Thursday  Saints of this Day December  29 Quarto Kaléndas Januárii.  
Et álibi aliórum plurimórum sanctórum Mártyrum et Confessórum, atque sanctárum Vírginum.
And elsewhere in divers places, many other holy martyrs, confessors, and holy virgins.
Пресвятая Богородице спаси нас!  (Santíssima Mãe de Deus, salva-nos!)

The Fifth Day in the Octave of Christmas
Mary Mother of GOD 15 Promises of the Virgin Mary to those who recite the Rosary
Nine First Fridays Devotion to the Sacred Heart
From the writings of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque



Hierosólymis sancti David, Regis et Prophétæ.
 At Jerusalem, holy David, king and prophet.

Pope's Homily for Feast of Holy Family
'What can be more beautiful than for a father and mother to bless their children at the beginning and end of each day, to trace on their forehead the sign of the cross, as they did on the day of their baptism?'


Decembre 29 – Our Lady of Flowers (1336) 
 
An expression of surprise tinged with admiration 
 
The Church celebrates Our Lady of the Rosary in early October and offers us a reading from Saint Luke that illuminates the traditional story found in the Rosary. This is the episode when the Angel greets the Virgin Mary, immortalized in one of the simplest and most famous Catholic prayers, the Hail Mary.

This passage in Luke is unique. It is the only one in all Scripture where an angel humbly salutes a human being in a laudatory manner. Except for this passage, all the other biblical stories present an angel that attracts the attention of men, often to warn them, but never to greet anyone in this way.

The evangelist depicts the Archangel Gabriel addressing the Virgin Mary as "full of grace." He finally finds a creature among men who loves God more than he himself was able to love. Hence the surprise, tinged with admiration, that the Angel’s words imply, which is reflected in his encounter with a creature whose love filled her with graces.
 
Father Paulo Ricardo  fr.aleteia.org

 
Pope Benedict XVI to  Catholic Church In China {whole article here}
The saints “a cloud of witnesses over our head”, showing us life of Christian perfection is possible.

Pope Authorizes 12 14 2015 Promulgation of Decrees Concerning 17 Causes,
Including Servant of God William Gagnon
November 23 2014 Six to Be Canonized on Feast of Christ the King

CAUSES OF SAINTS April  2014  

Oh Mary pray for us sinners who have recourse to thee.

Our Bartholomew Family Prayer List

Acts of the Apostles

Nine First Fridays Devotion to the Sacred Heart From the writings of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

How do I start the Five First Saturdays?

Mary Mother of GOD 15 Promises of the Virgin Mary to those who recite the Rosary .

POPE FRANCIS'S PRAYER INTENTIONS FOR  DECEMBER 
Christmas, hope for humanity.
That birth of the Redeemer
bring peace - hope to all people of good will.

Please pray for those who have no one to pray for them.
December 29, 2016
1 John 2:3-11Psalms 96:1-6; Luke 2:22-35;
10th century BC; David, King of Judah and Israel; Prophet (RM)
1st c. St. Trophimus Missionary companion of St. Paul
St. Crescens, bishop and martyr disciple of St. Paul the Apostle and the first bishop of Vienne in France
485 December 29 Saint Marcellus, igumen of the Monastery called "the Unsleeping Ones," great spiritual talents and gift of clairvoyance Council of Chalcedon calmed Black Sea, put out fire in city with his tears.
1156 Blessed Peter de Montboissier Peace great virtue poet theological writer of distinction, defended Jews OSB Abbot 1170 Thomas Becket (of Canterbury) BM (RM)  St. Thomas Becket (1118-1170)  
A strong man who wavered for a moment, but then learned one cannot come to terms with evil and so became a strong churchman, a martyr and a saint—that was Thomas Becket, archbishop of Canterbury, murdered in his cathedral on December 29, 1170.


The First Moment of Christian Tradition Began in Mary's Heart (III)
I think that John told Luke almost all the things he wrote in his Gospel. Let's look at what Luke tells us about the beginning of Jesus' life: the Annunciation, the Visitation, Bethlehem, the birth, the hidden life.
Who actually witnessed the hidden life?
Luke is a historian and he has a very sharp mind. He warns us in the Prologue to his Gospel, that he wants to carefully go over the whole story from the beginning (Lk 1:2-3). He wants to have witnesses. Who witnessed the very beginning? There was only one witness: Mary. And who took Mary into his home? John. It is therefore easy to understand that Luke received a lot from John. I'm not saying that he received everything from him, but John is still the main source. Moreover, if we had been in Luke's place, and intelligent like him, we would all have done the same.
Let's take a moment to put ourselves in Luke's place: Mary, no doubt, was still living with John. Luke wants to write a more complete Gospel than Mark or Matthew. What should he do? Naturally, he went to the source. Intellectuals today know how to find old manuscripts. If they hear that an unusual old manuscript exists in some library, which nobody else knows about, they don't hesitate to travel miles and miles and waste a considerable amount of time trying to understand that manuscript. And what if the knowledge we are seeking is not in writing, but in a source that is so hidden, would we spare any means?
Mary's heart is not a document, it's a source. "She stored up all these things in her heart"
(Lk 2:19 & 51), and that was the Word of God.
Excerpt from "Follow the Lamb" (Suivre l'Agneau)  Father Marie-Dominique Philippe Saint Paul Ed. 2005

The Madonna dei Fiori of Bra (I) Our Lady of Flowers (Bra, Italy, 1336) December 29
On the evening of December 29, 1336, in the small town of Bra, (province of Cuneo in the diocese of Turin), a young expecting mother was passing by a votive column consecrated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, on the outskirts of town. Two rough soldiers, from a band of mercenaries, were lying in wait. Egidia Mathis (that was the lady's name), seeing that she was going to be attacked by men who intended to rape her despite her condition, clung on desperately to the image of the Madonna painted on the column, calling for her help.

Without warning, a beam of light flashed from the image, blinding the two mercenaries who fled in a panic.
Then, the Madonna herself appeared to Egidia comforted her for several minutes and assured her that the danger over. Then Our Lady vanished. Due to such feelings of fear and emotion, Egidia gave birth at the foot of the column.
With her new-born child wrapped in her shawl, the young mother managed to reach the nearest house.

The news of the awful incident spread like wildfire all around town: although it was late, crowds flocked to the place where the attempted attack and the apparition of the Virgin had taken place. There, an extraordinary sight greeted them: the column was surrounded with thick blackthorn bushes which were unexpectedly covered in white flowers despite the harsh late December weather. Since this time, the bushes flower yearly over the same period of days.
Vittorio Messori  Ipotesi su Maria
  Afterfeast of the Nativity we commemorate the 14,000 holy infants
See Matthew ch. 2. Their number is sometimes put at fourteen thousand.
  In our own day, the icon of "Rachel weeping for her children" (Matthew 2:18) has come to commemorate also the tens of millions of children who have died through abortion.
After Feast of the Nativity
10th century BC; David, King of Judah and Israel Prophet (RM)
1st c. St. Trophimus Missionary companion of St. Paul
St. Crescens, bishop and martyr disciple of St. Paul the Apostle and was the first bishop of Vienne in France
  280 St. Trophimus of Arles Bishop sent from Rome with St. Denis, 1/6 prelates France
       Ss. Callistus, Felix, & Boniface
       Ss. Dominic African martyr with Crescentius & etc.
  485 Saint Marcellus, Monastery igumen  Council of Chalcedon gift of clairvoyance
  485 ST MARCELLUS AKIMETES, ABBOT continued the Divine Office day and night without interruption
  596 Ebrulf of Ouche Abbot Merovingian courtier several small houses founded (RM)
  664 St. Aileran Monk biographer scholar 
  706 St. Ebrulf  Abbot founder wife separated, each entering a religious house
  800 St. Albert of Gambron Abbot founder of the Benedictines
  815 Saint Thaddeus the Confessor
a disciple of Theodore the Studite disciple defender holy icons
11th c. Saints Mark the Grave-Digger, Theophilus and John; in Kiev Caves; Paterikon
1031 Girald of Fontenelle, OSB, Abbot (AC)
1156 Blessed Peter de Montboissier Peace great virtue poet theological writer of distinction, defended Jews OSB Abbot
1170 Thomas Becket (of Canterbury) BM (RM)
 St. Thomas Becket (1118-1170)  
A strong man who wavered for a moment, but then learned one cannot come to terms with evil and so became a strong churchman, a martyr and a saint—that was Thomas Becket, archbishop of Canterbury, murdered in his cathedral on December 29, 1170.
His career had been a stormy one. While archdeacon of Canterbury, he was made chancellor of England at the age of 36 by his friend King Henry II. When Henry felt it advantageous to make his chancellor the archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas gave him fair warning: he might not accept all of Henry’s intrusions into Church affairs. Nevertheless, he was made archbishop (1162), resigned his chancellorship and reformed his whole way of life!
Troubles began. Henry insisted upon usurping Church rights. At one time, supposing some conciliatory action possible, Thomas came close to compromise. He momentarily approved the Constitutions of Clarendon, which would have denied the clergy the right of trial by a Church court and preve nted them from making direct appeal to Rome. But Thomas rejected the Constitutions, fled to France for safety and remained in exile for seven years. When he returned to England, he suspected it would mean certain death. Because Thomas refused to remit censures he had placed upon bishops favored by the king, Henry cried out in a rage, “Will no one rid me of this troublesome priest!” Four knights, taking his words as his wish, slew Thomas in the Canterbury cathedral.

Thomas Becket remains a hero-saint down to our own times.
Comment:    No one becomes a saint without struggle, especially with himself. Thomas knew he must stand firm in defense of truth and right, even at the cost of his life. We also must take a stand in the face of pressures—against dishonesty, deceit, destruction of life—at the cost of popularity, convenience, promotion and even greater goods.

Quote:    In T.S. Eliot's drama, Murder in the Cathedral, Becket faces a final temptation to seek martyrdom for earthly glory and revenge. With real insight into his life situation, Thomas responds:
    "The last temptation is the greatest treason: To do the right deed for the wrong reason."

1680 Bl. William Howard Martyr of England so-called Popish Plot grandson of Blessed Philip Howard and a member of the noble family of the Howards



Afterfeast of the Nativity we commemorate the 14,000 holy infants
On December 29, the Afterfeast of the Nativity, we commemorate the 14,000 holy infants who were put to death by King Herod in his attempt to kill the new-born Messiah (Mt. 2:16).
Today there is also a commemoration of all Orthodox Christians who have died from hunger, thirst, the sword, and freezing.

14,000 Holy Infants were killed by King Herod in Bethlehem. When the time came for the Incarnation of the Son of God and His Birth of the Most Holy Virgin Mary, Magi in the East beheld a new star in the heavens, foretelling the Nativity of the King of the Jews. They journeyed immediately to Jerusalem to worship the Child, and the star showed them the way. Having worshipped the divine Infant, they did not return to Jerusalem to Herod, as he had ordered them, but being warned by God in a dream, they went back to their country by another way. Herod finally realized that his scheme to find the Child would not be successful, and he ordered that all the male children two years old and younger at Bethlehem and its surroundings be killed. He thought that the divine Infant, Whom he considered a rival, would be among the dead children.

10th century BC; David, King of Judah and Israel Prophet (RM)
 Hierosólymis sancti David, Regis et Prophétæ.       At Jerusalem, holy David, king and prophet.
Celebrated in the Eastern Church on December 19. King of Judah and Israel, founder of the Judean dynasty at Jerusalem, King David is a world in himself; national hero as a youth, soldier, reformer, father, writer, sinner, and penitent. There is nothing better than reading the Bible (1 and 2 Kings; 1 and 2 Samuel; 1 and 2 Chronicles) to see what he was like, to appreciate his humanity, and to delight in his poetry. He was known as "the beloved of God" and "the man after God's own heart." He is one of the types of Christ in the Old Testament and, indeed, one of the most lovable characters in history (Benedictines, Encyclopedia).
Afterfeast of the Nativity of Christ. 30th Week after Pentecost. Tone four.  Sviatki. Fast-free
The 14,000 Infants (Holy Innocents) slain by Herod at Bethlehem (1st c.).
St. Marcellus, abbot of the monastery of the Unsleeping Ones (485).
New Hieromartyr Theodosius priests (1938)
Virgin-martyrs Natalia, Natalia, Eudokia, Anna, Matrona, Barbara, Anna, Eudokia, Ephrosia, Agrippina and Natalia (1942).
St. Mark the Grave-digger of the Kiev Caves (11th c.).
Sts. Theophilus and John of the Kiev Caves (11th-12th c.).
St. Theophilus of Luga and Omutch (1412).
St. Thaddeus, confessor, of the Studion (818).
St. Benjamin, monk, of Nitria in Egypt (392).
St. Athenodorus, disciple of St. Pachomius the Great (4th c.).
St. George, bishop of Nicomedia (9th c.).
St. Trophimus, first bishop of Aries (3rd c.).
St.Basiliscus the Hesychast of Siberia (1824).
Commemoration of all Orthodox Christians who died from hunger, thirst, the sword, and freezing.
1st century St. Trophimus Missionary companion of St. Paul.
 Areláte, in Gállia, natális sancti Tróphimi, cujus méminit sanctus Paulus ad Timótheum scribens.  Ipse autem Tróphimus, ab eódem Apóstolo Epíscopus ordinátus, præfátæ urbi primus ad Christi Evangélium prædicándum diréctus est; ex cujus prædicatiónis fonte (ut sanctus Zósimus Papa scribit) tota Gállia rívulos fídei recépit.
       At Arles in France, the birthday of St. Trophimus, mentioned by St. Paul in his Epistle to Timothy.  Being ordained bishop by that apostle, he was the first sent to preach the gospel of Christ in that city.  From his preaching, as from a fountain, according to the expression of Pope St. Zosimus, all France received the waters of salvation.

Born in Ephesus and a Gentile, he accompanied St. Paul on his third journey.  He also went to Jerusalem where his presence in the temple started a riot. He is confused with St. Trophimus of Arles.

