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MONDAY      December 28, 1998      SECTION TWO       vol 9, no. 249

To print out entire text of Today's issue, print this section as well as SECTION ONE


December 25th Medjugorje Monthly Message

For more on Medjugorje, click on MEDJUGORJE AND MORE

LITURGY OF THE DAY

      Today is the Feast of the Holy Innocents when King Herod, in search of eliminating the threat of the boy-king Jesus Christ ordered the slaughter of all first-born males under two-years old, forcing the Holy Family to flee into Egypt. Tomorrow is the Fifth Day in the Octave of Christmas. For the readings, liturgy, meditations and story of the Holy Innocents, click on LITURGY FOR THE DAY.

Monday, December 28, 1998

Feast of the martyred Holy Innocents

      This feast commemorates the slaughter of the holy innocent male babies who were killed in King Herod's lust to find and destroy the Child Jesus as related in Matthew 2: 13-18. Ever since the 5th Century this feast has been observed as stated by Saint Peter Chrysologus. It became a solemn feast in 1568, declared so by Pope Saint Pius V. Though legend has it that thousands were slaughtered, the actual figure was closer to only 20 infants; yet even one is too many. Though Saint Stephen is considered the first martyr of the Church, in truth these innocents were really the first martyrs for unwillingly or not, they were the first victims to die for Christ. They are the original martyrs who St. John writes about in Apocalypse/Revelation 7: 14 and 17 when one of the elders says, "These are they who have come out of the great tribulation, and have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb...and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes." The holy innocents today are the innocent babies of the 20th Century who have been aborted by their own mothers. Like the first holy innocents who were a figment of a threat to Herod, these modern day innocents also are slaughtered because they are a threat to the worldly ways of those who seek the culture of death over the Culture of Life.

Tuesday, December 29, 1998

Optional Feast of Saint Thomas Becket, Bishop and Martyr

     Born in London, England around 1118, Saint Thomas Becket became a priest and bishop, studying law in Rome, Bologna and France and serving as chancelor under England's King Henry II. However his relationship with the king deteriorated when Thomas showed more allegiance to Rome than England regarding Church property and authority. Thomas' rival Bishop Foliot, bishop of London fueled the fires by plotting against him. This forced Becket to flee to France where he took up refuge there until returning six years later at the request of Pope Alexander III who needed the support of both the French king and Henry against the antipope Paschal III who had aligned with the emperor Frederick Barbarossa. Thomas returned, hoping to reconcile with the king and to bring to justice those who had been plotting against him and the Church, but his mission was cut short when Foliot schemed with Henry to silence Thomas in the cathedral. Friends of Thomas' knew something was afoot and wanted to barricade Thomas inside the cathedral for his own safety, but Thomas exclaimed, "I am ready to die for the name of Jesus in defense of the Church." When they entered at sunset on December 29, 1170 four of Henry's knights with Foliot lurking in the shadows, shouted out "Where be the traitor? Where be Thomas Becket?" Thomas boldly presented himself proclaiming, "Here I am. No traitor I be, but rather a priest of God ready to shed my blood for Him." With that the dastardly deed was done on the sanctuary steps of the cathedral leading to the altar of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint Benedict. His death caused Alexander III to excommunicate Henry II and Foliot. But the king repented two years later and, thus Thomas' death reconciled the king of England with Holy Mother Church as well as reconciliation with France and established the church at Canterbury as Rome's. A year after Henry's public apology Alexander canonized Thomas as a great martyr of the Church.

PRAYERS & DEVOTION

      In commemoration of the Holy Innocents, today's prayer is taken from the Opening Prayer for today's Mass:

     Father, the Holy Innocents offered You praise by their death they suffered for Christ. May our lives bear witness to the faith we profess with our lips.


"I do solemnly tell you that the great trial breaks upon your world. But you are blind to it ."

      Those words of Motherly concern above from the Blessed Virgin Mary in Message #328 and followed up in Message #329 were imparted to the Hidden Flower of the Immaculate Heart in the last part of the month of April 1993. Our Lady links the trials and satan's deceit to the growing lack of reverence for her Divine Son Jesus present in the Blessed Sacrament. That is the only refuge we have once her visits are over, which are fast coming to a close. For the messages 328 and 329, click on "I SOLEMNLY TELL YOU..."

Messages Three Hundred-Twenty-eight and Three Hundred-Twenty-nine

Message Three Hundred-Twenty-eight, April 22, 1993

(Imparted to the Hidden Flower by the Immaculate Heart of Mary)

Message Three Hundred-Twenty-nine, April 24, 1993

(Imparted to the Hidden Flower by the Immaculate Heart)

WORLDWIDE NEWS & VIEWS with a Catholic slant

provided by Catholic World News Service and Noticias Eclesiales Church News

HEADLINES:

WITH TRADITIONAL MIDNIGHT MASS, POPE JOHN PAUL II CELEBRATED THE BIRTH OF THE LORD JESUS

      VATICAN, 25 (NE) "Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy. ... For to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, Who is Christ the Lord." With these words taken from the Gospel according to Luke, Pope John Paul II expressed to all Catholics throughout the world the joy for the great event of the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem. "Praise becomes a prayer which rises from the hearts of the throngs who on Christmas Night continue to welcome the Son of God," said Peterīs Succesor during his hommmily in the tradtional Christmas Midnight Mass.

