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September

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

The Office of the time gives us, at the close of September, the Books of Judith and Esther. These heroic women were figures of Mary, whose birthday is the honour of this month, and who comes at once to bring assistance to the world.

‘Adonai, Lord God, great and admirable, who hast wrought salvation by the hand of a woman:’[1] the Church thus introduces the history of the heroine, who delivered Bethulia by the sword, whereas Mardoohai’s niece rescued her people from death by her winsomeness and her intercession. The Queen of heaven, in her peerless perfection, outshines them both, in gentleness, in valour, and in beauty. Today’s feast is a memorial of the strength she puts forth for the deliverance of her people.

Finding their power crushed in Spain, and in the east checked by the Latin kingdom of Jerusalem, the Saracens, in the twelfth century, became wholesale pirates, and scoured the seas to obtain slaves for the African markets. We shudder to think of the numberless victims, of every age, sex, and condition, suddenly carried off from the coasts of Christian lands, or captured on the high seas, and condemned to the disgrace of the harem or the miseries of the bagnio. Here, nevertheless, in many an obscure prison, were enacted scenes of heroism worthy to compare with those witnessed in the early persecutions; here was a new field for Christian charity; new horizons opened out for heroic self-devotion. Is not the spiritual good thence arising a sufficient reason for the permission of temporal ills? Without this permission, heaven would have for ever lacked a portion of its beauty.

When, in 1696, Innocent XII extended this feast to the whole Church, he afforded the world an opportunity of expressing its gratitude by a testimony as universal as the benefit received.

Differing from the Order of holy Trinity, which had been already twenty years in existence, the Order of Mercy was founded as it were in the very face of the Moors; and hence it originally numbered more knights than clerks among its members. It was called the royal, military, and religious Order of our Lady of Mercy for the ransom of captives. The clerics were charged with the celebration of the Divine Office in the commandaries; the knights guarded the coasts, and undertook the perilous enterprise of ransoming Christian captives. St. Peter Nolasco was the first Commander or Grand Master of the Order; when his relics were discovered, he was found armed with sword and cuirass.

In the following lines the Church gives us her thoughts upon facts which we have already learnt.[2]

Quo tempore major feliciorque Hispaniarum pars diro Saracenorum opprimebatur jugo, innumerique fideles sub immani servitute, maximo cum periculo christianæ fidei abjurandæ ammitendæque salutis æternæ, infeliciter detinebantur, beatissima cœlorum Regina, tot tantisque benigniter occurrens malis, nimiam caritatem suam in iis redimendis ostendit. Nam sancto Petro Nolasco, pietate et opibus fiorenti, qui sanctis vacans meditationibus jugiter animo recogitabat qua ratione tot Christianorum ærumnis sub Maurorum captivitate degentium succurri posset, ipsamet beatissima Virgo serena fronte se conspiciendam dedit, et acceptissimum sibi ac unigenito suo Filio fore dixit, si suum in honorem institueretur Ordo religiosorum, quibus cura incumberet captivos e Turcarum tyrannide liberandi. Qua cœlesti visione vir Dei recreatus, mirum est, quo caritatis ardore flagrare cœperit, hoc unum servans in corde suo, ut ipse, ac instituenda ab eo religio maximam illam caritatem sedulo exercerent, ut quisque animam suam poneret pro amicis et proximis suis.

Ea ipsa nocte eadem Virgo sanctissima beato Raymundo de Pennafort, et Jacobo Aragoniæ regi apparuit, idipsum de religiosis instituendis admonens, suadensque, ut opem pro constructione tanti operis ferrent.Petrus autem statim ad Raymundi pedes, qui ipsi erat a sacris confessionibus, advolans, ei rem omnem aperuit: quem etiam cœlitus instractum reperit, ejusque directioni se humiilime subjecit. At superve mens Jacobus rex, quam et ipse acceperat a beatissima Virgine, revelationem exsequi statuit. Unde collatis inter se consiliis, et consentientibus animis, in honorem ejusdem Virginis Matris Ordinem instituere aggressi sunt, sub invocatione sanctæ Mariæ de Mercede Redemptionis captivorum.

