Ordinary Time: November 26th
Thursday of the Thirty-Fourth Week of Ordinary Time; Thanksgiving Day
Old Calendar: St. Sylvester, abbot; St. Peter of Alexandria, bishop and martyr; St. John Berchmans, priest (Hist); St. Leonard of Port Maurice, priest (Hist)
According to the 1962 Missal of St. John XXIII the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, today is the feast of St. Sylvester. He was the son of a lawyer and had also studied law before becoming a canon in his native town of Osimo. He was a zealous and fervent priest. His determination to retire into solitude was caused by the sight of the decomposing corpse of a friend. He at first lived as a hermit at Grotta Fucile, and then on Monte Fano where followers came to join him. He gave them the habit and Rule of St. Benedict together with certain other customs which reflect his own aspirations and the devotional tendencies of his day. He died in 1267 at the age of ninety.It is also the commemoration of St. Peter, Bishop of Alexandria, who was beheaded on November 25, 311, during Maximinus Daia's persecution. He was a great bishop, famous for wisdom and holiness; "a model of charity and zeal, severe towards himself, merciful to sinners, a divine model of the Christian teacher," says Eusebius.Historically today the feasts of St. John Berchmans, priest and St. Leonard of Port Maurice, priest are celebrated.
Many people assume that the United States has celebrated Thanksgiving Day since the time of the pilgrims as a sign of thanksgiving for the harvest season. This is not exactly true. President Abraham Lincoln instituted the holiday in 1863 during the Civil War. However, he did not have the harvest in mind. He wanted Americans to celebrate the holiday as a sign of unity and thanksgiving to God.
I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens” (President Abraham Lincoln, Proclamation, October 3, 1863).
There is no American holiday that so closely resembles the symbolism and meaning of the sacrament of the Eucharist. We celebrate Thanksgiving as a sign of American unity and thanksgiving to God who has given us great gifts.Excerpted from The Religion TeacherFor more information please see Thanksgiving Day.
Abbot Sylvester founded the Sylvestrine Order, a reform congregation of the Order of St. Benedict, in 1231. Upon seeing the corpse of an aristocrat relative, who had been very handsome, in the coffin, he cried out, "I am what this man was, I will be what this man is!" After the funeral services the words of our Lord kept ringing in his ears, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me" (Matt. 16:24). He betook himself to a hermitage, led a life of perfection, and died at the age of ninety in 1267.
- By meditating at an open coffin St. Sylvester saw the vanity of this world and began a life of solitude. The thought of death is very appropriate at the end of the liturgical year. Glance back over the year and see how vain the world appears with its TV standard of living.
- Read Pope John Paul II's Address to the Sylvestrine Benedictines and learn more about their order.
St. Peter of Alexandria
St. Peter, bishop of Alexandria, was beheaded on November 25, 311, during Maximinus Daia's persecution. He was a great bishop, famous for wisdom and holiness; "a model of charity and zeal, severe towards himself, merciful to sinners, a divine model of the Christian teacher," says Eusebius.
- Read this account of the life of St. Peter taken from the St. Pachomius Orthodox Library.
St. John Berchmans
This young saint of the Society of Jesus was born in Flanders, the oldest of five children. He grew up in an atmosphere of political turmoil caused by a religious war between the Catholic and Protestant sections of the Netherlands. He studied at the Gymnasium at Diest and worked as a servant in the household of Canon John Froymont at Malines in order to continue his studies.
In 1615, the Jesuits opened a college at Malines, and St. John Berchmans was one of the first to enter. He was an energetic student and was a leader among the students. In 1616, he entered the Jesuit novitiate at Malines and came under the influence of Father Antoine Sucquet. The young Berchmans developed a strong and deep spirituality based on the loving practice of fidelity. St. Aloysius of Gonzaga was his spiritual model, and he was influenced as well by the example of the Jesuit English martyrs.
- Like St. Therese of Lisieux, St. John Berchmans was not noted for anything extraordinary. He made kindness and courtesy as well as constant fidelity an important part of his holiness. The path to holiness lies in the ordinary rather than the extraordinary. That is a lesson that some learn only late in life. Read more about St. John Berchmans' life and spirituality.
- Read more about St. John Berchmans here, read about his miracles.
- Here are some prayers to St. John Berchmans
St. Leonard of Port Maurice
Leonard, called "the great missionary of the 18th century" by Saint Alphonsus Liguori, was another Franciscan who tried to go to the foreign missions (China), failed at that and succeeded tremendously in some other work.
- Read The Little Number of Those Who Are Saved by St. Leonard of Port Maurice.