The First Martyrs of the Holy Roman Church
Nero’s Torches (Christian Candlesticks), by Henryk Siemiradzki, 1876
O God, who consecrated
the abundant first fruits of the Roman Church
by the blood of the Martyrs,
grant, we pray, that with firm courage
we may together draw strength from so great a struggle
and ever rejoice at the triumph of faithful love.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
From the Mass Readings for the Feast of the First Martyrs of the Holy Roman Church, Liturgy of the Hours. ‘Collect’ from the Common of Martyrs: For Several Martyrs
The Birth of St. John the Baptist, by Rogier van der Weyden, 1455-1460
Now Elisabeth’s full time came that she should be delivered; and she brought forth a son. And her neighbours and her cousins heard how the Lord had shewed great mercy upon her; and they rejoiced with her. And it came to pass, that on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; and they called him Zacharias, after the name of his father. And his mother answered and said, Not so; but he shall be called John. And they said unto her, There is none of thy kindred that is called by this name. And they made signs to his father, how he would have him called. And he asked for a writing table, and wrote, saying, His name is John. And they marvelled all. And his mouth was opened immediately, and his tongue loosed, and he spake, and praised God. And fear came on all that dwelt round about them: and all these sayings were noised abroad throughout all the hill country of Judaea.
And all they that heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, What manner of child shall this be! And the hand of the Lord was with him. And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied, saying, Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people, And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David; As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began: That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us; To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant; The oath which he sware to our father Abraham, That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear, In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life. And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways; To give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins, Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us, To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace. And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his shewing unto Israel.
A Day in June in the Woods Near Lellinge, by Carl Frederic Aagaard, 1878
Prayer for Fathers
By Pope John XXIII
Saint Joseph, guardian of Jesus
and chaste husband of Mary,
you passed your life in loving fulfillment of duty.
You supported the holy family of Nazareth
with the work of your hands.
Kindly protect those who trustingly come to you.
You know their aspirations,
their hardships, their hopes.
They look to you because they know
you will understand and protect them.
You too knew trial,
labour and weariness.
But amid the worries of material life,
your soul was full of deep peace
and sang out in true joy
through intimacy with God’s Son entrusted to you
and with Mary, his tender Mother.
Assure those you protect that they do not labour alone.
Teach them to find Jesus near them
and to watch over Him faithfully as you have done.
Pray the Chaplet of Saint Joseph