Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Fr. G. Peter Irving III

12/30/2012 (3 years ago)

Catholic Online (

The lessons of the Octave of Christmas should teach us not to be surprised when in our own day God and His Christ are mocked and vilified. We should not be caught off guard when we see Christ's Church viciously opposed by wicked politicians who want more than anything to silence the Catholic Church.


By Fr. G. Peter Irving III

Catholic Online (

12/30/2012 (3 years ago)

Published in Year of Faith

Keywords: Fr. G. Peter Irving III, Holy Innocents Long Beach, St. Thomas Becket, Christmas, Obama, HHS mandate, Pope Benedict XVI

LONG BEACH, CA (Catholic Online) - Silent Night, Holy Night. All is calm, all is bright. The light of Christmas pierces the darkness of a sinful world. "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it" (St. John 1:5).

But this does not mean that the darkness will give up without a fight. The evil one is a poor loser. In the Gospel we are told that when one of Satan's infernal cohorts was commanded by the Lord Jesus to leave a boy who was possessed, the demon did so kicking and screaming, as it were, causing the poor youngster to be convulsed and violently thrown about before he was finally set free (St. Mark 9:26).

The devil is indeed a very poor loser.

Holy Mother Church subtly reminds us of this fact with the commemoration of the martyrdom of St. Stephen on December 26. As soon as Christmas day is over, the joy and serenity occasioned by Jesus' birth is shattered with the announcement of the murder of this holy servant of God.

But what must have appeared as a victory for evil proved to be a great defeat. Present at the martyrdom of Stephen was Saul of Tarsus who watched approvingly as the Church's proto-martyr was stoned to death. In relatively short order, however, the future St. Paul would meet Jesus on the road to Damascus and the rest is history.

The feast of John the Evangelist follows the feast of Stephen. John, the youngest of the apostles and the last to die was the only apostle to succumb to old age. All the others were martyred. But this was not for lack of trying on the part of the devil. He inspired evil men to do away with St. John by throwing him into a cauldron of boiling oil. The apostle miraculously escaped unscathed not unlike the three children in the fiery furnace about whom we read in the Old Testament Book of Daniel.

Then comes the Feast of the Holy Innocents. These are the baby boy martyrs of Bethlehem and the surrounding environs whose lives were snuffed out by the order of a wicked politician, Herod the Great. They now reign in glory. We can only tremble at the thought of what very likely was the eternal outcome of the life of a man who served Satan so well.

Today we commemorate yet another martyr in this octave of Christmas, namely, St. Thomas Becket. He was the good friend of King Henry II and loyally served him as chancellor. Then Henry II connivingly appointed him Archbishop of Canterbury with the thought that his longtime friend would aid him in his disputes against the Church.

Upon his consecration as archbishop, however, Thomas underwent a deep conversion. Tennyson rightly put these words on the lips of Becket: "I served King Henry well as Chancellor: I am his no more, and I must serve the Church." He was eventually murdered in Canterbury Cathedral on this day in 1170 on orders from the King because Becket would not cede the rights of the Church to the unjust demands of the monarch.

Today's Gospel recounts for us the Presentation of the Child Jesus in the temple. The old man Simeon, responding to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, goes to the temple and there joyfully encounters the child and His parents. He takes the Infant Jesus into His arms and offers a prayer of praise and thanksgiving. He can finally leave this world in peace. He has seen the promised Messiah.

Then suddenly the shadow of the cross is cast over the brightness and glory of this divine encounter. Simeon turns to Our Lady and speaks these solemn words:

"Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted and you yourself a sword will pierce ."

In his new book, Jesus of Nazareth: the Infancy Narratives, Pope Benedict XVI, in commenting on the Gospel of today's Mass, writes: "The theology of glory is inseparably linked with the theology of the Cross" (p. 85).

