Christmastide: December 2011 Archives

Drinking to the Love of Saint John

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There are several forms for the traditional blessing of wine on the feast of Saint John the Evangelist. Father Weller's Roman Ritual in three volumes is an indispensable resource for such sacramentals. This morning, following the Last Gospel, we had the blessing of wine. Afterwards guests were invited to the refectory to "drink to the love of Saint John."


On the Feast of Saint John, Apostle and Evangelist, at the end of the principal Mass, that is, after the last Gospel, the priest, retaining all his vestments except the maniple, in the following manner blesses wine brought by the people in memory and in honor of Saint John, who drank poison without harm:

V. Our help is in the name of the Lord.
R. Who hath made heaven and earth.

V. The Lord be with you.
R. And with thy spirit.

Let us pray.

Deign, O Lord,
graciously to bless +
and consecrate with Thy right hand
this fruit of the vine,
that by the merits of Saint John the Apostle and Evangelist,
all who drink of this wine,
believing in Thee and in Jesus Christ Whom Thou hast sent,
may by the power of His Name
be blessed and always protected.
Through the same Christ our Lord.
R. Amen.

O God, by whose power,
Saint John drank poison from the cup,
and was in no way harmed,
mercifully grant that all who this day
drink of this wine blessed in his honour,
may be freed, by his merits and intercession,
from every sickness by poisoning
and from any harm.
Through Christ our Lord.
R. Amen.

Grant, O God who art Charity,
that those whom Thou hast first loved,
and who ardently desire to love Thee in return,
may be freed from their sins,
taste of the sweetness of Thy dilection,
and experience that inner gladness
that is the gift of Thy Holy Spirit.
Through Christ our Lord.
R. Amen.

Bless, O Lord, + this wine, which Thou hast made,
that it may be us a healthful refreshment;
and grant by the invocation of Thy Holy Name
that whosoever drinks of it in memory of Saint John,
the Beloved Disciple of Thy Son,
may, by his intercession and by Thy lovingkindess,
rejoice in lasting health of both soul and body.
Through Christ our Lord.
R. Amen

And may the blessing of almighty God,
the Father, + and the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
descend upon this wine, which He has made,
and upon those who will partake of it.
R. Amen.

The wine is sprinkled with Holy Water. If this blessing is given outside of Mass, the priest performs it in the manner described above, but with surplice and stole.

Blessed Christmas to All

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I read this text of Mother Mectilde de Bar (1614-1698) during my prayer this morning and knew that I had to translate it. She gave it as a Chapter conference on 17 December 1671.

To illustrate the text, I chose the work of a contemporary of Mother Mectilde, the French sculptor MIchel Anguier (1613-1686). The piece was originally executed for the altar of the church at Val de Grâce in Paris. Today it is in the Church of Saint-Roch just above the tabernacle. Mother Mectilde says it well: "Holy Communion is an extension of the Incarnation." The electric vigil light next to the tabernacle is most unfortunate.

As for the text itself, it is representative of the French School with its interest in the perduring grace of the mysteries of Christ, something masterfully developed by Blessed Abbot Marmion in Christ in His Mysteries. At the same time, by reason of her insight into spiritual childhood and littleness, Mother Mectilde is a forerunner of Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face.

It is true that the mystery is past, I recognize it, and that it happened only once, but the grace of the mystery is not, in fact, past for the souls who prepare themselves to give birth to Jesus Christ in their heart. He was born one time in Bethlehem, and he is born every day in us with Holy Communion, which, as the Fathers say, is an extension of the Incarnation.
Do you know why Our Lord did not want to be born in the city of Jerusalem? It is because there all was full of creatures; there was not a single empty house. All was full of business or something other. He preferred to be born in a poor stable, empty and abandoned. This demonstrates to us that, if we want Jesus to abide in us, we must empty ourselves of all things, withour exception. This being done, He will impress in us His spirit, His lifem His inclinations, and in such a soul one will see only Jesus.
Those who have received this grace, will be recognized easily by their docility and simplicity, the companion virtues of holy childhood. Who are the first to come to the Infant Jesus to offer Him homage? Poor folk, shepherds. It is what the Gospel says: "Ye who are little, come unto Me." Only the humble are worthy of learning secrets so divine, hidden from the great ones of the earth, who are precisely the proud. The more a soul is little, the more will God communicate Himself to her. He goes to seek her out in the depth of her nothingness, where He fills her with all Himself.

About Dom Mark

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby is Conventual Prior of Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland. The ecclesial mandate of his Benedictine community is the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in a spirit of reparation, and in intercession for the sanctification of priests.

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