Saint John the Baptist
Feastday June 24
( feast of the Beheading - August 31 )
"The Lord hath called me from the womb, from the bowels of my mother he hath been mindful of my name.
And he hath made my mouth like a sharp sword: in the shadow of his hand he hath protected me, and hath made me as a chosen arrow: in his quiver he hath hidden me. And he said to me: Thou art my servant Israel, for in thee will I glory. And I said: I have laboured in vain, I have spent my strength without cause and in vain: therefore my judgment is with the Lord, and my work with my God. And now saith the Lord, that formed me from the womb to be his servant, that I may bring back Jacob unto him, and Israel will not be gathered together: and I am glorified in the eyes of the Lord, and my God is made my strength."
Isaias 49: 1-5
A voice of one crying in the wilderness:
Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight His paths.
The commemoration of the Nativity of the Percursor of Christ is one of the most ancient festivals of the Church. Its date, six months before Christmas, is universally accepted by all Churches.
From the Gospel of Luke....
There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judea, a certain priest named Zachary,
of the course of Abia; and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron,
and her name Elizabeth.
And they had no son, for that Elizabeth was barren,
and they both were well advanced in years.
According to the custom of the priestly office, it was Zachary's lot to offer incense,
going into the temple of the Lord.
"And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord.
And Zachary seeing him, was troubled, and fear fell upon him.
But the angel said to him:
Fear not, Zachary, for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elizabeth
shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John.
He shall be great before the Lord and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost,
even from his mother's womb.
And he shall convert many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God.
And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias;
that he may turn the hearts of the fathers unto the children,
and the incredulous to the wisdom of the just,
to prepare unto the Lord a perfect people."
And Mary rising up in those days, went into the hill country with haste into a city of Juda.
And she entered into the house of Zachary, and saluted Elizabeth.
And it came to pass, that when Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary,
the infant leaped in her womb.
And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost:
And she cried out with a loud voice, and said:
Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.
And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
For behold as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in my ears,
the infant in my womb leaped for joy.
And blessed art thou that hast believed, because those things
shall be accomplished that were spoken to thee by the Lord.
Elizabeth's time was fulfilled that she should be delivered, and she brought forth a son. And her neighbors and kinsfolk heard that the Lord had magnified His mercy toward her, and they rejoiced with her. And it came to pass on the eighth day, that they came to circumcize the child, and they were going to call him by his father's name, Zachary.
And his mother answered and said,
"Not so, but he shall be called John."
JOHN THE BAPTIST ( 1st century ).
Son of Zachary, a priest of the Temple in Jerusalem, and Elizabeth,
a kinswoman of Mary who visited her,
he was probably born at Ain-Karim southwest of Jerusalem
after the angel Gabriel had told Zachary that his wife
would bear a child even though she was an old woman.
He lived as a hermit in the desert of Judea until about A.D.27, when he was thirty, he began to preach on the banks of the Jordan against the evils of the times and called men to penance and baptism "for the kingdom of heaven is close at hand."
John attracted large crowds on his travels
and they asked him, and said to him:
Why then dost thou baptize, if thou be not Christ, nor Elias, nor the prophet?
John answered them, saying:
I baptize with water; but there hath stood one in the midst of you,
whom you know not.
The same is he that shall come after me,
who is preferred before me:
the latchet of whose shoe I am not worthy to loose.
Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to the Jordan, unto John, to be baptized by him.
But John stayed him, saying: I ought to be baptized by thee, and comest thou to me? And Jesus answering, said to him: Suffer it to be so now.
For so it becometh us to fulfill all justice. Then he suffered him.
And Jesus being baptized, forthwith came out of the water:
and lo, the heavens were opened to him: and he saw the Spirit of God
descending as a dove, and coming upon him.
And behold a voice from heaven, saying:
This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
When Christ left to preach in Galilee, John continued preaching in the Jordan Valley.
Fearful of his great power with the people, Herod Antipas, tetrarch of Perea and Galilee, had him arrested and imprisoned at Machaerus Fortress on the Dead Sea when John denounced his adulterous and incestuous marriage with Herodias, wife of his half brother Philip.
John was beheaded at the request of Salome, daughter of Herodias,
who asked for his head at the instigation of her mother.
John inspired many of his followers to follow Christ when he designated him
"the Lamb of God,"
among them Andrew and John, who came to know Christ
through John's preaching.
John saw Jesus coming to him, and he saith:
Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who taketh away the sin of the world.
This is he, of whom I said: After me there cometh a man,
who is preferred before me: because he was before me.
And I knew him not, but that he may be made manifest in Israel,
therefore am I come baptizing with water.
And John gave testimony, saying:
I saw the Spirit coming down, as a dove from heaven,
and he remained upon him.
And I knew him not; but he who sent me to baptize with water, said to me:
He upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining upon him,
he it is that baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.
And I saw, and I gave testimony, that this is the Son of God.
-John 1: 29
John is presented in the New Testament
as the last of the Old Testament prophets and the precursor of the Messiah.