Die igitur decima Augusti anno Domini millesimo ducentesimo decimo octavo, rex idem Jacobus eam institutionem jampridem ab iisdem sanctis viris conceptam exsequi statuit, sodalibus quarto voto adstrictis, manendi in pignus sub paganorum potestate, si pro christianorum liberatione opus fuerit. Quibus rex ipse arma sua regia in pectore deferre concessit, et a Gregorio nono illud tam præcellentis erga proximum caritatis institutum et religionem confirmari curavit. Sed et ipse Deus per Virginem Matrem incrementum dedit, ut talis institutio celerius ac felicius totum per orbem divulgaretur, sanctis que viris floruerit caritate ac pietate insignibus, qui eleemosynas a Christi fidelibus collectas in pretium redemptionis suorurn proximorum expenderent, seque ipsos interdum darent in redemptionem multorum. Ut autem tanti beneficii et institutionisdebita; Deo et Virgini Matri referantur gra tiæ, Sedea apostolica hanc peculiarem festivitatem celebran, et Officium recitan indulsit, cum alia fere innumera eidem Ordini privilegia pariter contulisset.
At the time when the Saracen yoke oppressed the larger and more fertile part of Spain, and great numbers of the faithful were detained in cruel servitude, at the great risk of denying the Christian faith and losing their eternal salvation, the most blessed Queen of heaven graciously came to remedy all these great evils, and showed her exceeding charity in redeeming her children. She appeared with beaming countenance to Peter Nolasco, a man conspicuous for wealth and piety, who in his holy meditations was ever striving to devise some means of helping the innumerable Christians living in misery as captives of the Moors. She told him it would be very pleasing to her and her onlybegotten Son, if a religious Order were instituted in her honour, whose members should devote themselves to delivering captives from Turkish tyranny. Animated by this heavenly vision, the man of God was inflamed with burning love, having but one desire at heart, viz: that both he and the Order he was to found, might be devoted to the exercise of that highest charity, the laying down of life for one’s friends and neighbours.

That same night, the most holy Virgin appeared also to blessed Raymund of Pegnafort, and to James king of Aragon, telling them of her wish to have the Order instituted, and exhorting them to lend their aid to so great an undertaking. Meanwhile Peter hastened to relate the whole matter to Raymund, who was his confessor; and finding it had been already revealed to him from heaven, submitted humbly to his direction. King James next arrived, fully resolved to carry out the instructions he also had received from the blessed Virgin. Having therefore taken counsel together and being all of one mind, they set about instituting an Order in honour of the Virgin Mother, under the invocation of our Lady of Mercy for the ransom of captives.

On the tenth of August, in the year of our Lord one thousand two hundred and eighteen, king James put into execution what the two holy men had planned. The members of the Order bound themselves by a fourth vow to remain, when necessary, as securities in the power of the pagans, in order to deliver Christians. The king granted them licence to bear his royal arms upon their breast, and obtained from Gregory IX the confirmation of this religious institute distinguished by such eminent brotherly charity. God himself gave increase to the work, through his Virgin Mother; so that the Order spread rapidly and prosperously over the whole worldIt soon reckoned many holy men remarkable for their charity and piety who collected alms from Christ’s faithful, to be spent in redeeming their brethren; and sometimes gave themselves up as ransom for many others. In order that due thanks might be rendered to God and his Virgin Mother for the benefit of such an institution the apostolic See allowed this special feast and Office to be celebrated, and also granted innumerable other privileges to the Order.

