Hymn: Exsultet orbis

Now let the earth with joy resound,
And heaven the chant re-echo round;
Nor heaven nor earth too high can raise
The great Apostle's glorious praise.

O ye who, throned in glory dread,
Shall judge the living and the dead,
Lights of the world forevermore!
To you the suppliant prayer we pour.

Ye close the sacred gates on high;
At your command apart they fly:
O loose for us the guilty chain
We strive to break, and strive in vain.

Sickness and health your voice obey;
At your command they go or stay:
From sin's disease our souls restore;
In good confirm us more and more.

So when the world is at its end,
And Christ to Judgment shall descend,
May we be called those joys to see
Prepared from all eternity.

All honor, laud, and glory be,
O Jesu, Virgin-born, to thee;
All glory, as is ever meet,
To Father and to Paraclete. Amen.

(Roman Breviary)    

Hymn: An Invocation of St. John, Evangelist

Saint of the Sacred Heart,
Sweet teacher of the Word,
Partner of Mary's woes,
And favourite of thy Lord!

Oh teach me then, dear Saint!
The secrets Christ taught thee;
The beatings of His Heart,
And how it beat for me!

We know not all thy gifts;
But this Christ bids us see,
That He who so loved all
Found more to love in thee.

Oh teach me then, dear Saint!
The secrets Christ taught thee;
The beatings of His Heart,
And how it beat for me!

When the last evening came,
Thy head was on His breast,
Pillowed on earth, where now
In heaven the Saints find rest.

Oh teach me then, dear Saint!
The secrets Christ taught thee;
The beatings of His Heart,
And how it beat for me!

Dear Saint! I stand far off,
With vilest sins opprest;
Oh may I dare, like thee,
To lean upon His breast?

Oh teach me then, dear Saint!
The secrets Christ taught thee;
The beatings of His Heart,
And how it beat for me!

His touch could heal the sick,
His voice could raise the dead;
Oh that my soul might be
Where He allows thy head.

Oh teach me then, dear Saint!
The secrets Christ taught thee;
The beatings of His Heart,
And how it beat for me!

The gifts He gave to thee
He gave thee to impart;
And I, too, claim with thee
His Mother and His Heart!

Oh teach me then, dear Saint!
The secrets Christ taught thee;
The beatings of His Heart,
And how it beat for me!

Hymn of Praise to St. John, Evangelist

An exile for the faith
Of thy Incarnate Lord,
Beyond the stars, beyond all space,
Thy soul imprisoned soared:
There saw in glory Him
Who liveth, and was dead;
There Judah's Lion, and the Lamb
That for our ransom bled.

There of the Kingdom learnt
The mysteries sublime;
How, sown in martyrs' blood, the faith
Should spread from clime to clime.
The Holy City, bathed
In her dear Spouse's light,
Pure seat of bliss, thy spirit saw,
And gloried in the sight.

Now to the Lamb's clear fount,
To drink of life their fill,
Thou callest all; O Lord, in me
This blessed thirst instil.
To Jesus, Virgin-born,
Praise with the Father be;
Praise to the Spirit Paraclete,
Through all eternity.


Indulgenced Prayer to St. John, the Apostle

O Glorious Apostle, who, on account of thy virginal purity, wast so beloved by Jesus as to deserve to lay thy head upon his divine breast, and to be left, in his place, as son to his most holy Mother; I beg thee to inflame me with a most ardent love towards Jesus and Mary. Obtain for me from our Lord that I, too, with a heart purified from earthly affections, may be made worthy to be ever united to Jesus as a faithful disciple, and to Mary as a devoted son, both here on earth and eternally in heaven. Amen.

