Saint Wenceslaus, Martyr and Saints Laurence Ruiz and his Companions, Martyrs

Luke 9:46-50

The least among you all is the greatest

An argument started between the disciples about which of them was the greatest. Jesus knew what thoughts were going through their minds, and he took a little child and set him by his side and then said to them, ‘Anyone who welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and anyone who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For the least among you all, that is the one who is great.’

  John spoke up. ‘Master,’ he said ‘we saw a man casting out devils in your name, and because he is not with us we tried to stop him.’ But Jesus said to him, ‘You must not stop him: anyone who is not against you is for you.’


Job 1:6-22

The Lord gave, the Lord has taken back: blessed be the name of the Lord

One day the Sons of God came to attend on the Lord, and among them was Satan. So the Lord said to Satan, ‘Where have you been?’ ‘Round the earth,’ he answered ‘roaming about.’ So the Lord asked him, ‘Did you notice my servant Job? There is no one like him on the earth: a sound and honest man who fears God and shuns evil.’ ‘Yes,’ Satan said ‘but Job is not God-fearing for nothing, is he? Have you not put a wall round him and his house and all his domain? You have blessed all he undertakes, and his flocks throng the countryside. But stretch out your hand and lay a finger on his possessions: I warrant you, he will curse you to your face.’ ‘Very well,’ the Lord said to Satan ‘all he has is in your power. But keep your hands off his person.’ So Satan left the presence of the Lord.

  On the day when Job’s sons and daughters were at their meal and drinking wine at their eldest brother’s house, a messenger came to Job. ‘Your oxen’ he said ‘were at the plough, with the donkeys grazing at their side, when the Sabaeans swept down on them and carried them off. Your servants they put to the sword: I alone escaped to tell you.’ He had not finished speaking when another messenger arrived. ‘The fire of God’ he said ‘has fallen from the heavens and burnt up all your sheep, and your shepherds too: I alone escaped to tell you.’ He had not finished speaking when another messenger arrived. ‘The Chaldaeans,’ he said ‘three bands of them, have raided your camels and made off with them. Your servants they put to the sword: I alone escaped to tell you.’ He had not finished speaking when another messenger arrived. ‘Your sons and daughters’ he said ‘were at their meal and drinking wine at their eldest brother’s house, when suddenly from the wilderness a gale sprang up, and it battered all four corners of the house which fell in on the young people. They are dead: I alone escaped to tell you.’

  Job rose and tore his gown and shaved his head. Then falling to the ground he worshipped and said:

‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb,

naked I shall return.

The Lord gave, the Lord has taken back.

Blessed be the name of the Lord!’

In all this misfortune Job committed no sin nor offered any insult to God.


Psalm 16(17):1-3,6-7

Turn your ear to me, O Lord; hear my words.

Lord, hear a cause that is just,

  pay heed to my cry.

Turn your ear to my prayer:

  no deceit is on my lips.

Turn your ear to me, O Lord; hear my words.

From you may my judgement come forth.

  Your eyes discern the truth.

You search my heart, you visit me by night.

  You test me and you find in me no wrong.

Turn your ear to me, O Lord; hear my words.

I am here and I call, you will hear me, O God.

  Turn your ear to me; hear my words.

Display your great love, you whose right hand saves

  your friends from those who rebel against them.

Turn your ear to me, O Lord; hear my words.

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

525 Jesus was born in a humble stable, into a poor family. Simple shepherds were the first witnesses to this event. In this poverty heaven’s glory was made manifest. The Church never tires of singing the glory of this night:

The Virgin today brings into the world the Eternal

And the earth offers a cave to the Inaccessible.

The angels and shepherds praise him

And the magi advance with the star,

For you are born for us,

Little Child, God eternal!

526 To become a child in relation to God is the condition for entering the kingdom. For this, we must humble ourselves and become little. Even more: to become “children of God” we must be “born from above” or “born of God”. Only when Christ is formed in us will the mystery of Christmas be fulfilled in us. Christmas is the mystery of this “marvelous exchange”:

O marvelous exchange! Man’s Creator has become man, born of the Virgin. We have been made sharers in the divinity of Christ who humbled himself to share our humanity.


Wenceslaus I (Czech: Václav [ˈvaːtslaf] (About this soundlisten); c. 911 – September 28, 935), Wenceslas I or Václav the Good was the duke (kníže) of Bohemia from 921 until his assassination in 935. His younger brother, Boleslaus the Cruel, was complicit in the murder.

His martyrdom and the popularity of several biographies gave rise to a reputation for heroic virtue that resulted in his elevation to sainthood. He was posthumously declared to be a king and came to be seen as the patron saint of the Czech state. He is the subject of the well-known “Good King Wenceslas”, a carol for Saint Stephen’s Day.

Reign

With the support of the nobles, Wenceslas took control of the government. To prevent disputes between him and his younger brother Boleslav, they divided the country between them,[clarification needed] assigning to the latter a considerable territory.

After the fall of Great Moravia, the rulers of the Bohemian Duchy had to deal both with continuous raids by the Magyars and the forces of the Saxon and East Frankish king Henry the Fowler, who had started several eastern campaigns into the adjacent lands of the Polabian Slavs, homeland of Wenceslas’s mother. To withstand Saxon overlordship, Wenceslas’s father Vratislaus had forged an alliance with the Bavarian duke Arnulf, a fierce opponent of King Henry at that time. The alliance became worthless, however, when Arnulf and Henry reconciled at Regensburg in 921.

Early in 929, the joint forces of Duke Arnulf of Bavaria and King Henry I the Fowler reached Prague in a sudden attack that forced Wenceslas to resume the payment of a tribute first imposed by the East Frankish king Arnulf of Carinthia in 895.

He introduced German priests, and favoured the Latin rite instead of the old Slavic, which had gone into disuse in many places for want of priests. He also founded a rotunda consecrated to St. Vitus at Prague Castle in Prague, which exists as present-day St. Vitus Cathedral.

Henry had been forced to pay a huge tribute to the Magyars in 926 and needed the Bohemian tribute, which Wenceslas probably refused to pay after the reconciliation between Arnulf and Henry.[citation needed] Another possible reason for the attack was the formation of the anti-Saxon alliance between Bohemia, the Polabian Slavs, and the Magyars.

Murder

In September 935, a group of nobles allied with Wenceslas’s younger brother Boleslav plotted to kill him. After Boleslav invited Wenceslas to the feast of Saints Cosmas and Damian in Stará Boleslav, three of Boleslav’s companions, Tira, Česta, and Hněvsa, fell on the duke and stabbed him to death.As the duke fell, Boleslav ran him through with a lance.

According to Cosmas of Prague, in his Chronica Boëmorum of the early 12th century, one of Boleslav’s sons was born on the day of Wenceslas’s death. Because of the ominous circumstance of his birth, the infant was named Strachkvas, which means “a dreadful feast”.

There is also a tradition that Wenceslas’s loyal servant Podevin avenged his death by killing one of the chief conspirators, but was executed by Boleslav.

Veneration

Wenceslas was considered a martyr and saint immediately after his death, when a cult of Wenceslas grew up in Bohemia and in England. Within a few decades, four biographies of him were in circulation. These hagiographies had a powerful influence on the High Middle Ages concept of the rex justus (righteous king), a monarch whose power stems mainly from his great piety as well as his princely vigor.

Referring approvingly to these hagiographies, the chronicler Cosmas of Prague, writing in about the year 1119, states:

But his deeds I think you know better than I could tell you; for, as is read in his Passion, no one doubts that, rising every night from his noble bed, with bare feet and only one chamberlain, he went around to God’s churches and gave alms generously to widows, orphans, those in prison and afflicted by every difficulty, so much so that he was considered, not a prince, but the father of all the wretched.

Several centuries later this legend was asserted as fact by Pope Pius II.

Although Wenceslas was only a duke during his lifetime, Holy Roman Emperor Otto I posthumously “conferred on [Wenceslas] the regal dignity and title”, which is why he is referred to as “king” in legend and song.

The hymn “Svatý Václave” (Saint Wenceslas) or “Saint Wenceslas Chorale” is one of the oldest known Czech songs. Tracing back to the 12th century, it is still among the most popular religious songs. In 1918, at the founding of the modern Czechoslovak state, the song was discussed as a possible choice for the national anthem. During the Nazi occupation, it was often played along with the Czech anthem.

Wenceslaus’ feast day is celebrated on September 28. On this day celebrations and a pilgrimage are held in the city of Stará Boleslav, while the translation of his relics, which took place in 938, is commemorated on March 4. Since 2000, the September 28 feast day is a public holiday in the Czech Republic, celebrated as Czech Statehood Day.

In legend

According to legend, one Count Radislas rose in rebellion and marched against King Wenceslas. The latter sent a deputation with offers of peace, but Radislas viewed this as a sign of cowardice. The two armies were drawn up opposite each other in battle array, when Wenceslas, to avoid shedding innocent blood, challenged Radislas to single combat. As Radislas advanced toward the king, he saw by Wenceslas’ side two angels, who cried: “Stand off!” Thunderstruck, Radislas repented his rebellion, threw himself from his horse at Wenceslas’s feet, and asked for pardon. Wenceslas raised him and kindly received him again into favor.

A second enduring legend claims an army of knights sleeps under Blaník, a mountain in the Czech Republic. They will awake and, under the command of Wenceslaus, bring aid to the Czech people in their ultimate danger. There is a similar legend in Prague which says that when the Motherland is in danger or in its darkest times and close to ruin, the equestrian statue of King Wenceslaus in Wenceslaus Square will come to life, raise the army sleeping in Blaník, and upon crossing the Charles Bridge his horse will stumble and trip over a stone, revealing the legendary sword of Bruncvík. With this sword, King Wenceslaus will slay all the enemies of the Czechs, bringing peace and prosperity to the land. Ogden Nash wrote a comic epic poem—”The Christmas that Almost Wasn’t”, loosely based on the same legend—in which a boy awakens Wenceslaus and his knights to save a kingdom from usurpers who have outlawed Christmas.

Wenceslaus is the subject of the popular Saint Stephen’s Day (celebrated on December 26 in the West) Carol, “Good King Wenceslas”. It was published by John Mason Neale in 1853, and may be a translation of a poem by Czech poet Václav Alois Svoboda. The usual American English spelling of Duke Wenceslas’ name, Wenceslaus, is occasionally encountered in later textual variants of the carol, although it was not used by Neale in his version.[21] Wenceslas is not to be confused with King Wenceslaus I of Bohemia (Wenceslaus I Premyslid), who lived more than three centuries later.

