Sunday, 10 December 2017

Second Sunday in Advent



But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and everything that is done on it will be disclosed.

Since all these things are to be dissolved in this way, what sort of persons ought you to be in leading lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set ablaze and dissolved, and the elements will melt with fire? But, in accordance with His promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is at home.

Therefore, beloved, while you are waiting for these things, strive to be found by Him at peace, without spot or blemish.

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

St Nicholas



Saint Nicholas (15 March 270 – 6 December 343), also called Nikolaos of Myra, was Bishop of Myra, in Asia Minor (modern-day Demre, Turkey), and is a historic Christian saint.

Due to the many miracles attributed to his intercession, he is also known as Nikolaos the Wonderworker. Saint Nicholas is the patron saint of sailors, merchants, archers, repentant thieves, children, brewers, pawnbrokers and students in various cities and countries around Europe. His reputation evolved among the faithful, as was common for early Christian saints, and his legendary habit of secret gift-giving gave rise to the traditional model of Santa Claus (“Saint Nick”) through Sinterklaas.

The historical Saint Nicholas was born at Patara, Lycia in Asia Minor (now Turkey). In his youth he made a pilgrimage to Egypt and the Palestine area. Shortly after his return he became Bishop of Myra and was later cast into prison during the persecution of Diocletian. He was released after the accession of Constantine and was present at the Council of Nicaea. According to Western Christian tradition, Italian merchants took his body to Italy in 1087.

It is said that in Myra the relics of Saint Nicholas each year exuded a clear watery liquid which smells like rose water, called manna (or myrrh), which is believed by the faithful to possess miraculous powers. After the relics were brought to Bari, they continued to do so, much to the joy of the new owners. Vials of myrrh from his relics have been taken all over the world for centuries, and can still be obtained from his church in Bari. Even up to the present day, a flask of manna is extracted from the tomb of Saint Nicholas every year on December 6th (the Saint's feast day) by the clergy of the basilica. The myrrh is collected from a sarcophagus which is located in the basilica vault and could be obtained in the shop nearby. The liquid gradually seeps out of the tomb.

In 1993, a grave was found on the small Turkish island of Gemile, east of Rhodes, which historians believe is the original tomb of Saint Nicholas. On 28 December 2009, the Turkish government announced that it would be formally requesting the return of Saint Nicholas's skeletal remains to Turkey from the Italian government. Turkish authorities have asserted that Saint Nicholas himself desired to be buried at his episcopal town, and that his remains were illegally removed from his homeland. In 2017, an archaeological survey at St Nicholas Church, Demre, was reported to have found a temple below the modern church, with excavation work to be done that will allow researchers to determine whether it still holds Saint Nicholas’ body.


Subsequent to talks between the Pope and the Russian Orthodox Patriarch in May 2017, a portion of the relics of Saint Nicholas in Bari were sent on loan to Moscow. The relic was on display for veneration at Christ the Saviour Cathedral before being taken to St Petersburg in mid-June prior to returning to Bari. More than a million people lined up in Moscow for a momentary glimpse of the gilded ark that holding one of the saint's ribs.




Santa Claus evolved from Dutch traditions regarding Saint Nicholas (Sinterklaas). When the Dutch established the colony of New Amsterdam, they brought the legend and traditions of Sinterklaas with them. Howard G Hageman, of New Brunswick Theological Seminary, maintains that the tradition of celebrating Sinterklaas in New York existed in the early settlements of the Hudson Valley, although by the early nineteenth century had fallen by the way. St Nicholas Park, located at the intersection of St Nicholas Avenue and 127th Street, in an area originally settled by Dutch farmers, is named for St Nicholas of Myra.

In Roman Catholic iconography, Saint Nicholas is depicted as a bishop, wearing the insignia of this dignity: a bishop's vestments, a mitre and a crozier. The episode with the three dowries is commemorated by showing him holding in his hand either three purses, three coins or three balls of gold. Depending on whether he is depicted as patron saint of children or sailors, his images will be completed by a background showing ships, children or three figures climbing out of a wooden barrel (the three slaughtered children he resurrected).


Thursday, 30 November 2017

St Andrew



Andrew, Peter's brother, and John were the first disciples to follow the Lord. St Andrew was a native of Bethsaida in Galilee, a fisherman by trade, and a former disciple of John the Baptist. He was the one who introduced his brother Peter to Jesus, saying, "We have found the Messiah." 