(Indulgence 200 days, once a day, Leo XIII, 1897)


Prayer for Parents to St. John

St. John, chosen and favored disciple of our Lord, selected as the son of His sorrowful Mother, how great your privilege of being allowed to repose on the bosom of Jesus at the Last Supper, and to stand beneath the cross, there to receive Mary for your spiritual Mother! O happy disciple! How did you deserve such great prerogatives and favors? The whole Christian Church knows and acknowledges that it was your carefully guarded virginal purity which made you worthy of the special love of Jesus Christ; and that it was your ardent love and filial reverence toward His Blessed Mother that strengthened your heart to persevere to the end in the way of His holy cross.

O happy child of our dear Lady, how greatly I desire that my children and I may resemble you in purity of heart, in love for Jesus, and in devotion towards His Virgin Mother! In you do we place our trust. You will obtain for us this threefold grace. By your intercession you will dispose the Divine Mercy to pour out these graces into our hearts also. You are so highly favored by our Divine Master, He can refuse you nothing, least of all the graces He has so lavishly bestowed upon you. We confidently hope for these graces through your intercession, O chaste disciple of Jesus and devoted son of Mary! When you have obtained them for us, you must likewise watch over them, that we may never again lose them during our whole life. O pure St. John, obtain our request for the honor of Jesus and Mary and your own eternal praise! Amen.


Prayer to St. John as your Patron Saint

Saint John, whom I have chosen as my special patron, pray for me that I, too, may one day glorify the Blessed Trinity in heaven. Obtain for me your lively faith, that I may consider all persons, things, and events in the light of almighty God. Pray, that I may be generous in making sacrifices of temporal things to promote my eternal interests, as you so wisely did.

Set me on fire with a love for Jesus, that I may thirst for His sacraments and burn with zeal for the spread of His kingdom. By your powerful intercession, help me in the performance of my duties to God, myself and all the world.

Win for me the virtue of purity and a great confidence in the Blessed Virgin. Protect me this day, and every day of my life. Keep me from mortal sin. Obtain for me the grace of a happy death. Amen


Prayer to St. John for the Dying

Great Saint, who wast present at the Agony of Jesus, in the Garden of Olives, and upon the Cross, be present also at the agony of His members. Give this charitable assistance to all the dying, for whom I intercede this day, especially to those who have been recommended to our prayers. Intercede for them, and obtain for them, the grace of a holy death. O! beloved disciple of Jesus, ask the same favour for us, and for all dear to us. At the hour of our agony, be near us and protect us. Prepare us by a holy life, and by the imitation of thy virtues, for that great moment which shall decide our eternal destiny. Above all, obtain for us, a tender and real devotion to the Agonizing Heart of Jesus, and to the compassionate Heart of Mary, so that, having honoured them on earth, we may love and praise them eternally with thee in Heaven. Amen.


December 27th the Feast Day of
St. John the Apostle

It is God Whom we adore at Bethlehem at Christmastime. Thus it was natural that St. John, the chief Evangelist of the Divinity of Christ, should be found beside the crib, to disclose the greatness of the Infant Who reposes therein.

It is to him that Jesus wished to entrust His Mother when Joseph will have passed away. The liturgy therefore, likes to show together, beside the Child and His Mother, him whom the Gospel calls the Apostle the Just Man, and whom the Church today honors with the same title.

The Infant God in the crib gathers around Him pure souls; Mary is the Blessed Virgin, St. Joseph the chaste spouse, St. Stephen the first martyr who washes his robe in the blood of the Lamb. Now behold St. John, the virgin apostle. Crowned with the halo of those who knew how to conquer their flesh, for this reason he became "the disciple whom Jesus loved, and whom also leaned on His breast at supper." Thanks to his angelic purity, he imbibed that wholesome wisdom of which the Epistle speaks and which won for him the halo of Doctor.

It is to St. John who wrote a Gospel, three Epistles and the Apocalypse that we owe the most beautiful pages on the Divinity of the Word made flesh; and it is for this reason that he is symbolized by the eagle which sores in the heights. Finally he received the halo of martyr, since he only escaped a violent death by that special protection of which the Gospel speaks and which made man believe that the beloved disciple would not die. Actually, he did not depart this life until all of the other Apostles passed away. His name is mentioned with theirs in the cannon of the mass.

