日曆

十二月紀念的聖人

12/1 Bl. Charles de Faucauld

(1858 to 1916) Martyr, Religious Priest

Charles de Foucauld (Brother Charles of Jesus) was born in Strasbourg, France on September 15th, 1858. Orphaned at the age of six, he and his sister Marie were raised by their grandfather in whose footsteps he followed by taking up a military career.

He lost his faith as an adolescent. His taste for easy living was well known to all and yet he showed that he could be strong willed and constant in difficult situations. He undertook a risky exploration of Morocco (1883-1884). Seeing the way Muslims expressed their faith questioned him and he began repeating, “My God, if you exist, let me come to know you.”

On his return to France, the warm, respectful welcome he received from his deeply Christian family made him continue his search. Under the guidance of Fr. Huvelin he rediscovered God in October 1886. He was then 28 years old. “As soon as I believed in God, I understood that I could not do otherwise than to live for him alone.”

A pilgrimage to the Holy Land revealed his vocation to him: to follow Jesus in his life at Nazareth.He spent 7 years as a Trappist, first in France and then at Akbès in Syria. Later he began to lead a life of prayer and adoration, alone, near a convent of Poor Clares in Nazareth.

Ordained a priest at 43 (1901) he left for the Sahara, living at first in Beni Abbès and later at Tamanrasset among the Tuaregs of the Hoggar. He wanted to be among those who were, “the furthest removed, the most abandoned.” He wanted all who drew close to him to find in him a brother, “a universal brother.” In a great respect for the culture and faith of those among whom he lived, his desire was to “shout the Gospel with his life”. “I would like to be sufficiently good that people would say, “If such is the servant, what must the Master be like?”

On the evening of December 1st 1916, he was killed by a band of marauders who had encircled his house.

He had always dreamed of sharing his vocation with others: after having written several rules for religious life, he came to the conclusion that this “life of Nazareth” could be led by all. Today the “spiritual family of Charles de Foucauld” encompasses several associations of the faithful, religious communities and secular institutes for both lay people and priests.

Source: http://www.vatican.va/news_services/liturgy/saints/ns_lit_doc_20051113_de-foucauld_en.html

Eucharist quotes (12/1 Bl. Charles de Faucauld)

Jesus speaking to Blessed Charles - “In my unimaginable goodness, I did not merely give myself to you at my birth for a few hours or years: I am still in your hands, and shall be henceforth until the end of the world. Think of the unending good fortune I brought you in my birth: the ability to serve me—to serve me by serving your neighbor, to serve me myself, living there near you in the tabernacle. Not only can you serve me, you can also console me… How happy you should be to be able to console me at every moment of your lives! By becoming so small, so gentle a child, I was crying out to you: Have trust! Come close to me! Do not be afraid of me, come to me, give me what children need: loving embraces. Do not be afraid, do not be so frightened in the presence of such a gentle baby, smiling at you and holding out his arms to you. He is your God, but he is all smiles and gentleness. Do not be afraid”

“What a tremendous delight, my God! To spend fifteen hours without anything else to do but look at You and tell You, 'Lord I love You!' Oh what sweet delight!”

“The goal of every human life should be the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.”

12/1 Ven. Leo Dupont

(1806 to 1876) known as Apostle of The Holy Face

Leo Dupont was no ordinary man. God was first in his life. He was a man of prayer who had a wonderful devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus. Leo was also a very wealthy gentleman who was generous with his money and not selfish and greedy like so many rich people are.

Mme. Dupont came from a very noble and wealthy family. She married a very wealthy man named Nicholas Dupont and their marriage was blessed with two sons; Leo born in 1797, and Theobald born in 1801. But Mr. Dupont was not long for this world and he died in 1805, when his wife was only twenty two years old.

Not one to despair, Mme. Dupont rolled up her sleeves and put her best foot forward. She now had to put all her efforts into raising her boys, Leo aged eight and Theobald aged four. She was a very devout Catholic and instilled into her children a great love for virtue and a strong Catholic Faith.

Leo went to the village school in Martinique, a French Colony where the Duponts lived. He was a very honest and upright student. One day when his teacher Mr. Rochelle left the classroom for a short period, the boys started shouting and laughing and whistling. Mr. Rochelle heard the noise and returned asking who the rowdy boys were. Leo Dupont was the only boy who stood up and confessed to his teacher that he was the guilty one but all the other boys were too ashamed to admit that they were also to blame.

When Leo finished his studies at the village school, his mother sent him to the United States. The horrible French Revolution was raging and there was too much religious persecution going on in Paris. Mme. Dupont wanted Leo to have the freedom to practice his Catholic Faith. His stay in America was short, and two years later he returned to Pontlevoy, France to continue his studies.

In 1815, when Leo had finished his studies, he returned to Martinique to visit his mother. She was now married to Mr. Arnaud, a wealthy land owner. Leo was now twenty one years old. He was a real gentleman, handsome and well mannered. Mme. and Mr. Arnaud wanted to send Leo and Theobald to Paris, to continue their studies. But before leaving, Leo's mother warned him, “Leo my son, you are heir to half a million dollars and it is a grave responsibility but also a great privilege. You can use your fortune well, or you can use it wrongly. Remember God gave you life and an immortal soul and He will exact from you a strict account on the day you die!”

The two boys arrived in Paris and rented an apartment from a well known friend. Leo continued his studies in Law and Theobald continued his regular schooling. Because Leo was so well mannered, his friends called him, “The Marquis of Politeness.”

In Paris, many people were living sinful lives and without the grace of God, Leo would have been swept downstream with them. But God was watching over him and one day the young man received a very special grace. Leo had hired a boy to look after his horse. One day the boy arrived late saying that a man named Bordier had been teaching him Catechism lessons in a church basement. Leo checked out the situation and found Bordier instructing many boys. He became a good friend of Bordier and helped him to take care of the young boys.

When Leo finished his Law studies, he returned to Martinique, where he was appointed to the Royal Court. He was now twenty four and continued his works of piety and charity, just as he had done in Paris. His brother Theobald died and he was greatly saddened.

Soon after on May 29, 1827, Leo married a good Catholic girl named Caroline d'Andiffredi. They bought a place in St. Pierre and finally after five years they had a little baby girl and named her Henrietta. The happy couple were filled with joy but this joy did not last long. In less than one year after the birth of Henrietta, Caroline died. She had never been too strong and her death was a heavy cross for poor Leo.

Before long, Leo went back to France with his mother, now a widow again, and his little girl. This time he settled in a house in Tours, on St. Etienne St. He had promised his wife that he would send Henrietta to the school run by the Ursulines Sisters in Tours. Leo was very humble and did not care what people thought of him when he practiced his Catholic Faith openly. He would serve Mass and take part in other religious events. He went to Mass and Communion almost every day. He loved to talk about the Catholic Faith and he encouraged Protestants, pagans and fallen away Catholics to believe in the Blessed Sacrament.

One day in 1837, Leo gazed upon a holy picture of St. Teresa of Avila and suddenly realized that it was necessary to do penance in his life, and not waste his time riding and hunting. So as a penance, in reparation for the sacrileges committed by the Masons and Revolutionaries, Leo would often visit and pray at the broken down churches, which had been destroyed or abused. Later on he wrote a book on the various shrines of Our Lady, scattered throughout the world. This book caused many people to go on pilgrimages again, as they had done many years ago. Leo joined the Society of St. Vincent de Paul in Tours, and became one of their great apostles. He gave this Society large sums of money, visited people and taught evening classes to workers and soldiers. Leo also provided amusement for his pupils and worked in a great amount of religious instruction when teaching his pupils, bringing many back to the practice of their religion.

Blasphemy and using God's name in vain, was a terrible sin being committed at the time by hundreds of people and even little children. Leo joined an association to stamp out blasphemy and handed out pamphlets that promoted this association. He even wrote a Little Office of prayers in honor of the Holy Name of God.

When Our Lady appeared at La Salette in 1846, Leo became a firm believer in the apparition and went there on pilgrimage. During this journey, he stopped in to see the famous Cure of Ars. St. John Vianney was surrounded by crowds of people and had never met Leo, but as soon as he saw this holy man, he went up to him saying, “O my dear friend, how sweet it will be for us to find ourselves in Heaven, singing the praises of God!”

Shortly after his pilgrimage to La Salette, Leo was given a very heavy cross. His daughter became ill with a serious disease that had broken out in the school. She was sent home and died a few days later. Leo was broken hearted at the loss of his only daughter but he was grateful to God. He had often prayed, “O God, if you see that Henrietta will stray from the right path, take her to Yourself rather than let her live.” After the girl's death, Leo lived only for God.

Wherever there was good to be done, Leo was there. He considered it an honor to help the poor, the sick, the prisoners, and anyone who needed help. Many times he would give away all the money he had in his wallet and he even gave away his own clothes.

In February 1849, night adoration of the Blessed Sacrament was started in Tours as a result of the efforts of Leo Dupont. In less than two months Leo had rounded up seventy four men to come and adore the Blessed Sacrament at night, and many of these came to adore after putting in a hard day’s work. Leo also wrote to people in different places and when they decided to set up night adoration, he would go and help them out.

It was Leo's personal desire to see night adoration started everywhere. He said, “When shall we see Our Lord honored day and night in every parish through the Catholic world? I love to cherish the hope!”

On one occasion, Leo had the honor of having three holy persons in his house at the same time: St. Peter Julian Eymard, Fr. Cohen, and Bishop de la Bouillerie, all great apostles of the Holy Eucharist.

St. Martin's Basilica in Tours was destroyed during the French Revolution. It had been dedicated to the great St. Martin, who was once a Roman soldier. He had divided his cloak and gave one half of it to a poor beggar. That same night, Our Lord wearing half the cloak that Martin had given away, appeared to him saying, “Martin, still a catechumen, has covered Me with this garment.” Right after this wonderful event he was baptized. A few years later he left the army and in time became the Bishop of Tours.

Leo made great efforts to have the Basilica of St. Martin rebuilt. He started a charitable society to help clothe the poor and encouraged others to help rebuild the basilica. God blessed the work, and by the end of the 19th century, St. Martin's was completed, a jewel in Leo's heavenly crown!

Mr. Dupont also distributed thousands of St. Benedict medals, and as a sign of respect for the holy Word of God, he had a vigil light burning night and day before his Bible. He also did this as an act of reparation for all the blasphemies committed against the Word of God.

One day Leo learned about the Carmelite Nun, Sr. Mary of St. Peter who had visions of Jesus. Our Lord told her to promote devotion to His Holy Face. At one time Jesus said, “Think of the outrages inflicted on me by the Society of the Communists, the enemies of the Church and of Christ. They have laid their hands upon the anointed of the Lord (priests). But their evil plans are vain and they will fail! I desire the establishment of the Work of Reparation! For it is the Work of Reparation to the Holy Face that will hold back God's justice.”

Always an apostle, Leo made great efforts to spread this devotion. He burned a vigil lamp continuously before a picture of the Holy Face of Jesus (Veronica's Veil), and cured many people of their diseases by having them put this blessed oil on their skin. Thousands of people made pilgrimages to his house and prayed before the picture of Veronica's Veil.

Leo's mother lived with him for many years and died in 1860, when Leo was 62 years old. From 1860 to 1870, he spent all his time before the image of Veronica's Veil; in prayer, in receiving the sick who came to be cured, and in writing letters. During this time he continued to wear a hair shirt under his clothes. He scourged himself almost every day, and sanctified himself by continual prayer and penance.

By 1873, Leo's health was failing. His eyesight was poor and he was unable to leave his room for three years, owing to gout and rheumatism. As his illness increased, he had to give up going to daily Mass and Communion. The Blessed Sacrament was brought to him once a week. He continued to suffer right up until his death on March 18, 1876, at the age of 79.

We should all practice the virtues of Leo Dupont; his Faith, Hope, and Charity, his gentle and apostolic ways, his perseverance in good works, his love for Holy Communion and his devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus. St. Pius X asked that a picture of the Holy Face of Jesus be placed in every Christian home. By this he meant that we should all have devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus. Beg Venerable Leo to help you have devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus and let us all pray that one day we can say, St. Leo Dupont, Pray for Us.

Source: http://www.sspx.ca/EucharisticCrusade/2003_March/Verable_Leo_Dupont.htm

Eucharist quotes (12/1 Ven. Leo Dupont)

Besides promoting devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus Venerable Leo promoted Eucharistic Adoration just as vigorously. In 1849 he helped set up night Eucharistic Adoration in Tours France and had a strong desire that this be established in every parish throughout the world: “When shall we see Our Lord honored day and night in every parish through the Catholic world? I love to cherish the hope!” He often would go and help establish this nocturnal adoration at various parishes.

“How short, above all, seems the (Eucharistic Adoration) hour which has fallen to our lot!...Some (read books) or simply say their rosaries, but the greater number place themselves as suppliants at the feet of our Lord, speak to Him, and receive good thoughts from Him; these last find the hour exceedingly short.”

