Martyrology - 17th December
Upon the 17th day of December, were born into the better life:
At Eleutheropolis, in Palestine, the holy martyrs Florian, Calanicus, and fifty-eight others, their Companions, who were slain by the Saracens for Christ's faith's sake in the time of the Emperor Heraclius.
At Marseilles, in Gaul, blessed Lazarus, (called first) Bishop (of that city,) of whom it is written in the Gospel that the Lord raised him from the dead.
At Rome, holy John de la Matha, founder of the Order of the most Holy Trinity for the redemption of captives. (He died in the year 1213.) His feast is kept upon the 8th day of February by order of Innocent XI.
In the monastery of Fulda, (in the year 779,) the holy Abbot Sturmius, (of the Order of St Benedict, and first Abbot of Fulda,) Apostle of Saxony, whose name Innocent II enrolled with those of the saints at the second Council of Lateran.
At Groot-Bijgaarden, near Brussels, in the Brabant, (in the year 1168,) the holy Virgin Wivina, whose eminent holiness is oftentimes attested by miracles. (Foundress of the Abbey of Bijgaarden, in the Archdiocese of Mechelen, of the Order of St. Benedict.)
At Constantinople, the holy widow Olympias, (about the year 410; born about 368.)
In the Ardennes, the blessed Widow Begga, sister of holy Gertrude. (She married Ansegise, son of St. Arnoult, Bishop of Metz. She was born about 368, became a widow in 386, and died about 410.)
Upon the same day is commemorated the translation of the body of the holy martyr Ignatius, Patriarch of Antioch, who was the third to govern that church after the blessed Apostle Peter he suffered at Rome under Trajan, but his body was brought thence to Antioch and laid in the cemetery of the church outside the gate which leadeth unto Daphne, upon the anniversary of the which ceremony holy John Chrysostom preached unto the people. In after-times the body was again brought back to Rome, where it is buried, and highly honoured in the church of St. Clement along with the body of that most blessed Pope and martyr.
And elsewhere many other Holy Martyrs, Confessors and Holy virgins.
R. Thanks be to God
O Antiphon - 17th December
O Wisdom, You came forth from the mouth of the Most High, and reaching from beginning to end You ordered all things mightily and sweetly. Come, and teach us the way of prudence.
Meditations -Saturday in the third Week of Advent: His Recollected Life in the Womb of His Mother
Summary of the Morrow’s Meditation
We will apply ourselves tomorrow to meditate upon the occupations of the Incarnate Word during His sojourn in the womb of Mary. The first of these occupations was continually to render to God four great duties: first, adoration, second, love, third, thanksgiving, fourth, praise. After having meditated upon these different kinds of homage, we will make the res- olution: first, often to utter, by means of the salutary practice of ejaculatory prayers, acts of adoration and love, of gratitude and praise; second, to offer our actions to God with one or other of these different kinds of homage in view, and thereby to encourage ourselves to perform them very perfectly. Our spiritual nosegay shall be the words of the Psalmist: “The Lord is great and exceedingly to be praised” (psa xlvii:2; xcv:4; cxliv:3).
Meditation for the Morning
Let us adore the Incarnate Word, making a true paradise within the womb of Mary, where He renders to God His Father the most perfect homage which can be given Him. In the samedegree that it pleases Him to render it it pleases God to receive it. Let us rejoice at seeing God so perfectly honoured, and let us bless the Incarnate Word who procures such glory for Him.
Duties of Adoration which the Incarnate Word Renders to God in the Womb of Mary.
