Saturday, December 06, 2014
This is what The Golden Legend has to say about him.
The Saint Nicholas Center is your go-to resource on Good Saint Nicholas.
Wilson's Almanac also has a great deal of good material.
On the surface, the modern Dutch Sinterclaas looks more like the original bishop of Myra. That despite the fact that the Dutch are perhaps the most post-Christian culture in Europe.
Thomas Nast's 19th century American rendition.
Twentieth Century American artist Haddon Sundblom, working for the Coca Cola Company, helped establish the modern image of Saint Nicholas, or Santa Claus.
As did Norman Rockwell, working mostly for the Saturday Evening Post.
Efforts are made from time to time to update Saint Nicholas' garb and image, but they are rejected by children themselves. Ironically, the young are the ones who insist that Santa looks like this, and nothing else. You can put black boots on him, rather than brown (but they have to be the same style). You can put a strip of white fur down the front of his coat. Sometimes he can wear a harness with sleigh bells. And you can give him green mittens. But changes beyond that are rejected by children out of hand as unbecoming to Jolly Old Saint Nicholas.
Maybe Nast's/Sundblom's/Rockwell's vision has so much staying power because it is anchored in tradition. The red and white coat is an adaptation of a bishop's robes. The miter has become a fur hat.
Happy Saint Nicholas' Day!
Saint Nicholas, please pray for us!
Friday, December 05, 2014
Thursday, December 04, 2014
Saint Peter Chrysologus, please pray for us!
Here is what The Catholic Encyclopedia has to say about the patroness of artillerists.
Happy Feast of Saint Barbara to all my gunner friends in the Royal Artillery, the Royal Irish Artillery, and those who have served and are serving in the Artillery branch of the United States Army
Saint Barbara, please pray for us!
Wednesday, December 03, 2014
Read what The Catholic Encyclopedia has to say about this great missionary and apostle.
BTW, his last name is properly pronounced in English "Zaahviar," or "Zaahviah" if you speak with with a Boston accent. It is never "ExAvier." The X is always pronounced like a Z. You can trust me on this one. I went to a prep school run by the Xaverian Brothers, and for 3 of my four years, my Latin class was held in Xavier Hall (and taught by a great Latin teacher, Brother Joseph Comber, CFX!).
Saint Francis Xavier, please pray for us!
Tuesday, December 02, 2014
The Catholic Encyclopedia on this Roman martyr.
Saint Vivian, please pray for us!
Monday, December 01, 2014
The Catholic Encylopedia on this heroic martyred priest.
Here is the text of Campion's Brag, his defense of the Faith against the English protestant establishment.
To the Right Honourable, the Lords of Her Majesty's Privy Council:
Whereas I have come out of Germany and Bohemia, being sent by my superiors, and adventured myself into this noble realm, my dear country, for the glory of God and benefit of souls, I thought it like enough that, in this busy, watchful, and suspicious world, I should either sooner or later be intercepted and stopped of my course.
Wherefore, providing for all events, and uncertain what may become of me, when God shall haply deliver my body into durance, I supposed it needful to put this in writing in a readiness, desiring your good lordships to give it your reading, for to know my cause. This doing, I trust I shall ease you of some labour. For that which otherwise you must have sought for by practice of wit, I do now lay into your hands by plain confession. And to the intent that the whole matter may be conceived in order, and so the better both understood and remembered, I make thereof these nine points or articles, directly, truly and resolutely opening my full enterprise and purpose.
i. I confess that I am (albeit unworthy) a priest of the Catholic Church, and through the great mercy of God vowed now these eight years into the religion [religious order] of the Society of Jesus. Hereby I have taken upon me a special kind of warfare under the banner of obedience, and also resigned all my interest or possibility of wealth, honour, pleasure, and other worldly felicity.
ii. At the voice of our General, which is to me a warrant from heaven and oracle of Christ, I took my voyage from Prague to Rome (where our General Father is always resident) and from Rome to England, as I might and would have done joyously into any part of Christendom or Heatheness, had I been thereto assigned.
iii. My charge is, of free cost to preach the Gospel, to minister the Sacraments, to instruct the simple, to reform sinners, to confute errors—in brief, to cry alarm spiritual against foul vice and proud ignorance, wherewith many of my dear countrymen are abused.
iv. I never had mind, and am strictly forbidden by our Father that sent me, to deal in any respect with matter of state or policy of this realm, as things which appertain not to my vocation, and from which I gladly restrain and sequester my thoughts.