12月3日:聖方濟各• 沙勿 略(司鐸)(紀念) St. Francis Xavier

忙碌仍朝拜聖體

聖方濟各沙勿略在印度傳教時,白天講道,領洗勸人悔改十分忙碌。到晚上才能跪拜聖體,向耶穌訴心直到天明。

聖方濟各沙勿略不少次在分送聖體時,覺得有一種傾向,朝拜手中的聖體,竟致雙膝跪下來,就以那種姿態繼續送了聖體。

聖方濟各生平

 方濟各•沙勿略生於一五O六年,原籍西班牙北部諾畢省。十八歲到巴黎讀書,入巴巴拉學院。一五二八考取碩士學位。在這裏結識了聖依納爵。

 一五三四年,以依納爵為首的第一批耶穌會士七人在蒙馬德集合,許願獻身事主。這七人中,聖方濟各也在內。三年後,方濟各在威尼斯領受鐸品。

 一五四O年,聖依納爵派方濟各隨洛德利神父去東印度傳教。方濟各奉命到里斯本與洛德利會合出發。洛德利那時候寄宿在一家醫院,給病人講解要 理。 方濟各到了里斯本,也住在這家醫院裏。二人常到城內各區講道。國王若瑟三世很欽佩這兩位傳教士的聖德,每星期日就召他們入宮聽告解。 結果洛德利被國王苦苦挽留,無法啟程。

 一五四一年四月七日( 方濟各的生日 )方濟各以教宗特使的身份,揚帆啟程,前往東印度傳教。國君臨別依依不捨,送了許多禮物給他。 方濟各原物奉還,只收了幾本書。人們勸他帶一個僕人去,路上方便一些。方濟各不肯,他說道: 「一個人必須親手洗衣服,煮飯燒菜,方能受眾人的尊敬。」

 與方濟各同船去東印度傳教的司鐸有二位:意大利籍的保祿神父和葡萄牙籍的馬希拉神父。

 方濟各搭的那艘船,是東印度總督蘇沙的船。蘇沙曾到東印度接任,船上有許多船員、旅客、士兵。 方濟各沒有放過傳教的機會,他給眾人講解要理,每主日在甲板講道,侍候病人,將自己的臥室改成診療室。 當時,海上風浪很大,方濟各常患暈船病,所以他的工作,倍加吃力。 船上的人形形色色,每天有爭吵發生,方濟各就給他們排解,勸說他們戒絕發虛誓和賭博的惡習。

 在漫長的航程中,幾乎全體旅客都患了壞血病。這位耶穌會士一天到晚忙著侍候病人。 經過了五個月的海上生活,船舶繞過了好望角,在莫桑比克過冬,然後繞著東非洲海岸,經過馬林田和沙各大,一五四二年五月六日到達果阿。 總計這次的海上航程,歷時十三個月。

 果阿自一五一O年由葡萄牙管理,當地教務很發達,有教堂、有修院。 可是許多人對宗教沒有深刻的認識,領聖事不大踴躍。方濟各到了果阿,第一件工作是灌輸宗教知識,激勵教徒熱心敬主,過標準教友生活。 他每天上午往醫院、監獄探視病人和囚犯,下午在街頭召集兒童和奴僕,給他們講解要理。他手裏拿著一個鈴鐺,大家一聽見鈴聲,就出來圍住他。 方濟各就給他們解釋信德道理,教他們誦念經文。他每主日召集麻風病人,舉行彌撒聖祭。他也向印度人傳揚福音。 除了公開講道外,還常到他們家裏作個別訪問。

 為了使不識字的文盲易於記憶聖教基本教理,他將要理用通俗的文字編成詩賦體的歌曲,教大家唱。這種新的教授方法,非常成功。 在街頭、在家庭、在田野、在工廠,到處都能聽到方濟各編唱的「要理歌」。

 方濟各在果阿住了五個月,就轉換目標,開始向巴拉華族傳教。 巴拉華族在錫蘭附近的寶魚海岸,大部分都已領洗入教,但對教義一無所知,仍保持著舊日的迷信習慣。 方濟各開始學習巴拉華方言,搭船出發,到了寶魚海岸,一面給已領洗的土人講道,一面勸化異教徒歸正。 異教徒聽了他的講道,紛紛領洗入教,數量龐大。每次方濟各付洗完,手臂都酸得提不起來了。方濟各在那裏顯了許多靈跡。

 方濟各每到一個地方,就和當地的人過同樣的生活。 他吃的食物和窮人完全相同,是清水和粗米,夜間睡在地上。 天主厚賜他豐富的神慰神樂,酬報他的辛勞。 他說:「我常常聽見在這葡萄園工作的人(指他自己而言)說道:主呀!請你不要在現世賞賜我這麼多快樂!」

 方濟各對巴拉華族傳教,收獲豐富,超出了一般的理想。不久,他感到人手不足,必須增添工作人員。 他到果阿去請來了兩位印度籍司鐸,一位輔理修士,還有那位和他同船到達的馬希拉神父。

 方濟各順利地對巴拉華族開展傳教工作,足跡所到之處,人們成群結隊地聽他講道,領洗入教。 方濟各常用已領洗的兒童做他的助手,這些兒童常將他們所學習的要理轉講給別人聽,這樣互相傳述,一般人都普遍認識教義的內容。

 方濟各最痛心的是:在高木林和杜田,那些接受福音真光的巴拉華人,被鄰族攻擊,除了財產被洗劫一空外,一部分人還被擄為奴。 有一次方濟各手持苦像,單身喝退暴徒。信德的種子深深地種入巴拉華人的心田,任何暴行,任何打擊,都不能動搖他們的信仰。

 方濟各一面勸化異教徒接受信德的真光,一面勸勉冷淡的教友悔罪改過。他的態度溫和而誠懇,很容易感動罪人。

 方濟各寫信給葡萄牙國王說:「我已準備死在印度,今世不會與陛下見面。請你為我求天主,賞賜我們將來在天國相會。」

 一五四五年春季,方濟各啟程前往馬來亞海峽的馬六甲,在那裏住了四個月,全力傳揚福音。 他又到安波諾、德諾帝、祁六祿等地進行傳教,一路上遭遇了許多困難。可是方濟各有的是勇氣和救靈的熱火,他勇往直前,什麼都不怕。 他寫信給聖依納爵道:「這幾個月來,我遭遇的危險,執行的工作,都給予我很大的神慰神樂。 我到了這些島上,不禁狂喜流淚,身體越疲勞,到越覺得快樂。」

 十八個月後,方濟各回到馬六甲,他第一次聽到日本的名字。 有幾個葡萄牙商人到過日本,他們講起在海洋的另一端,有這樣的一個國家,福音的真光還沒有傳到。 方濟各的腦海裏就馬上有了遠涉重洋,在這塊肥沃的土壤上,播撒福音種子的計劃。

 一五四八年一月,方濟各回到印度。 以後十五個月,他在果阿、錫蘭、高木林海灣來往,鞏固他的傳教事業,同時進行前往日本傳教的準備工作 (直到那時候,還沒有一個歐洲傳教士到過日本)。

 一五四九年四月,方濟各啟程向日本進發,他帶了一位耶穌會司鐸(多列神父),一位輔理修士(佛南田修士), 和三個日本籍的教徒(其中有一個名叫保祿)。 這年聖母升天瞻禮時,方濟各在日本九洲登陸。

 方濟各學習了日語,編寫了一本日文的要理書。十二個月內,在日本加果勸化了一百多名日本人。 當局對傳教士開始注意,禁止他們的活動,方濟各將新奉教的人托日籍教徒保祿照管,自己帶了別的傳教工作人員去長崎一帶傳揚福音。 方濟各臨行時,到依喜堡屋,勸化了男爵夫人,男爵府的總管和當地的一些居民。 十二年後,耶穌會輔理修士到依喜探視那些孤獨的教友,他們雖然一天到晚在外教圈子內生活,但還是熱心保守信德,和十二年前一點也沒有變化。

 方濟各在喜拉多受到知府的歡迎,傳教工作順利展開。一個星期內的收獲比加果一年內的收獲還要多。 方濟各將本區教務委托多列神父管理,自己帶了佛南田輔理修士和一個日本人又到了洪州的斯木。 當地的人對方濟各講道的反映很冷淡,他就決定向京都進發。

 方濟各在十二月動身,一路上風雪交加,道路泥濘難行,經過了兩個月的旅程,才抵達京都。 可是京都的人民對福音並不表示熱烈的歡迎,方濟各改變計劃,回到了野木和知府磋商。知府特許他城內傳教,並撥了一座神廟給他作宿舍。 方濟各在野木勸化了許多人領洗入教。

 那時候,有一艘葡萄牙商船到日本九洲,方濟各決定搭這艘船回印度視察教務,同時準備來中國傳教。 他將日本的教務委托多列神父和佛南田輔理修士管理 (其時,日本教徒的總數達兩千人,後來日本大教難期內的殉道者就是他們的後裔),自己返回印度。

 方濟各在印度住了四個月,擬定方案,整頓教務。 一五五二年四月二十五日,他又踏上旅程,帶領了一名耶穌會司鐸,一名修士,一名中國譯員到了馬六甲。 總督選派畢萊托為駐中國欽使,方濟各隨同欽使前往中國。這樣入境時可以獲得便利。不料馬六甲的海港司令和畢萊托有宿怨,不准畢萊托搭船出發。 方濟各一再解釋,海軍司令堅決堅持他的決定,最後畢萊托決定放棄到中國的計劃,將自己的船借給了方濟各。 可是畢萊托既然不去,方濟各只能以普通外僑身份來中國。依照當時法例,中國當局嚴禁普通外僑入境。 方濟各決定在中國附近的島嶼上岸,尋找機會偷渡入境。為了減少入境時的困難,方濟各將那位耶穌會司鐸送往日本, 自己帶了中國譯員到了上川島(上川島距中國大陸海岸僅有六哩,距香港約一百哩),那是一五五二年八月的事。

 在這個荒涼的上川島上,方濟寫信給畢萊托說: 「這次我能夠到這裏,完全靠你的幫助。天主一定要重重地賞報你。」他和一隻中國商船商量好,在黑夜帶他入境。 方濟立誓保守秘密,決不向任何人泄漏他的姓名。 十一月二十一日,方濟突發寒熱,島上還有一艘船是馬六甲海港司令的,司令和方濟的感情不大融合, 船員不敢和方濟太接近,以免司令不悅,所以他們就暗暗開船走了,讓方濟孤零零地躺在海灘上。 時值冬季,朔風怒號,發高熱的方濟躺在海灘上發抖。 後來有一個葡萄牙商人將聖人接到他的茅屋裏去。 方濟的病一天比一天重,放了幾次血,但絲毫沒有效果,有時體溫太高,失去知覺。 可是一清醒,他就念經祈禱。這樣一直到了十二月三日。那一天是星期六,方濟的中國譯員安多尼怕他要去世,就點了一支蠟燭,放在他手裏。 方濟口誦耶穌的聖名,瞑目安逝,享年四十六歲,他在遠東傳教共十一年,星期日下午安葬了遺體。

 十個星期後,方濟各的棺柩從土裏掘出。迎往別處安葬時,人們啟棺檢視,見遺體完整不腐。 人們將方濟各的遺體迎到馬六甲,數日後,又迎到果阿耶穌堂。經過數百年來的多次檢視,方濟各的遺體始終沒有腐爛。

 方濟各•沙勿略於一六二二年與聖依納爵、聖女德肋撒、聖斐理伯•內利、聖依西多祿等同時榮列聖品。

Eucharist quotes (12/3 St. Francis Xavier)

St. Francis Xavier after preaching and baptizing all day would often spend the night in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament.

St Francis Xavier found refreshment in the midst of his many labors in India; for he employed his days in toiling for souls, and his nights in the presence of the Most Blessed Sacrament.

St. Francis Xavier at times when distributing Holy Communion felt so carried away by a sense of adoration toward Our Lord Who was in his hands, that he got on his knees and in that position continued giving Holy Communion.

12月4日:聖若望.達 瑪森 (司鐸、聖師) St. John Damascene

 聖人在第七世紀末出生於大馬士革的教友家庭,精通哲學,後在耶路撒冷附近的聖撒巴隱修院做隱修士,並領受鐸品;他曾寫過許多神學著作,其中以 維護 聖像敬禮的辯論尤為著名。第八世紀中逝世。

12月4日:聖女芭芭拉 (殉 道) St. Barbara

 聖女芭芭拉的父親是個殘暴的城主,他敬拜邪神,為了強迫女兒背教,而將芭芭拉軟禁在塔中。芭芭拉始終堅守信德,她的父親就向當地官庭檢舉。芭 芭拉 因此被逮捕,受了許多酷刑,最後被斬首致命。相傳芭芭拉的父親和當地惡官二人,同時被雷電擊斃。所以後世教友奉聖女芭芭拉為避免雷電、火災和猝死等不幸事 件的主保聖人。

12/4 St. Clement of Alexandria

(150 to 216)

Titus Flavius Clemens was probably born a pagan in Athens about 150 A.D. He was one of the first great leaders in Christian Africa. After his conversion, he traveled to Italy, Syria and Palestine seeking Christian teachers. He met a most impressive one by the name of Pantaenus in Alexandria, became his pupil, associate and succeeded him as the head of a school for catechumens (converts) by 200 A.D. He speaks of the apostolic tradition he received from his teachers. He had no doubt, known some who recalled Ignatius and Polycarp or perhaps, even some who as children had heard St. John speak of our Lord's commands. He could claim to be in the next succession after the apostles. A persecution by Septimius Severus in about 203 forced him to close the school and flee to Egypt. His writings are the first to discuss the relationship between faith and reason. His great treatises constitute a moral and dogmatic theology as well as an apologetic (defense) of the faith. He died in Cappadocia between 211-216 A.D.

http://www.catholicfaithandreason.org/st-clement-of-alexandria-150-216-ad.html

12/5 Bl. Nicholas Steno

(1638 to 1686) Italian Priest and father of the field of Geology

Nicholas Steno was born in Copenhagen, Denmark, on January 10, 1638. Bl. Nicolas settled as a young man in the Netherlands, before later moving to Italy. He first pursued his scientific research in northern city of Padua and subsequently in Florence. He also made great contributions to the fields of anatomy and paleontology.

In geology, he is best known for his “principle of original horizontality,” which states that layers of sediment are originally deposited horizontally due to gravity. He also discovered the “law of superposition,” which states that layers of sediment are deposited in such a way that the oldest reside on the bottom and the youngest on the top.

In his diaries Bl. Nicolas recounts how he refused to accept statements from a book and always preferred to undertake his own research. It was this inquisitive mindset that led him to study philosophy, theology and Church history.

On June 24, 1666, in Livorno, Italy, Nicholas Steno received the grace of conversion to the Catholic faith. His biographers wrote, “He observed with curiosity and perplexity the procession for the Feast of Corpus Christi and the fervor around it. The large Piazza d’Armi was bursting with colors and sounds. A loud, prolonged ringing of bells could be heard. The young man was recalling another procession he watched three years before in Lovanio, Belgium, where many students were lined up and dozens of black-robed professors were walking. He could perceive something different here. Maybe it was a sense of joy, a new warm feeling… or maybe his eyes had changed? Long lines of men in white tunics were processing and singing. Gonfalons and banners were swinging in the gentle breeze coming from the sea. Friars and priests were processing too, dressed in their white surplices adorned with laces and fringes. Even more priests were part of the procession, wearing their copes shining in the sun, and children holding incense burners. Finally, a big golden canopy passed by, and under it a minister of the Church, solemnly dressed, absorbed in his thoughts, carrying close to his chest the precious monstrance with the Sacred Host….

