Catholic Tradition News Letter B2: Holy Eucharist, Holy Family, St Arcadius

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Vol 13 Issue 2 ~ Editor: Rev. Fr. Courtney Edward Krier
January 11, 2020 ~ Saint Hyginus, opn!

1.      What is the Holy Eucharist
2.      Feast of the Holy Family
3.      Saint Arcadius
4.      Family and Marriage
5.      Articles and notices
Dear Reader:

Each year, as the Feast of the Holy Family is celebrated, the Catholic Family is revisited in as much as it is idealistically to be modelled after the Holy Family. If one considers the three persons in the Holy Family, one made note that the greatest is least and the least is greatest. Saint Joseph is placed as head of the Holy Family. It is to him the Angel says: Joseph, son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife (Matt.1:20) and continues that Joseph is to call the Child, Jesus (Matt. 1:21; cf. verse 25). This designates the role of the man, seen even in the proposal to marry. It is the man who asks the wife to accept marriage—because it is his choice and her acceptance of the choice. Why? Because the man now takes the responsibility for her future, as is seen in the following:

1)      And Joseph rising up from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him, and took unto him his wife. (Matt. 1:24)

2)      An angel of the Lord appeared in sleep to Joseph, saying: Arise, and take the child and his mother, and fly into Egypt: and be there until I shall tell thee. For it will come to pass that Herod will seek the child to destroy him. Who [Joseph] arose, and took the child and his mother by night, and retired into Egypt: and he [Joseph] was there until the death of Herod (Matt. 2:13-14)

3)      And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem: because he was of the house and family of David, to be enrolled with Mary his espoused wife, who was with child. (Luke 2:4-5)

4)      When Herod was dead, behold an angel of the Lord appeared in sleep to Joseph in Egypt, Saying: Arise, and take the child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel. For they are dead that sought the life of the child. Who arose, and took the child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel. (Matt. 2:19-20)

5)      Hearing that Archelaus reigned in Judea in the room of Herod his father, he was afraid to go thither: and being warned in sleep retired into the quarters of Galilee. And coming he dwelt in a city called Nazareth. (Matt. 2:22-23)

The mother, Mary, whom all generations will called blessed (cf. Luke 1:48), accepts the marriage to Joseph and is found with Joseph in all family matters as shown above, as also in the Nativity and after:

1.      They [the shepherds] came with haste; and they found Mary and Joseph . . . (Luke 2:16)

2.       And after the days of her purification, according to the law of Moses, were accomplished, they [Joseph and Mary] carried him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord (Luke 2:22)

3.      And after they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their city Nazareth. (Luke 2:39)

4.      And his parents went every year to Jerusalem, at the solemn day of the pasch, And when he was twelve years old, they going up into Jerusalem, according to the custom of the feast, And having fulfilled the days, when they returned, the child Jesus remained in Jerusalem; and his parents knew it not. And thinking that he was in the company, they came a day’s journey, and sought him among their kinsfolks and acquaintance. And not finding him, they returned into Jerusalem, seeking him. (Luke 2:41-45)

5.      Behold thy father [Joseph] and I [Mary] have sought thee sorrowing (Luke 2:48)

The Child, Christ, Who is Lord of lords and King of kings (Cf. Apoc. 17:14, 19:16 and 1 Tim. 6:15), one finds entirely under the dependence of both:

1.      They [the wisemen] found the child [Jesus] with Mary his mother. (Matt. 2:11)

2.      He [Jesus] . . . was subject to them. (Luke 2:51)

In our family may we also see where God places us and know that in fulfilling our role, we fulfill what God, in His providence, designed: a holy family.

As always, enjoy the readings provided for your benefit.—The Editor



By Rev. Courtney Edward Krier



Old Testament Prefigurements of the Holy Eucharist

AND this do Thou deign to regard with gracious and kindly attention and hold acceptable, as Thou didst deign to accept the offerings of Abel, Thy just servant, and the sacrifice of Abraham our patriarch, and that which Thy chief priest Melchisedech offered unto Thee, a holy sacrifice and a spotless victim. (Canon of the Mass)


As Abraham was a type of God the Father, Melchisedech would be a type of Jesus Christ. Therefore, in Genesis, after Abraham won the battle over the four kings, one reads:

And it came to pass at that time, that Amraphel king of Sennaar, and Arioch king of Pontus, and Chodorlahomor king of the Elamites, and Thadal king of nations, made war against Bara king of Sodom, and against Bersa king of Gomorrha, and against Sennaab king of Adama, and against Semeber king of Seboim, and against the king of Bala, which is Segor. All these came together into the woodland vale, which now is the salt sea . . . Which when Abram had heard, to wit, that his brother Lot was taken, he numbered of the servants born in his house, three hundred and eighteen well appointed: and pursued them to Dan. And dividing his company, he rushed upon them in the night: and defeated them, and pursued them as far as Hoba, which is on the left hand of Damascus. And he brought back all the substance, and Lot his brother, with his substance, the women also and the people. (Gen. 14:1-3, 14-16)