The Day of Saint Wenceslas, 28 September 1914, was selected by Czech Companion in Russia for foundation in Kiev Sofia Square and the First Rifle Regiment of Czechoslovak legions there was originally named “TheRifle Regiment of Saint Wenceslas”.

An equestrian statue of Saint Wenceslaus and other patrons of Bohemia (St. Adalbert, St. Ludmila, St. Prokop and St. Agnes of Bohemia) is located on Wenceslaus Square in Prague. The statue is a popular meeting place in Prague. Demonstrations against the Communist regime were held there.

His helmet and armour are on display inside Prague Castle.

Source: Wikipedia

Our Lady, Mother and Queen

Matthew 23:1-12

They do not practise what they preach

Addressing the people and his disciples Jesus said, ‘The scribes and the Pharisees occupy the chair of Moses. You must therefore do what they tell you and listen to what they say; but do not be guided by what they do: since they do not practise what they preach. They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but will they lift a finger to move them? Not they! Everything they do is done to attract attention, like wearing broader phylacteries and longer tassels, like wanting to take the place of honour at banquets and the front seats in the synagogues, being greeted obsequiously in the market squares and having people call them Rabbi.

‘You, however, must not allow yourselves to be called Rabbi, since you have only one master, and you are all brothers. You must call no one on earth your father, since you have only one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor must you allow yourselves to be called teachers, for you have only one Teacher, the Christ. The greatest among you must be your servant. Anyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and anyone who humbles himself will be exalted.’


Ezekiel 43:1-7

The vision of the coming of the glory of the Lord to the Temple

The angel took me to the gate, the one facing east. I saw the glory of the God of Israel approaching from the east. A sound came with it, like the sound of the ocean, and the earth shone with his glory. This vision was like the one I had seen when I had come for the destruction of the city, and like the one I had seen on the bank of the river Chebar. Then I prostrated myself.

The glory of the Lord arrived at the Temple by the east gate. The spirit lifted me up and brought me into the inner court; I saw the glory of the Lord fill the Temple. And I heard someone speaking to me from the Temple while the man stood beside me. The voice said, ‘Son of man, this is the dais of my throne, the step on which I rest my feet. I shall live here among the sons of Israel for ever.’


Psalm 84(85):9-14(Sat20)

The glory of the Lord will dwell in our land.

I will hear what the Lord God has to say,

a voice that speaks of peace,

peace for his people and his friends.

His help is near for those who fear him

and his glory will dwell in our land.

The glory of the Lord will dwell in our land.

Mercy and faithfulness have met;

justice and peace have embraced.

Faithfulness shall spring from the earth

and justice look down from heaven.

The glory of the Lord will dwell in our land.

The Lord will make us prosper

and our earth shall yield its fruit.

Justice shall march before him

and peace shall follow his steps.

The glory of the Lord will dwell in our land.

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

The Christmas mystery

525 Jesus was born in a humble stable, into a poor family. Simple shepherds were the first witnesses to this event. In this poverty heaven’s glory was made manifest. The Church never tires of singing the glory of this night:

The Virgin today brings into the world the Eternal

And the earth offers a cave to the Inaccessible.

The angels and shepherds praise him

And the magi advance with the star,

For you are born for us,

Little Child, God eternal!

526 To become a child in relation to God is the condition for entering the kingdom. For this, we must humble ourselves and become little. Even more: to become “children of God” we must be “born from above” or “born of God”. Only when Christ is formed in us will the mystery of Christmas be fulfilled in us. Christmas is the mystery of this “marvelous exchange”:

O marvelous exchange! Man’s Creator has become man, born of the Virgin. We have been made sharers in the divinity of Christ who humbled himself to share our humanity.

 

Saint Clare, Virgin

Ezekiel 2:8-3:4

He gave me the scroll to eat and it was as sweet as honey

I, Ezekiel, heard a voice speaking. It said, ‘You, son of man, listen to the words I say; do not be a rebel like that rebellious set. Open your mouth and eat what I am about to give you.’ I looked. A hand was there, stretching out to me and holding a scroll. He unrolled it in front of me; it was written on back and front; on it was written ‘lamentations, wailings, moanings.’ He said, ‘Son of man, eat what is given to you; eat this scroll, then go and speak to the House of Israel.’ I opened my mouth; he gave me the scroll to eat and said, ‘Son of man, feed and be satisfied by the scroll I am giving you.’ I ate it, and it tasted sweet as honey.

Then he said, ‘Son of man, go to the House of Israel and tell them what I have said.’


Psalm 118(119):14,24,72,103,111,131

Your promise is sweet to my taste, O Lord.

I rejoiced to do your will

as though all riches were mine.

Your will is my delight;

your statutes are my counsellors.

Your promise is sweet to my taste, O Lord.

The law from your mouth means more to me

than silver and gold.

Your promise is sweeter to my taste

than honey in the mouth.

Your promise is sweet to my taste, O Lord.

Your will is my heritage for ever,

the joy of my heart.

I open my mouth and I sigh

as I yearn for your commands.

Your promise is sweet to my taste, O Lord

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

The Christmas mystery

525 Jesus was born in a humble stable, into a poor family. Simple shepherds were the first witnesses to this event. In this poverty heaven’s glory was made manifest. The Church never tires of singing the glory of this night:

The Virgin today brings into the world the Eternal

And the earth offers a cave to the Inaccessible.

The angels and shepherds praise him

And the magi advance with the star,

For you are born for us,

Little Child, God eternal!

526 To become a child in relation to God is the condition for entering the kingdom. For this, we must humble ourselves and become little. Even more: to become “children of God” we must be “born from above” or “born of God”. Only when Christ is formed in us will the mystery of Christmas be fulfilled in us. Christmas is the mystery of this “marvelous exchange”:

O marvelous exchange! Man’s Creator has become man, born of the Virgin. We have been made sharers in the divinity of Christ who humbled himself to share our humanity.


Saint Clare of Assisi (July 16, 1194 – August 11, 1253, born Chiara Offreduccio and sometimes spelled Clair, Claire, etc.) is an Italian saint and one of the first followers of Saint Francis of Assisi. She founded the Order of Poor Ladies, a monastic religious order for women in the Franciscan tradition, and wrote their Rule of Life, the first set of monastic guidelines known to have been written by a woman. Following her death, the order she founded was renamed in her honor as the Order of Saint Clare, commonly referred to today as the Poor Clares. Her feast day is on the 11th of August.

Biography

St. Clare was born in Assisi, the eldest daughter of Favorino Sciffi, Count of Sasso-Rosso and his wife Ortolana. Traditional accounts say that Clare’s father was a wealthy representative of an ancient Roman family, who owned a large palace in Assisi and a castle on the slope of Mount Subasio. Ortolana belonged to the noble family of Fiumi, and was a very devout woman who had undertaken pilgrimages to Rome, Santiago de Compostela and the Holy Land. Later in life, Ortolana entered Clare’s monastery, as did Clare’s sisters, Beatrix and Catarina (who took the name Agnes).

As a child, Clare was devoted to prayer. Although there is no mention of this in any historical record, it is assumed that Clare was to be married in line with the family tradition. However, at the age of 18 she heard Francis preach during a Lenten service in the church of San Giorgio at Assisi and asked him to help her to live after the manner of the Gospel. On the evening of Palm Sunday, March 20, 1212, she left her father’s house and accompanied by her aunt Bianca and another companion proceeded to the chapel of the Porziuncula to meet Francis. There, her hair was cut, and she exchanged her rich gown for a plain robe and veil.

Francis placed Clare in the convent of the Benedictine nuns of San Paulo, near Bastia. Her father attempted to force her to return home. She clung to the altar of the church and threw aside her veil to show her cropped hair. She resisted any attempt, professing that she would have no other husband but Jesus Christ. In order to provide the greater solitude Clare desired, a few days later Francis sent her to Sant’ Angelo in Panzo, another monastery of the Benedictine nuns on one of the flanks of Subasio. Clare was soon joined by her sister Catarina, who took the name Agnes. They remained with the Benedictines until a small dwelling was built for them next to the church of San Damiano, which Francis had repaired some years earlier.

Other women joined them, and they were known as the “Poor Ladies of San Damiano”. They lived a simple life of poverty, austerity and seclusion from the world, according to a Rule which Francis gave them as a Second Order (Poor Clares).

San Damiano became the center of Clare’s new religious order, which was known in her lifetime as the “Order of Poor Ladies of San Damiano”. San Damiano was long thought to be the first house of this order, however, recent scholarship strongly suggests that San Damiano actually joined an existing network of women’s religious houses organized by Hugolino (who later became Pope Gregory IX). Hugolino wanted San Damiano as part of the order he founded because of the prestige of Clare’s monastery. San Damiano emerged as the most important house in the order, and Clare became its undisputed leader. By 1263, just ten years after Clare’s death, the order had become known as the Order of Saint Clare.

In 1228, when Gregory IX offered Clare a dispensation from the vow of strict poverty, she replied:

“I need to be absolved from my sins, but not from the obligation of following Christ.”

Accordingly, the Pope granted them the Privilegium Pauperitatis — that nobody could oblige them to accept any possession.

Unlike the Franciscan friars, whose members moved around the country to preach, Saint Clare’s sisters lived in enclosure, since an itinerant life was hardly conceivable at the time for women. Their life consisted of manual labour and prayer. The nuns went barefoot, slept on the ground, ate no meat and observed almost complete silence.

For a short period, the order was directed by Francis himself. Then in 1216, Clare accepted the role of abbess of San Damiano. As abbess, Clare had more authority to lead the order than when she was the prioress and required to follow the orders of a priest heading the community. Clare defended her order from the attempts of prelates to impose a rule on them that more closely resembled the Rule of Saint Benedict than Francis’ stricter vows. Clare sought to imitate Francis’ virtues and way of life so much so that she was sometimes titled alter Franciscus, another Francis. She also played a significant role in encouraging and aiding Francis, whom she saw as a spiritual father figure, and she took care of him during his final illness.

After Francis’s death, Clare continued to promote the growth of her order, writing letters to abbesses in other parts of Europe and thwarting every attempt by each successive pope to impose a rule on her order which weakened the radical commitment to corporate poverty she had originally embraced. She did this despite enduring a long period of poor health until her death. Clare’s Franciscan theology of joyous poverty in imitation of Christ is evident in the rule she wrote for her community and in her four letters to Agnes of Prague.