Blessed be thou, O Mary, the honour and the joy of thy people! On the day of thy glorious Assumption, thou didst take possession of thy queenly dignity for our sake; and the annals of the human race are a record of thy merciful interventions. The captives whose chains thou hast broken, and whom thou hast set free from the degrading yoke of the Saracens, may be reckoned by millions. We are still rejoicing in the recollection of thy dear birthday; and thy smile is sufficient to dry our tears and chase away the clouds of grief. And yet, what sorrows there are still upon the earth, where thou thyself didst drink such long draughts from the cup of suffering! Sorrows are sanctifying and beneficial to some; but there are other and unprofitable griefs, springing from social injustice: the drudgery of the factory, or the tyranny of the strong over the weak, may be worse than slavery in Algiers or Tunis. Thou alone, O Mary, canst break the inextricable chains, in which the cunning prince of darkness entangles the dupes he has deceived by the highsounding names of equality and liberty. Show thyself a Queen, by coming to the rescue. The whole earth, the entire human race, cries out to thee, in the words of Mardochai: 'Speak to the king for us, and deliver us from death!’[3]


[1] Magnificat ant. 1st Vesp. 4th Sunday of September.
[2] On the feasts of St. Peter Nolasco and St. Raymund of Pegnafort, January 31 and 23.
[3] Esther xv. 3.

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

‘Whosoever ye be, that are seduced by the mysteries of the demons, none of you can equal the zeal I once had for these false gods, nor my researches into their secrets, nor the vain power they had communicated to me, to me Cyprian, who from my infancy was given up to the service of the dragon in the citadel of Minerva. Learn from me the deceitfulness of their illusions. A virgin has proved to me that their power is but smoke. The king of the demons was arrested at the door of a mere child, and could not cross the threshold. He who promises so much is a liar. A woman makes sport of the boaster who vaunted he could shake heaven and earth. The roaring lion becomes a startled gnat before the Christian virgin Justina.’[1]

Cyprianus primum magus, postea martyr, cum Justinam, christianam virginem, quam juvenis quidam ardenter amabat, cantionibua ac veneficiis ad ejus libidinis assensum allicere conaretur, dæmonem consuluit, quanam id re consequi posset. Cui dæmon respondit, nullam illi artem processuram adversus eos qui vere Christum colerent. Quo responso com motus Cyprianus, vehementer dolere cœpit vitæ superioris institutum. Itaque relictis magicis artibus, se totum ad Christi Domini fidem convertit. Quam ob causam una cum virgine Justina comprehensus est, et ambo colaphis flagellisque cæsi sunt: mox in carcerom conjecti,si forte sententiam commutarent. Verum inde postea emissi, cum in Christiana religione constantissimi reperirentur, in sartaginem plenam ferventis picis, adipis et ceræ injecti sunt. Demum Nicomediæ securi feriuntur. Quorum projecta corpora, cum sex dies inhumata jacuissent, noctu quidam nautæ clam ea in navem imposita Romain portaverunt: ac primum in prædio Rufinæ nobilis feminæ sepulta sunt: postea translata in urbem, in basilica Constantiniana condita sunt prope baptisterium.
Cyprian, who was first a magician and afterwards a martyr, attempted, by charms and spells, to make Justina, a Christian virgin, consent to the passion of a certain young man. He consulted the devil as to the best way to succeed, and was told in reply that no art would be of any service to him against the true disciples of Christ. This answer made so great an impression on Cyprian, that, grieving bitterly over his former manner of life, he abandoned his magical arts, and was completely converted to the faith of Christ our Lord. Accused of being a Christian, he was seized together with the virgin Justina, and they were both severely scourged. They were then thrown into prison to see if they would change their mind; but on being taken out, as they remained firm in the Christian religion, they were cast into a cauldron of boiling pitch, fat, and wax. Finally they were beheaded at Nicomedia. Their bodies were left six days unburied; after which some sailors carried them secretly by night to their ship, and conveyed them to Rome. They were first buried on the estate of a noble lady named Rufina, but afterwards were translated into the city and laid in Constantine’s basilica, near the baptistery.

