THOUGHTS FOR THE MONTH: DECEMBER- 2018

PRAYER FOR FEARLESSNESS & PEACE

“Lead us to a world of freedom, O Wise One. Lead us to heavenly light; to fearlessness and peace. Strong is your arm O powerful Lord. We take refuge in you. May we be without fear of friend or foe; free from the fear of the known and the unknown; free from fear by night and by day. May the world be free from all fears.” Peace in the atmosphere. Peace in the astral spaces. Peace on the earth. Peace in the waters. Peace in the plants. Peace in the forest trees. God’s peace in all things. Peace, peace, may peace come to us.” (Atharva Veda XIX,15; Rig Veda VI, 66)

“Peace, peace to all men of good will. On all men God’s favour rests. He who is born is the peace of nations. Out of love, God became man; one of the human race. Blessed are you pride of humanity. Blessed are you who became Mother of God. Like a sweet perfume breathes on the air, your memory, O Mary, pervades our prayer.” (From Prayer with the harp of the Spirit: Vol I)

SAINTS / SAGES/ EVENTS: DECEMBER – 2018:

Dec 01. St. Edmund Campion: (1540-1581): He was an English Roman Catholic Jesuit priest and martyr. While conducting an underground ministry in officially Anglican England, Campion was arrested by priest hunters. Convicted of high treason, he was hanged, drawn and quartered at Tyburn. Campion was beatified by Pope Leo XIII in 1886 and canonised in 1970 by Pope Paul VI as one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales.

Dec 02. St. Bibiana: (Martyred in 363): According to this legend, Bibiana was the daughter of a former prefect, Flavianus, who was banished by Julian the Apostate. His wife Dafrosa, and two daughters, Demetria and Bibiana, were also persecuted by Julian. Dafrosa and Demetria died a natural death and were buried by Bibiana in their own house; but Bibiana was tortured and died as a result of her sufferings. Two days after her death a priest named John buried Bibiana near her mother and sister in her home, the house being later turned into a church.

Dec 03. St. Francis Xavier: (1506- 1552): and co-founder of the Society of Jesus. He was a student of Ignatius of Loyola and one of the first seven Jesuits, dedicated at Montmartre in 1534. He led an extensive mission into Asia, mainly in the Portuguese Empire of the time. He was influential in the spreading and upkeep of Catholicism most notably in India, but also ventured into Japan, Borneo, the Maluku Islands, and other areas which had thus far not been visited by Christian missionaries. It was a goal of Xavier to one day reach China. He is the patron saint of all missionaries.

Dec 04. St. John of Damascus: (645-749): A polymath whose fields of interest and contribution included law, theology, philosophy, and music, he is said by some sources to have served as a Chief Administrator to the Muslim caliph of Damascus before his ordination. He wrote works expounding the Christian faith, and composed hymns which are still used liturgically in Eastern Christian practice throughout the world. He is considered "the last of the Fathers" of the Eastern Orthodox church and is best known for his strong defense of icons.] The Catholic Church regards him as a Doctor of the Church, often referred to as the Doctor of the Assumption due to his writings on the Assumption of Mary.

Dec 05. St. Sabas: (439-532): Cappadocian-Greek monk, priest and saint, lived mainly in Palestine. He was the founder of several monasteries, most notably the one known as Mar Saba.

Dec 06. St. Nicholas of Bari: (270-343): Also called Nikolaos of Myra, was a historic 4th-century saint and Greek Bishop of Myra (Demre, part of modern-day Turkey) in Lycia. He had a reputation for secret gift-giving. In his most famous exploit, a poor man had three daughters but could not afford a proper dowry for them. This meant that they would remain unmarried and probably, in absence of any other possible employment, would have to become prostitutes. Hearing of the girls' plight, Nicholas decided to help them, but being too modest to help the family in public (or to save them the humiliation of accepting charity), he went to the house under the cover of night and threw three purses (one for each daughter) filled with gold coins through the window opening into the house.. In 325, he was one of many bishops to answer the request of Constantine and appear at the First Council of Nicaea. There, Nicolas was a staunch anti-Arian and defender of the Orthodox Christian position, and one of the bishops who signed the Nicene Creed. Saint Nicholas is the patron saint of sailors, merchants, archers, children, pawnbrokers and students. He is also venerated in various cities and many countries around Europe.

Dec 07. St. Ambrose: (340-307): He was the Archbishop of Milan, who became one of the most influential ecclesiastical figures of the 4th century. He was one of the four original Doctors of the Church. He had a notable influence on St. Augustine.