v. I do ask, to the glory of God, with all humility, and under your correction, three sorts of indifferent and quiet audiences: the first, before your Honours, wherein I will discourse of religion, so far as it toucheth the common weal and your nobilities: the second, whereof I make more account, before the Doctors and Masters and chosen men of both universities, wherein I undertake to avow the faith of our Catholic Church by proofs innumerable—Scriptures, councils, Fathers, history, natural and moral reasons: the third, before the lawyers, spiritual and temporal, wherein I will justify the said faith by the common wisdom of the laws standing yet in force and practice.
vi. I would be loath to speak anything that might sound of any insolent brag or challenge, especially being now as a dead man to this world and willing to put my head under every man's foot, and to kiss the ground they tread upon. Yet I have such courage in avouching the majesty of Jesus my King, and such affiance in his gracious favour, and such assurance in my quarrel, and my evidence so impregnable, and because I know perfectly that no one Protestant, nor all the Protestants living, nor any sect of our adversaries (howsoever they face men down in pulpits, and overrule us in their kingdom of grammarians and unlearned ears) can maintain their doctrine in disputation. I am to sue most humbly and instantly for combat with all and every of them, and the most principal that may be found: protesting that in this trial the better furnished they come, the better welcome they shall be.
vii. And because it hath pleased God to enrich the Queen my Sovereign Lady with notable gifts of nature, learning, and princely education, I do verily trust that if her Highness would vouchsafe her royal person and good attention to such a conference as, in the second part of my fifth article I have motioned, or to a few sermons, which in her or your hearing I am to utter such manifest and fair light by good method and plain dealing may be cast upon these controversies, that possibly her zeal of truth and love of her people shall incline her noble Grace to disfavour some proceedings hurtful to the realm, and procure towards us oppressed more equity.
viii. Moreover I doubt not but you, her Highness' Council, being of such wisdom and discreet in cases most important, when you shall have heard these questions of religion opened faithfully, which many times by our adversaries are huddled up and confounded, will see upon what substantial grounds our Catholic Faith is builded, how feeble that side is which by sway of the time prevaileth against us, and so at last for your own souls, and for many thousand souls that depend upon your government, will discountenance error when it is bewrayed [revealed], and hearken to those who would spend the best blood in their bodies for your salvation. Many innocent hands are lifted up to heaven for you daily by those English students, whose posterity shall never die, which beyond seas, gathering virtue and sufficient knowledge for the purpose, are determined never to give you over, but either to win you heaven, or to die upon your pikes. And touching our Society, be it known to you that we have made a league—all the Jesuits in the world, whose succession and multitude must overreach all the practice of England—cheerfully to carry the cross you shall lay upon us, and never to despair your recovery, while we have a man left to enjoy your Tyburn, or to be racked with your torments, or consumed with your prisons. The expense is reckoned, the enterprise is begun; it is of God; it cannot be withstood. So the faith was planted: So it must be restored.
ix. If these my offers be refused, and my endeavours can take no place, and I, having run thousands of miles to do you good, shall be rewarded with rigour. I have no more to say but to recommend your case and mine to Almighty God, the Searcher of Hearts, who send us his grace, and see us at accord before the day of payment, to the end we may at last be friends in heaven, when all injuries shall be forgotten.
Sunday, November 30, 2014
Artillerists, who have always been a breed apart, no matter what the nationality (and in the 18th century, American, British, French, and German gunners all wore blue coats faced red, as a symbol of their guild-like international commonality) celebrate their own patron, St. Barbara, on December 4th.
Because of my re-enacting experience, I am either a member of, or have been a guest of, the messes of regiments of all four major ethnic groups of the British Isles. I have dined with the Royal Welch Fusiliers (23rd Regiment of Foot) officers' mess on March 1st, with the Friendly Brothers of Saint Patrick on March 17th, with the officers' mess of the Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment, or 42nd Regiment of Foot) on November 30th, and with the Loyal and Friendly Society of the Blue and Orange on April 23rd (St. George's Day).
These evenings are convivial occasions, with a formal dinner, many, many toasts, and seemingly eccentric regimental customs. You would not want to drive yourself home after one of these dinners. Re-enactor officers are just being true to the characters they portray in these celebrations. But 18th century officers could not be pulled over for DUI.
John Peebles, an officer of the grenadier company of the 42nd Regiment celebrated St. Andrew's Night thus in his New York-area garrison in 1779:
Went to town to celebrate the day with his Ex (he mounted a round blue device with a white Saint Andrew's cross in his regulation highland bonnet-GTF): where the field offs. & Capts. of the 42nd. were invited, the Adml. there the offrs. of the Royal Highland emigrants & some others, about 24 in all. Major Small personated the Saint who gave very good toasts & apropos for the occasion. The Adml. very chatty & entertaining. Major Hay sang some good songs & spouted a prologue very well. A good dinner & drink till 10 o'clock. A numerous party of the Sons of St. Andw. din'd at Hick's above 60, among whom were the subs. (subalterns: lieutenants and ensigns- GTF) of the 42d. Exchanged a complit. & some of our Compy. join'd them after we broke up, & made a night of it.
