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From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

The Kingdom of Heaven—Holy Church—is seen bringing forth out of her treasure “things new and old.” Although she can never add new dogmas to the deposit of Faith entrusted to her, as the ages go by she is seen understanding more perfectly and explaining more fully those treasures in her keeping. She is a living body, not a statue, and she can develop, though she can never change her nature. Hence, guided by the Holy Spirit of him who has promised to be with her not merely for a few centuries but unto the end of the world, she defines or emphasizes certain points of doctrine as she sees fit, considering the needs of the times. We have an example in the institution of the feast of the Kingship of our Lord Jesus Christ by the Sovereign Pontiff, Pope Pius XI, in the jubilee year 1925, and explained to the faithful in the Encyclical Quas Primas.

Christians have ever hailed our divine Lord as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. It was as a King that the representatives of the Eastern world came to adore him in the manger; it was as a King, albeit not knowing what he did, that the official representative of the Western world lifted him up upon the Cross. The patriarchs and prophets of the old dispensation foretold his royalty; he spoke constantly of his kingdom: when asked plainly whether he were in truth a king by the representative of Cæsar, he acknowledged that such indeed he was, though of a kingdom not of this world.

His Kingship is founded upon the ineffable hypostatic union. It is spiritual, and concerned with spiritual things. It is opposed to none other than to that of Satan, and to the powers of darkness. Christ is King over angels and men; King over men’s hearts and wills; his Kingship demands of its subjects a spirit of detachment from riches and earthly things, and a spirit of gentleness. They must hunger and thirst after justice and, more than this, they must deny themselves and carry the cross.[1]

Yet though his is a spiritual kingdom, opposed to no just earthly polity, “it would be a grave error to say that Christ has no authority whatever in civil affairs, since by virtue of the absolute empire over all creatures committed to him by the Father, all things are in his power. All men, whether collectively or individually, are under the dominion of Christ. In him is the salvation of the individual, in him is the salvation of society."[2]

To-day we sadly behold “a world undone,” largely paganized in principles and outlook, and, in recent years, in one country even glorying in the name “pagan.” At the best, governments mostly ignore God; and at the worst, openly fight against him, as we of to-day are witnessing in the Old World and in the New. Even the statesmen’s well-meant efforts to find a remedy for present ills and, above all, to secure world peace, prove futile because, whereas peace is from Christ, and possible only in the Kingdom of Christ, his name is never mentioned throughout their deliberations or their documents. Christ is kept out of the State schools and seats of higher education; and the rising generations seem to be taught anything and everything save to know, love and serve him. Art and literature all too frequently reflect the same tendencies.

And since the spirit of evil reigns inevitably wherever the spirit of Christ has ceased to reign, in public and in private men are flouting the moral laws of God, and some of the worst abominations of ancient paganism are becoming matters of every-day life. Moreover, be it remembered, modern paganism is worse than that of the ancient world, in that the former knows what it does as the latter did not. There is now an intense, positive hatred of Jesus Christ in the militant atheist, which differs in kind from the attitude of the fiercest Roman or Eastern persecutor: “If I had not come and spoken to them ... if I had not done among them the works that no other man hath done, they would not have sin: but now they have both seen and hated both me and my Father.”[3]

Ever as practical as she is supernatural, the Church is not content with merely deploring the evil, nor even with counteracting it by sound teaching. She would also make definite reparation to the divine majesty thus denied and defied; to him whose royalty is slighted and insulted. Something must be done by those who, in a measure, understand and love, in order to atone for those who do not. “To repair the crime of lèse-divinity, which denies God’s rights over the human society whose author he is, we must exalt Jesus Christ as King over all individuals, families, and peoples. If his universal royalty be proclaimed and his reign in society recognized, one of the principal evils of the modern world—the secularizing of public and private life—will be attacked at its roots.”[4] Hence we have the special exhortation of the Vicar of Christ, and the institution of the feast of this divine Kingship.

To this end nothing would serve better than the institution of a special feast in honour of the Kingship of Christ. For people are instructed in the truths of faith, and brought to appreciate the inner joys of religion, far more effectually by the annual celebration of our sacred mysteries than by any pronouncement, however weighty, of the teaching of the Church. Such pronouncements usually reach only a few, and those the more learned among the faithful; feasts reach them all; the former speak but once, the latter speak every year—in fact for ever. The Church’s teaching affects the mind primarily; her feasts affect both mind and heart, and have a salutary effect upon the whole of man’s nature. . . . We have commanded its observance on a Sunday, in order that not only the clergy may perform their duty by saying Mass and reciting the Office, but that the laity too, free from their daily tasks, may in a spirit of holy joy give ample testimony of their obedience and subjection to Christ . . . that they may so order their lives as to be worthy, faithful, and obedient subjects of the Divine King.[5]

 

MASS

 

Introit

Dignus est Agnus qui occisus est, accipere virtutem, et divinitatem, et sapientiam, et fortitudinem, et honorem. Ipsi gloria et imperium in sæcula sæculorum. Deus, judicium tuum Regi da, et justitiam tuam Filio Regis. Gloria Patri. Dignus.

The Lamb that was slain is worthy to receive power and divinity and wisdom and strength and honour: to him be glory and empire for ever and ever. Give to the King, O God, thy judgement, and to the King’s Son thy justice. Glory be to the Father. The Lamb.


Collect

Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, qui in dilecto Filio tuo, universorum Rege, omnia instaurare voluisti: concede propitius; ut cunctæ familiæ Gentium, peccati vulnere disgregatæ, ejus suavissimo subdantur imperio: Qui tecum.

Almighty everlasting God, who in thy beloved Son, King of the whole world, didst will to restore all things: grant in thy mercy, that all kindreds of the nations, torn asunder by the wound of sin, may be subjected to the sweet yoke of his rule: Who liveth.


Commemoration is made of the occurring Sunday.


Epistle

Lectio Epistolæ beati Pauli Apostoli ad Colossenses.
Cap. i.

Fratres: Gratias agimus Deo Patri, qui dignos nos fecit in partem sortis sanctorum in lumine, qui eripuit nos de potestate tenebrarum, et transtulit in regnum Filii dilectionis sue, in quo habemus redemptionem per sanguinem ejus, remissionem peccatorum. Qui est imago Dei invisibilis, primogenitus omnis creature; quoniam in ipso condita sunt universa in cœlis et in terra, visibilia et invisibilia, sive throni, sive dominationes, sive principatus, sive potestates: omnia per ipsum et in ipso creata sunt: et ipse est ante omnes, et omnia in ipso constant. Et ipse est caput corporis Ecclesie, qui est principium, primogenitus ex mortuis: ut sit in omnibus ipse primatum tenens; quia in ipso complacuit omnem plenitudinem habitare; et per eum reconciliare omnia, in ipsum, pacificans per sanguinem crucis ejus, sive que in terris, sive que in cœlis sunt, in Christo Jesu Domino nostro.

The reading of the Epistle of Blessed Paul the Apostle to the Colossians.
Ch. i.

Brethren: Giving thanks to God the Father, who hath made us worthy to be partakers of the lot of the saints in light: who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of the Son of his love: in whom we have redemption through his blood, the remission of sins; who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: for in him were all things created in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible; whether thrones, or dominations, or principalities or powers. All things were created by him and in him. And he is before all: and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things he may hold the primacy: because in him, it hath well pleased the Father that all fulness should dwell: and through him to reconcile all things unto himself, making peace through the blood of his cross, both as to the things on earth and the things that are in heaven, in Jesus Christ our Lord.


Gradual

Dominabitur a mari usque ad mare, et a flumine usque ad terminos orbis terrarum.
℣. Et adorabunt eum omnes reges terræ; omnes gentes servient ei.
Alleluia, alleluia. ℣. Potestas ejus, potestas æterna, quæ non auferetur: et regnum ejus quod non corrumpetur. Alleluia.

He shall rule from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth.
℣. And all kings of the earth shall adore him: all nations shall serve him.
Alleluia, alleluia. ℣. His power is an everlasting power, that shall not be taken away: and his kingdom that shall not be destroyed. Alleluia.


In votive Masses after Septuagesima, instead of the Alleluia and its ℣., there is said:

Tract

Ipse invocabit me, Pater meus es tu: Deus meus, et susceptor salutis meæ. ℣. Et ego primogenitum ponam ilium: excelsum præ regibus terræ. ℣. Et ponam in sæculum sæculi semen ejus: et thronum ejus sicut dies cœli.

He shall cry out to me: Thou art my Father, my God, and the support of my salvation. ℣. And I will make him my firstborn, high above the kings of the earth. ℣. And I will make his seed to endure for evermore, and his throne as the days of heaven.


In Paschal time, omitting the Gradual, there is said: Alleluia, alleluia. Potestas ejus, etc., as above; then:

Alleluia. ℣. Habet in vestimento et in femore suo scriptum: Rex regum, et Dominus dominantium. Alleluia.

Alleluia, ℣. He hath on his garment and on his thigh written: King of kings and Lord of lords. Alleluia.


Gospel

Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Joannem.
Cap. xviii.

In illo tempore: Dixit Pilatus ad Jesum: Tu es Rex Judæorum? Respondit Jesus: A temetipso hoc dicis, an alii dixerunt tibi de me? Respond it Pilatus: Numquid ego Judæus sum? Gens tua, et pontifices tradiderunt te mihi: quid fecisti? Respondit Jesus: Regnum meum non est de hoc mundo. Siex hoc mundo esset regnum meum, ministri mei utique decertarent ut non traderer Judæis: nunc autem regnum meum non est hinc. Dixit itaque ei Pilatus: Ergo Rex es tu? Respondit Jesus: Tu dicis quia Rex sum ego. Ego in hoc natus sum, et ad hoc veni in mundum, ut testimonium perhibeam ventati: omnis qui est ex ventate, audit vocem meam.
Sequel of the Holy Gospel according to John.
Ch. xviii.

At that time: Pilate said to Jesus: Art thou the King of the Jews? Jesus answered: Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or have others told it thee of me? Pilate answered: Am I a Jew? Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered thee up to me. What hast thou done? Jesus answered: My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would certainly strive that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now my kingdom is not from hence. Pilate therefore said to him: Art thou a king, then? Jesus answered: Thou sayest that I am a king. For this was I bom, and for this came I into the world, that I should give testimony to the truth. Everyone that is of the truth heareth my voice.

Offertory

Postula a me, et dabo tibi Gentes hereditatem tuam, et possessionem tuam terminos terræ.

Ask of me, and I will give thee the Gentiles for thy inheritance, and the utmost parts of the earth for thy possession.


Secret

Hostiam tibi, Domine, humanæ reconciliationis offerimus: præsta quæsumus; ut quem sacrificiis præsentibus immolamus, ipse cunctis gentibus unitatis et pacis dona eoncedat, Jesus Christus, Filius tuus, Dominus noster: Qui tecum.