“People knelt as the Blessed Sacrament passed by and eyes were sparkling with love as they gazed upon the Host, all heads bowed down in adoration. Petals and flowers were showering from all corners. The young Nicholas Steno spent the whole day with a deep uneasiness in his heart. He remembered the Jesuit priest in Paris with whom he had discussed the Real Presence of Jesus in the consecrated Bread. The Jesuit priest had emphasized the value of Jesus’ words at the Last Supper, ‘This is my Body’, and then St. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. That day Nicholas Steno decided to convert to Catholicism. He immediately entered the seminary, and after nine years of study he was ordained a priest. He described his conversion: ‘As soon as I attentively pondered God’s favors to me, these appeared to be so many that I couldn’t help but offer to Him the best of myself and in the best way, from the bottom of my heart… Therefore, having come to know the great dignity of priesthood… I asked and obtained that I may offer the Immaculate Host to the Eternal Father for my good and the good of others.’”

Bl. Nicolas was ordained to the priesthood and became a key figure of the counter-Reformation in the Lutheran regions of northern Germany. He was appointed auxiliary Bishop of Münster in 1680 and died in 1686 at the age of 48. His body was buried back in Florence.

His reputation for piety led to his cause for canonization being opened in 1938.

In 1988, he was declared “blessed” by Pope John Paul II

Sources: http://ewtnnews.com/catholic-news/US.php?id=4649 and www.therealpresence.org/eucharst/mir/english_pdf/Steno.pdf

Eucharist quotes (12/5 Bl. Nicholas Steno)

Blessed Nicholas, in one Eucharistic procession, witnessed such reverence towards the Blessed Sacrament that he not only converted to Catholicism but also became a Priest.

12月6日:聖尼閣主教 (主 教) St. Nicholas of Myra

~343

主保:孩童、航海員、陷入困境者、有需要者

 從聖尼閣倍受世人尊崇的現象可發現:即使聖人們的事蹟缺乏史實的佐證,其受歡迎的程度,也不致受到影響。對於這位聖人,東、西方教會都給予極 高的 尊崇;並且,在基督教的藝術中,他是繼聖母之後,出現在聖藝中最多的聖人。然而,就史實而言,我們只知道他是一位里溪亞的彌肋城(Myra, Lycia, 即今日土耳其地區)主教,生活於第四世紀。

 聖人約在第四世紀時,誕生在一處名為帕塔拉(village of Patara)的村莊,即今日的土耳其南岸。其家境非常富有,但父母卻將其教養成一位虔敬的基督徒;後來,聖人的雙親都因瘟疫而過世。於是,年輕的尼閣, 為了遵守耶穌的教誨:「變賣你的財產,並分施給窮人」,便將所有的遺產,都用來賙濟有需要之人,特別是病人與受苦之人。自此,他將自己的生命全奉獻給了天 主,後來還成了彌肋城的主教。很快地,他對有需要之人的慷慨便已名聞遐邇,特別是他對孩童的愛,以及對船員的關切。

 在羅馬皇帝打壓基督徒的時代裡,聖人亦因信仰而遭到迫害,甚至慘遭流放與囚禁;整座監獄裡,全是主教、司鐸與執事,反而沒有空間容納真正的罪 犯。 獲釋後,聖人參加了主後325年所召開的尼西亞大公會議(Council of Nicaea)。最後,343年的12月6日,於彌肋城自己的主教座堂裡過世。該處有個被稱為瑪納(manna)的特殊聖髑,構成了聖人的墳墓;那是一種 液態的物質,據說有特殊的醫療效能,這使得聖人的敬禮大為廣傳。後來,他過世的日子就成了紀念日,被稱為「聖尼閣日」。數世紀以來,關於聖人的故事與傳奇 從未間斷過。這些故事能幫助我們了解他那不尋常的人格特質,以及他為何如此受人愛戴與尊崇的原因。

 有個傳奇就這樣描述:有位窮人,他有三個女兒。按當時習俗,父親嫁女兒時,應提供有價值的財物作為女兒的嫁妝;價值越高,就越能為女兒找到好 的丈 夫;若無,則根本不可能結婚。這位窮人的女兒因無嫁妝,因此注定是要被賣作奴隸了。就在這位父親一愁莫展之際,奇蹟出現了,因為三個女兒分別在出嫁前,都 各有一袋金幣出現在家裡,解決了無嫁妝的窘迫。據說,金幣都是在柴火熄滅前,從打開的窗口擲入家中的,且被放在長襪或是靴子裡。這後來就成了小孩在聖誕夜 裡,在窗邊懸掛長襪,期待聖誕老人餽贈禮物的典故。有時候,傳奇中的故事內容會以金球取代金幣,這也是為何現代的聖誕佈置中,會有金球或橘子懸掛其上的原 因。橘子,後來也成了聖人的象徵之一;聖尼閣也因此成了禮物的施予者。

 另個故事則說道:有三個神學生,在前往雅典學習的途中,被一位邪惡的客棧老闆所劫掠,最後慘遭殺害,並被藏在一個大型的木桶裡。一次,聖尼閣 主教 正好途經該處,並在該客棧中歇腳。當晚,他便夢到整個犯案的過程,於是便起身質問老闆。這三位年輕人後來在聖人熱切的祈禱中復活了,並且恢復了健康。在法 國,這故事的情節有些更動,三位年輕人成了三個孩童,他們在戲耍中迷了路,後來被一位邪惡的肉販所拐騙。聖人出現後祈求上主,便恢復了孩童的生命,並將他 們送回家裡。為此,聖人又是小孩的主保與保護者。

 另有許多聖人的傳奇與海有關。聖人年輕時曾去聖地朝聖,他試圖藉由行走耶穌曾走過的道路,來更深地體驗耶穌的生命、苦難與復活。當他循海路回 程 時,途中船隻遭到風暴的侵襲,聖人沉著祈禱。結果,眾水手對風浪瞬間的止息都大感驚奇。為此,聖人也是水手或是航海員的主保。

 其他的故事,則訴說著聖人如何在飢荒中救災,以及在不義的控訴中,如何拯救無辜者的事蹟。他時常為善不欲人知,也從不求回報,因此聖人常被視 為是 陷入困境者或有需要者的主保。數世紀以來,聖人依然廣受天主教、東正教,甚至是基督新教的教友所尊崇;因著他對有需要之人的慷慨,特別是對孩童的關愛,他 一直都是善度愛德生活者的榜樣。

12月7日:聖安博(主教、聖師)(紀念) St. Ambrose

主教、聖師

 一位聖安博傳記的作者曾這樣說道:「在最後審判時,所有人都將被分成二邊:一邊是欣賞聖安博者;另一邊則是由衷厭惡他的人。」聖人就是那種會 在他 所身處的時代中,在人與人之間劃下「界線」的行動者;即便是再尊貴的人物,也會在聖安博的面前,崩潰於神聖的審判之下的。聖人約在主後的340年,誕生於 義大利的特里爾城(Trier),父母皆是皈依基督信仰的貴族。相傳,當聖人還在襁褓之時,有一天,來了數隻蜜蜂,飛到他安睡的搖籃裡,且還鑽進安博的嘴 中。不久,牠們便又鑽出,往天際飛去了。世人將此視為是安博擁有過人口才的預兆,且還奉他為補蜂人的主保。

 年輕時,聖安博曾在羅馬修習法律,並在希耳彌從事公職。主後374年的12月7日,意外地以望教者的身分被選為米蘭的主教。在其牧職任內,常 藉由 著作與教導捍衛正統信仰,亞略異端視其為死敵。

 有一次,當猶斯汀納皇后(Empress Justina)企圖將聖人的二座天主教大殿(Basilica)轉送給亞略異端(Arians)時,宮廷裡的宦臣竟畏懼聖人的威儀而未敢執行;天主子民 就聚在聖安博的身後,一同面對皇帝的軍隊;在人民的騷動中,他以動人且令人振奮的東方曲調,唱出激勵並安撫著百姓的讚歌來。

 另有一次,他在與Auxentius的爭論中,明白地表達了他在君權與神權上的原則,他說:「皇帝,是在教會內,而非在教會之上。」他也曾公 開地 斥責Theodosius皇帝,因為他曾屠殺七千無辜之人。為此,皇帝在聖人的訓誡下,不得不公開地表達悔罪,並尋求聖人的接納。這就是信仰的鬥士 - 聖安博。

 安博身性激昂,其個頭雖小,卻有一個很高的額頭,還有一副有著大眼的抑鬱長臉,並且時常手握著聖經;他雖身形消瘦,卻常是散發出尊貴與學者的 氣 息,這就是他的形象。除此之外,聖人也有令人為之動容的一面,這表現在他與聖奧思定的關係上;奧思定便是在聖人的影響下皈依天主的;他對奧斯定的影響,總 是引起廣泛的討論。奧斯定在【懺悔錄】一書中,就曾描述二人的相遇過程,雖有些唐突,但卻掩飾不了奧斯定對這位博學的主教最深的敬意。

 另外,奧斯定也認為:安博的演說,雖然較欠缺慰藉性與娛樂性,但卻比當代的其他學者更加博學與精湛;而他的道理架構,就如同當代的許多學者一 樣, 大多是以西塞羅(Cisero)為基礎的,但觀點卻又相當有別於當代的其他思想家或哲學家。

 當然,因著奧思定的皈依,聖莫妮卡對聖人有更是敬愛有加,視他如一位天主的天使,因為安博不僅將她的兒子從先前荒誕不羇的生活中給救拔了出 來,並 幫助他確認基督就是他一生所尋覓的永生天主;就是這位慈父般主教,在奧思定的洗禮中,將雙手置放在奧思定赤裸的肩上,並親自為他披上耶穌基督。

 聖人的道理、著作,以及他的個人生命,都再再地顯示他是一個身處「另一世界」,但卻處理當代重大議題的人。除此之外,聖人對教會的主要貢獻, 還包 括撰寫了彌撒禮儀用的詠讚曲,並且還將希臘教父的著作帶到拉丁語系的世界裡;另外,他也極力推崇守貞奉獻的生活。最後,聖人於主後397年的4月4日,於 聖週六過世。他過世後,遺體就被安置在米蘭的大殿裡。

 誰若像聖史若望、像伯鐸和保祿一樣,從這充沛的河裡汲水,便會提高聲音。又如同宗徒們提高聲音,到處宣講福音,同樣,汲取這水的人也會開始向 人傳 報耶穌基督。所以,你要聆聽基督的話,好使你的聲音廣博;你要汲取基督的水,就是那讚美上主的水。你要從各泉源中收集水,這是象徵先知們的雲彩所降下的 水。

 無論誰收集山上的水,把水引向自己,或從泉裡汲水,便也像雲彩一樣,滴下雨露。所以你要用這水充滿你的心靈深處,為使你的心田濕潤,並被你自 己的 水源所灌溉。所以誰多讀書並了解許多事,便是充滿了水。充滿了以後,才能灌溉他人。因此聖經上說:「當雲彩充滿雨水時,便把雨水傾注到大地上。」

- 節錄自《每日誦禱》12月7日誦讀 -選讀聖安博主教書信集。

Eucharist quotes (12/7 St. Ambrose)

The “Oblationaires” of St. Ambrose were pioneers of Eucharistic Adoration outside of Mass. These were a group of 10 poor men and 10 poor women who, on feast days, would also bring the people’s oblation of bread and wine to the altar at the offertory at Mass.

“Let your door stand open to receive Him, unlock your soul to Him, offer Him a welcome in your mind, and then you will see the riches of simplicity, the treasures of peace, the joy of grace. Throw wide the gate of your heart, stand before the sun of the everlasting light.” “I adore and venerate you as much as ever I can, though my love is so cold, my devotion so poor. Thank you for the good gift of this your holy Body and Blood,...”

“The angels adore not only the divinity of Christ, but also the footstool of His feet. ... Or if they deny that in Christ also the mysteries of the incarnation are to be adored, in which the very marks of His deity are seen and where we note the sure paths of the heavenly Logos, they should read that the apostles also adored Him when He rose in the glory of His flesh (Luke 24:52). ... The prophet says (Ps. 99:5) that the earth which the Lord Jesus took upon himself, when he took on flesh, should be adored. Therefore by “footstool” we understand the earth, and by this earth we understand the flesh, which we today also adore in the mysteries and which the apostles adored in the Lord Jesus, as we have said above.”

“You perhaps say: ‘My bread is usual.’ But the bread is bread before the words of the sacraments; when consecration has been added, from bread it becomes the flesh of Christ. So let us confirm this, how it is possible that what is bread is the body of Christ. By what words, then, is the consecration and by whose expressions? By those of the Lord Jesus. For all the rest that are said in the preceding are said by the priest: praise to God, prayer is offered, there is a petition for the people, for kings, for the rest. When it comes to performing a venerable sacrament, then the priest uses not his own expressions, but he uses the expressions of Christ. Thus the expression of Christ performs this sacrament.” (The Sacraments, Book 4, Ch.4:14.)

“Let us be assured that this is not what nature formed, but what the blessing consecrated, and that greater efficacy resides in the blessing than in nature, for by the blessing nature is changed… . Surely the word of Christ, which could make out of nothing that which did not exist, can change things already in existence into what they were not. For it is no less extraordinary to give things new natures than to change their natures… . Christ is in that Sacrament, because it is the Body of Christ; yet, it is not on that account corporeal food, but spiritual. Whence also His Apostle says of the type: ‘For our fathers ate spiritual food and drink spiritual drink.’ [1 Cor. 10:2-4] For the body of God is a spiritual body.” (On the Mysteries, 9, 50-52, 58; 391 A.D.)

