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March

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

The faithful have not forgotten that on the first Sunday of Lent the Greeks keep one of their greatest solemnities, that of Orthodoxy. History proves that the Church of Constantinople, the new Rome, did not share the indefectibility of that of the old Rome, for it passed through a cycle of heresies on the dogma of the Incarnation. It rejected successively the consubstantiality of the Word, the unity of Person in Jesus Christ, and the integrity of His two natures. It seemed as though there were nothing left for heretical emperors and patriarchs to deny. Yet there was one more error to proclaim before the measure of false teaching was filled up.

Christ enthroned in heaven could not be belittled, but His images might be proscribed on earth. Heresy was powerless to touch the King even in these pictorial representations, but schism could at least shake off the yoke of His Vicar, and this last denial rolled the stone to the door of a tomb which the Crescent was one day to seal.

The heresy of the Iconoclasts or Image-breakers represents the last phase of Oriental error with regard to the Incarnation of the Son of God. It was right that the feast which commemorates the restoration of the holy Images should receive the glorious name of the Feast of Orthodoxy. It celebrates the last blow struck at Byzantine dogma, and recalls all those delivered by the councils of the Church between the first and second of Nicæa. A peculiar solemnity was given to this feast by the fact that all the anathemas formulated in previous times against the adversaries of revealed truth were renewed in the Church of St. Sophia while the Cross and the holy Images were exalted in triumph and the emperor stood at his throne.

Satan, the sworn foe of the Word, showed clearly that he looked upon the doctrine of the Iconoclasts as his last resource. There is no heresy which has caused more martyrdoms or more destruction. Nero and Diocletian seemed to be reincarnate in the baptized Caesars who defended it: Leo the Isaurian, Constantine Copronymus, Leo the Armenian, Michael the Stammerer and his son Theophilus. The edicts of persecution, published in defence of the idols of former times, were renewed for the destruction of the idolatry which was said to defile the Church.

In the early days of the heresy, St. Germanus of Constantinople reminded the crowned theologian of Isauria that Christians do not adore images but give them a relative honour, which is due to the persons of the saints whom they represent. The imperial pontiff replied by sending the patriarch into exile. The soldiers, whom the emperor charged to carry out his will, gave themselves up to the pillage of churches and private houses. On all sides venerated statues fell under the hammer of the destroyer. Mural paintings were covered with chalk, vestments and sacred vessels mutilated and destroyed on account of images in embroidery or enamel. Masterpieces of art, which had nourished the devotion of the people, were publicly burnt, and the artist who dared to represent Christ, Our Lady, or the saints, was himself subjected to fire and torture together with those of the faithful who had not been able to restrain their sorrow at the sight of such destruction. The shepherds bowed beneath the storm and yielded to re grettable compromises, and the reign of terror was soon supreme over the deserted flock.

But the noble family of St. Basil, both monks and consecrated virgins, rose en masse to withstand the tyrant. They passed through exile, imprisonment, starvation, scourging, death by drowning and the sword, but they saved the tradition of ancient art and the faith of their ancestors. The whole Order seems personified in the holy monk and painter Lazarus, who was first tempted by flattery and threats, then tortured and put in chains. It was impossible to repress him. His hands were burned with red-hot plates, but he still continued to exercise his art for the love of the saints, for the sake of his brethren, and for God, and he outlived his persecutors.

The heresy of the Iconoclasts helped, moreover to establish the temporal independence of the Roman pontiffs, for when the Isaurian threatened to enter Rome and destroy the statue of St. Peter, all Italy rose to repel the invasion of these new barbarians, defend the treasures of her basilicas and withdraw the Vicar of Christ from the yoke of Byzantium.

It was a glorious period, a hundred and twenty years, comprising the reigns of great popes, from St. Gregory II. to St. Paschal I. In the history of the Eastern Church it begins with John Damascene, who saw the opening of the conflict, and ends with Theodore the Studite, whose indomitable firmness secured the final triumph. For many centuries this period, which gave so many saints to the Greek Kalendar, was unrepresented in the Latin Liturgy. The feast of to-day was added by Pope Leo XIII. in 1892, and now John Damascene, the quondam vizier, the protege of Our Lady, the monk, whose excellent doctrine won for him the name of ‘Golden stream,’ commemorates in the Western cycle the heroic struggle in which the East rendered such glorious services to the Church and to the world.