In 1224, the army of Frederick II came to plunder Assisi. Clare went out to meet them with the Blessed Sacrament in her hands. Suddenly a mysterious terror seized the enemies, who fled without harming anybody in the city.

Before breathing her last in 1253, Clare said:

“Blessed be You, O God, for having created me. ”

Post-death

On August 9, 1253, two days before her death, the papal bull Solet annuere of Pope Innocent IV confirmed that Clare’s rule would serve as the governing rule for Clare’s Order of Poor Ladies. Her remains were interred at the chapel of San Giorgio while a church to hold her remains was being constructed. At her funeral, Pope Innocent IV insisted the friars perform the Office for the Virgin Saints as opposed to the Office for the Dead (Bartoli, 1993). This move by Pope Innocent ensured that the canonization process for Clare would begin shortly after her funeral. Pope Innocent was cautioned by multiple advisors against having the Office for the Virgin Saints performed at Clare’s funeral (Bartoli, 1993). The most vocal of these advisors was Cardinal Raynaldus who would later become Pope Alexander IV, who in two years time would canonize Clare (Pattenden, 2008). At Pope Innocent’s request the canonization process for Clare began immediately. While the whole process took two years, the examination of Clare’s miracles took just six days. On September 26, 1255, Pope Alexander IV canonized Clare as Saint Clare of Assisi. Construction of the Basilica of Saint Clare was completed in 1260, and on October 3 of that year Clare’s remains were transferred to the newly completed basilica where they were buried beneath the high altar. In further recognition of the saint, Pope Urban IV officially changed the name of the Order of Poor Ladies to the Order of Saint Clare in 1263.

Some 600 years later in 1872, Saint Clare’s relics were transferred to a newly constructed shrine in the crypt of the Basilica of Saint Clare, where her relics can still be venerated today.

Legacy

Clare was canonized on August 15, 1255 by Pope Alexander IV, and her feast day was immediately inserted in the General Roman Calendar for celebration on August 12, the day following her death, as August 11 was already assigned to Saints Tiburtius and Susanna, two 3rd-century Roman martyrs. The celebration was ranked as a Double (as in the Tridentine Calendar) or, in the terminology adopted in 1960, a Third-Class Feast (as in the General Roman Calendar of 1960). The 1969 calendar revision removed the feast of Tiburtius and Susanna from the calendar, finally allowing the memorial of Saint Clare to be celebrated on August 11, the day of her death.

The Basilica di Santa Chiara began construction a year after Clare’s canonization, and her remains were transferred there on October 3, 1260 from the church of St George, also in Assisi. Her bones are now in the crypt at the Basilica, having been rediscovered in 1850.

In art, Clare is often shown carrying a monstrance or pyx, in commemoration of the occasion when she warded away the soldiers of Frederick II at the gates of her convent by displaying the Blessed Sacrament and kneeling in prayer.

Pope Pius XII designated Clare as the patron saint of television in 1958 on the basis that when she was too ill to attend Mass, she had reportedly been able to see and hear it on the wall of her room.

There are traditions of bringing offerings of eggs to the Poor Clares for their intercessions for good weather, particularly for weddings. This tradition remains popular in the Philippines, particularly at the Real Monasterio de Santa Clara in Quezon City. According to the Filipino essayist Alejandro Roces, the practice arose because of Clare’s name. In Castilian clara refers to an interval of fair weather, and in Spanish, it also refers to the white or albumen of the egg.

Many places, including churches, convents, schools, hospitals, towns, and counties are named for St Clare. Lake Saint Clair between Ontario and Michigan was navigated and named on her feast day in 1679. The Saint Clair River and St. Clair County, Michigan were also consequently named for her. Mission Santa Clara, founded by Spanish missionaries in northern California in 1777, has given its name to the university, city, county and valley in which it sits. Southern California’s Santa Clara River is hundreds of miles to the south and gave its name to the nearby city of Santa Clarita. Santa Clara Pueblo, New Mexico celebrates its Santa Clara Feast Day annually on August 12, as the feast was celebrated before the 1969 calendar change. The early California missions were founded by Franciscan Friars, who had a special devotion to Saint Clare. The first nunnery in Cuba, Convento de Santa Clara de Asis, was dedicated to her.

Clare is one of five characters in the oratorio Laudato si’, composed in 2016 by Peter Reulein on a libretto by Helmut Schlegel, the others being an angel, Mary, Francis of Assisi and Pope Francis.

Source: Wikipedia

Christmas Day

Matthew 1:1-25
The ancestry and birth of Jesus Christ, the son of David

A genealogy of Jesus Christ, son of David, son of Abraham:
Abraham was the father of Isaac,
Isaac the father of Jacob,
Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers,
Judah was the father of Perez and Zerah, Tamar being their mother,
Perez was the father of Hezron,
Hezron the father of Ram,
Ram was the father of Amminadab,
Amminadab the father of Nahshon,
Nahshon the father of Salmon,
Salmon was the father of Boaz, Rahab being his mother,
Boaz was the father of Obed, Ruth being his mother,
Obed was the father of Jesse;
and Jesse was the father of King David.
David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife,
Solomon was the father of Rehoboam,
Rehoboam the father of Abijah, Abijah the father of Asa,
Asa was the father of Jehoshaphat,
Jehoshaphat the father of Joram,
Joram the father of Azariah,
Azariah was the father of Jotham,
Jotham the father of Ahaz,
Ahaz the father of Hezekiah,
Hezekiah was the father of Manasseh,
Manasseh the father of Amon,
Amon the father of Josiah;
and Josiah was the father of Jechoniah and his brothers.
Then the deportation to Babylon took place.
After the deportation to Babylon:
Jechoniah was the father of Shealtiel,
Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel,
Zerubbabel was the father of Abiud,
Abiud the father of Eliakim,
Eliakim the father of Azor,
Azor was the father of Zadok,
Zadok the father of Achim,
Achim the father of Eliud,
Eliud was the father of Eleazar,
Eleazar the father of Matthan,
Matthan the father of Jacob;
and Jacob was the father of Joseph the husband of Mary;
of her was born Jesus who is called Christ.
The sum of generations is therefore: fourteen from Abraham to David; fourteen from David to the Babylonian deportation; and fourteen from the Babylonian deportation to Christ.

This is how Jesus Christ came to be born. His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph; but before they came to live together she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph; being a man of honour and wanting to spare her publicity, decided to divorce her informally. He had made up his mind to do this when the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because she has conceived what is in her by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son and you must name him Jesus, because he is the one who is to save his people from their sins.’ Now all this took place to fulfil the words spoken by the Lord through the prophet:

The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son
and they will call him Emmanuel,
a name which means ‘God-is-with-us.’ When Joseph woke up he did what the angel of the Lord had told him to do: he took his wife to his home and, though he had not had intercourse with her, she gave birth to a son; and he named him Jesus.


Isaiah 62:1-5
The bridegroom rejoices in his bride

About Zion I will not be silent,
about Jerusalem I will not grow weary,
until her integrity shines out like the dawn
and her salvation flames like a torch.
The nations then will see your integrity,
all the kings your glory,
and you will be called by a new name,
one which the mouth of the Lord will confer.
You are to be a crown of splendour in the hand of the Lord,
a princely diadem in the hand of your God;
no longer are you to be named ‘Forsaken’,
nor your land ‘Abandoned’,
but you shall be called ‘My Delight’
and your land ‘The Wedded’;
for the Lord takes delight in you
and your land will have its wedding.
Like a young man marrying a virgin,
so will the one who built you wed you,
and as the bridegroom rejoices in his bride,
so will your God rejoice in you.

Psalm 88(89):4-5,16-17,27,29
I will sing for ever of your love, O Lord.

‘I have made a covenant with my chosen one;
I have sworn to David my servant:
I will establish your dynasty for ever
and set up your throne through all ages.’
I will sing for ever of your love, O Lord.
Happy the people who acclaim such a king,
who walk, O Lord, in the light of your face,
who find their joy every day in your name,
who make your justice the source of their bliss.
I will sing for ever of your love, O Lord.
‘He will say to me: “You are my father,
my God, the rock who saves me.”
I will keep my love for him always;
with him my covenant shall endure.’
I will sing for ever of your love, O Lord.
Source: Jerusalem Bible
Catechism of the Catholic Church

The Christmas Mystery

525 Jesus was born in a humble stable, into a poor family. Simple shepherds were the first witnesses to this event. In this poverty heaven’s glory was made manifest. The Church never tires of singing the glory of this night:
The Virgin today brings into the world the Eternal
And the earth offers a cave to the Inaccessible.
The angels and shepherds praise him
And the magi advance with the star,
For you are born for us,
Little Child, God eternal!

526 To become a child in relation to God is the condition for entering the kingdom. For this, we must humble ourselves and become little. Even more: to become “children of God” we mu–t be “born from above” or “born of God”. Only when Christ is formed in us will the mystery of Christmas be fulfilled in us. Christmas is the mystery of this “marvelous exchange”:
O marvelous exchange! Man’s Creator has become man, born of the Virgin. We have been made sharers in the divinity of Christ who humbled himself to share our humanity.

 

Saint Jerome, Priest, Doctor

+Luke 9:46-50
The least among you all is the greatest

An argument started between the disciples about which of them was the greatest. Jesus knew what thoughts were going through their minds, and he took a little child and set him by his side and then said to them, ‘Anyone who welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and anyone who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For the least among you all, that is the one who is great.’
John spoke up. ‘Master,’ he said ‘we saw a man casting out devils in your name, and because he is not with us we tried to stop him.’ But Jesus said to him, ‘You must not stop him: anyone who is not against you is for you.’


Zechariah 8:1-8
The Lord will return to Zion

The word of the Lord of Hosts was addressed to me as follows:
‘The Lord of Hosts says this.
I am burning with jealousy for Zion,
with great anger for her sake.
‘The Lord of Hosts says this.
I am coming back to Zion
and shall dwell in the middle of Jerusalem.
Jerusalem will be called Faithful City
and the mountain of the Lord of Hosts, the Holy Mountain.
‘The Lord of Hosts says this.
Old men and old women will again sit down
in the squares of Jerusalem;
every one of them staff in hand
because of their great age.
And the squares of the city will be full
of boys and girls
playing in the squares.
‘The Lord of Hosts says this.
If this seems a miracle
to the remnant of this people (in those days),
will it seem one to me?
It is the Lord of Hosts who speaks.
‘The Lord of Hosts says this.
Now I am going to save my people
from the countries of the East
and from the countries of the West.
I will bring them back
to live inside Jerusalem.
They shall be my people
and I will be their God
in faithfulness and integrity.


