READING OF THE DAY: 31 DECEMBER, 2016

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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.

READING OF THE DAY: 30 DECEMBER, 2016

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“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 Nazarene.” –   Matthew 2:13-15.19-23.

READING OF THE DAY: 29 DECEMBER, 2016

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“When the days were completed for their purification according to the law of Moses, Mary and Joseph took Jesus up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, just as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord,”
and to offer the sacrifice of “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons,” in accordance with the dictate in the law of the Lord.

Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon.

This man was righteous and devout, awaiting the consolation of Israel, and the holy Spirit was upon him.

It had been revealed to him by the holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Messiah of the Lord.

He came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform the custom of the law in regard to him, he took him into his arms and blessed God, saying: Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word,
for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in sight of all the peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel.”

The child’s father and mother were amazed at what was said about him; and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted (and you yourself a sword will pierce) so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”‘ – Luke 2:22-35.

READING OF THE DAY: 28 DECEMBER, 2016

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“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.” – Matthew 2:13-18.

READING OF THE DAY: 27 DECEMBER, 2016

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“On the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene ran and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put him.”

So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb.

They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter and arrived at the tomb first; he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in.

When Simon Peter arrived after him, he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there, and the cloth that had covered his head, not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place.

Then the other disciple also went in, the one who had arrived at the tomb first, and he saw and believed.” – John 20:2-8.

READING OF THE DAY: 25 DECEMBER, 2016

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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.

SAINT OF THE DAY: 24 DECEMBER, 2016

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Saint Charbel Makhlouf

Maronite Priest and Hermit
(1828-1898)

Saint Charbel Makhlouf, the modest monk of Lebanon whose perfectly conserved mortal remains exude a miraculous sanguinolent liquid, has become known to many in the past half century, because of the extraordinary miracles which have drawn thousands to visit his tomb.

Youssef Makhlouf was born in 1828 in Bika’Kafra, the highest village of Lebanon, near the grove of the still-conserved famous cedars of Lebanon. The youngest of five children, he became a little shepherd. Their pious mother lived almost as a religious in her family home. She would pray with outstretched arms, telling her family to allow no one to see her at those moments.

The children’s father also possessed the genuine piety which recommends a Christian to his brethren, but the little Youssef never knew him, for he died when the youngest son was only two years old. An uncle took upon himself the support of the family, which was thereby maintained intact.

The child was profoundly affected by the example of two other maternal uncles, who were monks of the Maronite Lebanese Order, living in a hermitage only three miles away, and whom he often visited, at first with his mother, later on his own.

They would say to him: All here below is nothing, the world is vanity, life is short. The true beauty is God, near Him there is true happiness. Wisdom is to not find oneself with empty hands at the supreme hour.

By the time he was sixteen, he had completed his basic schooling under an oak in the village churchyard, where he was taught by the priest with the other village boys. The Christian spirit of the entire village was remarkable; the men regarded it as a great privilege to ring the church bells for Sunday Mass. Youssef during his days on the hillside with his little flock, often retired to a grotto to pray, for solitude was his joy, and prayer the breath of his soul.

He was serving Mass every morning, and in that function he discovered the true purpose of his existence: to be, like his Saviour, a victim to be offered, with Christ, to His Father.

At the age of twenty-three he left home silently one morning, and made his way to a monastery a day’s journey away. Only one thing mattered to him — to obey the voice of the One who summons: Come, follow Me.

When his uncle and tutor, Tanios, tried to persuade him to return, he could not succeed; and his mother, who had accompanied her brother, taking his hand in hers, and shaking it energetically, said to him: Well then, if you should not become a good religious, return with me to the house!

He received the habit one week after entering the monastery, and chose the name of Charbel, a martyr of the Antioch church in the year 107.

There followed two years of a severe novitiate, completed in the monastery of Annaya, which on its mountaintop seemed to breathe the stars, then the young monk was sent to prepare for the priesthood farther away, at Saint Cyprian of Kfifan, where he was ordained six years later at the age of 31.

He returned to Annaya afterwards, where for sixteen years he was in every way a model of perfection, until in 1875, at forty-seven years of age, he retired to its nearby hermitage, where he would remain until his death.

He was offering Mass a week before Christmas, when paralysis struck him as he elevated the host.

His sorrowing companion, during a week’s time, heard him repeating as long as he had voice, the prayers of his uncompleted Mass: O Father of truth, behold Your Son, victim to please You; condescend to approve [this offering], because for me He endured death, to give me life…

Saint Charbel died quietly on the 24th of December, attended by three monks.

The events of his life are not often extraordinary save by their heroic virtue, which indeed exceeds description.

He endured the extreme cold of his hermitage each winter, without ever adding additional garments to his ordinary very simple ones; this alone sufficed to astonish all who knew of it.

The monks who trembled with cold during the night when they kept vigil at his coffin before his funeral, said: See how we find ourselves unable to endure for a single night, the rude cold of this chapel!

How could this priest live here for twenty-three years, on his knees, like a statue before the altar, every night from midnight until eleven in the morning, when he rose to say his Mass?

Blessed is he, for he undoubtedly receives at present his reward with God!

We can nonetheless relate with the biographer whom we cite here, that one day he completely cured a dangerously violent insane man, whom several others had difficulty to make enter the monastery, but who went to its chapel when the Saint commanded him to do so; and there, when Saint Charbel placed a Gospel on his head and prayed, he became calm and silent, remaining thereafter entirely cured.