Dec 08. Feast of Immaculate Conception: The Immaculate Conception is a dogma of the Catholic Church, maintaining that from the moment when she was conceived in the womb, the Blessed Virgin Mary was kept free of original sin. Although the belief that Mary was conceived immaculate was widely held since at least, late antiquity, the doctrine was not dogmatically defined until December 8, 1854, by Pope Pius IX, in his papal bull ‘Inefabalis Deus’.

Dec 09. St. Juan Diego: (1474-1548): He is the first Roman Catholic indigenous American saint. He is said to have been granted an apparition of the Virgin Mary on four separate occasions in December 1531 at the hill of Tepeyac, then outside but now well within metropolitan Mexico City. The Basilica of Guadalupe located at the foot of the hill of Tepeyac claims to possess Juan Diego's mantle or cloak (known as a tilma) on which an image of the Virgin is said to have been impressed by a miracle as a pledge of the authenticity of the apparition. Juan Diego was beatified in 1990, and canonized in 2002 by St. Pope John Paul II.

Dec 10. Pope St. Gregory III: (Died in 741): He was the head of the Catholic Church from 11 February 731 to his death in 741. His pontificate, like that of his predecessor, was disturbed by the iconoclastic controversy in the Byzantine Empire, and by the ongoing advance of the Lombards.

Dec 11. Pope St. Damasus I: (306-384): He was the head of the Catholic Church from October 366 to his death in 384. St.Damasus commissioned Saint Jerome to translate the Scriptures into Latin; the Vulgate version of the Bible. Not only did he commission the Vulgate translation but he also changed the liturgical language of the Church from Greek to Latin. He worked hard to preserve and restore the catacombs, the graves of the martyrs, and relics.

Dec 12. Feast of Our lady of Guadalupe: It is a title of the Virgin Mary associated with a celebrated pictorial image housed in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in México City. She appeared to Juan Diego not as a European Madonna but as a beautiful Aztec princess speaking to him in his own Aztec language. Our Lady of Guadalupe is the patroness of the Americas; both North and South.

Dec 13. St. Lucy: (283-304): Lucy's name means "light", with the same root as "lucid" which means "clear, radiant, and understandable." She was a young Christian martyr who died during the Diocletian persecution. Saint Lucy is the patron saint of the blind and those with eye-troubles.

Dec 14. St. John of the Cross: (1542-1591): St. John of the Cross was a reformer of the Carmelite Order and is considered, along with Saint Teresa of Ávila, as a founder of the Discalced Carmelites. He is also known for his writings; ‘The Dark Night’; ‘Ascend on Mount Carmel’ and treatises on the journey of the soul. Both his poetry and his studies on the growth of the soul are considered the summit of mysticism in Spanish literature. He was canonized as a saint in 1726 by Pope Benedict XIII. He is one of the thirty-five Doctors of the Church.

Dec 15. St. Mary Di Rosa: (1813-1855): She was the founder of the Handmaids of Charity (also called the Servants of Charity) in Brescia, Italy, in 1839. Her spirituality was grounded in the imitation of Christ’s suffering on the Cross. This was the basis of her teaching and contemplation. In her love of the crucified Christ, she translated her dedication to him towards the suffering members of his Mystical Body.

Dec 16. St. Ado of Vienna: (Died in 875): He held his archiepiscopal seat from 850 till his death on the 16 December 874. Several of his letters are extant and reveal their writer as an energetic man of wide sympathies and considerable influence.

Dec 17. St. Olympias: (368-408): Olympias was a Christian Roman noblewoman of Greek descent, who married a nobleman called Nebridius who served as Prefect of Constantinople. After her husband died, she dedicated her life to the church, serving as a deaconess. She would later become a friend of Saint John Chrysostom. Olympias is one of the 140 Colonnade saints which adorn Saint Peter's Square.

Dec 18. St. Winibald: (Died in 768): He was abbot of the Benedictine double monastery of Heidenheim am Hahnenkamm. Traditionally, he is called the brother of Saint Willibald and Saint Walpurga. His father was Saint Richard the Pilgrim and his uncle Saint Boniface, Archbishop of Mainz.

Dec 19. St. Nemesius: (Died in 390): Martyr of Egypt. He was burned alive in Alexandria, Egypt, during the persecutions under Emperor Trajanus Decius. Nemesius was arrested and scourged and then burned to death. Like Christ, he was executed between two criminals.

Dec 20. St. Dominic of Silos: (1000-1073): He was a Spanish monk, to whom the Abbey of Santo Domingo de Silos, where he served as the abbot, is dedicated. He is the patron against rabies; against insects; captives; pregnant women; prisoners and shepherds.

