The Church's Year
SUNDAY AFTER CHRISTMAS
INTROIT For while all things were in
quiet silence, and the night came was in the midst of her course,
Thy almighty Word, O Lord, down from heaven, from Thy royal throne
(Wis. 18:14-15). The Lord hath reigned, he is clothed with beauty:
the Lord is clothed with strength, and hath girded himself (Ps.
92:1). Glory be to the Father.
Almighty and everlasting God, direct our actions
according to Thy good pleasure; that in the name of Thy beloved Son
we may deserve to abound in good works. Through our
EPISTLE (Gal. 4:1-7). Brethren, as long as the heir is a child, he
differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all: but is
under tutors and governors until the time appointed by the father:
so we also, when we were children, were serving under the elements
of the world. But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent
his Son, made of a woman, made under the law: that he might redeem
them who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of
sons. And because you are sons, God hath sent the Spirit of his Son
into your hearts, crying: Abba, Father. Therefore now he is not a
servant, but a son; and if a son, an heir also through
EXPLANATION St. Paul desired to instruct the Galatians, many of whom
still clung to the Mosaic law, that this was no longer necessary,
because Christ had freed them from its hard bondage, which contained
merely the rudiments, so to speak, of the one only saving faith, and
had made them children and heirs of God, for which they should
Ours is a far greater
happiness than that which the Jews received, because we, through our
ancestors, were converted by apostolic messengers of the faith from
heathenism to the true, saving Catholic faith, and by this holy
religion were changed from vassals of Satan, into children and heirs
of God. What a great advantage is this! Must it not be dearer to us
than all the kingdoms of the world? Let us thank the Lord for it,
and be careful not to lose this prerogative of being a child of God,
an heir to heaven, let us not by sin give ourselves anew, as
voluntary slaves to Satan.
GOSPEL (Lk. 2:33-40). At that time, Joseph and Mary, the mother of
Jesus, were wondering at those things which were spoken concerning
him. And Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary his mother: Behold,
this child is set for the fall, and for the resurrection of many in
Israel, and for a sign which shall be contradicted: and thy own soul
a sword shall pierce, that out of many hearts thoughts may be
revealed. And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of
Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser; she was far advanced in years, and
had lived with her husband seven years from her virginity. And she
was a widow until fourscore and four years; who departed not from
the temple, by fastings and prayers serving night and day. Now she
at the same hour coming in, confessed to the Lord; and spoke of him
to all that looked
for the redemption of Israel. And after they had performed all
things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee,
to their own city Nazareth. And the child grew and waxed strong,
full of wisdom: and the grace of God was in him.
Why did Mary
and Joseph wonder at the things which were spoken of the child
They wondered, not because
that which was said of the child Jesus by Simeon was new to them,
for they already knew why He was sent from God, but because of the
marvellous ways in which God revealed the mysteries of the new-born
Savior to Simeon, the shepherds, and to other pious
Christ set for the fall of many?
Christ is set for the fall,
that is, for the eternal damnation, of all those who either reject
His doctrine, or live not according to its teachings. They
themselves, not Christ, are the cause of their damnation on account
of their perversity and hard-heartedness. "If I had not come and
spoken to them," says Christ, "they would not have sin: but now they
have no excuse for their sin" (Jn. 15:22).
For whom is
Christ the resurrection?
For those who believe in Him,
and live in accordance with the teachings of His doctrine. These, if
they persevere will at the Last Day rise to eternal life.
Christ a sign that shall be contradicted?
Because, by His birth from a
virgin, by His life and death, and especially by His heavenly
doctrine, which is entirely opposed to the carnal spirit of this
world, Christ became an object of mockery and blasphemy. Even now,
according to the saying of St. Bernard, Christ is a sign of
contradiction for many Christians who contradict His humility by
their pride, His poverty by their avarice, His fasting by their
gluttony, His purity by their impurity, His zeal by their indolence,
etc., thus denying by their actions that which they confess with
their lips, proving thereby that they are Christians but in name, of
whom it is written: "Thou hast the name of being alive, but thou art
dead" (Apoc. 3:1).
meant by these words: Thy own soul a sword shall
It means that the greatest
grief should cut like a sword through the inmost parts of the soul,
which came to pass, when Mary heard the calumnies and blasphemies of
the Jews against her Son, and when she saw Him die on the cross between two
thieves. Meditating on this grief of the most loving mother Mary,
St. Bonaventure exclaims: "Never was there grief so great, for never
was there a Son so loved!"
What else do
we learn from this gospel?
The widows should learn from
Anna, who spent nearly all her life in the temple, to serve God by
prayer and fasting; for a widow who prays not, but lives in
pleasures, is dead, while she is living (I Tim. 5:6). Parents should
learn from it, to be careful that their children not only increase
in knowledge, but that they by a pious life advance in grace before
God and man.
O Jesus, Thou new-born Savior, do Thou move
our hearts to the fulfillment of Thy precepts that Thou mayst be set
for our fall; for it would be much better for us, not to have known
the ways of righteousness, than having known them, to have departed
blessed them "(Lk. 2: 34).
meant by a blessing?
A blessing on the part of
God, means the giving to man some spiritual or temporal grace; a
blessing on the part of an angel or a man, means the expression in
prayer of a wish or desire that God would give to some particular
person a corporal or spiritual grace. In the proper sense of the
word, only God can give a blessing, because all spiritual and
temporal good comes from Him; angels and men can only wish and ask
of God that He would bestow His gifts.
examples of blessing in the Bible?
Yes, for the angels blessed
Jacob (Gen. 32:26), and Jacob blessed his sons and grandsons (Gen.
48:15), Melchisedech blessed Abraham (Gen. 14:19), and Rebecca was
blessed by her brothers (Gen. 24:60).
Is it well
for parents to bless their children?
Yes, for God frequently
ratifies the blessings wished by the parents, as in the case of
Isaac who blessed Jacob, and Jacob who blessed his own sons (Gen.
49). And, on the contrary, God permits the curses of parents to be
fulfilled on their children as history shows. "The father's
blessing establisheth the
houses of the children; but the mother's curse rooteth up the
foundation" (Ecclus. 3:11).
has the priest's blessing?
A very great one, because it
is given by the priest, the vicar of Christ on earth, in the name of
Jesus, and of the Church founded by Him, in which He has deposited
the plenitude of His blessings. The Church expresses this, when the
bishop, anointing the hands of the newly ordained, makes the sign of
the cross over them. "All that they bless, is blessed; that they
consecrate, is consecrated and sanctified in the name of our Lord
Jesus Christ." The blessing of the priest is to be prized therefore,
and an obstacle not set to it by a sinful life. Parents should ask
his blessing for their children when he happens to visit them.
Children were brought to
Christ that He might lay His hands on them and bless them (Mt.
See INSTRUCTION ON BENEDICTIONS, Sixth
Sunday after Pentecost (sorry, not on line yet).
What is the
effect of God's blessing?
In spiritual life it gives
great joy and strength to practice virtue; and in physical life it
gives fruitful prosperity in our occupations and undertakings. Therefore, all is
contained in the blessing of God, and he who receives it, is richer
than if he possessed the whole world. We should endeavor by a pious life to
secure this blessing, for it rests only on the head of the just