Adoration proceeds from the knowledge of God and of one’s self. The more we are aware of the excellence and grandeur of the Divine Being, the more we humble and annihilate ourselves, and the more we are overpowered with respect in His presence, the more, also, we know ourselves; the more little we feel ourselves to be in the sight of God, the more deeply do we descend into our own nothingness. O holy Father, the world does not know Thee (joh xvii:25), and it does not know itself: hence it adores Thee so little and so ill. Ah, if men but knew what Thou art, and what Thou wilt be to them throughout eternity, how reverent and humble they would be before Thee at church, in prayer, everywhere and always! How they would bury themselves in the abyss of their nothingness and of their sins, in presence of Thy Divine Being, the abyss of all being and all good! This is what the Incarnate Word did in an excellent manner. Perfectly knowing the immense distance which separates the creature from the Creator, He humbled Himself in the presence of His Father with the most profound respect, with the most humble adoration, and with all His strength He glorified the infinite majesty of God. Then was seen what had never before been seen, a God adored and a God adoring, a God rendering to God homage which honoured Him in the measure which His infinite grandeur deserves; all heaven, filled with astonishment at this marvel, exclaiming Amen to this sublime adoration and rivalling one another in singing, Holy, holy, holy is the Lord, the God of hosts. Benediction and honour, and glory and power forever and ever (rev v:13). Is it thus that we adore God? Alas! how little we know how to humble ourselves with reverence in presence of His greatness, and to be confounded by the sense of our own littleness in presence of His holy majesty.
Duties of Love which the Incarnate Word Renders to God in the Womb of Mary.
The soul of Jesus, which entered into the state of beatitude from the first moment of its existence, enjoyed from that moment the clear vision of God, allowing Himself to be seen for the first time by mortal eyes. This view inflamed it with the most perfect beatific love; it plunged with ecstasy into this ocean of all good; it possessed it, it enjoyed it, it was ravished by it. Its personal union with the Word giving it a sight superior in clearness to all the light of the angels, gave it, for that very reason, a love which neither the cherubim nor all the angelic choir put together can approach to. To love God is its passion, its life, its incessant occupation. Do we rejoice that there exists in the world a heart which so perfectly loves God and repairs all the offences committed against Him? But, at the same time, let us learn from hence that God alone is everything for the heart of man; that all which is not God cannot give us happiness. O Lord, may I die in order to see and love Thee! (St Augustine) I love Thee so little in this life! At least, I will, from today, strive to love Thee better; I will multiply my acts of love as much as is possible for me to do.
Duties of Thanksgiving which the Incarnate Word Renders to God in the Womb of Mary.
Jesus, seeing all the good things which God has given Him, and those which He has given and will always give to all creatures, of which He, the Incarnate Word, is the head and representative, dilates all the powers of His soul, that He may worthily thank the Lord for them (joh xi:41; xvii:10). He is filled with admiration at the sight of these blessings, so magnificent, so multiplied, so continuous, and, at the same time, so gratuitous, unmerited, without interest as well as with out reserve. These considerations inspire Him with ineffable and incessant acts of thanksgiving. O God, may I associate myself with these divine thanksgivings for all the good things I have received from Thee; may I say to Thee from the bottom of my heart: Thanks be to Thee, O Lord our God! I will delight myself in repeating it often by day and night.
Duties of Praise which the Incarnate Word Renders to God in the Womb of Mary.
The soul of the Incarnate Word does not consider God only in His benefits; He considers Him still more in Himself as the centre of all beauty and of all perfection: as an immense ocean whence flows, at every moment, all that is good in heaven or on earth. From this point of view, it is a song of praise, filling the whole of His soul a song which infinitely rejoices the heart of God and which nothing can interrupt. Let us unite ourselves to this divine song, saying with the Psalmist: “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and let all that is within me praise His holy Name” (psa cii:1); or with St Thomas: “Praise God as much as thou canst, O my soul, because He is so infinitely above all praise that we can never praise Him sufficiently” (Hymn Lauda Sion). The duty of the creature is wholly to spend himself in praising his Creator, from whom he has everything and for whom alone he exists. How do we fulfil this duty? Do we take pleasure in the perfections of God, and do we delight to praise them, to admire them, to bless them? Are we not of the number of those who hardly ever think of them, or who never think of them at all?
Resolutions and spiritual nosegay as above.