Saturday of the Fourth Week of Ordinary Time

+Mark 6:30-34

They were like sheep without a shepherd

The apostles rejoined Jesus and told him all they had done and taught. Then he said to them, ‘You must come away to some lonely place all by yourselves and rest for a while’; for there were so many coming and going that the apostles had no time even to eat. So they went off in a boat to a lonely place where they could be by themselves. But people saw them going, and many could guess where; and from every town they all hurried to the place on foot and reached it before them. So as he stepped ashore he saw a large crowd; and he took pity on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd, and he set himself to teach them at some length.


Hebrews 13:15-17,20-21

May God turn us all into whatever is acceptable to himself through Jesus Christ

Through Christ, let us offer God an unending sacrifice of praise, a verbal sacrifice that is offered every time we acknowledge his name. Keep doing good works and sharing your resources, for these are sacrifices that please God.

Obey your leaders and do as they tell you, because they must give an account of the way they look after your souls; make this a joy for them to do, and not a grief – you yourselves would be the losers. I pray that the God of peace, who brought our Lord Jesus back from the dead to become the great Shepherd of the sheep by the blood that sealed an eternal covenant, may make you ready to do his will in any kind of good action; and turn us all into whatever is acceptable to himself through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever, Amen.


Psalm 22(23)

The Lord is my shepherd: there is nothing I shall want.

The Lord is my shepherd;

there is nothing I shall want.

Fresh and green are the pastures

where he gives me repose.

Near restful waters he leads me,

to revive my drooping spirit.

The Lord is my shepherd: there is nothing I shall want.

He guides me along the right path;

he is true to his name.

If I should walk in the valley of darkness

no evil would I fear.

You are there with your crook and your staff;

with these you give me comfort.

The Lord is my shepherd: there is nothing I shall want.

You have prepared a banquet for me

in the sight of my foes.

My head you have anointed with oil;

my cup is overflowing.

The Lord is my shepherd: there is nothing I shall want.

Surely goodness and kindness shall follow me

all the days of my life.

In the Lord’s own house shall I dwell

for ever and ever.

The Lord is my shepherd: there is nothing I shall want.

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

Christ Descended into Hell

632 The frequent New Testament affirmations that Jesus was “raised from the dead” presuppose that the crucified one sojourned in the realm of the dead prior to his resurrection. This was the first meaning given in the apostolic preaching to Christ’s descent into hell: that Jesus, like all men, experienced death and in his soul joined the others in the realm of the dead. But he descended there as Savior, proclaiming the Good News to the spirits imprisoned there.

633 Scripture calls the abode of the dead, to which the dead Christ went down, “hell” – Sheol in Hebrew or Hades in Greek – because those who are there are deprived of the vision of God. Such is the case for all the dead, whether evil or righteous, while they await the Redeemer: which does not mean that their lot is identical, as Jesus shows through the parable of the poor man Lazarus who was received into “Abraham’s bosom”: “It is precisely these holy souls, who awaited their Savior in Abraham’s bosom, whom Christ the Lord delivered when he descended into hell.” Jesus did not descend into hell to deliver the damned, nor to destroy the hell of damnation, but to free the just who had gone before him.

634 “The gospel was preached even to the dead.” The descent into hell brings the Gospel message of salvation to complete fulfilment. This is the last phase of Jesus’ messianic mission, a phase which is condensed in time but vast in its real significance: the spread of Christ’s redemptive work to all men of all times and all places, for all who are saved have been made sharers in the redemption.

635 Christ went down into the depths of death so that “the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.” Jesus, “the Author of life”, by dying destroyed “him who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and [delivered] all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong bondage.” Henceforth the risen Christ holds “the keys of Death and Hades”, so that “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth.”

Today a great silence reigns on earth, a great silence and a great stillness. A great silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. . . He has gone to search for Adam, our first father, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow Adam in his bonds and Eve, captive with him – He who is both their God and the son of Eve. . . “I am your God, who for your sake have become your son. . . I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead.”

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Presentation of the Lord

+Luke 2:22-40

My eyes have seen your salvation

When the day came for them to be purified as laid down by the Law of Moses, the parents of Jesus took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, – observing what stands written in the Law of the Lord: Every first-born male must be consecrated to the Lord – and also to offer in sacrifice, in accordance with what is said in the Law of the Lord, a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.

Now in Jerusalem there was a man named Simeon. He was an upright and devout man; he looked forward to Israel’s comforting and the Holy Spirit rested on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death until he had set eyes on the Christ of the Lord. Prompted by the Spirit he came to the Temple and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the Law required, he took him into his arms and blessed God; and he said:

‘Now, Master, you can let your servant go in peace,

just as you promised;

because my eyes have seen the salvation

which you have prepared for all the nations to see,

a light to enlighten the pagans

and the glory of your people Israel.’

As the child’s father and mother stood there wondering at the things that were being said about him, Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, ‘You see this child: he is destined for the fall and for the rising of many in Israel, destined to be a sign that is rejected – and a sword will pierce your own soul too – so that the secret thoughts of many may be laid bare.’

There was a prophetess also, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was well on in years. Her days of girlhood over, she had been married for seven years before becoming a widow. She was now eighty-four years old and never left the Temple, serving God night and day with fasting and prayer. She came by just at that moment and began to praise God; and she spoke of the child to all who looked forward to the deliverance of Jerusalem.

When they had done everything the Law of the Lord required, they went back to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. Meanwhile the child grew to maturity, and he was filled with wisdom; and God’s favour was with him.


Malachi 3:1-4

The Lord you are seeking will suddenly enter his Temple

The Lord God says this: Look, I am going to send my messenger to prepare a way before me. And the Lord you are seeking will suddenly enter his Temple; and the angel of the covenant whom you are longing for, yes, he is coming, says the Lord of Hosts. Who will be able to resist the day of his coming? Who will remain standing when he appears? For he is like the refiner’s fire and the fullers’ alkali. He will take his seat as refiner and purifier; he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and then they will make the offering to the Lord as it should be made. The offering of Judah and Jerusalem will then be welcomed by the Lord as in former days, as in the years of old.


Psalm 23(24):7-10

Who is the king of glory? He, the Lord, he is the king of glory.

O gates, lift high your heads;

grow higher, ancient doors.

Let him enter, the king of glory!

Who is the king of glory? He, the Lord, he is the king of glory.

Who is the king of glory?

The Lord, the mighty, the valiant,

the Lord, the valiant in war.

Who is the king of glory? He, the Lord, he is the king of glory.

O gates, lift high your heads;

grow higher, ancient doors.

Let him enter, the king of glory!

Who is the king of glory? He, the Lord, he is the king of glory.

Who is he, the king of glory?

He, the Lord of armies,

he is the king of glory.

Who is the king of glory? He, the Lord, he is the king of glory.

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

The mysteries of Jesus’ infancy

527 Jesus’ circumcision, on the eighth day after his birth, is the sign of his incorporation into Abraham’s descendants, into the people of the covenant. It is the sign of his submission to the Law and his deputation to Israel’s worship, in which he will participate throughout his life. This sign prefigures that “circumcision of Christ” which is Baptism.

528 The Epiphany is the manifestation of Jesus as Messiah of Israel, Son of God and Savior of the world. The great feast of Epiphany celebrates the adoration of Jesus by the wise men (magi) from the East, together with his baptism in the Jordan and the wedding feast at Cana in Galilee. In the magi, representatives of the neighboring pagan religions, the Gospel sees the first-fruits of the nations, who welcome the good news of salvation through the Incarnation. The magi’s coming to Jerusalem in order to pay homage to the king of the Jews shows that they seek in Israel, in the messianic light of the star of David, the one who will be king of the nations. Their coming means that pagans can discover Jesus and worship him as Son of God and Savior of the world only by turning towards the Jews and receiving from them the messianic promise as contained in the Old Testament. The Epiphany shows that “the full number of the nations” now takes its “place in the family of the patriarchs”, and acquires Israelitica dignitas (is made “worthy of the heritage of Israel”).

529 The presentation of Jesus in the temple shows him to be the firstborn Son who belongs to the Lord. With Simeon and Anna, all Israel awaits its encounter with the Savior-the name given to this event in the Byzantine tradition. Jesus is recognized as the long-expected Messiah, the “light to the nations” and the “glory of Israel”, but also “a sign that is spoken against”. The sword of sorrow predicted for Mary announces Christ’s perfect and unique oblation on the cross that will impart the salvation God had “prepared in the presence of all peoples”.