Psalm 101(102):16-21,29,22-23
The Lord shall build up Zion again and appear in all his glory.

The nations shall fear the name of the Lord
and all the earth’s kings your glory,
when the Lord shall build up Zion again
and appear in all his glory.
Then he will turn to the prayers of the helpless;
he will not despise their prayers.
The Lord shall build up Zion again and appear in all his glory.
Let this be written for ages to come
that a people yet unborn may praise the Lord;
for the Lord leaned down from his sanctuary on high.
He looked down from heaven to the earth
that he might hear the groans of the prisoners
and free those condemned to die.
The Lord shall build up Zion again and appear in all his glory.
The sons of your servants shall dwell untroubled
and their race shall endure before you
that the name of the Lord may be proclaimed in Zion
and his praise in the heart of Jerusalem,
when peoples and kingdoms are gathered together
to pay their homage to the Lord.
The Lord shall build up Zion again and appear in all his glory.

Source: Jerusalem Bible
Catechism of the Catholic Church

The Christmas mystery
525 Jesus was born in a humble stable, into a poor family. Simple shepherds were the first witnesses to this event. In this poverty heaven’s glory was made manifest. The Church never tires of singing the glory of this night:
The Virgin today brings into the world the Eternal
And the earth offers a cave to the Inaccessible.
The angels and shepherds praise him
And the magi advance with the star,
For you are born for us,
Little Child, God eternal!

526 To become a child in relation to God is the condition for entering the kingdom. For this, we must humble ourselves and become little. Even more: to become “children of God” we mu–t be “born from above” or “born of God”. Only when Christ is formed in us will the mystery of Christmas be fulfilled in us. Christmas is the mystery of this “marvelous exchange”:
O marvelous exchange! Man’s Creator has become man, born of the Virgin. We have been made sharers in the divinity of Christ who humbled himself to share our humanity.


Jerome (/dʒəˈroʊm/; Latin: Eusebius Sophronius Hieronymus; Greek: Εὐσέβιος Σωφρόνιος Ἱερώνυμος; c. 27 March 347 – 30 September 420) was a priest, confessor, theologian and historian. He was born at Stridon, a village near Emona on the border of Dalmatia and Pannonia, then part of northeastern Italy. He is best known for his translation of most of the Bible into Latin (the translation that became known as the Vulgate), and his commentaries on the Gospels. His list of writings is extensive.

The protégé of Pope Damasus I, who died in December of 384, Jerome was known for his teachings on Christian moral life, especially to those living in cosmopolitan centers such as Rome. In many cases, he focused his attention to the lives of women and identified how a woman devoted to Jesus should live her life. This focus stemmed from his close patron relationships with several prominent female ascetics who were members of affluent senatorial families.

He is recognised as a Saint and Doctor of the Church by the Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Lutheran Church, and the Anglican Communion. His feast day is 30 September.

Life
Eusebius Sophronius Hieronymus was born at Stridon around 347 A.D. He was of Illyrian ancestry and his native tongue was the Illyrian dialect. He was not baptized until about 360–366 A.D., when he had gone to Rome with his friend Bonosus (who may or may not have been the same Bonosus whom Jerome identifies as his friend who went to live as a hermit on an island in the Adriatic) to pursue rhetorical and philosophical studies. He studied under the grammarian Aelius Donatus. There Jerome learned Latin and at least some Greek, though probably not the familiarity with Greek literature he would later claim to have acquired as a schoolboy.

As a student in Rome, he engaged in the superficial escapades and wanton behaviour of students there, which he indulged in quite casually but for which he suffered terrible bouts of guilt afterwards. To appease his conscience, he would visit on Sundays the sepulchres of the martyrs and the Apostles in the catacombs. This experience would remind him of the terrors of hell:

“Often I would find myself entering those crypts, deep dug in the earth, with their walls on either side lined with the bodies of the dead, where everything was so dark that almost it seemed as though the Psalmist’s words were fulfilled, Let them go down quick into Hell. Here and there the light, not entering in through windows, but filtering down from above through shafts, relieved the horror of the darkness. But again, as soon as you found yourself cautiously moving forward, the black night closed around and there came to my mind the line of Vergil, “Horror ubique animos, simul ipsa silentia terrent'”.

Jerome used a quote from Virgil—”On all sides round horror spread wide; the very silence breathed a terror on my soul”—to describe the horror of hell. Jerome initially used classical authors to describe Christian concepts such as hell that indicated both his classical education and his deep shame of their associated practices, such as pederasty which was found in Rome. Although initially skeptical of Christianity, he was eventually converted. After several years in Rome, he travelled with Bonosus to Gaul and settled in Trier where he seems to have first taken up theological studies, and where he copied, for his friend Tyrannius Rufinus, Hilary of Poitiers’ commentary on the Psalms and the treatise De synodis. Next came a stay of at least several months, or possibly years, with Rufinus at Aquileia, where he made many Christian friends.

Some of these accompanied him when he set out about 373 on a journey through Thrace and Asia Minor into northern Syria. At Antioch, where he stayed the longest, two of his companions died and he himself was seriously ill more than once. During one of these illnesses (about the winter of 373–374), he had a vision that led him to lay aside his secular studies and devote himself to God. He seems to have abstained for a considerable time from the study of the classics and to have plunged deeply into that of the Bible, under the impulse of Apollinaris of Laodicea, then teaching in Antioch and not yet suspected of heresy.

Seized with a desire for a life of ascetic penance, he went for a time to the desert of Chalcis, to the southeast of Antioch, known as the “Syrian Thebaid”, from the number of hermits inhabiting it. During this period, he seems to have found time for studying and writing. He made his first attempt to learn Hebrew under the guidance of a converted Jew; and he seems to have been in correspondence with Jewish Christians in Antioch. Around this time he had copied for him a Hebrew Gospel, of which fragments are preserved in his notes, and is known today as the Gospel of the Hebrews, and which the Nazarenes considered to be the true Gospel of Matthew. Jerome translated parts of this Hebrew Gospel into Greek.

Returning to Antioch in 378 or 379, he was ordained by Bishop Paulinus, apparently unwillingly and on condition that he continue his ascetic life. Soon afterward, he went to Constantinople to pursue a study of Scripture under Gregory Nazianzen. He seems to have spent two years there, then left, and the next three (382–385) he was in Rome again, as secretary to Pope Damasus I and the leading Roman Christians. Invited originally for the synod of 382, held to end the schism of Antioch as there were rival claimants to be the proper patriarch in Antioch. Jerome had accompanied one of the claimants, Paulinus back to Rome in order to get more support for him, and distinguished himself to the pope, and took a prominent place in his councils.

He was given duties in Rome, and he undertook a revision of the Latin Bible, to be based on the Greek manuscripts of the New Testament. He also updated the Psalter containing the Book of Psalms then at use in Rome based on the Septuagint. Though he did not realize it yet, translating much of what became the Latin Vulgate Bible would take many years and be his most important achievement

In Rome he was surrounded by a circle of well-born and well-educated women, including some from the noblest patrician families, such as the widows Lea, Marcella and Paula, with their daughters Blaesilla and Eustochium. The resulting inclination of these women towards the monastic life, away from the indulgent lasciviousness in Rome, and his unsparing criticism of the secular clergy of Rome, brought a growing hostility against him among the Roman clergy and their supporters. Soon after the death of his patron Damasus (10 December 384), Jerome was forced by them to leave his position at Rome after an inquiry was brought up by the Roman clergy into allegations that he had an improper relationship with the widow Paula. Still, his writings were highly regarded by women who were attempting to maintain a vow of becoming a consecrated virgin. His letters were widely read and distributed throughout the Christian empire and it is clear through his writing that he knew these virgin women were not his only audience.
Additionally, his condemnation of Blaesilla’s hedonistic lifestyle in Rome had led her to adopt ascetic practices, but it affected her health and worsened her physical weakness to the point that she died just four months after starting to follow his instructions; much of the Roman populace were outraged at Jerome for causing the premature death of such a lively young woman, and his insistence to Paula that Blaesilla should not be mourned, and complaints that her grief was excessive, were seen as heartless, polarising Roman opinion against him.

In August 385, he left Rome for good and returned to Antioch, accompanied by his brother Paulinian and several friends, and followed a little later by Paula and Eustochium, who had resolved to end their days in the Holy Land. In the winter of 385, Jerome acted as their spiritual adviser. The pilgrims, joined by Bishop Paulinus of Antioch, visited Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and the holy places of Galilee, and then went to Egypt, the home of the great heroes of the ascetic life.

At the Catechetical School of Alexandria, Jerome listened to the catechist Didymus the Blind expounding the prophet Hosea and telling his reminiscences of Anthony the Great, who had died 30 years before; he spent some time in Nitria, admiring the disciplined community life of the numerous inhabitants of that “city of the Lord”, but detecting even there “concealed serpents”, i.e., the influence of Origen of Alexandria. Late in the summer of 388 he was back in Palestine, and spent the remainder of his life working in a cave near Bethlehem, the very cave Jesus was born, surrounded by a few friends, both men and women (including Paula and Eustochium), to whom he acted as priestly guide and teacher.

Amply provided by Paula with the means of livelihood and of increasing his collection of books, he led a life of incessant activity in literary production. To these last 34 years of his career belong the most important of his works; his version of the Old Testament from the original Hebrew text, the best of his scriptural commentaries, his catalogue of Christian authors, and the dialogue against the Pelagians, the literary perfection of which even an opponent recognized. To this period also belong most of his polemics, which distinguished him among the orthodox Fathers, including the treatises against the Origenism later declared anathema, of Bishop John II of Jerusalem and his early friend Rufinus. Later, as a result of his writings against Pelagianism, a body of excited partisans broke into the monastic buildings, set them on fire, attacked the inmates and killed a deacon, forcing Jerome to seek safety in a neighboring fortress .

It is recorded that Jerome died near Bethlehem on 30 September 420. The date of his death is given by the Chronicon of Prosper of Aquitaine. His remains, originally buried at Bethlehem, are said to have been later transferred to the basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome, though other places in the West claim some relics—the cathedral at Nepi boasting possession of his head, which, according to another tradition, is in the Escorial.

