Martyrology - 23rd December
Upon the 23rd day of December, were born into the better life:
At Rome, the holy Virgin and martyr Victoria (de Tivoli.) She was espoused to one Eugenius, a heathen, and during the persecution under the Emperor Decius she would neither marry Eugenius nor offer sacrifice unto idols, but worked many miracles, whereby she gathered many virgins unto God, and the executioner stabbed her to the heart with his sword at the request of her espoused husband.
At Nicomedia, twenty holy martyrs during the persecution under the Emperor Diocletian, after they had been most grievously tormented.
There likewise, in the same persecution, the holy martyrs Migdonius and Mardonius, of whom the one was burnt and the other cast into a ditch, and so died. Then also suffered the Deacon of holy Anthimus, Bishop of Nicomedia, who was bringing a letter to the martyrs when he was taken by the Gentiles and stoned to death, and so passed hence to be ever with the Lord.
In Crete, the holy martyrs Theodulus, Saturninus, Euporus, Gelasius, Eunician, Zeticus, Cleomenes, Agathopus, Basilides, and Evaristus, who suffered great cruelties in the persecution under the Emperor Decius, and were beheaded. (They are often called the Ten Martyrs of Crete.)
At Rome, blessed Servulus, concerning whom holy Gregory writeth that from his childhood even unto the end of his life he lay paralysed in a porch hard by the church of St. Clement, and at the end he was called by songs of angels, and passed away into the glory of Paradise, (in the year 570.) God doth very often show miracles at his grave.
And elsewhere many other Holy Martyrs, Confessors and Holy virgins.
R. Thanks be to God
O Antiphon - 23rd December
O Emmanuel, our King and Lawgiver, the Expected of the nations and their Savior: Come, and save us, O Lord our God.
Meditations - Friday in the Fourth Week of Advent:The Life of Mary united with Jesus
Summary of the Morrow’s Meditation
After having meditated on the life of Jesus in Mary, we will meditate tomorrow on the life of Mary united to Jesus, and we shall see that it was a life: first, wholly interior; second, entirely of love; third, wholly of imitation. We will then make the resolution: first, to watch over our soul and not allow it to be occupied with outward things which will tend to dissipate it, such as idle news, frivolous conversations, vain amusements, useless thoughts; second, to unite ourselves often to God by acts of love and by applying ourselves to imitate Jesus Christ. Our spiritual nosegay shall be the words of Mary: “My spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour” (luk i:47).
Meditation for the Morning
Let us adore the Incarnate Word residing in Mary as in His tabernacle. Let us unite our selves to the angels, who adore Him there; let us unite ourselves still more closely to Mary, who better than all the angels put together offers Him her praises with her love, and honours Him by the most holy life that has ever been led and that ever will be led by a pure creature.
The Life of Mary United to Jesus was a wholly Interior Life.
Man, here below, has to choose between two kinds of life the exterior and the interior life. The first is one wholly outward, spent in perpetual dissipation, which is nourished at one time by serious affairs, grave interests, the course of events; at another time by curiosity for idle news, frivolous conversations, vain amusements, unprofitable reading. The second, shut up within the soul, occupies itself with its sanctification, with the perfection of its ordinary occupations, and attaches more value to an act of love to God than to all earthly treasures. The Blessed Virgin, possessing the Incarnate Word in her womb, did not hesitate between these two kinds of life. What did the world signify to her with its dissipation, its foolish joys, its preoccupations with perishable things? God, whom she bore within her, was everything to her soul, and all the rest was nothing (The Imitation of Christ). If it be true that the heart of man is there where his treasure is, the heart of Mary could be nowhere but in Jesus, because Jesus was really and in truth her treasure, her riches, her joy, and her all. The whole of her happiness consisted in thinking of Jesus, in loving Jesus, in pleasing Jesus, and she lived more in this dear Son than in herself. Oh, how poor and miserable the world appeared to her; how unworthy of occupying an immortal spirit, of attaching a heart created for the Infinite, and which nothing could satisfy except infinite good! And I, where am I with regard to this interior life, this life of the presence of God? God is with me by His immensity which fills all, by His providence which governs all, by His love which follows me everywhere; and I am so rarely with Him, I so often forget Him who never forgets me! I take my pleasure in thinking of everything else, in earthly frivolities, often even in vain imaginations; recollection seems to me to be a burden and without attraction; and I do not love to keep myself in the secret of my heart, in the company of God, who is the delight of Paradise. Oh, when will God alone be everything for my heart and when, content with Him alone, shall I be wholly His, only His?
The Life of Mary in Jesus was a Life wholly of Love.
The interior life of Mary embraced in an eminent manner the practice of all the virtues in their most perfect degree, but at the same time love was the dominating sentiment. If noth- ing be comparable to the love of a mother for her child, who can have any idea of the height to which Mary ascended in her maternal love for a Son so amiable, the most beautiful among the children of men (psa xliv:3), for a Son in whom were united all the perfections proper to human nature and the infinite perfections of the Divinity which kept the angels in heaven in a state of perpetual ecstasy? It was a love continually new, produced by the ever-new ad- miration with which she was inspired at the sight of such greatness reduced to so low a point, of so much loftiness abased, of so much immensity restricted by a marvel of charity, of which her heart was the scene. It was a love borrowing its flame from the very focus itself of divine love, which caused the Incarnate Word to descend from amidst the splendours of the saints into her poor soul, and which, consequently, surpassed incomparably all other kinds of love, even though it were the love of the seraphim and the most burning of the cherubim. It was a practical love, which gave up the whole of her person and the whole of her faculties to the guidance of her beloved Son, and that to such an extent as to allow herself to be ruled by Him in all her acts, in all her words, in all her thoughts, and all her sentiments. Jesus spoke to her heart, inspired her with all His designs; and Mary, attentively listening, was not less prompt to obey and generous to execute. O holy life, perfect life, life of the complete reign of divine love in a soul! How far am I from leading this life of love! It is indeed high time for me to endeavour henceforth to lead it, and at least to approach it as nearly as possible.
The Life of Mary in Jesus was a Life wholly of Imitation.
Amongst the marvels which Mary contemplated in the Word Incarnate she studied above all those which she could imitate; for she knew that one of the principal ends of the descent of the Divine Word upon earth was to offer to men the model of a perfect life, and that Jesus loves nothing better than to see Himself living again in men. To resemble Jesus was therefore all her ambition; to be humble like Him, poor and mortified like Him, gentle and loving like Him, was the subject of her continual aspirations. She questioned Him within herself; asked Him what He would do, what He would say, what He would think in the different circumstances in which she found herself; and the Divine Child made her to hear the answer in the bottom of her heart, and she strove to act, to speak, to think like this adorable model of all the elect. Thus Mary acted, and thus ought we ourselves to act. Do we do so?
Resolutions and spiritual nosegay as above.