(St. Andrew's Daily Missal)


St. John, Apostle and Evangelist
by Father Francis Xavier Weninger, 1876

St. John, Apostle and Evangelist of Jesus Christ, a brother of St. James, and son of Zebedee and Salome, was born at Bethsaida, a town in Galilee. Christ, our Lord, called him and his brother James to follow Him, at the time when they were mending their nets in a boat on the shore of the Sea of Genesareth. John, without delay, left all he possessed, even his own father, and, with his brother, followed the Lord. Although the youngest of the Apostles, he was beloved by the Saviour above all the others; whence he is several times mentioned in the Gospel, as "the disciple whom Jesus loved." The cause of this special love of Jesus for him, was, according to the Holy Fathers, his virginal purity, which he kept undefiled, and the tender love he bore to the Lord. "He was more beloved than all the other Apostles," writes St. Thomas Aquinas, "on account of his purity." "For the same reason," says St. Anselm, "God revealed more mysteries to him than to the other Apostles. Justly," says he, "did Christ the Lord reveal the greatest mysteries to him, because he surpassed all in virginal purity."

It is evident from the Gospel that St. John was one of the most intimate of the friends of the Lord, and was, in consequence, sometimes admitted into Christ's presence, when, except Peter and James, no other Apostle was allowed to be near. Thus, he was with Christ when He healed the mother-in-law of Peter; when He raised the daughter of Jairus from the dead; and when He was transfigured on Mount Thabor. He also accompanied Christ when He suffered His agony in the Garden of Olives. The other two above-named Apostles shared these favors with John; but none was permitted to lean upon the Saviour's bosom, at the last supper, save John; none was recommended as son to the divine Mother, but John. Only he, of all the Apostles, followed Christ to Mount Calvary, and remained there with Him until His death. To recompense this love, Christ gave him to His Mother as her son, when He said: "Behold thy Mother!" Christ, who had lived in virginal chastity, would trust His Virgin Mother to no one else but John, who himself lived in virginal purity. As St. Jerome says: "Christ, a virgin, recommended Mary, a virgin, to John, a virgin." No greater grace could John have asked of Christ; no more evident proof could he have received of His love. The most precious thing which the Lord possessed on earth, His holy Mother, He commended to His beloved disciple. He took him as brother, by giving Him as son to His mother. Who cannot see from all this that Christ loved and honored St. John above all others?

How deeply this beloved disciple must have suffered by seeing his Saviour die so ignominious a death, is easily to be conceived; and St. Chrysostom hesitates not to call him, therefore, a manifold martyr. After Christ had died on the Cross, had been taken from it, and interred with all possible honors, St. John returned home with the divine Mother, who was now also his mother, and waited for the glorious resurrection of the Lord. When this had taken place, he participated in the many apparitions of the Lord, by which the disciples were comforted, and doubtless received again particular marks of love from the Saviour. He afterwards assisted, with the divine Mother and the Apostles, and other disciples of Christ, at the wonderful Ascension of the Lord. With these, also, he received, after a ten days' preparation, the Holy Ghost, on the great festival of Pentecost. Soon after this, he and Peter had, before all others, the grace to suffer for Christ's sake. For when these two Apostles had, in the name of Christ, miraculously healed a poor cripple who was lying at the door of the temple of Jerusalem, and improved this opportunity to show to the assembled people that Jesus of Nazareth was the true Messiah, they were seized, at the instigation of the chief priests, and were cast into prison. On the following day, the priests came together, and John and Peter were called before them, and asked in whose name, and by what power they had healed the cripple. Peter and John answered fearlessly, that it had been done in the name of Jesus Christ. The high priest dared not do anything further to them, but, setting them free, prohibited them from preaching, in future, the name of Christ. The two holy Apostles, however, nothing daunted, said: "If it be just in the sight of God to hear you rather than God, judge ye: for we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard."