Source: Wikipedia

Pontian, Po & M and Hippolytus, P & M

Matthew 18:1-5,10,12-14
Anyone who welcomes a little child in my name welcomes me

The disciples came to Jesus and said, ‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ So he called a little child to him and set the child in front of them. Then he said, ‘I tell you solemnly, unless you change and become like little children you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. And so, the one who makes himself as little as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
‘Anyone who welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me.
‘See that you never despise any of these little ones, for I tell you that their angels in heaven are continually in the presence of my Father in heaven.
‘Tell me. Suppose a man has a hundred sheep and one of them strays; will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hillside and go in search of the stray? I tell you solemnly, if he finds it, it gives him more joy than do the ninety-nine that did not stray at all. Similarly, it is never the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones should be lost.’


Deuteronomy 31:1-8
Joshua shall cross the Jordan at your head

Moses proceeded to address these words to the whole of Israel, ‘I am one hundred and twenty years old now, and can no longer come and go as I will. The Lord has said to me, “You shall not cross this Jordan.” It is the Lord your God who will cross it at your head to destroy these nations facing you and dispossess them; and Joshua too shall cross at your head, as the Lord has said. The Lord will treat them as he treated Sihon and Og the Amorite kings and their land, destroying them. The Lord will hand them over to you, and you will deal with them in exact accordance with the commandments I have enjoined on you. Be strong, stand firm, have no fear of them, no terror, for the Lord your God is going with you; he will not fail you or desert you.’
Then Moses summoned Joshua and in the presence of all Israel said to him, ‘Be strong, stand firm; you are going with this people into the land the Lord swore to their fathers he would give them; you are to give it into their possession. The Lord himself will lead you; he will be with you; he will not fail you or desert you. Have no fear, do not be disheartened by anything.’


Deuteronomy 32:3-4,7-9
The Lord’s portion was his people.

I proclaim the name of the Lord.
Oh, tell the greatness of our God!
He is the Rock, his work is perfect,
for all his ways are Equity.
The Lord’s portion was his people.
Think back on the days of old,
think over the years, down the ages.
Ask of your father, let him teach you;
of your elders, let them enlighten you.
The Lord’s portion was his people.
When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance,
when he divided the sons of men,
he fixed their bounds according to the number of the sons of God;
but the Lord’s portion was his people,
Jacob his share of inheritance.
The Lord’s portion was his people.

Source: Jerusalem Bible
Catechism of the Catholic Church
The Christmas mystery

525 Jesus was born in a humble stable, into a poor family. Simple shepherds were the first witnesses to this event. In this poverty heaven’s glory was made manifest. The Church never tires of singing the glory of this night:
The Virgin today brings into the world the Eternal
And the earth offers a cave to the Inaccessible.
The angels and shepherds praise him
And the magi advance with the star,
For you are born for us,
Little Child, God eternal!

526 To become a child in relation to God is the condition for entering the kingdom. For this, we must humble ourselves and become little. Even more: to become “children of God” we must be “born from above” or “born of God”. Only when Christ is formed in us will the mystery of Christmas be fulfilled in us. Christmas is the mystery of this “marvelous exchange”:
O marvelous exchange! Man’s Creator has become man, born of the Virgin. We have been made sharers in the divinity of Christ who humbled himself to share our humanity.


Pope Pontian (Latin: Pontianus; died October 235) was Pope from 21 July 230 to 28 September 235. In 235, during the persecution of Christians in the reign of the Emperor Maximinus Thrax, Pontian was arrested and sent to the island of Sardinia. He resigned to make the election of a new pope possible.

Biography
A little more is known of Pontian than his predecessors, apparently from a lost papal chronicle that was available to the compiler of the Liberian Catalogue of Bishops of Rome, written in the 4th century. The Liber Pontificalis states that he was a Roman citizen and that his father’s name was Calpurnius. Early church historian Eusebius wrote that he reigned for six years.
Pontian’s pontificate was initially relatively peaceful under the reign of the tolerant Emperor Severus Alexander. He presided over the Roman synod which approved Origen’s expulsion and deposition by the Alexandrian bishop Demetrius in 230 or 231. According to Eusebius, the next emperor, Maximinus, overturned his predecessor’s policy of tolerance towards Christianity. Both Pope Pontian and the Antipope Hippolytus of Rome were arrested and exiled to labor in the mines of Sardinia, generally regarded as a death sentence.
In light of his sentence, Pontian resigned as bishop (the first papal renunciation), so as to allow an orderly transition in the Church of Rome, on 28 September 235; this date was recorded in the Liberian Catalogue and is notable for being the first full date of a papal reign given by contemporaries. This action ended a schism that had existed in the Church for eighteen years. He was beaten to death with sticks. Neither Hippolytus nor Pontian survived, possibly reconciling with one another there or in Rome before their deaths. Pontian died in October 235.


Life
As a presbyter of the church at Rome under Pope Zephyrinus (199 – 217 AD), Hippolytus was distinguished for his learning and eloquence. It was at this time that Origen of Alexandria, then a young man, heard him preach.
He accused Pope Zephyrinus of modalism, the heresy which held that the names Father and Son are simply different names for the same subject. Hippolytus championed the Logos doctrine of the Greek apologists, most notably Justin Martyr, which distinguished the Father from the Logos (“Word”). An ethical conservative, he was scandalized when Pope Callixtus I (217 – 222 AD) extended absolution to Christians who had committed grave sins, such as adultery.
Hippolytus himself advocated a pronounced rigorism. At this time, he seems to have allowed himself to be elected as a rival Bishop of Rome, and continued to attack Pope Urban I (222 – 230 AD) and Pope Pontian ( 230 – 235 AD). G. Salmon suggests that Hippolytus was the leader of the Greek-speaking Christians of Rome. Allen Brent sees the development of Roman house-churches into something akin to Greek philosophical schools gathered around a compelling teacher.
Under the persecution at the time of Emperor Maximinus Thrax, Hippolytus and Pontian were exiled together in 235 AD to Sardinia, likely dying in the mines. It is quite probable that, before his death there, he was reconciled to the other party at Rome, for, under Pope Fabian (236–250), his body and that of Pontian were brought to Rome. The so-called chronography of the year 354 (more precisely, the Catalogus Liberianus, or Liberian Catalogue) reports that on August 13, probably in 236 AD, the two bodies were interred in Rome, that of Hippolytus in a cemetery on the Via Tiburtina, his funeral being conducted by Justin the Confessor. This document indicates that, by about 255 AD, Hippolytus was considered a martyr and gives him the rank of a priest, not of a bishop, an indication that before his death the schismatic was received again into the Church.

Source: Wikipedia

Guardian Angels

+Matthew 18:1-5,10

Anyone who welcomes a little child in my name welcomes me

The disciples came to Jesus and said, ‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ So he called a little child to him and set the child in front of them. Then he said, ‘I tell you solemnly, unless you change and become like little children you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. And so, the one who makes himself as little as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

‘Anyone who welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me. See that you never despise any of these little ones, for I tell you that their angels in heaven are continually in the presence of my Father in heaven.’


Job 3:1-3,11-17,20-23

Why did I not perish on the day I was born?

Job broke the silence and cursed the day of his birth. This is what he said:

May the day perish when I was born,

and the night that told of a boy conceived.

Why did I not die new-born,

not perish as I left the womb?

Why were there two knees to receive me,

two breasts for me to suck?

Had there not been, I should now be lying in peace,

wrapped in a restful slumber,

with the kings and high viziers of earth

who build themselves vast vaults,

or with princes who have gold and to spare

and houses crammed with silver.

Or put away like a still-born child that never came to be,

like unborn babes that never see the light.

Down there, bad men bustle no more,

there the weary rest.

Why give light to a man of grief?

Why give life to those bitter of heart,

who long for a death that never comes,

and hunt for it more than for a buried treasure?

They would be glad to see the grave-mound

and shout with joy if they reached the tomb.

Why make this gift of light to a man who does not see his way,

whom God baulks on every side?

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

The Christmas mystery

525 Jesus was born in a humble stable, into a poor family. Simple shepherds were the first witnesses to this event. In this poverty heaven’s glory was made manifest. The Church never tires of singing the glory of this night:

The Virgin today brings into the world the Eternal

And the earth offers a cave to the Inaccessible.

The angels and shepherds praise him

And the magi advance with the star,

For you are born for us,

Little Child, God eternal!

526 To become a child in relation to God is the condition for entering the kingdom. For this, we must humble ourselves and become little. Even more: to become “children of God” we mu–t be “born from above” or “born of God”. Only when Christ is formed in us will the mystery of Christmas be fulfilled in us. Christmas is the mystery of this “marvelous exchange”:

O marvelous exchange! Man’s Creator has become man, born of the Virgin. We have been made sharers in the divinity of Christ who humbled himself to share our humanity.


Psalm 87(88):2-8

Let my prayer come into your presence, O Lord.

Lord my God, I call for help by day;

I cry at night before you.

Let my prayer come into your presence.

O turn your ear to my cry.

Let my prayer come into your presence, O Lord.

For my soul is filled with evils;

my life is on the brink of the grave.

I am reckoned as one in the tomb:

I have reached the end of my strength.

Let my prayer come into your presence, O Lord.

Like one alone among the dead;

like the slain lying in their graves;

like those you remember no more,

cut off, as they are, from your hand.

Let my prayer come into your presence, O Lord.

You have laid me in the depths of the tomb,

in places that are dark, in the depths.

Your anger weighs down upon me:

I am drowned beneath your waves.

Let my prayer come into your presence, O Lord.

A guardian angel is an angel that is assigned to protect and guide a particular person, group, kingdom, or country. Belief in guardian angels can be traced throughout all antiquity.

The concept of angels that guard over particular people and nationalities played a common role in Ancient Judaism, while a theory of tutelary angels and their hierarchy was extensively developed in Christianity in the 5th century by Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite.

The theology of angels and tutelary spirits has undergone many refinements since the 5th century. Belief in both the East and the West is that guardian angels serve to protect whichever person God assigns them to, and present prayer to God on that person’s behalf.

In the books of the Hebrew Bible and Old Testament

The guardian angel concept is present in the books of the Hebrew Bible and the Old Testament, and its development is well marked. These books described God’s angels as his ministers who carried out his behests, and who were at times given special commissions, regarding men and mundane affairs.

In Genesis 18-19, angels not only acted as the executors of God’s wrath against the cities of the plain, but they delivered Lot from danger; in Exodus 32:34, God said to Moses: “my angel shall go before thee.” At a much later period, we have the story of Tobias, which might serve for a commentary on the words of Psalm 91:11: “For He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways;” (Cf. Psalm 33:8 and 34:5)

The belief that angels can be guides and intercessors for men can be found in Job 33:23-6, and in Daniel 10:13 angels seem to be assigned to certain countries. In this latter case, the “prince of the kingdom of Persia” contends with Gabriel. The same verse mentions “Michael, one of the chief princes”.

