God our Father, you have revealed the mysteries of your Word through John the apostle. By prayer and reflection may we come to understand the wisdom he taught. Grant 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.
Today marks the feast of the Apostle and Evangelist St. John, who bears the distinction of being the only apostle who was not martyred, although it's not as though they didn't try (a little more about this later)!
St. John was the brother of St. James who together formed the "sons of thunder." Along with St. Peter, these two were the only other witnesses to the Raising of Jairus's daughter, the Transfiguration and the Agony of Our Lord in the garden and it was he alone among the chosen twelve who remained in fear and suffering beside the Blessed Mother at the foot of the cross. There he obediently received the command to care for her. He is also counted among the four evangelists, or gospel authors.
Legend has it that St. John was given a poisoned cup of wine, which he blessed, only to have the poison rise up in the shape of a serpent and depart. His symbol is the eagle, for his "gaze pierces so far into the mysteries of heaven and his version of the gospel begins with a lofty prologue that is a poem of the Word become flesh." (The Catholic Source Book, ed. by Rev. Peter Klein.) It is from his gospel that we receive one of the readings for Christmas Day Mass.
On this third day of Christmas you might like to carry on the European tradition of blessing wine to drink at the evening meal. Here is a recipe is from A Continual Feast by Evelyn Birge Vitz for St. John's Wine, a traditional hot spiced wine.
1 quart red wine
3 whole cloves
1/16 teaspoon ground cardamom
2-2in. cinnamon sticks
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup sugar
Pour the wine into a large saucepan. Add the remaining ingredients. Boil for 5 min. (after 5 minutes the alcohol is virtually all evaporated). Serve hot. Yield: 8-10 servings. (this recipe is credited to the Catholic Cookbook by William Kaufman.) As always, many thanks to Catholic Culture , which provides us with the Blessing Prayer for St. John's Wine
If you would like to try an eagle craft today it's a good bet you'll have enough items on hand to try this simple Paper Roll Eagle.