Melchisedech appears to offer bread and wine in a thanksgiving sacrifice:

Melchisedech the king of Salem, bringing forth bread and wine, for he was the priest of the most high God, blessed him, and said: Blessed be Abram by the most high God, who created heaven and earth. And blessed be the most high God, by whose protection the enemies are in thy hands. And he gave him the tithes of all. (Gen. 18-20)

What the Sacred Writer left out is as important as what he wrote. Saint Paul points to this in addressing the Hebrews (Israelites) in his seventh chapter:

For this Melchisedech was king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him: to whom also Abraham divided the tithes of all: who first indeed by interpretation, is king of justice: and then also king of Salem, that is, king of peace: Without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but likened unto the Son of God, continueth a priest for ever. Now consider how great this man is, to whom also Abraham the patriarch gave tithes out of the principal things. (Heb. 7:1-5)

Paul, therefore, gives the interpretation of this scene: Melchisedech means king of justice and he is also king of Peace (Salem). He is, therefore King and Highpriest. As he has no beginning or end, because He prefigures the Son of God, Who is the Eternal Word. His priesthood is everlasting. Here, again, Saint Paul takes Psalms 2:7and 109:4 in this interpretation:

The Lord hath said to me: Thou art my son, this day have I begotten thee. (Ps. 2:7)

The Lord hath sworn, and he will not repent: Thou art a priest for ever according to the order of Melchisedech. (Ps. 109:4)

Paul writes:

For every high priest taken from among men, is ordained for men in the things that appertain to God, that he may offer up gifts and sacrifices for sins: Who can have compassion on them that are ignorant and that err: because he himself also is compassed with infirmity. And therefore he ought, as for the people, so also for himself, to offer for sins. Neither doth any man take the honour to himself, but he that is called by God, as Aaron was. So Christ also did not glorify himself, that he might be made a high priest: but he that said unto him: Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee. (Cf. Ps. 2:7) As he saith also in another place: Thou art a priest for ever, according to the order of Melchisedech. (Cf. Ps. 109.4) Who in the days of his flesh, with a strong cry and tears, offering up prayers and supplications to him that was able to save him from death, was heard for his reverence. And whereas indeed he was the Son of God, he learned obedience by the things which he suffered: And being consummated, he became, to all that obey him, the cause of eternal salvation. Called by God a high priest according to the order of Melchisedech. (Heb. 5:1-10)

Further, Melchisedech offered bread and wine, which prefigured what Christ would offer at the Last Supper, the true Bread from Heaven, His Body, and the Chalice of His Blood, which alone would be acceptable to the Eternal Father— And this is found only in the offering of Jesus Christ, who takes bread and says, This is My Body, and then takes the chalice and says, This is My Blood . . . . (Cf. Matt. 26:26f.; Mark 14:22f.; Luke 22:19f.; 1 Cor. 11:24f.)

The Fathers of the Church, like Paul the Apostle, always pointed to the Sacrifice of Melchisedech when explaining the Eucharistic Sacrifice Christ first offered in the Cenacle the night He was betrayed. Saint Clement of Alexandria (+215) writes: Melchisedech king of Salem, priest of the most high God, . . . gave bread and wine, furnishing consecrated food for a type of the Eucharist. (Stromata, IV, 25.) Saint Cyprian (+257), by taking up Saint Paul’s argument to the Hebrews, to show the Gentiles received salvation, also testifies to the prefigurement of Mechisedech’s offering of bread and wine to the Sacrifice of the Mass.

Also in the priest Melchizedek we see prefigured the sacrament of the sacrifice of the Lord, according to what divine Scripture testifies, and says, And Melchizedek, king of Salem, brought forth bread and wine. Genesis 14:18 Now he was a priest of the most high God, and blessed Abraham. And that Melchizedek bore a type of Christ, the Holy Spirit declares in the Psalms, saying from the person of the Father to the Son: Before the morning star I begot You; You are a priest for ever, after the order of Melchizedek;  which order is assuredly this coming from that sacrifice and thence descending; that Melchizedek was a priest of the most high God; that he offered wine and bread; that he blessed Abraham. For who is more a priest of the most high God than our Lord Jesus Christ, who offered a sacrifice to God the Father, and offered that very same thing which Melchizedek had offered, that is, bread and wine, to wit, His body and blood? And with respect to Abraham, that blessing going before belonged to our people. For if Abraham believed in God, and it was accounted unto him for righteousness, assuredly whosoever believes in God and lives in faith is found righteous, and already is blessed in faithful Abraham, and is set forth as justified; as the blessed Apostle Paul proves, when he says, Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. You know, then, that they which are of faith, these are the children of Abraham. But the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles through faith, pronounced before to Abraham that all nations should be blessed in him; therefore they who are of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham. Galatians 3:6-9 Whence in the Gospel we find that children of Abraham are raised from stones, that is, are gathered from the Gentiles. Matthew 3:9 And when the Lord praised Zacchaeus, He answered and said This day is salvation come to this house, forasmuch as he also is a son of Abraham. Luke 19:9 In Genesis, therefore, that the benediction, in respect of Abraham by Melchizedek the priest, might be duly celebrated, the figure of Christ’s sacrifice precedes, namely, as ordained in bread and wine; which thing the Lord, completing and fulfilling, offered bread and the cup mixed with wine, and so He who is the fullness of truth fulfilled the truth of the image prefigured.