He who sought to ruin thee is now, O virgin, thy trophy of victory; and for thee, O Cyprian, the path of crime turned aside into the way of salvation. May you together triumph over satan in this age, when spirit-dealing is seducing so many faltering, faithless souls. Teach Christians, after your example, to arm themselves, against this and every other danger, with the sign of the cross; then will the enemy be forced to say again: ‘I saw a terrible sign and I trembled; I beheld the sign of the Crucified, and my strength melted like wax.’[2]


[1] Confessio Cypriani Antiocheni, 1. 2.
[2] Acta Cypriani et Justinæ.

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

Honour the physician for the need thou hast of him: for the Most High hath created him. For all healing is from God, and he shall receive gifts of the king. The skill of the physician shall lift up his head, and in the sight of great men he shall be praised. The Most High hath created medicines out of the earth, and a wise man will not abhor them. Was not bitter water made sweet with wood? The virtue of these things is come to the knowledge of men, and the Most High hath given knowledge to men, that He may be honoured in Mis wonders. By these he shall cure and shall allay their pains, and of these the apothecary shall make sweet confections, and shall make up ointments of health, and of his works there shall be no end. For the peace of God is over the face of the earth. My son, in thy sickness neglect not thyself, but pray to the Lord, and He shall heal thee. Turn away from sin and order thy hands aright, and cleanse thy heart from all offence. Give a sweet savour, and a memorial of fine flour, and make a fat offering, and then give place to the physician. For the Lord created him: and let him not depart from thee, for his works are necessary. For there is a time when thou must fall into their hands: and they shall beseech the Lord, that He would prosper what they give for ease and remedy, for their conversation.[1]

These words of the Wise Man are appropriate for this feast. The Church obeying the inspired injunction, honours the medical profession in the persons of Cosmas and Damian, who not only, like many others,[2] sanctified themselves in that career; but, far beyond all others, demonstrated to the world how grand a part the physician may play in Christian society.

Cosmas and Damian had been Christians from their childhood. The study of Hippocrates and Galen developed their love of God, whose invisible perfections they admired reflected in the magnificences of creation, and especially in the human body His palace and His temple. To them, science was a hymn of praise to their Creator, and the exercise of their art a sacred ministry; they served God in His suffering members, and watched over His human sanctuary, to preserve it from injury or to repair its ruins. Such a life of religious charity was fittingly crowned by the perfect sacrifice of martyrdom.

East and west vied with each other in paying homage to the Anargyres,[3] as our saints were called on account of their receiving no fees for their services. Numerous churches were dedicated to them. The emperor Justinian embellished and fortified the obscure town of Cyrus out of reverence for their sacred relics there preserved; and about the same time, Pope Felix IV built a Church in their honour in the Roman. Forum, thus substituting the memory of the twin martyrs for that of the less happy brothers Romulus and Remus. Not long before this, St. Benedict had dedicated to Saints Cosmas and Damian his first monastery at Subiaco, now known as St. Soholastica’s. But Rome rendered the highest of all honours to the holy Arabian brethren, by placing their names, in preference to so many thousands of her own heroes, in the solemn litanies and on the sacred dyptichs of the Mass.

In the middle ages the physicians and surgeons banded together into confraternities, whose object was the sanctification of the members by common prayer, charity towards the destitute, and the accomplishment of all the duties of their important vocation for the greater glory of God and the greater good of suffering humanity. The Society of Saints Luke, Cosmas, and Damian has now undertaken in France the renewal of these happy traditions.

The following is the Church's account of the two brothers.

Cosmas et Damianus, fratres Arabes, in Ægea urbi nati, nobiles medici, imperatoribus Diocletiano et Maximiano, non magis medicinæ scientia quam Christi virtute, morbis etiam insanabilibus medebantur. Quorum religionem cum Lysias præfectus cognovisset, adduci eos ad se jubet, ac de vivendi instituto et de fidei professione interrogatos, cum se et Christianos esse, et Christianam fidem esse ad salutem necessariam, libere prædicarent, deos venerari imperat; et si id recusent, minatur cruciatus et necem acerbissimam.

