Thursday 29 December 2022

St. Thomas a Becket, Bishop and Martyr

"In the Name of Jesus and the protection of the Church, I am ready to embrace death."

Tuesday 27 December 2022

Feast of St. John, Apostle and Evangelist

Today is the feast of St. John, Apostle and Evangelist. He needs no introduction. Out of all the evangelists, he is my favorite.

Fr. Leonard Goffine (1648 - 1719), in his Devout Meditations, has the following summary of the Beloved Disciple:
John, the brother of St. James the Greater, was a son of Zebedee, a fisherman of Galilee, and of Salome, a cousin of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Matt. iv. 21). He was the youngest of the apostles, and with Peter and James, was the most trusted of the disciples of Jesus, by Whom he was tenderly loved, on which account he is called the Disciple of Love. Of this Jesus gave the most convincing evidence when, at the Last Supper, He allowed that disciple to lean upon His breast, and when, from the cross, He committed to the care of John His own Mother. After the ascension John preached the Gospel in Palestine; afterwards went to Asia Minor, fixed his residence in Ephesus, and established many churches there. He was, with the other apostles, taken prisoner and scourged by the Jews, and in the year 95, under the Emperor Domitian, before the Latin Gate, at Rome, was thrown into a vessel of boiling oil. Having endured this torture without injury, he was then banished to the island of Patmos, where, by command of the Lord, he wrote the Apocalypse, or Revelation, concerning the fortunes of the Church. On returning from his banishment, he again governed the churches of Asia Minor as chief pastor, as he had done before, and, at the age of nearly one hundred years, died at Ephesus a peaceful and natural death.

Fr. Goffine also has the following to say about St. John and purity:

'He that loves wisdom,' saith the Holy Ghost, 'will obtain it, for it will not enter into a malicious soul, nor dwell in a body subject to sins' (Wis. i. 4). St. John was from his childhood an angel of purity, on which account he was particularly beloved by Jesus, and endowed by the Holy Ghost with such wisdom and knowledge that, as St. Augustine has remarked, he begin his gospel in a manner more lofty and sublime than the other three evangelists. For while they walk with the God-man upon earth, speaking comparatively little of His divinity, St. John, as if despising the world, soars beyond the vault of heaven, above the host of angels, and comes to Him by Whom all things are made, saying, "In the beginning was the Word." At the Last Supper he was permitted to lean on the bosom of Jesus, but what he there drank in secretly he imparted openly. Apply thyself, therefore, to purity of heart, and thou shalt be like St. John, a beloved disciple of Jesus, and shalt be filled with heavenly wisdom.

Ora pro nobis, Sante Johannes!

Wednesday 21 December 2022

Feast of St. Thomas, Apostle and Martyr

Today is the feast of St. Thomas, Apostle and Martyr. He is commonly referred to as "Doubting Thomas," from the account in John 20:24-29. The account John gives is marvelous, and invites plenty of reflection. Before the "reforms" of 1969, the Church encouraged Her Faithful to silently say what Thomas said when he realized he had touched the Word Made Flesh - "My Lord and my God!" - at the Major Elevations at Mass. This is a practice that has fallen to the wayside, and is worthy of revival in one's life.

However, it would be an injustice to focus on Thomas' doubt. (In our day and age, sadly, this is often the case.) After the Upper Room, St. Thomas went on to be an Apostle and Martyr in the truest sense of the words. Here is what Fr. Leonard Goffine (1649 - 1719) wrote about the Saint for December 21st:

Thomas, also called Didymus, or the twin, was a fisherman of Galilee. After having been received among the apostles he accompanied Jesus in all His journeys, and uniformly showed docility, zeal, and love towards Him, particularly on the occasion of His going to Bethany to raise Lazarus from the dead. For when the apostles were afraid to go thither, because the Jews desired to kill Jesus, Thomas, full of courage, said, "Let us also go, that we may die with Him" (John xi.16). His faith, indeed, wavered for a moment in regard to the resurrection of Christ; but no sooner had Christ satisfied him thereof by showing His wounds, than he cried out with firm faith, "My Lord and my God." St. Gregory thereupon says, "God overruled the doubting of Thomas to our good, since that very doubt has profited us more than the ready belief of the other disciples, inasmuch as thereby Christ was induced to give so much clearer proofs of His resurrection, in order to confirm us in the belief of it." Thomas showed the firmness of his faith by the innumerable labors which he undertook, and by the sufferings that he endured for Christ. He traversed the most extensive and remote countries, and preached Jesus to the Armenians, Medes, Persians, Parthians, Hyrcanians, Bactrians, and other barbarous and wicked nations, enduring in the course of his labors, with astonishing firmness, the greatest sufferings for the honor of God and the salvation of men. Finally he came to India, when, in the city of Calamina, or Meliapor, he underwent a glorious martyrdom, being pierced through with lances, by order of the idolatrous priests, as he was praying at the foot of the cross. So much did the apostle do to repair a single fault; but we, who every day commit so many - what do we do to repair them? 

The Feast of St. Thomas supersedes all but the Sundays in Advent.

Ora pro nobis, Sancte Thoma!