In December we pass through the liturgical season of Advent into that of Christmas. Advent represents the time of preparation for the coming of the Savior. The liturgical color, representative of repentance and humility, is violet, except on the Third Sunday of Advent, traditionally known as Gaudete Sunday, when the color rose represents the joy of approaching the Christmas season. The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, celebrated on December 8, is the patronal feast of the United States, and a holy day of obligation. The Christmas season begins with the vigil Mass of Christmas. The liturgical color is white.
MAJOR SAINTS AND FEAST DAYS OF DECEMBER
|December 3||Francis Xavier, Priest||Memorial|
|December 7||Ambrose, Bishop and Doctor||Memorial|
|December 8||The Immaculate Conception||Solemnity|
|December 12||Our Lady of Guadalupe||Feast|
|December 14||John of the Cross, Priest and Doctor||Memorial|
|December 26||Stephen, the First Martyr||Feast|
|December 27||John, Apostle and Evangelist||Feast|
|December 28||Holy Innocents, Martyrs||Feast|
IRISH SAINTS OF DECEMBER
December 12 Finnian of Clonard (c.470-c.549)
One of at least three saintly Finnians, this Irish saint may have been born at Myshall, Carlow, Ireland. He may have spent some years in Welsh monasteries. Later he founded several monasteries in Ireland, including Clonard, in Meath, which for many centuries was renowned for Biblical scholarship. Though often referred to as a bishop, there is not solid evidence of his consecration, but Finnian was certainly mentor and teacher to many who went on to spread the faith throughout Ireland and beyond.
December 18 Flannan (7th century)
Son of an Irish chieftain, he received a monastic education. On a pilgrimage to Rome, he was consecrated bishop by Pope John IV. Upon returning, he settled at Killaloe and is considered its first bishop.
December 20 Ursicinus (d.c. 625)
Probably an Irishman, he was a disciple of St. Columban on the Continent, founded a monastery at St. Ursanne in present-day Switzerland, and evangelized the local people.
December 29 Aileran the Wise (d. 664)
Nothing is known of Aileran’s early life. We know that St. Finian induced him to enter the monasterey at Clonard, where Aileran became known as one of the most erudite scholars of this erudite group of monks. He knew Greek as well as Latin, and studied the Eastern and Western Fathers. Aileran’s works include lives of Sts. Patrick and Brigid and a commentary on the genealogy of Jesus which was popular in the Middle Ages.
NEWS AND ISSUES
–Organizers are planning for the annual March for Life, to be held January 29, 2021, on the Mall in Washington, D.C., though what impact continuing pandemic restrictions may have upon it is not clear.
–On the night of October 18, St. Germaine Catholic Church in Prescott Valley, AZ, was the target of vandals, who pulled down exterior statues of Mary and Jesus. A fire of suspicious origin broke out on November 15, at Sacred Heart Church in Brewster, WA. A nearby Baptist church had a suspicious fire on the same date. These are only some of the most recent incidents of a trend which continues of vandalism, desecration, and suspected arson targeting Christian, and especially Catholic, churches.
–Cardinal Archbishop Sean O’Malley was joined by two other Massachusetts bishops in condemning legislation working its way through the state legislature which would further loosen the state’s abortion laws, allowing abortion up to the point of birth in some cases and allowing those 16 and older to obtain abortion without parental consent.
–Dioceses throughout the country continue to struggle with pandemic restrictions, some of which are blatantly discriminatory against public worship as compared to shopping, dining, getting a tan or a perm, demonstrating, and even rioting. The Archdiocese of Brooklyn, unsuccessful in lower courts, has petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to hear its argument that state restrictions on gatherings are unfairly targeting public worship, by, for instance, in some cases restricting attendance to 10 or 25 people, in churches which are very large.
–Nov. 16: Los Angeles Archbishop Gomez, president of the American Catholic’s Bishop Conference (USCCB) has appointed Detroit Archbishop Allen Vigneron to head a task force to address policies of a likely Biden-Harris administration which contradict Catholic teaching on abortion, religious freedom, and marriage. Archbishop Gomez noted that while a Democratic administration presents “opportunities,” it also presents “challenges,” where expected policies conflict with core Catholic beliefs and practices.
[Sources consulted for this report include: Butler’s Lives of the Saints, complete edition, ed. and rev. by Herbert Thurston and Donald Attwater; 4 vols. (New York, 1956); The Liturgy of the Hours According to the Roman Rite (New York, 1975); The National Catholic Register; ewtn.com; catholic.org; priestsforlife.org; catholicnewsagency.com.]
Patrick J. Lally