The account given by the Liturgy of the life of this holy Doctor is so complete that we need add nothing further. But it will be well to give a short summary of the definitions by which in the eighth and sixteenth centuries the Church has avenged the holy Images from the attacks made on them by hell. The second Council of Nicæa declares that: ‘It is lawful to place in churches, in frescoes, in pictures, on vestments and the sacred vessels, on the walls of houses and in public streets, images, whether painted or mosaic or of other suitable material, representing Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, our most pure Lady, the holy Mother of God, the angels and the saints; and it is equally lawful to burn incense before them and surround them with lights.’[1] ‘Not that we must believe that these images have any divinity or virtue of their own,’ says the Council of Trent against the Protestants, ‘or that we must put our confidence in them as the pagans did in their idols. But the honour which is given to the images is referred to Christ the prototype,[2] to whom through them all our adoration is addressed, and to the saints whom we venerate in their portraits.’[3]

Joannes a patrio loco Damaecenus dictus, nobili genere natue, humanis divinisque litteris a Cosma monacho Constantinopoli fuit excultus; cumque ea tempestate imperator Leo Isauricus nefario bello sacrarum Imaginum cultum insectaretur, Joannes hortatu Gregorii Tertii Romani Pontificis, et sermone et scriptis eanctitatem illius cultus sedulo propugnavit. Quo facto tantum Leonis adversum se invidiam concita vit, ut hic confictis litteris ipsum tanquam proditorem accusarit apud Damasci Calipham, qui Joanne consiliario et administro utebatur. Credulus fraudi princeps Joanni nequidquam calumniam ejuranti præcidi dexteram jussit. Verum innocentiæ vindex adfuit clienti suo sanetissima Virgo, cujus opem precibus enixe imploraverat, ejusque beneficio trunca manus restituia ita brachio coaluit, ac si divisa nunquam fuisset. Quo maxime miraculo permotus Joannes, quod pridem animo conceperat, exsequi statuit. Itaque ægre a calipha impetrato secessu, suas omnes facultates in egenos distribuit, et servos libertate dona vit; tum eacra Palæstinas loca peregrinus lustravit, ac demum una cum Cosma institutore suo in lauram sancti Sabbæ prope Hierosolymam concessit, ibique presbyter initiatus est.

In religiosæ vitæ palæstra præclariora virtutum exempla monachis præbuit, demissionis potissimum et obe dientiæ. Abjectissima quæque cænobii munia veluti sibi propria deposcebat ac sedulo obibat. Contextas a se sportulas venditare Damasci jussus, in ea nimirum civitate ubi olim surnmis honeribus perfunctus fuerat, irrisiones ac ludibria vulgi avide captabat. Obedientiam adeo coluit, ut non modo ad quemlibet præsidum nutum præsto esset, sed ne causam quidem eorum quæ præcipiebantur, quamvis ardua essent et insolita, quærendam sibi un·quam putarit. Inter has virtutum exercitationes, catholicum dogma de sanctarum Imaginum cultu impense tueri nunquam destitit. Quare ut ante Leonis Isaurici, ita postmodum Constantini Copronymi adversum se odia vexationesque provocavit; eo vel magis quod libere arrogantiam imperatorum retunderet, qui fidei negotia pertractare, deque his sententiam arbitratu suo ferre audebant.

Mirum sane est quam multa turn ad fidem tutandam, turn ad pietatem fovendam, et soluta et adstricta numeris oratione, Joannes elucubraverit, dignus sane qui ab altera Nicæna sy nodo ampliseimis laudibus celebraretur, et ob aureum orationis flumen Chrysorrhoas appellaretur. Neque solum contra Iconomachos orthodoxam fidem defendit; sed omnes ferme hereticos, præsertim Acephalos, Monothelitas, Theopaschitas strenue impugnavit: Ecclesiæ jura potestatemque egregie vindicavit: primatum Principis Apostolorum disertissimis verbis assemit; ipsumque ecclesiarum columen, infractam petram, orbis terrarum magistrum et moderatorem saepius nominat. Universa autem ejus scripta non modo eruditione et doctrina præstant, sed etiam quemdam ingenuæ pietatis sensum præferunt, præcipue cum Genitricis Dei laudes prædicat, quam singular! cultu et amore prosequebatur. Illud vero maxime in laudem Joannis cedit, quod primus universam theologiam recto ordine comprelienderit et sancti Thomæ viam complanaverit ad sacram doc trin am tam præclara methodo tractandam. Tandem vir eanctissiraus meritis pienus devexaque ætate, in pace Chrieti quievit anno circiter septingentesimo quinquagesimo quarto. Ejus officium et missam Leo decimus tertius Pontifex Maximus, addito Doctoris titulo, universæ Ecclesiæ concessit.
John, who received the name of Damascene from his native place, was of noble birth, and studied sacred and profane letters at Constantinople under the monk Cosmas. When the Emperor Leo the Isaurian made a wicked attack upon the cult of the holy Images, John, at the desire of Pope Gregory III., earnestly defended the holiness of this cult both by words and writings. By this ho enkindled so great a hatred in the heart of Leo that the Emperor accused him, by means of forged letters, of treachery to the Caliph of Damascus, whom he was serving as a councillor and minister. John denied the charge, but the Caliph was deceived by it and ordered his right hand to be cut off. John implored most earnestly the help of the blessed Virgin, and she manifested the innocence of her servant by reuniting the hand and arm as though they had never been severed. This miracle moved John to carry out a design which he had long had in mind. He obtained, though not without difficulty, the Caliph’s permission to leave him, distributed all his goods to the poor and freed all his slaves. He then made a pilgrimage to the holy places in Palestine, and at length withdrew with his teacher Cosmas to the monastery of St. Sabbas near Jerusalem, where he was ordained priest.