“His poverty enriches, the fringe of His garment heals, His hunger satisfies, His death gives life, His burial gives resurrection. Therefore, He is a rich treasure, for His bread is rich. And ‘rich’ is apt for one who has eaten this bread will be unable to feel hunger. He gave it to the Apostles to distribute to a believing people, and today He gives it to us, for He, as a priest, daily consecrates it with His own words. Therefore, this bread has become the food of the saints.” (The Patriarchs, Ch. 9:38)

“Thus, every soul which receives the bread which comes down from heaven is a house of bread, the bread of Christ, being nourished and having its heart strengthened by the support of the heavenly bread which dwells within it.” (Letter to Horontianus, circa 387 A.D.)

12/7 St. Mary Joseph Rossello

(1811 to 1888) Founder of the Daughters of Our Lady of Mercy

St. Mary Joseph Rossello was born in Savona, Italy, to a poor grocer and his wife. She was a pious child who cared deeply for the less fortunate in her neighborhood. For example, there was a young girl that limped along the road who was her friend. One day, Mary Joseph and her friends were walking to a shrine and the young girl was lagging behind. Exercising heroic charity, Mary Joseph not only walked the two miles with her, but even carried her to the shrine. Such was the love of those that needed help.

When she was a teenager, Mary Joseph went to work for an old man and woman in the neighborhood, who had no children. She took such good care of them that the man promised that he would leave her some of his money. Mary Joseph, of course, refused it and the man understood.

It was after taking care of the elderly couple that Mary Joseph went around various convents wanting to become a nun. However, no convent would accept her. The reason was because she had no dowry and a dowry was deemed extremely important in those days. However, Mary Joseph continued to always repeat the phrase: “God will provide.”

It was around this time that Mary Joseph met with the bishop of her diocese, who asked her if there was something she could do for the poor young women that were in need of education and spent most of their time begging on the streets. Mary Joseph got together with three of her friends and they established a school.

Eventually, this school grew and Mary Joseph became superior of a group called the Daughters of Mercy. Coincidentally, Mary Joseph never asked for a dowry from the young women who entered her convent. Rather, she only asked for one thing: a charitable heart.

Eventually, Mother Rossello’s school had grown so much that she established others in nearby cities. She also established a seminary for young boys who couldn’t afford to go to a seminary.

Yet life was not easy for Mother Rossello. One day, the money ran out. Mother Rossello gathered the students, orphans from the House of Providence, and the sisters. She asked them to pray together. After a few minutes, she asked one of the Sisters to check the cash box. Sister came back with two coins and two buttons.

“We’re not praying hard enough,” Mother Rossello said. “We need to pray harder.” So they did for an hour. Once again, Sister went back to the cash box and found to her surprise all of the money that was needed for the Sisters to survive. Such was Mother Rossello’s belief in Divine Providence.

Yet like Mother Teresa of Calcutta and St. Therese of Lisieux, Mother Rossello also experienced spiritual dryness. In fact, she experienced it for the last decades of her religious life. Only on her death bed did she receive consolation from God. After her death, her body was found to be incorrupt.

In 1949, Mother Rossello was canonized by Pope Pius XII.

Eucharist quotes (12/7 St. Mary Joseph Rossello)

“Go to Jesus. He loves you and is waiting for you to give you many graces. He is on the altar surrounded by angels adoring and praying. Let them make some room for you and join them in doing what they do.”

12月8日:聖母無玷始 胎 (節日) The Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

畫像

 公元1854年12月8日,教宗庇護九世頒布「聖母始孕無玷」為信道,隆重宣布:至聖童貞瑪利亞在她始孕的第一瞬息,因著全能天主殊異的恩 寵,仗 賴著人類救主耶穌基督的功勳,免染原罪的諸般玷污。那就是說:童貞聖母瑪利亞從她在母胎受孕的最初一剎那起,靈魂上已有天主的寵愛。

 聖母無玷始胎瞻禮,正要表明基督的救恩超越時空。天主為他聖子降生成人,準備了母親。聖母瑪利亞也就是基督救恩的初果。
(以12月8日作為聖母無玷始胎的節日,是因為教會在9月8日慶祝聖母聖誕。)

 耶穌基督是默西亞,天主的受傅者,祂是克勝罪惡的君王。聖母充滿恩寵,是因為她腹中孕育的是克勝罪惡的力量根源。聖母在優異的情況下,獲得 『先 贖』。即預防性的救恩,不再被原罪境況所困擾,聖母的無原罪不會減低耶穌救贖的價值,反而令其更為提昇,使我們體會到天主對人的愛是先過罪惡。創造之初原 是這樣,在這裡我們得到更大的啟示,有『先贖』才能有『後贖』。即治療性的救恩;盾主的仁慈,在人類背叛墮落之後,立即許諾救贖的恩典,使人的缺憾得到補 償的機會。

 我們可以藉此反省:

【1】 聖母給我們看到一個人得救前的原來樣子,同時也看到天主的忠信徹底地表露無遺。﹝默想 創 3:15﹞

【2】 聖母是得救者的典範,我們雖是罪人,到最後也會像聖母一樣達到完滿,藉聖洗聖事,我們由原罪而來的罪根已一次而永久性地被赦免,但我們仍要日新又新,在誘 惑中不斷跳越出來。救贖需要我們合作去成就的,天主的愛偉大就在於此,要人類發揮自己到極點。﹝默想 路 1:28﹞

 在天教教義裡,『原罪』佔有一個很重要的位置,因為救世主耶穌基督,就是為了這個『原罪』才降生成人。到底,什麼是『原罪』?按傳統的天主教 要理 這樣解釋:人類的原祖父母,亞當、夏娃違背了天主的命令,犯下了大罪,這個罪遺留到我們﹝亞當的後代子孫﹞身上,就叫『原罪』。

 原罪帶給我們什麼後果?按傳統的要理,有這樣的說法:因著原罪,不僅我們的原祖被天主逐出地堂﹝伊甸園﹞,失落了一切超性的恩典,而且連累了 他們 的後代子孫,世世代代的人類,一生到世上來,都沒有天主的寵愛,遭受私慾偏情的困擾,並招致死亡痛苦,及別的一切禍患。

 人人都有原罪嗎?人類中除了聖母瑪利亞以外,人人都染有原罪。聖母始胎無染原罪的信理,是在脫利騰大公會議﹝1510─1516年﹞所欽定 的。

  聖母也是人,也是亞當、夏娃的子女,照理她也該染有原罪的。怎麼說聖母無染原罪呢?這實在是一端極奧妙的信德道理。按傳統天主教教義這樣解釋:因為天主聖 子降生成人,要提選一位純潔無瑕,完全沒有罪污,完全不受魔鬼控制的女人,才堪當做祂的母親,於是天主以祂的全能,使聖母預先蒙受救主救贖的恩寵,使她配 作天主聖子的母親。因此聖母便成為空前絕後,獨一無二的,始胎無染原罪的人。

 聖母始胎無染原罪的信理,不是教會憑空捏造的,而是以聖經作為根據。原祖父母犯罪以後,天主在伊甸園應許派遣救世主的諾言,與應許這位獨一無 二的 貞女的諾言,是息息相關,彼此相連,而且是前者包含在後者之內的。天主咒罵那條誘惑夏娃的蛇﹝魔鬼的化身﹞之後,鄭重地聲明說:『我要把仇恨放在你和女 人,你的後裔和她的後裔之間;她的後裔要踏碎你的頭顱。』﹝創3:15﹞。聖經上所預許的那位女人,毫無疑問,就是聖母瑪利亞。她踏碎魔鬼的頭顱,就是她 不受魔鬼的惡勢力所控制,換句話說,就是聖母完全不受任何罪污的侵害──始胎無染原罪。

 時候到,天主的預言要應驗了,天主要實踐祂的救世計劃,於是打發總領天使嘉俾額爾,來到人間,向這位天主早在伊甸園就預許了的貞女報喜,要她 作救 主的母親;天使向這位貞女﹝聖母瑪利亞﹞請安說:『萬福!充滿恩寵者,上主與妳同在!』﹝路1:28﹞。這句天使祝賀聖母的話,是聖母始胎無染原罪最有力 的佐證。假如聖母只要有一瞬息曾受過罪的污染,那就不可能稱為『充滿恩寵』的了。

 傳統教理對原罪的解釋,對原罪的觀念,很受聖師奧斯定的影響。以為原罪好像遺留給後代子孫的惡果,但近代對原罪有了新的解釋,認為原罪不算是 真實 的罪,可是它與罪卻有著極密切的關係,因著原罪罪惡進入了世界,使世界的和諧秩序受到破壞,人人生到世上來,都不能避免陷入『罪的境況』中。

 因此,聖母始胎無染原罪,也有了新的解釋:說聖母無原罪,並不是說,她沒有生活在這個罪惡的境況中,而是說,她沒有受到罪惡世界的傷害。無論 是傳 統的或是新的解釋,與聖母始胎無染原罪的信理,絲毫沒有衝突。

 按邏輯學來推理,聖母始胎無染原罪的信理,也是順理成章,不容置疑的。

 假若你是一位藝術家,你要創造一件你所願意見到的藝術品,而你也有這樣的能力去創造這件藝術品,試問,你是否會去造這件藝術品呢?答案當然是 肯定 的。同樣的道理,『全能』的天主願意提選一位玉潔冰清,纖塵不染,一生不受罪污影響的女子作自己的母親,而『全能』的天主有能力做就一位這樣的女子,使她 適合做天主之母的身份,試問,天主是否會這樣去完成呢?答案同樣也是肯定的。聖母得以免除原罪的遺害,是靠賴基督救贖的功勞。因此,她的無罪﹝由於救贖﹞ 與基督的無罪﹝出於祂本身﹞截然不同。聖母無原罪,不僅沒有排拒基督救贖之外,相反,更能彰顯天主全能的偉大。聖母也是人,也須要基督的救贖,只是聖母是 天主以最優越、最奇妙的方法所救贖的人。

 因著基督救贖的功勞,人在領洗的時候,同樣也可獲得原罪的赦免。剛領洗的基督信徒也相似聖母的情況,不同的只是:聖母獲赦原罪,是在她成為人 以 前,提前完成,而這項殊恩,也與聖母的終身童貞一樣;與其說是聖母的殊恩,不如說是基督的殊恩,因為天主聖父為了保護祂的聖子不受人間污染而賞賜了聖母這 項特殊恩寵, 恩寵越大,使命也越大。聖母憑她本身,不可能獲得這種超出一般世人的恩寵,可是由於她領有作救主之母的使命,她必須擁有相稱這個重大使命的恩寵。

 一般人以為,所謂『聖母始胎無染原罪』,是指聖母在受孕之初,天主的恩寵一次而永遠地降臨於她,使她得以奇蹟性地免受一切罪污。這種解釋無疑 是忘 記了天主的恩寵和人類回應的互動作用,其實即使天主賜給最大的恩寵,假若缺乏了人以愛去回應,恩寵也有竭盡的一天。而聖母因為以她最大的愛去回應天主賞賜 給她的這項殊恩,所以天主的恩寵得以毫無阻礙地在她身上發揮作用,於是聖母才能終身保持她的純潔無玷。

 我們基督信徒,領洗時也獲得原罪的赦免,靈魂上也純潔無罪,便該效法聖母以最大的愛去回應天主的恩寵,使這恩寵能在我們身上產生作用,能像聖 母一 般終身保持靈魂純潔,日後能與她共聚天庭。

12月9日:聖若望.迪 達谷 (高樂多) St. Juan Diego

 聖人屬於印第安族,約在一四七四年,生於現在被稱為墨西哥的地區。相傳聖母曾於一五三一年在名為泰匹雅的小山,四度顯現給他。此後,聖人信德 生活 卓著,以謙虛與熱忱,努力促使在該處建造了聖堂,又得主教准許,在該處度隱士生活,並照顧到該地敬禮瓜達盧佩聖母的朝聖者。聖人於一五四八年在該處安逝。

12/9 Ven. Fulton Sheen

(1895-1979) Archbishop in USA, first radio and TV evangelist

Sheen was born in tiny El Paso, Illinois, in the north central part of the state, in 1895. His father was a modestly prosperous farmer in the Peoria region, his mother a hard-working and popular farm wife and mother of four boys. The Sheen children were gifted with high intelligence (one, Tom, had a photographic memory), trained to work hard (for most of his life Fulton would work a nineteen hour day, seven days a week), and encouraged to advance themselves through education. The parents also stressed the importance of their Catholic faith. The Sheen boys went to parochial schools, and the family attended church regularly and said the Rosary together nightly.

Fulton excelled in his school work from the start, and was an extremely popular youngster. Rather short (five foot seven) and slim, he was unable to compete effectively in athletics and so poured his energy into becoming a skilled collegiate debater. His beautiful speaking voice, penetrating eyes (inherited from his mother), pleasing personality, and outstanding academic preparation proved effective in competitions.

From Fulton's earliest years, there seemed to be a consensus of opinion in the family that he would become a priest. After graduating from St. Viator College in Bourbonnais, Illinois, he went to seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota. From there he went to the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. to earn a doctorate in philosophy. After ordination in 1919 and receiving two degrees from CUA in 1920, Sheen went to the prestigious Louvain University in Belgium. Here he earned a Ph.D. in philosophy with the highest distinction and was invited to try for a "super doctorate," the agrege en Philosophie. He was the first American ever to receive such an offer. Sheen earned the honor in 1925, again passing with the highest distinction. He transformed his dissertation into a prize-winning book and won the respect and admiration of G. K. Chesterton, among others.

After a brief and successful stint in a slum church in Peoria (a test given by his bishop to see if he would be obedient), Sheen became an instructor at Catholic University. He was to remain on the CUA faculty, teaching philosophy and theology, from 1926 until 1950.

While proving to be a popular professor, Sheen's interests were primarily off-campus. After writing two scholarly books, he began publishing a lengthy list of more or less popular books and articles that would earn him honors and praise throughout the country. In 1928, he went on the “Catholic Hour,” a nationally broadcast radio program. He quickly became the program's most popular preacher and for more than two decades was asked to preach during Lent and at Holy Days. Vast quantities of letters and financial donations poured in on “Catholic Hour” officials whenever Sheen spoke.

