27 Dec – St. John Evangelist: “We must deny to Protestantism any right to use the Bible, much more to interpret it.”

Today, being the Feast of the Evangelist John, we have a special blessing for wine and other libations.  I wrote about that HERE.  We have this blessing because of an assassination attempt.    There was an attempt on the life of St. John the Evangelist by poisoning.  He blessed the cup and the poison crawled out in the form of a serpent.  You often see St. John depicted this way in art.

St Jerome Joos van CleeveSt. Jerome says this about the Evangelist.  Priests read this in the Breviarium Romanum during Matins.

V. Grant, Lord, a blessing.
Benediction. May the Spirit’s fire Divine in our hearts enkindled shine. Amen.

Reading 6
From the Commentary upon the Epistle to the Galatians, by the same author [St. Jerome]
iii. 6.

The Blessed Evangelist John lived at Ephesus down to an extreme old age, and, at length, when he was with difficulty carried to the Church, and was not able to exhort the congregation at length, he was used simply to say at each meeting, My little children, love one another. At last the disciples and brethren were weary with hearing these words continually, and asked him, Master, wherefore ever sayest thou this only? Whereto he replied to them, worthy of John, It is the commandment of the Lord, and if this only be done, it is enough.
V. But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us.
R. Thanks be to God.

R. In the midst of the congregation did the Lord open his mouth.
* And filled him with the spirit of wisdom and understanding.
V. He made him rich with joy and gladness.
R. And filled him with the spirit of wisdom and understanding.
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, * and to the Holy Ghost.
R. And filled him with the spirit of wisdom and understanding.

This is the author of the Fourth Gospel, the visionary of Revelation, the discipline whom Jesus loved best, the one who, though he ran at first, was at the Cross, and to whom the dying Savior entrusted His Mother even as He told her that John was her son. This feast reminds us of the filial relationship priests should have with Mary, which she already has with us and would see deepened.

Fabiola_Jean_Jacques_HennerAnother connection through St. John’s Day and Jerome is that this is the feast of St. Fabiola, one of the ascetic gang of Roman matrons who were around Jerome while he was in the City and who busied themselves in works of mercy.

Fabiola eventually moved to St. Paula’s monastic house in Jerusalem to continue her work near Jerome. She was quite a wealthy widow and is a patroness of widows, divorced people, troubled marriages, victims of domestic abuse and those who suffer because of adultery.  Perhaps we can ask her today to intercede with God for enlightenment of Card. Kasper and … others who are confusing the People of God about the indissolubility of marriage and the sinfulness of infidelity.  There was a famous painting of Fabiola by the French painter Jean-Jacques Henner, which was copied many times before it was lost.  There are many copies.

There is a novel about Fabiola called, surprise, Fabiola by Nicholas Wiseman… Cardinal and the first Archbishop of Westminster after the restoration of the hierarchy in England in 1850.


I like this quote from Card. Wiseman (not in Fabiola):

“The doctrine and practice of the Church must not be allowed to be impugned by those who have no claim at all to Scripture, and who can prove neither the canon, its inspiration, nor its primary doctrines, except through that very authority which they are questioning, and through treacherous inconsistency with the principles on which they are interrogating it. When many years ago this ground was boldly adopted, it was charged with being an attempt to throw Protestants into infidelity, and sap the foundations of the Bible. Years of experience, and observation not superficial, have only strengthened our conviction, that this course must be fearlessly pursued. We must deny to Protestantism any right to use the Bible, much more to interpret it. Cruel and unfeeling it may be pronounced by those who understand the strength of our position, and the cogency of the argument; but it is much more charitable than to leave them to the repeated sin of blaspheming God’s Spouse, and trying to undermine the faith of our poor Catholics.” [The Catholic doctrine on the use of the Bible, 1853]

I’m sure that the Evangelist, Jerome and Fabiola would have all been in agreement.

Lift a libation and invoke health today for your loved ones… and confusion to your enemies… on this Feast of St. John.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Pius Admirabilis says:

    Wonderful, what the Cardinal writes. And it is so true also! Sicut unguentum in capite quod descendit in barbam.

  2. Henry Edwards says:

    “St. Jerome says this about the Evangelist. Priests read this in the Breviarium Romanum during Matins.”

    Not to mention simple laymen who also pray the traditional Divine Office. Hmm … Is the idea that the Office (or the Liturgy of the Hours) is no longer restricted to clergy and religious one of the fabled “fruits of Vatican II”? If so, can anyone name another one?

  3. Chris Garton-Zavesky says:


    The Office is required of clerics (not just priests and religious), and so what Father wrote “Priests read this in the Breviarum Romanum during Matins” isn’t in any way false or misleading. I would venture to say (but I don’t have proof in front of me) that back in a healthier time in the Church’s history, laymen prayed more parts of the Office more regularly than they do now, precisely because the Church played a larger and more central role in the life of ordinary Catholics.

  4. teomatteo says:

    Re the painting of St. John: the fly on the skull that the evangelist is pointing to??

  5. WmHesch says:

    We had the longer form blessing of wine “and other beverages” (being near the head of the Kentucky bourbon trail) this morning.

    It’s one of those rare traditional blessings that’s quasi-part of the Liturgy- as the priest remains fully vested except for maniple.

  6. Kerry says:

    The Internet Archive has several copies of Fabiola, online reading.

  7. AA Cunningham says:

    To paraphrase Cardinal Wiseman, put this in your ecumenical pipe and smoke it.

  8. Joel says:

    My guess would be that most laymen didn’t say the Roman Office (if any at all did do so). Rather, it is probably more likely that they prayed the Little Office of the BVM.

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