In the religious life he was an example of virtue to all the monks, especially in his humility and obedience. He sought for the· lowest offices in the community as though they were peculiarly his own, and fulfilled them with the greatest care. When he was sent to Damascus to sell baskets made by himself, he welcomed the mockery and jests of the lowest classes in that city where he had once held the most honourable offices. He was so devoted to obedience, that not only was he ready to obey the nod of his superiors, but he never thought it right to ask the reason of any command, however strange or difficult. While practising these virtues, he never ceased earnestly to defend the Catholic doctrine as to the honouring of holy Images. Thus he drew upon himself the hatred and persecution of the Emperor Constantine Copronymus, as he had once done that of Leo the Isaurian, and this all the more because he freely rebuked the arrogance of these Emperors, who meddled with matters concerning the faith, and pronounced sentence on them according to their own judgment.

It is a marvel how much John wrote both in prose and verse for the protection of the faith and the enoouragement of devotion. He was worthy of the high praise which was given him by the second Council of Nicæa. He was surnamed Chrysorrhoas on account of the golden streams of his eloquence. It was not only against the enemies of the holy Images that he defended the orthodox faith, for he also etoutly opposed the Acephali, the Monothelites and the Theopaschites. He maintained the laws and the power of the Church. He asserted the primacy of the Prince of the Apostles in eloquent words, and often called him the pillar of the Churches, the unbroken rock and the teacher and ruler of the world. His writings are not only distinguished for doctrine and learning, but have a savour of simple piety, especially when he praises the Mother of God whom he honoured with a singular love and devotion. But the greatest praise of John is that he was the first to arrange in order a complete course of theology, thus preparing the way in which St. Thomas Aquinas has so clearly dealt with the whole body of sacred doctrine. This holy man, full of day s and good works, fell asleep in the peace of Christ about the year 754. Pope Leo XIII. declared him to be a Doctor of the Church, and ordered his office and mass to be said throughout the world.

O champion of the holy Images, obtain for us as the Church asks of thee,[4] that we may imitate the virtues and experience the aid of those whom we see thus represented. The image directs our veneration and our prayers to those to whom they are due, to Christ the King and to the saints, who are the princes of His army and the most valiant of His soldiers, for it is right that the King should share with His army the honours of His triumph.[5] The image is the book of those who cannot read, and even the learned may gain more from an instant’s gazing at an eloquent picture than from the prolonged study of many volumes.[6] The work of the Christian artist is not only an act of religion but also an apostolate; thus it is easy to understand the opposition raised by hell in all times of disturbance against Christian art. We unite ourselves with thee, O glorious saint, in thy warfare against the devil, and cry: ‘Get thee behind us, Satan, with that envy which will not suffer us to look upon the image of Our Lord and thus be sanctified. Thou wilt not permit us to contemplate those sufferings which were the source of our salvation, to admire the gracious condescension of our God, to recognize and praise the power displayed in His miracles. Thou art envious of the saints and of the glory they have received from God, and wilt not have us contemplate this glory, lest the sight inspire us to imitate their courage and their faith. Thou canst not endure the thought that our confidence in them will profit us both in soul and in body. We will not follow thee, O jealous demon, thou enemy of mankind.’[7]

Be thou rather our guide, dear saint, whom sacred science salutes as one of her earliest Doctors.

