.” -John 1:1-18.