We offer thee, O Lord, the victim of man's reconciliation; grant, we beseech thee, that he whom we immolate in these present sacrifices may himself bestow on all nations the gifts of unity and peace, Jesus Christ, thy Son, our Lord: Who liveth.


Commemoration is made of the occurring Sunday.


Preface

Vere dignum et justum est, æquum et salutare, nos tibi semper et ubique gratias agere: Domine sancte, Pater omnipotens, æeterne Deus: Qui unigenitum Filium tuum, Dominum nostrum Jeeum Christum, Saoerdotem æternum et universorum Regem, oleo exsultationis unxisti: ut, seipsum in ara crucis hostiam immaculatam et pacificam offerens, redemptionis humanæ sacramenta perageret: et suo subjectis imperio omnibus creaturis, æternum et universale regnum, immensæ tuæ traderet Majestati. Regnum veritatis et vitæ: regnum sanctitatis et gratiæ: regnum justitiæ, amoris et pacis. Et ideo ...

It is truly meet and just, right and availing unto salvation, that we should at all times and in all places give thanks to thee, O holy Lord, Father Almighty, everlasting God: Who didst anoint with the oil of gladness thine onlybegotten Son our Lord Jesus Christ, eternal priest and universal King: that, offering himself a spotless victim and peaceoffering upon the altar of the Cross, he should complete the mysteries of man’s redemption; and all creatures having been subjected to his sway, should deliver to thy infinite majesty an eternal and universal kingdom; a kingdom of truth and life, a kingdom of holiness and grace, a kingdom of justice, love and peace. And therefore. . .


Communion

Sedebit Dominus Rex in seternum: Dominus benedicei populo suo in pace.

The Lord shall sit King for ever: the Lord will bless his people with peace.


Postcommunion

Immortalitatis alimoniam consecuti, quæsumus Domine: ut, qui sub Christi Regis vexillis militare gloriamur, cum ipso, in cœlesti sede, jugiter regnare possimus: Qui tecum.

Having received the food of immortality, we beseech thee, O Lord: that as we glory in fighting under the standard of Christ the King, so we may be able to reign with him in his heavenly abode: Who liveth.


Commemoration is made of the occurring Sunday, the Gospel of which is read at the end of Mass.


SECOND VESPERS


Ps. 109, Dixit Dominus

Ant. 1. Pacificus vocabitur, et thronus ejus erit firmissimus in perpetuum.

Ant. 1. He shall be called the Peaceful One, and his throne shall be firmly established for ever.

 


Ps. 110, Confitebor tibi

Ant. 2. Regnum ejus regnum sempiternum est, et omnes reges servient ei et obedient.

Ant. 2. His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all kings shall serve him and obey him.


Ps. 111, Beatus vir

Ant. 3. Ecce Vir Oriens nomen ejus: sedebit et dominabitur, et loquetur pacem Gentibus.

Ant. 3. Behold a Man, the Orient is his name; he shall sit and rule, and shall speak peace unto the Gentiles.


Ps. 112, Laudate pueri

Ant. 4. Dominus judex noster, Dominus legifer noster: Dominus Rex noster, ipse salvabit nos.

Ant. 4. The Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver: the Lord is our King, he will save us.


Ps. 116, Laudate Dominum

Ant. 5. Ecce dedi te in lucem Gentium, ut sis salus mea usque ad extremum terræ.

Ant. 5. Behold, I have given thee for a light of the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the ends of the earth.


Little Chapter
Col. i.

Fratres: Gratias agimus Deo Patri, qui dignos nos fecit in partem sortis sanctorum in lumine, qui eripuit nos de potestate tenebrarum, et transtulit in regnum Filii delectionis suæ.

Brethren: We give thanks to God the Father, who hath made us worthy to be partakers of the lot of the saints in light: who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of the Son of his love.


Hymn

Te sæculorum Principem,
Te, Christe, Regem Gentium,
Te mentium, Te cordium
Unum fatemur arbitrum.

Scelesta turba clamitat
Regnare Christum nolumus:
Te nos ovantes omnium
Regem supremum dicimus.

O Christe, Princeps Pacifer
Mentes rebelles subjice,
Tuoque amore devios
Ovile in unum congrega.

Ad hoc cruenta ab arbore
Pendes apertis brachiis,
Diraque fossum cuspide
Cor igne flagrans exhibes.

Ad hoc in aris abderis
Vini dapisque imagine,
Fundens salutem filiis
Transverberato pectore.

Te nationum Præsides
Honore tollant publico,
Colant magistri, judices,
Leges et artes exprimant.

Submissa regum fulgeant
Tibi dicata insignia:
Mitique sceptro patriam
Domosque subde civium.

Jesu, tibi sit gloria,
Qui sceptra mundi temperas,
Cum Patre, et almo Spiritu,
In sempiterna sæcula.

Amen.
Ruler of all from heaven’s high throne,
O Christ, our King ere time began,
We kneel before thee, Lord, to own
Thy empire o’er the heart of man.

While bands of shameless men refuse
The homage due to Christ their Lord,
We own thee sovereign Lord of all.
The King by heaven and earth adored.

O Prince of peace, O Christ, subdue
Those rebel hearts, thy peace restore;
Into thy sheep-fold lead anew
Thy scattered sheep, to stray no more.

For this upon the tree of shame,
Thy body hung, with arms spread wide,
The spear revealed the heart of flame
That burned within thy sacred side.

For this our altars here are spread
With mystic feast of bread and wine,
Still thy redeeming blood is shed
From that sore-stricken heart of thine.

May heads of nations fear thy name
And spread thy honour through their lands,
Our nation’s laws, our arts proclaim
The beauty of thy just commands.

Let kings the crown and sceptre hold
As pledge of thy supremacy;
And thou all lands, all tribes enfold
In one fair realm of charity.

Jesu, to thee be honour done,
Who rulest all in equity
With Father, Spirit, ever One,
From age to age eternally.

Amen.

℣. Multiplicabitur ejus imperium.
℟. Et pacis non erit finis.

℣. His empire shall be multiplied.
℟. And there shall be no end of peace.


Antiphon of the Magnificat

Habet in vestimento et in femore suo scriptum: Rex regum, et Dominus dominantium. Ipsi gloria et imperium, in sæcula sæculorum.

He hath on his garment and on his thigh written: King of kings and Lord of lords. To him be glory and empire, for ever and ever.


Commemoration is made of the occurring Sunday.


[1] Quas Primas, 13, Encyclical of Pope Pius XI, Dec. 11, 1925. 
[2] Quas Primas, 17.
[3] John xv. 22, 24.
[4] L'Amour de Dieu et de la Croix de Jesus, P. Garrigou-Lagrange, O. P.
[5] Quas Primas, 21.

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

It is customary with men of the world to balance their accounts at the end of the year, and ascertain their profits. The Church is now preparing to do the same. We shall soon see her solemnly numbering her elect, taking an inventory of her holy relics, visiting the tombs of those who sleep in the Lord, and counting the sanctuaries, both new and old, that have been consecrated to her divine Spouse. But to-day’s reckoning is a more solemn one, the profits more considerable: she opens her balance-sheet with the gain accruing to our Lady from the mysteries which compose the cycle. Christmas, the cross, the triumph of Jesus, these produce the holiness of us all; but before and above all, the holiness of Mary. The diadem which the Church thus offers first to the august Sovereign of the world, is rightly composed of the triple crown of these sanctifying mysteries, the causes of her joy, of her sorrow, and of her glory. The joyful mysteries recall the Annunciation, the Visitation, the Birth of Jesus, Mary’s Purification, and the Finding of our Lord in the temple. The sorrowful mysteries bring before us the Agony of our blessed Lord, His being scourged, and crowned with thorns, the carrying of the cross, and the Crucifixion. While, in the glorious mysteries, we contemplate the Resurrection and Ascension of our Saviour, Pentecost, and the Assumption and Coronation of the Mother of God. Such is Mary’s rosary; a new and fruitful vine, which began to blossom at Gabriel’s salutation, and whose fragrant garlands form a link between earth and heaven.

In its present form, the rosary was made known to the world by St. Dominic at the time of the struggles with the Albigensians, that social war of such ill-omen for the Church. The rosary was then of more avail than armed forces against the power of satan; it is now the Church’s last resource. It would seem that, the ancient forms of social prayer being no longer relished by the people, the holy Spirit has willed by this easy and ready summary of the liturgy to maintain, in the isolated devotion of these unhappy times, the essential of that life of prayer, faith, and Christian virtue, which the public celebration of the Divine Office formerly kept up among the nations. Before the thirteenth century, popular piety was already familiar with what was called the psalter of the laity, that is, the angelical salutation repeated one hundred and fifty times; it was the distribution of these Hail Marys into decades, each devoted to the consideration of a particular mystery, that constituted the rosary. Such was the divine expedient, simple as the eternal Wisdom that conceived it, and far-reaching in its effects; for while it led wandering man to the Queen of Mercy, it obviated ignorance which is the food of heresy, and taught him to find once more ‘the paths consecrated by the Blood of the Man-God, and by the tears of His Mother.’[1]

Thus speaks the great Pontiff who, in the universal sorrow of these days, has again pointed out the means of salvation more than once experienced by our fathers. Leo XIII, in his encyclicals, has consecrated the present month to this devotion so dear to heaven; he has honoured our Lady in her litanies with a new title, Queen of the most holy rosary;[2]and he has given the final development to the solemnity of this day, by raising it to the rank of a second class feast, and by enriching it with a proper Office explaining its permanent object.[3] Besides all this, the feast is a memorial of glorious victories, which do honour to the Christian name.

Soliman II, the greatest of the Sultans, taking advantage of the confusion caused in the west by Luther, had filled the sixteenth century with terror by his exploits. He left to his son, Selim II, the prospect of being able at length to carry out the ambition of his race: to subjugate Rome and Vienna, the Pope and the emperor, to the power of the crescent. The Turkish fleet had already mastered the greater part of the Mediterranean, and was threatening Italy, when, on October 7, 1571, it came into action, in the Gulf of Lepanto, with the pontifical galleys supported by the fleets of Spain and Venice. It was Sunday; throughout the world the confraternities of the rosary were engaged in their work of intercession. Supernaturally enlightened, St. Pius V watched from the Vatican the battle undertaken by the leader he had chosen, Don John of Austria, against the three hundred vessels of Islam. The illustrious Pontiff, whose life’s work was now completed, did not survive to celebrate the anniversary of the triumph; but he perpetuated the memory of it by an annual commemoration of our Lady of Victory. His successor, Gregory XIII, altered this title to our Lady of the rosary, and appointed the first Sunday of October for the new feast, authorizing its celebration in those churches which possessed an altar under that invocation.