St. Crescens, bishop and martyr disciple of St. Paul the Apostle and was the first bishop of Vienne in France, the commemoration of  His birthday is mentioned on the 27th of June.
     Viénnæ, in Gállia, Commemorátio sancti Crescéntis, Epíscopi et Mártyris, qui fuit discípulus beáti Pauli Apóstoli ac primus ejúsdem civitátis Epíscopus, et cujus dies natális quinto Kaléndas Júlii celebrátur.
St. Callistus, Felix, & Boniface.
 Romæ sanctórum Mártyrum Callísti, Felícis et Bonifátii.      At Rome, the holy martyrs Callistus, Felix, and Boniface.
Roman martyrs listed in all the western rnartyrologies but otherwise undocumented.
280 St. Trophimus of Arles Bishop sent from Rome with St. Denis, one of six prelates France
ST TROPHIMUS, BISHOP OF ARLES (THIRD CENTURY?)

AMONG those who accompanied St Paul on his third missionary journey was a Gentile from Ephesus called Trophimus, the same whose presence with him later in Jerusalem was the occasion of the uproar against the Apostle. He “hath brought in Gentiles into the Temple and hath violated this holy place For they had seen Trophimus the Ephesian in the city with him, whom they supposed that Paul had brought into the Temple.”

He is mentioned again in the second epistle to Timothy as having been left at Malta, sick.
When Pope St Zosimus wrote to the bishops of Gaul in 417, he refers to the Holy See having sent a Trophimus into Gaul, whose preaching at Arles was the source from which the waters of the faith spread over all the land. One hundred and fifty years later St Gregory of Tours says that St Trophimus of Arles, its first bishop, was one of the six bishops who came from Rome with St Dionysius of Paris in the middle of the third century. Nothing at all is known of Trophimus of Arles except the statement of Pope Zosimus, but he came to be identified with his namesake of Ephesus.

There is of course nothing in the nature of a life, though St Trophimus, in view of the dedication of the cathedral of Arles, the words of Pope Zosimus, and other references, must be accounted an authentic historical personage. The statement that he was identical with the Trophimus mentioned by St Paul in 2 Tim. iv 20, is a characteristically wild invention of the martyrologist Ado. See Quentin, Martyrologes historiques, pp. 303 and 603 Duchesne, Fastes Épiscopaux vol. i, pp. 253—254; and DCB., vol. iv, p. 1055.

Laboring to evangelize France, Trophimus became the bishop of Arles.
He is mentioned in a letter of Pope St. Zosimus in 417. He shares a feast day with the biblical Trophimus.

Trophimus of Arles B (RM)
Died c. 280. Trophimus, the first bishop of Arles whose cathedral of St. Trophime now honors his memory, is often confused with the Trophimus mentioned by St. Paul. The bishop Trophimus was sent from Rome to Gaul about 240-260. Saint Gregory of Tours (died 594) testifies that Trophimus was one of several bishops associated with Saint Sernin of Toulouse, who founded the famous sees of France.

The cultus of Trophimus is ancient. Writing to the bishops of Gaul in 417, Pope Zozimus mentioned him as being sent by the papacy to preach and found the church of Arles. His church contains a 3rd century crypt, which was discovered in 1835.

Paul's disciple was a gentile convert from Ephesus who accompanied the Apostle on his third missionary journey (Acts 20:4) and to Jerusalem, where his presence (as a gentile) in the Temple provoked violent protests against Paul that almost resulted in his death (Acts 21:26-36). Paul mentions him again in 2 Timothy 4:20, saying he "left Trophimus ill at Miletus."

Since the Synod of Arles in 452, the church of Provence has identified their first bishop with St. Paul's disciple, but this is clearly an impossibility. In essence, both are honored today because of the confusion (Benedictines, Delaney, Encyclopedia, Farmer).

In art, St. Trophimus is a bishop carrying his eyes. The picture may show (1) his eyes being put out, (2) him with lions, or (3) surrounded by the Apostles. (He was identified with the Trophimus who was a disciple of St. Paul.) He is the patron of children and invoked against drought (Roeder).

St. Dominic African martyr with Crescentius & etc.
 In Africa pássio sanctórum Mártyrum Domínici, Victóris, Primiáni, Lybósi, Saturníni, Crescéntii, Secúndi et Honoráti.
       In Africa, the passion of the holy martyrs Dominic, Victor, Primian, Lybosus, Saturninus, Crescentius, Secundus, and Honoratus.
 Honoratus, Primian, Lybosus, Saturninus, Secundus, and Victor.
485 ST MARCELLUS AKIMETES, ABBOT continued the Divine Office day and night without interruption.
 Constantinópoli sancti Marcélli Abbátis.       At Constantinople, St. Marcellus, abbot.
THE Akoimetoi differed from other Eastern monks only by this particular rule, that the monastery was divided into several choirs which, succeeding one another, continued the Divine Office day and night without interruption; whence was derived their name of the “not-resters”.
  A Syrian, St Alexander, who founded a monastery at Gomon on the Black Sea, set this institution on foot. His successor John removed his community to a monastery that he built at the Eirenaion, a pleasant place on the opposite shore of the Bosphorus to Constantinople. St Marcellus, who was chosen third abbot of this house, raised its reputation to the highest pitch, and he was himself the most distinguished of the Akoimetoi monks. He was horn at Apamea in Syria, and by the death of his parents was left master of a large fortune. He conceived distaste for secular pursuits and, repairing to Antioch, made sacred studies his whole employment. He then went to Ephesus, and there put himself under the direction of certain men of God, and what time was not spent in prayer he employed in copying books. Soon the reputation of the austerity and solitude of the Akoimetoi drew him thither, and he made such progress that John, when he was chosen abbot, compelled him to be his assistant and upon his death Marcellus was elected in his place.
   When the opposition of the Emperor Theodosius II and some of the ecclesias­tical authorities had died down, the monastery flourished exceedingly under his prudent and saintly administration; and when he was at a loss how sufficiently to enlarge his buildings, he was abundantly supplied with means by a rich man, who took the habit with all his sons on the same day. St Marcellus himself when he became a monk had insisted on giving away every penny he had left; he was most insistent on the observance of poverty and would allow no hoarding or investment of any sort: he thought a ten-days’ supply of food in hand too much. The Akoimetoi had been hitherto rather contemptuous of manual work, and this also he insisted that they should all undertake, whether they liked it or not. The community numbered three hundred members, and from all parts of the East applications were made to St Marcellus for individual monks to be made abbots, or groups to form nuclei of new establishments. The most famous of these was the monastery in Constantinople founded with some Akoimetoi by the ex-consul Studius in 463.

Apostolic work that could be conducted from their monastery was included in the activities of these monks, and St Marcellus was an outstanding figure in all contemporary movements against heresy at Constantinople; he was one of the twenty-three archimandrites who signed the condemnation of Eutyches in the synod held by St Flavian in 448, and he assisted at the Council of Chalcedon. When the Emperor Leo I proposed to raise the Goth consul Patricius to the dignity of caesar, Marcellus protested against such power being given to an Arian, and correctly foretold the approaching ruin of the family of Patricius. In 465 a great fire took place in Constantinople, eight of the sixteen quarters of the city being destroyed. The people testified to the holy reputation of St Marcellus by attri­buting the staying of the disaster to his intercession. He governed his monastery for some forty-five years and died on December 29, 485.

Our information comes from a detailed Greek biography attributed to the Metaphrast and printed in Migne, PG., vol. cxvi, pp. 705—745. See also Synax. Const. (ed. Delehaye), cc. 353—354; Pargoire in DAC., vol. i, cc. 315—318, and Echos d’Orient, vol. ii, pp. 305—308 and 365—372 arid Revue des questions historiques, January 1899, pp.69—79. 
485 Saint Marcellus, igumen of the Monastery called "the Unsleeping Ones," received great spiritual talents and the gift of clairvoyance Council of Chalcedon
 Constantinópoli sancti Marcélli Abbátis.       At Constantinople, St. Marcellus, abbot.
A native of the city of Apamea in Syria. His parents were wealthy, but died when he was young. He received his education first at Antioch, and then at Ephesus. All his possessions left him by his parents he distributed to the poor, thereby sundering his ties to the world.
Under the guidance of an experienced elder at Ephesus, Marcellus entered upon the path of asceticism. He later went on to Byzantium to St Alexander, igumen of the monastery named "the Unsleeping." The monastery received its name because in it psalmody was done constantly, both day and night, by alternating groups of monks. St Alexander accepted Marcellus and tonsured him into the monastic schema. Zealous in the works of watchfulness, fasting and prayer, the saint received great spiritual talents and the gift of clairvoyance. Marcellus foresaw the day of Abba Alexander's death and his own election as igumen. However, since he was still young, he did not want to rule others. So he slipped out of the monastery to visit other provinces and other monasteries, where he received edification from the monks who lived there.
After the death of St Alexander, when Abba John had already been chosen as igumen, Marcellus returned to the great joy of the brethren. Abba John made Marcellus his own closest assistant. After John's death, St Marcellus was chosen igumen of the monastery in spite of his own wishes, and in this position he remained for sixty years.
News of his saintly life spread far. People came to Marcellus from afar, both the illustrious and the common, rich and the poor. Many times they saw angels encircling the saint, attending and guarding him. With the help of God, the monastery of "the Unsleeping Ones" flourished. So many monks came to place themselves under the direction of St Marcellus that it became necessary to enlarge the monastery and the church.
St Marcellus received donations from believers for expansion, and built a beautiful large church, a hospital, and a hostel for the homeless. By his prayers the monk treated the sick, cast out devils and worked miracles. For example, one of the monks was sent to Ankara and fell ill. Being near death, he called out mentally to his abba. At that very hour St Marcellus heard his disciple in the monastery, and he began to pray for him. He who was sick recovered at once.

When a ship with his monks came into danger on the Black Sea, the saint calmed the tempest by his prayers. Another time, when they told him that a fire was raging at Constantinople, he prayed tearfully for the city, and the fire subsided as if extinguished by the tears of the monk.
John, the servant of a certain Arian nobleman named Ardaburios, was unjustly accused of something, and he hid out at the monastery to escape his master's wrath. Ardaburios twice demanded that St Marcellus hand John over to him, but he refused. Ardaburios then sent out a detachment of soldiers, who surrounded the monastery, threatening to slay anyone who interfered with their mission. The brethren went to the abba, asking him to surrender John and save the monastery. St Marcellus signed himself with the Sign of the Cross, then boldly went out alone through the monastery gate towards the soldiers. Lightning flashed in the sky, thunder rumbled, and the Cross appeared shining brighter than the sun. The soldiers threw down their weapons and took to flight. Ardaburios, learning from the soldiers what had happened, was frightened, and because of St Marcellus he pardoned the servant.
St Marcellus peacefully departed to the Lord in the year 485. His faithful disciple Lukian grieved terribly over him, but on the fifth day after the death St Marcellus appeared to him and comforted him, foretelling his own impending end.

Marcellus Akimetes (the Righteous), Abbot (RM) Born in Apamea, Syria; died near Constantinople, c. 485. Marcellus joined a group of monks called Akoimetoi or "non-rester." They are so called because they recited the divine office in relays throughout the day and night without stopping. Marcellus became the third abbot of their chief monastery, Eirenaion, at Constantinople. He placed special emphasis on poverty and manual labor. Under his leadership the Akimetes grew in number and influence.
Marcellus was among those present for the Council of Chalcedon (Attwater, Benedictines).
596 Ebrulf of Ouche, Abbot a Merovingian courtier several other small houses were founded (RM)
 In pago Oxyménsi, in Gállia, sancti Ebrúlphi, Abbátis et Confessóris, témpore Childebérti Regis.
       In the country of Hiesmes in France, St. Ebrulf, abbot and confessor, in the time of King Childebert.

596 ST EBRULF, OR EVROULT, ABBOT
EBRULF was brought up at the court of King Childebert I. Here he married but after a time the pair agreed to separation; the lady took the veil in a nunnery, whilst he distributed his goods among the poor. It was, however, a considerable time before he was able to obtain the leave of Clotaire I to go from court. At length, he was enabled to go to a monastery in the diocese of Bayeux, where his virtues gained him the esteem and veneration of his fellow monks. But the respect, which he met with, was a temptation, and to avoid it he withdrew, with three others, and hid in a remote part of the forest of Ouche in Normandy. These new hermits had taken no proper measures for their support, but they settled near a spring of water, made an enclosure with a hedge, and built themselves wattle huts. A peasant discovered them, to his great astonishment, and warned them that the wood was a haunt of outlaws. “We have come here”, replied Ebrulf, “to weep for our sins. We put our confidence in the mercy of God, who feeds the birds of the air. We fear no one.” The countryman brought them the next morning loaves and some honey, and soon after joined them. One of the thieves happened upon them, and he too endeavoured to persuade them that their lives would be in danger. St Ebrulf answered him as he had answered the peasant. The robber himself was converted and brought many of his companions, like-minded with himself, to the saint, by whose advice they betook themselves to work for an honest living. The hermits tried to cultivate the land, but it was too barren to yield sufficient, even for their abstemious way of living. So the inhabitants of the country brought them in little provisions, which St Ebrulf accepted as alms.

The advantages and consolations of uninterrupted contemplation made Ebrulf desire to live always as an anchorite, without being burdened with the care of others. But he could not be indifferent to the salvation of his neighbours. He therefore received those who desired to live under his direction, and for them he was obliged to build a monastery, which afterwards bore his name. His community increasing and many offering him land, he built other monasteries of men or women. He used to exhort his religious particularly to manual labour, telling them that they would gain their bread by their work and Heaven by serving God in it. St Ebrulf died in 596 in his eightieth year after, it is said, living for over six weeks without being able to swallow anything except the Sacred Host and a little water.

