December 7. One of Ambrose’s historical claims to fame is that he was instrumental in the conversion of Saint Augustine, and also baptized him. Known for his lively preaching and writing, Saint Ambrose must have been a force to be reckoned with. Maybe those qualities were what attracted Saint Augustine. But Saint Ambrose stands on his own merits--independent of his protégé.
December 8. Under the title of the Immaculate Conception, the Blessed Virgin is the patron of the United States. Thus this is a major feast--in fact a Holy Day of Obligation--for the Church in the United States of America.
December 9. The fact that Our Lady appeared to a simple peasant has been viewed as a sure sign of Mary’s care for the “little people” of society. Saint Juan Diego played a major role in the recognition of the apparitions of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Without his courageous witness few people would have known of her love for the indigenous peoples of Mexico—and elsewhere.
December 10. Concerned about the faith of young single men caught up in the industrial revolution in Germany, Blessed Adolph Kolping bucked social pressure by ministering to them. Today, the Kolping Society upholds the dignity of workers throughout the world.
December 11. Saint Damasus was highly praised by his secretary, Saint Jerome. This adulation must have been much appreciated, as Saint Damasus faced the trials of the papacy in his day. A fearless leader, Saint Damasus did not always achieve victory in this life.
December 12. The Blessed Virgin’s appearance at Tepeyac to Saint Juan Diego in 1531, was the beginning of a beautiful story of God’s and Mary’s love and care for the peoples of Mexico. As Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Blessed Virgin was named patroness of all of the Americas in 2003.
December 13. Little is known about Saint Lucy except that she had taken a vow of virginity, and that she was martyred in 304. Yet devotion to her sprung up in the early Church, and she is mentioned among the martyrs in the First Eucharistic Prayer.
December 14. Saint John of the Cross was a 16th century reformer of the Carmelite way of life. Together with Saint Teresa of Avila, he lived the primitive Rule of their Order, and paid a dear price for his commitment to reform and authentic living. Saint John of the Cross died in 1591.
February 29. Saint Oswald knew people in high places─his uncle was the archbishop of Canterbury. But even though he received “favors” from his uncle, he humbly served and gained holiness.