Mary, Mother of GodThis solemnity, occurring on the octave day of Christmas, commemorates the Blessed Virgin Mary as Mother of God and honors her role in the coming of the Messiah. It was the First Council of Ephesus in 431 that confirmed the long-held belief that Mary was indeed correctly called Theotokos (Mother of God).
Sts. Basil and Gregory NazianzenBasil was born of a Christian family at Caesarea in Cappadocia in 330. Conspicuous for his learning and virtue, for a time he led the life of a hermit but in 370 was made bishop of Caesarea, He fought against the Arians and wrote many admirable works, especially his monastic rule which many Eastern monks still follow. Saint Basil died on January 1, 379. Gregory Nazianzen was also born in 330. Traveling as a youth in the pursuit of learning, he first joined his friend Basil as a hermit and was later ordained priest and bishop. In the year 381 he was elected bishop of Constantinople; however, because of factions dividing the Church, he returned to Nazianzen where he died on January 25, 389 or 390. He was called theologus because of his outstanding teaching and eloquence.
Most Holy Name of JesusFrom Apostolic times, the Church has professed that “at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:10). Through the particular efforts of St. Bemardine of Siena, devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus was promoted through the inscription of the monogram of the Holy Name (IHS) and the addition of the name Jesus to the Hail Mary. In 1597, Pope Sixtus V first granted an indulgence for the uttering of the phrase used so often by Pope John Paul II and included among the pious invocations of the current Enchiridion Indulgentiarum: “Praised be Jesus Christ!”
St. Elizabeth Ann SetonElizabeth Seton was born on August 28, 1774,of a wealthy and distinguished Episcopalian family. She was baptized in the Episcopal faith and was a faithful adherent of the Episcopal Church until her conversion to Catholicism. In 1794 Elizabeth married William Seton and they reared five children among suffering and sickness. Elizabeth and her sick husband traveled to Leghorn, Italy, and there William died. While in Italy Elizabeth became acquainted with Catholicism made her profession of faith in the Catholic Church. She established her first Catholic school in Baltimore in 1808; in 1809 she established a religious community in Emmitsburg, Maryland. After seeing the expansion of her small community of teaching sisters to New York and as far as St. Louis, she died on January 4, 1821 and was declared a saint by Pope Paul VI on September 14, 1975.
St. John NeumannJohn Neumann was born in Bohemia on March 20, 1811. Since he had a great desire to dedicate himself to the American missions, he came to the United States as a cleric and was ordained in New York in 1836 by Bishop Dubois. In 1840, he entered the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (Re-demptorists). He labored in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Maryland. In 1852, he was consecrated bishop of Philadelphia. There he worked hard for the establishment of parish schools and for the erection of many parishes for the numerous immigrants. Bishop Neumann died on January 5, 1860; he was canonized in 1977 by Pope Paul VI.
Epiphany of the LordToday the Church commemorates the visit of the Magi from the East to the Christ child. Led by a star, they find the infant with Mary and Joseph and do him homage, prsenting gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. The feast makes clear that the salvation offered by the Messiah is not for the Jewish people only but for the Gentiles as well, and the light of faith continues to lead all people of good will to know and to worship the Son of God.
St. Raymond of PenyafortRaymond of Penyafort was born near Barcelona around 1175. He became a canon of the diocese of Barcelona and afterward joined the Order of Preachers. At the command of Pope Gregory IX, he produced a collection of canon law. He was elected general of his order and directed it wisely. The Summa casuum, which treats of the correct and fruitful administration of the sacrament of penance, is the most notable of his works. He died in 1275.
Baptism of the LordToday the Church concludes the Christmas celebration with a commemoration of the baptism of the Lord. John the Baptist recognizes Jesus as the Messiah and protests that he is unworthy to baptize the sinless one, but Jesus insists. The heavens are opened and God the Father proclaims Jesus as his beloved Son. Our own baptism makes us children of God and inheritors of the kingdom of heaven.”
St. AnthonySaint Anthony, the celebrated Father of Monks, was born in Egypt around the year 250. After his parents died he distributed his property to the poor and, beginning a life of penance, withdrew into solitude. He attracted disciples and labored on behalf of the Church, giving support to believers during the persecution of Diocletian and assisting Saint Athanasius against the Arians. He died in 356. .
Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
St. AgnesSaint Agnes died a martyr at Rome during either the second half of the third century or, more probably, at the beginning of the fourth century. Pope Damasus adorned her tomb with sacred poetry, and many of the Fathers of the Church, following Saint Ambrose, have honored her in their writings.
Day of Prayer for Protection of the UnbornThis day has been set aside in the United States to pray for legal protection of the unborn, a right that was overturned in the Roe v. Wade decision.
St. VincentSaint Vincent, deacon of the Church of Saragossa, after suffering extreme tortures, died as a martyr at Valencia in Spain during the Diocletian persecution. His cult immediately spread throughout the Church.
St. Marianne CopeMarianne Cope was a German-born American religious sister who was a member of the Sisters of St Francis of Syracuse, New York, and administrator of its St. Joseph’s Hospital in the city. Known also for her charitable works, in 1883 she relocated with six other sisters to Hawaii to care for persons suffering Hansen’s Disease on the island of Moloka’i and aid in developing the medical infrastructure in Hawaii. She was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI in 2012.
St. Francis de SalesSaint Francis was born at Savoy in 1567. After being ordained a priest he labored diligently for the restoration of Catholicism in his country. Chosen bishop of Geneva, he showed himself as a true pastor toward his clerics and the faithful, strengthening their faith by his writings, works and example. He died at Lyons on December 28, 1622, and was buried at Annecy on this day.
Conversion of St. PaulOn this day the Church commemorates the conversion of the apostle Paul from being a persecutor of the Christian community to becoming one of the leading apostles of the Lord, traveling over much of the known world and suffering both physical and spiritual trials for the sake of the gospel. He is also honored, along with Saint Peter, on June 29.
Sts. Timothy and TitusSaints Timothy and Titus were disciples and assistants of the apostle Paul. Timothy had charge of the Church at Ephesus and Titus of the Church in Crete. The letters written to them are called the pastoral epistles, for they contain excellent admonitions for the instruction of both pastors and laity.
Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
St. Thomas AquinasThomas was born about the year 1225 into the family of the Count of Aquino. He first studied at the monastery of Monte Cassino and later at the University of Naples. Afterwards he joined the Friars Preachers and completed his studies at Paris and Cologne, his instructor being Saint Albert the Great. Becoming himself a teacher, he wrote many learned volumes and was especially renowned for his philosophical and theological studies. Saint Thomas died near Terracina on March 7, 1274, but his memory is honored on January 28, the day his body was transferred to Toulouse in 1369.
St. John BoscoSaint John was born near Castelnuovo in the diocese of Turin in 1815. His early years were most difficult and so once ordained to the priesthood he dedicated himself to the education. of the young, founding congregations which would instruct youth in both the arts and the Christian life. He also composed pamphlets for the support and defense of religion. Saint John died in 1888.