Sheen was soon in demand throughout the country and Western Europe as a preacher, retreat leader, and teacher. He preached annually at St. Patrick's Cathedral, where he packed the huge church and received much attention in the press.

Francis Cardinal Spellman of New York, one of the most powerful figures in the Roman Catholic Church, took Sheen under his wing after World War II, and in 1948 invited him to join a world-wide tour and assume the bulk of the journey's preaching duties. The two men greatly appreciated each other's talents (the Cardinal was a superb administrator and fund-raiser), and in 1950 Spellman had Sheen named to head the American branch of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, the Church's principal source of missionary funds. The appointment came with a miter, and in 1951, Sheen was consecrated in Rome. Sheen flung himself into his new duties, revealing his great skill as a fund-raiser. He continued to produce books, articles, and newspaper columns at an astonishing rate, and accepted invitations to preach throughout the country and across the world. Sheen's personal success at winning converts—the list included writer Clare Boothe Luce, industrialist Henry Ford II, and ex-Communist Louis Budenz—attracted national attention. Unmentioned in the press were the thousands of average Americans who came into the Church because of Sheen's efforts.

When, in 1951, the Archdiocese of New York decided to enter the world of television, Sheen was a natural choice to appear on screen. The initial half-hour lectures were broadcast on the tiny Dumont Network, opposite big budget programs by comedian Milton Berle, "Mr. Television," and singer-actor Frank Sinatra. No one gave Sheen a chance to compete effectively. Soon, however, Sheen took the country by storm, winning an Emmy, appearing on the cover of Time magazine, and entering the "most admired" list of Americans. In its second year, "Life Is Worth Living" moved to the ABC Network and had a sponsor, the Admiral Corporation.

Sheen's talks, delivered in the full regalia of a bishop, were masterful. He worked on each presentation for 35 hours, delivering it in Italian and French to clarify his thoughts before going on television. He at no time used notes or cue cards, and always ended on time. The set was a study with a desk, a few chairs, and some books; the only prop was a blackboard. A four-foot statue of Madonna and Child on a pedestal was clearly visible. Sheen's humor, charm, intelligence, and considerable acting skill radiated throughout the "Life Is Worth Living" series, captivating millions eager to hear Christian (only indirectly Catholic) answers to life's common problems.

Some of Sheen's talks and writings dealt with Communism, which the Bishop, a student of Marxism and a personal friend of FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, thought a dire threat to the nation and the world. But at no time did Sheen appear with or praise Senator Joe McCarthy (he had little use for politicians of any stripe) or directly support the Second Red Scare, which swept through the country during the early 1950s.

Sheen was also a student of Freud, and was consistently critical of Freudian psychology. Sheen's best-selling book, Peace Of Soul, presented his views on the subject forcefully. At about the same time, the bishop wrote a powerful book on the Virgin Mary, The World's First Love, followed a few years later by an equally impressive Life of Christ.

For all of his concerns about worldly issues, Sheen was above all a supernaturalist, who fervently believed that God is love, that miracles happen, and that the Catholic Church best taught the divinely revealed truths about life and death. As he put it in Peace of Soul, "nothing really matters except the salvation of a soul."

Still, Sheen was not a plaster saint. Vanity was a constant problem for him, and he knew it. As both priest and bishop, Sheen lived and dressed well and enjoyed the publicity he received in the media and the applause of adoring crowds... Sheen could also be difficult at times when his authority was challenged. In the early 1950s, he and Cardinal Spellman, a very proud man, engaged in a bitter feud largely over the dispersal of Society funds. The struggle led to a private audience before Pius XII, who sided with Sheen. In a rage, Spellman terminated Sheen's television series, made him a local outcast, and drove him from the Archdiocese. In 1966, Sheen became the Bishop of Rochester.

Bishop Sheen had been an active participant in the Vatican II sessions in Rome and thoroughly endorsed the reforms that followed. He tried to make his diocese the bridge between the old and new Catholicism, enacting sweeping reforms and making headlines in the process. Without administrative skills, Sheen alienated many in Rochester, and in 1969 he resigned and returned to New York.

During the last decade of his life, while battling serious heart disease, Sheen continued at a breathtaking pace to travel, speak, and write. During the course of his more than 50 year career in the Church, he wrote 66 books and countless articles. No other Catholic figure of the century could match his literary productivity. (Book royalties and television fees went almost exclusively to the Society. Sheen estimated that he gave $10 million of his own money to the organization he headed.)

In October, 1979 Sheen met John Paul II in the sanctuary of St. Patrick's Cathedral. Thunderous applause greeted their embrace. The Pope privately told the 84-year-old Archbishop that he had been a loyal son of the Church. Nothing could have been more pleasing for Fulton Sheen to hear. He died on December 9, in his chapel before the Blessed Sacrament.

Eucharist quotes (12/09 Ven. Fulton Sheen)

Archbishop Fulton Sheen was one of the first Radio and TV evangelists of our times and watched by millions. During his Priesthood he said a Holy Hour of Adoration everyday before our beloved Lord. In his autobiography he commented that this was one of the things that kept him so faithful to Jesus and the Church throughout his Priesthood.

A Holy Hour is not a devotion; it is a sharing in the work of redemption. The only time our Lord asked the Apostles for anything was the night He went into agony. Not for activity did He plead but for an Hour of companionship. During a Holy Hour we grow more and more into His likeness.

A Holy Hour becomes a magister and teacher. Theological insights are gained not only from the covers of a treatise, but from two knees on a prie-dieu before the Blessed Sacrament.

A Holy Hour of Adoration in our modern rat race is necessary for authentic prayer.

The best time to make a holy hour is in the morning, early, before the day sets traps for us.

By being faithful to our Holy Hour, and letting nothing interfere with it, we use it as the sign and symbol of our victimhood.

We are not called to great penances...but the Holy Hour is a sacrifice in union with Christ.

“Neither theological knowledge nor social action alone is enough to keep us in love with Christ unless both are proceeded by a personal encounter with Him. Theological insights are gained not only from between two covers of a book, but from two bent knees before an altar. The Holy Hour becomes like an oxygen tank to revive the breath of the Holy Spirit in the midst of the foul and fetid atmosphere of the world,”

The Holy Hour becomes like an oxygen tank to revive the breath of the Holy Spirit in the midst of the foul and fetid atmosphere of the world.

The most brilliant ideas come from meeting God face to face (at adoration). The Holy Spirit that presided at the Incarnation is the best atmosphere for illumination.

The purpose of the Holy Hour is to encourage deep personal encounter with Christ. The holy and glorious God is constantly inviting us to come to Him, to hold converse with Him, to ask for such things as we need and to experience what a blessing there is in fellowship with Him.

The secret (to my preaching) is that I have never in fifty-five years missed spending an hour in the presence of our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. That’s where the power comes from. That’s where sermons are born. That’s where every good thought is conceived.

God gave us two weapons: knees and hands. Knees—to spend an hour a day in reparation for sins.

St. Paul tells us that faith comes from listening. In a daily Holy Hour, we wait for Him to speak—and He does!

12月11日:聖達瑪穌 一世 (教宗) St. Damasus I

 聖人西班牙籍,生於公元三○五年左右。及長加入羅馬神職班;公元三六六年,適值多難之秋,被祝聖為羅馬教會主教。在位時,曾召開多次會議,以 懲斥 裂教與異端。此外,曾廣泛推行對殉道者之敬禮,以詩句美飾他們的墳墓。

12月12日:瓜達盧佩 聖母 (節日) Our Lady of Guadalupe

畫 像

 我們天上的母親於1531年12月9-12日期間,在墨西哥向一位印第安人農夫若望.田亞果(Juan Diego)四度顯現,提醒他天主之母瑪利亞同時也是世人的母親。這位母親關心我們,愛護我們,特別是那些貧苦病困和受壓迫的人。聖母令農夫叔父的重病得 以痊癒,並囑咐農夫往見主教,要求在當地建聖堂,讓世人對天主和這位母親有更多認識。

 但主教卻要求一些徵兆,農夫得聖母指引,竟在隆冬時分,在荒涼的山坡擷取了盛放的玫瑰,帶往見主教,當若望.田亞果打開披肩,花朵飄落後,卻 發現 在披肩上出現一幅身披太陽,腳踏月亮,一襲藍袍,滿綴星星的印第安少女像。主教立即相信,興建了聖堂,此後短短四年中,就有大約六百萬印第安人被感召入 教,墨西哥因而成為一個天主教國家,這幅畫像存至四百年後的今天,仍然光彩、鮮艷。

 該印有聖母容貌的斗蓬保存至今已差不多五百年,仍清晰栩栩如真,現藏於墨西哥的Basilica of Guadalupe 。) 事實上這類仙人掌纖維織成的披肩只能保持20年左右。更奇怪的是到1951年,被人發現畫像中聖母的瞳孔內竟然印有若望.田亞果、主教及翻譯員的影像,這 證明聖母當年確實親臨主教府,聖母這樣顯現是為把各族裔,各種文化、語言的團體聯合在一起。

December 9th, 1531, the feast of the Immaculate Conception. Juan Diego, a recent convert to the Catholic faith, was walking to attend the early morning Mass in Mexico City. Passing by Tepeyac Hill he heard the beautiful singing of birds, seemingly from heaven. Looking to see where the celestial music was coming from, he suddenly heard a young woman's voice affectionately calling his name, "Juanito." Reaching the top of the hill, he saw a radiant woman clothed in splendid light - the Ever Virgin Holy Mary, Mother of God. She told Juan that she desired him to be her special messenger to the Bishop of Mexico City. Juan was to tell the bishop that Our Lady wanted a church to be built where she could manifest her Son and hear the petitions of her spiritual children.

After being put off by the bishop's servants, Juan was finally granted an audience with Franciscan Bishop Fray Juan Zumarraga. The bishop didn't initially believe Juan Diego and asked him to return another day. Secretly, the bishop had been invoking the intercession of the Mother of God for help. The Spaniards had recently conquered the native Aztec people and were treating them harshly. Very few were willing to abandon their pagan gods and embrace the religion of their new dictators. All of this weighed heavy on the heart of Bishop Zumarraga, whom history now knows as the "Protector of the Native People." He wondered if Juan Diego's story was the answer to his prayers.
Dejected, Juan returned to Tepeyac and asked Our Lady to use someone else more worthy than himself. She assured him that he was personally chosen to be her ambassador. The next day he returned to plead with the bishop. Though impressed by Juan's persistence, he was still unsure. He sent Juan to tell the Lady he needed a sign in order to know if it was truly her.

Upon hearing the bishop's request, Our Lady told Juan to return the next day and she would give him the sign he needed. Returning home, Juan found his uncle ill and close to death. Instead of returning the next day, Juan stayed home and took care of his ailing uncle. Early on December 12th, Juan rushed to Mexico City in order to get a priest to administer the last rites to his dying uncle. On his way he went around the back of Tepeyac Hill in order to avoid Our Lady whom he knew would surely understand.

But Our Lady meet him anyway telling him not to worry, his uncle was already healed. He was to learn later that at that moment Our Lady had appeared to his uncle, who was restored to health. She urged Juan to go to the top of the hill where he would find flowers miraculously growing. Juan was astonished to see so many vibrant flowers during the frosty time of the year. He cut them and gathered them in his tilma (cloak). Our Lady arranged the flowers with her own hands, rolled up the tilma and ordered Juan not to unfurl his tilma until he was in the presence of the bishop.

After being harassed by the bishop's servants, Juan was finally brought in to see him. After recounting every detail of his conversation with Our Lady, he let down his tilma and the flowers fell to the floor. Juan was surprised when everyone in the room also fell to the floor on their knees. The image of Our Lady had miraculously appeared on Juan's tilma! Repenting for his unbelief with abundant tears, Bishop Juan Zumarraga promised to build the shrine that Our Lady had requested.

Soon the church was built and the holy image transferred. The story spread like wildfire and people began to stream in to see the heavenly image and hear the story from Juan Diego. Many miracles started happening and in the following years some 10 million were baptized and converted to the Jesus Christ! Pope John Paul II declared Blessed Juan Diego the greatest evangelist of all times.