New Testament

In the New Testament the concept of guardian angel may be noted. Angels are everywhere the intermediaries between God and man; and Christ set a seal upon the Old Testament teaching: “See that you despise not one of these little ones: for I say to you, that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 18:10).

Other examples in the New Testament are the angel who succoured Christ in the garden, and the angel who delivered St. Peter from prison. In Acts 12:12-15, after Peter had been escorted out of prison by an angel, he went to the home of “Mary the mother of John, also called Mark”. The servant girl, Rhoda, recognized his voice and ran back to tell the group that Peter was there. However, the group replied: “It must be his angel”‘ (12:15). With this scriptural sanction, Peter’s angel was the most commonly depicted guardian angel in art, and was normally shown in images of the subject, most famously Raphael’s fresco of the Deliverance of Saint Peter in the Vatican.

Hebrews 1:14 says: “Are they not all ministering spirits, sent to minister for them, who shall receive the inheritance of salvation?” In this view, the function of the guardian angel is to lead people to the Kingdom of Heaven.

In the New Testament Epistle of Jude, Michael is described as an archangel.

Christianity

Catholic Church

According to Saint Jerome, the concept of guardian angels is in the “mind of the Church”. He stated: “how great the dignity of the soul, since each one has from his birth an angel commissioned to guard it”.

The first Christian theologian to outline a specific scheme for guardian angels was Honorius of Autun in the 12th century. He said that every soul was assigned a guardian angel the moment it was put into a body. Scholastic theologians augmented and ordered the taxonomy of angelic guardians. Thomas Aquinas agreed with Honorius and believed that it was the lowest order of angels who served as guardians, and his view was most successful in popular thought, but Duns Scotus said that any angel is bound by duty and obedience to the Divine Authority to accept the mission to which that angel is assigned. In the 15th century, the Feast of the Guardian Angels was added to the official calendar of Catholic holidays.

In his March 31, 1997 Regina Caeli address, Pope Saint John Paul II referred to the concept of guardian angel and concluded the address with the statement: “Let us invoke the Queen of angels and saints, that she may grant us, supported by our guardian angels, to be authentic witnesses to the Lord’s paschal mystery”.

In his 2014 homily for the Feast of Holy Guardian Angels, October 2, Pope Francis told those gathered for daily Mass to be like children who pay attention to their “traveling companion.” “No one journeys alone and no one should think that they are alone,” the Pope said. During the Morning Meditation in the chapel of Santa Marta, the Pope noted that oftentimes, we have the feeling that “I should do this, this is not right, be careful.” This, he said, “is the voice of” our guardian angel…”

“According to Church tradition”, the Pope said, “we all have an angel with us, who guards us…” The Pope instructed each, “Do not rebel, follow his advice!”. The Pope urged that this “doctrine on the angels” not be considered “a little imaginative”. It is rather one of “truth”. It is “what Jesus, what God said: ‘I send an angel before you, to guard you, to accompany you on the way, so you will not make a mistake’”.

Pope Francis concluded with a series of questions so that each one can examine his/her own conscience: “How is my relationship with my guardian angel? Do I listen to him? Do I bid him good day in the morning? Do I tell him: ‘guard me while I sleep?’ Do I speak with him? Do I ask his advice? …Each one of us can do so in order to evaluate “the relationship with this angel that the Lord has sent to guard me and to accompany me on the path, and who always beholds the face of the Father who is in heaven”.

The celebration of the Guardian Angel at Fondachelli-Fantina on second Sunday of July, Sicily

There was an old Irish custom that suggested including in bedtime prayers a request for the Blessed Mother to tell one the name of their guardian angel, and supposedly within a few days one would “know” the name by which they could address their angel. An old Dominican tradition encouraged each novice to give a name to their Guardian Angel so that they could speak to him by name and thus feel closer and more friendly with him. The Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments discourages assigning names to angels beyond those revealed in scripture: Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael.

In Cardinal Newman’s poem The Dream of Gerontius, the departed soul is met by his guardian angel who recites:

My work is done

My task is o’er,

And so I come

Taking it home

For the crown is won

Alleluia

For evermore.

 

My Father gave

In charge to me

This child of earth

E’en from its birth

To serve and save.

Alleluia,

And saved is he.

 

This child of clay

To me was given,

To rear and train

By sorrow and pain

In the narrow way,

Alleluia,

From earth to heaven.

 

Angels as guardians

According to Aquinas, “On this road man is threatened by many dangers both from within and without, and therefore as guardians are appointed for men who have to pass by an unsafe road, so an angel is assigned to each man as long as he is a wayfarer.” By means of an angel, God is said to introduce images and suggestions leading a person to do what is right.

Saints and their angels

Father Giovangiuseppe Califano recounted how, one day, a newly appointed bishop confessed to Pope John XXIII “that he could not sleep at night due to an anxiety which was caused by the responsibility of his office.” “The pope told him, ‘You know, I also thought the same when I was elected pope. But one day, I dreamed about my guardian angel, and it told me not to take everything so seriously.’” Pope John attributed the idea of calling Second Vatican Council to an inspiration from his guardian angel.

Saint Gemma Galgani, a Roman Catholic mystic, stated that she had interacted with and spoken with her guardian angel. Saint Pio of Pietrelcina was known to instruct his parishioners to send him their guardian angel to communicate a trouble or issue to him when they could not travel to get to him or another urgency existed.

Anglican Communion

Justin Fontenot of the Prayerful Anglican states that the “guardian angel concept is clearly present in the Old Testament, and its development is well marked” and he continues, stating that in “the New Testament the concept of guardian angel may be noted with greater precision”. Fontenot also cites Jerome, a Church Father, who said: “‘how great the dignity of the soul, since each one has from his birth an angel commissioned to guard it.’ (Comm. in Matt., xviii, lib. II).” In the same vein, Of the Intercession and Invocation of Angels and Saints, printed in the Library of Anglo-Catholic Theology, held that “Many learned Protestants think it probable that each of the faithful, at least, has a guardian angel. It seems certainly proved by Scripture. Zanchius says that all the Fathers held this opinion.” Building upon Sacred Scripture and the teachings of the Church Fathers, Richard Montagu, the Anglican Bishop of Norwich in the 17th century, stated that “It is an opinion received, and hath been long, that if not every man, each son of Adam, yet sure each Christian man regenerate by water and the Holy Ghost, at least from the day of his regeneration and new birth unto God, if not from the time of his coming into the world, hath by God’s appointment and assignation an Angel Guardian to attend upon him at all assayes, in all his ways, at his going forth, at his coming home”.

Eastern Orthodox Church

Sergei Bulgakov writes that the Eastern Orthodox Church teaches that

each man has a guardian angel who stands before the face of the Lord. This guardian angel is not only a friend and a protector, who preserves from evil and who sends good thought; the image of God is reflected in the creature–angels and men–in such a way that angels are celestial prototypes of men. Guardian angels are especially our spiritual kin. Scripture testified that the guardian ship and direction of the elements, of places, of peoples, of societies, are confided to the guardian angels of the cosmos, whose very substance adds something of harmony to the elements they watch over.

As such, before the Eastern Orthodox liturgy of the Communion of the Faithful, a prayer asks “For an angel of peace, a faithful guide, a guardian of our souls and bodies, let us entreat the Lord. Amen.”

Lutheran Church

The Reverend Donald Schneider, a Lutheran priest, wrote that the concept of a guardian angel is found in Psalm 91, which includes a verse stating “For [God] will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone”. He states that Martin Luther may have based Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer found in the Small Catechism on this text, as these prayers include the supplication “Let your holy angel be with me, that the evil foe may have no power over me.

Methodist Church

The Rev. Dr. John W. Hanner, a Methodist minister and theologian wrote on the topic of guardian angels in his Angelic Study, stating that:

Perhaps every Christian has a guardian angel. It may be that there is one angel to every Christian, or a score of them; or one may have charge of a score of Christians. Some of the ancient fathers believed that every city had a guardian angel, while others assigned one to every house and every man. None of us know how much we are indebted to angels for our deliverance from imminent peril, disease, and malicious plots of men and devils. Where the pious die, angels are to carry the soul to heaven, though it be a soul of a Lazarus.”

In May and June 1743, Methodists experienced persecution in Wednesbury and Walsall and the founder of the Methodist Church, John Wesley, was threatened with death by a mob who dragged him in the rain; however, “Wesley escaped unharmed” and he “believed that he had been protected by his guardian angel”.

Reformed and Presbyterian Churches

In Reformed Dogmatics, Heinrich Heppe states that some Reformed theologians espoused the view of guardian angels, including Bucan, who taught:

That as a rule to each elect person a certain particular good angel is appointed by God to guard him, may be gathered from Christ’s words, Mt. 18. 10, where it is said ‘Their angels do continually behold the face of my Father.’ Also from Ac. 12.15 where the believers who had assembled in Mark’s house said of Peter knocking at the door, ‘It is his angel’. These believers were speaking according to the opinion received among the people of God.”

Christian prayers

The traditional Catholic prayer to one’s guardian angel:

 

Angel of God, my guardian dear

to whom God’s love commits me here.

Ever this day/night be at my side

to light, to guard, to rule and guide.

Amen.

 

In Latin:

Angele Dei,

qui custos es mei,

me, tibi commissum pietate superna,

illumina, custodi,

rege et guberna.

Amen.

 

An Anglican prayer to the Guardian Angel:

O angel of God,

appointed by divine mercy to be my guardian,

enlighten and protect,

direct and govern me this day.

Amen.

 

An Eastern Orthodox prayer to the Guardian Angel:

O Angel of Christ, my holy Guardian and Protector of my soul and body, forgive me all my sins of today. Deliver me from all the wiles of the enemy, that I may not anger my God by any sin. Pray for me, sinful and unworthy servant, that thou mayest present me worthy of the kindness and mercy of the All-holy Trinity and the Mother of my Lord Jesus Christ, and of all the Saints. Amen.

Source: Wikipedia

Louis of France; Joseph Calasanz, P

+Matthew 23:1-12

They do not practise what they preach

Addressing the people and his disciples Jesus said, ‘The scribes and the Pharisees occupy the chair of Moses. You must therefore do what they tell you and listen to what they say; but do not be guided by what they do: since they do not practise what they preach. They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but will they lift a finger to move them? Not they! Everything they do is done to attract attention, like wearing broader phylacteries and longer tassels, like wanting to take the place of honour at banquets and the front seats in the synagogues, being greeted obsequiously in the market squares and having people call them Rabbi.