530 The flight into Egypt and the massacre of the innocents make manifest the opposition of darkness to the light: “He came to his own home, and his own people received him not.” Christ’s whole life was lived under the sign of persecution. His own share it with him. Jesus’ departure from Egypt recalls the exodus and presents him as the definitive liberator of God’s people.

Timothy and Titus, Bb

+Mark 3:20-21

Jesus’ relatives were convinced he was out of his mind

Jesus went home, and once more such a crowd collected that they could not even have a meal. When his relatives heard of this, they set out to take charge of him, convinced he was out of his mind.


2 Timothy 1:1-8

Fan into a flame the gift God gave you

From Paul, appointed by God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus in his design to promise life in Christ Jesus; to Timothy, dear child of mine, wishing you grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and from Christ Jesus our Lord.

Night and day I thank God, keeping my conscience clear and remembering my duty to him as my ancestors did, and always I remember you in my prayers; I remember your tears and long to see you again to complete my happiness. Then I am reminded of the sincere faith which you have; it came first to live in your grandmother Lois, and your mother Eunice, and I have no doubt that it is the same faith in you as well.

That is why I am reminding you now to fan into a flame the gift that God gave you when I laid my hands on you. God’s gift was not a spirit of timidity, but the Spirit of power, and love, and self-control. So you are never to be ashamed of witnessing to the Lord, or ashamed of me for being his prisoner; but with me, bear the hardships for the sake of the Good News, relying on the power of God who has saved us and called us to be holy.


Psalm 95(96):1-3,7-8,10

Proclaim the wonders of the Lord among all the peoples.

O sing a new song to the Lord,

sing to the Lord all the earth.

O sing to the Lord, bless his name.

Proclaim the wonders of the Lord among all the peoples.

Proclaim his help day by day,

tell among the nations his glory

and his wonders among all the peoples.

Proclaim the wonders of the Lord among all the peoples.

Give the Lord, you families of peoples,

give the Lord glory and power;

give the Lord the glory of his name.

Proclaim the wonders of the Lord among all the peoples.

Proclaim to the nations: ‘God is king.’

The world he made firm in its place;

he will judge the peoples in fairness.

Proclaim the wonders of the Lord among all the peoples.

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

To Bear Witness to the Truth

2471 Before Pilate, Christ proclaims that he “has come into the world, to bear witness to the truth.” The Christian is not to “be ashamed then of testifying to our Lord.” In situations that require witness to the faith, the Christian must profess it without equivocation, after the example of St. Paul before his judges. We must keep “a clear conscience toward God and toward men.”

2472 The duty of Christians to take part in the life of the Church impels them to act as witnesses of the Gospel and of the obligations that flow from it. This witness is a transmission of the faith in words and deeds. Witness is an act of justice that establishes the truth or makes it known.

All Christians by the example of their lives and the witness of their word, wherever they live, have an obligation to manifest the new man which they have put on in Baptism and to reveal the power of the Holy Spirit by whom they were strengthened at Confirmation.

2473 Martyrdom is the supreme witness given to the truth of the faith: it means bearing witness even unto death. the martyr bears witness to Christ who died and rose, to whom he is united by charity. He bears witness to the truth of the faith and of Christian doctrine. He endures death through an act of fortitude. “Let me become the food of the beasts, through whom it will be given me to reach God.”

2474 The Church has painstakingly collected the records of those who persevered to the end in witnessing to their faith. These are the acts of the Martyrs. They form the archives of truth written in letters of blood:

Neither the pleasures of the world nor the kingdoms of this age will be of any use to me.

It is better for me to die [in order to unite myself] to Christ Jesus than to reign over the ends of the earth. I seek him who died for us; I desire him who rose for us. My birth is approaching. . .271 I bless you for having judged me worthy from this day and this hour to be counted among your martyrs…. You have kept your promise, God of faithfulness and truth. For this reason and for everything, I praise you, I bless you, I glorify you through the eternal and heavenly High Priest, Jesus Christ, your beloved Son. Through him, who is with you and the Holy Spirit, may glory be given to you, now and in the ages to come. Amen.


Timothy (Greek: Τιμόθεος; Timótheos, meaning “honouring God” or “honoured by God”) was an early Christian evangelist and the first first-century Christian bishop of Ephesus, who tradition relates died around the year AD 97.

Timothy was from the Lycaonian city of Lystra in Asia Minor, born of a Jewish mother who had become a Christian believer, and a Greek father. The Apostle Paul met him during his second missionary journey and he became Paul’s companion and co-worker along with Silas. The New Testament indicates that Timothy traveled with Saint Paul, who was also his mentor. Paul entrusted him with important assignments. He is addressed as the recipient of the First and Second Epistles to Timothy.

Life

Timothy was a native of Lystra in Lycaonia (Anatolia). When Paul and Barnabas first visited Lystra, Paul healed one crippled from birth, leading many of the inhabitants to accept his teaching. When he returned a few years later with Silas, Timothy was already a respected member of the Christian congregation, as were his grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice, both Jews. In 2 Timothy 1:5, his mother and grandmother are noted as eminent for their piety and faith. Timothy is said to have been acquainted with the Scriptures since childhood. In 1 Corinthians 16:10 there is a suggestion that he was by nature reserved and timid: “When Timothy comes, see that you put him at ease among you, for he is doing the work of the Lord”.

Timothy’s father was Greek, that is, not a Jew. Thus Timothy had not been circumcised and Paul now ensured that this was done, according to the text Acts 16:1–3, to ensure Timothy’s acceptability to the Jews whom they would be evangelizing. According to McGarvey: “Yet we see him in the case before us, circumcising Timothy with his own hand, and this ‘on account of certain Jews who were in those quarters'”. However, Acts 16:4 makes clear that this action did not compromise the decision made at the Council of Jerusalem, that gentile believers were not required to be circumcised.

Timothy became St Paul’s disciple, and later his constant companion and co-worker in preaching.In the year 52, Paul and Silas took Timothy along with them on their journey to Macedonia. Augustine extols his zeal and disinterestedness in immediately forsaking his country, his house, and his parents, to follow the apostle, to share in his poverty and sufferings. Timothy may have been subject to ill health or “frequent ailments”, and Paul encouraged him to “use a little wine for your stomach’s sake” (1 Timothy 5:23).

When Paul went on to Athens, Silas and Timothy stayed for some time at Beroea and Thessalonica before joining Paul at Corinth. Timothy next appears in Acts during Paul’s stay in Ephesus (54–57), and in late 56 or early 57 Paul sent him forth to Macedonia with the aim that he would eventually arrive at Corinth. Timothy arrived at Corinth just after 1 Corinthians reached that city. The letter was not well received, and Timothy quickly returned to Ephesus to report this to Paul.

Timothy was with Paul in Corinth during the winter of 57–58 when Paul dispatched his Letter to the Romans (Romans 16:21). According to Acts 20:3–6, Timothy was with Paul in Macedonia just before Passover in 58; he left the city before Paul, going ahead of him to await Paul in Troas (Acts 20:4–5). “That is the last mention of Timothy in Acts”, Raymond Brown notes. In the year 64, Paul left Timothy at Ephesus, to govern that church.

His relationship with Paul was close and Paul entrusted him with missions of great importance. Timothy’s name appears as the co-author on 2 Corinthians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, and Philemon. Paul wrote to the Philippians about Timothy, “I have no one like him” (Philippians 2:19–23). When Paul was in prison and awaiting martyrdom, he summoned his faithful friend Timothy for a last farewell.

That Timothy was jailed at least once during the period of the writing of the New Testament is implied by the writer of Hebrews mentioning Timothy’s release at the end of the epistle.

The apocryphal Acts of Timothy states that in the year 97, the 80-year-old bishop tried to halt a procession in honor of the goddess Diana by preaching the gospel. The angry pagans beat him, dragged him through the streets, and stoned him to death.

Veneration

Timothy is venerated as an apostle, saint, and martyr by the Eastern Orthodox Church, with his feast day on 22 January. The General Roman Calendar venerates Timothy together with Titus by a memorial on 26 January, the day after the Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul. From the 13th century until 1969 the feast of Timothy (alone) was on 24 January, the day before that of the Conversion of Saint Paul. Along with Titus and Silas, Timothy is commemorated by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Episcopal Church on 26 January. Timothy’s feast is kept by the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod on 24 January.