St. John remained for some time in Jerusalem after this, and, with the other Apostles, was zealous in his endeavors to convert the Jews. When the Apostles separated, to preach the gospel over all the world, Asia Minor was assigned to St. John. Going thither, he began with great zeal his apostolic functions, and, by the gift of miracles, he converted many thousands to the faith of Christ. The many bishoprics which he instituted in the principal cities sufficiently prove this. In the course of time, he went also to other countries, preaching everywhere, with equal success, the word of Christ. The Emperor Domitian, who, after the death of the Emperor Nero, again began to persecute the Christians, ordered his officers to apprehend John, and bring him to Rome. Hardly had the holy Apostle arrived there, when he was commanded by the Emperor to sacrifice to the gods. As the Saint refused this, and fearlessly confessed Christ, the Emperor had him most cruelly scourged, and afterwards cast into a large caldron, filled with boiling oil. The Saint signed himself and the caldron with the holy cross, and remained unharmed when he was cast into it. This gave him an opportunity to announce, with great energy, to the assembled people, the gospel of Jesus Christ. The tyrant, who could not suffer this, had him taken out of the caldron, and sentenced him to banishment on the island of Patmos, to work in the mines, and perform other hard labor, in company with other Christians. St. John had, at that time, reached his ninetieth year, but was willing to undergo the unjust sentence.

After his arrival on the island, he had many and wonderful visions, which, by command of God, he put down in writing. The book which contains them is a part of Holy Writ, called the Apocalypse, or Revelation of St. John, a book which, according to St. Jerome, contains almost as many mysteries as words. After the death of Domitian, St. John was liberated, and returning to Ephesus, remained there until his death. He outlived all the other Apostles, as he reached the age of 100 years. His great labors, wearisome travels, and the many hardships he endured, at last enfeebled him to such an extent, that he could not go to the church without being carried. Frequently he repeated, in his exhortations, the words: "My little children, love one another." Some, annoyed at this, asked him why he so often repeated these words. He answered: "Because it is the commandment of the Lord; and if that is done, it suffices." By this he meant, that if we love each other rightly, we also love God; and when we love God and our neighbor, no more is needed to gain salvation; as love to God and to our neighbor contains the keeping of all other commandments.

The holy Apostle, who had suffered and labored so much for his beloved Master, was, at length, in the year 104, called by Him into heaven to receive his eternal reward. Besides the Apocalypse, to which we referred above, St. John also wrote three Epistles and his Gospel, on account of which he is called Evangelist. In his Gospel he gives many more facts than the other Evangelists, to prove the divinity of Jesus Christ; as, at that period, several heretics, as Cerinthus, Ebion, and the Nicolaites fought against this truth. In his Epistles, he exhorts particularly to love God and our neighbor, and to avoid heretics. In the first, among other things, he explains that love to God consists in keeping the commandments of God, which are not difficult to keep. "For this is the charity of God," writes he, "that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not heavy." Of the love of our neighbor he says, that it must manifest itself in works, that is, we must assist our brethren in their need, and, if necessary, give even our lives for them, after the example of Christ. The holy Apostle exemplified his words by his actions.

Several holyfathers relate the following of him. The Saint had given a youth in charge of a bishop, with the commendation to instruct him carefully in virtue and sacred sciences. After some years, when the Saint returned to this bishop, and asked for the young man, he heard with deep sorrow that he had secretly left, and had joined the highwaymen, and had even become their chief. The holy Apostle set out at once, and went, not without danger to his life, into the woods, where the unhappy young man was said, to be. Finding him, he spoke most kindly to him, and succeeded in bringing him back. It is touching to read how the holy, man promised to atone for the youth's sins, if he would repent, and lead a better life. The youth followed the Saint's admonition, and did penance with such fervor and zeal that the Saint hesitated not to give him charge of the church at Ephesus.


