Profiles of the Saints and Feasts

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Profiles of the Proper of the Saints, Feasts and Season


December 22nd through 27th

For December 28th through January 4th, see Christmastide continued

SUNDAY, December 22, 2002

    Semi-Double of the Fourth Sunday of Advent

        Violet Vestments.

    Mass for the Fourth Sunday of Advent

    EPISTLE: 1 Cor. 4: 1-5
    GRADUAL: Psalm 144: 18, 21 6
    GOSPEL: Luke 3: 1-6

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."


Monday, December 23, 2002

    Traditional Double of the Second Class Feast of Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini, Virgin, Religious Founder and Educator [moved to Monday because of 4th Sunday of Advent]

        White Vestments.

    Mass of the holy Mother Cabrini

    EPISTLE: Cor. 1: 26-21
    GRADUAL: Psalm: 17: 33-34
    GOSPEL: Matthew 11: 25-30

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 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."


Christmastide


Tuesday, December 24, 2002

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

        Violet Vestments.

    Mass of the Vigil of the Nativity of our Lord

    EPISTLE: Romans 1: 1-6
    GRADUAL: Exodus 16: 6-7
    GOSPEL: Matthew 1: 18-21


Wednesday, December 25, 2002

    SOLEMNITY OF THE DOUBLE OF THE FIRST CLASS FEAST OF THE NATIVITY OF OUR BLESSED LORD AND SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST

        White or Solemn Gold Vestments.

    Mass for the First Mass at Midnight

    EPISTLE: Titus 2: 11-15
    GRADUAL: Psalm 109: 3, 1
    GOSPEL: Luke 2: 1-14

Mass for the Second Mass at Dawn

EPISTLE: Titus 3: 4-7
GRADUAL: Psalm 117: 27, 26, 23,
GOSPEL: Luke 2: 15, 20

Mass for the Third Mass during the Day

EPISTLE: Hebrews 1: 1-12
GRADUAL: Psalm 97: 3, 4, 2
GOSPEL: John 1: 1-14

THE NATIVITY OF THE LORD

   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.


Thursday, December 26, 2002

    Double of the Second Class Feast of Saint Stephen, First Martyr of the Church with simple Octave

        Red Vestments.

    Mass for the Feast of Saint Stephen - Station at St. Stephen's on the Coelian Hill

    EPISTLE: Acts: 6: 8-10; 7: 54-59
    GRADUAL: Psalm 118: 23, 86
    GOSPEL: Matthew 23: 34-39

Saint Stephen

   The Jewish origin of Saint Stephen is universally acknowledged; he is known and loved everywhere as the first follower of Christ to give to his martyred God love for love, blood for blood. It is not certain whether he was among the seventy-two disciples of Jesus; some believe he was of the Greek tongue and not a native of Palestine. He studied with Saint Paul and Saint Barnabas under the famous Doctor of the Law, Gamaliel, who, being a member of the Sanhedrin, attempted to stop the persecution of the Apostles. (Acts of the Apostles 5:34-40) What is certain, however, is that he distinguished himself among his brethren as an admirable Christian, replete with the gifts of the Holy Spirit. To his great beauty and angelic chastity were joined humility, patience, gentleness and charity, so perfect that they drew from all the faithful great admiration and esteem for him.

   He was head of the seven disciples whom the Apostles named as deacons, to execute the works of charity which their mandate to preach did not permit them to carry out. Stephen manifested all the qualities one could wish for in a minister of charity and of the Gospel. He knew Scripture to perfection and was steeped in its divine spirit; he was endowed with invincible force because he feared nothing in the service of God. Everywhere in Jerusalem, he was proving Jesus of Nazareth to be the Messiah, and working great prodigies to confirm the truths he taught. Some believe he was the cousin of Saul, later Saint Paul; in any case, the latter, still a fire-breathing Pharisee, took offense at his boldness and presided at the scene of his martyrdom by stoning. The fervent deacon, insensible to his own fate, defended Christ before the Jerusalem tribunal with a perfection which enraged the proud authorities of Jerusalem, unwilling to recognize a humble carpenter of Nazareth for their Savior. He boldly upbraided the chief priests with their hard-hearted resistance to the Holy Ghost. And when he accused them of putting to death, just as their forebears had treated the prophets who foretold Him, the long-awaited Just One announced by Moses, they stoned him without further delay. (Acts of the Apostles, chapter 7)

   Saint Stephen died, beholding his Lord standing at the right hand of God. He imitated Him in death; crying out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!” He concluded on his knees, “Lord, do not impute to them this sin!” And then he fell asleep, the narrative says.