LITANY OF SAINT JOHN THE BAPTIST
Lord, have mercy on us, Christ, have mercy on us.
Christ, hear us. Christ, graciously hear us.
God the Father of Heaven, Have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, Have mercy on us.
God, the Holy Ghost, Have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, One God, Have mercy on us.
Holy Mary, Pray for us.
Queen of Prophets, Pray for us.
Queen of Martyrs, Pray for us.
St. John the Baptist, Pray for us ** repeat after each
St. John the Baptist, precursor of Christ
St. John the Baptist, glorious forerunner of the Sun of Justice
St. John the Baptist, minister of Baptism to Jesus
St. John the Baptist, burning and shining lamp of the world
St. John the Baptist, angel of purity before thy birth
St. John the Baptist, special friend and favorite of Christ
St. John the Baptist, heavenly contemplative, whose element was prayer
St. John the Baptist, intrepid preacher of truth
St. John the Baptist, voice crying in the wilderness
St. John the Baptist, miracle of mortification and penance
St. John the Baptist, example of profound humility
St. John the Baptist, glorious martyr of zeal for Gods holy law
St. John the Baptist, gloriously fulfilling thy mission, Pray for us.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, Spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, Graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world, Have mercy on us.
Christ, hear us. Christ, graciously hear us.
V. Pray for us, O glorious St. John the Baptist,
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Let Us Pray: O God, Who hast honored this world by the birth of Saint John the Baptist,
grant that Thy faithful people may rejoice in the way of eternal salvation, through Jesus Christ Our Lord.
PRAYER TO SAINT JOHN THE BAPTIST
O God, You raised up St. John the Baptist to prepare a perfect people for Christ. Fill Your people with the joy of possessing His grace, and direct the minds of all the faithful in the way of peace and salvation.
Grant that as St. John was martyred for truth and justice, so we may energetically profess our Faith in You, and lead others to the Way, the Truth, and Eternal Life.
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A Personal Story...
There Are No Coincidences in Heaven
by Mary Meier
My beautiful daughter Jennifer is the mother of four children,
one of whom now resides with the angels,
and one who was brought into the world with a special message of love
from Saint John the Baptist.
In May, 2009, just as she learned that her husband, a US Air Force Staff Sergeant
was being deployed to South Korea, she discovered she was expecting a baby.
As the parents of a pre-school boy and a toddler girl,
together the family faced the prospect of daddy being away for a year,
and mommy being alone when the baby was born.
But they rejoiced nontheless. To add to their celebration came the news
that a sister of her husband Tomas was also expecting another baby.
Sadly to tell, both of these young mothers soon lost their babies by miscarriage.
Oh how my daughter grieved the loss of her child!
She named him Raphael, and I was able to attend when she gave him a Catholic burial.
We talked many times about the child not having been formally baptized,
and could she be sure that his little soul had entered the glories of Heaven.
Or did he dwell where Christ refers by various names and figures, to the place
or state which Catholic tradition calls Limbo, where all wait on the patience of God.
This only compounded her grief. There was little to do for her except to pray
and ask that God console her...in a way that only God can.
Time passed, but I don't know that wounds healed.
Jen was able to visit her husband in Korea later that year,
and before his return to the States, hope and joy abounded
when she learned she was expecting another baby.
But worries lingered for my daughter, having lost her last child
and praying she would carry this child to term.
It was soon discovered that her husband Tomas's sister,
who had named her lost litle baby "Jonathan"
was going to have another baby also.
Sometime during my daughter's pregnancy, I recommended she watch
an inspiring movie I'd just seen about the life of Saint Gianna Molla.
St. Gianna is one of the Church's great contemporary saints.
A doctor herself, she sacrificed her life for her unborn daughter,
dying instead of having an abortion.
Towards the end of the second month of pregnancy with her fourth child,
Gianna had to make a heroic decision. Physicians diagnosed a serious condition
that required surgery. The surgeon suggested that Gianna undergo an abortion
in order to save her own life. A few days before the child was due,
she was ready to give her life in order to save that of her child:
"If you must decide between me and the child, do not hesitate.
Choose the child - I insist on it. Save the baby."
Despite all efforts and treatments to save both of them on that fateful day,
amid unspeakable pain and after repeated exclamations
of "Jesus, I love you. Jesus, I love you," Gianna died.
But her child, named Gianna Emanuela lived!
So inspired by the life of this "pro-life" Saint, and having learned the baby was a boy,
Jen and Tomas, excitedly awaited his birth, and chose the name "Gian" for their child.
Gian is a form of the name John in a number of languages, and is in keeping
with Tomas's Panamanian heritage.
A few months later...
My daughter Jen
Jen gave birth to a robust and healthy little boy, my darling grandchild Gian Luis,
on June 24th, in answer to prayer, the feast of St John the Baptist.
Tomas's sister gave birth to a little boy on June 29th.
She named him Raphael.
Surely this was the heavenly consolation from God.
And as St John, the Baptizer, would say...
"I Baptize thee in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."
...There are no coincidences in Heaven.
Gian Luis is Baptized