There is a rather full life compiled by an anonymous ninth-century writer. It has been printed by Surius with his usual emendations of the Latin phraseology. But the abridged or modified version which will be found in Mabillon, vol. i, pp. 354—361, with supplementary additions from Ordericus Vitalis, may be regarded as reasonably adequate. See also the preface of Leopold Delisle’s edition of Ordericus’s Historia ecclesiastica, pp. lxxix—lxxxiv. In the Bulletin de la soc. hist. arch. de l’Orne, vol. vi (1887), pp. 1—83, J. Blin has edited a French poem of the twelfth century recounting the history of St Evroult. There is also a short popular life by H. G. Chenu (1896).

(Also known as Evroul, Evroult, Ebrulfus) Born in Bayeux, Normandy, in 517; feast commemorating the translation of his relics is kept at Deeping Abbey in England on August 30. Like Saint Albert, Ebrulf was a Merovingian courtier. He arranged for his wife to be safe from need (she may have entered a convent) and left the court of King Childebert I to became a monk at the nearby abbey of Deux Jumeaux. Later he and a small group of companions became hermits in the forest of Ouche in Normandy, where they lived an austere life. After Ebrulf converted a band of robbers to the faith, he established a small monastery there. As the numbers swelled, several other small houses were founded. Their rule emphasized manual labor as a means of earning a livelihood and a way to serve God. Ebrulf had a strong cultus in England until the feast of Thomas Becket took precedence. Four abbots from Saint-Evroul Abbey ruled English monasteries in the 11th and 12th centuries and brought with them Ebrulf's relics. (Benedictines, Encyclopedia, Farmer)
664 St. Aileran Monk biographer scholar
Also called Sapiens the Wise. Aileran was one of the most distinguished professors at the school of Clonard in Ireland. St. Finian welcomed Aileran to Clonard. In 650, Aileran became rector of Clonard, and was recognized as a classical scholar and a master of Latin and Greek.
He wrote The Fourth Life of St. Patrick, a Latin-Irish Litany and The Lives of St. Brigid and St. Fechin of Fore. His last work was a treatise on the genealogy of Christ according to St. Matthew. A fragment of another of Aileran's works has survived: A Short Moral Explanation of the Sacred Names.
Scholarly institutions across Europe read this work aloud annually. Aileran died from the Yellow Plague. His death on December 29, 664 is chronicled in the Annals of Ulster.

706 St. Ebrulf  Abbot founder wife separated, each entering a religious house.
 In pago Oxyménsi, in Gállia, sancti Ebrúlphi, Abbátis et Confessóris, témpore Childebérti Regis.
       In the country of Hiesmes in France, St. Ebruif, abbot and confessor, in the time of King Childebert.
Also called Ebrulfus and Evroult. Born in 626, in Bayeux, Normandy, France, he was a courtier to King Childebert III. He and his wife separated, each entering a religious house. He went to Deux Jumeaux Abbey at Bayeux. As a hermit in Ouche Forest in Normandy, he attracted so many followers that he had to found a monastery there. Other houses followed.
800 St. Albert of Gambron Abbot founder of the Benedictines
He was a courtier who became a hermit then abbot-founder of a small abbey in France, at Gambon-sur-l' Authion.

Albert of Gambron, OSB Abbot (AC) 7th century. Disenchanted with the life of court, Albert became a hermit and later the abbot-founder of the small abbey of Gambron- sur-l'Authion. Here the Rules of Saint Benedict and Saint Columbanus were simultaneously observed (Benedictines).

815 Saint Thaddeus the Confessor, a disciple of Theodore the Studite defender of the veneration of holy icons
He was brought to trial and suffered during the reign of Leo V (813-820). The heretics, mocking St Thaddeus, put an icon of the Savior on the ground, picked the saint up, and stood him upon it. After this the judge said, "You have trampled upon the icon of Christ. There is no point in further resistance, so join us." Thaddeus replied that he had been placed upon the icon involuntarily, and he cursed the impiety of the iconoclasts. Enraged by his bold words, they beat him with cudgels. Then they dragged the martyr by the legs and threw him outside the city walls. He appeared to be dead, but he was still alive. A certain Christian took him into his own home and washed his wounds. St Thaddeus lived another three days, and then surrendered his soul to God.

11th c. Saints Mark the Grave-Digger, Theophilus and John are mentioned in the Kiev Caves Paterikon
Two brothers being monastics, Sts Theophilus and John, so loved each other that they prevailed upon St Mark to prepare a double grave so they could be buried side by side.
Many years later, the older of the two brothers was away on monastery business. During this time his brother John fell ill and died. Several days later, St Theophilus returned and went with the brethren to view his brother's body. Seeing that he lay at the higher place in their common grave, he became indignant with St Mark and said, "Why did you put him in my place? I am older than he."
The cave-dweller Mark, bowed humbly to St Theophilus and asked that he forgive him. Turning to the dead man, he said, "Arise, give this place to your older brother, and you lie down in the other place." And the dead man moved to the lower place in the grave. Seeing this, St Theophilus fell down at the knees of St Mark begging his forgiveness. The cave-dweller Mark told Theophilus that he ought to be concerned for his own salvation, because soon he would join his brother in that place.

Hearing this, St Theophilus became terrified and decided that he would soon die. He gave away everything that he possessed, keeping only his mantle, and every day he awaited the hour of death. No one was able to stop his tears, nor to tempt him with tasty food. Tears were his bread by day and by night (Ps 41/42:3). God granted him several years more for repentance, which he spent in fasting and lamentation. He even went blind from continuous weeping.

St Mark forsaw the hour of his death and told Theophilus he would soon depart this life. Theophilus pleaded, "Father, either take me with you, or restore my sight." St Mark said to Theophilus, "Do not desire death, it shall come in its own time, even if you do not wish it. Let this be the sign of your impending end: three days before you depart this world, your eyesight will return."
The words of the saint were fulfilled. The body of St Theophilus was placed in the Antoniev Cave in the grave together with his brother St John, near the relics of St Mark. Their memory is celebrated also on September 28 and on the second Sunday of Great Lent.

1031 Girald of Fontenelle, OSB, Abbot (AC)
(also known as Girard, Giraud)
Girald was a Benedictine monk at Lagny and later the abbot of Saint-Arnoul. Richard IV, duke of Normandy, enlisted his services as abbot of Fontenelle. While he was abbot, he was murdered by one of his monks, who had enough of his remarks (Benedictines, Encyclopedia).

1156 Blessed Peter de Montboissier Peace was his great virtue poet and theological writer of distinction , defended the Jews OSB Abbot (PC)
(Also known as Peter the Venerable) Born in Auvergne, France, in 1092; died at Cluny on December 25, 1156; feast day formerly on December 25.
1156     BD PETER THE VENERABLE, ABBOT
At the beginning of the twelfth century the abbacy of Cluny, an office which entailed a headship of hundreds of monasteries and their dependencies throughout Europe, was held by an incompetent and unworthy monk, Pontius, who had been elected when he was too young. In the face of a growing discontent, he resigned in circumstances that amounted to deposition and, his successor having died almost at once, Peter de Montboissier, Prior of Domène, was elected. Peter, of a noble family of Auvergne, had been educated at the Cluniac house of Sauxillanges, and by the time he was twenty he was already prior of Vézelay when chosen to rule the mother house and federation he was still only thirty. That was in 1122, and during the thirty-four years that he governed Cluny it reached a point of influence and prosperity that it never again touched.

But the early days were not auspicious. In 1125 the ex-abbot Pontius came out of Italy with an armed following, threw himself into Cluny when Peter was absent, drove out all who would not accept him, and proceeded to conduct the monastery and its affairs in a most disorderly way. Both parties were summoned to Rome, and Pope Honorius II sentenced Pontius to be degraded and imprisoned.
An unhappy controversy sprang up between Citeaux and Cluny, St Bernard accusing the Cluniacs of being relaxed, and they retorting that Cistercian life impracticable. The general trend of the controversy showed Abbot Peter as more representative of the tolerant wideness of St Benedict’s rule and in so far as the Cistercian complaints were justified Peter, together with Abbot Suger of Saint-Denis, ultimately met the criticism by inaugurating a reform and tightening up discipline. It was at this time, in 1130, that Abbot Peter visited England, when an attempt was made to bring the abbey of Peterborough under Cluny. In 1139 he journeyed into Spain, where he found two translators who knew Arabic, and for the advancement of learning he paid them well to make for him Latin versions of the Koran and of some astronomical works.

In 1140 Peter Abelard came to Cluny on his way to Rome to appeal against the condemnation of his opinions pronounced at Sens, but while there news was brought that the condemnation had been confirmed by Pope Innocent. Abbot Peter thereupon offered Abelard a home, obtained a mitigation of his sentence from the Holy See, and brought about a meeting and reconciliation between him and St Bernard. He showed himself a most generous friend to Abelard, and when he died two years later Abbot Peter sent his body for burial to the Abbess Heloise at the Paraclete, with an assurance that he had died absolved and in communion with the Church. He also wrote an extravagant epitaph, comparing the dead philosopher with Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. It was typical of Peter the Vener­able that he combined kindness and sympathy for the erring with a just detestation of their errors he defended the Jews against massacre but admitted that they gave provocation; he wrote against the Petrobrusian heretics in the south of France; and he assisted at the synod of Rheims when the teachings of Gilbert de la Porrée, bishop of Poitiers, were impugned. He was greatly esteemed by his contemporaries and kept up a large correspondence with those who consulted him, as well as writing theological and polemical treatises, sermons and hymns, e.g. the Christmas prose “Caelum, gaude, terra, plaude”. It is appropriate that the author of this lovely hymn should have died, according to his wish, on Christmas day, 1156, after having preached about the feast to his monks.

Peter the Venerable was revered as a saint by the faithful at large as well as by his own congregation. The Holy See has never formally approved this cultus, but his name was inserted in French martyrologies and his feast is observed in the diocese of Arras on December 29.

Two medieval lives of Peter the Venerable are preserved to us. The first and more important is by Rodulf, his constant companion. The second is not properly a biography but a collection of extracts from the chronicle of Cluny. Both are printed in Migne, PL., vol. clxxxix, cc. 15—42, and some other materials in the form of poems or panegyrics are added in the same prolegomenon to Peter’s own writings and letters. It is from these last that our knowledge of him and his character is mainly derived. An excellent account of the holy abbot and his literary work is furnished by P. Séjourné in DTC., vol. xii (1933), cc. 2065—2082 and there is also a good article by G. Grützmacher in the Realencyklopadie für protestantische Theologie und Kirche, vol. xv, pp. 222—226. The bulk of this article may be read in English in the Expository Times for 1904 (vol. xv, pp. 536—539). See further, J. de Ghellinck, Le mouvement théologique au XIIe Siècle (1914); Manitius, Geschichte der lateinischen Literatur des Mittelalters, vol. iii (593,), pp. 136—144; and J. Leclercq, Pierre le Vénérable (1946), an excellent work.

On Peter the Venerable, Abbot of Cluny
"I Am Not One of Those Who Is Not Happy With His Lot"
VATICAN CITY, OCT. 14, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of Benedict XVI's address today during the general audience in St. Peter's Square.
Dear brothers and sisters, 
The figure of Peter the Venerable, which I wish to present in today's catechesis, takes us back to the famous abbey of Cluny, to its "decorum" (decor) and its "lucidity" (nitor), to use terms that recur in the Cluniac texts -- decorum and splendor-- which are admired above all in the beauty of the liturgy, the privileged path to reach God.

Even more than these aspects, however, Peter's personality recalls the holiness of the great Cluniac abbots: At Cluny "there was not a single abbot who was not a saint," said Pope Gregory VII in 1080. Among these is Peter the Venerable, who to some degree gathers in himself all the virtues of his predecessors -- although already with him, Cluny, faced with new orders such as that of Citeaux, began to experience symptoms of crisis.

Born around 1094 in the French region of Auvergne, he entered as a child in the monastery of Sauxillanges, where he became a professed monk and then prior. He was elected abbot of Cluny in 1122, and remained in this office until his death, which occurred on Christmas Day, 1156, as he had wished. "Lover of peace," wrote his biographer, Rudolph, "he obtained peace in the glory of God on the day of peace" (Vita, I, 17; PL 189, 28).
 
All those who knew him praised his elegant meekness, serene balance, self-control, correctness, loyalty, lucidity and special attitude in mediating. "It is in my very nature," he wrote, "to be somewhat led to indulgence; I am incited to this by my habit of forgiving. I am used to enduring and forgiving" (Ep. 192, in: "The Letters of Peter the Venerable," Harvard University Press, 1967, p. 446).

He also said: "With those who hate peace we wish, possibly, to always be peaceful" (Ep. 100, 1.c., p. 261). And of himself, he wrote: "I am not one of those who is not happy with his lot ... whose spirit is always anxious and doubtful, and who laments that all the others are resting and he alone is working" (Ep. 182, p. 425).

Of a sensitive and affectionate nature, he was able to combine love of the Lord with tenderness toward his family, particularly his mother, and his friends. He was a cultivator of friendship, especially in his meetings with his monks, who usually confided in him, certain of being received and understood. According to the testimony of his biographer, "he did not disregard or refuse anyone" (Vita, 1,3: PL 189,19); "he seemed gracious to all; in his innate goodness, he was open to all" (ibid., I,1: PL, 189, 17).
 
We could say that this holy abbot is an example also for the monks and Christians of our time, marked by a frenetic rhythm of life, where incidents of intolerance and lack of communication, division and conflicts are not rare. His witness invites us to be able to combine love of God with love of neighbor, and never tire of renewing relations of fraternity and reconciliation. In this way, in fact, Peter the Venerable behaved, finding himself guiding the monastery of Cluny in years that were not very tranquil for several external and internal reasons, succeeding in being simultaneously severe and gifted with profound humanity. He used to say: "You will be able to obtain more from a man by tolerating him, than by irritating him with complaints" (Ep. 172, 1.c., 409).

