Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Prayer of the Day

For the Protection of the Holy Family

Grant unto us, Lord Jesus, ever to follow the example of Thy holy Family, that in the hour of our death Thy glorious Virgin Mother together with blessed Joseph may come to meet us and we may be worthily received by Thee into everlasting dwellings: who livest and reignest world without end.


The Fifth Day in the Octave of Christmas

Reading 1
1 Jn 2:3-11

The way we may be sure that we know Jesus
is to keep his commandments.
Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not keep his commandments
is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
But whoever keeps his word,
the love of God is truly perfected in him.
This is the way we may know that we are in union with him:
whoever claims to abide in him ought to walk just as he walked.

Beloved, I am writing no new commandment to you
but an old commandment that you had from the beginning.
The old commandment is the word that you have heard.
And yet I do write a new commandment to you,
which holds true in him and among you,
for the darkness is passing away,
and the true light is already shining.
Whoever says he is in the light,
yet hates his brother, is still in the darkness.
Whoever loves his brother remains in the light,
and there is nothing in him to cause a fall.
Whoever hates his brother is in darkness;
he walks in darkness
and does not know where he is going
because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

Responsorial Psalm
96:1-2a, 2b-3, 5b-6

R. Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice!

Sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all you lands.
Sing to the LORD; bless his name.

R. Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice!

Announce his salvation, day after day.
Tell his glory among the nations;
among all peoples, his wondrous deeds.

R. Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice!

The LORD made the heavens.
Splendor and majesty go before him;
praise and grandeur are in his sanctuary.

R. Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice!

Lk 2:22-35

When the days were completed for their purification
according to the law of Moses,
the parents of Jesus took him up to Jerusalem
to present him to the Lord,
just as it is written in the law of the Lord,
Every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord,
and to offer the sacrifice of
a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons,
in accordance with the dictate in the law of the Lord.

Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon.
This man was righteous and devout,
awaiting the consolation of Israel,
and the Holy Spirit was upon him.
It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit
that he should not see death
before he had seen the Christ of the Lord.
He came in the Spirit into the temple;
and when the parents brought in the child Jesus
to perform the custom of the law in regard to him,
he took him into his arms and blessed God, saying:

“Lord, now let your servant go in peace;
your word has been fulfilled:
my own eyes have seen the salvation
which you prepared in the sight of every people,
a light to reveal you to the nations
and the glory of your people Israel.”

The child’s father and mother were amazed at what was said about him;
and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother,
“Behold, this child is destined
for the fall and rise of many in Israel,
and to be a sign that will be contradicted
(and you yourself a sword will pierce)
so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”

Saint of the Day

December 29

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 prevented 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.

Office of Readings

O Lord, open my lips.
– And my mouth will proclaim your praise.

Antiphon: Christ has been born for us: come, let us worship him.

(repeat antiphon*)

Rejoice in the Lord, all the earth,
and serve him with joy.
Exult as you enter his presence.

(repeat antiphon*)

Know that the Lord is God.
He made us and we are his
– his people, the sheep of his flock.

(repeat antiphon*)

Cry out his praises as you enter his gates,
fill his courtyards with songs.
Proclaim him and bless his name;
for the Lord is our delight.
His mercy lasts for ever,
his faithfulness through all the ages.

(repeat antiphon*)

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end.


(repeat antiphon*)

God, our refuge and our strength
Psalm 45 (46)

The Lord of strength is with us, the God of Jacob is our support.
The Lord is our refuge and our strength,
a true help in our troubles.
Therefore we do not fear,
even when the earth is shaken and mountains fall into the depths of the sea,
the waves roar and foam
and rise up to shake the mountains.
The streams of the river give joy to the city of God,
the holy dwelling-place of the Most High.
God is within it, it will not be shaken;
God will give help as the day dawns.
The nations are in turmoil and kingdoms totter:
at the sound of his voice, the earth flows like water.
The Lord of strength is with us,
the God of Jacob is our refuge.
Come and see the works of the Lord,
who has done wonders on the earth.
He puts an end to wars over all the world:
he tramples the bow, shatters weapons, and burns the shields with fire.
Stop and see that I am God:
I will be exalted among the nations, exalted on the earth.
The Lord of strength is with us,
the God of Jacob is our refuge.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end.