In the 4th century, the relics of Timothy were transferred from Ephesus to Constantinople and placed in the Church of the Holy Apostles near the tombs of St Andrew and St Luke. Later on in the 13th century, the relics seem to have been taken to Italy by a count returning from the crusades, and buried around 1239 in the Termoli Cathedral. The remains were re-discovered in 1945, during restoration works.

Patronage

Timothy is the patron invoked against stomach and intestinal disorders.


Titus (/ˈtaɪtəs/; Greek: Τίτος) was an early Christian missionary and church leader, a companion and disciple of Paul the Apostle, mentioned in several of the Pauline epistles including the Epistle to Titus. He is believed to be a Gentile converted to Christianity by Paul and, according to tradition, he was consecrated as Bishop of the Island of Crete.

Titus brought a fundraising letter from Paul to Corinth, to collect for the poor in Jerusalem. Later, on Crete, Titus appointed presbyters (elders) in every city and remained there into his old age, dying in Gortyna, near the city of Candia (modern Heraklion).

Life

Titus was a Greek, apparently from Antioch] who is said to have studied Greek philosophy and poetry in his early years. He seems to have been converted by Paul, whereupon he served as Paul’s secretary and interpreter. In the year 49, Titus accompanied Paul to the council held at Jerusalem, on the subject of the Mosaic rites. Although Paul had consented to the circumcision of Timothy, in order to render his ministry acceptable among the Jews, he would not allow the same in regard to Titus, so as not to seem in agreement with those who would require it for Gentile converts.

Towards the close of the year 56, Paul, as he himself departed from Asia, sent Titus from Ephesus to Corinth, with full commission to remedy the fallout precipitated by Timothy’s delivery of 1 Corinthians and Paul’s “Painful Visit”, particularly a significant personal offense and challenge to Paul’s authority by one unnamed individual. During this journey, Titus served as the courier for what is commonly known as the “Severe Letter”, a Pauline missive that has been lost but is referred to in 2 Corinthians.

After success on this mission, Titus journeyed north and met Paul in Macedonia. There the apostle, overjoyed by Titus’ success, wrote 2 Corinthians. Titus then returned to Corinth with a larger entourage, carrying 2 Corinthians with him. Paul joined Titus in Corinth later. From Corinth, Paul then sent Titus to organize the collections of alms for the Christians at Jerusalem. Titus was therefore a troubleshooter, peacemaker, administrator, and missionary.

Early church tradition holds that Paul, after his release from his first imprisonment in Rome, stopped at the island of Crete to preach. Due to the needs of other churches, requiring his presence elsewhere, he ordained his disciple Titus as bishop of that island, and left him to finish the work he had started. Chrysostom says that this is an indication of the esteem St. Paul held for Titus.

Paul summoned Titus from Crete to join him at Nicopolis in Epirus. Later, Titus traveled to Dalmatia. The New Testament does not record his death.

It has been argued that the name “Titus” in 2 Corinthians and Galatians is nothing more than an informal name used by Timothy, implied already by the fact that even though both are said to be long-term close companions of Paul, they never appear in common scenes. The theory proposes that a number of passages—1 Cor. 4:17, 16.10; 2 Cor. 2:13, 7:6, 13–14, 12:18; and Acts 19.22—all refer to the same journey of a single individual, Titus-Timothy. 2 Timothy seems to dispute this, by claiming that Titus has gone to Dalmatia (2 Timothy 4:10). The fact that Paul made a point of circumcising Timothy (Acts 16:3) but refused to circumcise Titus (Galatians 2:3) would indicate that they are different men, although certain manuscripts of Galatians (Galatians 2:4) have been taken (by Marius Victorinus, for example) to indicate that Paul did circumcise Titus.

Veneration

The feast day of Titus was not included in the Tridentine Calendar. When added in 1854, it was assigned to 6 February. In 1969, the Catholic Church assigned the feast to 26 January so as to celebrate the two disciples of Paul, Titus and Timothy, the day after the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America celebrates these two, together with Silas, on the same date. The Orthodox Church commemorates him on 25 August and on 4 January.

His relics, now consisting of only his skull, are venerated in the Church of St. Titus, Heraklion, Crete, to which it was returned in 1966 after being removed to Venice during the Turkish occupation.

St. Titus is the patron saint of the United States Army Chaplain Corps. The Corps has established the Order of Titus Award, described by the Department of Defense:

Order of Titus award is the only award presented by the Chief of Chaplains to recognize outstanding performance of ministry by chaplains and chaplain assistants. The Order of Titus is awarded for meritorious contributions to the unique and highly visible Unit Ministry Team Observer Controller Program. The award recognizes the great importance of realistic, doctrinally guided combat ministry training in ensuring the delivery of prevailing religious support to the American Soldier.

Source: Wikipedia

Saturday of the First Week of Ordinary Time

+Mark 2:13-17

Your light must shine in the sight of men

Jesus went out to the shore of the lake; and all the people came to him, and he taught them. As he was walking on he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus, sitting by the customs house, and he said to him, ‘Follow me.’ And he got up and followed him.

When Jesus was at dinner in his house, a number of tax collectors and sinners were also sitting at the table with Jesus and his disciples; for there were many of them among his followers. When the scribes of the Pharisee party saw him eating with sinners and tax collectors, they said to his disciples, ‘Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?’ When Jesus heard this he said to them, ‘It is not the healthy who need the doctor, but the sick. I did not come to call the virtuous, but sinners.’


Hebrews 4:12-16

Let us be confident in approaching the throne of grace

The word of God is something alive and active: it cuts like any double-edged sword but more finely: it can slip through the place where the soul is divided from the spirit, or joints from the marrow; it can judge the secret emotions and thoughts. No created thing can hide from him; everything is uncovered and open to the eyes of the one to whom we must give account of ourselves.

Since in Jesus, the Son of God, we have the supreme high priest who has gone through to the highest heaven, we must never let go of the faith that we have professed. For it is not as if we had a high priest who was incapable of feeling our weaknesses with us; but we have one who has been tempted in every way that we are, though he is without sin. Let us be confident, then, in approaching the throne of grace, that we shall have mercy from him and find grace when we are in need of help.


Psalm 18(19):8-10,15

Your words are spirit, Lord, and they are life.

The law of the Lord is perfect,

it revives the soul.

The rule of the Lord is to be trusted,

it gives wisdom to the simple.

Your words are spirit, Lord, and they are life.

The precepts of the Lord are right,

they gladden the heart.

The command of the Lord is clear,

it gives light to the eyes.

Your words are spirit, Lord, and they are life.

The fear of the Lord is holy,

abiding for ever.

The decrees of the Lord are truth

and all of them just.

Your words are spirit, Lord, and they are life.

May the spoken words of my mouth,

the thoughts of my heart,

win favour in your sight, O Lord,

my rescuer, my rock!

Your words are spirit, Lord, and they are life.

The New American Bible

The Catechism of the Catholic Church

God Carries Out His Plan: Divine Providence

302 Creation has its own goodness and proper perfection, but it did not spring forth complete from the hands of the Creator. The universe was created “in a state of journeying” (in statu viae) toward an ultimate perfection yet to be attained, to which God has destined it. We call “divine providence” the dispositions by which God guides his creation toward this perfection:

By his providence God protects and governs all things which he has made, “reaching mightily from one end of the earth to the other, and ordering all things well”. For “all are open and laid bare to his eyes”, even those things which are yet to come into existence through the free action of creatures.

303 The witness of Scripture is unanimous that the solicitude of divine providence is concrete and immediate; God cares for all, from the least things to the great events of the world and its history. The sacred books powerfully affirm God’s absolute sovereignty over the course of events: “Our God is in the heavens; he does whatever he pleases.” And so it is with Christ, “who opens and no one shall shut, who shuts and no one opens”. As the book of Proverbs states: “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will be established.”

304 And so we see the Holy Spirit, the principal author of Sacred Scripture, often attributing actions to God without mentioning any secondary causes. This is not a “primitive mode of speech”, but a profound way of recalling God’s primacy and absolute Lordship over history and the world, and so of educating his people to trust in him. The prayer of the Psalms is the great school of this trust.

305 Jesus asks for childlike abandonment to the providence of our heavenly Father who takes care of his children’s smallest needs: “Therefore do not be anxious, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?”. . . Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.”

Saturday after Epiphany

+John 3:22-30

‘He must grow greater and I must grow smaller: my joy is complete’

Jesus went with his disciples into the Judaean countryside and stayed with them there and baptised. At the same time John was baptising at Aenon near Salim, where there was plenty of water, and people were going there to be baptised. This was before John had been put in prison.