The Apostolic Constitution (VIII, xii, 39) has this passage in speaking of Holy Mass:  Who aforehand ordained Melchisedec an high priest for Your worship . . . . Saint Ambrose’s teaching draws from the same interpretation when he instructs his catechumens:

Accept what I say: that the mysteries of the Christians are earlier than those of the Jews and the sacraments of the Christians are more divine than those of the Jews. How? Accept. When did the Jews begin to be? Surely from Juda, the great-grandson of Abraham, [Cf. 1 Par. 1.34; 2.1] or, if you wish also to understand it so, according to the Law, that is, when they merited to receive ‘the law of God.’ Therefore, from the great-grandson of Abraham they were called Jews in the time of holy Moses. Then God rained manna from heaven on the Jews as they murmured. [Cf. Exod. 16.2-36] But for you a figure of these sacraments preceded, when Abraham was, when he gathered 318 servants born in his house, and he went, pursued his adversaries, and delivered his great-grandson from captivity. [Cf. Gen. 14.14-18; Heb. 7.1-3] Then he came as a victor; Melchisedech the priest met him and offered bread and wine. Who had the bread and wine? Abraham did not have it. But who had it? Melchisedech. He himself then is the author of the sacraments. Who is ‘Melchisedech’? Who is signified as ‘king of justice, king of peace’?5 Who is this king of justice? Can any man be king of justice? Who, then, can be the king of justice other than the justice of God? [Cf. 1 Cor. 1.30] Who is the peace of God, the wisdom of God? He who was able to say: ‘My peace I give to you, my peace I leave with you.’ [Cf. John 14.27]

So first understand these sacraments which you receive, that they are earlier than the sacraments which the Jews say that they have, and that the Christian people began before the people of the Jews began, but we in predestination, they in name.

Thus Melchisedech offered bread and wine. Who is Melchisedech? ‘Without father’ it says, ‘without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life.’ The Epistle to the Hebrews has this. ‘Without father,’ it says, and ‘without mother.’ You have ‘likened unto the Son of God.’ [Heb. 7.3] The Son of God was born by heavenly generation ‘without mother’ because He was born of the only God the Father, and again He was born ‘without Father,’ since He was born of a virgin. For He was not begotten of the seed of a man, but was born of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, brought forth from a virginal womb. Melchisedech, also, was a priest in all respects ‘likened unto the Son of God,’ to whom it is said: ‘Thou art a priest forever according to the order of Melchisedech.’ [Ps. 109:4] (De Sacr., IV, 10, 11, 12)

And summarizes the same:

Yesterday our sermon and tractate was brought up to the sacraments of the holy altar. And we learned that the figure of these sacraments preceded the times of Abraham, when holy Melchisedech offered a sacrifice, ‘having neither beginning of days nor end.’ [Cf. Heb. 7.3.]

Hear, man, what the Apostle Paul says to the Hebrews! Where are they who say that the Son of God is of time? As for Melchisedech, it is said that he has neither beginning of days nor end. If Melchisedech does not have beginning of days, could Christ have had it? Yet it is not more a figure than truth. You see, then, that He himself is both the first and the last: [Apoc. 1.17.] first, because He is the author of all; last, not because he finds the end, but because He includes all things.

We have said, then, that the chalice and bread are placed on the altar. . . . (Ibid. V, 1, 2)

Danielou rightly draws out these conclusions from the writings of Eusebius of Caesarea:

This question has been profoundly treated by an author of whom we have not so far spoken, Eusebius of Cesarea. He remarks that, if the sacrifices of Judaism constitute a new step in the preparation for and the prefiguration of the New Testament, they also mark, in certains ways, a  regression. For one thing, the priesthood in Israel became the property of a particular tribe and the others were excluded from it, while the sacrifice of Melchisedech was a universal priesthood, not the privilege of a particular caste: “Melchisedech was not chosen from among men, not anointed with an oil made up by man” (Dem. Ev. V, 3; P.G., XXII, 365 B-C). In the second place, the worship of the Old Testament was localized in one place, the Temple of Jerusalem. This was an advance, to the extent to which it was a visible symbol of monotheism: the one sanctuary manifesting the one God. But it was also a limitation to one place; the prophet Malachy announced it as a characteristic of the kingdom to come “that sacrifice will be offered in all places” (I, 11). The Fathers of the Church see in this vision a figure of the Eucharist, “the sacrifice of the new Law, offered in all places” (Dem. Ev. I, 10; XXII, 92 C). And the sacrifice of Melchisedech was not limited to one place; it could be offered everywhere (XXII, 365 B).