‘You, however, must not allow yourselves to be called Rabbi, since you have only one master, and you are all brothers. You must call no one on earth your father, since you have only one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor must you allow yourselves to be called teachers, for you have only one Teacher, the Christ. The greatest among you must be your servant. Anyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and anyone who humbles himself will be exalted.’

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

The Christmas mystery

525 Jesus was born in a humble stable, into a poor family.202 Simple shepherds were the first witnesses to this event. In this poverty heaven’s glory was made manifest.203 The Church never tires of singing the glory of this night:

The Virgin today brings into the world the Eternal

And the earth offers a cave to the Inaccessible.

The angels and shepherds praise him

And the magi advance with the star,

For you are born for us,

Little Child, God eternal!

526 To become a child in relation to God is the condition for entering the kingdom. For this, we must humble ourselves and become little. Even more: to become “children of God” we mu–t be “born from above” or “born of God”. Only when Christ is formed in us will the mystery of Christmas be fulfilled in us. Christmas is the mystery of this “marvelous exchange”:

O marvelous exchange! Man’s Creator has become man, born of the Virgin. We have been made sharers in the divinity of Christ who humbled himself to share our humanity.


Psalm 84

For the leader; “upon the gittith.” A psalm of the Korahites.

How lovely your dwelling, O LORD of hosts!

My soul yearns and pines for the courts of the LORD. My heart and flesh cry out for the living God.

As the sparrow finds a home and the swallow a nest to settle her young, My home is by your altars, LORD of hosts, my king and my God!

Happy are those who dwell in your house! They never cease to praise you. Selah

Happy are those who find refuge in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrim roads.

As they pass through the Baca valley, they find spring water to drink. Also from pools the Lord provides water for those who lose their way.

They pass through outer and inner wall and see the God of gods on Zion.

LORD of hosts, hear my prayer; listen, God of Jacob. Selah

O God, look kindly on our shield; look upon the face of your anointed.

Better one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere. Better the threshold of the house of my God than a home in the tents of the wicked.

For a sun and shield is the LORD God, bestowing all grace and glory. The LORD withholds no good thing from those who walk without reproach.

O LORD of hosts, happy are those who trust in you!

Source: The New American Bible


Joseph Calasanz, Sch.P. (Spanish: José de Calasanz; Italian: Giuseppe Calasanzio), (September 11, 1557 – August 25, 1648), also known as Joseph Calasanctius and Josephus a Matre Dei, was a Spanish Catholic priest, educator and the founder of the Pious Schools, providing free education to the sons of the poor, and the Religious Order that ran them, commonly known as the Piarists. He is honored as a saint by the Catholic Church.

Early Years

Calasanz was born at the Castle of Calasanz near Peralta de Calasanz in the Kingdom of Aragon, on September 11, 1557, the youngest of the eight children, and second son, of Pedro de Calasanz y de Mur, an infanzón (minor nobleman) and town mayor, and María Gastón y de Sala. He had two sisters, Marta and Cristina. His parents gave him a good education at home and then at the elementary school of Peralta. In 1569, he was sent for classical studies to a college in Estadilla run by the friars of the Trinitarian Order.  While there, at the age of 14, he determined that he wanted to become a priest. This calling, however, met with no support from his parents.

For his higher studies, Calazanz took up philosophy and law at the University of Lleida, where he earned the degree of Doctor of Laws cum laude. After those studies, he began a theological course at the University of Valencia and at Complutense University, then still at its original site in Alcalá de Henares.

Joseph’s mother and brother having died, his father wanted him to marry and carry on the family. But a sickness in 1582 soon brought Joseph to the brink of the grave, which caused his father to relent. On his recovery, he was ordained a priest on December 17, 1583, by Hugo Ambrosio de Moncada, Bishop of Urgel.

During his ecclesiastical career in Spain, Calasanz held various offices in his native region. He began his ministry in the Diocese of Albarracín, where Bishop de la Figuera appointed him his theologian, confessor, synodal examiner, and procurator. When the bishop was transferred to Lleida, Calasanz followed him to the new diocese. During that period, he spent several years in La Seu d’Urgell. As secretary of the cathedral chapter, Calasanz had broad administrative responsibilities. In Claverol, he established a foundation that distributed food to the poor.

In October 1585, de la Figuera was sent as apostolic visitor to the Abbey of Montserrat and Calasanz accompanied him as his secretary. The bishop died the following year and Calasanz left, though urgently requested to remain. He hurried to Peralta de Calasanz, only to be present at the death of his father. He was then called by the Bishop of Urgel to act as vicar general for the district of Tremp.

The Roman Years

In 1592, at the age of 35, Calasanz moved to Rome in the hope of furthering his ecclesiastical career and secure some kind of benefice. He lived there for most of his remaining 56 years. In Rome Calasanz found a protector in Cardinal Marcoantonio Colonna, who chose him as his theologian and charged him with the spiritual direction of the staff, once he managed to express himself in Italian. The city offered a splendid field for works of charity, especially for the instruction of neglected and homeless children, many of whom had lost their parents. Joseph joined the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine and gathered the boys from the streets and brought them to school. The teachers, however, being poorly paid, refused to accept the additional labor without remuneration.

The pastor of the Church of Santa Dorotea in Trastevere, Anthony Brendani, offered him two rooms just off of the parish sacristy and promised assistance in teaching, and when two other priests promised similar help, Calasanz, in November 1597, opened the first free public school in Europe.

On Christmas Day, 1598, the Tiber flooded to historic levels, reaching a height of nearly 20 meters (some 65 feet) above its normal height. The devastation was widespread. Hundreds of the already poor families who lived along the river’s banks were left homeless and without food. The death toll was estimated at about 2,000. Calasanz threw himself into the response, joining a religious fraternity dedicated to helping the poor, and began to help in the cleanup and recovery of the city. In 1600, he opened his “Pious School” in the center of Rome and soon there were extensions, in response to growing demands for enrollment from students.

Pope Clement VIII gave an annual contribution and many others shared in the good work so that in a short time Calasanz had about 1,000 children under his charge. In 1602, he rented a house at Sant’Andrea della Valle, commenced a community life with his assistants, and laid the foundation of the Order of the Pious Schools or Piarists. In 1610, Calasanz wrote the Document Princeps in which he laid out the fundamental principles of his educational philosophy. The text was accompanied by regulations for teachers and for students.

On September 15, 1616, the first public and free school in Frascati was started up on Calasanz’ initiative. One year later, on March 6, 1617, Pope Paul V approved the Pauline Congregation of the Poor of the Mother of God of the Pious Schools, the first religious institute dedicated essentially to teaching, by his brief “Ad ea per quae.” On March 25, 1617, he and his fourteen assistants received the Piarist habit and became the first members of the new congregation. They were the very first priests to have as their primary ministry teaching in elementary schools. Emphasizing love, not fear, St. Joseph wrote: “if from the very earliest years, a child is instructed in both religion and letters, it can be reasonably hoped that his life will be happy.”

While residing in Rome, Joseph endeavored to visit the seven principal churches of that city almost every evening, and also to honor the graves of the Roman martyrs. During one of the city’s repeated plagues, a holy rivalry existed between him and St. Camillus in aiding the sick and in personally carrying away for burial the bodies of those who had been stricken. On account of his heroic patience and fortitude in the midst of trouble and persecution, he was called a marvel of Christian courage, a second Job.During the following years, Calasanz established Pious Schools in various parts of Europe.

After convincing the pope of the need to approve a religious order with solemn vows dedicated exclusively to the education of youth, the congregation was raised to that status on November 18, 1621, by a papal brief of Pope Gregory XV, under the name of Ordo Clericorum Regularium Pauperum Matris Dei Scholarum Piarum (Order of Poor Clerics Regular of the Mother of God of the Pious Schools). The abbreviation “Sch. P.” following the name of the Piarist stands for Scholarum Piarum, Latin for “of the Pious Schools”. The Constitutions were approved on January 31, 1622, by Pope Gregory XV, and the order had all the privileges of the mendicant orders conferred upon it, Calasanz being recognized as superior general. The Order of the Pious Schools was thus the last of the religious Orders of solemn vows approved by the Church. The Piarists, as do many religious, profess vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. In addition, according to the wishes of St. Joseph, members of the Order also profess a fourth vow to dedicate their lives to the education of youth.

Educational Ideas

The concept of free education for the poor was not exclusive to Calasanz. In the Duchy of Lorraine, a similar project was being undertaken simultaneously by the Augustinians Peter Fourier and Alix Le Clerc, whose educational heritage was carried to New France. As recognized by Ludwig von Pastor, Calasanz was the founder of the first free public school in modern Europe. In both cases, it was a revolutionary initiative, a radical break with the class privileges that kept the masses marginalized and in poverty. In the history of education, Calasanz is an educator of the poor, offering education free of charge to all classes of society, without discrimination.

Calasanz displayed the same moral courage, in his attitude to victims of the Inquisition, such as Galileo and Campanella, and in the acceptance of Jewish children in his schools, where they were treated with the same respect as other pupils. Similarly, Protestant pupils were enrolled in his schools in Germany. So great and universal was Calasanz’s prestige that he was even asked by the Ottoman Empire to set up schools there, a request which he could not, to his regret, fulfill, due to a lack of teachers. He organized and systematized a method of educating primary school pupils through progressive levels or cycles, a system of vocational training, and a system of public secondary education.

In an era when no one else was interested in public education, Calasanz managed to set up schools with a highly complex structure. He was concerned with physical education and hygiene. He addressed the subject in various documents and requested school directors to monitor children’s health.

Calasanz taught his students to read both in Latin and in the vernacular. While maintaining the study of Latin, he was a strong defender of vernacular languages, and had textbooks, including those used for teaching Latin, written in the vernacular. In that respect he was more advanced than his contemporaries.

Calasanz placed great emphasis on the teaching of mathematics. Training in mathematics and science was considered very important in his Pious schools, both for pupils and teachers. But Calasanz’s main concern was undoubtedly the moral and Christian education of his students. As both priest and educator, he considered education to be the best way of changing society. All his writing is imbued with his Christian ideals, and the constitutions and regulations of the Pious schools were based on the same spirit. Calasanz created an ideal image of a Christian teacher and used it to train the teachers who worked with him.