Now some of John’s disciples had opened a discussion with a Jew about purification, so they went to John and said, ‘Rabbi, the man who was with you on the far side of the Jordan, the man to whom you bore witness, is baptising now; and everyone is going to him.’

John replied:

‘A man can lay claim

only to what is given him from heaven.

‘You yourselves can bear me out: I said: I myself am not the Christ; I am the one who has been sent in front of him.

‘The bride is only for the bridegroom;

and yet the bridegroom’s friend,

who stands there and listens,

is glad when he hears the bridegroom’s voice.

This same joy I feel, and now it is complete.

He must grow greater, I must grow smaller.’



1 John 5:14-21

If we ask for anything, he will hear us

We are quite confident that if we ask the Son of God for anything,

and it is in accordance with his will,

he will hear us;

and, knowing that whatever we may ask, he hears us,

we know that we have already been granted what we asked of him.

If anybody sees his brother commit a sin

that is not a deadly sin,

he has only to pray, and God will give life to the sinner

– not those who commit a deadly sin;

for there is a sin that is death,

and I will not say that you must pray about that.

Every kind of wrong-doing is sin,

but not all sin is deadly.

We know that anyone who has been begotten by God

does not sin,

because the begotten Son of God protects him,

and the Evil One does not touch him.

We know that we belong to God,

but the whole world lies in the power of the Evil One.

We know, too, that the Son of God has come,

and has given us the power

to know the true God.

We are in the true God,

as we are in his Son, Jesus Christ.

This is the true God,

this is eternal life.

Children, be on your guard against false gods.

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

The preparations

522 The coming of God’s Son to earth is an event of such immensity that God willed to prepare for it over centuries. He makes everything converge on Christ: all the rituals and sacrifices, figures and symbols of the “First Covenant”. He announces him through the mouths of the prophets who succeeded one another in Israel. Moreover, he awakens in the hearts of the pagans a dim expectation of this coming.

523 St. John the Baptist is the Lord’s immediate precursor or forerunner, sent to prepare his way. “Prophet of the Most High”, John surpasses all the prophets, of whom he is the last. He inaugurates the Gospel, already from his mother’s womb welcomes the coming of Christ, and rejoices in being “the friend of the bridegroom”, whom he points out as “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world”. Going before Jesus “in the spirit and power of Elijah”, John bears witness to Christ in his preaching, by his Baptism of conversion, and through his martyrdom.

524 When the Church celebrates the liturgy of Advent each year, she makes present this ancient expectancy of the Messiah, for by sharing in the long preparation for the Savior’s first coming, the faithful renew their ardent desire for his second coming. By celebrating the precursor’s birth and martyrdom, the Church unites herself to his desire: “He must increase, but I must decrease.”


Psalm 149:1-6,9

Hallelujah! Sing to the LORD a new song, a hymn in the assembly of the faithful.

Let Israel be glad in their maker, the people of Zion rejoice in their king.

Let them praise his name in festive dance, make music with tambourine and lyre.

For the LORD takes delight in his people, honors the poor with victory.

Let the faithful rejoice in their glory, cry out for joy at their banquet,

With the praise of God in their mouths, and a two-edged sword in their hands,

To execute the judgments decreed for them –  such is the glory of all God’s faithful. Hallelujah!

Source: The New American Bible

John Neumann, B

+John 1:43-51

You will see heaven laid open, and the Son of Man

After Jesus had decided to leave for Galilee, he met Philip and said, ‘Follow me.’ Philip came from the same town, Bethsaida, as Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, ‘We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, the one about whom the prophets wrote: he is Jesus son of Joseph, from Nazareth.’ ‘From Nazareth?’ said Nathanael ‘Can anything good come from that place?’ ‘Come and see’ replied Philip. When Jesus saw Nathanael coming he said of him, ‘There is an Israelite who deserves the name, incapable of deceit.’ ‘How do you know me?’ said Nathanael. ‘Before Philip came to call you,’ said Jesus ‘I saw you under the fig tree.’ Nathanael answered, ‘Rabbi, you are the Son of God, you are the King of Israel.’ Jesus replied, ‘You believe that just because I said: I saw you under the fig tree. You will see greater things than that.’ And then he added ‘I tell you most solemnly, you will see heaven laid open and, above the Son of Man, the angels of God ascending and descending.’


1 John 3:11-21

Our love is to be something real and active

This is the message

as you heard it from the beginning:

that we are to love one another;

not to be like Cain, who belonged to the Evil One

and cut his brother’s throat;

cut his brother’s throat simply for this reason,

that his own life was evil and his brother lived a good life.

You must not be surprised, brothers, when the world hates you;

we have passed out of death and into life,

and of this we can be sure

because we love our brothers.

If you refuse to love, you must remain dead;

to hate your brother is to be a murderer,

and murderers, as you know, do not have eternal life in them.

This has taught us love –

that he gave up his life for us;

and we, too, ought to give up our lives for our brothers.

If a man who was rich enough in this world’s goods

saw that one of his brothers was in need,

but closed his heart to him,

how could the love of God be living in him?

My children,

our love is not to be just words or mere talk,

but something real and active;

only by this can we be certain

that we are children of the truth

and be able to quieten our conscience in his presence,

whatever accusations it may raise against us,

because God is greater than our conscience and he knows everything.

My dear people,

if we cannot be condemned by our own conscience,

we need not be afraid in God’s presence.

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

The living God

205 God calls Moses from the midst of a bush that burns without being consumed: “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” God is the God of the fathers, the One who had called and guided the patriarchs in their wanderings. He is the faithful and compassionate God who remembers them and his promises; he comes to free their descendants from slavery. He is the God who, from beyond space and time, can do this and wills to do it, the God who will put his almighty power to work for this plan.

“I Am who I Am”

Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you’, and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you’. . . this is my name for ever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations.”

206 In revealing his mysterious name, YHWH (“I AM HE WHO IS”, “I AM WHO AM” or “I AM WHO I AM”), God says who he is and by what name he is to be called. This divine name is mysterious just as God is mystery. It is at once a name revealed and something like the refusal of a name, and hence it better expresses God as what he is – infinitely above everything that we can understand or say: he is the “hidden God”, his name is ineffable, and he is the God who makes himself close to men.

207 By revealing his name God at the same time reveals his faithfulness which is from everlasting to everlasting, valid for the past (“I am the God of your father”), as for the future (“I will be with you”). God, who reveals his name as “I AM”, reveals himself as the God who is always there, present to his people in order to save them.

208 Faced with God’s fascinating and mysterious presence, man discovers his own insignificance. Before the burning bush, Moses takes off his sandals and veils his face in the presence of God’s holiness. Before the glory of the thrice-holy God, Isaiah cries out: “Woe is me! I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips.” Before the divine signs wrought by Jesus, Peter exclaims: “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” But because God is holy, he can forgive the man who realizes that he is a sinner before him: “I will not execute my fierce anger. . . for I am God and not man, the Holy One in your midst.” The apostle John says likewise: “We shall. . . reassure our hearts before him whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.”

209 Out of respect for the holiness of God, the people of Israel do not pronounce his name. In the reading of Sacred Scripture, the revealed name (YHWH) is replaced by the divine title “LORD” (in Hebrew Adonai, in Greek Kyrios). It is under this title that the divinity of Jesus will be acclaimed: “Jesus is LORD.”


Psalm 99(100)

The LORD is king, the peoples tremble; God is enthroned on the cherubim, the earth quakes.

The LORD is great on Zion, exalted above all the peoples.

Let them praise your great and awesome name: Holy is God!

O mighty king, lover of justice, you alone have established fairness; you have created just rule in Jacob.

Exalt the LORD, our God; bow down before his footstool; holy is God!

Moses and Aaron were among his priests, Samuel among those who called on God’s name; they called on the LORD, who answered them.

From the pillar of cloud God spoke to them; they kept the decrees, the law they received.

O LORD, our God, you answered them; you were a forgiving God, though you punished their offenses.

Exalt the LORD, our God; bow down before his holy mountain; holy is the LORD, our God.