Because of his office, he had to make frequent trips to Italy, England, Germany and Spain. Forced abandonment of contemplative stillness weighed on him. He confessed: "I go from one place to another, I am anxious, disturbed, tormented, dragged here and there; my mind is turned now to my affairs, now to those of others, not without great agitation to my spirit" (Ep. 91, 1.c., p. 233). Although having to maneuver between the powers and lordships that surrounded Cluny, nevertheless, thanks to his sense of measure, his magnanimity and his realism, he succeeded in keeping his habitual tranquility. Among the personalities with whom he interacted was Bernard of Clairvaux, with whom he enjoyed a relationship of growing friendship, despite differences of temperament and perspectives. Bernard described him as an "important man, occupied in important affairs" and he greatly esteemed him (Ep. 147, ed. Scriptorium Claravallense, Milan, 1986, VI/1, pp. 658-660), whereas Peter the Venerable described Bernard as "lamp of the Church" (Ep. 164, p. 396), "strong and splendid column of the monastic order and of the whole Church" (Ep. 175, p. 418).
 
With a lively ecclesial sense, Peter the Venerable said that the affairs of Christian people should be felt in the "depth of the heart" of those who number themselves "among the members of the Body of Christ" (Ep. 164, 1.c., p. 397). And he added: "He is not nourished by Christ who does not feel the wounds of the Body of Christ," wherever these are produced (ibid.). Moreover, he showed care and solicitude even for those who were outside the Church, in particular for the Jews and Muslims: to foster knowledge of the latter he had the Quran translated. In this regard, a recent historian observed: "Amid the intransigence of the men of Medieval times, also among the greatest of them, we admire here a sublime example of the delicacy to which Christian charity leads" (J. Leclercq, Pietro il Venerabile, Jaca Book, 1991, p. 189).

Other aspects of Christian life dear to him were love of the Eucharist and devotion to the Virgin Mary. On the Most Holy Sacrament he has left us pages that are "one of the masterpieces of Eucharistic literature of all times" (ibid., p. 267), and on the Mother of God he wrote illuminating reflections, always contemplating her in close relationship with Jesus the Redeemer and his work of salvation. Suffice it to report this inspired elevation of his: "Hail, Blessed Virgin, who put malediction to flight. Hail, Mother of the Most High, spouse of the most meek Lamb. You conquered the serpent, you have crushed his head, when the God generated by you annihilated him ... Shining star of the East, who puts to flight the shadows of the West. Dawn that precedes the sun, day that ignores the night ... Pray to God born from you, so that he will absolve us from our sin and, after forgiveness, grant us grace and glory" (Carmina, Pl  189, 1018-1019).
 
Peter the Venerable also nourished a predilection for literary activity and he had the talent. He wrote down his reflections, persuaded of the importance of using the pen almost like a plough "to scatter on paper the seed of the Word" (Ep. 20, p. 38). Although he was not a systematic theologian, he was a great researcher of the mystery of God. His theology sinks its roots in prayer, especially the liturgy, and among the mysteries of Christ he favored the Transfiguration, in which the Resurrection is already prefigured. It was in fact he who introduced this feast at Cluny, composing a special office for it, in which is reflected the characteristic theological piety of Peter and of the Cluniac Order, wholly set to the contemplation of the glorious face (gloriosa facies) of Christ, finding there the reasons for that ardent joy that marked his spirit and was radiated in the liturgy of the monastery.
 
Dear brothers and sisters, this holy monk is certainly a great example of monastic sanctity, nourished at the sources of the Benedictine tradition. For him, the ideal of the monk consisted in "adhering tenaciously to Christ" (Ep. 53, 1.c., p. 161), in a cloistered life marked by "monastic humility" (ibid.) and industriousness (Ep. 77, 1.c., p. 211), as well as by a climate of silent contemplation and constant praise of God. According to Peter of Cluny, the first and most important occupation of a monk is the solemn celebration of the Divine Office --"heavenly work and of all the most useful" (Statuta, I, 1026) -- to be supported with reading, meditation, personal prayer and penance observed with discretion (cf. Ep. 20, 1.c., p. 40).

In this way the whole of life is pervaded by profound love of God and love of others, a love that is expressed in sincere openness to one's neighbor, in forgiveness and in the pursuit of peace. By way of conclusion, we could say that if this style of life joined to daily work is, for St. Benedict, the ideal of the monk, it also concerns all of us; it can be, to a great extent, the style of life of the Christian who wants to become a genuine disciple of Christ, characterized in fact by tenacious adherence to him, by humility, by industriousness and the capacity to forgive, and by peace.

[Translation by ZENIT]   [The Pope then greeted pilgrims in several languages. In English, he said:]
 Dear Brothers and Sisters,
 
Our catechesis today considers an outstanding churchman of the early twelfth century, Peter the Venerable, abbot of Cluny. Despite his pressing responsibilities and frequent travels in the service of the Church, Peter maintained a contemplative spirit, deep inner tranquility, rigorous asceticism and a capacity for warm friendships. His ability to combine love of God with sincere love of neighbor found expression in a lively sense of the Church. He urged all the members of Christ's Body to be concerned for the trials and difficulties of the universal Church, and he expressed an interest in those outside the Church, specifically Jews and Muslims, in ways which were remarkable for his day. Prayer stood at the heart of Peter's theology and spirituality, which were nourished by the monastic liturgy and meditation on the mysteries of Christ's life. At Cluny he introduced the feast of the Transfiguration and composed its prayers, centered on the contemplation of the glorious face of Christ. By his ability to combine prayer and contemplation with love of neighbor and a commitment to the renewal of society, Peter the Venerable reflected the Benedictine ideal and serves as an example to Christian today in their efforts to live holy and integrated lives in our often stressful society.
I offer a warm welcome to the English-speaking pilgrims present at today's Audience, including the pupils and staff from Saint Andrew's High School, Carntyne, Glasgow, and other school and university groups from England and Norway. May your visit to Rome be a time of deep spiritual renewal. Upon all of you I invoke God's blessings of joy and peace!
  © Copyright 2009 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana   [In Italian, he said:]
 
My thoughts go out finally to young people, the sick and newlyweds. Beloved, tomorrow we celebrate the feast of St. Teresa of Avila, doctor of the Church. May this great saint testify to you, dear young people, that genuine love cannot be separated from truth; may she help you, dear sick people, to understand that the cross of Christ is a mystery of love that redeems human suffering. For you, dear newlyweds, may she be a model of fidelity to God, who entrusts to everyone a special mission.

[Translation by ZENIT]
Peace was the greatest virtue of Peter de Montboissier, who was born of a noble Auvergne family. Peter was educated at Sauxillanges (a Cluniac monastery) and made his profession about 1109. A few months after the death of Saint Hugh, fourth of the great abbots of Cluny, Peter was sent to Vezelay, first as a student and then, from age 20, as the prior.

In 1120, he was named prior of the monastery of Domene near Grenoble, France, where the proximity of La Grande Chartreuse allowed him to get acquainted with the sons of St. Bruno, a remarkable friendship that sustained him during the course of his heavy burdens.
On August 22, 1122, he was elected abbot of Cluny (age 30). At the news Peter sighed, "Please God that they might have made a better choice."

Meanwhile others remarked pityingly about his youth--a fault that time cures even among monks. Nevertheless, Peter generously accepted the "bondage of authority" though he would have preferred the "liberty of obedience." It was a huge task because Cluny Abbey at that time governed 400 monks in the monastery in addition to 2,000 houses all over Europe--reaching into Asia.

Nevertheless, Peter was one of the most eminent churchmen of his age, and during the 34 years of his governance Cluny retained its position as the greatest and most influential abbey in Christendom. Peter succeeded in regulating abbey finances and raising the standards of studies. He himself was a poet and theological writer of distinction.

In 1124 (or 1125) Peter returned from visiting the Aquitaine and was faced with an armed force led by Pontius, the abbot he had succeeded, who took over Cluny while he was away. For months he had to retake the abbey and assure himself of sufficient resources. Without allowing himself to become too absorbed in material tasks, he centered his efforts on the reform of the cloistral discipline, the frequent meetings of general chapters, and the progress of studies. He promulgated statues full of wisdom and good sense on the observances and monastic liturgy. Both Peter and Pontius were summoned to Rome, where Pope Honorius II sentenced Pontius to prison.

In the interests of the Church and Cluny, Peter made several voyages: six to Rome, two to Spain (one in 1139), and even to England (1130). His delicate health could not withstand the effort. He could not stand the climate of Italy, and each trip to Rome seemed to him to be literally formidable, that is, dreadful, for he had to pass through the "Alpine glaciers and their ancient horror." Further south, everything went against him, "ailments and elements." "The air of Rome generally causes early death among people from my land," he wrote the pope.

Peter then became involved in a controversy with Saint Bernard, who accused Cluny of too relaxed a rule--a charge that led Peter to put into effect reforms in the Cluniac houses. One of Peter's greatest concerns was the protection of the traditions of Cluny, attacked by the rather narrow dynamism of the Cistercian orders that wanted to be faithful to the letter of the monastic rule. In this painful conflict between black monks and white monks, the gentle abbot of Cluny would have to withstand the burning zeal of Bernard. Dom Peter himself recognized that, with the Abbot of Clairvaux, he was "the one who always gave in to the one who never gave in." A good sign, as Someone said, "and if anyone would go to law with thee and take thy tunic, let him take thy cloak as well; and whoever forces thee to go for one mile, go with him two" (Matt. 5:40-41).

Thus, when we look at the life and message of Abbot Peter, we always return to the theme of peace, serenity, and charity. Without a doubt St. Bernard established peace between parties, cities, and opposing lords, but at the price of battles and harshness. Bernard never accepted defeat, and he pushed his will right to the end with an intrepid faith but also with an obstinate zeal.
Peter and Bernard got along passably well outside of the crusades and councils. Perhaps in Peter's gentleness and quiet goodness lies the best proof of his concept of man.

Bernard, on the contrary, by seeking, in effect, the continual triumph of the spirit over the body, lived in a state of constant tension and struggle. Impenitent scuffler and fiery integrator that he was, Bernard thundered out condemnations and excommunications. From the Rule of St. Benedict, Bernard was quick to single out the instructions to apply to rebellious and hard- hearted monks: "the blight of excommunication, beatings with rods, the iron which strikes."

Peter preferred other instructions from the same Chapter 28 of the Rule of St. Benedict, more gentle and efficacious: "the unguents of exhortation, the remedy of the Divine Scriptures and, what is worth even more, his prayers and those of all his brothers"; and above all that order St. Benedict gives the abbot: "Be loved rather than feared." Peter, like his Master, knew what was inside man; he benefitted from the wise equilibrium born of respect of concrete reality, and he waited in peace, without false calmness but in a firm hope, for the triumph of God. His zeal was transformed into indulgence and patience.
He offered Peter Abelard (of Heloise and Abelard fame) shelter at Cluny in 1140, convinced the pope to lighten Abelard's sentence and reconciled Bernard and Abelard.

Peter wrote against Petrobrusian heretics in southern France, defended the Jews, attended the synod of Rheims that denounced the teachings of Bishop Gilbert de la Porree, and had a voluminous correspondence with his contemporaries.
He ruled Cluny 34 years, during which the monastery was the greatest and most influential in Christendom.

There is no doubt the Peter of Cluny chose to die on December 25 because he wished to be obscure--for 30 years he prayed and asked others to pray for his death of the feast of the Incarnation. Yearly he went to the saints of Chartreuse, whom he greatly loved, and asked them to entreat the Lord for this favor.

Dom Peter knew that true strength is not violence, but gentleness; and he will obtain for us these graces of every day, which are not small because they make us live, we and everyone else, in peace. He knew it was better to be a saint, than to be called a saint. For his smiling seriousness, his understanding of human nature transformed by the mystery of the Incarnation, his humor, his gentle goodness, Peter deserves our veneration.

He died at Cluny after preaching about the Solemnity of Christmas to his monks, and was buried at the very southern end of the ambulatory in the abbey church. His tomb was violated in 1562 and razed in 1792, but some remains were discovered in 1931, concealed in the stable. Though his cult has never been formally approved, he is venerated in the diocese of Arras and is included in French martyrologies (Benedictines, Delaney, Encyclopedia).
1170 Thomas Becket (of Canterbury) BM (RM)
 Cantuáriæ, in Anglia, natális sancti Thomæ, Epíscopi et Mártyris, qui, ob defensiónem justítiæ et ecclesiásticæ immunitátis, in Basílica sua, ab impiórum hóminum factióne percússus gládio, Martyr migrávit ad Christum.
       At Canterbury in England, the birthday of St. Thomas, bishop and martyr, who, for the defence of justice and ecclesiastical immunity, was struck with the sword in his own basilica by a faction of wicked men, and thus went to Christ as martyr.
Born in London (Cheapside), England, 1118; died in Canterbury, England, 1170; canonized 1173.
1170 ST THOMAS BECKET, ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY, MARTYR
THERE is a well-known story that the mother of St Thomas Becket was a Saracen princess who followed his father, a pilgrim or crusader, from the Holy Land and wandered about Europe uttering her sole words of English, “London “and” Becket” until she found him; whereupon she became a Christian and married him. There is no foundation in fact for this legend. Several con­temporaries speak of the saint’s parentage. FitzStephen, a cleric in his household, says, “His father was Gilbert, sheriff of London, and his mother’s name was Matilda. Both were citizens of burgess stock, who neither made money by usury nor followed any trade, but lived respectably on their income.”* {*Typical examples, no doubt, of those worthy folk of whom FitzStephen himself speaks “The citizens of London are notable before all other citizens in civility of manners, attire, table and talk. The matrons of this city are perfect Sabines.”}

Others say that her name was Rohesia; she was a Norman like her husband. Their son was born on St Thomas’s day 1118, in the city, and he was sent to school with the canons regular at Merton in Surrey. When he was twenty-one he lost his mother, and soon after his father. Gilbert’s means had been seriously diminished, and Thomas went into the office “of a relative in London, one Osbert Eightpence (Huit­deniers). He was also employed by Richer de l’Aigle, who used to take him out hawking and hunting and encouraged in Thomas the love of field-sports that never left him. One day when he was in pursuit of game his hawk made a stoop at a duck and dived after it into a river. Thomas, fearing to lose his hawk, leaped into the water and the rapid stream carried him down to a mill, where only the sudden stopping of the wheel, which appeared miraculous, saved him. This incident is characteristic of Thomas’s impetuosity, rather than a cause of his “taking life more seriously” {It is traditionally located at a place called Wade’s Mill in Hertfordshire, on the Rib between Ware and St Edmund’s College, a spot better known for its association with another Thomas, viz. Clarkson, the slavery abolitionist.}

When he was about twenty-four he obtained a post in the household of Theobald, archbishop of Canterbury. He received minor orders and was greatly favoured by Theobald, who saw to it that Thomas was provided with a number of benefices, from Beverley to Shoreham. In 1154 he was ordained deacon and the archbishop nominated him archdeacon of Canterbury, which was then the first ecclesiastical dignity in England after the bishoprics and abbacies. Theobald committed to him the management of delicate affairs, seldom did anything without his advice, and sent him several times to Rome on important missions; nor had he ever reason to repent of the choice he had made or of the confidence he reposed in Thomas of London, as he was commonly called.