Dec 21. St. Peter Canisius: (1521-1597): Canisius lived during the height of the Protestant Reformation and dedicated much of his work to the clarification of the Catholic Faith in light of the emergence of the new Protestant doctrines. His lasting contribution is his three catechisms, which he published in Latin and German, which became widespread and popular in Catholic regions. In his fight with German Protestantism, he requested much more flexibility from Rome.

Dec 22. St. Chaeromon: (Died in 250): Bishop of Nilopolis, in Egypt. When the persecution was instituted by Emperor Trajanus Decius, Chaeromon was quite elderly. He and several companions fled into the Arabian Desert and were never seen again. The bishop and his companions are listed as martyrs.

Dec 23. St. John of Kanty: (1390-1473): He was a Polish priest, Scholastic philosopher, physicist and theologian. Michael Miechowita, the medieval Polish historian and the saint's first biographer, described the saint's extreme humility and charity; he took as his motto: “Beware disturbing: it's not sweetly pleasing, Beware speaking ill: for taking back words is burdensome.”

Dec 24.St. Adele: (Died in 730): A daughter of King Dagobert II of Germany, St. Adele became a nun upon the death of her husband, making provisions for her son, the future father of St. Gregory of Utrecht. She seems to have been among the disciples of St. Boniface, the Apostle of Germany, and a letter in his correspondence is addressed to her.

Dec 25: the solemn feast of Christmas: X’Mas is an annual commemoration of the birth of Christ and a widely observed holiday, celebrated generally on December 25th by millions of people around the world. "Christmas" is a compound word originating in the term "Christ's Mass”. It is derived from the Middle English Cristemasse, which is from Old English Crīstesmæsse, a phrase first recorded in 1038 followed by the word Cristes-messe in 1131. Crīst (genitive Crīstes) is from Greek Khrīstos (Χριστός), a translation of Hebrew Māšîaḥ (מָשִׁיחַ), “Messiah", meaning "annointed" and mæsse is from Latin missa, the celebration of the Eucharist.

Dec 26. St. Stephen: The first martyr of Christianity, was, according to the Acts of the Apostles, a deacon in the early church at Jerusalem who aroused the enmity of members of various synagogues by his teachings. Accused of blasphemy, at his trial he made a long speech fiercely denouncing the Jewish authorities who were sitting in judgment on him and was stoned to death. His martyrdom was witnessed by Saul of Tarsus (later renamed Paul), a Pharisee who would later convert to Christianity and become an apostle.

Dec 27. St. John the Apostle was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus. Traditionally, he is identified as the author of the Gospel of John and other Johannine works in the New Testament — the three Epistles of John and the Book of Revelation. Christian tradition says that John the Evangelist was one of Christ's original twelve apostles and the only one to live into old age and not be killed for his faith. John the Evangelist is associated with Ephesus, where he is said to have lived and been buried.

Dec 28. Feast of the Holy Innocents: Herod ordered the execution of all young male children in the "Vicinity of Bethlehem, so as to avoid the loss of his throne to a newborn King of the Jews whose birth had been announced to him by the Magi. Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled: "A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more."

Dec 29.St. Thomas Becket; (1118-1170): He was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1162 until his murder in 1170. He is venerated as a saint and martyr by both the Catholic Church and the Anglican communion. He engaged in conflict with over the rights and privileges of the Church and was murdered by followers of the king Henry II of England in Canterbury Cathedral. Soon after his death, he was canonized by Pope Alexander III.

Dec 30. St. Anysia: (284-304) She was a wealthy woman of Salonika, in Thessaly, who used her personal funds to aid the poor. A soldier accosted her in the street and tried to drag her to a pagan sacrifice. Anysia resisted and was killed when the soldier attacked her with his sword.

Today is also the Feast of the Holy Family: The Feast of the Holy Family is a liturgical celebration in the Roman Catholic Church in honor of Jesus of Nazareth, his mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and his foster father, Saint Joseph, as a family. The Feast of the Holy Family is celebrated on the Sunday following Christmas.

Dec 31. St. Sylvester: (Died in 335): St. Sylvester, born in Rome, was ordained by Pope St. Marcellinus during the peace that preceded the persecutions of Diocletian. He passed through those days of terror, witnessed the abdication of Diocletian and Maximian, and saw the triumph of Constantine in the year 312. Sylvester did not himself attend the First Council of Nicaea in 325, but he was represented by two legates, Vitus and Vincentius, and he approved the council's decision.