Source: The New American Bible


John Nepomucene Neumann, C.Ss.R. (Czech: Jan Nepomucký Neumann, German: Johann Nepomuk Neumann; March 28, 1811 – January 5, 1860), was a Catholic priest from Bohemia. He immigrated to the United States in 1836, where he joined the Redemptorist order and became the fourth Bishop of Philadelphia (1852–60). He is the first United States bishop (and to date the only male citizen) to be canonized. While Bishop of Philadelphia, Neumann founded the first Catholic diocesan school system in the United States. He is a Roman Catholic saint, canonized in 1977.

Early life

John was born on March 28, 1811, in Prachatice, in the Kingdom of Bohemia (then part of the Austrian Empire, now in the Czech Republic) to Johann Philipp Neumann, a stocking knitter from Obernburg am Main, and Agnes Lebisch from Prachatice.

Neumann attended a school in České Budějovice which was operated by the Piarist Fathers before entering the seminary there in 1831. Two years later he transferred to the Charles University in Prague, where he studied theology, though he was also interested in astronomy and botany. By the time he was twenty-four, he had learned six languages. His goal was to be ordained to the priesthood, and he applied for this after completing his studies in 1835. His bishop, however, had decided that there would be no more ordinations at that time, as Bohemia had numerous priests and difficulty finding positions for them all. In 1836 Neumann traveled to the United States in the hope of being ordained.

Priesthood

Neumann arrived in New York with one suit of clothes and one dollar in his pocket. Three weeks later, Bishop John Dubois, Society of Saint-Sulpice, ordained him in June 1836 at what is now the Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City.

The Diocese of New York at that time encompassed all of the State of New York and half of New Jersey. After his ordination, Bishop Dubois assigned Neumann to work with recent German immigrants in the Niagara Falls area, where there were no established parish churches. His first assignment was the Church of Sts. Peter and Paul in Williamsville, New York. His parish in western New York stretched from Lake Ontario to Pennsylvania.

People laughed at the clumsy way Father Neumann rode a horse; because he was short, his feet did not reach the stirrups. He traveled the countryside—visited the sick, taught catechism, and trained teachers to take over when he left. Neumann took up full-time residence in North Bush (now part of Tonawanda) as the first pastor of St. John the Baptist Church (1836–1840). He made this the base for his missionary work.

Because of the work and the isolation of his parish, Father John longed for community. In 1840, with Dubois’ permission, Neumann applied to join the Redemptorist Fathers, was accepted, and entered their novitiate at St. Philomena’s Church in Pittsburgh. He was their first candidate in the New World and took his religious vows as a member of the congregation in Baltimore, in January 1842. While a novitiate for the Redemptorists, he served at St. Alphonsus Church in Peru Township, Huron County, Ohio for five months before returning to New York. He served as the pastor of St. Augustine Church in Elkridge, Maryland, from 1849 to 1851. After six years of difficult but fruitful work in Maryland, Neumann became the Provincial Superior for the United States. He was naturalized as a United States citizen in Baltimore on February 10, 1848. He also served as parish priest at St. Alphonsus Church in Baltimore.

Bishop of Philadelphia

On February 5, 1852, the Holy See appointed Neumann Bishop of Philadelphia. His predecessor in that office, Francis Kenrick (who had become Archbishop of Baltimore), presided over the consecration on March 28, and Bishop Bernard O’Reilly assisted. Philadelphia had a large and expanding Catholic immigrant population; Germans who fled the Napoleonic and other Continental wars had been followed by Irish fleeing the Great Famine caused by the potato blight and wars. Soon Italians and other southern and eastern European Catholics would arrive. Some settled in the rural parts of the diocese, similar to the rural areas of New York state where Neumann had begun his ministry.

But many stayed in the city, one of the largest in the new country, as it was an industrializing mercantile hub, with many jobs for people with little command of the English language. The waves of immigration resulted in tensions in the city with native-born residents, who had to compete for work in difficult economic times. Anti-Catholic riots took place in the 1830s and 1844, in the Philadelphia Nativist Riots, occurring as Irish Catholics began to arrive in great number in the city. Soon more riots occurred, particularly since the city was a stronghold of the Know-Nothing political party, known for its anti-immigrant and anti-Catholic prejudices.

During Neumann’s administration, new parish churches were completed at the rate of nearly one per month. As many immigrants settled in close communities from their hometowns and with speakers of the same language, churches became associated with immigrants from particular regions, and were known as national parishes. Their parishioners often did not speak English or know how to obtain needed social services.

Neumann became the first bishop in the country to organize a diocesan school system, as the Catholic parents wanted their children taught in the Catholic tradition. They feared Protestant influence and discrimination in the public schools. Under his administration, the number of parochial schools in his diocese increased from one to 200. Neumann’s fluency in several languages endeared him to the many new immigrant communities in Philadelphia. As well as ministering to newcomers in his native German, Neumann also spoke Italian fluently. A growing congregation of Italian-speakers received pastoral care in his private chapel, and Neumann eventually established in Philadelphia the first Italian national parishes in the country.

Neumann actively invited religious institutes to establish new houses within the diocese to provide necessary social services. In 1855, Neumann supported the foundation of a congregation of religious sisters in the city, the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia. He brought the School Sisters of Notre Dame from Germany to assist in religious instruction and staff an orphanage. He also intervened to save the Oblate Sisters of Providence from dissolution; this congregation of African-American women was founded by Haitian refugees in Baltimore.

The large diocese was not wealthy, and Neumann became known for his personal frugality. He kept and wore only one pair of boots throughout his residence in the United States. When given a new set of vestments as a gift, he would often use them to outfit the newest ordained priest in the diocese. Discouraged by constant conflict with religiously and racially prejudiced people, as well as the anti-Catholic riots and arson of religious buildings, Neumann wrote to Rome asking to be replaced as bishop, but Pope Pius IX insisted that he continue. In 1854, Neumann traveled to Rome and was present at St. Peter’s Basilica on December 8, along with 53 cardinals, 139 other bishops, and thousands of priests and laity, when Pius solemnly defined, ex cathedra, the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

While doing errands on January 5, 1860, Neumann collapsed and died on a Philadelphia street. He was 48 years old. Bishop James Frederick Wood, a Philadelphia native who converted to Catholicism in Cincinnati in 1836 and who had been appointed Neumann’s coadjutor with right of succession in 1857, succeeded Neumann as Bishop of Philadelphia.

Veneration

Bishop John Neumann was declared venerable by Pope Benedict XV in 1921. He was beatified by Pope Paul VI during the Second Vatican Council on October 13, 1963, and was canonized by that same pope on June 19, 1977. His feast days are January 5, the date of his death, on the Roman calendar for the Church in the United States of America, and March 5 in the Czech Republic.

After his canonization, the National Shrine of Saint John Neumann was constructed at the Parish of St. Peter the Apostle, at 5th Street and Girard Avenue in Philadelphia. The remains of St. John Neumann rest under the altar of the shrine within a glass-walled reliquary.

In 1980, Our Lady of the Angels College, founded by the congregation of Franciscan Sisters he had founded and located within the archdiocese, was renamed Neumann College. It was granted university status by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 2009.

Source: Wikipedia

Thomas Becket, B & M

+Luke 2:22-35

‘You have prepared a light to enlighten the pagans’

When the day came for them to be purified as laid down by the Law of Moses, the parents of Jesus took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord – observing what stands written in the Law of the Lord: Every first-born male must be consecrated to the Lord – and also to offer in sacrifice, in accordance with what is said in the Law of the Lord, a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons. Now in Jerusalem there was a man named Simeon. He was an upright and devout man; he looked forward to Israel’s comforting and the Holy Spirit rested on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death until he had set eyes on the Christ of the Lord. Prompted by the Spirit he came to the Temple and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the Law required, he took him into his arms and blessed God; and he said:

‘Now, Master, you can let your servant go in peace,

just as you promised;

because my eyes have seen the salvation

which you have prepared for all the nations to see,

a light to enlighten the pagans

and the glory of your people Israel.’

As the child’s father and mother stood there wondering at the things that were being said about him, Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, ‘You see this child: he is destined for the fall and for the rising of many in Israel, destined to be a sign that is rejected – and a sword will pierce your own soul too – so that the secret thoughts of many may be laid bare.’


+1 John 2:3-11

Anyone who loves his brother is living in the light

We can be sure that we know God

only by keeping his commandments.

Anyone who says, ‘I know him’,

and does not keep his commandments,

is a liar,

refusing to admit the truth.

But when anyone does obey what he has said,

God’s love comes to perfection in him.

We can be sure that we are in God

only when the one who claims to be living in him

is living the same kind of life as Christ lived.