He is destined for the fall and rise of many.
Sooner or later everyone will have to make a decision about this Jesus. Ultimately, everyone will have to give an answer to the question, "Who do you say that I am?" At one point or another everyone will have to make a choice to accept Him or reject Him, to love Him or hate Him.

He is a sign that will be contradicted. Jesus will be opposed. So it was then. So it is now. "We are not talking about the past here," writes Pope Benedict. "God, with his truth, stands in opposition to man's manifold lies, his self-seeking and his pride" (p. 86).

The lessons of the Octave of Christmas should teach us not to be surprised when in our own day God and His Christ are mocked and vilified. We should not be caught off guard when we see Christ's Church viciously opposed by wicked politicians who want more than anything to silence the Catholic Church.

Henry II gave orders to eliminate St. Thomas Becket because he stood in opposition to the King's "manifold lies, his self-seeking and his pride." In a hauntingly similar way, the Obama administration is bent on relegating the Church (and other people of faith) to the margins of society in order to muzzle the Church's voice, the voice of God in the world.

They will do this, not with daggers, but with diktats (e.g., the HHS mandate) and with unjust laws (e.g., Obama Care). This, in fact, they must do if they are going to succeed in advancing their self-serving agenda which views human beings, born and unborn, young and old, rich and poor, as expendable commodities.

In this Christmas season, in this time of great hope and joy, let us allow ourselves to be bolstered by the example of the Martyrs and Saints whose feast days we celebrate. Let us beg God for the grace to stand boldly with Christ and His Church against those who would harm Her and against those who prey upon the most defenseless and vulnerable in our midst. Let us turn in a special way to the Saint of the day, Thomas Becket, and savor the words of the Collect of today's Mass:

O God, who gave the Martyr Saint Thomas Becket the courage to give up his life for the sake of justice, grant, through his intercession, that, renouncing our life for the sake of Christ in this world, we may find it in heaven.

And may the Immaculate Virgin Mary, the patroness of this great nation and the Queen of Martyrs, intercede for us.

Fr. G. Peter Irving III is a priest of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and is pastor of Holy Innocents Catholic Church, Long Beach, California.


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'

Copyright 2016 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for May 2016
Respect for Women: That in every country of the world, women may be honored and respected and that their essential contribution to society may be highly esteemed.
Evangelization: Holy Rosary: That families, communities, and groups may pray the Holy Rosary for evangelization and peace.


More Year of Faith

Regret of Judas or Repentance of Peter?

Image of

By Fr Samuel Medley, SOLT

I gave my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard; My face I did not shield from buffets and spitting. HYTHE, KENT, UK (Catholic Online) - I didn't steal any cookies mommy! says a little boy whose mother asked him if he was hungry, wiping the ... continue reading

Pentecost: St Cyril of Jerusalem on The Living Water of the Holy Spirit Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online

The Spirit makes one man a teacher of divine truth, inspires another to prophesy, gives another the power of casting out devils, enables another to interpret holy Scripture. The Spirit strengthens one man's self-control, shows another how to help the poor, teaches ... continue reading

The Wedding Invitation of Jesus: We are Called to Live the Nuptial Mystery Watch

Image of There will be no giving or taking in marriage in the kingdom to come because the very purpose and meaning of marriage itself will be fulfilled. (See, e.g. Mk. 12:18-27) We will be living in the fullness of the Communion of Love with the Trinity. The symbol will give way to the eternal reality, the Sacrament will be fulfilled in the fullness of communion. All of human love will be completed in the Love which lasts forever.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

It is not accidental that the Bible, from beginning to the end, uses marriage as a metaphor and a symbol to reveal the plan of God for the whole human race.  Marriage was God's plan from the beginning as we see in the first book of Genesis. Throughout the Old ... continue reading

The Sower. The Seed. The Field. Understanding the Christian Mission Watch

Image of

By Deacon Keith Fournier

"A sower went out to sow. And, as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky ground, where it had little soil. It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep, and when the sun rose it was scorched, and it withered for ... continue reading