In the Norse Thomas Saga Erkibyskups the brilliant young ecclesiastic is described as, “slim of growth and pale of hue, with dark hair, a long nose and straightly-featured face. Blithe of countenance was he, winning and loveable in his conversation, frank of speech but slightly stuttering in his talk, so keen of discernment and understanding that he could always make difficult questions plain after a wise manner.” It is such men that monarchs like to have around them. Moreover, it was the diplomacy of Thomas of London that had obtained from the pope, Bd Eugenius III, discouragement of the succession to the throne of Stephen’s son Eustace, thus making the crown secure to Henry of Anjou. Accordingly we find him in 1155, at the age of thirty-six, appointed chancellor by King Henry II.

“Thomas now”, says his secretary, Herbert of Bosham, “as it were laid aside the archdeacon and took on the duties of chancellor, which he discharged with en­thusiasm and ability”, and his talents had full scope, for only that of the justiciar equaled the importance of the chancellor. As a later chancellor and martyr named Thomas was the personal friend as well as the servant of his sover­eign, Henry VIII, so Becket was a friend of Henry II—but with a yet greater degree of intimacy. It was said that they had but one heart and one mind, and this being so it can hardly be questioned that to Becket’s influence were partly due those reforms for which Henry is justly praised, e.g. his measures to secure justice and equitable dealing by a more uniform system of law. But their friendship was not confuted to a common interest in affairs of state, and their personal relations at times of relaxation have been aptly described as “frolicsome”.

One of the outstanding virtues of Thomas the Chancellor was unquestionably magnificence—but it is to be feared that he erred by excess of it. His household compared with that of the king, and when he was sent into France to negotiate a royal marriage his personal retinue numbered two hundred men there were several hundred more, knights and esquires, clerics and servants, in the column, eight wagon-loads of presents, music and singers, hawks and hounds, monkeys and mastiffs.* {*Two wagons, FitzStephen tells us, were laden with beer in iron-bound casks, to be given to the French, “who like that kind of drink; for it is wholesome, clear, wine-coloured and of a better taste.”}  The French gaped and asked, “If this is the chancellor’s state, what can the king’s be like?” His entertainments were on a correspondingly generous scale, and his liberality to the poor proportionate. In 1159 Henry raised an army of mercenaries in France to recover his wife’s county of Toulouse. In the resulting war Becket served, followed by seven hundred of his own knights, and showed himself not only a good general, but a good fighting-man as well. Clad in armour he led assaults and even, cleric though he was, engaged in hand-to-hand encounters. It is not surprising that the prior of Leicester, meeting him at Rouen, exclaimed, “What do you mean by dressing like that? You look more like a falconer than a cleric. Yet you are a cleric in person, and many times over in office archdeacon of Canterbury, dean of Hastings, provost of Beverley, canon of this church and that, procurator of the archbishopric—and likely to be arch­bishop too, the rumour goes!”  Thomas took the reproach in good part, and said 

He knew three poor priests in England any one of whom he would rather see archbishop than himself, for he would inevitably have to choose between the royal favour and God’s. Though immersion in public affairs and a secular grandeur of state was the predominating aspect of Becket’s life as chancellor, it was not the only one. He was proud, irascible, violent and remained so all his life; but we also hear of “retreats” at Merton, of taking the discipline and of prayer in the nightwatches and his confessor during the first part of his career testified to the blamelessness of his private life under conditions of extreme danger and temptation. And if he sometimes co-operated too far in schemes of his royal master that infringed the rights of the Church, he was not afraid to withstand him in such matters as the marriage of the abbess of Romsey.

Theobald, archbishop of Canterbury, died in 1161. King Henry was then in Normandy with his chancellor, whom he had resolved to raise to that dignity.
Thomas flatly told the king, “Should God permit me to be archbishop of Canter­bury I should soon lose your Majesty’s favour, and the affection with which you honour me would be changed into hatred. For several things you do in prejudice of the rights of the Church make me fear you would require of me what I could not agree to; and envious persons would not fail to make this the occasion of endless strife between us.”
The king paid no regard to his remonstrance; and Thomas refused to acquiesce in accepting the dignity till Cardinal Henry of Pisa, legate from the Holy See, overruled his scruples. The election was made in May 1162; Prince Henry, then in London, gave his consent in his father’s name; and Becket set out immediately from London to Canterbury. On the road he gave private charge to several clergy of his church to warn him of the faults which they should observe in his conduct, “for four eyes see more clearly than two”. On Saturday in Whit-week he was ordained priest by Walter, bishop of Rochester, and on the octave of Pentecost was consecrated by Henry of Blois, bishop of Winchester. * {*St Thomas decreed that this anniversary should be observed throughout his province as a feast of the Most Holy Trinity, over a hundred and fifty years before the feast was made general in the West.}

Soon after he received the pallium from Pope Alexander III, and by the end of the year there was a notable change in his manner of life. Next his skin he wore a hair-shirt, and his ordinary dress was a black cassock and linen surplice, with the sacerdotal stole about his neck. By the rule of life which he laid down for himself he rose early to read the Holy Scriptures, keeping Herbert of Bosham by him that they might discuss the meaning of passages together. At nine o’clock he sang Mass, or was present when he did not celebrate himself. At ten a daily alms was distributed, and he doubled all the ordinary alms of his predecessor. He took a siesta in the afternoon, and dined at three o’clock among the guests and household in the great hall, and, instead of music, a book was read. He kept a notably good table, decently served for the sake of others, but was himself now very temperate and moderate. He visited the infirmary and the monks working in the cloister nearly every day, and sought to establish a certain monastic regularity in his own household. He took an especial care for the selection of candidates for holy orders, examining them personally, and in his judicial capacity exerted a rigorously even-handed justice “the letters and requests of the king himself were of no use to a man who had not right on his side”.

Although the archbishop had resigned the chancellorship contrary to the wish of the king, the relations between them remained for some time pretty much as before. In spite of some differences Henry still showed him great marks of favour and secmed still to love him as he had done from their first acquaintance. ‘the first serious sign of displeasure happened at Woodstock, when the king was holding his court there. It was customary to pay two shillings a year upon every hide of land to the sheriffs of the counties, who in return protected the contributors against the rapacity of minor officials (it apparently was “graft” of the worst kind). This sum the king ordered to be paid into his exchequer. The archbishop remonstrated that it was a voluntary payment which could not he exacted as a revenue of the crown, adding, “If the sheriffs, their sergeants and officers defend the people, we shall pay otherwise, not”. The king replied with an oath, “By God’s eyes, this shall be paid!” “By the reverence of those eyes, my lord king”, answered Thomas, “not a penny shall be paid from my lands.” Henry said no more at that time, but his resentment was roused. Then came the affair of Philip de Brois, a canon who was accused of murder. According to the law of those times he was tried in the ecclesiastical court, and was acquitted by the bishop of Lincoln but a king’s justice-in-eyre, Simon Fitzpeter, then tried to bring him before his own court Philip refused to plead, and addressed Fitzpeter in insulting terms. There­upon Henry ordered him to he tried both for the former murder and the later misdemeanor. Thomas pressed for the case to come before his own court, and the king reluctantly agreed. Philip’s plea of previous acquittal was accepted for the murder, but for the contempt of court he was sentenced to be flogged and suspended for a time from his benefice. The king thought the sentence too mild, and said to the assessors, “By God’s eyes, you shall swear that you did not spare him because he was a cleric”. They offered to swear it but Henry was not satisfied.

Accumulation of conflicts of these kinds provoked him in October 1163 to call the bishops to a council at Westminster, at which he demanded the handing over of criminal clergy to the civil power for punishment. The bishops wavered, but St Thomas stiffened them, Then Henry required a promise of observance of his (unspecified) royal customs. St Thomas and the council agreed, but “saving their order”. So far as the king’s object was concerned this was equivalent to a refusal, and the next day he ordered Thomas to give up certain castles and honours which he had held since he was chancellor. In a stormy interview at Northampton the king in vain tried to make his old friend modify his attitude, and the trouble came to a head at the Council of Clarendon, near Salisbury, at the beginning of 11164. For a brief space St Thomas, having received little encouragement from Pope Alexander III, was very conciliatory and promised to accept the customs but when he saw the constitutions in which were expressed the royal customs which he was to uphold, he exclaimed, “By the Lord Almighty, no seal of mine shall he put to them” “ They provided inter alia that no prelate should leave the kingdom without the royal licence or appeal to Rome without the king’s consent no tenant-in-chief was to be excommunicated against the royal will (this had been claimed from the time of William I, but was a clear infringement of spiritual jurisdiction) the custody of vacant benefices and their revenues was to be held by the king (this abuse had been recognized during the reign of Henry I); and-—what proved to be the critical point—that clerics convicted and sentenced in ecclesiastical courts should be at the disposition of the royal officers (involving a possibility of double punishment).

The archbishop was bitterly remorseful for having weakened in his opposition to the king and setting an example that other bishops were too ready to follow. “I am a proud, vain man, a feeder of birds and follower of hounds”, he said, “and I have been made a shepherd of sheep. I am fit only to be cast out of the see which I fill.” For forty days and more, while awaiting absolution and permission from the pope, he would not celebrate Mass. He tried assiduously to heal the breach, but Henry now pursued him with persecution which culminated in a suit for 30,000 marks alleged to be owing from the time when he was chancellor (although he had received a clear discharge on becoming archbishop). At Wood-stock the king refused him audience, and Thomas twice made vain attempts to cross the Channel to put his case before the pope. Then Henry summoned a council at Northampton. It resolved itself into a concerted attack on the archbishop, in which the prelates followed in the wake of the lords. First he was condemned to a fine for contempt in not appearing at a case in the king’s court when summoned; then various monetary causes were brought against him, and finally the demand to produce certain chancery-accounts. Bishop Henry of Winchester pleaded the chancellor’s discharge; it was disallowed. Then he offered an ex gratia payment of 2ooo marks of his own money; it was refused. On Tuesday, October 13, 1164, St Thomas celebrated a votive Mass of St Stephen the Protomartyr. Then, without mitre or pallium, but bearing his metropolitan’s cross in his own hand, he went to the council-hall. The king and the barons were deliberating in an inner room. After a long delay the Earl of Leicester came out and addressed the archbishop. “The king commands you to render your accounts. Otherwise you must hear judgement.” “Judgement?” exclaimed St Thomas, “I was given the church of Canterbury free from temporal obligations. I am therefore not liable and will not plead concerning them.” As Leicester turned to report this to the king, Thomas stopped him. Son and earl, listen: You are bound to obey God and me before your earthly king. Neither law nor reason allows children to judge their father and condemn him. Wherefore I refuse the king’s judgement and yours and everybody’s; under God, the pope will judge me alone. You, my fellow bishops, who have served man rather than God, I summon to the presence of the pope. And so, guarded by the authority of the Catholic Church and the Holy See, I go hence.” Cries of “Traitor” followed him as he left the hall. That night St Thomas fled from Northampton* {*St Thomas of Canterbury is a principal patron of the present diocese and cathedral of Northampton.} through the rain, and three weeks later secretly embarked at Sandwich.

St Thomas and his few followers landed in Flanders and, arriving at the abbey of St Bertin at Saint-Omer, sent deputies to Louis VII, King of France, who received them graciously and invited the archbishop into his dominions. The pope, Alexander III, was then at Sens. The bishops and others from King Henry arrived there and accused St Thomas before him, +{+His chief clerical enemy, Gilbert Fount, bishop of London, began to harangue with great vehemence. The pope interrupted him “Spare, brother.” “Shall I spare him, my lord?” asked Gilbert. “Brother, I did not say spare him, but spare yourself.”} but left again before the arch­bishop reached the city. Thomas showed the pope the sixteen Constitutions of Clarendon, of which some were pronounced intolerable, and he was rebuked for ever having considered their acceptance. On the day following he confessed that he had received the see of Canterbury, though against his will, yet by an election perhaps uncanonical, and that he had acquitted himself ill in it. Wherefore he resigned his dignity into the hands of his Holiness and, taking the ring off his finger, delivered it to him and withdrew. The pope called him again and rein­stated him in his dignity, with an order not to abandon it for that would be visibly to abandon the cause of God. Then Alexander recommended the exiled prelate to the abbot of Pontigny, to be entertained by him.