A century and a half later, this limited concession was made general. As Innocent XI, in memory of the deliverance of Vienna by Sobieski, had extended the feast of the most holy name of Mary to the whole Church; so, in 1716, Clement XI inscribed the feast of the rosary on the universal calendar, in gratitude for the victory gained by Prince Eugene at Peterwardein, on August 5, under the auspices of our Lady of the snow. This victory was followed by the raising of the siege of Corfu, and completed a year later by the taking of Belgrade.

 

MASS

 

The joys experienced on the other feasts of the Mother of God, are all gathered up and resumed in this one, for us, for the angels, and for our Lady herself. Like the angels, then, let us offer, together with Mary, the homage of our just delight to the Son of God, her Son, her King and ours.

Introit

Gaudeamus omnes in Domino, diem festum celebrantes sub honore beatæ Mariæ Virginis: de cujus solemnitate gaudent angeli, et collaudant Filium Dei.

Ps. Eructavit cor meum verbum bonum: dico ego opera mea Regi. Gloria Patri. Gaudeamus.

Let us all rejoice in the Lord, celebrating a festival day in honour of the blessed Virgin Mary, on whose solemnity the angels rejoice, and give praise to the Son of God.

Ps. My heart hath uttered a good word: I speak my works to the King. ℣. Glory, &c. Let us all.


The mysteries of the Son and of the Mother are our instruction and our hope. The Church prays in the Collect that they may also be our rule of life and our pledge of eternal happiness.

Collect

Deus, cujus Unigenitus per vitam, mortem, et resurrectionem suam nobis salutis æternæ præmia comparavit: concede quæsumus; ut hæc mysteria sanctissimo beatæ Mariæ Virginis rosario recolentes, et imitemur quod continent, et quod promittunt assequamur. Per eundem Dominum.

O God, whose only-begotten Son, by his life, death, and resurrection, procured for us the rewards of eternal salvation; grant, we beseech thee, that commemorating these mysteries in the most holy rosary of the blessed Virgin Mary, we may imitate what they contain, and possess what they promise. Through the same Lord &c.


Then is made a commemoration of the occurring Sunday.


Epistle

Lectio libri Sapientiæ.

Prov. cap.
viii.

Dominus possedit me in initio viarum suarum antequam quidquam faceret a principio. Ab æterno ordinata sum, et ex antiquis, antequam terra fieret, Nondum erant abyssi, et ego jam concepta eram. Nunc ergo, filii, audite me: Beati qui cnstodiunt vias meas. Audite disciplinam, et estote sapientes, et nolite abjicere eam. Beatus homo qui audit me, et qui vigilat ad fores meas quotidie, et observat ad postes ostii mei. Qui me invenerit, inveniet vitam, et hauriet salutem a Domino.

Lesson from the Book of Wisdom.

Prov. ch. viii.

The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his ways, before he made anything from the beginning. I was set up from eternity, and of old before the earth was made. The depths were not as yet, and I was already conceived. Now therefore, ye children, hear me: Blessed are they that keep my ways. Hear instruction and be wise, and refuse it not. Blessed is the man that heareth mo, and that watcheth daily at my gates, and waiteth at the posts of my doors. He that shall find me, shall find life, and shall have salvation from the Lord.


Our Lady’s mysteries are before all time in God’s sight, like those of her divine Son; like these they will endure for all eternity; like them they rule the ages, which circle round the Word and Mary, preparing for both in the days of figures, perpetuating their presence by the incessant glorification of the most holy Trinity, in whose name all Christians are baptized. Now the rosary honours all this series of mysteries; to-day’s feast is a glance back upon the cycle as it draws to its close. From these mysteries, from this view of them, we must draw the conclusion formulated by our Lady herself in this passage from Proverbs, which the Church applies to her: ‘Now therefore, my children, consider my ways; imitate me, that you may find happiness.’ Blessed is he that watcheth at her gate! Let us pray to her, rosary in hand, considering her at the same time, meditating on her life and her greatness, and watching, were it but for a quarter of an hour, at the entrance to the palace of this incomparable Queen. The more faithful we are, the more assured will be our salvation and our progress in true life.

In the Gradual, let us congratulate the Queen of the holy rosary on her perfect life, all truth, and justice, and meekness, which won her the love of the supreme King. In the Alleluia verse, let us proclaim the nobility of her race, unequalled in the whole world.

Gradual

Propter veritatem et mansuetudinem, et justitiam, et deducet te mirabiliter dextera tua.

℣. Audi filia, et vide, et inclina aurem tuam: quia concupivit Rex speciem tuam.

Alleluia, alleluia. ℣. Solemnitas gloriosæ Virginis Mariæ ex semine Abrahæ, ortæ de tribu Juda, clara ex stirpe David. Alleluia.

Because of truth and meekness and justice: and thy right hand shall lead thee marvellously.

℣. Hearken, O daughter, and see, and incline thine ear, for the king hath greatly desired thy beauty. 

Alleluia, alleluia. ℣. It is a festival of the glorious Virgin Mary of the seed of Abraham; sprung from the tribe of Juda, from David’s renowned lineage. Alleluia.


The Gospel is the same as on the feast of the most holy name of Mary (page 176). ‘At that time, the angel Gabriel was sent from God, into a city of Galilee, called Nazareth, to a Virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the Virgin’s name was Mary. And the angel being come in, said to her: Hail, full of grace! the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women? Blessed art thou among women, repeated Elizabeth a few days later, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. These two salutations, with the name of Mary added to the angel’s greeting and the name of Jesus to Elizabeth’s, constituted the Ave Maria in the time of St. Dominic, the promulgator of the rosary. The prayer, 'Holy Mary Mother of God’ which now so beautifully completes the formula of praise, received the sanction of the Church in the sixteenth century. No better Gospel could, then, have been chosen for to-day, for it gives the original text of the rosary, and describes the first of its mysteries.

All grace, all light, all life, are to be found in our Lady; by her holy rosary she, as we sing in the Offertory, has multiplied flowers and fruits in the garden of the Church. Every offering acceptable to God, comes from Mary, with and by Jesus.

Offertory

In me gratia omnis viæ et veritatis; in me omnis spes vitæ et virtutis: ego quasi rosa piantata super rivos aquarum fructificavi.

In me is all grace of the way and of truth: in me is all hope of life and of virtue: I have flowered forth like a rose planted by the brooks of water,


As the Secret tells us, the rosary, piously meditated, prepares us for the Sacrifice of the altar, that supereminent and august memorial of the mysteries which it imprints in the heart and mind of the Christian.

Secret

Fac nos, quæsumus Domine, his muneribus offerendis convenienter aptari: et per sanctissimi rosarii mysteria sic vitam, passionem, et glori am Unigeniti tui recolere, ut ejus digni promissionibus efficiamur. Qui tecum.

Do thou, we beseech thee, O Lord, render us fit suitably to offer up these gifts: and by means of the mysteries of the most holy rosary, so to call back to mind the life, the Passion, and the glory of thine only-begotten Son, as to be made worthy of his promises: Who with thee liveth and reigneth &c.


Then a commemoration of the Sunday.


The Preface as on September 8, substituting ‘in solemnitate, on the solemnity,’ for ‘in Nativitate, on the Nativity,’ of the blessed Virgin Mary.


After the sacred banquet, our soul must not remain barren. The fragrance of virtue’s flowers must embalm all that surrounds us, and prove to the Spouse that His visit has not been made in vain.

Communion

Florete flores quasi lilium, et date odorem, et frondete in gratiam, collaudate canticum, et benedicite Dominum in operibus suis.

Flower ye forth like the lily, and yield ye a sweet smell, and bring forth leaves in grace: sound forth a canticle of praise, and bless ye the Lord in his works.


In the Postcommunion, the Church prays that our Lady may, by her intercession, second the effects of this Sacrifice, and-of the mysteries in which she played so great a part.


Postcommunion

Sanctissimæ Genitricis tuæ, cujus rosarium celebramus, quæsumus Domine, precibus adjuvemur: ut et mysteriorum, quæ colimus, virtus percipiatur, et sacramentorum, quæ sumpsimus, obtineatur effectus. Qui vivis.

We beseech thee, O Lord, to help us through the prayers of thy most holy Mother, the feast of whose rosary we are celebrating: that we may both experience the virtue of the mysteries on which we meditate, and also obtain the effect of the Sacrament which we have received. Who livest and reignest &c.


Then is added the Postcommunion of the Sunday, and the Gospel of the same is read at the end of the Mass.


 

VESPERS

 

A few days ago, the Church borrowed from the Servites of Mary her Office of the Seven Dolours; to-day she seeks her responsories, hymns, and antiphons from the noble family which claims the rosary as its birthright. The Christian world owes a new debt of gratitude to the sons of St. Dominic for enriching it with these beautiful liturgical formulæ. But as the Use of the Friars Preachers gives but one antiphon for the psalms in the Vespers of the saints, the following antiphons have been added for the Roman rite. The hymn, which so gracefully and yet concisely resumes the triple series of the mysteries, is the fourth of the entire Office: the first celebrates, at first Vespers, the joyful mysteries; the second, at Matins, the sorrowful; the third, at Lauds, the glorious. 'From these mysteries let us gather roses, and weave garlands for the Mother of fair love.’

1. Ant. Quæ est ista, speciosa sicut columba, quasi rosa piantata super rivos aquarum?

1. Ant. Who is this, beautiful as a dove, like a rose planted by the brooks of water?


Ps. Dixit Dominus, page 38.


2. Ant. Virgo potens, sicut turris David; mille clypei pendent ex ea, omnis armatura fortium.

2. Ant. It is the mighty Virgin, like the tower of David; a thousand bucklers hang upon it, all the armour of valiant men.


Ps. Laudate pueri, page 41.


3. Ant. Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum, benedicta tu in mulieribus.

3. Ant. Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee, blessed art thou among women.


Ps.Lætatus sum, page 152.


4. Ant. Benedixit te Dominus in virtute tua, quia per te ad nihilum redegit inimicos nostros.

4. Ant. The Lord hath blessed thee by his power, because by thee he hath brought our enemies to nought.


Ps. Nisi Dominus, page 153.


5. Ant. Viderunt eam filiæ Sion vernantem in floribus rosarum, et beatissimam prædicaverunt.

5. Ant. The daughters of Sion saw her adorned with the flowers of roses, and declared her most blessed.


Ps. Lauda Jerusalem, page 154.


Capitultum
Eccli. xxiv. xxxix.

 

In me gratia omnis viæ et veritatis, in me omnis spes vitæ et virtutis: ego quasi rosa piantata super rivos aquarum fructificavi.

In me is all grace of the way and of the truth, in me is all hope of life and of virtue; I have flowered forth like a rose planted by the brooks of water.