This is true also of the matter of the sacrifice: “As he who was the priest of the nations does not appear at all as having used a corporal sacrifice, but as having blessed Abraham in the bread and the wine, so in the same way, Our Lord first of all, and after Him those who hold from Him their priesthood in all the nations, accomplish the spiritual sacrifice according to the rules of the Church, signifying by bread and wine the mysteries of the saving Body and Blood, Melchisedech having contemplated these things in advance in the Holy Spirit, and having used the figures of the realities to come (XXII, 365 D). There is, then, a greater resemblance to the Eucharist in the sacrifice of Melchisedech than in the Jewish sacrifices. And Fr. Feret gives the profound reason for this: “The bread and wine presented by Melchisedech to Abraham are a more spiritual offering, nearer to natural simplicity than all the sacred butcheries prescribed by the Jewish law. (Loc. Cit. P. 229).

So the Eucharistic significance of the bread and wine is shown to us. “As Christ in instituting the Eucharist during the paschal meal, wished to show the continuity with the Mosaic covenant of the sacrament that He was instituting, so in instituting it under the appearances of bread and wine, He wished to show its continuity with the covenant with Noe of which Melchisedech was the High priest. Thus, Christ is the fulfillment not only of the figures of the worship of the Old Testament, but of all the sacrifices which in all religions and all times men have offered to God, which He takes up and transubstantiates in His Own sacrifice. It is the universal character of the sacrifice of the Eucharist which is signified by the appearances of bread and wine, and it is this that the liturgy of the Mass is stating when it shows us that it was prefigured in “the holy sacrifice, the immaculate victim, offered by the high priest, Melchisedech.”  (The Liturgy and the Bible, 146-47)

What has been discussed above can be summarized in the words taken from the text of the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine’s, The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass:

This beautiful prayer, as we see, recommends our offering to God by recalling the sacrifices of the Old Law which proved pleasing to Him. The names mentioned are especially significant at this time in the Mass. Abel comes to the altar with the lamb, the first fruits of his flock. Abraham brings his son Isaac. To refer to him as a “patriarch” emphasizes the fact that both he and his son were the ancestors of our Divine Lord. Melchisedech brings the bread and wine. Each reference has its parallel in the actuality of the Mass: Christ is the Lamb of the Everlasting Sacrifice; He is also the Son, both by the race of Abraham and by the eternal generation of the Divine Father; under the appearances of the bread and wine of Melchisedech this Lamb of the New Testament is offered.

The mention of these three sacrifices has other implications of importance. The blood of the just Abel was shed by his brother Cain—and this reminds us of the wickedness of the Jews in shedding the blood of the innocent Christ, Who in His human nature was their kinsman. Abel prefigures our Lord in offering the firstlings of his flock, for Christ, as Saint Paul states, was “the Firstborn among many brethren.” Abraham brought his only son Isaac to the hill, there to offer him to God. In this he prefigured the Eternal Father offering His only Son for the sake of mankind. Isaac carrying the wood upon which he was to be immolated, suggests our Saviour carrying His cross to the hill of Calvary. Abraham’s sacrifice did not go as far as the shedding of Isaac’s blood, but it was accepted by God. This is a perfect figure of the Sacrifice of the Mass, because the Victim is not physically slain—the Risen Christ cannot suffer and die again. The mysterious figure of Melchisedech is mentioned in Sacred Scripture as a priest of the Most High; and as Saint Paul points out (Hebrews 7: 3), nowhere is there record of his father or mother or genealogy, the beginning or end of his days Thus. Melchisedech presents an arresting figure of our Divine Lord, the Eternal Son of God, Who is immolated in the Mass. For of Christ it is asked: “Who shall declare His generation?” (Acts 8:33) Finally, Melchisedech was both king and priest: Jesus is King and Priest also. Melchisedech’s sacrifice was one of thanksgiving: the Mass is the Supreme Act of thanksgiving. (206-207)

In the few words of the “Supra quae” the relation between the sacrifice of the Old Law and the Sacrifice of the New is expressed. The true religion extends from figure to reality. The Sacrifice of the Mass is the culmination of man’s hope. In it, by God’s love, the best that man can offer in worship of God, God receives with “a propitious and serene countenance.”

The “Supra quae” points out that a sacrifice can only obtain its effects if it be accepted by the one to whom it is offered. These sacrifices of the Old Law, which prefigured those of the New, proved acceptable to God. Most assuredly, then, God will look with a serene countenance upon our Sacrifice, for it is the Body and Blood of His own Son.