St Thomas regarded this monastery of the Cistercian Order as a religious retreat and school of penance for the expiation of his sins; he submitted himself to the rules of the house and was unwilling to allow any distinction in his favour. His time he passed in study, but also in writing both to his supporters and oppon­ents letters, which were increasingly unlikely to help on a peaceful settlement. King Henry meanwhile confiscated the goods of all the friends, relations and domestics of Thomas, banished them, and obliged all who were adults to go to the archbishop that the sight of their distress might move him. These exiles arrived in troops at Pontigny. When the general chapter of the Cistercians met at Citeaux it received an intimation from the King of England that if they continued to harbor his enemy he would sequestrate their houses throughout his dominions. The abbot of Citeaux can hardly be blamed for hinting to St Thomas that he should leave Pontigny, which he did, and was received at the abbey of St Columba, near Sens, as the guest of King Louis. Negotiations between the pope, the archbishop, and the king dragged on for nearly six years. St Thomas was named legate a latere for all England except York, excommunicated several of his adversaries, and was menacing as well as conciliatory, so that Pope Alexander saw fit to annul some of his sentences. King Louis of France was drawn into the struggle. In January 1169 the two kings had a conference with the archbishop at Montmirail, whereat Thomas refused to yield on two points a similar conference in the autumn at Montmartre failed through Henry’s last-minute intransigence. St Thomas prepared letters for the bishops ordering the publication of a sentence of interdict on the kingdom of England; and then suddenly, in July 1170, king and archbishop met again in Normandy and a reconciliation was at last patched up, apparently without any overt reference to the matters in dispute.

On December 1 St Thomas landed at Sandwich, and though the sheriff of Kent had tried to impede him the short journey from there to Canterbury was a triumphal progress the way was lined with cheering people and every bell of the primatial city was ringing. But it was not peace. * {*In the previous March St Godric had sent St Thomas a message foretelling that he would return to England and die soon after. His farewell words to the bishop of Paris were, “I am going to England to die”.}

Those in authority were glowering, and Thomas was faced with the task of dealing with Roger de Pont-l’Evêque, archbishop of York, and the bishops who had assisted him at the coronation of Henry’s son, in defiance of the right of Canterbury and perhaps of the instructions of the pope. St Thomas had sent in advance the letters of suspension of Roger and others and of excommunication of the bishops of London and Salisbury, and the three bishops together had gone over to appeal to King Henry in France while in Kent Thomas was being subjected to insult and annoyance at the hands of Ranulf de Broc, from whom the archbishop had recently (and rather tactlessly at such a time) again demanded the restoration of Saltwood castle, a manor belonging to the see. After a week at Canterbury St Thomas visited London, where he was joyfully received, except by Henry’s son, “the young King”, who refused to see him; after visiting several friends he arrived back in Canterbury on or about his fifty-second birthday. Meanwhile the three bishops had laid their complaints before the king at Bur, near Bayeux, and somebody declared aloud that there would be no peace for the realm while Becket lived. And Henry, in one of his fits of ungovernable rage, pronounced the fatal words interpreted by some of his hearers as a rebuke for allowing this pestilent clerk to continue to live and disturb him. At once four knights set off for England, where they made their way to the infuriated Brocs at Saltwood. Their names were Reginald Fitzurse, William de Tracy, Hugh de Morville, and Richard le Breton.

On St John’s day the archbishop received a letter warning him of his danger, and all southeast Kent was in a state of suppressed ferment and ominous expecta­tion. In the afternoon of December 29 the knights from France came to him. *{*It was a Tuesday. Becket was born and baptized on a Tuesday; his flight from Northampton, his leaving England, a vision of martyrdom he had at Pontigny, his return from exile, his death, all took place on Tuesday. Henry II was buried and the martyr’s relics were translated on Tuesdays.} There was an interview, in which several demands were made, particularly that St Thomas should remove the censures on the three bishops; it began quietly and ended angrily, the knights departing with threats and oaths. A few minutes later, shouting, breaking of doors and clangor of arms was heard, and St Thomas, urged and hustled by his attendants, began to move slowly towards the church, his cross carried before him. Vespers was being sung, and at the door of the north transept a crowd of terrified monks met him. “Get back to choir” he exclaimed, “I will not come in all the time you are standing there.” They drew back a little, and as he entered the church armed men were seen behind in the dim light of the cloister (it was nearly dark). Monks slammed the door and bolted it, shutting out some of their brethren in the confusion. These beat loudly at the door. Becket turned round. “Away, you cowards!” he cried, “a church is not a castle”, and re-opened the door himself. Then he went up the steps towards the choir. Only three were left with him, Robert, prior of Merton, William FitzStephen, and Edward Grim; {Respectively, his aged adviser and confessor, a cleric of his household, and an English monk.} the rest had fled to the crypt and elsewhere, and soon Grim alone remained. The knights, who had been joined by a subdeacon named Hugh of Horsea, ran in, shouting, “Where is Thomas the traitor?” “Where is the archbishop?” “ Here I am”, he replied, “no traitor, but archbishop and priest of God”, and came back down the steps, standing between the altars of our Lady and St Benedict.

They shouted at him to absolve the bishops. “I cannot do other than I have done”, he answered. “Reginald! You have received many favours from me. Why do you come into my church armed?” Fitzurse’s reply was to threaten him with an axe. “I am ready to die”, said St Thomas, “but God’s curse be on you if you harm my people.” Fitzurse seized his cloak and pulled him towards the door. Becket snatched himself clear. Then they tried to carry him outside bodily, and he threw one of them to the ground. Fitzurse flung away his axe and drew his sword. “You pander!” exclaimed the archbishop, “you owe me fealty and submission!” “I owe no fealty contrary to the king”, Fitzurse shouted back. “Strike!” And he knocked off his cap. St Thomas covered his face and called aloud on God and his saints. Tracy struck a blow, which Grim intercepted with his own arm, but it grazed Thomas’s head and blood ran down into his eyes. He wiped it away, and when he saw the crimson stain cried, “Into thy hands, 0 Lord, I commend my spirit! Another blow from Tracy beat him to his knees, and murmuring, “For the name of Jesus and in defence of the Church I am willing to die, he pitched forward on to his face. Le Breton with a tre­mendous stroke severed his scalp, breaking his sword against the pavement, and Hugh of Horsea scattered the brains out of the skull with his sword-point. Hugh de Morville alone struck no blow. Then, shouting “The king’s men! The king’s men!” The murderers dashed away through the cloisters—the whole thing was over in ten minutes—while the great church filled with people and a thunder­storm broke overhead. The archbishop’s body lay alone, stretched in the middle of the transept, and for long no one dared to touch or even go near it.

Even after making full allowance for the universal horror which such a deed of sacrilege—the murder of a metropolitan in his own cathedral—was bound to excite in the twelfth century, the indignation and excitement which soon spread throughout Europe and the spontaneous canonization of Thomas Becket by the common voice testify to the fact that the inner significance of his death was realized on all hands: that a necessary vindication had been made of the rights of the Church against an aggressive state and that the archbishop of Canterbury, in some ways an unsympathetic character, whose methods were not beyond reasonable criticism, was a martyr and worthy to be venerated as a saint.* {* Even in the moment of his death Grim overheard a monk declare that it was the deserved penalty for his obstinacy, and at the University of Paris and elsewhere could be found some who maintained that it was a just execution of one who “ wished to be more than king”.} The discovery of his hair-shirt and other evidences of an austere private life, and the miracles which from the very first were reported in large numbers at his tomb, added fuel to this fire of devotion.

It is very doubtful how far Henry II can be held directly and deliberately responsible for the murder; but the public conscience could not be satisfied by anything less than that the most powerful sovereign in Europe should undergo a public penance of a most humiliating kind. This he did in July, 1174 {When news of the murder was brought to him he shut himself up lamenting, and fasted alone for forty days.} He narrowly escaped an interdict, which, indeed, his French dominions were put under for a short time. His first penance, when he received absolution from the papal legates, was at Avranches in May 1172. A pillar still marks the spot, at the site of the old cathedral.} eighteen months after the solemn canonization of St Thomas as a martyr by Pope Alexander at Segni. {In his interesting and valuable Historical Memorials of Canterbury Dean Stanley discusses the subsequent careers of the murderers. In reference to the legend that three of them went to Palestine, died there, and were buried in Jerusalem “ante ostium templi” he adds a footnote:” The front of the church of the Holy Sepulchre is, and always must have been, a square of public resort to all the pilgrims of the world, where no tombs either of murderer or saint could ever have been placed. The church of the Templars was the Mosque of the Rock, and the front was the sacred platform of the sanctuary—a less impossible place, but still very improbable. Nothing of the kind now exists on either spot.” The learned dean was here mistaken on both points. In the square before the Holy Sepulchre church there is the tomb of an Anglo-Norman knight, one Philip d’Aubigny—not one of Becket’s murderers. On the south side of the platform of the Dome of the Rock is the mosque called al-Aksa, formerly a church. Herein, some thirty years ago, the present writer was shown by the imam the place where tradition says the three knights were buried. It was then covered with matting, but I was assured there was no trace of the inscription, which Roger Hoveden mentions. But the place is also called the tomb of the sons of Aaron.

{On July 7, 1220, the body of St Thomas was solemnly translated from its tomb in the crypt to a shrine behind the high altar by the archbishop, Cardinal Stephen Langton, in the presence of King Henry III, Cardinal Pandulf, the papal legate, the archbishop of Rheims, and a vast gathering. From that day until September 1538 the shrine of St Thomas was one of the half-dozen most favoured places of pilgrimage in Christendom, famous as a spiritual sanctuary, for its material beauty and for its wealth. No authentic record of its destruction and spoliation by Henry VIII remains; even the fate of the relics is a matter of uncertainty, though they were probably destroyed at that time when his memory was, naturally enough, particularly execrated by the king (but that he held a form of trial at which “Thomas, sometime archbishop of Canterbury”, was convicted of treason and his bodily remains ordered to be publicly burnt, is almost certainly apocryphal). The feast of St Thomas of Canterbury is kept throughout the Western church, and in England he is venerated as protector of the secular clergy; the city of Portsmouth has the privilege of observing as well the anniversary of the translation.

There is probably no other medieval saint of whom contemporaries wrote so many biographies as St Thomas of Canterbury. A list of the Latin lives will be found in BHL., nn. 8170—8248, and all the more important of these, together with the collections of miracles, have been printed in the seven volumes of Materials for the History of Thomas Becket, edited for the Rolls Series by Canon J. C. Robertson and Dr J. B. Sheppard. Further, there are several lives in French or Anglo-Norman, of which the most noteworthy is that by Guernes de Pont-Sainte-Maxence, as well as others in Icelandic, more particularly one which seems to have used contemporary materials now no longer in existence. E. Magnusson edited this for the Rolls Series under the title, Thomas Saga Erkibyskups. Of some of the lives William FitzStephen and that know the authorship, as, for example, that by John of Salisbury, but there are others in which identification of the writer is not so easy. A discussion of this problem and of that of the priority or interdependence of these biographical materials would be out of place here. The critics who have undertaken the task, such as Louis Halphen (in the Revue Historique, vol. cii, 1909, pp. 35—45), and F. Walberg (La Tradition historique de St Thomas Becket avant la fin du XIIe siècle, 1929) are by no means in agreement. See on this the Analecta Bollandiana, vol. xl (1922), pp. 432—436, and vol. xli, pp. 454—456. The Life of St Thomas Becket by John Morris (1885), still retains its value, and that of L’Huillier, St Thomas de Canterbury (2 vols., 1891), is also full and fairly reliable the shorter sketch by M. Demimuid in the series Les Saints is not so satisfactory, but that of Robert Speaight (1938) may be recommended. For the history of the conflict between Thomas and Henry, see D. Knowles, The Episcopal Colleagues of...Becket (1951); and see the, same writer’s Raleigh lecture, Archbishop Thomas Becket (1949) ; and R. Foreville, L’Eglise et la royauté en Angleterre sous Henri II (1943) Several Anglican contributions to the subject may also be recommended as making faithful and on the whole sympathetic use of the historical materials. For example, the essay of Professor Tout, The Place of St Thomas of Canterbury in History (1921), is an excellent publication of the Rylands Library, Manchester. The same may be said of the pages referring to the martyr in Z. N. Brooke’s The English Church and the Papacy (1931), as also of W. H. Hutton’s Thomas Becket (1926), and of Miss Norgate’s article in the DNB. On the other hand, The Development of the Legend of Thomas Becket (1930), by P. A. Brown, and E. A. Abbott’s St Thomas, his Death and Miracles (1898) are notably censorious and rationalistic. The contention supported by Canon A. J. Mason (in his book, What became of the Bones of St Thomas? (1920), that a skeleton brought to light in the crypt of Canterbury cathedral in 1888 was that of the martyr, has been answered by Fathers Morris and Pollen (see The Month, March 1888, January 1908, and May 1920), and this negative conclusion is supported by such Anglican authorities as Dean Hutton and Professor Tout. A surprising feature regarding the martyrdom is the rapidity and world-wide range of the cultus which followed. Barely ten years later we find St Thomas depicted in the mosaics of the cathedral of Monreale in Sicily, and at the end of little more than a century he is inscribed on December 29 in an Armenian synaxary. For the pictorial representations of St Thomas of Canterbury, see especially the monograph of Tancred Borenius, St Thomas Becket in Art (1932).  
It is significant that Henry VIII, when he broke away from the Church and appointed himself the head of the church in England, should have elected to remove Thomas, who had died four centuries earlier, from the long calendar of English saints. St. Thomas died for the rights of the Church, under the then reigning king, Henry II, which his successor finally abrogated. In the 16th century his shrine, which had been a major pilgrimage site for 400 years, was destroyed and the relics that it contained were burned (although some say they were transferred to Stoneyhurst).

Thomas stands for the principle of God against Caesar. Somewhere between these two points, between these respective duties, comes a dividing line, where the territories meet. A man of conscience must decide on which side he will stand. It is the old conflict between Church and State. It was on that difficult border line that Thomas was called upon to live and die.
What he resisted in those early years, other men did not see or understand, but he foresaw the dangers ahead that eventually overwhelmed the Church in England. It reached its full climax when Crammer was elected archbishop of Canterbury in 1533. The same conflict goes on today elsewhere, under other forms, though Christ foretold that Satan will not finally overcome the Church.

