December 28, 2015

Feast of Saint John, Apostle and Evangelist

St. John the Apostle
Due to technical difficulties, [no internet over the weekend] we were unable to post the following on Sunday. The Feast of Saint John the apostle is commemorated each December 27th. This liturgical year, the evangelist’s feast fell on a Sunday and was thus superseded by the Feast of the Holy Family. John’s prominence in the spread and development of the Church is undeniable. We therefore present to you this summation of his life and contributions.

St. John, the apostle and evangelist, is the only apostle [excluding Judas Iscariot] not to be martyred; having survived at least one attempt on his life. Born in Bethsaida, he was called while mending his nets to follow Christ. He would become Jesus’ beloved disciple. John wrote the fourth Gospel, three Epistles and the Apocalypse [Book of Revelation]. His passages on the pre-existence of the Word, who by His Incarnation became the light of the world, and the life of our souls, are among the finest spiritual reflections in the New Testament. As an evangelist, John focused on the divinity and fraternal love of Christ. With James, his brother, and Simon Peter, he was one of the witnesses of the Transfiguration. At the Last Supper, John leans on the Master's breast [See blog masthead]. At the foot of the cross, Jesus entrusts His Mother to John’s care. John's pure life kept him close to Jesus and Mary in the years to come. John was exiled to the island of Patmos under Emperor Domitian. It was there that he composed the book of Revelation.

The Life of St. John

St. John, the Evangelist, who is styled in the Gospel, "the beloved disciple", was a Galilean, son of Zebedee and Salome, and brother to St. James the Greater, both of whom were fishermen. The two were called by Jesus to be disciples as they were mending their nets by the Sea of Galilee.

Jesus showed St. John particular instances of kindness and affection above all the rest. He had the happiness to be present with Peter and James at the Transfiguration of Christ, and was permitted to witness His agony in the Garden. He was allowed to rest on Our Savior's bosom at the Last Supper, and to him Jesus confided the care of His holy Mother as He hung dying on the Cross.

St. John was the only one of the Apostles who did not forsake the Savior in the hour of His Passion and Death.

It seems that St. John remained for a long time in Jerusalem, but that his later years were spent at Ephesus, where he founded many churches in Asia Minor. St. John wrote his Gospel after the other Evangelists, about sixty-three years following the Ascension of Christ; also three Epistles, and the Book of the Apocalypse or Revelation. He was brought to Rome and, according to tradition, was cast into a caldron of boiling oil by order of Emperor Domitian. Like the Three Children in the fiery furnace of Babylon, he was miraculously preserved unhurt.

John was exiled to the Island of Patmos, where he wrote the Apocalypse. Afterwards, he returned to Ephesus.

In his extreme old age John continued to visit the churches of Asia. St. Jerome relates that when infirmity and weakness grew upon him so that he was no longer able to preach to the people, he would be carried to the assembly of the faithful by his disciples, with great difficulty; and every time John pronounced to the gathered assembly: "My dear children, love one another."

St. John died in peace at Ephesus in the third year of Trajan [as seems to be gathered from Eusebius' history of the Saint]; that is, the hundredth of the Christian era, or the sixty-sixth from the crucifixion of Christ, St. John then being about ninety-four years old, according to St. Epiphanus.

Adapted excerpt from Heavenly Friends, St. Paul Editions

Patron: Against poison; art dealers; authors; bookbinders; booksellers; burns; compositors; editors; engravers; friendships; lithographers; painters; papermakers; poisoning; printers; publishers; tanners; theologians; typesetters; writers; Asia Minor; Taos, New Mexico; Umbria, Italy; diocese of Cleveland, Ohio; diocese of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Symbols: Cup or chalice and serpent (cup or sorrow foretold by Jesus); eagle rising out of a cauldron (refers to being a martyr of spirit, but not in deed); serpent entwined on a sword; grave; Prester John seated on tomb, with book, orb, and sword; eagle on a closed book; scroll of his Gospel; scroll of the Apocalypse; nimbed eagle; book.

Collect Prayer

O God, who through the blessed Apostle John have unlocked for us the secrets of your Word, grant, we pray, that we may grasp with proper understanding what he has so marvelously brought to our ears. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Hymn of Praise to St. John, Evangelist

An exile for the faith
Of thy Incarnate Lord,
Beyond the stars, beyond all space,
Thy soul imprisoned soared:
There saw in glory Him
Who liveth, and was dead;
There Judah's Lion, and the Lamb
That for our ransom bled.

There of the Kingdom learnt
The mysteries sublime;
How, sown in martyrs' blood, the faith
Should spread from clime to clime.
The Holy City, bathed
In her dear Spouse's light,
Pure seat of bliss, thy spirit saw,
And gloried in the sight.

Now to the Lamb's clear fount,
To drink of life their fill,
Thou callest all; O Lord, in me
This blessed thirst instil.
To Jesus, Virgin-born,
Praise with the Father be;
Praise to the Spirit Paraclete,
Through all eternity. Amen.

Prayer to St. John, the Apostle

O Glorious Apostle, who, on account of thy virginal purity, wast so beloved by Jesus as to deserve to lay thy head upon his divine breast, and to be left, in his place, as son to his most holy Mother; I beg thee to inflame me with a most ardent love towards Jesus and Mary. Obtain for me from our Lord that I, too, with a heart purified from earthly affections, may be made worthy to be ever united to Jesus as a faithful disciple, and to Mary as a devoted son, both here on earth and eternally in heaven. Amen.

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