The Sunday Sermons of the Great Fathers

M. F. Toal


LUKE ii. 42-52

And when Jesus was twelve years old, they going up into Jerusalem, according to the custom of the feast, and having fulfilled the days, when they returned, the child Jesus remained in Jerusalem; and His parents knew it not. And thinking that He was in the company, they came a day’s journey, and sought Him among their kinsfolk and acquaintances. And not finding Him, they returned into Jerusalem, seeking Him. And it came to pass, that, after three days, they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, hearing them, and asking them questions. And all that heard Him were astonished at His wisdom and His answers. And seeing Him, they wondered. And His mother said to Him: Son, why hast thou done so to us? behold Thy father and I have sought Thee sorrowing. And He said to them: How is it that you sought me? Did you not know, that I must be about my father’s business? And they understood not the word that He spoke unto them. And He went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them. And His mother kept all these words in her heart. And Jesus advanced in wisdom, and age, and grace with God and men.


AMBROSE: There are two generations in Christ, one paternal the other maternal; the Paternal is the more (divinior), the maternal is that in which He has descended for our need and benefit. CYRIL, in the Catena of C.F.: He said this showing that He passed above the measure of men; and intimating that the sacred Virgin had been made the Handmaid of a purpose when she brought forth a man. He Himself was naturally and truly God and Son of the Heavenly Father. Hence let the followers of Valentinus, reading that it was the Temple of God, be ashamed to say that the Creator, and the God of the Temple, and of the Law, was not the Father of Christ.

EPIPHANIUS, contra Haer. I 32: Let Ebion note carefully that it was after twelve years, and not after His thirtieth year, that Christ is found to be astonishing in utterances of power. Accordingly, it may not be said that after the Spirit descended upon Him in baptism He became the Christ, that is, was anointed with divinity, but that from His very Childhood He acknowledged both Temple and Father. GEOMETER: This was the first showing of the wisdom and power of the Child Jesus. To speak, here of boyish actions (puerilia) we believe to be the conception of a diabolic mind, and of a perverse intention, and of one striving to calumniate that which is contained in the Gospel, and in Sacred discourses; unless one wishes to take them in the sense in which they are received by many, and as not opposed to anything we believe, yet more in accord with prophetic phrases; for he was beautiful above the sons of men, obedient to His mother, calm and pleasing in countenance, eloquent, graceful, and prudent in speech, learning with alacrity, as one replete with wisdom. And as in other things, though above man, He was also the perfection and model of human behaviour and discourse; gentleness seeming to have in Him its special abode. Besides all this, nothing, no human hand, save His Mother’s, ever touched the crown of His head. From this we may draw a lesson. For while the Lord chides Mary for seeking Him among their kinsfolk, He aptly suggests the giving up of the ties of blood; showing that he does not reach the goal of perfection who is still preoccupied with those things that pertain to the body; and that through attachment to kindred a man falls short of perfection.

And they understood not the word that He spoke to them. BEDE: Because namely, He spoke to them of His divinity. ORIGEN, Homily 20: Or they did not know whether in saying: that I must be about my father’s business, He signifies in the temple, or something higher, and which edified yet more: for each one of us, if he be good, is an abode of God the Father. If God the Father dwell with us, there in the midst of us is Jesus.

And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject . . . GEOMETER: The whole intermediate life of Christ, which lay between His manifestation to the Gentiles and His baptism, being without any famous and public miracle or teaching, is recorded by the Evangelist under one phrase: And He went down.

ORIGEN: Not always does He dwell on the mountain tops: frequently He descends with His Disciples. For they who are afflicted with various miseries are unable to ascend the mountain. And so He now comes down to those that are below.

And was subject to them. GEOMETER: Sometimes instituting a law by word, He then fulfils it in Person, by some accompanying work, as that recorded by John (x. 11): The Good Shepherd lays down his life for his sheep. For He a little later lays down His life for our salvation. Sometimes having given an example of how we should live, afterwards by word of mouth He lays down an obligation, as here. But three things He especially taught us by example: to love God, to honour our parents, but to place God before our parents. When however He was reproved by His parents, He considers other things as of lesser concern than those of God: then in due order He renders obedience to His parents.

BEDE: What does the Teacher of virtue do here but fulfil the duties of virtue? What does He ever do in our midst but that which He wishes that we should do? ORIGEN: Let us therefore who are children learn from Him to be subject to our parents, and if we no longer have our parents, then, be subject to those that are of the age of our parents. Jesus the Son of God is subject to Joseph and Mary. I am subject to the bishop, who is to me as a father. I believe that Joseph knew that Jesus was greater than he, and so with trepidation ruled Him. Let each one remember that oftentimes he that is the subject is the greater: which if he understands he will not swell with pride who is higher in dignity, being aware that his subject is more worthy.

GREGORY NYSSA, in Catena G.P.:Moreover, since children have not yet full discretion, and require to be guided by their elders to a more formed state of mind, so, when He was in His twelfth year He obeyed His parents, that He might show that whatever is accomplished by degrees, before the goal is reached, obedience, as leading to that good, is profitably embraced.