12月13日:聖路濟亞(貞女,殉道)(紀念) St. Lucy

主保:盲人與眼疾患者

 聖路濟亞誕生在西西里島敘拉古撒市(Syracuse)的一個貴族家庭裡,自小受基督信仰的薰陶。父親過世時,她還僅是個小女孩。然而,當時 她就 已祕密地為基督誓許貞潔聖願了。

 聖女之父過世後九年,其母強迫聖女嫁給一位外教青年。但聖女卻藉故延遲了三年,只為拒絕這位熱烈的外教追求者。後來,聖女的母親 Euthychia,在小路濟亞的說服下,為自己長年困擾的血漏病症,展開一趟向St. Agatha at Catania聖髑致敬的朝聖之旅,這讓其母的病症奇蹟般地痊癒了。聖女於是藉此機會說服其母,允許她將大部分的遺產分配給窮人,並允准她為天主而活的渴 望,也因此聖女成了與其母患相同病症者的主保。

 這位求婚者因聖女的拒絕,與她將遺產分配給窮人的舉動而被激怒。於是,在羅馬皇帝Diocletian迫害基督徒的期間,將聖女交付給一位外 教的 判官Paschasius處置。迫害中,有一位判官命聖女到一處妓院行淫,但她卻依然保持對信仰的忠誠。根據《The Golden Legend》的記載,聖女當時回答說:「宗徒曾說他們是天主聖潔的宮殿,聖神居住在他們內。」Paschasius隨即憤而回覆說:「那麼,我要帶妳到 妓院去使妳失去貞潔,如此一來,聖神便會離妳而去了。」

 然而奇蹟的是,兵士們卻無法移動聖女的身子半分,即便他們以套牛犢的繩索拖她。最後,Paschasius只好命人當下殺了聖女。在一段包括 將眼 珠挖出的折磨之後,羅馬兵丁在聖女的身旁圍繞著點燃的柴火,之後便離開了聖女。聖路濟亞說了一些關於她的迫害者的預言之後,便被兵丁以刀劍刺死(或說以長 茅穿喉而死)。

 按《The Golden Legend》的描述:就在聖女預言關於Paschasius結局的當下,羅馬的官長們隨即從京城前來逮捕Paschasius,因為當時他被羅馬議員們 控以掠奪該省的罪名。於是,這位邪惡的官長自食惡果,被處以敲擊腦袋至死的罪罰。當時,聖女在該處仍未致命,直至一位司鐸來將她的身體交付耶穌基督後,聖 女才斷氣。另一傳說的版本則是:一位貴族青年因聖女美麗的雙眸而願與她結親,聖女卻將自己的雙眼挖出,交給這位青年並說:「那麼,讓我現在只為天主而活 吧!」

 聖女的聖髑目前被保留在威尼斯;有部分聲稱是聖女遺體的骨骸仍未腐朽,目前被收藏在the Church of Saint Geremia and Lucia的一具玻璃石棺內。在聖像中,聖女常被描繪成一手拿著棕櫚樹枝,另一手托著以盤子、書本或貝殼裝盛著自己雙眼的少女;有時,她會被描繪成一位手 持著燈台,或同時拿著一把利劍的女孩;她亦曾被描繪成一隻有著燃燒觸角的牛犢,身旁站著幾位試圖以繩索拖曳她的男子,頸上則帶有深長的刀痕,或以刀劍抵住 頸項的樣子。有時,聖女也會以一婦人的妝扮與St. Agatha、St. Agnes of Rome、Barbara、Catherine of Alexandria和St. Thecla等聖女一同出現在聖像中;有時則被描繪成一跪在St. Agatha墓前祈禱的婦女。

 聖女除了是盲眼與患眼疾者的主保外,在歐洲還是患血漏症、作家、刀具匠、腹瀉者、玻璃工人、殉道者、農夫、馬具商、推銷員、喉嚨發炎者的主 保;當 然,她也是自己的誕生之地-西西里島的敘拉古撒市的主保。在瑞典,12月13日是全年最短的一日之一,各地都會在此日慶祝「光明節(Festival of Light)」。這樣的慶祝相當適切,因為「Lucy」一字的拉丁文字根正是「Lux」,也就是「光明」之意。當天清晨,家中最小的女兒都要穿得有如 「Sankta Lucia」一樣的白衣,以長青的樹葉為頭飾,戴上點燃的蠟燭作為頭冠,然後在咖啡和一首特殊的歌曲之中喚醒家中的所有成員。瑞典人就從此日開始慶祝他們 的聖誕節慶;傳統上,此日也是他們結束收成的日子。

Rich, young Christian of Greek ancestry. Raised in a pious family, she vowed her life to Christ. Her Roman father died when she was young. Her mother, Eutychia, arranged a marriage for her. For three years she managed to keep the marriage on hold. To change the mother’s mind about the girl’s new faith, Lucy prayed at the tomb of Saint Agatha, and her mother’s long haemorrhagic illness was cured. Her mother agreed with Lucy’s desire to live for God, and Lucy became known as a patron of those with maladies like her mother’s.

Her rejected pagan bridegroom, Paschasius, denounced Lucy as a Christian to the governor of Sicily. The governor sentenced her to forced prostitution, but when guards went to fetch her, they could not move her even when they hitched her to a team of oxen. The governor ordered her killed instead. After torture that included having her eyes torn out, she was surrounded by bundles of wood which were set afire; they went out. She prophesied against her persecutors, and was executed by being stabbed to death with a dagger. Her name is listed in the prayer “Nobis quoque peccatoribus” in the Canon of the Mass.

Legend says her eyesight was restored before her death. This and the meaning of her name led to her connection with eyes, the blind, eye trouble, etc.

12月14日:聖十字若望(司鐸,聖師)(紀念) St. John of the Cross

神祕神學的聖師
主保:默觀者、神秘神學、西班牙詩人

 「靈魂啊!你還渴求什麼呢?在你內已擁有你的所愛與渴求──祂是一切富足、喜樂、滿足與國度的來源,那麼你在外頭還找尋什麼?在你內渴望祂、 朝拜 祂吧!別在你自己以外追尋祂;你會在你內因追尋祂而更加感到喜樂,否則你會找不到祂並失去祂。」

 聖十字若望是位精深的默觀者,更是位洞悉人靈的靈魂導師;他的生命不僅標記出了「十字架」的真義,更為世人留下信德煉淨超昇的典範。 若望誕生於西班牙的一個清苦家庭裡,其父雖生於貴族世家,但為了迎娶若望的母親而甘願放棄貴族身份。其父過世後,家境更顯貧苦。因此,14歲時,若望便必 須外出為家計而謀生。當時,他在醫院中找到了一份照顧絕症病患的工作。因著若望自身所經驗的貧窮與苦難,他學會了不在此世追尋美麗與幸福,而是在天主的身 上追尋完滿。

 若望20歲時進入加爾默羅會,領了「十字架」的會名,25歲時晉鐸。該年,聖女大德蘭與其會晤,並在改革修會上請求聖人的協助。十字若望支持 大德 蘭的信念,認為修會應回復到原始會規的嚴格祈禱生活中。然而,許多同會弟兄卻對此改革感到威脅,甚而綁架了他,將其囚禁在水牢裡,且每週鞭打三次。不斷興 起的反對聲浪、誤解,甚至是迫害與囚禁,就是聖人堅持改革所償付的代價;在黑暗、潮濕與狹窄的囚室內,聖人除了天主外,一無所有;「十字架」的真義-即耶 穌的受苦與死亡經驗,正逐步地滲透進聖人的靈魂裡。然而,黑暗與枯竭卻激發了聖人對天主的愛與信德,使它們像火與光那般地燃燒著。當下,天主成了聖人在巨 大的黑暗與孤寂中的唯一喜樂。

 弔詭的是:垂死的經驗,使他找到了生命;外在的黑暗處境,卻使他的靈魂找到真正的生命之光,聖人也因此在這種景況中寫出了經典的神修巨作;聖 人自 述,他的許多神祕經驗與靈感,幾乎都在那囚禁的九個月時領受的。《靈歌--Spiritual Canticle》,表達的正是他在囚室的十架中,與天主神秘結合的神拔經驗。

 正是出於相同的經驗,十字若望在他的著作《攀登加爾默羅 - Ascent to Mt. Carmel》中指出,與天主神秘結合的神魂超拔,是在痛苦中被導引而出的。因此,作為一位加爾默羅會士,他在自己的痛苦中,體驗到一份淨化的超昇 (purifying ascent );作為一位神師,他同樣在他人的經驗中意識到這份真實;作為一位神學家,他將此真實描述並分析於他的著作之中。於是,聖人認為:嚴格的自律、自我棄絕以 及必要的淨化過程,為作一位門徒並與天主結合是必須的。聖人的生命本身就突顯福音的這種弔詭性:即十字架導引出復活、痛苦導引出神拔、黑暗導引出光明、自 我棄絕導引出與天主的結合。

 若望深信:真實的喜樂只會從天主而來。因此,若有人在此世尋求幸福,那無異於「一個張開口企圖從空氣中尋求飽足的人。」他還教導我們,唯有破 除欲 望的捆綁,我們才能夠奔向天主。聖人尤其關切在靈性生活中遭受神枯與沮喪的人靈,他會以天主的愛來激勵他們,並引導他們走入更深的信德之中。他一生的故 事,正好是「誰若願意跟隨我,該棄絕自己,背著自己的十字架,跟隨我」(谷八34b)的最好註解。從死亡到生命的巴斯卦奧跡,標記出了聖人作為一位改革 者、神秘神修作家與神學家的生命來。

 聖人於1591年的12月14日逝世於烏伯達(Ubeda)。其留下的著作影響後世甚鉅,是度默觀生活者的祈禱指引。主要的著作計有:《攀登 加爾 默羅山--Ascent to Mt. Carmel》、《心靈的黑夜--The Dark Night of the Soul》、《靈歌--Spiritual Canticle》、《愛的活焰-- The Living Flame of Love》。

St. John of the Cross, Feastday: December 14

"What more do you want, o soul! And what else do you search for outside, when within yourself you possess your riches, delights, satisfaction and kingdom -- your beloved whom you desire and seek? Desire him there, adore him there. Do not go in pursuit of him outside yourself. You will only become distracted and you won't find him, or enjoy him more than by seeking him within you." -- Saint John of the Cross

Born in Spain in 1542, John learned the importance of self-sacrificing love from his parents. His father gave up wealth, status, and comfort when he married a weaver's daughter and was disowned by his noble family. After his father died, his mother kept the destitute family together as they wandered homeless in search of work. These were the examples of sacrifice that John followed with his own great love -- God.

When the family finally found work, John still went hungry in the middle of the wealthiest city in Spain. At fourteen, John took a job caring for hospital patients who suffered from incurable diseases and madness. It was out of this poverty and suffering, that John learned to search for beauty and happiness not in the world, but in God.

After John joined the Carmelite order, Saint Teresa of Avila asked him to help her reform movement. John supported her belief that the order should return to its life of prayer. But many Carmelites felt threatened by this reform, and some members of John's own order kidnapped him. He was locked in a cell six feet by ten feet and beaten three times a week by the monks. There was only one tiny window high up near the ceiling. Yet in that unbearable dark, cold, and desolation, his love and faith were like fire and light. He had nothing left but God -- and God brought John his greatest joys in that tiny cell.

After nine months, John escaped by unscrewing the lock on his door and creeping past the guard. Taking only the mystical poetry he had written in his cell, he climbed out a window using a rope made of strips of blankets. With no idea where he was, he followed a dog to civilization. He hid from pursuers in a convent infirmary where he read his poetry to the nuns. From then on his life was devoted to sharing and explaining his experience of God's love.

His life of poverty and persecution could have produced a bitter cynic. Instead it gave birth to a compassionate mystic, who lived by the beliefs that "Who has ever seen people persuaded to love God by harshness?" and "Where there is no love, put love -- and you will find love."

John left us many books of practical advice on spiritual growth and prayer that are just as relevant today as they were then. These books include: Ascent of Mount Carmel, Dark Night of the Soul, and A Spiritual Canticle of the Soul and the Bridegroom Christ

Since joy comes only from God, John believed that someone who seeks happiness in the world is like "a famished person who opens his mouth to satisfy himself with air." He taught that only by breaking the rope of our desires could we fly up to God. Above all, he was concerned for those who suffered dryness or depression in their spiritual life and offered encouragement that God loved them and was leading them deeper into faith.

12/16 Bl. Clemente Marchisio

(1833-1903) Founder of the Institute of The Daughters of St. Joseph

Clemente Marchisio was born on March 1 1833 in Racconigi (archdiocese of Turin), the first of nine children of a craftsman and his wife, and very early on he sensed his calling to the priesthood. He entered the seminary at Bra and, after completing his theological studies, was ordained a priest on September 20, 1856, in Turin. At the Ecclesiastical Institute in Turn, he deepened his theological knowledge through a further two-year course in moral and pastoral theology, under the direction of the saintly priest Joseph Cafasso. To him Blessed Clemente Marchisio in later years would gratefully attribute his entire priestly formation.

The young diocesan priest Clemente Marchisio first served as an assistant in Cambiaso then in Vigano; finally, he became a pastor in Rivalba, where he worked tirelessly in a zealous and fruitful ministry for forty-three years, until his death. A wise spiritual guide, he took special care of young women. He had observed that many of the girls who came to the city of Turin seeking work went astray and were ruined. Therefore, he founded in his parish a shelter for girls and set up a workshop for them, a weaving mill. To look after the girls he first brought nuns from the Institute of Vincentian Sisters of the Immaculate Virgin Mary (founded by Blessed Frederico Albert) into his parish. These nuns, however, were withdrawn; after making a pilgrimage to Lourdes and seeking the advice of Archbishop Gastaldi of Turin, he set about founding his own congregation of women religious, the Institute of the Daughters of Saint Joseph. While helping out a s a preacher and a confessor in the great archdiocese of Turin, Father Clemente Marchisio was in a position to observe that quite often there was a lack of cleanliness in the linens and vestments used in the celebration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice, that bread and wine of poor quality were consecrated, and even that invalid matter were used occasionally. So he made it the special duty of his nuns, the Daughters of Saint Joseph, to foster a great reverence and love for the Holy Eucharist and to look after the hosts and the altar wine, the linens and vestments, as well as the candles and cloths used on altars in the rural churches. While employed in these beautiful tasks, the sisters not only met with approval of the clergy in the archdiocese, but also received the income necessary to support themselves. In this way, furthermore, they gained many novices and eventually were able to found communities throughout Italy. Their founder, Father Clemente Marchisio, taught the sisters his own distinctive spirituality; leading a life of poverty and simplicity in the service of our Lord in the Most Holy Sacrament, one must server him with a strong faith and the greatest reverence. Four years after the death of Father Clemente Marchisio, which took place on Dec 16, 1903, in Rivalba, the religious institute of the Daughters of Saint Joseph of Rivalba obtained definitive approval from Pope Pius X, the saintly pope of the Eucharist. While he was still bishop of Mantua, he had come to know and respect the rural pastor Don Clemente Marchisio, and, as a patriarch of Venice, he had continued his benevolence toward him. Pope John Paul II characterized this simple, zealous, and quite Eucharistically minded diocesan priest as follows at the beatification on September 30 1984: The image of Christ the Good Shepherd … shines in Blessed Clemente Marchisio: always concerned to be “an example to believers in speech and conduct, in love, in faith” (1 Tim 4:12), he was careful to progress in the grace with which every priest is endowed in Christ, thus becoming every day a more valid and living instrument of Jesus, the Eternal Priest. A man of prayer, as every priest must be, he was aware of the duty to invoke God, the Lord of the universe and of his life, but he was also aware that true adoration, worthy of the infinite sanctity of God, is attained above all through the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ. Therefore he always had great zeal in devoutly celebrating the Eucharistic mystery, in assiduously making adoration, and in taking care of the beauty of the various liturgical celebrations. He was in fact persuaded that the Church is built up above all by the Eucharist; by their participation in it, the members of the Christian community identify themselves mystically with Christ and become a single body among themselves. Source: Ferdinand Holbock, “New Saints and Blesseds of the Catholic Church: Blesseds and saints canonized by Pope Paul II during the years 1984-1987”

Eucharist quotes (12/16 Bl. Clemente Marchisio)

“You see, I too find myself sometimes overwhelmed by the weight of trials; but after five minutes in front of the Blessed Sacrament, which is our all, I feel entirely invigorated. Do the same when you are depressed and discouraged.”

