The Apostles: St. John

Today feast honors St. John the Apostle, the Beloved, the Evangelist, the Revelator. He greets us at the crib of Christ on this third day of Christmas, just after St. Stephen the Protomartyr and just before the Holy Innocents.

Dom Guéranger:

Nearest to Jesus’ Crib, after Stephen, stands John, the Apostle and Evangelist. It was only right that the first place should be assigned to him, who so loved his God that he shed his blood in his service; for, as this God Himself declares, greater love than this hath no man, that he lay down his life for his friends, [Jn xv. 13] and Martyrdom has ever been counted by the Church as the greatest act of love, and as having, consequently, the power of remitting sins, like a second Baptism. But next to the sacrifice of Blood, the noblest, the bravest sacrifice, and that which most wins the heart of Him Who is the Spouse of souls, is the sacrifice of Virginity. Now just as St. Stephen is looked upon as the type of Martyrs, St. John is honoured as the Prince of Virgins. Martyrdom won for Stephen the Crown and palm; Virginity merited for John most singular prerogatives, which, while they show how dear to God is holy Chastity, put this Disciple among those who by their dignity and influence are above the rest of men.

The verses we sing of the Revelator are no less:

R: Right worthy of honour is the blessed Apostle John, who leaned on the Lord’s bosom at the Last Supper. To him did Christ upon the Cross commit His mother, virgin to virgin.

V: The Lord chose him as virgin, and loved him more than all the rest. To him did Christ upon the Cross commit His mother, virgin to virgin.

The apostle’s virginity elevated him in the Lord’s eyes, as the highest form of love, not unlike the Lord and His Virgin Mother.

The love St. John preached in his letters elevates the very notion of love:

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love. By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. [1 Jn iv. 7-10]

Finally, St. Jerome tells the story’s of the aged Apostle:

The Blessed Evangelist John lived at Ephesus down to an extreme old age, and, at length, when he was with difficulty carried to the Church, and was not able to exhort the congregation at length, he was used simply to say at each meeting, “My little children, love one another.” At last the disciples and brethren were weary with hearing these words continually, and asked him, “Master wherefore sayest thou this only?” Whereto he replied to them, worthy of John, “It is the commandment of the Lord, and if this only be done, it is enough.”

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The Apostles: St. John

Christmastide (4): The Queen’s Christmas Message 2017

I have long been a fan of Her Majesty the Queen. I suppose enough of the drama of bad American politics will make anyone look with some favor on a monarchy. Not withstanding its flaws, the Crown and the sovereign who wears its hold a special place in the hearts and minds of both those within and without the Commonwealth.

One part of Her Majesty’s traditions is an annual Christmas address to the Realm and the world, not unlike the Holy Father’s Urbi et Orbi [To the City and the World] address, in which she looks back on the year past and forward to the one to come, and ever mindful of her duties as the sovereign, she highlights the secular and spiritual concerns of our common humanity.

In this year’s address, she notes the saddest realities that terrorism now plays in the destabilization of our daily lives. She reviews the attacks on London and Manchester, to name only two, as well as the devastation in the Caribbean, and she describes and praising the men and women who attend to the safety, protection, rescue, and relief in these seemingly unstable times.

To the Queen’s own closing words:

Volunteers and charities, as well as many churches, arrange meals for the homeless and those who would otherwise be alone on Christmas Day.

We remember the birth of Jesus Christ whose only sanctuary was a stable in Bethlehem.

He knew rejection, hardship and persecution; and yet it is Jesus Christ’s generous love and example which has inspired me through good times and bad.

Whatever your own experiences this year; wherever and however you are watching, I wish you a peaceful and very happy Christmas.

[Read the entire transcript here; watch the broadcast here]

Christmastide (4): The Queen’s Christmas Message 2017