The Lord of strength is with us, the God of Jacob is our support.
Psalm 71 (72)
The Messiah's royal power

In the days of the Lord peace will abound: the Lord will rule.
Give the king your judgement, O God,
give the king’s son your righteousness.
Let him judge your people with justice
and your poor ones with wisdom.
Let the mountains bring peace to your people,
let the hills bring righteousness.
He will give his judgement to the poor among the people,
he will rescue the children of the destitute,
he will lay low the false accuser.
He will endure with the sun, beneath the moon,
from generation to generation.
He will come down like rain on the pasture,
like a shower that waters the earth.
In his time, righteousness will flourish
and abundance of peace,
until the moon itself is no more.
He will rule from coast to coast,
from the world’s centre to its farthest edge.
The desert-dwellers will cast themselves down before him;
his enemies will eat dust at his feet.
The kings of Tharsis and the islands will bring tribute,
the kings of Arabia and Sheba will bring gifts.
All the kings will worship him,
all nations will serve him.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end.


In the days of the Lord peace will abound: the Lord will rule.
Psalm 71 (72)

The Lord will rescue the lives of the poor.
Because he has given freedom to the destitute who called to him,
to the poor, whom no-one will hear.
He will spare the poor and the needy,
he will keep their lives safe.
He will rescue their lives from oppression and violence,
their blood will be precious in his sight.
He will live long, and receive gifts of gold from Arabia;
they will pray for him always,
bless him all through the day.
There will be abundance of grain in the land,
it will wave even from the tops of the mountains;
its fruit will be richer than Lebanon.
The people will flourish as easily as grass.
Let his name be blessed for ever,
let his name endure beneath the sun.
All the nations of the earth will be blessed in him,
all nations will acclaim his greatness.
Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel,
who alone works wonders.
Let his majesty be blessed for ever;
let it fill all the earth. Amen, amen.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end.


The Lord will rescue the lives of the poor.
The shepherds saw and understood the word
– that had been spoken to them about the Child.

Reading Colossians 1:1-14

From Paul, appointed by God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and from our brother Timothy to the saints in Colossae, our faithful brothers in Christ: Grace and peace to you from God our Father.

We have never failed to remember you in our prayers and to give thanks for you to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, ever since we heard about your faith in Christ Jesus and the love that you show towards all the saints because of the hope which is stored up for you in heaven. It is only recently that you heard of this, when it was announced in the message of the truth. The Good News which has reached you is spreading all over the world and producing the same results as it has among you ever since the day when you heard about God’s grace and understood what this really is. Epaphras, who taught you, is one of our closest fellow workers and a faithful deputy for us as Christ’s servant, and it was he who told us all about your love in the Spirit.

That will explain why, ever since the day he told us, we have never failed to pray for you, and what we ask God is that through perfect wisdom and spiritual understanding you should reach the fullest knowledge of his will. So you will be able to lead the kind of life which the Lord expects of you, a life acceptable to him in all its aspects; showing the results in all the good actions you do and increasing your knowledge of God. You will have in you the strength, based on his own glorious power, never to give in, but to bear anything joyfully, thanking the Father who has made it possible for you to join the saints and with them to inherit the light.

Because that is what he has done: he has taken us out of the power of darkness and created a place for us in the kingdom of the Son that he loves, and in him, we gain our freedom, the forgiveness of our sins.

Reading A sermon of St Bernard of Clairvaux
In the fulness of time there came also the fulness of God

The kindness and love of God our saviour for mankind were revealed. Thanks be to God, through whom we receive such abundant consolation in this pilgrimage, this exile, this distress.