Hymn

Te gestientem gaudiis,
Te sauciam doloribus,
Te jugi amictam gloria,
O Virgo Mater pangimus.

Ave redundans gaudio
Dum concipis, dum visitas,
Et edis, offers, invenis,
Mater beata, Filium.

Ave dolens, et intimo
In corde agonem, verbera,
Spinas, crucemque Filii
Perpessa, princeps martyrum.

Ave, in triumphis Filii,
In ignibus Paracliti,
In regni honore et lumine,
Regina fulgens gloria.

Venite gentes, carpite
Ex his rosas mysteriis,
Et pulchri amoris inclytæ
Matri coronas nectite.

Jesu tibi sit gloria,
Qui natus es de Virgine,
Cum Patre et almo Spiritu,
In sempiterna sæcula.

Amen.
Thee exulting with joy,
thee wounded with the sword of sorrow,
thee girt with everlasting glory,
we sing, O Virgin Mother.

Hail, overflowing with gladness,
when thou conceivest; when thou visitest thy cousin;
when thou bringest forth thy Son, offerest him to God,
findest him in the temple, O happy Mother!

Hail, in thy bitter sorrow, when thou didst suffer
in thy inmost heart the agony, the scourging,
the thorns, and the cross of thy Son,
O first of martyrs!

Hail, O Queen refulgent with glory
in the triumphs of thy Son,
in the fires of the Paraclete,
in the honour and splendour of thy queenliness.

Come, O ye nations,
gather roses from these mysteries,
and wreathe therewith garlands
for the Mother of fair love.

Glory be to thee, O Jesus
born of the Virgin;
together with the Father and the holy Spirit,
through everlasting ages.

Amen.

℣. Regina sacratissimi rosarii, ora pro nobis.
℟. Ut digni efficiamur promissionibus Christi.

℣. Queen of the most holy rosary, pray for us,
℟. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.


Antiphon Of The Magnificat

Beata Mater et intacta Virgo, gloriosa Regina mundi, sentiant omnes tuum juvamen quicumque celebrant tuam sanctissimi rosarii solemnitatem.

Blessed Mother and unspotted Virgin, glorious Queen of the world, may all experience thine aid, who celebrate thy solemnity of the most holy rosary.


The Prayer as on page 299.


Then is made a commemoration of the Sunday.


[1] Leon, xiii, Epist eneyel. Magnæ Dei Matris, de Rosario Mariali. Sept. 8, 1892.
[2] Litteræ Salutaris Dec. 24, 1883.
[3] Decret. Sept. 11, 1887, Aug. 5, 1888.

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

Scarcely had two centuries elapsed since the triumph of the cross over Roman idolatry, when satan began to cry victory once more. While Eutychianism was crowned at Byzantium in the person of Anastasius the silent, Arianism was rife in the west. Throughout the whole ancient territory of the empire, heresy was supreme, and almost everywhere was persecuting the Church, who had now none but the vanquished for her sons.

‘But fear not; rather rejoice,’ says Baronius at this point of his Annals; ‘it is divine Wisdom still delighting to play in the world. The thoughts of men count for little before Him who holds the light in His hands, to hide it when He pleases, and, when He wills, to bring it forth again. The darkness, that now covers the earth, marks the hour when the dawn is about to break in the hearts of the Franks, and the Catholic faith is to shine there in all its glory.’[1]

Little known in our days is such a manner of writing history; yet this was the view taken by the first historian of the Church, and the greatest. On such a feast as this we could not do better than repeat summarily his account of the Franks. ‘How,’ says he, ‘can we help admiring the Providence which is never wanting to the Church? From the midst of tribes still pagan, on the morrow of the irremediable fall of the empire, God forms to Himself a new people, raises unto Himself a prince: against these must break the rising tide of heretics and barbarians. Such, in truth, appeared in the course of ages the divine mission of the Frankish kings.

What energy has faith to uphold kingdoms; and what fatal power has heresy to uproot every plant that is not set by our heavenly Father! In proof hereof, see how the principalities of the Goths, Vandals, Heruli, Alani, Suevi, and Gepidi have utterly disappeared; while the Franks behold their little spot of earth blessedly fertilized, and encroaching far upon the surrounding territories.’[2]

Henceforth appeared the might of the Franks, when preceded to battle by the cross. Hitherto obscure and struggling for existence, they were now everywhere victorious. They had only had to acknowledge Christ, in order to reach the highest summit of glory, honour, and renown. In so speaking I say nothing but what is known to the whole world. If they have been more favoured than other nations, it is because they were supereminent in faith, and incomparable in piety, so that they were more eager to defend the Church than to protect their own frontiers.[3]

Moreover, a privilege unique and truly admirable was theirs: never did the sins of kings bring upon this people, as upon so many others, subjection to a foreign yoke. The promise of the Psalm[4] would seem to have been renewed in favour of this nation: If his children forsake My law . . . and keep not My commandments, I will visit their iniquities with a rod . . . but My mercy I will not take away from him.’[5]

All honour, then, to the saintly pontiff, who merited to be the instrument of such heavenly benefits! According to the expression of the holy Pope Hormisdas, ‘Remigius converted the nation, and baptized Clovis, in the midst of prodigies similar to those of the apostolic age.’[6] The prayers of Clotilde, the labours of Genevieve, the penances of the monks who peopled the forests of Gaul, had doubtless a great share in a conversion which brought such joy to the angels. Did space allow, we might relate how it was also prepared by the great bishops of the fifth century, Germanus of Auxerre, Lupus of Troyes, Anian of Orleans, Hilary of Arles, Mamertus and Avitus of Vienne, Sidonius Apollinaris, and so many others who, in that age of darkness, held up the Church to the light of day, and commanded the respect of the barbarians. Remigius, contemporary and survivor of most of them, and their rival in eloquence, nobility, and holiness, seemed to personify them all on that Christmas night forestalled by so many desires, and prayers, and sufferings. In the baptistery of Saint Mary’s at Rheims, the Frankish nation was born to God; as heretofore on the banks of Jordan, the dove was again seen over the waters, honouring this time, not the Baptism of Jesus, but that of the Church's eldest daughter; it brought a gift from heaven, the holy vial containing the chrism which was to anoint the French kings in future ages into ‘the most worthy of all the kings of the earth.’[7]

Two churches in the city of Rheims claim the honour of these glorious souvenirs: the grand Church of our Lady, and the venerable basilica where Remigius lay, with the vial of chrism at his feet, and guarded by the twelve peers surrounding his splendid mausoleum. This church of St. Remigius bore the name of caput Franciæ,[8] head of all France, until those days of October 1793, when, from its desecrated pulpit was proclaimed the word that the days of darkness were at an end; when the holy ampulla was broken, and the relics of the apostle of France were thrown into a common grave.[9]

After an episcopate of seventy-four years, the longest ever recorded in history, Remigius took his flight to heaven on January 13, the anniversary of his episcopal consecration and also of his birth. Yet in the same century, the first of October was chosen for his feast; this being the day whereon his relics were first translated to a more honourable place, in the midst of miracles such as those which had graced his life. The translation of St. Remigius is the name still given to this day by the church of Rheims, which, by a special privilege, celebrates on the Octave day of the Epiphany the principal festival of its glorious patron. We borrow the following lessons from the Office of that day.

Remigius, qui et Remedius, Lauduni natus est, parentibus nobilibus, Æmilio et sancta Cilinia ætate jam provectis, et gratia apud suos nominatissimis. Ortum ejus prædixerat solitarius quid, m cæcus, nomine Montanus, qui et visum postea recepit, admoto ad oculos lacte quo infans Remigius alebatur. Studiis et orationibus primos impendebat annos futurus Francorum apostolus, secessum colens; quo magis hominum frequentiam fugere conabatur, eo notior toti provinciæ fiebat. Annos natus duos et vigniti, post transitum Bennadii archiepiscopi Remensis, ob seniles in adolescentia mores, ad sedem Remensem omnium votis raptus, potius quam electus fuit. Onus episcopale effugere cupiens, divinis monitis suscipere cogitur. Ab episcopis provinciæ consecratus, se tamquam veteranum gessit ili regimine Ecclesiæ suæ. Vir eloquens, potens in Seripturis, exemplum erat fidelium. Quod ore docebat, implebat opere. Grege suo summo labore ac vigilantia mysteriis fidei imbuto, et disciplina in clero constituta, regnum Christi in Belgio promovendum suscepit; populis ad fidem conversis, novos episcopatus iustituit: Teruanæ, ubi sanctum Antiruundum; Atrebatis, ubi sanctum Vedastum; Lauduni, ubi sanctum Genebaldum præfecit.

Remigius, also called Remedius, was born at Laon, of noble parents by name Æmilius and St. Celinia. They were far advanced in age, and renowned among their own people for their virtue, when the birth of this child was foretold to them by a blind hermit named Montanus; who afterwards recovered his sight, by applying to his eyes some of the milk wherewith the infant Remigius was nourished. The future apostle of the Franks devoted his youth to prayer and study in retirement; but the more he shrank from the company of men, the more his fame spread throughout the province. On the death of Bennadius, archbishop of Rheims, Remigius, who though but twenty-two years of age had the mature character of an old man, was unanimously elected, or rather forcibly installed as archbishop. He endeavoured to escape the burden of the episcopate, but was obliged by the command of God to submit. Having been consecrated by the bishops of the province, he governed his church with the wisdom of an experienced veteran. He was eloquent, learned in the Scriptures; and a pattern to his people, fulfilling in deed what he taught by word. He carefully and laboriously instructed his own flock in the mysteries of faith, and established discipline among his clergy. Then he undertook to spread the kingdom of Christ in Belgium; and having converted the people to the faith, he founded several new bishoprics and appointed them pastors: at Terouanne St. Antimund or Aumont, at Arras St. Vedast, and at Laon St. Genebald.

Clodovei et Francorum animi cultui pagano adhuc dediti movebantur stupendis Remigii operibus, quæ ubique vulgabantur. Cura autem Clodoveus, Gallorum victor, Alemannos Tolbiaci, invocato Christi nomine, debellasset, Remigium ad se evocatum, de religione Christiana disserentem libenter audiit. Et instanti Remigio ut fidem profiteretur, cum respondisset, vereri se ne per populum sibi non liceret: id ubi rescivit populus, statim acclamavit: Mortales deos abigimus, pie rex: et Deum quem Remigius prædicat immortalem, sequi parati sumus. Tum Remigius jejunia secundum Ecclesiæ morem illis indixit, et regem quem fidei documentis coram sancta Clotilde regina imbuerat, baptizavit ipso die Natalis Domini, his eum verbis allocutus: Mitis, depone colla, Sicamber: adora quod incendisti; incende quod adorasti. Baptizatum sacro inunxit chrismate, cum signaculo crucis Christi. De exercitu autem ejus ter mille et amplius baptismo initiati sunt: simul et Albofledis Clodovei soror, quæ cum paulo post de vivis decessisset, regem per litteras consolatus est Remigius. Lanthildis quoque altera soror regis, ab Ariana hæresi revocata, sacro chrismate inuncta est, et Ecclesiæ reconciliata.

