The world had subsisted about four thousand years when Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, having taken human flesh in the womb of the Virgin Mary, and being made man, was born of her, for the redemption of mankind, at Bethlehem of Judea. Joseph and Mary had come up to Bethlehem to be enrolled, and, unable to find shelter elsewhere, they took refuge in a stable, and in this lowly place Jesus Christ was born. The Blessed Virgin wrapped the divine Infant in swaddling-clothes, and laid Him in the manger. While the sensual and the proud were asleep, an angel appeared to some poor shepherds. They were seized with great fear, but the heavenly messenger said to them: “Fear not: for behold I bring you good tidings of exceeding great joy, that shall be to all the people. For this day is born to you a Saviour, Who is Christ the Lord, in the city of David. And this shall be a sign to you: you shall find the Child wrapped in swaddling-clothes, and laid in a manger.” After the departure of the angel the wondering shepherds said to one another: “Let us go over to Bethlehem, and let us see the word that is come to pass, which the Lord hath shown to us.” They immediately hastened thither, and found Mary and Joseph, and the Infant lying in the manger. Bowing down they adored Him, and then returned to their flocks, glorifying and praising God.
Reflection.—Our Saviour sanctified our flesh by taking it on Himself, and with His last breath He commended us to the care of His Virgin Mother. Day by day He still feeds us at the altar with the food of incorruption—His body and His blood.
Source: Butlers Lives of the Saints
We fast on this day before the celebration of the birth of the promised Messiah. The season of Advent, which a season of preparation and anticipation, is at an end. Let us make ready for the coming of the Lord.
This martyr was a holy priest at Spoleto, who employed his time night and day in fasting and prayer, and in teaching others the holy law of God. It happened that Flaccus, a general of the forces, arrived at that city with a special order from the emperor Maximian to punish all the Christians. An information was laid before him, that Gregory seduced many, and contemned the gods and the emperors. Soldiers were immediately dispatched to bring him bound before his tribunal. When he appeared, Flaccus, with a stern countenance, said, Are you Gregory of Spoleto?”The martyr answered, “I am.” Flaccus again said, “Are you the enemy of the gods, and the contemner of the princes?” St. Gregory replied, “From my infancy I have always served the God who framed me out of the earth.” Flaccus asked, “Who is your God?” “He,” replied the martyr, “who made man to his own image and likeness, who is all-powerful and immortal, and who will render to all men according to their works.” Flaccus said, “Do not use many words, but do what I command you.” The martyr replied, “I know not what your command implies, but I do what I am bound to do.” Flaccus urged, “If you desire to save yourself, go to the wonderful temple, and sacrifice to the great gods; and you shall be our friend, and shall receive many favours from our most invincible emperors.” St. Gregory said, “I desire not such a friendship, nor do I sacrifice to devils, but to my God, Jesus Christ.” The judge commanded him to be buffeted on the face, beaten with clubs, and tortured on the rack; and at length ordered his head to be cut off. This happened in 304. His relics lie in a church which bears his name at Spoleto. Baronius found in the close of a copy of these Acts an authentic testimony of a glorious miracle wrought by their touch in 1037.