      To all the pilgrims gathered together with the Vicar of Christ in Saint Peterīs Basilica to celebrate the coming of the Lord, the Holy Father said that "in the Word Who becomes man the miracle of the Incarnate God is made manifest. The mystery sheds light on the event of the birth: A baby is adored by the shepherds in the lowly stable, at Bethlehem. He is `the Savior of the world, Christ the Lord,' (cf Luke 2:11). Their eyes see a newborn Child, wrapped in swaddling cloths and placed in a manger, and in that sign, thanks to the inner light of faith, they recognize the Messiah proclaimed by the Prophets."

      "This is Emmanuel, God-with-us, Who comes to fill the Earth with grace. He comes into the world in order to transform creation. He becomes a man among men, so that in Him and through Him every human being can be profoundly renewed. By His birth, He draws us all into the sphere of the divine, granting to those who in faith open themselves to receiving His gift the possibility of sharing in His divine life."

      "The coming of Christ among us is the center of history, which thereafter takes on a new dimension. In a way, it is God Himself Who writes history by entering into it. The event of the Incarnation thus broadens to embrace the whole of human history, from creation until the Second Coming. This is why in the Liturgy all creation sings, voicing its own joy: The floods clap their hands, all the trees of the world sing for joy, and the many coastlands are glad."

      "Christ is born for us. Come let us adore Him. My thoughts already turn to Christmas next year when, God willing, I shall inaugurate the great jubilee with the opening of the holy door. It will be a truly great holy year, for in a completely unique way it will celebrate the 2000th anniversary of the event and mystery of the incarnation in which humanity reached the apex of its calling. God became man in order to give man a share in His own divinity." The Holy Father added that, "This is the good news of salvation. This is the message of Christmas! The Church proclaims it tonight by means of my words too, for the peoples and nations of the whole Earth to hear. Christu natus est nobis. Christ is born for us. Venite adoremum. Come, let us adore Him."


180 YEARS OF "SILENT NIGHT": A CHRISTMAS CAROL THAT HAS UNITED MILLIONS OF PEOPLE THROUGHOUT THE WORLD WHO CELEBRATE THE BIRTH OF THE SON OF GOD

      ROME, 24 (NE) "Silent Night, Holy Night". These are the first verses of a simple but fascinating song repeated throughout the years in the different places where Christmas is celebrated. Translated to many languages, they are words that have accompanied these celebrations uniting different races and languages in a common worship to God. Words whose melody has evoked in the hearts of those who listen to them the mystery of the Incarnation of the Son of God in the virginal womb of Holy Mary.

      Nevertheless, only a few actually know the origin of one of the most traditional Christmas carols. The finding of an original script dated 1816 allowed to clarify the story of the song and its author, and Austrian priest born in December 1792. His name was Joseph Mohr, and was born in a humble family. As a child, he lost his father. His natural inclination to music was soon discovered by the cathedral choirmaster, who helped him to receive an education. By 1810 the young Joseph was studying and preparing himself for priesthood, being ordained five years after.

      He was moved to Mariapfarr, his father's village, a place surrounded by woods and fresh air, where it is believed he wrote the poem that would later be famous as a Christmas carol. Because of his health, he was moved again to another town, Oberndorf, 13 miles of Salzburg, where he met Franz Xaver Gruber, a musician who would become his friend. As the Christmas of 1818 came closer, Joseph searched for the verses of his Christmas poem, and together with Gruber made some arrangements to the poem and thus was born the traditional Christmas carol.

      That same Christmas, precisely 180 years ago, the organ of the temple broke down, which forced the priest to use alternative songs for the Mid Night celebration. At the time, it would have been very difficult for a song in German, accompanied by a guitar, to be sung at the temple, at least in such a solemn ceremony. The situation allowed the song to be heard publicly for the first time. It happened on Christmas of 1818, in a Church dedicated to St. Nikolas in Oberndorf. Father Mohr would be called to the Father's presence on 1848, dying in poverty after a life consecrated to his priesthood, and leaving behind to the world a song that has illuminated with joy and hope millions of homes which celebrate the coming of the Lord Jesus.


ITALIAN PRIEST SLAIN IN SARDINIA

      NUORO, Sardinia (CWNews.com) - An Italian parish priest was shot and killed on Thursday as he was preparing for Mass.

      Father Graziano Muntoni, 57, was shot in the chest as he walked down an alley in the small town of Orgosolo on his way to his church for morning Mass, according to media reports. Before becoming a priest in 1990, Father Muntoni had served as a politician of the Christian Democrat party for years.

      Italian state RAI television quoted investigators as saying Father Muntoni may have been the victim of retribution for his campaign against crime, especially Sardinian kidnap gangs.


IRISH EUTHANASIA ACTIVIST DIES OF CANCER

      DUBLIN (CWNews.com) - Ireland's leading euthanasia activist died last week of bladder cancer, according to the Irish Times newspaper on Wednesday.

      Dr. Patrick Leahy originally rose to prominence in the 1970s by publicly prescribing contraceptives in violation of the law and Church teaching. He was also a public supporter of the legalization of abortion. Contraceptives have since been legalized, but abortion remains illegal in the majority Catholic country.

      Later, Leahy became the lead campaigner for euthanasia and assisted suicide and made headlines last year when he announced he would travel to Thailand to commit suicide, but changed his plans when he learned that the practice is also illegal in that country. Leahy also claimed to have killed 50 people in assisted suicides and euthanasias.

      Leahy's family said he died in his sleep at home in Dublin last week.


For more headlines and articles, we suggest you go to the Catholic World News site at the CWN home page and Church News at Noticias Eclesiales. Both CWN and NE are not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provides this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.


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December 28, 1998 volume 9, no. 249   DAILY CATHOLIC