I. Virginal chastity, which St. John preserved inviolate, was the principal reason why Christ the Lord loved him above all others, recommended him to His beloved mother, gave her to him as mother, and bestowed many other graces upon him. For nothing is more certain than what I have already more than once said to you; whoever preserves angelic purity, will have God as a friend and protector. But who will be the friend of him who is a slave to the vice of unchastity? Surely neither the Almighty, nor Angels, nor Saints; none but the unclean spirit; for he, as I told you only a few days ago, has the greatest pleasure in the vice of unchastity, which gains him more souls than all the other vices. Whose love and friendship do you seek? The love of Jesus Christ, or of the devil? Your lips tell me that you seek the friendship of the Lord, and not that of Satan. But your works--do they speak the same language? The boldness of your eyes, your tongue arid your manners, your frequent and frivolous associations with those of the other sex; and your equivocal or openly licentious speeches and songs, are surely no signs that you love chastity with your whole heart and endeavor to gain the love of Christ. Correct yourself in every point in which you need correction, or you can never expect to have Christ as your friend; neither can you hope to have the Mother of Jesus as your mother. She was given to the chaste John as a mother, and John, chaste and pure, was given to her as a son. If you would be a true child of Mary, if you wish Mary to be your mother, and to enjoy her motherly care and protection, as well during your life as in your dying hour, endeavor to live chaste according to your station, and avoid all that is against the purity required of you.

II. "My dear children, love one another." This was the admonition that St. John gave to the Christians. In his Epistles, he also commends nothing more earnestly than this. He teaches, however, that we must not only love with the tongue and in words, but in deed and in truth. Love to God must manifest itself in keeping the commandments of God, as he teaches in the following words: "For this is the charity of God, that we keep his commandments." (I John, v.) Those Who do not endeavor to keep them, must not say that they truly love God. Love to our neighbor must be made manifest by observing the words of Christ: " All things, therefore, whatsoever you would that men should do to you, do you also to them." (Matthew, vii.) "This sentence," says St. Paulinus, "we should have constantly before our eyes, and daily examine ourselves, if and how we have obeyed God's command." And it is this which I counsel you today to observe. For, you ought to know, that it is necessary for salvation, to love God and our neighbor with our whole heart; God, by keeping His commandments; our neighbor, by doing to him as we would wish that he should do to us. "Let nobody imagine that he will gain salvation by fasting, praying and other good works, who does not truly love God and his neighbor." Thus speaks St. Cyril of Alexandria.


Homily of St. Augustine
from the Roman Breviary

"At that time: Jesus said to Peter Follow me. Turning round, Peter saw following them the disciple whom Jesus loved (John the Apostle)."--John 21, 19-24

The Church recognizes two lives which Divinity himself has revealed and recommended. One is the life of faith, the other the life of vision; one the life of pilgrimage, the other life in the mansions of eternity; one the life of labor, the other the life of rest; one the life of the journey, the other the life of home; one the life of action, the other the life of contemplation. The one avoids evil and does good, the other knows no evil to avoid, but only a great good to enjoy. The one fights with the enemy, the other, having no enemy, reigns.

The one aids the needy, the other is where no needy are; the one forgives the trespasses of others that its own might be forgiven, the other has neither trespasses to forgive nor does anything which calls for forgiveness. The one is scourged with evils, lest it be made presumptuous by prosperity; the other possesses such a fullness of grace that it is without evil. Free from any temptation to pride, it adheres to the Supreme Good.

Wherefore one life is good, but as yet full of sorrows; the other is better, yea even blessed. The first is typified by the Apostle Peter, the other by John. The one life endures all labors up to the end of its alotted time, and there finds an end; the other, having fulfilled all things, stretches beyond the end of time, and in eternity finds no end. So, to Peter is said: "Follow me." Of the other, however; "If I wish him to remain until I come, what is that to thee? Follow thou me." What is the meaning of this? How much can I know of it? How much can I understand? What is it?--unless this: "You are to follow me, imitating me in suffering temporal evils. Let him remain until I come, bringing eternal rewards."