Proper of the Saints and Feasts

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Profiles of the Proper of the Saints, Feasts and Season

December 22nd through 25th

For December 26th through the 31st, see Christmastide continued

Monday, December 22, 2003

    Traditional Double of the Second Class Feast of Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini, Virgin, Religious Founder and Educator

        White Vestments.

    Mass of the holy Mother Cabrini

    INTROIT: Ps. 72: 24
    EPISTLE: Cor. 1: 26-31
    GRADUAL: Psalm: 17: 33-34
    GOSPEL: Matthew 11: 25-30
    OFFERTORY: Ps. 72: 28
    COMMUNION: Matthew 11: 28

Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini

   The pioneering holy educator and missionary Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini, better known to all her followers as Mother Cabrini, is one of our most modern saints and yet the first American citizen to be canonized a saint. She was canonized by Pope Pius XII on June 7, 1947, only 30 years after her death in Chicago, Illinois in 1917. In 1950 the Holy Father proclaimed Mother Cabrini "Patroness of Immigrants."

   Maria Francesca, as she was christened at baptism, was born prematurely on July 15, 1850 as the youngest of 13 children to Augustine and Stella Oldini Cabrini at Sant' Angelo Lodigiano in Italy. She had always had the inborn desire to do something special for God. Though she was on her way to becoming a school teacher, her parents both died in 1868 and she decided to become a nun. After two communities turned her down, the bishop of her diocese Msgr. Serrati asked her to take over a poorly run orphanage in Codogno, Italy which was called House of Providence. Naturally resentment arose from the original foundress Antonia Tondini and the tension-filled conflict caused the bishop of Todi to shut it down. But he realized Frances' zeal and talents and invited her to found a religious organization of nuns devoted to teaching young girls.

   With seven other young women, Francis remodeled an abandoned Franciscan friary which served as the mother house for the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart which the bishop approved in 1880. Vocations became plentiful and soon the order had spread to Milan, Rome and other parts of Italy. She was fired with missionary zeal as a little girl, through family reading of the Annals of the Propagation of the Faith. She gave up sweets because she would also be without them in China, where she aspired to go.

   She earned a teacher’s certificate and applied to two Orders having missionary houses, but was rejected for reasons of health. Reluctantly, at the request of her bishop, she tried to save an orphanage and make of its staff a religious community, but after six hard years the work collapsed. And Frances, by then thirty years old, initiated her own missionary community with seven of her associates from the orphanage. Bishop Scalabrini suggested they work with Italian immigrants, especially in the United States, as the Congregation of Saint Charles which he had founded was doing; but Mother Cabrini’s heart was set on China. She asked counsel of Pope Leo XIII. “Go not to the East,” he told her, “but to the West.”

   Agreeing with this need to minister to the Italians who had immigrated to the United States, the bishop of New York Archbishop Corrigan invited Mother Cabrini to come to America to help the immigrants. Because of the Pope's counsel, she accepted and arrived at the portals of Ellis Island in 1889. For the next 27 years she would establish numerous schools, hospitals, convents and orphanages throughout the vast United States from New York to Denver despite great obstacles. In 1907 her congregation received papal approval from Pope Saint Pius X. Two years later she became an American citizen. America was definitely the better for it as the Church grew rapidly through the works of those inspired by this Italian saint.

   Mother Cabrini founded over 65 charitable organizations and houses for the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart. While still alive she was able to obtain countless special favors through her prayerful intercession. Many accounts of spiritual phenomena accompanied Mother Cabrini. One such account relates to her founding a house just outside of Denver in what is today Golden, Colorado. Surveying the hilly and rocky land above Denver, the owner sold it to her dirt-cheap so-to-speak because there was no water on the land and nothing would grow there. This did not daunt the staunch saint. She took her wooden staff and trekking up the hill, poked at the earth and water gushed forth where it still flows freely today. Returning to Chicago, she fell ill and died on December 22 in the same year as the Fatima apparitions of 1917.

A portion of this profile was taken from Source: Lives of the Saints: Daily Readings, by Augustine Kalberer, O.S.B. (Franciscan Herald Press: Chicago, 1975).

O Rex Gentium, et desideratus earum, lapisque angularis, qui facis utraque unum veni, et salva hominem, quem de limo formasti.
"O King of the Gentiles and the desired of them, Thou cornerstone that makest both one, come and deliver man, whom Thou didst form out of the dust of the earth."

Tuesday, December 23, 2003
    Traditional Double of the Second Class Feast of SAINT THOMAS THE APOSTLE, whose regular feast of the 21st was moved to Tuesday because of 4th Sunday of Advent

        Red Vestments.