BASIL, Monastic Institutions: Obedient to His parents from His earliest years, He humbly and reverently undertook any corporal labour. For when just and worthy men are poor and in want of what is necessary, as witness the use of a manger at the sacred Childbirth, they will be familiar with the bodily toil of those that must strive for the necessities of life. Jesus being obedient to His parents, as the Scripture testifies, was fully obedient to them likewise in sharing such labours.

AMBROSE, in Luke Bk. 2, 65: Do you wonder He obeyed the Father that was subject to His Mother? This is the submission of filial piety, not of weakness. Though the heretical serpent raises his head to say, that he who is sent stands in need of the help of others. Did He need human help that He might obey His Mother? He obeyed the Handmaid, He obeyed His reputed father; need you wonder if He obeyed God? Or is it a virtue to obey man, but a sign of infirmity to obey God?

BEDE: The Blessed Virgin, either because she understood, or because she could not yet understand, in either case kept all these words in her heart, as though to turn them over in her mind and more closely examine them; hence we have: And His Mother kept . . . GEOMETER: Consider the most prudent woman Mary, Mother of true wisdom, as the pupil of her Son. For she learned from Him, not as from a Child, or man, but as from God. More she dwelt in meditation on His words and actions; therefore nothing of what was said or done by Him fell idly on her mind; but as before, when she conceived the Word Itself in her womb, so now does she hold within her His ways and words, cherishing them as it were in her heart; and that which she now beholds in the present, she waits to have revealed with greater clarity in the future. And this practice she followed as a rule and law through all her life.

And Jesus advanced in wisdom, and age, and grace with God and man.

THEOPHYLACTUS: Nor that as He grew He became more wise, but that He unveiled His Wisdom gradually. He did this in speaking with the Scribes, asking them questions with regard to the Law; to the astonishment of all who heard Him. You see how it was that He advanced in wisdom, in that His wisdom began to be known by many, and they wondered at Him. The progress then of His wisdom consists in the manner of its being shown. Note how the Evangelist interprets what is meant here by advancing in wisdom: for he adds immediately: and age; for the increase in age is, he says, itself the growth of wisdom.

CYRIL, in Thesaurus of the Trinity, Ass. 28: But they (the Eunonian heretics) say: “How can He be equal to the Father in His substance, Who, as though He were imperfect, is said to grow?” But not in that He is the Word is He said to grow; but in that He has become man, and bearing a nature that is capable of growth. As the Word He does not grow. He is perfect as is the Father. That which is said of Him by the Evangelist is because of the manner of human growth. If the Word had grown when it was made man, and bore our flesh, then the Incarnation would have been no gain to us, but rather the flesh would have brought gain to It. For if the Word advanced when It was made flesh, then It was imperfect before the Incarnation and now becomes perfect: (according to the Eunonian heretics).

How then if He is the true wisdom can He be increased in it? How does He Who gives grace to others receive an increase in it Himself? How do we render Him thanks, as made flesh for us, when He ought rather attribute His perfection to the flesh He has received? But this is absurd. He had not therefore, as the Word, advanced in wisdom. This is said only because of the regulation of the growth of the flesh.

Paul elsewhere says of the Son, that He humbled Himself, taking the form of a servant. If then no one is offended by this saying, nor when anyone hears that He humbled himself, do they think lowly of the Word of God, but rather wonder at His condescension. Is it not then absurd to stumble when we read that He advanced in wisdom, and age, and grace? And since it was for us He humbled Himself, so also was it for us He wished to advance, that we in turn, in Him, may advance in wisdom, who before were in the darkness of sin? All our disabilities Christ took upon Himself, for our sakes, that He might bring us to a better state, and that in man He might make a beginning of every good.

A certain natural law forbids that a man be not endowed with more wisdom than the age of the body sustains, but that wisdom grow in us at equal pace with the body’s growth. The Word had become man in flesh, as it is written. He was perfect. He was the Wisdom and Knowledge of the Father. Since however as man He had to endure the manner of growth of His nature (lest He seem strange and diverse from it) so, with His body’s growth, He revealed Himself to those who saw and heard Him as growing in wisdom from day to day.

AMPHILOCHIUS, in Catena G.P.: He advanced therefore in age, His body advancing towards manhood; in wisdom, by means of those who, by Him, were instructed in divine things; in grace, by which we go forward in joy, believing that we shall in the end obtain the things He has promised; and this with God, because having taken flesh He was doing the work His Father gave Him to do; and men, through their conversion from the worship of idols to the knowledge of the Supreme Trinity. THEOPHYLACTUS: The Evangelist says: with God and men, because it behoves us first to please God, and afterwards to please men. GREGORY NYSSA, Homily 3 in Cant.: Diversely does the Word advance in those who receive it. According to each one’s measure does he appear as an infant, an adult, or as perfected.