‘Knowledge is the most precious of all treasures,’[8] as thou didst once tell us, and it was thy desire to lead men to the only master who cannot lie, Christ the power and the wisdom of God. If they hear His voice in Holy Scripture, they will gain a true knowledge of all things. If they dispel all darkness of heart and mind, they will not stay on the threshold of the truth, but will pass into the secret of the nuptial chamber.[9]

Our Blessed Lady herself foretold the teaching and the works of John. She appeared to the master, whose voice he obeyed as that of God, and said to him: ‘Suffer the waters to flow, the clear sweet waters whose abundance will spread throughout the whole world, whose virtue will refresh souls athirst for knowledge and purity, whose power will stay the floods of heresy and transform them into a marvellous sweetness.’

The queen of the heavenly minstrels declared that thou, dear John, hadst received the prophetic harp and psaltery to sing the new canticle of the Lord our God in rivalry with the Cherubim.[10] The daughters of Jerusalem, who are the Churches, sing the death and resurrection of Christ,[11] and thou art one of the chief cantors. Lead us from the feasts of our exile— the Pasch of time—through the Red Sea and the desert to the eternal feast where all images of earth will vanish before the realities of heaven, where all knowledge will pass into vision, where reigns in glory the queen who inspired thy song, Mary, the mother of us all.

 


[1] Concil., Nic. II., sees. vii.
[2] This formula, which gives the true theological basis of the cult of images, is borrowed by the Council of Trent from the second Council of Nicæa, and was originally taken word for word from St. John Damascene, De fide Orthodoxy iv. 16.
[3] Concil., Trident,, sess. xxv.
[4] Collect of the feast.
[5] Damasc., De Imaginibus, i. 19-21.
[6] Damasc., Comment, in Basil.
[7] Ibid., De Imaginibus, iii. 3.
[8] Ibid., Dialectica, i.
[9] Ibid.
[10] Joan. Hierosolymit., Vita J. Dama&ceni, xxxi.
[11] Ibid

 

 

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

The nearer the Church approaches to the end of her earthly existence, the more she seems to love to enrich her cycle with feasts that recall the glorious past. Indeed, one of the objects of the sacred Liturgy is to keep before our minds all that God has done for us. ‘Remember the days of old: think upon every generation,’[1] said God to His people in the alliance of Sinai. It was a law in Jacob that the fathers should hand on these traditions to their children, who were in their turn to transmit them to their descendants.[2] The Church has taken the place of the ancient Israel and her annals speak, even more than those of the Jewish people, of the manifestations of divine power. The children of the new Sion have more right than the sons and daughters of Juda to say, as they look back on the past: ‘Thou art thyself my king and my God, who commandest the saving of Jacob.’

At the time when the defeat of the Iconoclasts was being completed in the East, a new and most terrible war was beginning in which the West was to fight for the sake of civilization and for the cause of the Incarnate Word of God. Like a sudden torrent, Islam overwhelmed Eastern Europe, reaching even to Gaul, and for a thousand years it disputed, foot by foot, with Christ and His Chutch, the land occupied by the Latin races. The glorious Crusades of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, which attacked this power in its very centre, only succeeded in paralyzing it for the time being. In Spain the struggle continued until the triumph of the Cross was complete, but in other parts of Europe Christian princes forgot the traditions of Charlemagne and St. Louis, grew weary of the holy war, and gave themselves up to the pursuit of their private ambition, so that the Crescent was able once more to defy the Christian powers and renew its plan of universal conquest.

In 1453 Byzantium, the capital of the Eastern empire, fell before the Turkish janissaries, and three years later Mahomet II. invested Belgrade on the very outskirts of the Western empire. It might have been expected that all Europe would hasten to the aid of the besieged fortress, for if this last dyke were to fall, Hungary, Austria and Italy would be overwhelmed and the peoples of the North and West would share the fate of the East, that life in death, that irremediable sterility of soil and intelligence which still holds captive the once brilliant Greece. But this imminent danger only resulted in deepening the breach in Christian unity, and the Christian nations were at the mercy of a few thousand infidels. Only the Papacy was true to itself in the midst of all this egoism and perfidy. Truly Catholic in its thoughts, its labours, its sufferings, as in its joys and triumphs, it took up the common cause which had been basely betrayed by kings and princes. The powerful were deaf to the Pope’s appeals, but he turned to the humble and, trusting more in prayer to the God of armies than in military tactics, he sought for the deliverers of Christendom among the poor.