Verum ut se frustra hæc illis proponere intelligit: Colligate, inquit, manus et pedes istorum, eosque exquisitis torquete suppliciis. Quibus jussa exsequentibus, nihilominus Cosmas et Damianus in sententia persistebant. Quare ut erant vincti, in profundum mare jaciuntur: unde cum salvi ac soluti essent egressi, magicis artibus præfectus factum assignans, in carcerem tradit, ac postridie eductos, in ardentem rogum injici jubet: ubi cum ab ipsis fiamma refugeret, varie et crudeliter tortos securi percuti voluit. Itaque in Jesu Christi confessione martyrii palmam acceperunt.
The brothers Cosmas and Damian were Arabians of noble extraction, born in the town of Ægæ. They were physicians; and during the reign of Diocletian and Maximian, healed even incurable maladies by Christ’s assistance rather than by their knowledge of medicine. The prefect Lysias, being informed of their religion, ordered them to be brought before him, and questioned them on their faith and their manner of life. They openly declared that they were Christians, and that the Christian faith is necessary to salvation; whereupon Lysias commanded them to adore the gods, threatening them, if they refused, with torture and a cruel death.

But as the prefect saw his threats were in vain: ‘Bind their hands and feet,’ he cried, ‘and torture them with the utmost cruelty.’ His commands were executed, but Cosmas and Damian remained firm. They were then thrown, chained as they were, into the sea, but came out safe and loosed from their bonds. The prefect attributing this to magical arts ordered them to prison. The next day, he commanded them to be led forth and thrown on a burning pile, but the flame refused to touch them. Finally, after several other cruel tortures, they were beheaded; and thus confessing Jesus Christ, they won the palm of martyrdom.

In you, O illustrious brethren, was fulfilled this saying of the Wise Man: ‘The skill of the physician shall lift up his head, and in the sight of great men he shall be praised.’[4] The great ones, in whose sight you are exalted, are the princes of the heavenly hierarchies, witnessing to-day the homage paid to you by the Church militant. The glory that surrounds your heads is the glory of God Himself, of that bountiful King, who rewards your former disinterestedness by bestowing upon you His own blessed life.

In the bosom of divine love, your charity cannot wax cold; help us, then, and heal the sick who confidently implore your assistance. Preserve the health of God’s children, so that they may fulfil their obligations in the world, and may courageously bear the light yoke of the Church’s precepts. Bless those physicians who are faithful to their baptism, and who seek your aid; and increase the number of such.

See how the study of medicine now so often leads astray into the paths of materialism and fatalism, to the great detriment of science and humanity. It is false to assert that simple nature is the explanation of suffering and death; and unfortunate are those whose physicians regard them as mere flesh and blood. Even the pagan school took a loftier view than that; and it was surely a higher ideal that inspired you to exercise your art with such religious reverence. By the virtue of your glorious death, O witnesses to the Lord, obtain for our sickly society a return to the faith, to the remembrance of God, and to that piety which is profitable to all things and to all men, having the promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.[5]


[1] Ecclus. xxxviii. 1-14.
[2] Dom A. M. Fournier, Notices sur les saints médecins.
[3] Without fees.
[4] Ecclus. xxxviii. 3.
[5] 1 Tim. iv. 8.

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

Wenceslas recalls to us the entrance into the Church of a warlike nation, the Czechs, the most indomitable of the Slavonic tribes, which had penetrated into the very midst of Germany. It is well known, with what bitterness and active energy this nation upholds its social claims, as though its struggle for existence in the early days of its history had made it proof against every trial. The faith of its apostles and martyrs, the Roman faith, will be the safeguard, as it is the bond of union, of the countries subject to the crown of St. Wenceslas. Heresy, whether it be the native Hussite, or the ‘reform' imported from Germany, can but lead the people to eternal ruin; may they never yield to the advances and seductions of schism! Wenceslas the martyr, grandson of the holy martyr Ludmilla, and great-uncle of the monkbishop and martyr Adalbert, invites his faithful subjects to follow him in the only path where they may find honour and security both for this w ord and for the next.