THE time of this saint’s martyrdom is not mentioned in his acts; some place it under Valerian, others under Diocletian; he seems to have suffered in some city of Mauritania, probably the capital, Caesarea. The fury of the persecutors was at its height. Upon the least suspicion they broke into houses, and if they found a Christian they treated him upon the spot with the greatest cruelty, their impatience not suffering them to wait for his formal indictment. Every day new sacrileges were committed; the faithful were compelled to assist at superstitious sacrifices, to lead victims crowned with flowers through the streets, to burn incense before idols. Arcadius, seeing the terrible conditions prevailing, withdrew to a solitary place in the country, but his flight could not be long a secret; for his non-appearance at the public sacrifices made the governor send soldiers to his house, who, finding one of his relations there, seized him, and the governor ordered him to be kept in custody till Arcadius should be taken.

The martyr, informed of his friend’s danger, went into the city, and presenting himself to the judge, said, “If on my account you detain my innocent kinsman in chains, release him; I, Arcadius, am come in person to give an account of myself, and to declare to you that he knew not where I was.” “I am willing “, answered the judge, “to pardon not only him, but you also, on condition that you will sacrifice to the gods.” Arcadius refused firmly; whereupon the judge said to the executioners, “Take him, and let him desire death without being able to obtain it. Cut off his limbs joint by joint, but do this so slowly that the wretch may know what it is to abandon the gods of his ancestors for an unknown deity”. The executioners dragged Arcadius to the place where many other victims of Christ had already suffered; and he stretched out his neck, expecting to be decapitated; but the executioner bid him hold out his hand, and, joint after joint, chopped off his fingers, arms and shoulders. In the same barbarous manner were cut off his toes, feet, legs and thighs. The martyr held out his limbs one after another with invincible courage, repeating, “Lord, teach me thy wisdom”: for the tormentors had forgotten to cut out his tongue. After so many martyrdoms, his body lay a mere trunk. But Arcadius surveying his scattered limbs all around him, and offering them to God, said, “Happy members, you at last truly belong to God, being all made a sacrifice to Him!” Then to the people he said, “You who have been present at this bloody tragedy, learn that all torments seem as nothing to one who has an everlasting crown before his eyes. Your gods are not gods; renounce their worship. He alone for whom I suffer and die is the true God. To die for Him is to live.” Discoursing in this manner to those about him, he died, the pagans being struck with astonishment at such a miracle of patience. The Christians gathered together his scattered limbs and laid them in one tomb.

 (Butler’s Lives of the Saints)




Planning the Family Activities for Christian Feasts and Seasons

By Mary Reed Newland (1956)




The feast of the Holy Family, kept on the Sunday after Epiphany, has one of our family’s favorite Epistles and Gospels. The Epistle is St. Paul to the Colossians, 3: 12-17, the one that has the putting on of the “cloak of kindness” in it. We make a charade out of this for the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, January 25. This day he sums up all we have learned through this beautiful season in a lesson for our family to help us in our imitation of the Holy Family. And in the Gospel we find the Boy Christ, no longer the Baby, going down with Mary and Joseph from the temple to “be subject to them.”

That is such a great mystery—that God should be subject to them. This is the way of the Holy Family, the way to be a holy family: parents in authority, children subject to them, and in their midst—Christ. In the midst of the family is Love who makes all holy in Him.



January 25

ON JANUARY 25 comes the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, apostle for apostles, missionary for missionaries, and if we are looking for heroes for boys and girls, little or big, there is none better.

St. Paul never even knew Christ in the literal sense of the word. He was born in another part of their world, he was about fifteen years younger, and the closest he came to the body of Christ was his continual hunting down of His followers. In that sense only, up to the time of his conversion, did he trade blows with the living Christ. But there were crossings of their paths long centuries earlier in their family lines.


Far back, long removed grandfathers to Christ and St. Paul were brothers. Juda and Benjamin were two of the brothers of Joseph, the same who was sold into captivity and turned up later in Egypt interpreting the dreams of Pharaoh. After the affairs of Joseph and his brothers were somewhat settled and they married and began to raise families, as the hundreds of years rolled by, the families came to be known as tribes.

The meeting that concerns us here took place when King Saul, of the tribe of Benjamin, sat brooding in his tent one day, rankling over the insults of Goliath. An officer came to announce that a shepherd boy at the front, visiting his brothers, was insisting that he could vanquish Goliath.

“Bring him here.”

So the boy David, of the tribe of Juda, was brought in, and he persuaded the king that he could do it. For families who have not read it there is a delightful surprise waiting for them in David’s conversations with Saul and Goliath (I Kings 17).

First, David was armed with brass helmet, coat of mail, sword, spear, all the rest. Then David said he was sorry but he couldn’t move around in all that armor; so he took it off. (I daresay this episode was quite noisy.) Then he went over to a brook running through the camp and chose five smooth stones to put in his purse. At this point it is supposed by some that Saul and his men exchanged glances and asked one another, “Whose idea was this, anyway?”

