Saints: December 2012 Archives

The Holy Innocents

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Today's feast of The Holy Innocents has renewed meaning with the recent tragedy involving the death of 20 children in Newtown, CT on December 14. The entrance antiphon for Mass is rather startling (as is the Collect): "The innocents were slaughtered as infants for Christ; spotless, they follow the Lamb and sing for ever: Glory to you, O Lord."

So many violations of human dignity come to mind. Most notable resonances of recent days are the Newtown children, but there are also the countless of children aborted daily, the merciless killing of the elderly, sick, immigrants, and the list can go on. There is much work to protect human life.

Christmastide is filled with opportunities to recall those who died for Christ: Saint Stephen, the Holy Innocents, Saint Thomas Becket, CT little ones. The 16th century Coventry Carol, was sung as part of a pageant demonstrating chapter 2 of Matthew's Gospel where Herod kills male children under the age of two. The unknown author captures the scene perfectly, and even today it has a poignant message.

The Most Reverend Peter A. Rosazza published this editorial on his Facebook page:

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On December 28th our church commemorates the massacre of the Holy Innocents by King Herod shortly after the birth of Jesus. The Magi disturbed Herod when they asked him where they could find the new-born King since they had been led by his star to Jerusalem. Herod, jealous of his power, sent soldiers to kill all baby boys two years of age and younger in Bethlehem and its surroundings. Some scholars estimate the number at approximately twenty-eight.

Just two weeks earlier, on December 14th, another massacre of innocents occurred. As we know, eight boys and twelve girls, between the ages of six and seven, along with six women, were executed by twenty-year old Adam Lanza who had first killed his own mother. The principal of the school another woman ran toward him and were killed in the process.

Saint John the Evangelist

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St John on a 12th c MS.jpgToday we honor the Apostle who likely knew the Lord's mind and heart the best. Typically, Holy Church uses Scripture to bring us into the sacred Liturgy but today the entrance antiphon is taken from the other leg of the Magisterium, that of tradition to orient our prayer and belief. We are told,

This is John, who reclined on the Lord's breast at supper, the blessed Apostle, to whom celestial secrets were revealed and who spread  the words of life through all the world.

With the Church we pray,

O God, who through the blessed Apostle John have unlocked for us the secrets of your Word, grant, we pray, that we may grasp with proper understanding what he has so marvelously brought to our ears.

Saint Stephen

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Stoning of Stephen.jpgThe gates of heaven were opened for blessed Stephen, who was found to be first among the number of the Martyrs and therefore is crowned triumphant in heaven. (Entrance Antiphon)

There's nothing sentimental about the Christmas season, at least, liturgically speaking, with the day after the feast of the Incarnation being dedicated to the first martyr, Saint Stephen. The antiphon for Mass (above) tells us what the Church believes. The Stational Mass in Rome for today is the Church of Saint Stephen on the Coelian Hill.

Stephen is clearly one of the earliest followers of Jesus, a convert to the way of living proposed by Jesus. Stephen is known to be the first to lay down his life for Christ.

What comes to mind for Saint Stephen's intercession is help is all those Christians around the world who live in fear of persecution, and those who live in an atmosphere of being misunderstood --falsely accused. Today is also a day to pray for our deacons since Saint Stephen was among the first 7 deacons of our Church.

"Yesterday the Lord of the universe welcomed us whereas today it is the imitator [Stephen] of the Lord," Saint Gregory of Nyssa preached.

Saint Lucy

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May the glorious intercession of the Virgin and Martyr Saint Lucy give us a heart, we pray, O Lord, so that we may celebrate her heavenly birthday in this present age.

Saint Lucy's life is rather obscure now with the passage of time and the lack of accurate records from her period in history. She died c. 304 during the time of Diocletius. Since Saint Gregory the Great added Lucy's name to the Roman Canon in the 6th century we hear her name with other virgin martyrs.

Remembering liturgical history, the liturgical memorial of Saint Lucy was commemorated on the shortest day of the year on the Julian calendar. The meaning of "Lucy" is drawn from the Latin word "lux," light, hence Lucy illumines our path to Christ; her light shines in the darkness.

Today, December 13, is no longer the shortest day of the year with the least amount of light but we retain the memorial of Lucy, a woman linking us to the Lord through the light of her life of virtue.

Hagiography points us in a direction:

Saint Ambrose

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O God, who made the Bishop Saint Ambrose a teacher of the Catholic faith and a model of apostolic courage, raise up in your Church men after your own heart to govern her with courage and wisdom.

The prayers for todays Mass that honors the ecclesial memory of one of the famous saints are key to pinpointing what the Church most revers about the man who was concerned about right-thinking and right-praying Christians.  Who was Ambrose? The Collects tells us that he was a bishop, saint teacher, model of courage seen in the apostles and capable of good governance, that is, he had courage and wisdom. What moved Ambrose? Again, the collects tell us he was constantly inspired by the light of faith.