Before his humanity appeared, his kindness lay concealed. Of course it was already in existence, because the mercy of the Lord is from eternity, but how could men know it was so great? It was promised but not yet experienced: hence many did not believe in it. At various times and in various different ways, God spoke through the prophets, saying I know the plans I have in mind for you: plans for peace, not disaster.

What reply did man make, man who felt the affliction, and knew nothing of peace? ‘How long will you keep saying “Peace, peace” when there is no peace?’ And so the angels of peace weep bitterly saying Lord, who has believed our report?
But now at last let men believe their own eyes, because all God’s promises are to be trusted. So that it cannot escape the notice of even troubled eyes, He has set up his tabernacle in the sun. Behold, peace is no longer promised, but conferred; no longer delayed, but given; no longer predicted, but bestowed. Behold, God has sent down to earth a bag bulging with his mercy, a bag that, at the passion, is torn open so that our ransom pours out of it onto us. A small bag, perhaps, but a full one: for it was a small child that was given to us, but in him dwells all the fulness of the Godhead.

After the fulness of time had come, there came too the fulness of the Godhead. He came in the flesh, so that at least he might make himself manifest to our earthly minds, so that when this humanity of his appeared, his kindness might also be acknowledged. Where the humanity of God appears, his kindness can no longer be hidden. In what way, indeed, could he have better commended his kindness than by assuming my flesh? My flesh, that is, not Adam’s, as it was before the fall.

What greater proof could he have given of his mercy than by taking upon himself that very thing which needed mercy? Where is there such perfect loving-kindness as in the fact that for our sake the Word of God became perishable like the grass? Lord, what is man, that you make much of him or pay him any heed?

Let man infer from this how much God cares for him. Let him know from this what God thinks of him, what he feels about him. Man, do not ask about your own sufferings; but about what God suffered. Learn from what he was made for you, how much he makes of you, so that his kindness may show itself to you from his humanity.

The lesser he has made himself in his humanity, the greater has he shown himself in kindness. The more he humbles himself on my account, the more powerfully he engages my love. The kindness and humanity of God our Saviour appeared says St Paul. The humanity of God shows the greatness of his kindness, and he who added humanity to the name of God gave great proof of this kindness.

Hymn Te Deum

God, we praise you; Lord, we proclaim you!
You, the Father, the eternal –
all the earth venerates you.
All the angels, all the heavens, every power –
The cherubim, the seraphim –
unceasingly, they cry:
“Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts:
heaven and earth are full of the majesty of your glory!”
The glorious choir of Apostles –
The noble ranks of prophets –
The shining army of martyrs –
all praise you.
Throughout the world your holy Church proclaims you.
– Father of immeasurable majesty,
– True Son, only-begotten, worthy of worship,
– Holy Spirit, our Advocate.
You, Christ:
– You are the king of glory.
– You are the Father’s eternal Son.
– You, to free mankind, did not disdain a Virgin’s womb.
– You defeated the sharp spear of Death, and opened the kingdom of heaven to those who believe in you.
– You sit at God’s right hand, in the glory of the Father.
– You will come, so we believe, as our Judge.
And so we ask of you: give help to your servants, whom you set free at the price of your precious blood.
Number them among your chosen ones in eternal glory.
Bring your people to safety, Lord, and bless those who are your inheritance.
Rule them and lift them high for ever.
Day by day we bless you, Lord: we praise you for ever and for ever.
Of your goodness, Lord, keep us without sin for today.
Have mercy on us, Lord, have mercy on us.
Let your pity, Lord, be upon us, as much as we trust in you.
In you, Lord, I trust: let me never be put to shame.

Concluding Prayer

Almighty and invisible God, by your coming you dispelled the shadows of this world.
We ask you to look with favour upon us
so that we may worthily celebrate the splendour of your Son’s nativity.
He lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God for ever and ever.