November 28, 2016

Advent's Saints Remind Us of Christ's Incarnation and His Second Coming in Glory

Below are eight saints whose commemorations occur during the liturgical season of Advent — the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, St. Francis Xavier, St. John Damascene, St. Nicholas, St. Ambrose, St. Juan Diego, St. Lucy and St. John of the Cross. During this time of expectation, we remember their heroic witness.

The Blessed Virgin


We call the Blessed Virgin the "Theotokos," ["Mother of God" or "God-bearer"] to reaffirm the central truth of what occurred in the Incarnation of Jesus Christ. Our Lady's Fiat, her "Yes" to God exhibits her total trust and devotion to the Father's Will. We must live our lives for God by emulating Mary's example. Two Marian feasts occur during this season of Advent: the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception [Dec. 8] and the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe [Dec. 12]. From Mary we learn: love, humility, justice, openness to God's grace, trust in divine Providence, and the willingness to act.


St. Francis Xavier [1506-1552] tirelessly evangelized the Far East. He converted more people during his life than anyone since the Apostle Paul — personally baptizing some 50,000 Catholics in ten years [including the entire city of Goa, India]. St. Francis spread the faith in India, China, Japan and the Philippines. He was instrumental in founding the Jesuit Order and was a close friend of St. Ignatius of Loyola. He is the patron saint of missionaries, and the dioceses of; Green Bay, Wisconsin, Joiliet, Illinois and the archdiocese of Indianapolis, as well as, Borneo, China, the East Indies, Goa, India, Navarre, Spain, Australia and New Zealand. The effects of St. Francis's evangelization has lasted for centuries. Ask for St. Francis Xavier's intercession if you desire your time spent during Advent to bear fruit long afterward.


The one who seeks God continually will find him, for God is in everything.
— St. John Damascene 

In the early 8th century AD, iconoclasm, a movement opposed to the veneration of icons, gained acceptance in the Byzantine court. In 726, despite the protests of St. Germanus, Patriarch of Constantinople, Emperor Leo III issued his first edict against the veneration of images and their exhibition in public places.

St. John Damascene [676-749] undertook a spirited defense of holy images. His "Apologetic Treatises against those Decrying the Holy Images", supported religious art. He not only disputed the Byzantine emperor, but adopted a simplified style that allowed the controversy to be followed by the common people. Decades after his death, St. John's writings would play an important role during the Second Council of Nicaea [787] which considered and ultimately settled the dispute over the veneration of icons [the council sanctioned the veneration of religious images].


The giver of every good and perfect gift has called upon us to mimic Gods giving, by grace, through faith, and this is not of ourselves.
— St. Nicholas of Myra

St. Nicholas, also called Nikolaos of Myra, [270-343] was a 4th-century Greek Bishop of Myra, in Asia Minor [present day Turkey]. The great veneration with which St. Nicholas has been honored for many ages and the number of altars and churches that are dedicated in his memory testify to his holiness. Nicholas was chosen bishop and achieved notoriety by his extraordinary piety, zeal for the Gospel and for his many miracles. He suffered imprisonment in the persecution waged under Dioletian. He was present at the Council of Nicaea where he condemned Arianism. St. Nicholas died in Myra, and was buried in his cathedral.



St. Ambrose of Milan [340-397] spent much of his life listening. He listened to St. Monica as she wept about her sinful son – the future St. Augustine. In 374 the bishop of Milan, Auxentius, an Arian, died, and the Arians challenged the succession. Ambrose went to the church where the election was to take place, to prevent an uproar, which was probable in this crisis. His address was interrupted by a call "Ambrose, bishop!", which was taken up by the whole assembly.

Ambrose ranks with Augustine, Jerome, and Gregory the Great, as one of the Latin Doctors of the Church. Theologians compare him with Hilary, who they claim fell short of Ambrose's administrative excellence but demonstrated greater theological ability. St. Ambrose succeeded as a theologian despite his judicial training and his comparatively late handling of Biblical and doctrinal subjects.



Little is known of St. Juan Diego, the Indian convert, seer and the Apostle of our Lady of Guadalupe. He was born in 1474, and named "Cuauhtlatoatzin" ("the talking eagle") in Cuautlitlán, present day Mexico City. On December 9, 1531, the Blessed Mother appeared to him. Our Lady asked him to go to the Bishop and request that a shrine be constructed where she promised to pour grace upon those who invoked her. Three days later, after the bishop asked Diego for a "sign", our Lady instructed him to pick the flowers that he would find in bloom. Although the dead of winter, he found roses blooming and took them to our Lady who carefully placed them in his mantle to present to the Bishop as "proof". When Diego opened his mantle before the Bishop, the flowers fell to the ground, revealing the image of our Lady of Guadalupe.


ST. LUCY (DEC. 13) 

Lucia of Syracuse, also known as St. Lucy, or St. Lucia, [283-304] was a Christian martyr who died during the Diocletianic Persecution. St. Lucy chose to be a Christian at a time when Christianity was illegal. She gave up her riches and devote her life to the poor After resisting the advances of a Roman soldier, St. Lucy was denounced as a Christian and brutally executed. She is one of eight women, who along with the Blessed Virgin Mary, are commemorated by name in the Canon of the Mass.

Lucy's Latin name Lucia shares a root [luc-] with the Latin word for light, lux. Hence St. Lucy is the patron saint of the blind and those with eye-trouble. [Popular piety depicts Lucia as tortured by eye-gouging prior to her martyrdom.]



St. John of the Cross, [1542-1591] priest, mystic and founder of the Discalced Carmelites, figured prominently in the Counter-Reformation. He is known also for his writings. St. John's poetry and his studies on the growth of the soul are considered the height of mystical literature. His Spiritual Canticle and the Dark Night of the Soul are seminal masterpieces of Spanish poetry. In contrast to his lofty verse, St. John took for himself the most menial of jobs. Before entering religious life he worked in a hospital for people afflicted with leprosy. Even when holding high administrative posts he assumed the lowliest tasks. His life reminds us that no matter how soaring or profound our spirituality, Christians are called to humility and selfless service in the imitation of Christ.

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