My dear people,

this is not a new commandment that I am writing to tell you,

but an old commandment

that you were given from the beginning,

the original commandment which was the message brought to you.

Yet in another way, what I am writing to you,

and what is being carried out in your lives as it was in his,

is a new commandment;

because the night is over

and the real light is already shining.

Anyone who claims to be in the light

but hates his brother

is still in the dark.

But anyone who loves his brother is living in the light

and need not be afraid of stumbling;

unlike the man who hates his brother and is in the darkness,

not knowing where he is going,

because it is too dark to see.

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

The mysteries of Jesus’ infancy

527 Jesus’ circumcision, on the eighth day after his birth, is the sign of his incorporation into Abraham’s descendants, into the people of the covenant. It is the sign of his submission to the Law and his deputation to Israel’s worship, in which he will participate throughout his life. This sign prefigures that “circumcision of Christ” which is Baptism.

528 The Epiphany is the manifestation of Jesus as Messiah of Israel, Son of God and Savior of the world. The great feast of Epiphany celebrates the adoration of Jesus by the wise men (magi) from the East, together with his baptism in the Jordan and the wedding feast at Cana in Galilee. In the magi, representatives of the neighboring pagan religions, the Gospel sees the first-fruits of the nations, who welcome the good news of salvation through the Incarnation. The magi’s coming to Jerusalem in order to pay homage to the king of the Jews shows that they seek in Israel, in the messianic light of the star of David, the one who will be king of the nations. Their coming means that pagans can discover Jesus and worship him as Son of God and Savior of the world only by turning towards the Jews and receiving from them the messianic promise as contained in the Old Testament. The Epiphany shows that “the full number of the nations” now takes its “place in the family of the patriarchs”, and acquires Israelitica dignitas (is made “worthy of the heritage of Israel”).

529 The presentation of Jesus in the temple shows him to be the firstborn Son who belongs to the Lord. With Simeon and Anna, all Israel awaits its encounter with the Savior-the name given to this event in the Byzantine tradition. Jesus is recognized as the long-expected Messiah, the “light to the nations” and the “glory of Israel”, but also “a sign that is spoken against”. The sword of sorrow predicted for Mary announces Christ’s perfect and unique oblation on the cross that will impart the salvation God had “prepared in the presence of all peoples”.

530 The flight into Egypt and the massacre of the innocents make manifest the opposition of darkness to the light: “He came to his own home, and his own people received him not.” Christ’s whole life was lived under the sign of persecution. His own share it with him. Jesus’ departure from Egypt recalls the exodus and presents him as the definitive liberator of God’s people.


Psalm 95(96):1-3,5-6

Let the heavens rejoice and earth be glad.

O sing a new song to the Lord,

sing to the Lord all the earth.

O sing to the Lord, bless his name.

Let the heavens rejoice and earth be glad.

Proclaim his help day by day,

tell among the nations his glory

and his wonders among all the peoples.

Let the heavens rejoice and earth be glad.

It was the Lord who made the heavens,

his are majesty and state and power

and splendour in his holy place.

Let the heavens rejoice and earth be glad.


Thomas Becket (/ˈbɛkɪt/; also known as Saint Thomas of Canterbury, Thomas of London, and later Thomas à Becket; (21 December c. 1119 (or 1120) – 29 December 1170) was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1162 until his murder in 1170. He is venerated as a saint and martyr by both the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion. He engaged in conflict with Henry II, King of England, over the rights and privileges of the Church and was murdered by followers of the king in Canterbury Cathedral. Soon after his death, he was canonised by Pope Alexander III.

Life

Becket was born about 1119, or in 1120 according to later tradition. He was born in Cheapside, London, on 21 December, which was the feast day of St Thomas the Apostle. He was the son of Gilbert Beket and Gilbert’s wife Matilda. Gilbert’s father was from Thierville in the lordship of Brionne in Normandy, and was either a small landowner or a petty knight. Matilda was also of Norman ancestry, and her family may have originated near Caen. Gilbert was perhaps related to Theobald of Bec, whose family also was from Thierville. Gilbert began his life as a merchant, perhaps as a textile merchant, but by the 1120s he was living in London and was a property owner, living on the rental income from his properties. He also served as the sheriff of the city at some point. They were buried in Old St Paul’s Cathedral.

One of Becket’s father’s wealthy friends, Richer de L’Aigle, often invited Thomas to his estates in Sussex where Becket was exposed to hunting and hawking. According to Grim, Becket learned much from Richer, who was later a signatory of the Constitutions of Clarendon against Thomas.

Beginning when he was 10, Becket was sent as a student to Merton Priory in England and later attended a grammar school in London, perhaps the one at St Paul’s Cathedral. He did not study any subjects beyond the trivium and quadrivium at these schools. Later, he spent about a year in Paris around age 20. He did not, however, study canon or civil law at this time and his Latin skill always remained somewhat rudimentary. Some time after Becket began his schooling, Gilbert Beket suffered financial reverses, and the younger Becket was forced to earn a living as a clerk. Gilbert first secured a place for his son in the business of a relative – Osbert Huitdeniers – and then later Becket acquired a position in the household of Theobald of Bec, by now the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Theobald entrusted him with several important missions to Rome and also sent him to Bologna and Auxerre to study canon law. Theobald in 1154 named Becket Archdeacon of Canterbury, and other ecclesiastical offices included a number of benefices, prebends at Lincoln Cathedral and St Paul’s Cathedral, and the office of Provost of Beverley. His efficiency in those posts led to Theobald recommending him to King Henry II for the vacant post of Lord Chancellor, to which Becket was appointed in January 1155.

As Chancellor, Becket enforced the king’s traditional sources of revenue that were exacted from all landowners, including churches and bishoprics. King Henry even sent his son Henry to live in Becket’s household, it being the custom then for noble children to be fostered out to other noble houses. The younger Henry was reported to have said Becket showed him more fatherly love in a day than his father did for his entire life.

Primacy

Becket was nominated as Archbishop of Canterbury in 1162, several months after the death of Theobald. His election was confirmed on 23 May 1162 by a royal council of bishops and noblemen. Henry may have hoped that Becket would continue to put the royal government first, rather than the church. However, the famous transformation of Becket into an ascetic occurred at this time.

Becket was ordained a priest on 2 June 1162 at Canterbury, and on 3 June 1162 was consecrated as archbishop by Henry of Blois, the Bishop of Winchester and the other suffragan bishops of Canterbury.

A rift grew between Henry and Becket as the new archbishop resigned his chancellorship and sought to recover and extend the rights of the archbishopric. This led to a series of conflicts with the King, including that over the jurisdiction of secular courts over English clergymen, which accelerated antipathy between Becket and the king. Attempts by Henry to influence the other bishops against Becket began in Westminster in October 1163, where the King sought approval of the traditional rights of the royal government in regard to the church. This led to Clarendon, where Becket was officially asked to agree to the King’s rights or face political repercussions.

Constitutions of Clarendon

King Henry II presided over the assemblies of most of the higher English clergy at Clarendon Palace on 30 January 1164. In sixteen constitutions, he sought less clerical independence and a weaker connection with Rome. He employed all his skills to induce their consent and was apparently successful with all but Becket. Finally, even Becket expressed his willingness to agree to the substance of the Constitutions of Clarendon, but he still refused to formally sign the documents. Henry summoned Becket to appear before a great council at Northampton Castle on 8 October 1164, to answer allegations of contempt of royal authority and malfeasance in the Chancellor’s office. Convicted on the charges, Becket stormed out of the trial and fled to the Continent.

Henry pursued the fugitive archbishop with a series of edicts, targeting Becket as well as all of Becket’s friends and supporters, but King Louis VII of France offered Becket protection. He spent nearly two years in the Cistercian abbey of Pontigny, until Henry’s threats against the order obliged him to return to Sens. Becket fought back by threatening excommunication and interdict against the king and bishops and the kingdom, but Pope Alexander III, though sympathising with him in theory, favoured a more diplomatic approach. Papal legates were sent in 1167 with authority to act as arbitrators.

In 1170, Alexander sent delegates to impose a solution to the dispute. At that point, Henry offered a compromise that would allow Thomas to return to England from exile.

In June 1170, Roger de Pont L’Évêque, the archbishop of York, along with Gilbert Foliot, the Bishop of London, and Josceline de Bohon, the Bishop of Salisbury, crowned the heir apparent, Henry the Young King, at York. This was a breach of Canterbury’s privilege of coronation, and in November 1170 Becket excommunicated all three. While the three clergymen fled to the king in Normandy,Becket continued to excommunicate his opponents in the church, the news of which also reached Henry II, Henry the Young King’s father.