The wonderful works of Remigius, being divulged far and wide, filled with astonishment the minds of Clovis and his still pagan Franks. When Clovis, who had already conquered the Gauls, triumphed over the Alemanni also at the battle of Tolbiac by the invocation of the name of Christ; he sent for Remigius, and willingly listened to his explanation of the Christian doctrine. Remigius urged the king to embrace the faith, but he replied that he feared the opposition of his people. When this was reported to the Franks, they cried out with one voice: ‘We renounce mortal gods, O pious king, and are ready to follow the immortal God whom Remigius preaches.’ Then the bishop imposed a fast upon them, according to the custom of the Church, and having in the presence of the queen St. Clotilde, completed the king’s religious instruction, he baptized him on the day of our Lord’s Nativity, addressing him in these words: 'Bow down thy head in meekness, O Sicambrian; adore what thou hast hitherto burnt, burn what thou hast adored.’ After the Baptism, he anointed him with holy chrism with the sign of the cross of Christ. More than three thousand of the army were baptized, as also Albofleda Clovis’s sister, who died soon after; upon which occasion Remigius wrote to console the king. His other sister, Lanthilda, was reclaimed from the Arian heresy, anointed with sacred chrism, and reconciled to the Church.

Eximia fuit ipsius erga pauperes liberalitas, et clementia in pœnitentes singularis: neque enim, inquiebat, nos posuit Dominus ad iracundiam, sed ad hominum curam. Arianum episcopum in synodo, divina virtute mutum reddidit; eique per nutus veniam poscenti, vocem his verbis restituit: In nomine Domini nostri Jesu Christi, si sic de eo recte sentis, loquere; et de illo sicut catholica credit Ecclesia, confitere. Recepto ille vocis usu, credere se et in eadem fide moriturum pollicitus est. Sub finern vitæ oculorum usu orbatus est Remigius, quem tamen paulo ante mortem recuporavit. Transitus diem non ignorans, finitis Missarum solemniis, plebe sacro Christi corpore confirmata; valefaciens clero et populo, dans singulis pacem in osculo oris Domini, plenus dierum et operum ex hac vita decessit idibus Januarii, armo ætatis nonagesimo sexto, post Christum quingentesimo trigesimo tertio. Sepultus est in ædicula sancti Christophori; et mortuus sicut et vivus claruit miraculis.

Remigius was exceedingly liberal to the poor and merciful towards sinners. 'God has not placed us here,’ he would say, 'to exercise wrath, but to take care of men` During a council, he once by divine power struck an Arian bishop with dumbness, until he begged forgiveness by signs, when he restored him his speech with these words: 'In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, if thou holdest the right belief concerning him, speak, and confess the faith of the Catholic Church.’ The bishop recovering his voice, protested that he believed, and would die in that faith. Towards the end of his life Remigius lost his sight, but recovered it shortly before his death. Knowing the day of his departure, he celebrated Mass, and fortified his flock with the sacred Body of Christ. Then he bade his clergy and people farewell, giving to each one the kiss of our Lord’s peace; and full of days and good works, he departed this life on the Ides of January, in the year of our Lord five hundred and thirty-three, being ninety-six years old. He was buried in the oratory of St. Christopher; and as in life, so also after death, he was famous for miracles.

This is a fitting occasion to bring forward the beautiful formula rightly called the Prayer of the Franks, which dates from the first ages of the monarchy.[10]

Prayer

Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, qui ad instrumentum divinissimæ tuæ voluntatis per orbem, et ad gladium et propugnaculum Ecclesiæ sanctæ tuæ, Francorum imperium constituisti: cœlesti lumine, quæsumus, filios Francorum supplicantes semper et ubique præveni: ut ea quæ agenda sunt ad regnum tuum in hoc mando efficiendum videant, et ad implenda quæ viderint charitate et fortitudine perseveranter convalescant.
Almighty, eternal God, who didst establish the empire of the Franks to be, throughout the world, the instrument of thy divine will, and the sword and bulwark of thy holy Church: ever and in all places prevent, we beseech thee, with thy heavenly light, the suppliant sons of the Franks; so that they may both see what they ought to do to promote thy kingdom in this world, and, in order to fulfil what they have seen, may continually increase in charity and in valour.

St. Leo IX said to his contemporaries, and we echo his words, concerning the land of France: ‘Be it known to your charity that you must solemnly celebrate the feast of the blessed Remigius; for if to others he is not an apostle, he is such with regard to you at least. Pay such honour, then, to your apostle and father, that you may merit, according to the divine promise, to live long upon the earth, and, by his prayers, may obtain possession of eternal beatitude.’[11] When he thus spoke, the sovereign Pontiff had just consecrated thy church, then for the third time rebuilt with the magnificence required by the growing devotion of the people. The nine centuries since elapsed have augmented thy claims to the gratitude of a nation, into which thou didst infuse such vigorous life, that no other has equalled it in duration. Accept our thanks, O thou who wast as a new Sylvester to a new Constantine.

Glory be to our Lord, who showed forth His wonders in thee! Remembering those gestes of God accomplished in all climes by her sons the Franks, the Church recognizes the legitimacy of applying to thee[12] the beautiful words which announced the Messias: ‘Give ear, ye islands, and hearken, ye people from afar. The Lord hath called me from the womb. . . And He said: . . . Behold I have given thee to be the light of the Gentiles, that thou mayest be My salvation even to the farthest part of the earth.’ Truly it was a day of salvation, that Christmas day, whereon our Lord was pleased to bless thy labours and grant the desires of thy long episcopate. By the holy faith thou taughtest, thou wast then the ‘covenant of the people,' the new people composed of the conquerors and the conquered in that land of France, which, when once itself raised up, soon restored to God the inheritance that had been destroyed. O true Church, the one only bride, captive and destitute, behold Remigius rises to say to thy sons that are bound: ‘Come forth, and to them that are in darkness: ‘Show yourselves’! From north and south, from beyond the sea, behold they come in multitudes: all these are come to thee. Therefore, give praise, O ye heavens, and rejoice O earth, because the Lord hath comforted His people; after a whole century of heresy and barbarity, God has once more demonstrated that they shall not be confounded that wait for Him.[13]

Our confidence in God will again be rewarded if thou, O Remigius, deign to present to our Lord the prayer of the Franks who have remained faithful in honouring thy memory. The renegades sold over to satan may tyrannize for a time over the deluded crowd; but they are not the nation. A day will come when Christ, who is ever King, will say to the angels of His guard those words of His lieutenant Clovis: ‘It displeases me that these Goths possess the good land of France; expel them, for it belongs to us.’[14]


[1] Baron. Annal. eccl. ad ann. 499, xv; the year 496 is now universally recognized as the date of the Baptism of Clovis.
[2] Ibid, ad ann. 484, cxxxv.
[3] Baron. Annal. eccl, ad ann. 514, xxiii.
[4] Ps. lxxxviii. 31-34.
[5] Baron. Annal. eccl. ad ann. 514, xxvii.
[6] Hormisd. Epist. 1, ad Remigium.
[7] Matth. Paris. ad ann. 1257: Archiepiscopus Remensis qui regem Francorum cælestt consecrat chrismats (quapropter rex Francorum regum censetur dignissimus) est omnium Franciæ parium primus et excellentissimus.
[8] Mabillon. Annal. benedict. xlvii. 30: Diploma Gerbergæ reginæ.
[9] They were, however, afterwards discovered and authentically recognized; and are, to this day, an object of the greatest veneration to pilgrims.
[10] Titra. Hist. de S. Léger, Introduct. p. xxii, xxiii.
[11] Leonix. Epist. xvii.
[12] Lect. 1 Noct. in proprio Remensi et aliis.
[13] Isaias xlix.
[14] Greg. Turon. Histor. Franc, ii. 37; Hincmar. Vita S. Remigii, li.

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

Although the solemnity of September 29 celebrates the praises of all the nine glorious choirs, yet the piety of the faithful, in the latter ages, desired to have a special day consecrated to the Guardian Angels. Several churches having taken the initiative, and kept the feast under various rites and on different days, Paul V (1608) authorized its celebration ad libitum. Clement X (1670) established it by precept as a feast of double rite[1] on October 2, the first free day after Michælmas, on which it thus remains in some way dependent.

It is of faith, on the testimony of the Scriptures and of unanimous tradition, that God commits to His angels the guardianship of men, who are called to contemplate

Him together with these blessed spirits in their common fatherland. Catholic theology teaches that this protection is extended to every member of the human race, without any distinction of just and sinners, infidels and baptized. To ward off dangers; to uphold man in his struggle against the demons; to awaken in him holy thoughts; to prevent him from sinning, and even, at times, to chastise him; to pray for him, and present his prayers to God: such is the office of the Guardian Angel. So special is his mission, that one angel does not undertake the guardianship of several persons simultaneously; so diligent is his care, that he follows his ward from the first day to the last of his mortal existence, receiving the soul as it quits this life, and bearing it from the feet of the sovereign Judge to the place it has merited in heaven, or to its temporary sojourn in the place of expiation and purification.

It is from the lowest of the nine choirs, the nearest to ourselves, that the Guardian Angels are for the most part selected. God reserves to the Seraphim, Cherubim, and Thrones the honour of forming His own immediate court. The Dominations, from the steps of His throne, preside over the government of the universe; the Virtues watch over the course of nature’s laws, the preservation of species, and the movements of the heavens; the Powers hold the spirits of wickedness in subjection. The human race in its entirety, as also its great social bodies, the nations and the churches, are confided to the Principalities; while the Archangels, who preside over smaller communities, seem also to have the office of transmitting to the Angels the commands of God, together with the love and light which come down even to us from the first and highest hierarchy. O the depths of the wisdom of God! Thus, then, the admirable distribution of offices among the choirs of heavenly spirits terminates in the function committed to the lowest rank, the guardianship of man, for whom the universe subsists. Such is the teaching of the School;[2] and the apostle, in like manner, says: ‘Are they not all ministering spirits, sent to minister for them, who shall receive the inheritance of salvation?’[3]

But God, magnificent as He is towards the whole human race, honours in a special manner the princes of His people, those who are most favoured by His grace, or who rule the earth in His name; the saints testify, that a supereminent perfection, or a higher mission in Church or State, ensures to the individual the assistance of a superior spirit, without the angel that was first deputed being necessarily removed from his charge. Moreover, with regard to the work of salvation, the Guardian Angel has no fear of being left alone at his post; at his request, and at God’s command, the troops of his blessed companions, who fill heaven and earth, are ever ready to lend him their aid. These noble spirits, acting under the eye of God whose love they desire to second by all possible means, have secret alliances between them, which sometimes induce between their clients, even on earth, unions the mystery whereof will be revealed in the light of eternity.

