Good King Wenceslaus looked out, on the Feast of Stephen,
When the snow lay round about, deep and crisp and even;
Brightly shone the moon that night, tho’ the frost was cruel,
When a poor man came in sight, gath’ring winter fuel.
“Hither, page, and stand by me, if thou know’st it, telling,
Yonder peasant, who is he? Where and what his dwelling?”
“Sire, he lives a good league hence, underneath the mountain;
Right against the forest fence, by Saint Agnes’ fountain.”
“Bring me flesh, and bring me wine, bring me pine logs hither:
Thou and I will see him dine, when we bear them thither.”
Page and monarch, forth they went, forth they went together;
Through the rude wind’s wild lament and the bitter weather.
“Sire, the night is darker now, and the wind blow stronger;
Fails my heart, I know not how; I can go no longer.”
“Mark my footsteps, my good page. Tread thou in them boldly
Thou shalt find the winter’s rage freeze thy blood less coldly.”
In his master’s steps he trod, where the snow lay dinted;
Heat was in the very sod which the saint had printed.
Therefore, Christian men, be sure, wealth or rank possessing,
Ye who now will bless the poor, shall yourselves find blessing.
Saint Wenceslaus (907-929), inspiration of the famed Christmas carol, Duke, King, and Martyr of the Church. Saint Wenceslaus, remembered for his Christian charity and fair ruling of Bohemia, is the Patron Saint of that region of the world.
Wenceslaus, Duke of Bohemia (modern day Czechoslovakia), was born of a Christian father, Wratislaus, and a pagan mother, Drahomira. After his father’s death, Wenceslaus was raised in piety by his grandmother, Saint Ludmilla. Under her care, he was adorned with every virtue and with the utmost care preserved his virginity unspotted throughout his life. As his mother was violently against the Christian faith, Saint Wenceslaus studied and prayed at night, secretly receiving the Sacraments. He would, throughout his life, embark on Christian missions of charity and good works throughout the dark hours of the evening—a habit learned and practiced during his devout childhood.
In honor of the Archangel Saint Michael, let us drink this cup, and let us beseech him to lead our souls into the peace of eternal happiness.”
Saints Cosmas and Damian (as their feast day had been earlier that week), preparing for a death he was sure was swiftly coming. As predicted, his brother, along with some supporters, murdered him while he prayed. His blood is still visible today on the walls of the church. Virtually from the moment of his death, Wenceslaus was considered a martyr and venerated as a saint. Miracles were reported at his tomb, and his remains were translated to the church of Saint Vitus in Prague which became a major pilgrimage site.
At the death of Vratislaus, the people of Bohemia made his son Wenceslaus their king. He was by God’s grace a man of utmost faith. He was charitable to the poor, and he would clothe the naked, feed the hungry, and offer hospitality to travelers according to the summons of the Gospel. He would not allow widows to be treated unjustly; he loved all his people, both rich and poor; he also provided for the servants of God, and he adorned many churches. The men of Bohemia, however, became arrogant and prevailed upon Boleslaus, his younger brother. They told him, “Your brother Wenceslaus is conspiring with his mother and his men to kill you.” On the feasts of the dedication of the churches in various cities, Wenceslaus was in the habit of paying them a visit. One Sunday he entered the city of Boleslaus, on the feast of Saints Cosmas and Damian, and after hearing Mass, he planned to return to Prague. But Boleslaus, with his wicked plan in mind, detained him with the words, “Why are you leaving brother?” The next morning when they rang the bell for matins, Wenceslaus, on hearing the sound, said, “Praise to you, Lord; you have allowed me to live to this morning.” And so he rose and went to matins. Immediately Boleslaus followed him to the church door. Wenceslaus looked back at him and said, “Brother, you were a good subject to me yesterday.” But the devil had already blocked the ears of Boleslaus, and perverted his heart. Drawing his sword, Boleslaus replied, “And now I intend to be a better one!” With these words, he struck his brother’s head with his sword. But Wenceslaus turned and said, “Brother, what are you trying to do?” And with that he seized Boleslaus and threw him to the ground. But one of Boleslaus’ counselors ran up and stabbed Wenceslaus in the hand. With his hand wounded, he let go of his brother and took refuge in the church. But two evil men struck him down at the church door; and then another rushed up and ran him through with a sword. Thereupon, Wenceslaus died with the words, “Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.”
You taught your martyr Wenceslaus
to prefer the kingdom of heaven
to all that the earth has to offer.
May his prayers free us from our self-seeking
and help us to serve You with all our hearts.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Day 271 of 365
Prayer Intentions: Righteousness; Justice; Charity to those in need.
Requested Intentions: Successful outcome of court case and employment (L); For guidance and righteous love (K); Restoration of a relationship (H); For successful employment (I); For a daughter’s successful relationship (M); For a relationship sanctified by God (M); For health of father; For canonization of Pope John Paul II (A); For the conversion of a family (L); For the ill (A); For the health of a family (I); For a father’s successful surgery and recovery (G); For those who are ill, and their caretakers (D); For the safety of a sister who is traveling (A); Recovery of mother with cancer (R); Successful acquisition of a visa (T); Restoration of a marriage (A); For employment and health of mother (G); Successful employment (M); Restoration of a family, End to brother's addiction, Successful marriage (R); Employment (I); Successful recovery of a mother; for all stroke victims (D); Successful return to the faith (A); Emotional, physical, and financial healing (D); Diagnosis and recovery (A); For a successful relationship (J); Those suffering from depression (J); Successful adoption (S); Healing of a father battling cancer (S).
Why pray the Rosary every day for a year?
Each time the Blessed Virgin has appeared-- whether it be to Saint Bernadette Soubirous at Lourdes; to Lucia, Jacinta, and Francisco at Fatima; or to Mariette Beco at Banneux-- she has asserted the importance, saving grace, and power of praying the Holy Rosary on a daily basis. Based upon her words, the Rosary is penance and conversion for sinners, a pathway to peace, an end to war, and a powerful act of faith in Jesus Christ. Pope Paul VI presented the Rosary as a powerful means to reach Christ "not merely with Mary but indeed, insofar as this is possible to us, in the same way as Mary, who is certainly the one who thought about Him more than anyone else has ever done."
To show us how this is done, perhaps no one has been more eloquent than the great Cardinal Newman, who wrote: "The great power of the Rosary consists in the fact that it translates the Creed into Prayer. Of course, the Creed is already in a certain sense a prayer and a great act of homage towards God, but the Rosary brings us to meditate again on the great truth of His life and death, and brings this truth close to our hearts. Even Christians, although they know God, usually fear rather than love Him. The strength of the Rosary lies in the particular manner in which it considers these mysteries, since all our thinking about Christ is intertwined with the thought of His Mother, in the relations between Mother and Son; the Holy Family is presented to us, the home in which God lived His infinite love."
As Mary said at Fatima, "Jesus wants to use you to make Me known and loved. He wishes to establish the devotion to My Immaculate Heart throughout the world. I promise salvation to whoever embraces it; these souls will be dear to God, like flowers put by Me to adorn his throne."