On another occasion, while the monks were outdoors working to harvest their grapes, a huge venomous serpent emerged from beneath a bush, in a threatening attitude.

Saint Charbel told the others who had already armed themselves not to touch it, and commanded it to depart, which it did in peace.

After his death a great many miracles occurred.

Sick and infirm people of all kinds have been healed: deaf, dumb, blind, paralytic, those with cancer, mental illness, etc.

They are also of every religion and every country. God worked these wonders either when people touched the body of His servant of were anointed with the oily liquid that sweated miraculously from his precious remains, or when they touched cloths either impregnated with this liquid or which had belonged to him.

The divine power that strengthens and heals does not limit itself to the needs of the body. It especially cures wounds of the soul in every form — sin, indifference, unbelief, error. Indeed, it is the healing of souls that occurs most often amid the cures that take place at Annaya.

Since the death of Saint Charbel, thousands of cases of miraculous healings have been recorded.

Saint Charbel was one of those souls which, in a life of silence, mortification, deprivation and total gift of self, was able to detach itself from everything except the adorable Face of the Lord.

Nothing mattered more for him than the redemption and salvation of souls, for whom he wanted to give his life in union with Christ on the cross.

He applied these words of Saint Paul in their totality: I fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the Passion of Christ for His body, which is the Church. (Colossians 1:24)

(SOURCE: Charbel Makhlouf, by P. Daher (Éditions Spes: Paris, 1953); One of the greatest Saints of Our Time, Saint Charbel Makhlouf (Magnificat: St. Jovite, 1998); Magnificat magazine (Magnificat: St. Jovite, 1998), Vol. XXXIII, No. 1, January 1998.)

READING OF THE DAY: 24 DECEMBER, 2016

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“In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that the whole world should be enrolled.

This was the first enrollment, when Quirinius was governor of Syria.

So all went to be enrolled, each to his own town.

And Joseph too went up from Galilee from the town of Nazareth to Judea, to the city of David that is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.

While they were there, the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to her firstborn son.

She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Now there were shepherds in that region living in the fields and keeping the night watch over their flock.

The angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were struck with great fear.

The angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.

For today in the city of David a saviour has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord.

And this will be a sign for you: you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.”

And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying:

Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests.” -Luke 2:1-14.

READING OF THE DAY: 23 DECEMBER, 2016

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“When the time arrived for Elizabeth to have her child she gave birth to a son.

Her neighbours and relatives heard that the Lord had shown his great mercy toward her, and they rejoiced with her.

When they came on the eighth day to circumcise the child, they were going to call him Zechariah after his father, but his mother said in reply, “No. He will be called John.”

But they answered her, “There is no one among your relatives who has this name.”

So they made signs, asking his father what he wished him to be called.

He asked for a tablet and wrote, “John is his name,” and all were amazed.

Immediately his mouth was opened, his tongue freed, and he spoke blessing God.

Then fear came upon all their neighbours, and all these matters were discussed throughout the hill country of Judea.

All who heard these things took them to heart, saying, “What, then, will this child be?”

For surely the hand of the Lord was with him.” – Luke 1:57-66.

SAINT OF THE DAY:23 DECEMBER, 2016

Saint Servulus of Rome

Invalid and Beggar
(† 670)

Saint Servulus of Rome
Saint Servulus of Rome

Saint Servulus was a perfect model of submission to the divine Will; it would be difficult to offer a more consoling example to persons afflicted by poverty, illnesses and the other miseries of life. It is Saint Gregory the Great who narrates for us his edifying story:

We have seen under the portico of the Church of Saint Clement, a poor man named Servulus, who is known to all the people of Rome as to Us.

He was deprived of all the goods of this world; a long illness had reduced him to a pitiful state. From his youth he was paralyzed in all his members.

Not only could he not stand up, but he was unable to rise from his bed; he could neither sit down nor turn himself from one side to the other, nor bring his hand to his mouth.

Nothing in him was sound except his eyes, ears, tongue, stomach and entrails.

This unfortunate man, who had learned the mysteries of religion, meditated unceasingly on the sufferings of the Saviour, and never did he complain.

He was surrounded by the loving care of his mother and brother.

Neither the mother nor the children had ever studied, yet the paralytic had pious books bought for himself, in particular the Psalms and the Holy Gospels, and he would ask the religious who came to visit him on his cot to read from them to him.

In this way he learned these books by heart; he spent days and part of the nights in singing or reciting them, and meditating them, and he constantly thanked the Lord for having taken him to be a victim associated with the pains and sufferings of Jesus Christ.

Many alms came to the little house of the paralytic, to such an extent that he became rich in his poverty.

After having taken from these what was necessary for his subsistence and that of his mother, he gave the rest to the indigent, who often assembled around him to be edified by his words and his virtues.

His bed of pain was a pulpit of preaching, from which he converted souls.

When the time came which was decreed by God to reward his patience and put an end to his painful life, Servulus felt the paralysis spreading to the vital parts of his body, and he prepared for death.

At the final moment, he asked those in attendance to recite Psalms with him. Suddenly he cried out: Ah! Don’t you hear that melody resounding in heaven?’

At that moment his soul escaped from his body, which until his burial gave forth a marvelous fragrance.

SOURCE: Vie des Saints pour tous les jours de l’année, by Abbé L. Jaud (Mame: Tours, 1950).)