‘How profound a mystery,’ says Origen, ‘is the apportioning of souls to the angels destined for their guardians! It is a divine secret, part of the universal economy centred in the Man-God. Nor is it without ineffable order that the ministries of earth, the many departments of nature, are allotted to the heavenly Virtues; fountains and rivers, winds and forests, plants, living creatures of land and sea, whose various functions harmonize together by the angels directing them all to a common end.’[4]

Again, on these words ot Jeremias: How long shall the land mourn?[5] Origen, supported by the authority of his translator St. Jerome, continues:[6]

It is through each one of us that the earth rejoices or mourns; and not only the earth, but water, fire, air, all the elements; by which name we must here understand not insensible matter, but the angels who are set over all things on earth. There is an angel of the land, who, with his companions, mourns over our crimes. There is an angel of the waters to whom are applied the words of the psalm: The waters saw Thee, and they were afraid, and the depths were troubled; great was the noise of the waters; the clouds sent out a sound, for Thy arrows pass.[7]

How grand is nature viewed in this light! It is thus the ancients, more truthful as well as more poetical than our generation, always considered the universe. Their error lay in adoring these mysterious powers, to the detriment of the only God, under whom they stoop that bear up the world.[8]

‘Air and earth and ocean, everything is full of angels,’ says St. Ambrose.[9] ‘Eliseus, besieged by a whole army, felt no fear; for he beheld invisible cohorts assisting him. May the prophet open thine eyes also; may the enemy, be he legion, not terrify thee; thou thinkest thyself hemmed in, and thou art free: there are more with us than with them.’[10]

But let us return to our own specially-deputed angel, and meditate on this other testimony: ‘The noble guardian of each one of us sleeps not, nor can he be deceived. Close thy door, and make the darkness of night; but remember, thou art never alone; he has no need of daylight in order to see thy actions.’ And who is it that speaks thus? Not a father of the Church, but a pagan, the slave philosopher Epictetus.[11]

In conclusion, let us listen to the Abbot of Clairvaux, who here gives free rein to his eloquence:

In every place show respect to thy angel. Let gratitude for his benefits incite thee to honour his greatness. Love this thy future coheir, the guardian appointed for thee by the Father during thy childhood. For though we are sous of God, we are as yet but children, and long and dangerous is our journey. But God hath given His angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. In their hands they shall bear thee up, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone. Thou shalt walk upon the asp and the basilisk; and thou shalt trample under foot the lion and the dragon.[12] Yes; where the road is smooth enough for a child, they will content themselves with guiding thee, and sustaining thy footsteps, as one does for children. But if trials threaten to surpass thy strength, they will bear thee up in their hands. Oh those hands of angels! Thanks to them, what fearful straits we have passed through, as it were without thinking, and with no other impression left upon us, than that of a nightmare suddenly dispelled![13]

And in his commentary on the Canticle of canticles, St. Bernard thus describes the triumph of the angel: 'One of the companions of the Spouse, sent from heaven to the chosen soul as mediator, on witnessing the mystery accomplished, how he exults, and says: “I give thee thanks, O God of majesty, for having granted the desire of her heart!” Now it was he that, as a persevering friend, had not ceased, on the way, to murmur into the soul’s ear: “Delight in the Lord, and He will give thee the requests of thy heart;” and again: “Expect the Lord, and keep His way”; and then: “If He make any delay, wait for Him, for He will surely come and will not tarry.” Meanwhile he represented to our Lord the soul’s desire, saying: “As the hart panteth after the fountains of water, so this soul panteth after Thee, O God; have pity on her, hear her cries, and visit her in her desolation.” And now the faithful paranymph, the confidant of ineffable secrets, is not jealous. He goes from the Spouse to the bride, offering desires, bringing back gifts; he incites the one, he appeases the other. Sometimes, even in this world, he brings them into each other’s presence, either by raising up the bride in ecstasy, or by bringing down the Bridegroom; for he is one of the household, and well known in the palace; and he fears no rebuff, for every dav he beholds the face of the Father.’[14]

Let us unite with the Church, and offer to our Guardian angels this hymn of to-day’s Vespers.

Hymn

Custodes hominum psallimus angelos,
Naturæ fragili quos Pater addidit
Cadestis comites, insidiantibus
Ne succumberet hostibus.

Nam quod corruerit proditor angelus,
Concessis merito pulsus honoribus,
Ardens invidia pellere nititur
Quos cado Deus advocat.

Huc custos igitur pervigil ad vola,
Avertens patria de tibi eredita
Tam morbos animi, quam requiescere
Quidquid non sinit incolas.

Sanctæ sit Triadi laus pia jugiter,
Cujus perpetuo numine machina
Triplex hæc regitur, cujus in omnia
Regnat gloria sæcula.

Amen.
We celebrate the angels, guardians of men,
whom our heavenly Father has given us as companions,
lest our weak nature should he overcome
by the snares of our enemies.

For because the traitorous angel fell,
and was justly cast down from the honours he enjoyed,
burning with envy he now endeavours
to expel those whom God calls to heaven.

Fly hither, then, O everwatchful guardian;
ward off from the land committed to thy care
as well diseases of soul, as all that threatens to disturb
the peace of the inhabitants.

May loving praise be ever to the holy Three,
by whose eternal power is ruled
this triple world, heaven and earth and the abyss;
and whose glory is supreme throughout all ages.

Amen.

Before the establishment of a special feast in honour of the Guardian Angels, the following sequence was sung in certain churches on September 29.

Sequence

Paranymphos summi Regis
Defensores Christi gregis vocemus suspiriis:
Montes isti circa thronum
Nuncupantur, juxta donum quod habent præ aliis.

Cœli triplex hierarchia,
Vigens sub una Sophia, trino fruens lumine:
Hæc perficit nos et purgat,
Illuminat, ut resurgat nostra mens a crimine.

Contemplantur dum accedunt,
Cum mittuntur non recedunt, intra Deum cursitant:
Hostes arcent, justos regunt,
Fovent pios quos protegunt, desolatos visitant.

Cum sint isti jam beati,
Nobis tamen deputati nostras preces deferunt:
Ut ex ipsis integrai
Possint, hisque sociari, sanctos hic non deserunt.

O quam cives hi felices,
Qui, dum expient suas vices, fruuntur perenniter:
Hos fidentes deprecemur,
Ut ab ipsis adjuvemur apud Deum jugiter.

Amen.
Let us invoke with our desires the paranymphs of the most high King,
the defenders of Christ’s flock:
these are called mountains,
encircling the throne of God by a privilege all theirs.

These form the triple hierarchy of heaven,
flourishing under the one divine Wisdom, and enjoying the threefold light;
they perfect us, cleanse us,
enlighten us, that our soul may rise from sin.

They draw ever nearer to God in contemplation;
when sent to do his will, they depart not from him, for their coming and going is all within God.
They keep the enemy at bay, they guide the just,
they assist and protect their loving clients, and console them when afflicted.

Though themselves already blessed,
yet delegated to us, they carry our prayers to God:
they abandon not the saints on earth, but desire their company,
that their own ranks may be completed.

O happy citizens these! who, while fulfilling their offices,
lose not the joys of heaven:
let us pray to them with confidence,
that they may ever assist us before God.

Amen.

Blessed be ye, O holy angels, for that your charity is not wearied out by the crimes of men; among so many other benefits, we thank you for keeping the earth habitable, by deigning to dwell always therein. Solitude often weighs heavily upon the hearts of God’s children, in the great towns, and in the paths of the world, where one meets only strangers or enemies; but if the number of the just grows loss, yours never diminishes. In the midst of the excited multitude, as well as in the desert, not a human being that has not beside him an angel, the representative of universal Providence over wicked and good alike. O blessed spirits! you and we have the same fatherland, the same thought, the same love; why should the confused noises of a frivolous crowd disturb the heavenly life we may lead even now with you P Does the tumult of public places hinder you from holding your choirs there, or prevent the Most High from hearing your harmonies? We also, beholding by faith the face of our heavenly Father, which you ever delightedly contemplate, we wish to sing in every place the praises of our Lord and to unite at all times our adorations with yours. Thus, when our manners have become altogether angelic, the present life will be full of peace, and we shall be well prepared for eternity.


[1] It has been a greater double since 1883.
[2] Suarez. Dc Angelis, lib. vi. cap. xviii. 5.
[3] Heb. i. 14.
[4] Origen. in Josue, Hom, xxiii.
[5] Jerem. xii. 4.
[6] Origen. in Jerem. Hom. x.juxta Hieron. viii.
[7] Ps. lxxvi. 17, 18.
[8] Job ix. 13.
[9] Ambr. in Psalm. Cxviii, Sermon i. 9, 11, 12.
[10] iv Kings vi. 16.
[11] Ap. Arrian. Diss, 1. 14.
[12] Ps. xc. 11-13.
[13] Bern, in Psalm, xc. Sermon xii.
[14] Bernard, in Cunt. Sermon xxxi.

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

And I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, having the sign of the living God; and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, saying: Hurt not the earth, nor the sea, nor the trees, till we sign the servants of our God in their foreheads.[1]

The sixth seal of the Book of destinies had just been opened before the eyes of the prophet of Patmos. It was a time of anguish, the hour for the wicked to cry to the mountains: ‘Fall upon us!' The sun was darkened: an image of the Sun of justice eclipsed by the night of iniquity; the moon, the figure of the Church, appeared red as blood, through the evils that defiled the sanctuary; the stars fell from heaven, as the fig-tree casteth its green figs when it is shaken by a great wind. Who would appease the Lamb, and retard the day of wrath? At the invitation of the saints and of the apostolic See, let us recognize the angel who won for the world a delay of the judgment; the angel with the impress of God upon a mortal body; the seraph with his sacred stigmata, the sight of which once more disarmed the justice of God. Dante thus sings of the elect of God, under whose leadership took place on earth as it were a repetition of the first and only Redemption:

Between Tupino, and the wave that falls
From blest Ubaldo’s chosen hill, there hangs
Rich slope of mountain high, whence heat and cold
Are wafted thro’ Perugia’s eastern gate:
And Nocera with Gualdo, in its rear,
Mourn for their heavy yoke. Upon that side,
Where it doth break its steepness most, arose
A sun upon the world, as duly this
From Ganges doth: therefore let none who speak
Of that place say Ascesi; for its name
Were lamely so delivered; but the east,
To call things rightly, be it henceforth styled.
He was not yet much distant from his rising,
When his good influence ’gan to bless the earth.
A dame to whom none openeth pleasure’s gate
More than to death, was, ’gainst his father’s will,
His stripling choice: and he did make her his,
Before the spiritual court, by nuptial bonds,
And in his father’s sight: from day to day
Then loved her more devoutly. She bereaved
Of her first husband, slighted and obscure,
Thousand and hundred years and more, remain'd
Without a single suitor, till he came.