It was then that John Capistran, the saint of to-day, attained the consummation of his glory and his sanctity. At the head of a few poor men of good-will, unknown peasants gathered together by the Franciscan Friars, this ‘poor man of Christ’ undertook to defeat the strongest and best organized army of the century. On July 14, 1456, he broke through the Ottoman lines with John Hunyades, the only one of the Hungarian nobles who would accompany him, and revictualled Belgrade; and on July 22, feeling that he could no longer endure the defensive, he threw himself, to the stupefaction of Hunyades, on the enemy entrenchments. His troops were armed only with flails and pitchforks, and their only strategy was the name of Jesus. John had inherited this victorious battle-cry from his master, Bernardine of Siena. The Psalmist said: ‘Some trust in chariots and some in horses: but we will call upon the name of the Lord our God.’[3] This name, so holy and so terrible, proved once more the salvation of the people. At the end of that memorable day twenty-four thousand Turks lay dead on the field of battle; three hundred cannon and all the spoils of the infidels were in the hands of the Christians, and Mahomet II. was seeking a distant hiding-place for his shame. The news of this victory, so like that of Gedeon,[4] reached Rome on August 6, and Pope Callistus III. decreed that henceforth the Universal Church should keep a solemn commemoration of the Transfiguration of Our Lord on that day, for it was with the soldiers of the Cross as with the heroes of Israel,[5] ‘they got not the possession of the land by their own sword: neither did their own arm save them, but thy right hand and thy arm and the light of thy countenance because thou wast pleased with them,’ as with Thy beloved Son on Mount Thabor.[6]

Let us read the life of St. John Capistran as related in the Liturgy:

Joannes Capistrani in Pelignis ortus, et Perusium studiorum causa missus, in christianis et liberalibus disciplinis adeo profecit, ut ob egregiam juris scientiam aliquot civitatibus a Neapolis rege Ladislao præfectus fuerit. Dum autem earum rempublicam sanctissime gerens perturbatis rebus tranquillitatem revocare studet, capitur ipse et in vincula conjicitur: quibus mirabiliter ereptus, Francisci Assisiensis regulam inter Fratres Minores profitetur. Ad divinarum litterarum studium progressus, præceptorem nactus sanctum Bemardinum Senensem, cuius et virtutis exempla, in cultu potissimum sanctissimi Nominis Jesu ac Deiparæ propagando, egregie est imitatus. Aquilanum episcopatum recusavit, et severiore disciplina atque scriptis, quæ plurima edidit ad mores reformandos, maxime enituit.

Prædicationi verbi Dei sedulo incumbens, Italiam fere universam lustravit, quo in muñere et virtute sermonis, et miraculorum frequentia innumeras prope animas in viam salutis reduxit. Eum Martinus Quintus ad exstinguendam Fraticellorum sectam inquisitorem instituit. A Nicolao Quinto contra Judæos et Saracenos generalis inquisitor in Italia constitutus, plurimos ad Christi fidem con vert it. In Oriente multa optime constituit et in Concilio Florentino, ubi veluti sol quidam fulsit, Armenos Ecclesiæ catholicæ restituit. Idem Pontifex postulante Friderico tertio imperatore, ilium apostolicæ sedis nuntium in Germaniam legavit, ut hæreticos ad catholicam fidem et principum animos ad concordiam revocaret. In Germania aliisque provinciis Dei gloriam sexennali ministerio mirifice auxit, Hussitis, Adamitis, Thaboritis, Hebræisque innumeris doctrinæ veritate ac miraculorum luce ad Ecclesiæ sinum traductis.

Cum Callistus tertius ipso potissimum deprecante, cruce signatos mittere decrevisset, Joannes per Pannoniam, aliasque provincias volitavit, qua verbo, qua litteris principum animos ita ad bellum accendit, ut brevi millia Christianorum septuaginta conscripta sint. Ejus consilio et virtute potissimum Taurunensis victoria relata est, centum ac viginti Turcarum millibus partim cæsis, partim fugatis. Cujus victoriæ cum Romam nuntius venisset octavo idus augusti, idem Callistus ejus diei memoriae solemnia Transfigurationis Christi Domini perpetuo consecravit. Lethali morboaegrotum et Villacum delatum viri principes plures visitarunt: quos ipse ad tuendam religionem hor ta tus, animam Deo sancte reddidit anno salutis millesimo quadringentesimo quinquagetsimo sexto. Ejus gloriam post mortem Deus multis miraculis confirmavit: quibus rite probatis, Alexander Octavus anno millesimo sexcentésimo nonagesimo Joannem in sanctorum numerum retulit, ejusque officium ac missam Leo decimus tertius, altero ab ej us canonizatione sæculo, ad universam extendit Ecclesiam.
John was born at Capistrano in the Abruzzi. He was sent to study at Perugia, and made such progress in learning, both sacred and profane, that on account of his eminent knowledge of law, he was made governor of many cities by Ladislaus, King of Naples. He was labouring piously to restore peace to these troubled states when he was kidnapped and put in chains. He was wonderfully delivered from this captivity and made his profession according to the Rule of St. Francis of Assisi among the Friars Minor. He devoted himself to the study of Divinity and had as master St. Bernardine of Siena, whom he zealously imitated in spreading devotion to the most holy name of Jesus and to the Mother of God. He refused the bishopric of Aquüa, and is most famous on account of his mortified life and his writings on the reformation of manners.