    Mass of St. Thomas the Apostle

    INTROIT: Ps. 138: 17 EPISTLE: Eph. 2: 19-22 1: 26-21
    GRADUAL: Ps: 138: 17-18
    GOSPEL: John 20: 24-29
    OFFERTORY: Ps. 18: 5
    COMMUNION: John 20: 27

Saint Thomas the Apostle

   Though Saint Thomas the Apostle is often referred to as the "Doubting Apostle," in truth he was one of the most faithful, believing of Christ's disciples. This is confirmed in John 11: 16 when Thomas boldly encourages his fellow apostles to go with Jesus to Lazarus where the fear was that they might be stoned, "Let us also go, that we may die with Him." That does not display doubt, but rather undying faith. But Thomas, being human and having withered the many storms Christ underwent, expressed the sentiment many would. In other words, it was almost too much to believe that Jesus had risen. To allay any further sorrow, Thomas put up a defense to the other Apostles with his famous, "Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe." In other words, "don't tease me!" Christ understood and was gentle with Thomas, rebuking him mildly in John 20: 27-29 with "...and be not unbelieving, but believing...Because thou hast seen Me, thou has believed. Blessed are they who have not seen, and yet have believed." The last sentence is a great lesson in faith for the majority of us have not seen, yet we believe. That's faith. This event also occurred before the Descent of the Holy Spirit. Even before this Thomas had pledged his undying loyalty with his famous response to Our Lord in John 20: 28, "My Lord and my God!" It was Thomas' way of asking forgiveness for doubting. After Christ's Ascension Thomas was sent to preach in Parthia and the Indies where he gained the glorious crown of martyrdom. In 1972 Pope Paul VI proclaimed him "Patron Saint of India."

O Emmanuel, Rex et legifer noster, expecatatio Gentium, eat Salvator earum: veni ad salvandum nos, Domine Deus noster.
"O Emmanuel, our King and Lawgiver, the expected of the nations and their Savior, come to save us, O Lord our God."


Wednesday, December 24, 2003

    Vigil of the Nativity of Our Lord Day of Fast and Abstinence.

        Violet Vestments.

    Mass of the Vigil of the Nativity of our Lord

    INTROIT: Exodus 16: 6-7
    EPISTLE: Romans 1: 1-6
    GRADUAL: Exodus 16: 6-7
    GOSPEL: Matthew 1: 18-21
    OFFERTORY: Ps. 23: 7
    COMMUNION: Isaias 40: 5

Thursday, December 25, 2003


        White or Solemn Gold Vestments.

    Mass for the First Mass at Midnight

    INTROIT: Psalm 2: 7
    EPISTLE: Titus 2: 11-15
    GRADUAL: Psalm 109: 3, 1
    GOSPEL: Luke 2: 1-14
    OFFERTORY: Psalm 95: 11, 13
    COMMUNION: Psalm 109: 3

    Mass for the Second Mass at Dawn

    INTROIT: Isaias 9: 2, 6
    EPISTLE: Titus 3: 4-7
    GRADUAL: Psalm 117: 27, 26, 23,
    GOSPEL: Luke 2: 15, 20
    OFFERTORY: Psalm 92: 1-2
    COMMUNION: Zacharias 9: 9
      commemoration of St. Anastasia

    Mass for the Third Mass during the Day

    INTROIT: Isaias 9: 6
    EPISTLE: Hebrews 1: 1-12
    GRADUAL: Psalm 97: 3, 4, 2
    GOSPEL: John 1: 1-14
    OFFERTORY: Psalm 88: 12, 15
    COMMUNION: Psalm 97: 3
      At the End of Mass, instead of the Gospel of John for the Last Gospel, the Gospel of the Epiphany of Matthew 2: 1-2 is said.


   Noel! Noel! This was the cry of our fathers when the Faith prevailed, ardent and lively in the bosom of families, institutions, and all of society. That cry has grown very weak in our day, for the naivete of simple faith has tended to disappear. Nevertheless, of all the Christian feasts, Christmas is perhaps the most beloved and the most popular. It is the celebration of the miraculous Nativity of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

   God used the most apparently indifferent events to reach His ends. The Blessed Virgin Mary lived in Nazareth, and the prophets predicted that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. But an edict of Caesar Augustus ordered all the inhabitants of Judea to go at a certain time to enroll in their native city. Bethlehem was the birthplace of holy Saint Joseph, so that is where the holy spouses went; and that is where, in conformity to the predictions of the prophets, Jesus was to come into the world.

   What a birth for a God! Joseph looked for an inn, but there was none for such poor people; rejected and scorned, they were obliged to seek refuge in an isolated stable. And that is where, in the middle of the night, Mary miraculously gave birth to Jesus; that is where the most meek Savior received the first adorations, where He received the first kisses and caresses, where He shed His first tears! Mary took the Infant in Her arms, covered Him with poor swaddling clothes and laid Him softly in a cold manger. O first moments which Mary and Joseph spent at the feet of Jesus, how precious you were for them, how full of charm! We will taste a little of this joy and these charms on going to our church to pay a visit to the manger scene that represents such a great mystery. Earthly joys are deceitful, but the joy of God’s service are lasting and true.

   Jesus was born, and behold, the Heavens rang out in hymns of joy as the Angels sang the canticle of triumph, “Glory to God in the highest!” and the canticle of peace, “Peace on earth to men of good will!” Jesus was born, and at once the poor shepherds, informed by the Angels, came to adore the Redeemer of Israel in that little Infant. Jesus was born, and soon the princes of the East, led by a Star, laid their homages at His feet. Let us hail Christmas, the dawn of peace and salvation.

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

For the liturgical calendar from December 26 through December 31st, see Christmastide continued

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