Thomas was born into an ordinary, hard-working Norman family and was baptized the same day. As he grew, his mother Matilda used to weigh the child and give the same amount of bread to the poor that the scales showed--a generous form of charity. His father Gilbert, the sheriff of London, ensured that Thomas was given a good, well- rounded education. First, he was sent as a student to the monks at Merton Abbey in Surrey, then to London, and later went to the University of Paris, returning to England when he was 21.
He was tall and handsome, with keen features, loved good living and fine clothing, and was fond of outdoor sport, so he made many friends as a young man and left his mark. All remarked upon his purity of life. He loved the lovely things of God, the noble horse, the swift flying falcon, and God looked upon him with pleasure.

His father's death left him in straitened circumstances. So, from about 1142, he was employed as a clerk at the court of Archbishop Theobald of Canterbury. Because of his noble bearing, his shrewdness and capability, the archbishop himself noticed him. He began to trust him more with important documents, to confide in him and eventually won his friendship. He took him into his regular service, travelling together on the king's business, they visited France and Rome and various parts of the Continent. Thus Thomas came into contact with the highest in the land, even became a close friend of the king himself, who like the archbishop took a fancy to him.

About this time Thomas obtained permission to study canon and civil law at Bologna and Auxerre, which afterward fitted him well for the work he was to undertake. He was awarded for his many services by the benefices of several churches, as was customary in those days, though he was not yet a priest.

In 1154, while still quite young, Thomas was ordained a deacon and appointed archdeacon of Canterbury. In this position, Archbishop Theobald used him as a negotiator with the Crown. Thomas became a favorite of Henry of Anjou when he convinced Pope Eugene III not to recognize the succession of King Stephen of Blois' son, Eustace, thus ensuring Henry's right to the English throne as Henry II.

The following year (1155), at Theobald's suggestion, Thomas was made Chancellor of England, a post in which he loyally served Henry II for seven years as statesman, diplomat, and soldier. Thomas's personal efficiency, lavish entertainment, and support for the king's interests even, on occasion, against those of the Church, made him an outstanding royal official.

All these dignities were a wonderful ascent, but Thomas rose rapidly to power by his ability and by his magnetic personality, which all who associated with him remarked upon. The state of the country improved greatly under his rule as chancellor; his business was to administer the law and this he did with impartiality to all alike, to churchmen as well as laymen.

God brought this servant along a strange and long road, preparing step by step the instrument of his design, as he does with every individual according to the plan of life and work he has chosen for him.

When the king selected him for his final post, being his close friend, he must have thought he would have an obedient tool, which he could use as he wished. He had made a wrong choice to carry out his evil designs. He wished to curb the power of the Church, to regulate her benefices to make appointments to suit himself, in fact to take from the Church the rights which were peculiarly her own. Though Thomas had outwardly appeared worldly, he loved rather the things of God and His Church. "If you make me Archbishop," he said, "you will regret it. You say you love me now; well that love will turn to hatred."

So it came about as he had foretold. When accepting the office of archbishop of Canterbury in 1162, he took over the authority--his training and character fitted him for so high a dignity but henceforth he would be a different man; from the day of his election he completely changed. He had served the king, now he was to serve the King of kings, where glory lies in discipline and humility. To Henry's amazement and annoyance, Thomas resigned the chancellorship and was ordained a priest the day before his episcopal consecration.

He had not wished to be made archbishop, but when the office fell to him, his style of life changed radically. As Thomas put it, he changed from being "a patron of play-actors and a follower of hounds, to being a shepherd of souls." Now that he was a priest he lived as one, putting aside all the costly robes he used as Chancellor; he wore the habit of a monk.

Every morning he said his Mass in the cathedral with great devotion and even with tears, as those who saw him testify. Nightly he took part in the divine office that was chanted by the community of monks, of which he was the head. He was also profuse in alms- giving. Daily he attended to the business in hand, which must have been very great, since now he was primate of England.

Now that he was archbishop, he intended to carry out the proper duties of his state in life. These included the paternal care of the king's soul, tactlessly and annoyingly presented by his former friend.

There were many abuses to rectify, disputes about church lands and property, clergy who were not ready to forego their privileges. Some of his own prelates were rebellious; their relatives, who were closely related and supporters of the king, made trouble. In fact, two of the major points of conflict with Henry concerned the respective jurisdictions of church and state over clergymen convicted of crimes, and the freedom to appeal to Rome. On account of the alienation of church lands, Thomas, who knew the state of affairs better than anyone else, predicted trouble; it was not long in coming to a head.

In the controversy, Henry claimed to be acting according to the customs of his grandfather that were codified in the Constitutions of Clarendon. In the view of Henry's mother, Matilda, this codification was a mistake. It also failed to take into account such recent developments as the Gregorian Reform and the investiture controversy. Becket accepted these Constitutions at first, but after understanding their implications, rejected them. Thus ensured the conflict.

At the famous assembly at Northampton in 1164, Thomas faced his opponents. He foresaw that many of the knights would not be willing to fall in with his decrees, that they would even go so far as to do away with him, if it suited their purpose; he was courageous and unmoved by their threats: "If I am murdered," he told the bishops, "I enjoin you to lay the interdict upon these districts." The king, who was also present, lost his temper and showed his real purpose in the former election: "You are my man," he said, "I raised you from nothing and now you defy me."

"Sir," said Thomas, "Peter was raised from nothing yet he ruled the Church." "Yes," replied the king, "but Peter died for his Lord." "I, too, will die for him when the time comes," answered Thomas.
"You will not yield to me then?" asked the king. "I will not, Sir," answered Thomas.

Seeing there could be no solution, Thomas thought it best to accept exile rather than any compromise with Henry II over the rights of the Church. Perhaps the king would see reason and then grant the Church her rights. Thomas left the country and took refuge in France, where he remained for over six years. Upon the pope's recommendation, Thomas entered the Cistercian monastery at Pontigny, until Henry threatened to eliminate all Cistercian monks from his realm if they continued to harbor Thomas. Then, in 1166, he moved to Saint Columba Abbey at Sens, which was under the protection of King Louis VII of France.

Both sides appealed to Pope Alexander III, who tried hard to find an acceptable solution. The conflict grew more bitter as Henry seemed bent on Thomas's ruin and Thomas censured the king's supporters and even attempted to obtain an interdict.

At last King Louis VII of France persuaded Henry II to go to Thomas and make peace but no promises were made on either side. Henry thought that on his return Thomas would not press his claims. Henry admitted the freedom of appeals to Rome, but kept the real power with himself.

Scarcely had Thomas been welcomed back to his community in England when on December 1, 1170, they began to quarrel again. When Henry heard, in Normandy, that the pope had excommunicated the recalcitrant bishops for usurping the rights of the archbishop of Canterbury and that Thomas would not release them until they swore obedience to the pope, he flew into a violent, reckless rage, saying: "Is there no one who will rid me of this turbulent priest?" These were words spoken in anger and not intentional; however, four knights who were with the king, determined to take matters into their own hands. They took ship and crossed to England at once. It was in Advent and Christmas was approaching.

On December 29, 1170, four knights with a troop of soldiers appeared outside Canterbury Cathedral demanding to see the archbishop. They were determined to murder Archbishop Becket, believing they had the blessing of Henry II to do so.

With a few priest attendants, for most of the community of monks were in the church saying vespers, the archbishop was in the palace adjoining, attending to business. Sensing trouble they at first urged him, then eventually forced him against his will to go into the church, not only to avoid the rabble but to find sanctuary there, closing the doors behind them. Thomas forbade them under obedience to close the doors: "A church must not be turned into a castle," he said.

"Why do you behave so?" he asked. "What do you fear?" "They can do naught but what God permits."

In the semi-darkness, for it was past dusk at that time of the year, the knights with drawn swords forcing their way into the church demanded angrily, "Where is the traitor, where is the archbishop?"

"Here I am," said Thomas, "no traitor but a priest of God. I wonder that in such attire you have entered into the church of God. What is it you want with me?" One of the knights raised his sword as if to strike the holy man, but his companion stretching out his arm, shielded the blow.

"Put up your sword," said St. Thomas, "not such is the defense the Lord would have."

The knights rushing forward together perpetrated their foul deed-- they slew St. Thomas on the steps of his own sanctuary and scattered his brains upon the floor. As he was killed by successive blows, Thomas repeated the names of those archbishops martyred before him: Saint Denis and Saint Elphege of Canterbury. Then he said, "Into Your hand, O Lord, I commend my spirit."

His last words, according to one eye-witness, were: "Willingly I die for the name of Jesus and in defense of the Church."

Near to the high-altar, where the seat was, upon which he and all his predecessors from time immemorial had been enthroned, he was martyred and gave up his soul to God. Every step of his martyrdom is linked with that of the Passion of Christ; from the incident in the cloister-garth, where he was first apprehended with his few companions, to his burial in the tomb, which was newly hewn out of the rock. In truth there is a marvelous similitude between the deaths of Master and servant that his early biographers, voicing the sentiments of the common people, were not slow to use.

All Christendom was aghast. Henry was forced to do public penance for the murder of Thomas, including the construction of the monastery at Witham in Somerset, described in the life of Saint Hugh of Lincoln.

Many miracles followed immediately upon his death. Within ten years, 703 miracles were recorded. He was universally acclaimed a saint even before his canonization by Pope Alexander III, two years after his death. Thomas was not flawless; he was imperious and obstinate, ambitious and violent. Yet all the time more exalted qualities were also exhibited. The years of exile at Pontigny and Sens were a time of preparation for the final ordeal.

Thomas was a martyr for Christ, most like to him in his death. The solemn translation of the relics to a new shrine behind the high altar took place in the year 1220 (July 7). The ceremony was the most magnificent ever seen and people came from all over Europe to assist at it.

The shrine-tomb of St. Thomas Becket was of unparalleled splendor, perhaps the richest in the whole world. Nothing of it now remains for it was plundered of all its riches during the reign of Henry VIII. It has been thus described: "All above the stonework was first of wood, jewels of gold set with stone, covered with plates of gold, wrought upon with gold wire, then again with jewels, gold as brooches, images, angels, rings, ten or twelve together, clawed with gold into the ground of gold. The spoils of which filled to chests, such as six or eight men could but convey one out of the Church. At one side was a stone with an angel of gold, pointing thereunto, offered there by a king of France, which king Henry put into a ring and wore on his thumb" (Morris).

St. Thomas was a fearless champion of truth and righteousness, against wicked and unscrupulous men. Even the king made reparation and did penance at his shrine. He teaches us that we must be prepared to face persecution and even death for our faith and for the rights of the Church against the state.

In most European countries today the state is supreme--God and religion have no place. We are soldiers of Christ, confirmed and anointed with the holy chrism; let us be strong and fearless then in our endeavor. Pray to St. Thomas in your present need. He died for the faith for which we should all live (Abbott, Attwater, Belloc, Benedictines, Bentley, Delaney, Duggan, Encyclopedia, Farmer, Hope, Hutton, Knowles, Morris, Murray, Speaight, Tancred, White).

St. Thomas is generally portrayed as an archbishop killed at the altar by three knights, his crucifer by him. There can be differences. Sometimes (1) there is only one knight, (2) there is a candle-bearer by him, (3) he has a sword in his bleeding head, (4) the tail of his horse is cut off as he rides through Rochester, (5) angels sing Laetabitur justus at his requiem, (6) he is consecrated in the presence of the king, or (7) he is accompanied by his crucifer in the presence of the Pope. He is venerated at Sens (Roeder).

(A.D.1118-1170)
     Archbishop Thomas Becket of Canterbury, martyr to the freedom of the Church, is venerated on December 29. His feast is within the Octave of Christmas because that was the date of his death. But it is also appropriate to commemorate him soon after the birth of Christ the King, for he died in defense of the Kingdom that is not of this world.
     Becket was a Londoner of upper middle-class stock, the son of the sheriff of London. He started to work as a merchant's clerk, but then, with a view to a clergy career, he joined the household of Archbishop Theobald of Canterbury, England's primatial see. He may also have studied at Bologna, Italy. Prizing Thomas' talents, Archbishop Theobald subsequently chose him as his chief counselor and representative. With good reason: this tall, handsome, vigorous, extroverted young man was highly intelligent and competent.
     On Theobald's recommendation, the young king Henry II appointed Becket, then thirty-six, as his chancellor. Thomas proved more than equal to the task. Henry not only appreciated his talent but also his company, and the two became closely attached socially. This was all the easier in the sumptuous royal court because Thomas, though a cleric, shared the King's devotion to banqueting and hunting. He lived magnificently, even on a regal scale. In 1159, clad in armor, he led 700 of his own knights in combat in the siege of Toulouse. Wearing secular garb troubled him little. The prior of Leicester, meeting him at Rouen, properly exclaimed, “What do you mean by dressing like that? You look more like a falconer than a cleric.” Becket was certainly worldly and ambitious, impetuous and harsh. Yet there was in him an idealistic and devout and pure side that would show itself more and more as he matured.
     King Henry was meanwhile laying plans to gain complete control over church as well as state in his kingdom. When Archbishop Theobald died, Henry foisted Thomas on the see of Canterbury, thinking that his boon companion would assist him in subjugating the Church. Thomas declined the position. He knew only too well the King's motives, and he was cleric enough to realize that what he had done as chancellor he could not in conscience do as archbishop. He warned the King about this, but Henry did not believe him. On being consecrated a bishop, Thomas resigned the chancellorship.
     After his installation, Thomas changed his life style to one of order, prayer and penance. The break in the royal friendship came only gradually. Conflict peaked in 1164, when Henry declared his intention to revive certain unspecified “royal customs”.
     Thomas was at first willing to go along. Then, when the King presented a list of three “customs”, he saw that he could not support them. Among them were the demand that clergy be subject to trial in civil courts as well as church courts; that the king had a right to the income from empty clerical benefices; that no prelate could appeal from the king to the pope, or even travel to Rome, without royal consent.
     Thomas refused to accept. Henry stormed. Trial for treason being in the offing, the Archbishop fled to France, seeking shelter in the Cistercian Abbey of Pontigny. Even from afar, Henry lashed out at Thomas by persecuting his relatives and the local Cistercian monks. But Becket did not hesitate to excommunicate the bishops who sided with the crown against the Church.
     In July 1170, monarch and archbishop met in France and patched up an agreement, but without discussing the principal issues. When Thomas returned to England on December 1, the people greeted him triumphantly. Three bishops whom he had suspended for breaking church law, now appealed their cases to the King, still in France. In one of his famous rages, Henry cried out, “Will nobody rid me of this pestilent cleric?” Four knights who took the King at his word, left at once for England, rode to Canterbury, and murdered Thomas in his cathedral.
     All Europe was shocked at this sacrilegious assassination. Miracles were soon reported at Becket's tomb. The pope excommunicated King Henry, who retracted his anti-church legislation and did public penance.
     Thomas was canonized in 1173. Ever since then the Church has celebrated his feastday as a martyr on December 29th. He had made up for his early failings by reforming his ways, but most of all, by sacrificing his life for the liberty of the Church.
     --Father Robert F. McNamara
1680 Bl. William Howard Martyr of England so-called Popish Plot grandson of Blessed Philip Howard and a member of the noble family of the Howards
He was born the son of Thomas, earl of Arundel, in 1616 and raised a Catholic. The grandson of Blessed Philip Howard and a member of the noble family of the Howards, William held the title of Viscount Stafford. He was made a Knight of the Bath by King Charles I (r.1624-1649), and married Mary Stafford in 1637. In 1640, William was named Baron Stafford. A county in Virginia in the United States bears his name. He was arrested on the false accusation of complicity in the so-called Popish Plot and imprisoned for two years before finally being beheaded on Tower Hill on December 29. He was beatified in 1929.