12月21日:聖加尼修 (司 鐸,聖師) St. Peter Canisius

聖師 1521-1597

 是祢命我從祢敞開的心中泉源暢飲,我好像親眼看到祢至聖之體的聖心;我的救主,祢曾邀請我從祢的泉源汲取救援之水。那時,我切願那信、望、愛 的激 流,從祢那裡流注到我的心中;那時,我渴望貧窮、貞潔、服從。我求祢把我整個的洗滌,給我穿上新衣,並裝飾我。在我膽敢接近祢及溫柔的聖心,並切望在祢聖 心中滿足我的口渴之後,祢便許諾,要賞我一件用三部份織成的衣服,用以遮掩我赤裸的靈魂,也完全適於我發的聖願。這三部份就是:平安、愛情與恆心。我穿上 了這救恩的衣服後,便有了依恃:深信我將一無所缺,而一切都將為了光耀祢而順利成功。

 聖人生於荷蘭,1521年的5月8日誕生。他因為參與了真福伯多祿‧法伯(B. Peter Faber)所帶領的退省,最後也成了耶穌會的會士。在他矢發隆重聖願的那日,吾主耶穌向其彰顯祂的聖心。從那時起,聖人就總是將其工作都奉獻給耶穌聖心 了。聖人身處於中世紀宗教改革的狂潮之中,是德國天主教對抗新教(Reformation,或稱改革宗、抗議宗)最重要的人士之一;正因為伯多祿常扮演關 鍵性的角色,因此他常被稱為「德國的第二位宗徒」。儘管聖人曾自承年輕時過於閒散,但也不可能閑賦過久,因為他19歲時,便已在科隆大學獲得碩士學位;稍 後更與聖依納爵的第一位門徒伯多祿‧法伯相遇;法伯影響聖人甚深,以至於聖人後來也加入了這才剛成立的耶穌會。

 聖人年幼之時,即已養成一個好的習慣-即學習、反省、祈禱與寫作,這成了他一貫的學習程序,而且終其一生皆保持如此。1546年晉鐸之後,因 為修 訂聖濟利祿St. Cyril of Alexandria與聖良一世St. Leo the Great的著作而聲名大噪;除此之外,聖人也非常熱中於使徒工作,在病房與監牢裡,都常能看到聖人的身影,即便其他指派的工作已耗盡他的心力,他仍不忘 探視病人與囚犯。1547年,聖人參與了特利騰大公會議(Council of Trent)的幾次議程,並且向大會說明聖體聖事的重要性;之後,他也被指定執行該公議會所頒訂的法令。有一段時期,他受命任教於耶穌會在Messina 的大學;但稍後,他便被委任對德國進行福傳使命,他一生中最重要的工作便就此開始。

 到德國後,他陸續在多所大學裡任教,並且協助創辦許多大學與神學院;他還以普羅大眾能與理解的方式,撰寫了一套解釋天主教信仰的要理教材,後 來還 被譯成多國語言發行。這為教義混亂的當代而言,實有迫切之需。聖人在宣講上頗負盛名,因著他那卓越的講道天賦,聖堂裡擠滿的往往是渴望聆聽他宣講的人潮; 此外,他還有過人的外交天份,常是二個爭論團體中的協調者。至於他的書信(計有八卷),則常是情意真摯、充滿聖善的靈感,讀者常能在他的字句中找到智慧, 各階層的人士也定能在當中找到安慰。另外,針對教會領導階層的腐敗,他也曾史無前例地予以批判,但也總是在愛、同理與關切的前提下,提出他的看法。

 就在伯多祿70歲的時候,他因病癱瘓了。然而,直到1597年的12月21日,病逝於瑞士的富里堡為止,他一直是在秘書的協助下,繼續宣講與 寫作 的。1925年,教宗碧岳十一世將其冊封為聖人,並宣佈他為教會的聖師。

Born in Holland in 1521, Peter had edited and written several volumes on Church history and theology, been a delegate to the Council of Trent, and reformed the German universities from heresy. Called to Vienna to reform their university, he couldn't win the people with preaching or fancy words spoken in his German accent. He won their hearts by ministering to the sick and dying during a plague. The people, the king, and the pope all wanted to make Peter bishop of Vienna, but Peter declined vigorously and administered the diocese for a year.

For many years during the Reformation, Peter saw the students in his universities swayed by the flashy speeches and the well-written arguments of the Protestants. Peter was not alone in wishing for a Catholic catechism that would present true Catholic beliefs undistorted by fanatics. Finally King Ferdinand himself ordered Peter and his companions to write a catechism. This hot potato got tossed from person to person until Peter and his friend Lejay were assigned to write it. Lejay was obviously the logical choice, being a better writer than Peter. So Peter relaxed and sat back to offer any help he could. When Father Lejay died, King Ferdinand would wait no longer. Peter said of writing: "I have never learned to be elegant as a writer, but I cannot remain dumb on that account." The first issue of the Catechism appeared in 1555 and was an immediate success. Peter approached Christian doctrine in two parts: wisdom -- including faith, hope, and charity -- and justice -- avoiding evil and doing good, linked by a section on sacraments.

Because of the success and the need, Peter quickly produced two more versions: a Shorter Catechism for middle school students which concentrated on helping this age group choose good over evil by concentrating on a different virtue each day of the week; and a Shortest Catechism for young children which included prayers for morning and evening, for mealtimes, and so forth to get them used to praying.

As intent as Peter was on keeping people true to the Catholic faith, he followed the Jesuit policy that harsh words should not be used, that those listening would see an example of charity in the way Catholics acted and preached. However, his companions were not always as willing. He showed great patience and insight with one man, Father Couvillon. Couvillon was so sharp and hostile that he was alienating his companions and students. Anyone who confronted him became the subject of abuse. It became obvious that Couvillon suffered from emotional illness. But Peter did not let that knowledge blind him to the fact that Couvillon was still a brilliant and talented man. Instead of asking Couvillon to resign he begged him to stay on as a teacher and then appointed him as his secretary. Peter thought that Couvillon needed to worry less about himself and pray more and work harder. He didn't coddle him but gave Couvillon blunt advice about his pride. Coming from Peter this seemed to help Couvillon. Peter consulted Couvillon often on business of the Province and asked him to translate Jesuit letters from India. Thanks to Peter , even though Couvillon continued to suffer depression for years, he also accomplished much good.

Peter died in December 21, 1597. He is known as the Second Apostle of Germany and was named a Doctor of the Church.

Eucharist quotes (12/21 St. Peter Canisius)

St. Canisius was ‘on fire’ for the love of the Eucharist and would spend hours in Eucharistic Adoration. His love for the Blessed Sacrament is reflected in his writings: “Why do we speak of someone being ‘on fire with love?’ The answer is simple. Fire not only strives for union with what it embraces, but seeks to transform whatever it embraces into itself. Love does likewise. As it happens to a coal, to be changed and totally converted into fire, so by a worthy reception of the Eucharist, we become changed in a wonderful manner into Christ, are made partakers of His divine nature, and grow somehow to be the very blood-brother (blood-sister) of Him (Jesus Who is), Our Head.” St. Canisius was the instigator in having the Council of Trent pass a little known decree urging the daily reception of Holy Communion.

12月23日:聖若望. 甘迪 (司鐸) St. John of Kanty

 聖人於公元一三九○年,在波蘭克拉閣教區甘迪城出生;晉鐸後,曾在克拉閣大學執教多年;後任伊耳古本堂,竭力傳揚正道,修德立功,尤以慈愛待 人為 最,成為同道及弟子的表率,一四七三年逝世。

12月26日:聖斯德望 慶日(首位殉道)(慶日) St. Stephen

主保:執事、頭痛患者、石匠

 聖人之名,在希臘文中是「冠冕」之意。關於聖人的事蹟,我們所知甚少,就只有《宗徒大事錄》的記載而已,特別是在第六、第七章。然而,為了解 他是 怎樣的一個人,這樣的敘述也就足夠了。當時,門徒的數量不斷成長,外邦的基督徒向猶太基督徒抱怨說:他們的寡婦,在日用供需的分配中被忽略了。於是,宗徒 召聚了所有的門徒,向他們說:「讓我們放棄天主的聖言而操管飲食,實在不相宜。所以,弟兄們!當從你們中檢定七位有好聲望,且充滿聖神和智慧的人,派他們 管這要務。至於我們,我們要專務祈禱,並為真道服役。」《宗徒大事錄》繼續描述:「這番話得了全體的服悅,就選了斯德望,他是位充滿信德和聖神的人…。」 (宗六1-5)

 《宗徒大事錄》還說:斯德望是一位充滿恩寵與德能的人,在百姓中常顯大奇蹟,行大徵兆。當時有些猶太人,包括被稱為「羅馬自由人」會堂的一些 成 員,起來與聖人辯論,但眾人卻都敵不過他的智慧,因為聖神與他同在。於是,這些人只好煽動群眾,捏造假罪證控告斯德望褻瀆之罪。最後,聖人被眾人押解到公 議會裡接受審問。

 在答辯中,斯德望藉著回顧以色列歷史,告訴眾人:以色列雖然背叛與天主的盟約,且轉而崇拜偶像,但是天主還是要引領以色列子民。然後,聖人在 聖神 的感動下,向他的迫害者說:「你們時常反抗聖神,你們的祖先怎樣,你們也怎樣。」(宗七51b)。

 聖人的言論顯然激怒了群眾。《宗徒大事錄》這樣描述道:「斯德望卻充滿了聖神,注目向天,看見了天主的光榮,並看見耶穌站在天主右邊,且說 道: 『看,我見天開了,並見人子站在天主右邊。』…於是,群眾將聖人拉出城外,用石頭砸死了。…當群眾用石頭砸斯德望時,聖人大聲呼喊說:『主耶穌,接我的靈 魂去吧!』…『主,不要向他們算這罪債!』」(宗七55-56,58a,59,60b)聖人成了教會的首位殉道者。

Theirs was a wordless profession of faith in Jesus. They died because they bore the likeness of the Christ Child, and are crowned with life eternal.

12月27日:聖若望(宗徒,聖史)(慶日) St. John the Evangelist

小亞細亞地區的主保

 召喚的是天主,回應的是人。關於若望與他兄弟雅各伯的蒙召,福音中的記載相當簡潔:就僅是單純地隨著伯多祿與安德肋回應耶穌的召叫而已──耶 穌一 召喚,他們即跟隨。他們答覆召叫的絕對性,在福音中很清楚地被記載了下來:「那時候,耶穌往前行看見了另外兩個兄弟:載伯德的兒子雅各伯和他的弟弟若望, 在船上同自己的父親載伯德修理他們的網,就召叫了他們。他們也立刻捨下魚船和自己的父親,跟隨了祂。」(瑪四21-22)

 為伯多祿、雅各伯與若望這三位「前漁夫」而言,與耶穌的特殊友誼,成了他們信德的賞報:因為唯有他們享有特權,能參與耶穌顯聖容(瑪十七1- 13)、復活雅依洛之女(谷五21-43)和山園痛苦祈禱(瑪二六36-)中的場合。然而,若望與主的關係卻似乎更加特殊。傳統將第四部福音歸於這位宗徒 的名下,然而,現今的聖經學者卻普遍認為:若望宗徒與第四部福音的作者應非同一人。若望福音的作者稱他為「耶穌所愛的門徒」(參閱若十三23;十九26; 二十2),是在最後晚餐中斜依在耶穌懷裡的那一位;他還是站在耶穌的十架旁,享有照顧聖母殊榮的那一位門徒「女人,看,你的兒子!然後又對那門徒說:看, 你的母親!」(若十九26b-27)。

 因著福音本身的深度,後人以四聖獸中的老鷹作為若望神學的象徵,因為他的福音就如老鷹一樣,在其他聖史無法迄及的領域中翱翔著。然而,即便如 此, 這部福音還是為我們揭露了一些極為人性的片段:如耶穌曾給雅各伯與若望一個別名叫「雷霆之子」,儘管我們很難知道它的確切意含,但從以下二個事件中可找到 一些線索。首先,瑪竇福音告訴我們,這二位兄弟要求能在耶穌的光榮中立座於其左右。當耶穌問他們,他們能否喝祂必須飲的苦杯、領受祂必須承受的痛苦之洗 時,他們毫不猶豫地回答:「我們能」。於是耶穌回答他們確實該分享祂的苦杯,然而設座在其左右則不是祂能給的,而是天父願給誰保留,就給誰的。福音描述, 其它宗徒們便極為惱怒這對兄弟。耶穌藉此機會教導宗徒們「權威」的真正本質:「誰若願意在你們中間為首,就當作你們的奴僕;就如人子來不是受服事,而是服 事人,並交出自己的生命,為大眾作贖價。」(瑪二十27-28)

 另一場合則是,這二位「雷霆之子」因撒瑪黎雅人不願接待取道該城而前往耶京的耶穌,於是要求耶穌准許他們召喚天火焚毀該城。然而,耶穌的回應 卻是 「轉過身來斥責他們」(路九51-55)。在第一個復活節的早晨,瑪麗亞瑪達肋納「跑去見西滿伯多祿和耶穌所愛的那另一個門徒,對他們說:『有人從墳墓中 把主搬走了,我們不知道他們把祂放在哪裡』。」(若二十2)若望在福音中回憶,或許還帶著微笑說道:「兩人一起跑,但那另一個門徒比伯多祿跑得快,先來到 了墳墓那裡。」(若二十4b)他並未進入,而僅是在墓口等候伯多祿,好讓他先進去。「那時,先來到墳墓的那個門徒,也進去了,一看見就相信了。」(若二十 8)

 耶穌復活後,伯多祿治好胎生瘸子的這一偉大奇蹟發生時,若望是與伯多祿在一起的,這也使得他們同時被捕入監。或許,《宗徒大事錄》裡的文字, 最能 說明他們所經歷的「復活」神祕經驗:「他們看到伯多祿和若望的膽量,並曉得他們是沒讀過書的平常人,就十分驚訝;他們既認出他們是同耶穌在一起的…。」 (宗四13)

 聖史寫了一部偉大的福音,三篇書信以及一本《默示錄》。他的福音是一本非常個人化的記載,但卻在耶穌還在世上的事蹟中,即已看出光榮與神性的 耶穌 了;在若望的記載裡,耶穌在最後晚餐中所講的話,就好似祂已是身在天國一樣。因此,我們可以說:《若望福音》是一部描述耶穌光榮的福音。

 在耶穌受難的時刻,唯獨這位「耶穌所愛的門徒」沒有捨棄主,且還與聖母忠信地陪伴在耶穌的苦架之旁。若望晚年大多是在耶路撒冷與厄弗所中度過 的, 並在小亞細亞建立了許多教會。傳統說,多米仙(Dometian)在位時,聖人曾被丟入滾燙的油鍋之中,但出來時卻毫髮無傷,因此被流放到巴特摩島上一 年。當時,他是唯一僅存在世的宗徒,最後約於主後一百年時逝世於厄弗所。

 聖若望素來有「仁愛的宗徒」之稱,這德行是從不斷琢磨耶穌的言行中習得的。按照聖傳的記載,當若望準備離世之時,他被帶到厄弗所教會的會眾之 中, 逝世前對眾人留下的唯一勸勉是:「孩子們,要彼此相愛!」

12月28日:諸聖嬰孩 (殉 道)(慶日) Holy Innocents

祈求終止墮胎Pray for an end to abortion.