Reflection on the Catholic Catechism: Understanding the Bible Watch

Image of

By Michael Terheyden

How we interpret the Bible is of immense importance! It directly affects what we believe about Christ, the Church, and our faith, but it is also related to many of the grave problems in our society and the world. Yet, despite the gravity of this situation, we have good ... continue reading

Christ the King, the Year of Faith and the Catholic Counterculture Watch

Image of On this Solemnity of the Feast of Christ the King, the Year of Faith inaugurated by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI comes to a ceremonial end. However, in reality, it cannot and will not end, because Jesus Christ is King! The Year of Faith was only the beginning for those who choose to live the Life of Faith.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

We celebrate the Feast of Christ the King. It is one of many opportunities the Catholic Church year offers to each one of us to consider the creature called time, receive it as a gift, and begin to really live our lives differently.  This is one of ... continue reading

The Bones of Peter, the Successor of Peter: Close of the Year of Faith Watch

Image of The bones of St. Peter the Apostle

By Deacon Keith Fournier

On the Solemnity of the Feast of Christ the King, the Sunday which marks both the end of the Church Year and the end of the Year of Faith, inaugurated by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, Pope Francis greeted thousands of the faithful and presided over Holy Mass and the ... continue reading

Fr Randy Sly on Becoming a House of Prayer Watch

Image of Jesus drives the money changers from the temple. 

With hearts clear and focused on our Lord, we can follow the advice of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Everything starts with prayer. Love to pray--feel the need to pray often during the day and take the trouble to pray. If you want to pray better, you must pray more. The more you pray, the easier it becomes. Perfect prayer does not consist of many words but in the fervor of the desire which raises the heart to Jesus. (Fr. Randy Sly)

By Father Randy Sly

Becoming a House of Prayer is the best discipline we can take on. St. Ephraem of Syria states that Virtues are formed by prayer. Prayer preserves temperance. Prayer suppresses anger. Prayer prevents emotions of pride and envy. Prayer draws into the soul the Holy ... continue reading

Jesus Weeps and Offers the Path to Peace Watch

Image of

By Deacon Keith Fournier

If this day you only knew what makes for peace- but now it is hidden from your eyes. For the days are coming upon you when your enemies will raise a palisade against you; they will encircle you and hem you in on all sides. They will smash you to the ground and your ... continue reading

The Kingdom of God is Among You. What Did Jesus Mean? Watch

Image of The Christian vocation is, of its nature, a vocation to the apostolate as well. Indeed, we call an apostolate every activity of the Mystical Body that aims to spread the Kingdom of Christ over all the earth. (CCC#863)

By Deacon Keith Fournier

In Jesus Christ, the Kingdom has been inaugurated. Upon his return it will be made complete and fully manifested in a new heaven and a new earth. We are members of the Body of Christ which makes it present here and now - as seed and sign for a world which is in labor. ... continue reading

All Year of Faith News


Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

the FEED
by Catholic Online

  • Prayer to Saint Valentine HD Video
  • Miracle for baby born without half his skull
  • REVEALED: China has an army of paid trolls, guess who else has one?
  • Daily Readings for Thursday, May 26, 2016
  • St. Philip Neri: Saint of the Day for Thursday, May 26, 2016
  • New study reveals Catholics hold highest retention rate - but no one ...
  • A Prayer Before Surgery HD Video

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Genesis 14:18-20
18 Melchizedek king of Salem brought bread and wine; he was a priest of ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 110:1, 2, 3, 4
1 [Of David Psalm] Yahweh declared to my Lord, 'Take your seat at my ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 9:11-17
11 But the crowds got to know and they went after him. He made them ... Read More

Reading 2, First Corinthians 11:23-26
23 For the tradition I received from the Lord and also handed on to you ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for May 26th, 2016 Image

St. Philip Neri
May 26: If one had to choose one saint who showed the ... Read More