Overshadowed henceforth by his brother, Andrew nevertheless appears again in the Gospels as introducing souls to Christ. After Pentecost, Andrew took up the apostolate on a much wider scale, and was martyred at Patras in southern Greece on a cross which was in the form of an "X." This type of cross has long been known as "St Andrew's cross." When Andrew was led to the place of martyrdom, on beholding the cross from a distance he cried out:

"O good Cross, so long desired and now set up for my longing soul I confident and rejoicing come to you; exultingly receive me, a disciple of Him who hung on you."

Forthwith he was nailed to the cross. For two days he hung there alive, unceasingly proclaiming the doctrine of Christ until he passed on to Him whose likeness in death he had so vehemently desired. The account of this saint's martyrdom presents to us the mysticism of the Cross of later times.


Thursday, 2 November 2017

All Souls Day



"On this day is observed the commemoration of the faithful departed, in which our common and pious Mother the Church, immediately after having endeavoured to celebrate by worthy praise all her children who already rejoice in heaven, strives to aid by her powerful intercession with Christ, her Lord and Spouse, all those who still groan in purgatory, so that they may join as soon as possible the inhabitants of the heavenly city." — Roman Martyrology

Every priest is permitted to say three Masses on this day and it would be a good practice for the laity to attend three Masses and offer them for the Poor Souls.


All Souls Indulgences

An indulgence, applicable only to the souls in purgatory, is granted to the faithful, who devoutly visit a cemetery and pray, silently or otherwise, for the departed. The indulgence is plenary each day from the first to the eighth of November; on other days of the year it is partial.

A plenary indulgence, applicable only to the souls in purgatory, is granted to the faithful, who on the day dedicated to the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed (November 2nd - as well as on the Sunday preceding or following, and on All Saints' Day) piously visit a church. In visiting the church it is required that one Our Father and the Creed be recited.

To acquire a plenary indulgence it is necessary also to fulfill the following three conditions: sacramental Confession, Eucharistic communion. These conditions may be fulfilled several days before or after the performance of the visit.


All Souls Day

The Church, after rejoicing yesterday with those of her children who have entered the glory of heaven, today prays for all those who, in the purifying suffering of purgatory await the day when they will be joined to the company of saints. At no place in the liturgy is stated in more striking fashion the mysterious union between the Church triumphant, the Church militant and the Church suffering; at no time is there accomplished in clearer fashion the twofold duty of charity and justice deriving for every Christian from the fact of his incorporation in the mystical Body of Christ. By virtue of the consoling doctrine of the communion of saints the merits and prayers of each one are able to help all; and the Church is able to join her prayer with that of the saints in heaven and supply what is wanting to the souls in purgatory by means of the Mass, indulgences and the alms and sacrifices of her children.

The celebration of Mass, the sacrifice of Calvary continued on our altars, has ever been for the Church the principal means of fulfilling towards the dead the great commandment of charity. Masses for the dead are found in the fifth century. But it was St Odilo, fourth abbot of Cluny, who was responsible for the institution of the general commemoration of all the faithful departed; he instituted it and fixed its celebration on November 2nd, the day after All Hallows. The practice spread to the rest of Christendom.

Daily in a special Memento in the Canon of the Mass, at which the priest remembers all those who have fallen asleep in the Lord, the priest implores God to grant them a place of happiness, light and peace. Thus there is no Mass in which the Church does not pray for the faithful departed; but today her thoughts are directed towards them in a particular fashion, with the maternal preoccupation of leaving no soul in purgatory without spiritual aid and of grouping them all together in her intercession. By a privilege that Benedict XV's decree has extended to the whole world every priest can today celebrate three Masses; for the liberation of the souls in purgatory the Church multiplies the offering of the sacrifice of Christ, from which she draws forever on behalf of all her children, infinite fruits of redemption.




Wednesday, 1 November 2017

All Hallows Day



All Saints' Day, also known as All Hallows' Day, Hallowmas, Feast of All Saints, or Solemnity of All Saints, is celebrated in honour of all the saints, known and unknown. The Christian holiday falls on November 1st, followed by All Souls' Day on November 2nd, and is a Holy Day of Obligation in the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church.


Tuesday, 31 October 2017

All Hallows Day Vigil



The significance of Hallowe'en is in its name, ie All Hallows Eve. It designates the vigil of All Hallows Day, more commonly known as All Saints Day, which is celebrated on November 1st.

Both the feast of All Saints Day (November 1st) and its vigil (October 31st) have been celebrated since the early eighth century, when they were instituted by Pope Gregory III in Rome. A century later, the feast and its vigil were extended to the Church at large by Pope Gregory IV. 

All Saints Day is a Holy Day of Obligation.