Let us now read the legend of holy Church. The conversion of Bohemia dates from the latter part of the ninth century, when St. Methodius baptized St. Ludmilla and her husband Borziwoi the first Christian duke of the line of Premislas. The pagan reaction, during which St. Wenceslas gained the palm of martyrdom, was but shortlived.

Wenceslaus Bohemiæ dux, Wratislao patre Christiano, Drahomira matre gentili natus, ab avia Ludmilla femina sanctissima, pie educatus, omni virtutum genere insignis, summo studio virginitatem per omnem vitam servavit illibatam. Mater per nefariam Ludmillæ necem regni administrationem assecuta, impie cum juniore filio Boleslao vivens, concitavit in se procerum indignationem: quare tyrannici et impii regiminis pertæsi, utriusque excusso jugo, Wenceslaum in urbe Pragensi regem salutarunt.

Ille regnum pietate magis quam imperio regens, orphanis, viduis, egenis tanta caritate subvenit, ut propriis humeris aliquando ligna indigentibus noctu comportant, pauperibus humandis frequenter adfuerit, captivos liberarit, carceribus detentos nocte intempesta visitarit, pecuniis et consilio sæpissime consolatus. Miti animo princeps vehementer dolebat quempiam, etsi reum, morti adjudicari. Summa religione sacerdotes veneratus, suis manibus triticum serebat, et vinum exprimebat, quibus in Missæ sacrificio uterentur. Nocte nudis pedibus super nivem et glaciem circuebat ecclesias, sanguinea et terram calefacientia post se relinquens vestigia.

Angelos habuit sui corporis custodes. Cum enim ad singulare certamen adversus Radislaum, ducem Curimensem, eo fine accederet ut suorum saluti prospiceret, visi sunt angeli arma ministrasse, et dixisse adversario, Ne ferias. Perterritus hostis, venerabundus procidens veniam exoravit. Cum in Germaniam profectus esset, imperator, conspectis duobus angelis aurea cruce ad se accedentem omantibus, e solio prosiliens brachiis excepit, regiis insignibus decoravit, eique sancti Viti brachium donavit. Nihilominus impius frater, matre hortante, convivio exceptum, et postea in ecclesia orantem, paratæ sibi mortis præscium, adhibitis sceleris comitibus, interfecit. Sanguis per parietes aspersus adhuc conspicitur: et, Deo vindice, matrem inhumanam terra absorbuit; interfectores variis modis misere perierunt.
Wenceslas, duke of Bohemia, was bom of a Christian father, Wratislas, and a pagan mother, Drahomira. Brought up in piety by the holy woman Ludmilla his grandmother, he was adorned with every virtue and with the utmost care preserved his virginity unspotted throughout his life. His moth er, having murdered Ludmilla, seized the reins of government; but her wicked life, and that of her younger son Boleslas excited the indignation of the nobles. These, wearied of a tyrannical and impious rule, threw off the yoke of both mother and son, and proclaimed Wenceslas king at Prague.

He ruled his kingdom rather by kindness than authority. He succoured orphans, widows, and all the poor with the greatest charity, sometimes even carrying wood on his shoulders, by night, to those in need of it. He frequently assisted at the funerals of poor persons, liberated captives, and often visited the prisoners during the night, assisting them with gifts and advice. It caused great sorrow to his tender heart to condemn even the guilty to death. He had the greatest reverence for priests; and with his own hands he would sow the com and prepare the wine to be used in the sacrifice of the Mass. At night he used to go the round of the churches barefoot, through ice and snow, while his bloodstained footprints warmed the ground.