The lovers’ titles—Poverty and Francis.
Their concord and glad looks, wonder and love,
And sweet regard gave birth to holy thoughts,
So much that venerable Bernard[2] first
Did bare his feet, and, in pursuit of peace
So heavenly, ran, yet deemed his footing slow.
O hidden riches! O prolific good!
Egidius bares him next, and next Sylvester,
And follow, both, the Bridegroom: so the bride
Can please them. Thenceforth goes he on his way
The father and the master, with his spouse,
And with that family, whom now the cord
Girt humbly: nor did abjectness of heart
Weigh down his eyelids, for that he was son
Of Pietro Bernadone, and by men
In wondrous sort despised. But royally
His hard intention he to Innocent[3]
Set forth; and from him first received the seal
Of his religion.


And when
He had, thro’ thirst of martyrdom, stood up
In the proud Soldan’s presence, and there preached
Christ and his followers, but found the race
Unripen’d for conversion; back once more
He hasted, (not to intermit his toil,)
And reap’d Ausonian lands. On the hard rock,
’Twixt Arno and the Tiber, he from Christ
Took the last signet, which his limbs two years
Did carry. Then, the season come that he,
Who to such good had destin’d him, was pleased
To advance him to the meed, which he had earned
By his self-humbling; to his brotherhood,
As their just heritage, he gave in charge
His dearest lady: and enjoined their love
And faith to her; and, from her bosom, will’d
His goodly spirit should move forth, returning
To its appointed kingdom; nor would have
His body laid upon another bier.[4]

Francis took his flight, for his work was done; innumerable souls were now treading the paths of penance; the cross of Christ was set before the eyes of the whole world as the treasure of the Church, now that she was beginning her ascent of Calvary. How admirably had the sanctifying Spirit conducted this work!

At the age of four-and-twenty, Francis, who was destined not to see his forty-sixth year, was the head of a party of gay youths, who filled Assisi day and night with their songs. Full of the poetry of France (from which country he borrowed his name), be dreamed of nothing but worldly renown and knightly prowess. One night he beheld in a prophetic dream a large assortment of arms and weapons. ‘For whom are all these?' he inquired; and on hearing the answer: ‘For thee and thy soldiers,' he hastened to join Gauthier de Brienne, who was at war with the Germans in the south of Italy. But God arrested him: in a series of manifestations, to which the young man corresponded with all the generous ardour of his pure heart, our Lord revealed to him the object of his life's labour, the standard he was to carry through the world, and the lady in whose service he was to win his spurs.

The Church, ever under attack, vet hitherto ever victorious, seemed about to succumb, so undermined were her walls by heresy, so broken by the batteringram of the secular power; while, within the citadel, the ancient faith was sinking under prolonged soandals, leaving the field open to the enterprises of traitors, and multiplying defections in a society already beginning to feel the torpor of death. Nevertheless, it is written that the gates of hell shall not prevail against the Church. ‘Francis, seest thou not that My house is falling to decay? Go, then, and repair it for Me.’[5]

There was need of a sudden surprise to disconcert the enemy; and of an energetic appeal, to rouse the sleepy garrison, and rally them around the too forgotten ensign of Christians, the oross of Christ. Francis was to be, in his very flesh, the standard of the Crucified. The sacred wounds already pierced his soul, and made his eyes two ceaseless fountains of tears: ‘I weep for the Passion of Jesus Christ my Master; nor shail I blush to go weeping all over the world.'

Avarice was the crying sin of the age; the hearts of men, too preoccupied with earthly affairs to have a desire of heaven, must be delivered from a slavery which crushed out all noble thoughts, all love, all devotedness. Holy poverty, the mother of that true liberty which disarms hell and laughs at tyrants, could alone achieve such a deliverance. Francis was taken with the beauty of poverty, in spite of the jeers and insults of the vulgar, and of his rejection by his own family; but his sublime folly was the salvation of his people, and he was blest by our heavenly Father, as a true brother of His eternal Son.

As by nature the consubstantial Word receives His unbeginning Being from Him who begets Him eternally; so within the holy Trinity, He has nothing appropriated to Himself but the title of Son, to the glory of the Father, in the holy Spirit who is their love. Such is God’s destitution of all things, whereof nothing created could give an idea, but which is reflected in the Incarnate Word’s sublime disappropriation in presence of that Father from whom He derived His all. Would it, then, be far wrong to consider the poverty chosen by St. Francis as no other than eternal Wisdom, offering herself, even under the old Law, to the human race, as bride,[6] and as sister?[7] Once espoused in Mary’s womb at the Incarnation, how great has been her fidelity! But whoever loves her, must become in Jesus like unto her.

‘Lord Jesus,’ said Francis, ‘show me the paths of Thy well-beloved poverty. ’Tis she that accompanied Thee from Thy Mother’s womb to the crib in the stable, and, on the waysides of the world, took care Thou shouldst not have where to lay Thy head. In the combat which concluded the war of our Redemption, poverty, adorned with all the privations which form her bridal attire, mounted with Thee upon the cross, which even Mary could not ascend. She followed Thee to Thy borrowed tomb; and, as Thou didst yield up Thy soul in her embrace, so in her arms Thou didst take it again in the glorious nakedness of the Resurrection; and together with her didst enter heaven, leaving to the earth all that was earthly. Oh! who would not love this queen of the world which she tramples under her feet, my lady and my love? Most poor Jesus, my sweet Master, have pity on me; without her I can taste no peace, and I die of desire.’[8]

God cannot turn a deaf ear to such entreaties. If He contends, it is in order to add fresh wounds of love, until, the ‘old man’ being destroyed, the new rises from the ruins, in all things conformed to the image of the heavenly Adam. Eighteen years later, after the prodigy on Mount Alvernia, Francis, impressed with the divine seal of Christ’s wounds, sang in heavenly language the sublime combat which had made up his life:

Love has cast me into a furnace, love has cast me into a furnace, I am cast into a furnace of love.
My new Bridegroom, the loving Lamb, gave me the nuptial ring; then having cast me into prison, He cleft my heart, and my body fell to the ground.
Those arrows, propelled by love, struck me and set me on fire. From peace He made war, and I am dying of sweetness.
The darts rained so thick and fast, that I was all in an agony. Then I took a buckler, but the shafts were so swift that it shielded me no more; they mangled my whole body, so strong was the arm that shot them.
He shot them so powerfully, that I despaired of parrying them; and to escape death, I cried with all my might: “Thou transgressest the laws of the camp.” But He only set up a new instrument of war, which overwhelmed me with fresh blows.
So true was His aim, that He never missed. I was lying on the ground, unable to move my limbs. My whole body was broken, and I had no more sense than a man deceased;
Deceased, not by a true death, but through excess of joy. Then regaining possession of my body, I felt so strong, that I could follow the guides who led me to the court of heaven.
Returning to myself, I took up arms, and I made war upon Christ; I rode into His territory, and meeting Him, I engaged Him at once, and took my revenge on Him.
Having had my revenge, I made a treaty with Him; for from the beginning Christ had loved me with a true love. And now my heart has become capable of the consolations of Christ.[9]

Around the standard-bearer of Christ were already gathered those whom he called his knights of the Round Table.[10]However captivating he may have been when his fellow-citizens proclaimed him the flower of their youth, and he presided at their feasts and games; Francis was much more attractive now in his life of self-renunciation. Scarcely ten years after his espousals with holy poverty, he had so well avenged her for having been so long despised, that she held full court in the midst of five thousand Friars Minor encamped under the walls of Assisi;[11] while Clare and her companions formed for her such a suite of honour as no empress could ever boast of. The enthusiasm soon became so general, that Francis, in order to satisfy it without depopulating the State and the Church, gave to the world his Third Order; into which, led by Louis IX of France and Elizabeth of Hungary, entered countless multitudes of every nation, and tribe, and tongue. Thanks to the three seraphic Orders, as well as to the triple militia founded at the same time by Dominic de Guzman, devotedness to the Roman Church, and the spirit of penance and prayer, everywhere triumphed for a time over the anticipated rationalism, the luxury, and all the other evils, which had been threatening the speedy ruin of the world.

The influence of the saints springs from their sanctity, as rays from the focus. No rich man ever possessed the earth to such a degree as this poor man, who, seeking God and depending absolutely upon His Providence, had regained the condition of Adam in Eden. Thus, as he passed along, the flocks would welcome him; the fishes would follow his boat in the water; the birds would gather round him, and joyfully obey him. And why P Francis drew all things to himself because all things drew him to God.

With him there was no such thing as analyzing love, and making distinctions among those things which come from God and lead to God. To raise himself up to God, to compassionate with Christ, to be of service to his neighbour, to be in harmony with the whole universe like Adam when innocent, was for the seraphic father, says St. Bonaventure, one and the same impulse of that true piety which ruled his whole being.[12] The divine fire within him found fuel in everything. No touch of the holy Spirit, whencesoever it came, did Francis let pass; so much he feared to frustrate the effect of a single grace. He did not despise the stream for not being the ocean; and it was with an ‘unheard-of tenderness of devotion’, says his son and historian Bonaventure, that Francis relished God’s goodness in creation, contemplated His supreme beauty in every created beauty, and heard the echo of heaven’s harmonies in the concert of beings sprung like man himself from the only source of existence.[13] Hence it was by the sweet name of brothers and sisters that he invited all creatures to praise with him that well-beloved Lord, whose every trace on earth was the dear object of his love and contemplation.

