St. Thomas, the disciple who at first did not believe, has become for the Church one of the first witnesses to her faith. She is fond of appealing to his testimony and frequently puts in our mouths those simple words whereby he expressed the fervour of his regained faith: “My Lord and my God.” It is known that St. Thomas preached the Gospel in Asia beyond the frontiers of the Roman Empire, probably in Persia and possibly as far afield as India. St. Thomas’ feast was formerly celebrated on December 21.
Martinian and Processus (Italian: Martiniano and Processo) were Christian martyrs of ancient Rome. Neither the years they lived nor the circumstances of their deaths are known. They are currently buried in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
And when Jesus got into the boat, his disciples followed him. A windstorm arose on the sea, so great that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him up, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!” And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, you of little faith?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a dead calm. They were amazed, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him?”
When the baby was born, it was a natural expectation of all who were gathered that the son would be named Zechariah, taking after the father. But we know that Elizabeth and Zechariah had been advised otherwise. Elizabeth spoke simply, “No. He will be called John”. Zechariah, perhaps having learned the consequences of disbelieving an archangel, confirmed the choice by writing the name “John” on a tablet. His tongue was instantly freed and this miraculous turn of events signaled to all that this newborn John was specially called by God.
Miguel Jose Serra was born on the island of Mallorca, Spain. He took the name Junipero when he entered the Franciscan Order in 1730. Ordained in 1737, he taught philosophy and theology at the University of Padua for twelve years. At age 37, he went to Mexico City where he spent the rest of his life working for the conversion of the peoples of the New World. Largely responsible for the spread of the Church on the West Coast of the United States, Junipero founded 21 missions and converted thousands of Native Americans.
This memorial is in honor of the nameless followers of Christ brutally killed by the mad Emperor Nero as scapegoats for the fire in Rome. The pagan historian Tacitus and St. Clement of Rome tell of a night of horror (August 15, 64 A.D.) when in the imperial parks Christians were put into animal skins and hunted, were brutally attacked, and were made into living torches to light the road for Nero’s chariot. From 64 to 314 “Christian” was synonymous with “execution victim.”
Veneration of the two great Apostles, Peter and Paul, has its roots in the very foundations of the Church. They are the solid rock on which the Church is built. They are at the origin of her faith and will forever remain her protectors and her guides. To them Rome owes her true greatness, for it was under God’s providential guidance that they were led to make the capital of the Empire, sanctified by their martyrdom, the center of the Christian world whence should radiate the preaching of the Gospel.
The story of the Roman centurion in today’s gospel is a well known one. His request for a healing of his servant is heard by Jesus and Jesus offers to go to his house. But then we hear the centurion’s response, a response that has been used to become the prayer that we collectively pray and say just before we receive Holy Communion.
We then read that Jesus is amazed the response of the centurion, and Jesus comments on the faith of the centurion, which is a statement of great wisdom and trust.
St. Cyril, Patriarch of Alexandria, one of the metropolitan sees of the Christian Church in the east, was one of the great defenders of the faith against the heresy of Nestorius who denied the oneness of person in Jesus Christ. At the Council of Ephesus in 431, over which he presided in the pope’s name, and at his instigation, it was defined that Christ, the Son of God, is at the same time God and man, and the Blessed Virgin Mary, His mother, is truly Theotokos, the Mother of God. St. Cyril died in 444. The Church venerates him as one of her great doctors. His commentary on the Gospel of St. John is one of the richest doctrinally of those left us by the Fathers of the Church.
St. Josemaria Escriva was born in 1902 at Barbastro Spain. He was ordained in Saragossa in 1925 and by divine inspiration founded Opus Dei which opened a new way for the faithful to sanctify themselves in the midst of the world. He died on June 26, 1975 and was canonized a saint on October 6, 2002.