John Peebles'American War 1776-1782, edited by Ira Gruber, 1997.
I wish my Scottish friends of the 42nd, 71st, 74th, and 84th Regiments of Foot a happy Saint Andrew's Day, with much enjoyment of haggis and that amber-coloured beverage distilled in the Highlands.
From The Golden Legend
Today, the Church celebrates Saint Andrew, brother of Simon Peter, disciple of John the Baptist, and Apostle of the Lord.
Andrew was a fisherman from Capharnaum. He was with John the Baptist at the time of the baptism of the Lord, and followed Him from that time, later bringing Peter into the fold of the apostolic college. It was Andrew who reported the state of the food supply to the Lord before the feeding of the five thousand. But ortherwise, he appears to have faded into the apostolic group.
Andrew exercised his ministry in the region of the Black Sea, and was crucified on an "X" form crucifix at Patras in Achaia. He is the patron of fishermen and fishmongers, as well as patron of Scotland.
The St. Andrew's Novena (also called the Christmas Anticipation Novena) begins today, and runs through Christmas Eve.
“Hail and blessed
be the hour and the moment
when the Son of God was born
of the most pure Virgin Mary,
in a stable,
in the piercing cold.
In that hour vouchsafe,
O my God,
to hear my prayer
and grant my desires,
through the merits
of Our Savior Jesus Christ,
and of His Blessed Mother.
From The Liturgical Year, by Abbot Prosper Gueranger, OSB:
Act Of Communion During Advent
It is true that everything in Advent is so arranged as to be a preparation for the coming of the Saviour at the feast of Christmas, and that the spirit of the faithful should be one of earnest expectation of this same Saviour; and yet, such is the happy lot of the children of the new Law, that they can, if they wish it, really, and at once, receive this God whom the Church is expecting; and thus, this familiar visit of Jesus will become itself one of the preparations for His great and solemn visit. Let those, then, who are living the life of grace, and to whom the glorious day of the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ will bring an increase of spiritual life, not omit to prepare, by Communion, for the reception they intend to give to the heavenly Spouse on the sacred night of His coming.
These Communions will be interviews with their divine Lord, giving them confidence, and love, and all those interior dispositions wherewith they would welcome Him who comes to load them with fresh grace, for this Jesus is full of grace and truth.
They will understand this better by reflecting on the sentiments which the august Mother of Jesus had in her blessed soul during the time which preceded the divine birth.
This birth is to be an event of more importance, both to the salvation of mankind and to Mary's own glory, than even that of the first accomplishment of the Incarnation; for the Word was made Flesh in order that He might be born. The immense happiness of holding in her arms her Son and her God, would make the sacred hour of Jesus' birth dearer and happier to Mary, than even that in which she was overshadowed by the Holy Ghost, and received from Him the divine fruit of her womb.
During those nine months, when she knew that her Jesus was so undividedly hers, what must have been the happiness which filled her heart! It was a bliss which was a worthy preparation for that more blissful night of Bethlehem.
Christians! your Communions during Advent are to prepare you for your Christmas joy, by giving you something of the delight which Mary felt before the birth of Jesus.
ACT OF FAITH
Knowing that thou art about to enter under my roof, O eternal God, Jesus Son of the Father, I have need of all my faith. Yes, it is thou who art coming to me, thou who didst enter into Mary's virginal womb, making it the sanctuary of thy Majesty. Thou didst send thine angel to her, and she believed his word, when he said: 'Nothing is impossible to God: the Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee.' She believed, and then conceived in her chaste womb him who had created her.
Thou hast not sent an angel to me, O my Saviour, to tell me thou art coming into my heart. Thou hast spoken thyself, and thou hast said: 'I am the living Bread come down from heaven: he that eateth my Flesh and drinketh my Blood, abideth in me and I in him.' Thou hast willed that these words of thine, spoken so many hundred years ago, should reach me by thy Church, that thus I might have both the certainty that they are thine, and the merit of bowing down my reason to the deepest of mysteries.
I believe then, O Jesus! Help the weakness of my faith. Enable me to submit, as Mary did, to thy infinite wisdom; and since thou desirest to enter under my roof, I bow down my whole being before thee, using her blessed words: 'May it be done to me according to thy word;' for how dare I, who am but nothingness, resist thee, who art all wisdom and power!