他們是無聲地在耶穌內為信仰作證。他們的死是因為他們相似嬰孩耶穌,所以被冠以永生的皇冠。

 東方賢士朝拜耶穌聖嬰後,黑落德王為了除去新生的『猶太人的國王』,曾屠殺當地兩歲以下的嬰兒。教會常把這些嬰兒視作殉道者,因為他們是為了 耶穌 的緣故而遭殺害的。

 『賢士們離去後,看,上主的天使托夢顯於若瑟說:『起來,帶着嬰孩和祂的母親逃往埃及去,住在那裏,直到我再通知你,因為黑落德即將尋找這嬰 孩, 要把祂殺掉。』若瑟便起來,星夜帶了嬰孩和祂的母親,退避到埃及去了。留在那裏,直到黑落德死去。這就應驗了上主藉先知所說的話:『我從埃及召回了我的兒 子。』

 那時,黑落德見自己受了賢士們的愚弄,就大發忿怒,依照他由賢士們所探得的時期,差人將白冷及其周圍境內所有兩歲及兩歲以下的嬰兒殺死,於是 應驗 了耶肋米亞先知所說的話:『在辣瑪聽到了聲音,痛哭哀號不止;辣黑耳痛哭她的子女,不願受人的安慰,因為他們不在了。』﹝瑪2:13-18﹞

Holy Innocents

The children mentioned in St. Matthew 2:16-18:
Herod perceiving that he was deluded by the wise men, was exceeding angry; and sending killed all the men children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the borders thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremias the prophet, saying: A voice in Rama was heard, lamentation and great mourning; Rachel bewailing her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.

12月聖誕節八日慶期內 主 日:聖家節 The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph

 聖家節在聖誕節八日慶期內主日,若遇上聖誕節在主日,聖家節則移於12月30日。

 教會建立了聖家節,為強調基督降世成人,帶給我們家庭的最佳模範,讓我們效法聖家的榜樣。

12/28 St. Caterina Volpicelli

(1839-1893) Foundress of the Congregation of the Servants of the Sacred Heart

Caterina Volpicelli was born into an upper middle-class Neapolitan family on 21 January 1839 from which she received a sound human and religious formation. She was taught literature, languages and music at the Royal Educational Institute of St Marcellino by Margherita Salatino (the future foundress, with Bl. Ludovico da Casoria, of the Franciscan Grey Sisters of St Elizabeth). She belongs to that array of “apostles of the poor and marginalized” who in 19th-century Naples were a sign of the presence of Christ, the Good Samaritan, who comes close to all who are injured in body and spirit.

Caterina had been trying to outshine her sister in society, frequently going to the theatre and the ballet, but prompted by the Lord's Spirit who revealed God's plan to her through the voice of wise and holy spiritual directors, she soon gave up the transient pleasures of an elegant and carefree life, to adhere with generous decision to a vocation of perfection and holiness.

Her chance meeting with Bl. Ludovico da Casoria on 19 September 1854 at La Palma, Naples, as she herself says, was “a rare stroke of prevenient grace, charity and favor from the Sacred Heart, delighted by the poverty of his servant”. Bl. Ludovico led her to join the Third Order Franciscans and indicated to her the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus as the one goal of her life, inviting her to remain in society to be a “fisher of souls”. Guided by her confessor, the Barnabite Fr Leonardo Matera, on 28 May 1859 Caterina entered the Perpetual Adorers of the Blessed Sacrament, but she soon left, for serious health reasons. Caterina's confessor showed her the monthly leaflet of the Apostleship of Prayer in France; from him she received detailed information about this new association with the diploma of Messenger, the first in Naples. In July 1867, Fr Ramière visited the palace of Largo Petrone in Naples, where Caterina was considering establishing her apostolic activities “to revive love for Jesus Christ in hearts, in families and in society”. The Apostleship of Prayer would be the cornerstone of Caterina's whole spiritual edifice and would permit her to cultivate her ardent love of the Eucharist and her outreach to others.

With the first messengers, on 1 July 1874, Caterina founded the new institute of “Servants of the Sacred Heart”, at first approved by the Cardinal Archbishop of Naples, the Servant of God Sisto Riario Sforza, and later, on 13 June 1890, by Pope Leo XIII who granted the new religious family the “Decree of praise”.

Concerned about the lot of the young, she then opened the orphanage of the Margherites, founded a lending library and set up the Association of the Daughters of Mary, with the wise guidance of Venerable Mother Rosa Carafa Traetto (d. 1890).

She soon opened other houses: in Naples, in the Sansevero Palace and then at the La Sapienza Church in Ponticelli, where the Servants distinguished themselves in nursing cholera victims in 1884 and in Minturno, Meta di Sorrento and Rome. On 14 May 1884, the new Archbishop of Naples, Cardinal Guglielmo Sanfelice, osb, consecrated the Shrine dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus which Caterina Volpicelli had had built next to the Mother House of her institutions. She built it specifically for adoration in reparation, as requested by the Pope, to support the Church in difficult times for religious freedom and Gospel proclamation.

Caterina's participation in the first National Eucharistic Congress celebrated in Naples in 1891 (19-22 November), crowned the apostolate of the Foundress of the Servants of the Sacred Heart. Caterina Volpicelli died in Naples on 28 December 1894, offering her life for the Church and for the Holy Father.

http://www.vatican.va/news_services/liturgy/saints/2009/ns_lit_doc_20090426_volpicelli_en.html

Eucharist quotes (12/28 St. Caterina Volpicelli)

With a great devotion to the Eucharist, and to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, St. Caterina founded the Congregation of The Servants of the Sacred Heart and, at the request of Pope Leo XII, built a shrine in Ponticelli Italy for adoration and reparation. Throughout her life she strongly supported Eucharistic Adoration and took part in the first National Eucharistic Congress in Italy in 1891.

12月29日:聖多瑪 斯.百 克(主教、殉道) St. Thomas Becket

 聖人於一一一八年在倫敦出生。及長,先任坎特伯雷教區神職,又任英王掌璽大臣,一一六二年被選為主教。竭力保衛教會權利,不惜與亨利二世衝 突;因 此被迫充軍至法國,達六年之久;返國後,仍多方受苦;一一七○年,為國王侍兵所殺害。

Eucharist quotes (12/29 St. Thomas Becket)

St. Thomas Beckett, in his writings, indicates he was often in adoration before the Most Blessed Sacrament: “If you do not harken to me who have been wont to pray for you in an abundance of tears and with groanings not a few before the Majesty of the Body of Christ.”

12/30 Ven. Andrew Beltrami

(1870 to 1897) Salesian Priest

Andrew Beltrami was born in Omegna, in the province of Novara, on June 24, 1870. In his family he received a bountiful education in Christian values. Andrew, with his lively character, was tempted in his virtue during adolescence by a bad companion, but his frequent reception of the sacraments, together with his firm will, made him a lad whom many held in high esteem.

“Make him a saint” said his mother

His parents wanted to enroll him at the Salesian College at Lanzo, where he entered in October 1883. He distinguished himself in his studies and the exercise of Christian virtue. His vocation matured during this time. Later he would say: “The Lord set an intimate conviction in my heart, that the only way forward for me was to be a Salesian”. His mother, entrusting him to the Novice Master, said: “Make him a saint”. In 1886 he received the clerical habit at Foglizzo from Don Bosco, who said of him: “There is only one Beltrami”. In the two years, 1888-1889, he spent in Turin-Valsalice he completed two three year subjects. Cztaroryski among his acquaintances

During this time he came to know the Polish Prince Augustus Czartoryski, who had recently entered the Congregation. He soon became ill with tuberculosis, and it would be Fr Beltrami – who quickly became his spiritual friend – who would be his guardian angel at Valsalice and in those places where he was in convalescence. He wrote: “I am aware that I have been looking after a saint, an angel”. Later, Fr Andrew himself took ill and, like his holy confrere, experienced his suffering with inner joy.

Sacrificial dimension of the Salesian charism He offered himself as a victim of love for the conversion of sinners and for the consolation of those who suffered, living out his motto: “Neither recovery nor death, but live to suffer”. Fr Beltrami fully accepted the sacrificial dimension of the Salesian charism, as desired by its founder, Don Bosco. The Salesian Cleric Louis Variara, then a student of philosophy at Valsalice, was struck deeply by Fr Andrew, and here discovered the roots of the spirituality of the future Daughters of the Sacred Hearts: Living joyfully with Jesus one’s vocation as victim.

Ordained four years before he died

Ordained priest by Bishop Cagliero, he gave himself to contemplation and the apostolate of the pen. His very strong desire for holiness took over his whole existence including the pain and ceaseless work. He was exact in his observance of the Rule, and had a burning love for Don Bosco and the Congregation. In the four years of life that were his after his ordination, he continued praying and writing.

It is worth noting his Italian translation of the first volumes of the critical edition of the works of St Francis de Sales. When he died on December 30, 1897, he was 27 years of age. His body is laid to rest in the church at Omegna, his native village.

The ordinary process began on April 21, 1911. He was declared Venerable on December 5, 1966.

Eucharist quotes (12/30 Ven. Andrew Beltrami)

“Wherever I may be I will often think of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. I will fix my thoughts on the holy Tabernacle — even when I happen to wake up at night — adoring Him from where I am, calling to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, offering up to Him the action I am performing. I will install one telegraph cable from my study to the church, another from my bedroom, and a third from our refectory; and as often as I can, I will send messages of love to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.”

12月31日:聖西物斯 德一 世(教宗) St. Sylvester I

 聖人於公元三一四年被祝聖為羅馬教會主教,在君士坦丁大帝時代治理教會.當時多納特裂教與亞略異端猖獗。三三五年逝世,葬於撒拉里亞路普利西 拉墳 地。

 聖人誕生於羅馬,生年不詳。年紀漸長時,從當時的教宗St. Marcellinus的手中領受鐸品,當時刁克先皇帝(Diocletian)正準備大興教難。聖人經歷過恐怖的迫害時期,也見證過刁克先與馬西米盎 (Maximian)在政爭中的衰敗,並且還目睹了君士坦丁大帝於312年時所獲得的偉大勝利。二年後,聖人繼St. Melchiades之後,被選為羅馬的主教,亦即教會的首牧。尼西亞大公會議就是在他教宗的任內召開的(First Council of Nicaea, AD 325),但當時因年事已高,無法親自主持會議,於是便差遣宗座大使代他前往與會。該議會所簽署所有法令,其名都列在亞歷山大黎雅與安提約等宗主教 (Patriarchs)的簽署之前;他還曾在羅馬召開公議會譴責亞略(the heresies of Arius)等異端。

 一般人提起這位教宗的同時,都會聯想到「米蘭詔書」(Edict of Milan)、教會合法化、尼西亞大公會議、以及幾座包括聖若望拉特朗(St. John Lateran)等宏偉的大殿(basilicas)等事件。然而,這些關鍵性的事件,大多都與君士坦丁大帝有關,或是由他所策劃的。因此,很多聖人和這 位羅馬皇帝的傳奇便開始流傳著,但大多無歷史根據。

 不過,從歷史來看,教會若要在政治強勢的君士坦丁大帝面前,保持立場的超然與獨立,那麼就非得要有一位堅強且充滿智慧的教宗來領導不可;聖人 就是 這樣的一位偉大教宗,他從314年(314年的1月)擔任宗座職務以來,直到335年過世(335年的12月31日)為止,都致力於使教會超然於羅馬帝國 的政治影響之外。關於聖人教宗任內的所有行實,則都記載在《Liber Pontificalis》一書裡。

 至於傳奇中提及,他曾親自為君士坦丁付洗,則純屬虛構。史實顯示:君士坦丁大帝是在Eusebius主教的手中,在靠近名為 Nicomedia的 城市裡領受聖洗的。不過,聖人與君士坦丁之間的微妙關係,常為世人所樂道,是中世紀學者的主要關切之一,因為它直接牽涉到宗教與政治互動的議題。教宗思維 二世(Pope Silvester II , 999-1003)亦因與當時的皇帝奧圖三世(Otto III)過從甚密,因此為效法聖人,沿用了這個名號。

 聖人擔任聖教會首牧之職達24年又11個月之久,最後於主後335年的12月31日過世。由於他的慶日是在12月31日,因此近代也常稱除夕 為 「Sylvester」。