David reassured them. Once he was attacked by a lion, and once by a bear who came to steal his sheep, but with the help of the Lord God he slew them both. Should he doubt God’s help now? And he added with the marvelous wisdom of the young and full of faith: “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine who hath dared to curse the army of the living God?”

The rest of the story you know. Goliath thought David was a great joke and it turned out that he wasn’t. One stone and one swing and that was the end of Goliath.

There is a contrast between David and King Saul much like the contrast between Christ and Paul. Saul the warrior calling for conquest by the sword, and David the stripling vanquishing with faith and the power of God, are like Paul the murderer (still called Saul) chasing his enemies down Damascus road and being overcome by Christ, the meek, in whom is all power in Heaven and on earth.


Saul was a Jew and a Pharisee, so proud of both that he wrote of himself: “Hebrew, son of Hebrews . . . Pharisee, son of Pharisees; according to the strictest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee.” And as a Pharisee he was educated well and painstakingly in all the exactness of the law. It was said that ten thousand regulations had been appended to the Law of Moses. The strange thing about the Pharisees, even the best of them, was that for all their religion they had little humility, and it went against their grain to think that the Messias would come in any but the most fashionable manner. So when Jesus of Nazareth arrived and with His followers began to preach a New Law which would be the crown and fulfillment of the Old, it was men like Saul who set out to put a stop to the thing and quickly. The first sight we catch of Saul in the New Testament is in that scene where he stands over Stephen holding the coats of the men who stoned him to death (Acts 7). That done and approved, he sought permission to follow the Christian Jews who had fled to Damascus, and here is the scene of this feast.

It was 180 miles to Damascus, and ordinarily it would take men on horseback about seven days to make it. But Saul was in a passion and he would have none of the ordinary pace; both men and horses drove themselves to the breaking point. High noon that day they were riding wildly when suddenly a light brighter than the sun fell upon them. Their horses screamed in fear, rose in the air, and Saul was dashed, blind, to the ground. Where he had been scanning the distance to Damascus there was blackness, and he heard for the first time the voice of his Enemy.

“Saul, Saul, why dost thou persecute Me?”

Imagine the terrible impact of the fall, horror of sounds, stamping, fright, cries, gritty dirt in his mouth, blood on his tongue, all shattering the driving, driving, driving toward murder. Like a child he must have whimpered when he asked: “Who art thou, Lord?”

“I am Jesus, whom thou art persecuting.”

And there is the doctrine of the Mystical Body again. It cannot be said too often or with too much emphasis that the lesson of this feast is Our Lord teaching this doctrine Himself. Christ had ascended into Heaven. Paul knew that. He was chasing Christians, and Christ said to him: “Why dost thou persecute Me?” We are part of Christ in His Mystical Body, the Church, and when Saul hunted Christians he hunted Christ.

This is his first meeting with the doctrine that as St. Paul he would preach so eloquently, with so much love. He was biting the dirt when the knowledge came to him. Our Lord added: “It is hard for thee to kick against the goad.” It was a tender rebuke, one we might imitate—or try to, when we rebuke our children, and there is a lesson for children in it too.

It would be easier for them to understand it if we said: “It is hard for you to pull against the bit.” Little boys who know about horses know about bits; the more a horse pulls away from the direction his master wants him to go the more cruelly is his mouth cut by the bit. He explained things such simple ways, Our Lord did. And He knew so well about anger. It is evil, and the more we give in to it the uglier and more evil we grow inside, and all the time miserable, until finally we are hating everyone and the world as well, and we go about kicking things and taking our meanness out on people who have done us no wrong.

Surely Saul, who loved the Law, could hardly have forgotten: Thou shalt not kill. But his sense of propriety had been offended to hear the Apostles preach from every street corner that Jesus, the stable-born One, was King of the Jews. He became angrier and angrier until his temper was wild and he risked his soul on an errand steeped in murder.

Now he knew. Blind and helpless, he whispered: “Lord, what wilt thou have me do?”

We must use this feast to teach our children that submission to God’s will is not weakness, but a chance to begin again. In one flash of light, Paul’s life was undone, his works rubble. Not knowing how he was to take one step and follow it by another, now he waited to be told what to do. Paul teaches the little boy who defies authority that it is not worth it to continue to scream and save face. Give in, turn back, be sorry—and there will be forgiveness and love and help. He teaches the adolescent girl who balks parental cautions that there is wisdom in obedience and love beneath the intolerable restrictions.

So many lessons for the whole family to learn from Paul. . . . But back to that day. He was given a mysterious direction. “Arise, and go into the city, and it will be told thee what thou must do.”

So they made their stunned way into Damascus leading by the hand the one who had always been so sure. For three days he waited without food or water, and prayed. (To be continued)


Father Krier will be in Los Angeles January 7 and Pahrump January 9. He will be in Eureka on January 23.


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