The angels formed his body-guard. In order to spare the lives of his soldiers, he undertook to fight in single combat with Radislas, duke of Gurima; but when the latter saw angels arming Wenceslas, and heard them forbidding him to strike, he was terrified and fell at the saint’s feet begging his forgiveness. On one occasion, when he had gone to Germany, the emperor, at his approach, saw two angels adorning him with a golden cross; whereupon, rising from his throne, he embraced the saint, bestowed on him the regal insignia, and presented him with the arm of St. Vitus. Nevertheless, instigated by their mother, his wicked brother invited him to a banquet, and then, together with some accomplices, killed him as he was praying in the church, aware of the death that awaited him. His blood is still to be seen sprinkled on the walls. God avenged his saint; the earth swallowed up the inhuman mother, and the murderers perished miserably in various ways.

 

Thou didst win thy crown, O holy martyr, in the church of Saints Cosmas and Damian, whither their feast had attracted thee.[1] As thou didst honour them, we now in turn honour thee. We are also hailing the approach of that other solemnity, which thou didst greet with thy last words at the fratricidal banquet: ‘In honour of the Archangel Michæl let us drink this cup, and let us beseech him to lead our souls into the peace of eternal happiness.’[2] What a sublime pledge, when thou wast already grasping the chalice of blood! O Wenceslas, fire us with that intrepid valour, which is ever humble and gentle, simple as God to whom it tends, calm as the angels on whom it relies. Succour the Church in these unfortunate times; the whole Church honours thee, she has a right to expect thy assistance. But especially cherish for her the nation of which thou art the honour; as long as it remains faithful to thy blessed memory, and looks to thy patronage in its earthly combats, its wandering from the truth will not be without return.


[1] Christian de Scala, son of the fratricide Boleslas the cruel, and nephew of the saint; he became a monk, and wrote the lives of St. Wenceslas and St. Ludmilla.
[2] Ibid.

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

The glorious Archangel appears to-day at the head of the heavenly army: There was a great battle in heaven, Michael and his angels fought with the dragon, and the dragon fought and his angels.[1] In the sixth century, the dedication of the churches of St. Michael on Monte Gargano and in the Roman Circus increased the celebrity of this day, which had however been long before consecrated by Rome to the memory of all the heavenly Virtues.

The east commemorates on the sixth of September an apparition of the victorious Prince at Chone[2] in Phrygia; while the eighth of November is their solemnity of the angels, corresponding to our feast of to-day, and bearing the title: ‘Synaxis of Saint Michæl prince of the heavenly host, and of the other spiritual Powers.’ Although the term synaxis is usually applied only to religious assemblies here on earth, we are informed that in this instance it also signifies the gathering of the faithful angels at the cry of their chief, and their union eternally sealed by their victory.[3]

Who, then, are these heavenly Powers, whose mysterious combat heads the first page of history? Their existence is attested by the traditions of all nations as well as by the authority of holy Scripture. If we consult the Church, she teaches us that in the beginning God created simultaneously two natures, the spiritual and the corporal, and afterwards man who is composed of both.[4] The scale of nature descends by gradation from beings made to the likeness of God, to the very confines of nothingness; and by the same degrees the creature mounts upwards to his Creator. God is infinite being, infinite intelligence, infinite love. The creature is for ever finite: but man, endowed with a reasoning intellect, and the angel, with an intuitive grasp of truth, are ever, by a continual process of purification, widening the bounds of their imperfect nature, in order to reach, by increase of light, the perfection of greater love.

God alone is simple with that unchangeable productive simplicity, which is absolute perfection excluding the possibility of progress; He is pure Act, in whom substance, power, and operation are one thing. The angel, though entirely independent of matter, is yet subject to the natural weakness necessary to a created being; he is not absolutely simple, for in him action is distinct from power, and power from essence[5] How much greater is the weakness of man’s composite nature, unable to carry on the operations of the intellect without the aid of the senses!