Blessed William Howard M (AC); died in London, England, in 1680; beatified in 1929. Viscount William of Stafford was the grandson of Saint Philip Howard. He was accused of complicity in the "Popish Plot" and after being imprisoned for two years was beheaded on Tower Hill (Benedictines).


 Wednesday  Saints of this Day December  28 Quinto Kaléndas Januárii.  

THE BIRTHDAY OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST,
 COMMONLY CALLED CHRISTMASS DAY

The Fifth Day in the Octave of Christmas

Pope Francis  PRAYER INTENTIONS FOR  December 2016
Universal: End to Child-Soldiers.
That the scandal of child-soldiers may be eliminated the world over.
Evangelization: Europe  That the peoples of Europe may rediscover the beauty, goodness, and
truth of the Gospel which gives joy and hope to life.

Please pray for those who have no one to pray for them.
POPE FRANCIS'S PRAYER INTENTIONS FOR  DECEMBER 
Christmas, hope for humanity.
That birth of the Redeemer
bring peace - hope to all people of good will.

Please pray for those who have no one to pray for them.
December 29, 2016
1 John 2:3-11Psalms 96:1-6; Luke 2:22-35; 10th century BC; David, King of Judah and Israel; Prophet (RM)
1st c. St. Trophimus Missionary companion of St. Paul
St. Crescens, bishop and martyr disciple of St. Paul the Apostle and the first bishop of Vienne in France
485 December 29 Saint Marcellus, igumen of the Monastery called "the Unsleeping Ones," great spiritual talents and gift of clairvoyance Council of Chalcedon calmed Black Sea, put out fire in city with his tears.
1156 Blessed Peter de Montboissier Peace great virtue poet theological writer of distinction, defended Jews OSB Abbot 1170 Thomas Becket (of Canterbury) BM (RM)  St. Thomas Becket (1118-1170)  
A strong man who wavered for a moment, but then learned one cannot come to terms with evil and so became a strong churchman, a martyr and a saint—that was Thomas Becket, archbishop of Canterbury, murdered in his cathedral on December 29, 1170.



The Second Vatican Council left us a very beautiful meditation on Mary Most Holy   
Let me
(Pope Francis) just recall the words referring to the mystery we celebrate today: “The immaculate Virgin preserved free from all stain of original sin, was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory, when her earthly life was over, and exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things” (no. 59).
Then towards the end, there is: “The Mother of Jesus in the glory which she possesses in body and soul in heaven is the image and the beginning of the Church as it is to be perfected in the world to come.
Likewise, she shines forth on earth, until the day of the Lord shall come” (no. 68).   Pope Francis



Your first task is to be dissatisfied with yourself, fight sin, and transform yourself into something better.
Your second task is to put up with the trials and temptations of this world that will be brought on
by the change in your life and to persevere to the very end in the midst of these things
. -- St. Augustine

God Bless Mother Angelica 1923-2016
ewtnmissionaries.com

It Makes No Sense Not To Believe In GOD 
    Every Christian must be a living book wherein one can read the teaching of the gospel

If we want to grow in the love of Jesus
In every Catholic home, even the poorest, you can find a Rosary.
In moments of joy or sadness, when believers turn to God, they pray the Rosary...
In Lourdes, the Immaculate prayed on her Rosary beads and encouraged Bernadette to recite it with her.
If we want to grow in the love of Jesus, we must meditate the mysteries of the Rosary with Mary,
constantly repeating and whispering the Ave Maria.
Nobody in the world, even among the angels, has loved and loves the Lord Jesus as much as the Mother of God.  --Saint Maximilian Kolbe


What is the Respect Life Program?
NEW materials are produced each year to help Catholics understand, value, and become engaged with supporting the dignity of the human person, and therefore the gift of every person's life. Materials are developed for use in parishes, schools, and faith-based ministries, but are also suitable for individual use. The program begins anew each October
(Respect Life Month) and continues through the following September.


It Makes No Sense Not To Believe In GOD 
Every Christian must be a living book wherein one can read the teaching of the gospel

December is the month of the Immaculate Conception.


Pope Francis  PRAYER INTENTIONS FOR  December 2016
Universal: End to Child-Soldiers.
That the scandal of child-soldiers may be eliminated the world over.
Evangelization: Europe  That the peoples of Europe may rediscover the beauty, goodness, and
truth of the Gospel which gives joy and hope to life.

ABORTION IS A MORAL OUTRAGE
Marian spirituality: all are invited.

      Mother Angelica
God Bless Mother Angelica 1923-2016
                                                                          

      Because of prayers during the campaign 2016 that just ended, 872 babies were spared from abortion
when their mothers chose life at the last possible moment.
They were scheduled to be aborted ... but they are alive today --
and often it was the sight of faithful people praying outside the abortion center that made all the difference in the world.

Since 40 Days for Life started as a coordinated effort in 2007,
we are aware of 12,668 children whose mothers had a change of heart and said "yes" to life.


                                                    We are the defenders of true freedom.
  May our witness unveil the deception of the "pro-choice" slogan.
40 days for Life Campaign saves lives Shawn Carney Campaign Director www.40daysforlife.com
Please help save the unborn they are the future for the world

It is a great poverty that a child must die so that you may live as you wish
-- Mother Teresa

 Saving babies, healing moms and dads, 'The Gospel of Life'

Pray that when those representing Planned Parenthood and other abortion groups
see volunteers for 40 Days for Life, they see ambassadors of Christ,
and may each volunteer be consciously aware at all times we represent Him.


"Man Needs Eternity -- and Every Other Hope, for Him, Is All Too Brief"

It Makes No Sense Not To Believe In GOD
 
Every Christian must be a living book wherein one can read the teaching of the gospel

Jesus brings us many Blessings
Cheerfulness strengthens the heart and makes us persevere in a good life.
Therefore the servant of God ought always to be in good spirits. -- St. Philip Neri

"Time is not our own and we must give a strict accounting of it."
1606 St. Toribio Alfonso de Mogrovejo Bishop defender of the native Indians in Peru's rights

SCRIPTURE
My power is made perfect in weakness. -- 2 Corinthians 12:9
Holy Week: A Liturgical Explanation for the Days of Holy Week

Thursday, December 29, 2016

1 John 2:3-11 ;  3And by this we may be sure that we know him, if we keep his commandments. 4He who says "I know him" but disobeys his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him; 5but whoever keeps his word, in him truly love for God is perfected. By this we may be sure that we are in him: 6he who says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. 7Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment which you had from the beginning; the old commandment is the word which you have heard. 8Yet I am writing you a new commandment, which is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. 9He who says he is in the light and hates his brother is in the darkness still. 10He who loves his brother abides in the light, and in it there is no cause for stumbling. 11But he who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

Psalms 96:1-6
; 1O sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth! 2Sing to the LORD, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day. 3Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples! 4For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; he is to be feared above all gods. 5For all the gods of the peoples are idols; but the LORD made the heavens. 6Honor and majesty are before him; strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.
 
Luke 2:22-35 ; 22And when the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23(as it is written in the law of the Lord, "Every male that opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord") 24and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the law of the Lord, "a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons." 25Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ. 27And inspired by the Spirit he came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the law, 28he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said, 29"Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word; 30for mine eyes have seen thy salvation 31which thou hast prepared in the presence of all peoples, 32a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to thy people Israel." 33And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him; 34and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, "Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is spoken against 35(and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed."

   Blessed are they who have kept the word with a generous heart and yield a harvest through perseverance.

Please pray for those who have no one to pray for them.

Now there is a great difference between believing in Christ, and in believing that Jesus is the Christ.
For that he was the Christ even the devils believed;
but he believes in Christ who both loves Christ, and hopes in Christ.  -- St. Augustine


8 Martyrs Move Closer to Sainthood 8 July, 2016


Pope Francis  PRAYER INTENTIONS FOR  December 2016
Universal: End to Child-Soldiers.
That the scandal of child-soldiers may be eliminated the world over.
Evangelization: Europe  That the peoples of Europe may rediscover the beauty, goodness, and
truth of the Gospel which gives joy and hope to life.
The Virgin Mary of Nazareth
The First Moment of Christian Tradition Began in Mary's Heart (III)
Today her intercession has proved to be amazingly powerful...
 
When faith is strong it works wonders ( Mk 16:17 ).
 
Mary's heart is not a document, it's a source. "She stored up all these things in her heart"
(Lk 2:19 & 51), and that was the Word of God.
Excerpt from "Follow the Lamb" (Suivre l'Agneau)  Father Marie-Dominique Philippe Saint Paul Ed. 2005


THE HOLY NAME OF JESUS
THE PRECIOUS BLOOD OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST
The Silence Of St. Joseph In A World Full Of Noise
Nativity of the Lord
 Afterfeast of the Nativity we commemorate the 14,000 holy infants
See Matthew ch. 2. Their number is sometimes put at fourteen thousand.
  In our own day, the icon of "Rachel weeping for her children" (Matthew 2:18) has come to commemorate also the tens of millions of children who have died through abortion.
After Feast of the Nativity
10th century BC; David, King of Judah and Israel Prophet (RM)
1st c. St. Trophimus Missionary companion of St. Paul
St. Crescens, bishop and martyr disciple of St. Paul the Apostle and was the first bishop of Vienne in France
  280 St. Trophimus of Arles Bishop sent from Rome with St. Denis, 1/6 prelates France
       Ss. Callistus, Felix, & Boniface
       Ss. Dominic African martyr with Crescentius & etc.
  485 Saint Marcellus, Monastery igumen  Council of Chalcedon gift of clairvoyance
  485 ST MARCELLUS AKIMETES, ABBOT continued the Divine Office day and night without interruption
  596 Ebrulf of Ouche Abbot Merovingian courtier several small houses founded (RM)
  664 St. Aileran Monk biographer scholar 
  706 St. Ebrulf  Abbot founder wife separated, each entering a religious house
  800 St. Albert of Gambron Abbot founder of the Benedictines
  815 Saint Thaddeus the Confessor
a disciple of Theodore the Studite disciple defender holy icons
11th c. Saints Mark the Grave-Digger, Theophilus and John; in Kiev Caves; Paterikon
1031 Girald of Fontenelle, OSB, Abbot (AC)
1156 Blessed Peter de Montboissier Peace great virtue poet theological writer of distinction, defended Jews OSB Abbot
1170 Thomas Becket (of Canterbury) BM (RM)
 St. Thomas Becket (1118-1170)  
A strong man who wavered for a moment, but then learned one cannot come to terms with evil and so became a strong churchman, a martyr and a saint—that was Thomas Becket, archbishop of Canterbury, murdered in his cathedral on December 29, 1170.
His career had been a stormy one. While archdeacon of Canterbury, he was made chancellor of England at the age of 36 by his friend King Henry II. When Henry felt it advantageous to make his chancellor the archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas gave him fair warning: he might not accept all of Henry’s intrusions into Church affairs. Nevertheless, he was made archbishop (1162), resigned his chancellorship and reformed his whole way of life!
Troubles began. Henry insisted upon usurping Church rights. At one time, supposing some conciliatory action possible, Thomas came close to compromise. He momentarily approved the Constitutions of Clarendon, which would have denied the clergy the right of trial by a Church court and preve nted them from making direct appeal to Rome. But Thomas rejected the Constitutions, fled to France for safety and remained in exile for seven years. When he returned to England, he suspected it would mean certain death. Because Thomas refused to remit censures he had placed upon bishops favored by the king, Henry cried out in a rage, “Will no one rid me of this troublesome priest!” Four knights, taking his words as his wish, slew Thomas in the Canterbury cathedral.

Thomas Becket remains a hero-saint down to our own times.
Comment:    No one becomes a saint without struggle, especially with himself. Thomas knew he must stand firm in defense of truth and right, even at the cost of his life. We also must take a stand in the face of pressures—against dishonesty, deceit, destruction of life—at the cost of popularity, convenience, promotion and even greater goods.

Quote:    In T.S. Eliot's drama, Murder in the Cathedral, Becket faces a final temptation to seek martyrdom for earthly glory and revenge. With real insight into his life situation, Thomas responds:
    "The last temptation is the greatest treason: To do the right deed for the wrong reason."

1680 Bl. William Howard Martyr of England so-called Popish Plot grandson of Blessed Philip Howard and a member
        of the noble family of the Howards