The Church recalls Saint Ambrose of Milan (340?-397), bishop and Doctor of the Church. Ambrose was born in Trier to a Roman family: his father was praetorian prefect of Gaul and educated in Rome In about 372 he began his public service as prefect of Liguria and Emilia, whose capital was Milan.

Let's recall that the ecclesial tradition indicates that the gospel was brought to Milan by Saint Barnabas and that the city's first bishop was Saint Anathalon. In 374 the bishopric of Milan became vacant. An astute Ambrose tried to work with the conflict between orthodox Catholics and Arians over the appointment of a new bishop. His words were convincing and hopeful that the people demanded --not the pope-- that he become the bishop of Milan. 

Ambrose's personal holiness was such that he gave his material belongs to the poor and to the Church. We attentive to the prayerful reading of the Scriptures and praying the Liturgy. He was a very attentive bishop as the Good Shepherd. Works of charity and clear teaching was attractive to many. As bishop he defended the rights of the Church and tried to correct the errors of the Arian heresy with learning, firmness and gentleness. 

The Divine Office that we pray today is still peppered with Ambrose's hymns. 

Saints beget saints. Ambrose was central to the conversion of St Augustine to Catholicism.

Pope Benedict gave his own catechesis on this great saint today. Ambrose is the "Icon of Christ."

Saint Nicholas

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We humbly implore your mercy, Lord: protect us in all dangers through the prayers of the Bishop Saint Nicholas, that the way of salvation may lie open before us.

Today's saint restores the human dignity to his people and brings supernatural light to them, that is, he carries Jesus Christ to others. 

Most people today have lost sight of who the real Nicholas is: he moves from being a bishop, one who offers the Divine Liturgy, wonder-worker, and a man of great charity in his teaching truth and helping the poor. We recognize in Saint Nicholas today not a man love and adherence to Christ but someone who represents insipidity. Nicholas is far from the commercial mindset. Hopefully we can target the reality and sweep away silliness.

 Two Benedictines who blog give a little more insight into Saint Nicholas: Dom David and Dom Mark Daniel.

Saint John Damascene

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John the Damascene.jpgGrant, we pray, O Lord, that we may be helped by the prayers of the Priest Saint John Damascene, so that the true faith, which he excelled in teaching, may always be our light and our strength.

Saint John of Damascus (c. 676-749) is a pretty amazing man, priest, and Father of the Church; noted as the last of the Greek Fathers. He's known as the "golden speaker" and while he was not an original or brilliant theologian, his gift is his ability to compile what the Church believed in his era. In many ways Avery Dulles was the same. 

Much of his preaching and teaching was a defense of the faith in the face of severe opposition, particularly with the rise of Islam.

The Damascene is revered as a saint by the Churches of East and West.

From The Statement of Faith by Saint John Damascene

O Lord, you led me from my father's loins and formed me in my mother's womb. You brought me, a naked babe, into the light of day, for nature's laws always obey your commands.

Prophet Habakkuk

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Prophet Habakkuk.jpgThe Byzantine liturgical calendar includes the prophets in its commemorations because they foretell the coming of the Messiah, as the Kontakion states for today. (The Latin Church has the prophets in the Martyrology but does often feasts.) As a liturgical note, kontakion is a poetic text tied to the celebration at hand, or of a particular saint recalled during the Liturgy, most often sung by the deacon or some designated person following the proclamation of the gospel.

The holy prophet Habakkuk was the 8th of the 12 minor prophets from the Tribe of Simeon and he prophesied c. 650 BC. You'll remember that Habakkuk prophesied the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple, the Babylonian Captivity and the return of the Israelites. Habakkuk's encounter with an angel transported him to the prison where the Prophet Daniel was exhausted from hunger (Daniel 14:33-37).

Divinely eloquent Habakkuk, you announced to the world the coming forth of God from the south, from the Virgin. Standing on the divine watch, you received a report from the radiant angel: "You proclaimed the Resurrection of Christ to the world!" Therefore in gladness we cry out to you: "Rejoice, splendid adornment of the prophets!" 

Byzantine Liturgy, Kontakion   
Charles de Foucauld.jpgGod our Father, you called Blessed Charles to live through your love in intimacy with your Son, Jesus of Nazareth. Grant that we may find in the Gospel the foundation of a more and more luminous Christian life and in the Eucharist, the source of universal  kinship.

Blessed Charles de Foucauld (15 September 1858-1 December 1916) the French priest killed as a result of hatred for the faith in Algeria. Hence, he is identified as a martyr.

He made a few attempts at following a religious vocation, first with the Trappist monk, then as a priest and then as a hermit. Charles was inspired to found a manner of living that entailed a fraternal life with adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and hospitality. It was only following Charles' death did this fraternity get formally accepted by the Church in the form of a religious congregation called the Little Brothers of Jesus.

Benedict XVI beatified Charles on 13 November 2005.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]



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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Saints category from December 2012.

Saints: November 2012 is the previous archive.

Saints: January 2013 is the next archive.

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