Upon hearing reports of Becket’s actions, Henry is said to have uttered words that were interpreted by his men as wishing Becket killed. The king’s exact words are in doubt and several versions have been reported. The most commonly quoted, as handed down by oral tradition, is “Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?”, but according to historian Simon Schama this is incorrect: he accepts the account of the contemporary biographer Edward Grim, writing in Latin, who gives us “What miserable drones and traitors have I nourished and brought up in my household, who let their lord be treated with such shameful contempt by a low-born cleric?” Many variations have found their way into popular culture.

Whatever Henry said, it was interpreted as a royal command, and four knights, Reginald FitzUrse, Hugh de Morville, William de Tracy and Richard le Breton, set out to confront the Archbishop of Canterbury.

On 29 December 1170 they arrived at Canterbury. According to accounts left by the monk Gervase of Canterbury and eyewitness Edward Grim, they placed their weapons under a tree outside the cathedral and hid their mail armour under cloaks before entering to challenge Becket. The knights informed Becket he was to go to Winchester to give an account of his actions, but Becket refused. It was not until Becket refused their demands to submit to the king’s will that they retrieved their weapons and rushed back inside for the killing. Becket, meanwhile, proceeded to the main hall for vespers. The four knights, wielding drawn swords, caught up with him in a spot near a door to the monastic cloister, the stairs into the crypt, and the stairs leading up into the quire of the cathedral, where the monks were chanting vespers.

The wicked knight leapt suddenly upon him, cutting off the top of the crown which the unction of sacred chrism had dedicated to God. Next he received a second blow on the head, but still he stood firm and immovable. At the third blow he fell on his knees and elbows, offering himself a living sacrifice, and saying in a low voice, “For the name of Jesus and the protection of the Church, I am ready to embrace death.” But the third knight inflicted a terrible wound as he lay prostrate. By this stroke, the crown of his head was separated from the head in such a way that the blood white with the brain, and the brain no less red from the blood, dyed the floor of the cathedral. The same clerk who had entered with the knights placed his foot on the neck of the holy priest and precious martyr, and, horrible to relate, scattered the brains and blood about the pavements, crying to the others, ‘Let us away, knights; this fellow will arise no more.

After Becket’s death

Following Becket’s death, the monks prepared his body for burial. According to some accounts, it was discovered that Becket had worn a hairshirt under his archbishop’s garments—a sign of penance. Soon after, the faithful throughout Europe began venerating Becket as a martyr, and on 21 February 1173—little more than two years after his death—he was canonised by Pope Alexander III in St Peter’s Church in Segni. In 1173, Becket’s sister Mary was appointed Abbess of Barking as reparation for the murder of her brother. On 12 July 1174, in the midst of the Revolt of 1173–74, Henry humbled himself with public penance at Becket’s tomb as well as at the church of St. Dunstan’s, which became one of the most popular pilgrimage sites in England.

Becket’s assassins fled north to Knaresborough Castle, which was held by Hugh de Morville, where they remained for about a year. De Morville held property in Cumbria and this may also have provided a convenient bolt-hole, as the men prepared for a longer stay in the separate kingdom of Scotland. They were not arrested and neither did Henry confiscate their lands, but he failed to help them when they sought his advice in August 1171. Pope Alexander excommunicated all four. Seeking forgiveness, the assassins travelled to Rome and were ordered by the Pope to serve as knights in the Holy Lands for a period of fourteen years.

This last also inspired Knights of Saint Thomas, incorporated in 1191 at Acre, and which was to be modelled on the Teutonic Knights. This was the only military order native to England (with chapters in not only Acre, but London, Kilkenny, and Nicosia), just as the Gilbertine Order was the only monastic order native to England. Nevertheless, Henry VIII dissolved both of these English institutions at the time of the Reformation, rather than merging them with foreign orders or nationalising them as elements of the Protestant Church of England.

The monks were afraid that Becket’s body might be stolen. To prevent this, Becket’s remains were placed beneath the floor of the eastern crypt of the cathedral. A stone cover was placed over the burial place with two holes where pilgrims could insert their heads and kiss the tomb; this arrangement is illustrated in the “Miracle Windows” of the Trinity Chapel. A guard chamber (now called the Wax Chamber) had a clear view of the grave. In 1220, Becket’s bones were moved to a new gold-plated and bejewelled shrine behind the high altar in the Trinity Chapel. The shrine was supported by three pairs of pillars, placed on a raised platform with three steps. This is also illustrated in one of the miracle windows. Canterbury, because of its religious history, had always seen many pilgrims, and after the death of Thomas Becket their numbers rose rapidly.

Source: Wikipedia

 

Saturday of the Third Week of Advent

+Luke 1:46-56

The Almighty has done great things for me

Mary said:

‘My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord

and my spirit exults in God my saviour;

because he has looked upon his lowly handmaid.

Yes, from this day forward all generations will call me blessed,

for the Almighty has done great things for me.

Holy is his name,

and his mercy reaches from age to age for those who fear him.

He has shown the power of his arm,

he has routed the proud of heart.

He has pulled down princes from their thrones and exalted the lowly.

The hungry he has filled with good things, the rich sent empty away.

He has come to the help of Israel his servant, mindful of his mercy

– according to the promise he made to our ancestors –

of his mercy to Abraham and to his descendants for ever.’

Mary stayed with Elizabeth about three months and then went back home.


+1 Samuel 1:24-28

This is the child I prayed for: he is made over to the Lord.

When Hannah had weaned the infant Samuel, she took him up with her together with a three-year-old bull, an ephah of flour and a skin of wine, and she brought him to the temple of the Lord at Shiloh; and the child was with them. They slaughtered the bull and the child’s mother came to Eli. She said, ‘If you please, my lord. As you live, my lord, I am the woman who stood here beside you, praying to the Lord. This is the child I prayed for, and the Lord granted me what I asked him. Now I make him over to the Lord for the whole of his life. He is made over to the Lord.’

There she left him, for the Lord.

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

“Rejoice, you who are full of grace”

721 Mary, the all-holy ever-virgin Mother of God, is the masterwork of the mission of the Son and the Spirit in the fullness of time. For the first time in the plan of salvation and because his Spirit had prepared her, the Father found the dwelling place where his Son and his Spirit could dwell among men. In this sense the Church’s Tradition has often read the most beautiful texts on wisdom in relation to Mary. Mary is acclaimed and represented in the liturgy as the “Seat of Wisdom.”

In her, the “wonders of God” that the Spirit was to fulfill in Christ and the Church began to be manifested:

722 The Holy Spirit prepared Mary by his grace. It was fitting that the mother of him in whom “the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily” should herself be “full of grace.” She was, by sheer grace, conceived without sin as the most humble of creatures, the most capable of welcoming the inexpressible gift of the Almighty. It was quite correct for the angel Gabriel to greet her as the “Daughter of Zion”: “Rejoice.” It is the thanksgiving of the whole People of God, and thus of the Church, which Mary in her canticle lifts up to the Father in the Holy Spirit while carrying within her the eternal Son.

723 In Mary, the Holy Spirit fulfills the plan of the Father’s loving goodness. Through the Holy Spirit, the Virgin conceives and gives birth to the Son of God. By the Holy Spirit’s power and her faith, her virginity became uniquely fruitful.

724 In Mary, the Holy Spirit manifests the Son of the Father, now become the Son of the Virgin. She is the burning bush of the definitive theophany. Filled with the Holy Spirit she makes the Word visible in the humility of his flesh. It is to the poor and the first representatives of the gentiles that she makes him known.

725 Finally, through Mary, the Holy Spirit begins to bring men, the objects of God’s merciful love, into communion with Christ. And the humble are always the first to accept him: shepherds, magi, Simeon and Anna, the bride and groom at Cana, and the first disciples.

726 At the end of this mission of the Spirit, Mary became the Woman, the new Eve (“mother of the living”), the mother of the “whole Christ.” As such, she was present with the Twelve, who “with one accord devoted themselves to prayer,” at the dawn of the “end time” which the Spirit was to inaugurate on the morning of Pentecost with the manifestation of the Church.


1 Samuel 2:1,4-8

and as she worshiped the LORD, she said:

“My heart exults in the LORD,

my horn is exalted in my God.