   His mortal remains were left outdoors to be devoured by beasts, but were protected by God; and Gamaliel, the Doctor of the Law, took the body of the martyr to his own country home, a few leagues from the city, where he buried him. His tomb was discovered miraculously in the fifth century, by the intervention of Gamaliel himself in a priest’s dream. The greater part of his relics are still conserved in the Basilica of Saint Lawrence and Saint Stephen in Rome. His death was the signal for a great persecution of the Christians in Jerusalem, spurred on by Saul, who had approved his death. But Saint John Chrysostom remarks that because Stephen prayed, we have Saint Paul, whose conversion miraculously came about soon afterwards.

Source: The New Testament: Acts of the Apostles; Les Petits Bollandistes: Vies des Saints, by Msgr. Paul Guérin (Bloud et Barral: Paris, 1882), Vol. 14.


Friday, December 28, 2002

    Double of the Second Class Feast of SAINT JOHN, Beloved Apostle and Evangelist with Simple Octave. Day of Fast and Abstinence

          White Vestments.

    Mass for the Feast of Saint John - Station at St. Mary Major

    EPISTLE: Eccles. 15: 1-6
    GRADUAL: John 21: 23, 19
    GOSPEL: John 21: 19-24

SAINT JOHN THE BELOVED APOSTLE

 &nbp; Saint John, brother of Saint James the Greater, the Apostle of Spain, is the beloved disciple. He was privileged, with his brother and Saint Peter, to behold the Saviour raise up a dead child to life, then saw Him transfigured on the mountaintop; he alone reposed his head on His breast at the Last Supper. After the crucifixion it is he who, with Saint Peter, hastened to the empty tomb on the morning of the Resurrection. Standing beside Mary at the Cross, he had heard his Master confide that Blessed Mother to him to be henceforth his Mother also. He took his precious treasure for refuge to Ephesus when the persecution of the Jerusalem Christians became too intense; and from there he went out to evangelize Asia Minor, of which he became the first Archbishop. He was later exiled to the Island of Patmos, where he wrote the Apocalypse, but afterwards returned to Ephesus.

   Compared with an eagle by his flights of elevated contemplation, Saint John is the supreme Doctor of the Divinity of Jesus of Nazareth. Endowed with an astounding memory, he was able even in his later years, to reproduce the discourses of Christ in such a way as to make the reader experience their power and impact on their audiences as if present to hear them. He is the author of five books of the New Testament, his Gospel, three Epistles, and the last canonical prophecy, the Apocalypse or Revelation of Saint John — all of which were composed after the ruin of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.

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

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

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


Saturday, December 28, 2002

    Double of the Second Class Feast of The Holy Innocents with Simple Octave

        Violet Vestments (only Red Vestments if the feast falls on Sunday)

Mass for the Double of the Second Class Feast of the Holy Innocents - Station at St. Paul Outside-the-Walls

EPISTLE: Apoc. 14: 1-5
GRADUAL: Psalm 123: 7-8
GOSPEL: Matthew 2: 13-18

Feast of the Holy Innocents
   The wily king Herod, who was reigning in Judea at the time of the birth of Our Savior, learned from three Wise Men from the East that they had come to Jerusalem, advised by a star in the Heavens, in search of the newborn King of the Jews. Herod’s superstitious fear of losing his throne was awakened, and he grew troubled. He called together the chief priests, questioned them, and learned from them that the awaited Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem, the city of David. He said to the strangers: “When you have found Him, bring me word, that I too may go and adore Him.”

   The star which had guided the Magi re-appeared over Bethlehem, and they found the Infant and adored Him, and offered Him their royal gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, recognizing by these His perfect Divinity, His royalty, and His prophesied sufferings. God warned them in a dream afterwards not to go back to Herod, and they returned to their lands, rejoicing, by a different route. Saint Joseph, too, was warned during his sleep by an Angel to take the Child and His Mother Mary and flee into Egypt, for Herod will seek the life of the Infant.

   When Herod realized that the Wise Men would not return, he was furious, and in his rage ordered that every male child in Bethlehem and its vicinity, of the age of two years or less, be slain. These innocent victims were the flowers and first-fruits of the Savior’s legions of martyrs; they triumphed over the world without having ever known it or experienced its dangers.

    REFLECTION: That the Holy Innocents may be invoked to be preserved from illusion is the Church’s belief. Herod’s illusion of threat from the newborn King cost their lives... How few, perhaps, of these innocent little ones, if they had lived, would have escaped the dangers of the world! From what snares, what sins, what miseries were they preserved! Surely they rejoice now in their fate. We often lament, as misfortunes, many accidents which in the designs of Heaven are the greatest mercies.

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


    For the liturgical calendar from December 29 through January 4th, see Christmastide continued


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