Calasanz was the first educator to advocate the preventive method: it is better to anticipate mischievous behaviour than to punish it. This method was later developed by John Bosco, the founder of the Salesian schools. In terms of discipline, and contrary to the prevailing philosophy of his own and subsequent eras, Calasanz favored the mildest punishment possible. While believing that punishment was necessary in certain cases, he always preached moderation, love and kindness as the basis of any discipline.

Relationship with Galileo and Tommaso Campanella

At a time when humanistic studies ruled the roost, Calasanz, sensed the importance of mathematics and science for the future and issued frequent instructions that mathematics and science should be taught in his schools, and that his teachers should have a firm grounding in those subjects. Calasanz was a friend of Galileo Galilei and sent some distinguished Piarists as disciples of the great scientist. He shared and defended his controversial view of the cosmos.

When Galileo fell into disgrace, Calasanz instructed members of his congregation to provide him with whatever assistance he needed and authorized the Piarists to continue studying mathematics and science with him. Unfortunately, those opposed to Calasanz and his work used the support and assistance offered by the Piarists to Galileo as an excuse to attack them. Despite such attacks, Calasanz continued to support Galileo. When, in 1637, Galileo lost his sight, Calasanz ordered the Piarist Clemente Settimi to serve as his secretary.

Calasanz brought the same understanding and sympathy he had shown to Galileo to his friendship with the great philosopher Tommaso Campanella (1558–1639). Campanella was one of the most profound and fertile minds of his time, producing famous philosophical works. Despite the fact that he was a highly controversial figure in his time, Campanella, too, maintained a strong and fruitful friendship with Calasanz.

The philosopher whose utopian visions proposed social reforms in which the education of the masses played an important part must have been a kindred spirit for Calasanz, who was already putting these utopian ideas into practice. Calasanz, with his courage and open-mindedness, invited the controversial thinker to Frascati to help teach philosophy to his teachers. It is not surprising, then, that Campanella, who had rallied to the support of Galileo, also came to the defense of his friend Calasanz with his Liber Apologeticus.

Death and Legacy

The pedagogical idea of Joseph Calasanz of educating every child, his schools for the poor, his support of the heliocentric sciences of Galileo Galilei, and his service towards children and youth, carried with them the opposition of many among the governing classes in society and in the ecclesiastical hierarchy. In 1642, as a result of an internal crisis in the congregation and outside intrigues and pressures, Calasanz was briefly held and interrogated by the Inquisition.

Problems were exacerbated, however, by Father Stefano Cherubini, originally headmaster of the Piarist school in Naples who systematically sexually abused the pupils in his care. Cherubini made no secret about some of his transgressions, and Calasanz came to know of them. Unfortunately for Calasanz as administrator of the Order, Cherubini was the son and the brother of powerful papal lawyers and no one wanted to offend the Cherubini family. Cherubini pointed out that if allegations of his abuse of his boys became public, actions would be taken to destroy the Order. Calasanz therefore promoted him, to get him away from the scene of the crime, citing only his luxurious diet and failure to attend prayers. However, he knew what Cherubini had really been up to, and he wrote that the sole aim of the plan “… is to cover up this great shame in order that it does not come to the notice of our superiors”.

Superiors in Rome found out, but bowed to the same family ties that had bound Calasanz. Cherubini became visitor general for the Piarists. The Piarists became entangled in church politics, and partially because they were associated with Galileo, were opposed by the Jesuits, who were more orthodox in astronomy. (Galileo’s views also involved atomism, and were thought to be heretical regarding transubstantiation.) The support for Cherubini was broad enough that, in 1643, he was made superior general of the Order and the elderly Calasanz was pushed aside. Upon this appointment, Calasanz publicly documented Cherubini’s long pattern of child molestation, a pattern that he had known about for years. Even this did not block Cherubini’s appointment, but other members of the Order were indignant about it, although they may have objected to Cherubini’s more overt shortcomings. With such dissension, the Holy See took the easy course of suppressing the Order. In 1646, it was deprived of its privileges by Pope Innocent X.

Calasanz always remained faithful to the Church and died August 25, 1648, at the age of 90, admired for his holiness and courage by his students, their families, his fellow Piarists, and the people of Rome. He was buried in the Church of San Pantaleo.


Louis IX (25 April 1214 – 25 August 1270), commonly known as Saint Louis, was King of France and a canonized saint. Louis was crowned in Reims at the age of 12, following the death of his father Louis VIII the Lion, although his mother, Blanche of Castile, ruled the kingdom until he reached maturity. During Louis’s childhood, Blanche dealt with the opposition of rebellious vassals and put an end to the Albigensian crusade which had started 20 years earlier.

As an adult, Louis IX faced recurring conflicts with some of the most powerful nobles, such as Hugh X of Lusignan and Peter of Dreux. Simultaneously, Henry III of England tried to restore his continental possessions, but was defeated at the battle of Taillebourg. His reign saw the annexation of several provinces, notably Normandy, Maine and Provence.

Louis IX was a reformer and developed French royal justice, in which the king is the supreme judge to whom anyone is able to appeal to seek the amendment of a judgment. He banned trials by ordeal, tried to prevent the private wars that were plaguing the country and introduced the presumption of innocence in criminal procedure. To enforce the correct application of this new legal system, Louis IX created provosts and bailiffs.

According to his vow made after a serious illness, and confirmed after a miraculous cure, Louis IX took an active part in the Seventh and Eighth Crusade in which he died from dysentery. He was succeeded by his son Philip III.

Louis’s actions were inspired by Christian values and Catholic devotion. He decided to punish blasphemy, gambling, interest-bearing loans and prostitution, and bought presumed relics of Christ for which he built the Sainte-Chapelle. He also expanded the scope of the Inquisition and ordered the burning of Talmuds. He is the only canonized king of France, and there are consequently many places named after him.

Source: Wikipedia

Christmas

+Luke 2:1-14

Caesar Augustus issued a decree for a census of the whole world to be taken. This census – the first – took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria, and everyone went to his own town to be registered. So Joseph set out from the town of Nazareth in Galilee and travelled up to Judaea, to the town of David called Bethlehem, since he was of David’s House and line, in order to be registered together 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 a son, her first born. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger because there was no room for them at the inn.

In the countryside close by there were shepherds who lived in the fields and took it in turns to watch their flocks during the night. The angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone round them. They were terrified, but the angel said, ‘Do not be afraid. Listen, I bring you news of great joy, a joy to be shared by the whole people. Today in the town of David a saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. And here is a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.’ And suddenly with the angel there was a great throng of the heavenly host, praising God and singing:

‘Glory to God in the highest heaven,

and peace to men who enjoy his favour.’

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

The Christmas mystery

525 Jesus was born in a humble stable, into a poor family. Simple shepherds were the first witnesses to this event. In this poverty heaven’s glory was made manifest. The Church never tires of singing the glory of this night:

The Virgin today brings into the world the Eternal

And the earth offers a cave to the Inaccessible.

The angels and shepherds praise him

And the magi advance with the star,

For you are born for us,

Little Child, God eternal!

526 To become a child in relation to God is the condition for entering the kingdom. For this, we must humble ourselves and become little. Even more: to become “children of God” we mu–t be “born from above” or “born of God”. Only when Christ is formed in us will the mystery of Christmas be fulfilled in us. Christmas is the mystery of this “marvelous exchange”:

O marvelous exchange! Man’s Creator has become man, born of the Virgin. We have been made sharers in the divinity of Christ who humbled himself to share our humanity.


Psalm 95

Come, let us sing joyfully to the LORD; cry out to the rock of our salvation.

Let us greet him with a song of praise, joyfully sing out our psalms.

For the LORD is the great God, the great king over all gods,

Whose hand holds the depths of the earth; who owns the tops of the mountains.

The sea and dry land belong to God, who made them, formed them by hand.

Enter, let us bow down in worship; let us kneel before the LORD who made us.

For this is our God, whose people we are, God’s well-tended flock. Oh, that today you would hear his voice:

Do not harden your hearts as at Meribah, as on the day of Massah in the desert.

There your ancestors tested me; they tried me though they had seen my works.

Forty years I loathed that generation; I said: “This people’s heart goes astray; they do not know my ways.”

Therefore I swore in my anger: “They shall never enter my rest.”

Source: The New American Bible


 

Thirty-First Sunday of Ordinary Time

+Matthew 23:1-12

Addressing the people and his disciples Jesus said, ‘The scribes and the Pharisees occupy the chair of Moses. You must therefore do what they tell you and listen to what they say; but do not be guided by what they do: since they do not practise what they preach. They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but will they lift a finger to move them? Not they! Everything they do is done to attract attention, like wearing broader phylacteries and longer tassels, like wanting to take the place of honour at banquets and the front seats in the synagogues, being greeted obsequiously in the market squares and having people call them Rabbi.

‘You, however, must not allow yourselves to be called Rabbi, since you have only one master, and you are all brothers. You must call no one on earth your father, since you have only one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor must you allow yourselves to be called teachers, for you have only one Teacher, the Christ. The greatest among you must be your servant. Anyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and anyone who humbles himself will be exalted.’

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

The Christmas mystery

525 Jesus was born in a humble stable, into a poor family. Simple shepherds were the first witnesses to this event. In this poverty heaven’s glory was made manifest. The Church never tires of singing the glory of this night:

The Virgin today brings into the world the Eternal

And the earth offers a cave to the Inaccessible.

The angels and shepherds praise him

And the magi advance with the star,

For you are born for us,

Little Child, God eternal!

526 To become a child in relation to God is the condition for entering the kingdom. For this, we must humble ourselves and become little. Even more: to become “children of God” we mu–t be “born from above” or “born of God”. Only when Christ is formed in us will the mystery of Christmas be fulfilled in us. Christmas is the mystery of this “marvelous exchange”:

O marvelous exchange! Man’s Creator has become man, born of the Virgin. We have been made sharers in the divinity of Christ who humbled himself to share our humanity.


Psalm 130

A song of ascents. Out of the depths I call to you, LORD;

Lord, hear my cry! May your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy.

If you, LORD, mark our sins, Lord, who can stand?

But with you is forgiveness and so you are revered.

I wait with longing for the LORD, my soul waits for his word.

My soul looks for the Lord more than sentinels for daybreak. More than sentinels for daybreak,

let Israel look for the LORD, For with the LORD is kindness, with him is full redemption,

And God will redeem Israel from all their sins.

Source: The New American Bible