He zealously devoted himself to preaching the word of God and travelled throughout nearly all Italy, where he recalled countless souls to the way of salvation by the power of his words and the number of his miracles. Martin V. made him Inquisitor against the sect of the Fraticelli and Nicolas V. appointed him InquisitorGeneral in Italy, against Judaism and Mohammedanism. He converted many souls to the faith of Christ. He did much good in the East and at the Council of Florence, where he shonelike a sun, he brought the Armenians back to the Catholic Church. The same Pope, at the request of the Emperor Frederic III., sent him into Germany as nuncio of the Apostolic See, in order that he might bring back heretics to the Catholic faith, and the minds of princes to peace and union. He did a wonderful work for God’s glory during the six years of his mission, and brought back to the Church by the fight of his teaching and miracles almost countless numbers of Hussites, Adamites, Thaborites, and Jews.

It was mainly at the entreaty of John that Callistus III. proclaimed a crusade, and John hastened through Pannonia and other provinces where by his words and letters he so roused the minds of princes that in a short time seventy thousand Christian soldiers were enrolled. It was mainly through his advice and courage that a victory was gained at Belgrade, where one hundred and twenty thousand Turks were either slain or put to flight. The news of this victory reached Rome on the sixth of August, and Pope Callistus consecrated this day for ever to the solemn commemoration of the Transfiguration of our Lord. When John was seized with his last illness and taken to Illak, many princes came to see him, and he exhorted them to protect religion. He piously yielded up his soul to God in the year of salvation 1456. God confirmed his glory by many miracles after his death, and when these had been duly proved, Pope Alexander VIII. enrolled his name among those of the saints. Two hundred years later Leo XIII. extended his office and mass to the Universal Church.

‘The Lord is with thee, O most valiant of men. Go in this thy strength and thou shalt deliver Israel out of the hand of Madian. Know that I have sent thee.’[7] Thus did the angel of the Lord salute Gedeon when he chose him from among the least of his people[8] to fulfil a high destiny. Thus do we in our turn salute thee, O glorious son of St. Francis of Assisi, and we beseech thee to be our constant aid. The enemy whom thou didst defeat on the field of battle is no longer an imminent peril for the West, but there is a greater danger, as Moses said to his people after their deliverance from Egypt: ‘Take heed and beware lest at any time thou forget the Lord thy God . . . lest after thou hast eaten and art filled, hast built goodly houses . . . and shalt have herds of oxen and flocks of sheep and plenty of gold and of silver, and of all things; thy heart be lifted up and thou remember not the Lord who brought thee out of the house of bondage.’[9] If the Turk had conquered in that struggle of which thou wert the hero, what would have become of the civilization of which we are so proud? Since thy day the Church has had once more to champion the cause of Society, which the heads of the nations no longer seem to understand. May the need of giving expression to the gratitude which is due to her preserve her children from the forgetfulness which is the great evil of the present generation. We thank God for the feast of to-day; it is a perpetual memorial of His goodness and of the noble deeds of His saints. Help us to conquer in that warfare which is being incessantly carried on within our own souls against the world, the flesh, and the devil. May the name of Jesus put our enemies to flight, may His Cross be our standard and lead us through the death of self-love to the triumph of the Resurrection.

 


[1] Deut. xxxii. 7.
[2] Ps. lxxvii. 5.
[3] Ps. xix. 8.
[4] Judg. vii.
[5] Ps. xliii. 4, 5.
[6] St. Matt. xvii. 5.
[7] Judg. vi.
[8] Ibid.
[9] Deut. viii. 11-14.

 

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