I have swallowed up my enemies;

I rejoice in my victory.

There is no Holy One like the LORD;

there in no Rock like our God.

“Speak boastfully no longer,

nor let arrogance issue from your mouths.

For an all-knowing God is the LORD,

a God who judges deeds.

The bows of the mighty are broken,

while the tottering gird on strength.

he well-fed hire themselves out for bread,

while the hungry batten on spoil.

The barren wife bears seven sons, while the mother of many languishes.

“The LORD puts to death and gives life;

he casts down to the nether world; he raises up again.

The LORD makes poor and makes rich,

he humbles, he also exalts.

He raises the needy from the dust;

from the ash heap he lifts up the poor,

To seat them with nobles

and make a glorious throne their heritage.

He gives to the vower his vow,

and blesses the sleep of the just.

“For the pillars of the earth are the LORD’S,

and he has set the world upon them.

Source: The New American Bible

Saturday of the Second Week of Advent

+Matthew 17:10-13

Elijah has come already and they did not recognise him

As they came down from the mountain the disciples put this question to Jesus, ‘Why do the scribes say that Elijah has to come first?’ ‘True;’ he replied ‘Elijah is to come to see that everything is once more as it should be; however, I tell you that Elijah has come already and they did not recognise him but treated him as they pleased; and the Son of Man will suffer similarly at their hands.’ The disciples understood then that he had been speaking of John the Baptist.


+Ecclesiasticus 48:1-4,9-12

The prophet Elijah will come again

The prophet Elijah arose like a fire,

his word flaring like a torch.

It was he who brought famine on the people,

and who decimated them in his zeal.

By the word of the Lord, he shut up the heavens,

he also, three times, brought down fire.

How glorious you were in your miracles, Elijah!

Has anyone reason to boast as you have?

Taken up in the whirlwind of fire,

in a chariot with fiery horses;

designated in the prophecies of doom

to allay God’s wrath before the fury breaks,

to turn the hearts of fathers towards their children,

and to restore the tribes of Jacob,

Happy shall they be who see you,

and those who have fallen asleep in love.

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

John, precursor, prophet, and baptist

717 “There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.” John was “filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb” by Christ himself, whom the Virgin Mary had just conceived by the Holy Spirit. Mary’s visitation to Elizabeth thus became a visit from God to his people.

718 John is “Elijah [who] must come.” The fire of the Spirit dwells in him and makes him the forerunner of the coming Lord. In John, the precursor, the Holy Spirit completes the work of “[making] ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

719 John the Baptist is “more than a prophet.” In him, the Holy Spirit concludes his speaking through the prophets. John completes the cycle of prophets begun by Elijah. He proclaims the imminence of the consolation of Israel; he is the “voice” of the Consoler who is coming. As the Spirit of truth will also do, John “came to bear witness to the light.” In John’s sight, the Spirit thus brings to completion the careful search of the prophets and fulfills the longing of the angels. “He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit. And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God. . . . Behold, the Lamb of God.”

720 Finally, with John the Baptist, the Holy Spirit begins the restoration to man of “the divine likeness,” prefiguring what he would achieve with and in Christ. John’s baptism was for repentance; baptism in water and the Spirit will be a new birth.


Psalm 79(80):2-3,15-16,18-19

A psalm of Asaph. O God, the nations have invaded your heritage; they have defiled your holy temple, have laid Jerusalem in ruins.

They have left the corpses of your servants as food for the birds of the heavens, the flesh of your faithful for the beasts of the earth.

They have spilled their blood like water all around Jerusalem, and no one is left to bury them.

We have become the reproach of our neighbors, the scorn and derision of those around us.

How long, LORD? Will you be angry forever? Will your rage keep burning like fire?

Pour out your wrath on nations that reject you, on kingdoms that do not call on your name,

For they have devoured Jacob, laid waste his home.

Do not hold past iniquities against us; may your compassion come quickly, for we have been brought very low.

Help us, God our savior, for the glory of your name. Deliver us, pardon our sins for your name’s sake.

Why should the nations say, “Where is their God?” Before our eyes make clear to the nations that you avenge the blood of your servants.

Let the groans of prisoners come before you; by your great power free those doomed to death.

Lord, inflict on our neighbors seven fold the disgrace they inflicted on you.

Then we, your people, the sheep of your pasture, will give thanks to you forever; through all ages we will declare your praise.

Source: The New American Bible

Immaculate Conception

+Luke 1:26-38

‘I am the handmaid of the Lord’

The angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the House of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. He went in and said to her, ‘Rejoice, so highly favoured! The Lord is with you.’ She was deeply disturbed by these words and asked herself what this greeting could mean, but the angel said to her, ‘Mary, do not be afraid; you have won God’s favour. Listen! You are to conceive and bear a son, and you must name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David; he will rule over the House of Jacob for ever and his reign will have no end.’ Mary said to the angel, ‘But how can this come about, since I am a virgin?’ ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you’ the angel answered ‘and the power of the Most High will cover you with its shadow. And so the child will be holy and will be called Son of God. Know this too: your kinswoman Elizabeth has, in her old age, herself conceived a son, and she whom people called barren is now in her sixth month, for nothing is impossible to God.’ ‘I am the handmaid of the Lord,’ said Mary ‘let what you have said be done to me.’ And the angel left her.

Genesis 3:9-15,20

‘The offspring of the woman will crush your head’

After Adam had eaten of the tree the Lord God called to him. ‘Where are you?’ he asked. ‘I heard the sound of you in the garden;’ he replied ‘I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid.’ ‘Who told you that you were naked?’ he asked ‘Have you been eating of the tree I forbade you to eat?’ The man replied, ‘It was the woman you put with me; she gave me the fruit, and I ate it.’ Then the Lord God asked the woman, ‘What is this you have done?’ The woman replied, ‘The serpent tempted me and I ate.’

Then the Lord God said to the serpent, ‘Because you have done this,

‘Be accursed beyond all cattle,

all wild beasts.

You shall crawl on your belly and eat dust

every day of your life.

I will make you enemies of each other:

you and the woman,

your offspring and her offspring.

It will crush your head

and you will strike its heel.’

The man named his wife ‘Eve’ because she was the mother of all those who live.

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

Mary’s virginity

496 From the first formulations of her faith, the Church has confessed that Jesus was conceived solely by the power of the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mary, affirming also the corporeal aspect of this event: Jesus was conceived “by the Holy Spirit without human seed”. The Fathers see in the virginal conception the sign that it truly was the Son of God who came in a humanity like our own. Thus St. Ignatius of Antioch at the beginning of the second century says:

You are firmly convinced about our Lord, who is truly of the race of David according to the flesh, Son of God according to the will and power of God, truly born of a virgin,. . . he was truly nailed to a tree for us in his flesh under Pontius Pilate. . . he truly suffered, as he is also truly risen.

497 The Gospel accounts understand the virginal conception of Jesus as a divine work that surpasses all human understanding and possibility:148 “That which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit”, said the angel to Joseph about Mary his fiancee. The Church sees here the fulfillment of the divine promise given through the prophet Isaiah: “Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son.”

498 People are sometimes troubled by the silence of St. Mark’s Gospel and the New Testament Epistles about Jesus’ virginal conception. Some might wonder if we were merely dealing with legends or theological constructs not claiming to be history. To this we must respond: Faith in the virginal conception of Jesus met with the lively opposition, mockery or incomprehension of non-believers, Jews and pagans alike; so it could hardly have been motivated by pagan mythology or by some adaptation to the ideas of the age. The meaning of this event is accessible only to faith, which understands in it the “connection of these mysteries with one another” in the totality of Christ’s mysteries, from his Incarnation to his Passover. St. Ignatius of Antioch already bears witness to this connection: “Mary’s virginity and giving birth, and even the Lord’s death escaped the notice of the prince of this world: these three mysteries worthy of proclamation were accomplished in God’s silence.”


Psalm 97(98):1-4

Sing a new song to the Lord for he has worked wonders.

Sing a new song to the Lord

for he has worked wonders.

His right hand and his holy arm

have brought salvation.

Sing a new song to the Lord for he has worked wonders.

The Lord has made known his salvation;

has shown his justice to the nations.

He has remembered his truth and love

for the house of Israel.

Sing a new song to the Lord for he has worked wonders.

All the ends of the earth have seen

the salvation of our God.

Shout to the Lord, all the earth,

ring out your joy.

Sing a new song to the Lord for he has worked wonders.

Source: Jerusalem Bible