Neither the progress nor the consummation of his holiness altered, in this respect, what would now be called his method of prayer. On hearing that his death was approaching, and again a few minutes before he passed away,[14] he sang, and would have others sing to him, his favourite canticle: ‘Praised be God, my Lord, for all creatures, and especially for our brother the sun, which gives us light, and is an image of Thee, my God! Praised be my Lord for our sister the moon; and for all the stars which He has created bright and beautiful in the heavens! Praised be my Lord for our brother the wind; and for the air, and the clouds, and the fine weather, and all the seasons; for our sister the water, which is very useful, humble, precious, and pure; for our brother the fire, which is bright and strong; for our mother the earth, which bears us, and produces the fruits and the flowers. Be Thou praised, O my God, for those who pardon and who suffer for love of Thee! Be Thou praised for our sister the death of the body, which no living man can escape; unhappy is he who dies in mortal sin; but happy is he whom death finds conformed to Thy holy will! Praise and bless my Lord, give Him thanks, and serve Him in great humility.’[15]

After having received the stigmata, Francis’s life was an unspeakable martyrdom; in spite of which, he continued to travel through towns and villages, riding, like Jesus of whom he was so touching an image, upon a poor little ass; and everywhere he preached the cross, working miracles and wonders of grace. Assisi cherishes the memory of the blessing bequeathed to it by its glorious son, when, gazing upon it for the last time from the beautiful plain that stretches at its feet, he exclaimed with tears: 'Be thou blessed of the Lord, O city faithful to God, for in thee and by thee shall many souls be saved!’[16]

The humble Portiuncula, the cradle of the Order, where Clare too had exchanged the vain ornaments of the world for the poverty of the cross: St. Mary of the angels, which awakens in the pilgrim a feeling of the nearness of heaven, and where the Great Pardon of August 2 proves the pleasure our Lord still takes in it: this was the appointed place of Francis’s death. He passed away on October 3, towards eight o’clock in the evening; and although darkness had already set in, a flight of larks descended, singing the rising in heaven of the new sun, which was mounting towards the Seraphim.[17]

Francis had chosen to be buried in the place of public execution, called the Colle d'Inferno, near the west wall of his native city. But within two years, Gregory IX enrolled him among the saints, and changed the name of the hill into Colle del Paradiso. James the German built over the bare rock, where lies the Poor Man of Assisi, a two-storied church, which the genius of Giotto has made to outshine in glory all the princely palaces on earth.

The Church’s narrative, though short, will complete these somewhat lengthy pages.

Franciscus, Assisii in Umbria natus, patris exemplum secutus, a prima ætate mercaturam fecit. Qui quodam die pauperem, pro Christi amore flagitantem pecuniam, cum præter consuetudinem repulisset, repente eo facto commotus, large ei misericordiam impertivit: et ex eo die Deo promisit se nemini unquam poscenti eleemosynam negaturum. Cum verum post in gravem morbum incidisset, ex eo aliquando confirmatus, cœpit ardentius colere officia caritatis. Qua in exercitatione tantum profecit, ut evangelioæ perfectionis cupidus, quidquid haberet pauperibus largiretur. Quod ferens iniquius pater, eum ad Assisinatem episcopum duxit, ut coram illo bonis cederet paternis: qui rejectis etiam vestibus, patri concessit omnia, illud subjungens, sibi in posterum majorem facultatem fore dicendi: Pater noster, qui es in cœlis.

Cum autem illud ex Evangelio audisset: Nolite possidere aurum, neque argentum, neque pecuniam in zonia vestris, non peram in via, neque duas tunicas, neque calceamenta: sibi eam regulam servanedam proposuit. Itaque detractis calceis, et una contentus tunica, cum duodecim socios adhibuisset, Ordinem Minorum instituit. Quare Romam venit, anno salutis millesimo ducentesimo nono, ut sui Ordinis regula ab Apostolica Sede confirmaretur. Quem cum accedentern ad se Summus Pontifex Innocentius Tertius rejecisset; quod in somnis postea sibi ille, quem repulerat, collabentem Lateranensem basilicam suis humeris sustinere visus esset, conquisitum accersiri jussit: benigneque accipiens, omnem ejus institutorum rationem confirmavit. Franciscus igitur, dimissis in omnes orbis terræ partes fratribus ad prædicandum Christi Evangelium, ipse cupiens sibi aliquam dari martyrii occasionem, navigavit in Syriam: ubi a rege Soldano liberalissime tractatus, cum nihil proficeret, rediit in Italiam.

Multis igitur exstructis suæ familiæ domiciliis, se in solitudinem montis Alverni contulit: ubi quadraginta dierum, propter honorem sancti Michælis archangeli, jejunio inchoato, festo die Exaltationis sanctæ Crucisei Seraphim crucifixi effigiem inter alas continens apparuit: qui ejus et manibus, et pedibus, et lateri vestigia ciavorum impressit: quæ sanctus Bonaventura, cum Alexandri quarti summi pontificis prædicationi iuteresset, narrasse Pontificem a se visa esse, litteris commendavit. His insignibus summi in eum Christi amoris, maximam habebat omnium admirationem. Ac biennio post graviter ægrotans, deferri voluit in ecclesiam sanctæ Mariæ angelorum, ut ubi gratiæ spiritum a Deo acceperat, ibi spiritum vitæ redderet. Eo in loco fratres ad paupertatem ac patientiam, et sanctæ Romanæ Ecclesiæ fidem servandam cohortatus, psalmum illud pronuntians, Voce mea ad Dominum clamavi; in eo versiculo, Me exspectant justi, donec retribuas mihi: efflavit animamquarto nonas Octobris. Quem miraculis darum Gregorius nonus Pontifex maximus in sanctorum numerum adscripsit.
Francis was born at Assisi in Umbria, and, after his father’s example, followed from his youth a mercantile career. One day, contrary to his custom, he repulsed a poor man who begged an alms of him for Christ’s sake; but, immediately repenting of what he had done, he bestowed a large bounty upon the beggar, and at the same time made a promise to God, never to refuse an alms to any one that asked him. After this he fell into a serious illness; and on his recovery, devoted himself more eagerly than ever to works of charity, making such rapid progress in this virtue, that, desirous of attaining evangelical perfection, he gave all he had to the poor. His father, angered at his proceedings, brought Francis before the bishop of Assisi, that, in his presence, he might formally renounce all claim to his patrimony. The saint gave up all to his father, even stripping off his garments, that he might, he said, for the future, have more right to say: Our Father who art in heaven.

After hearing one day this passage of the Gospel: Do not possess gold nor silver, nor money in your purses; nor scrip for your journey, nor two coats, nor shoes, he took it for his rule of life, laid aside his shoes and kept but one tunic. He gathered together twelve disciples and founded the Order of the Minors. In the year of our salvation 1209 he went to Rome, to obtain the confirmation of his rule and Order from the apostolic See. Pope Innocent HI at first refused to see him; but having in sleep beheld the man he had repulsed supporting with his shoulders the Lateran basilica which was threatening to fall, he had him sought out and brought to him; and receiving him kindly confirmed the whole system of his institute. Francis then sent his brethren into every part of the world to preach the Gospel. He himself, desirous of an opportunity of martyrdom, sailed into Syria; but the Soldan treated him most kindly; so that, unable to gain his end, he returned into Italy.

He built many convents of his Order; and then retired into solitude on Mount Alvernia; where he fasted forty days in honour of the Archangel St. Michael. On the feast of the Exaltation of the holy Cross, he had a vision of a seraph bearing between his wings the figure of the Crucified, who impressed the sacred stigmata on his hands and feet and side. St. Bonaventure says he heard Pope Alexander IV, while preaching, relate how he had himself seen these wounds. These signs of Christ’s exceeding love for his servant excited universal wonder and admiration. Two years later, Francis grew very ill, and was carried, at his own request, into the church of St. Mary of the angels; that he might give up his mortal life to God, in the very place where he had commenced his life of grace. There, after exhorting the brethren to poverty and patience, and the preservation of the faith of the holy Roman Church, he said the psalm: I cried to the Lord with my voice. When he reached the verse: The just wait for me, until thou reward me, he breathed forth his soul, on the fourth of the Nones of October. He was renowned for miracles; and Pope Gregory IX enrolled him among the saints.

Mayst thou be blessed by every living soul, O thou whom our Saviour associated so closely with Himself in the work of Redemption. The world, created by God for Himself, subsists through the saints; for it is in them He finds His glory. At the time of thy birth the saints were few; the enemy of God and man was daily extending his darksome reign; and when society has entirely lost faith and charity, light and heat, the human race must perish. Thou didst come to bring warmth to the wintry world, till the thirteenth century became like a spring time, rich in beautiful flowers; but alas! no summer was to follow in its wake. By thee the cross was forced upon men’s notice; not indeed, as heretofore, to be exalted in a permanent triumph, but to rally the elect in the face of the enemy, who would too soon afterwards regain the advantage. The Church lays aside the robe of glory, which beseemed her in the days of our Lord’s undisputed royalty; together with thee, she treads barefoot the path of trials, which liken her to her divine Spouse suffering and dying for His Father’s honour. Do thou thyself, and by thy sons, ever hold aloft before her the sacred ensign.

It is by identifying ourselves with Christ on the cross, that we shall find Him again in the splendours of His glory; for man, and God in man, cannot be separated; and both, thou didst say, must be contemplated by every soul. Yet no otherwise than by effective compassion with our suffering Head can we find the way of divine union and the sweet fruits of love. If the soul suffers herself to be led by the good pleasure of the Holy Ghost, this Master of masters will conduct her by no other way, than that set forth by our Lord in the books of His humility, patience, and suffering.[18]

O Francis, cause the lessons of thy amiable and heroic simplicity to fructify in us. May thy children, to the great profit of the Church, increase in number and still more in sanctity; and never spare themselves in teaching both by word and example, knowing, however, that the latter is of greater avail than the former.[19] Raise them up again, with their former popularity, in that country of France which thou didst love on account of its generous aspirations, now stifled by the sordid vulgarity of money-makers. The whole religious state looks upon thee as one of its most illustrious fathers; come to its assistance in the trials of the present time. Friend of Dominic, and his companion under our Lady's mantle, keep up between your two families the fraternal love which delights the angels. May the Benedictine Order never lose the affection which causes it to rejoice always on this day; and by thy benefits to it, strengthen the bonds knit once for all by the gift of the Portiuncula![20]


[1] Apoc. vii. 2, 3.
[2] Bernard of Quintaval, the saint’s first disciple.
[3] Innocent III.
[4] Dante, Paradiso, canto xi; Cary's translation.
[5] Vita B. Fancisci; Thom. Celan. i. 3; Tres Soeii. i; Bonavent. ii.
[6] Wisd. viii. 2.
[7] Prov. vii. 4.
[8] Franc. Opuse. t. i. Oratio B. Patris pro obtinen da paupertate.
[9] lIn foco l'amor mi mise, Francisci, Opuse. t. iii. cant. ii.
[10] Francisci, Opusc. t. iii. Collatio xvi.
[11] Chapter of Mats, May 26, 1219.
[12] Bonavent. Legenda S. Francisci, viii.
[13] Bonavent. Legenda S. Francisci, viii, ix, x.
[14] Wadding, ad ann. 1226. xxii, xxxvii.
[15] Francisci, Opuse. t. iii. Canticum fratrum solis.
[16] Wadding, ad ann. 1226. xxv.
[17] Ibid. xxxix.
[18] Francisci, Opuse. t. iii. Collatio xxiv.
[19] Ibid. Coll. xvii.
[20] A property of the Benedictines on Monte Soubazo, ceded by them to Francis, to be the cradle of the Order he was about to found.