One of the most enlightened brethren of the angelic doctor says:

Compared with ours, how calm and how luminous is the knowledge of pure spirits! They are not doomed to the intricate discoursing of our reason, which runs after the truth, composes and analyzes, and laboriously draws conclusions from premisses. They instantaneously apprehend the whole compass of primary truths. Their intuition is so prompt, so lively, so penetrating, that it is impossible for them to be surprised, as we are, into error. If they deceive themselves, it must be of their own will. The perfection of their will is equal to the perfection of their intellect. They know not what it is to be disturbed by the violence of appetites. Their love is without emotion; and their hatred of evil is as calm and as wisely tempered as their love. A will so free can know no perplexity as to its aims, no inconstancy in its resolutions. Whereas with us long and anxious meditation is necessary before we make a decision, it is the property of the angels to determine by a single act the object of their choice. God proposed to them, as He does to us, infinite beatitude in the vision of His own Essence; and to fit them for so great an end, He endowed them with grace at the same time as He gave them being. In one instant they said Yes or No; in one instant they freely and deliberately decided their own fate.[6]

Let us not be envious. By nature the angel is superior to us; but, to which of the angels hath He said at any time, ‘Thou art My Son?’[7] The only begotten Son of God did not take to Himself the angelic nature. When on earth, He acknowledged the temporary subordination of humanity to those pure spirits, and deigned to receive from them, even as do His brethren in the flesh, the announcements of the divine will,[8] and help and strength.[9] But ‘God hath not subjected unto angels the world to come,’ says the apostle.[10] How can we understand this attraction of God towards what is feeblest? We can only worship it in humble, loving faith. It was Lucifer’s stumbling-block on the day of the great battle in heaven. But the faithful angels prostrated themselves in joyous adoration at the feet of the Infant-God foreshown to them enthroned on Mary’s knee, and then rose up to sing: ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men of good will.’

O Christ, my Christ as St. Denis calls Thee,[11] the Church to-day delightedly proclaims Thee the beauty of the holy angels.[12] Thou, the God-Man, art the lofty height whence purity, light, and love flow down upon the triple hierarchy of the nine choirs. Thou art the supreme Hierarch, the centre of worlds, controller of the deifying mysteries at the eternal feast.

Flaming Seraphim, glittering Cherubim, steadfast Thrones, court of honour to the Most High, and possessed of the noblest inheritance: according to the Areopagite, ye receive your justice, your splendour, and your burning love by direct communication from our Lord:[13] and through you, all grace overflows from Him upon the holy city.

Dominations, Virtues, and Powers; sovereign disposers, prime movers, and rulers of the universe: in whose name do ye govern the world? Doubtless in His whose inheritance it is; in the name of the King of glory, the Man-God, the Lord strong and mighty, the Lord of hosts.

Angels, Archangels, and Principalities; heaven’s messengers, ambassadors, and overseers here below: are ye not also, as the apostle says, ministers of the salvation wrought on earth by Jesus, the heavenly High-Priest?

We also, through this same Jesus, O most holy Trinity, glorify Thee, together with the three princely hierarchies, which surround Thy Majesty with their nine immaterial rings as with a many-circled rampart. To tend to Thee, and to draw all things to Thee, is their common law. Purification, illumination, union: by these three ways in succession, or simultaneously, are these noble beings attracted to God, and by the same they attract those who strive to emulate them. Sublime spirits, it is with your gaze ever fixed on high that ye influence those below and around you. Draw plentifully, both for yourselves and for us, from the central fires of the Divinity; purify us from more than the involuntary infirmities of nature; enlighten us; kindle us with your heavenly flames. For the same reason that satan hates us, ye love us: protect the race of the Word made Flesh against the common enemy. So guard us, that we may hereafter be worthy to occupy among you the places left vacant by the victims of pride.

Adam of St. Victor thus sings the fullness of to-day’s mystery.

Sequence

Laus erurapat ex affectu,
Psallat chorus in conspectu supernorum civium:
Laus jocunda, laus decora,
Quando laudi concanora puritas est cordium.

Michælem cuncti laudent,
Nec ab hujus se defraudent Diei lætitia:
Felix dies qua sanctorum
Recensetur angelorum solemnis victoria.

Draco vetus exturbatur
Et draconis effugatur inimica legio:
Exturbatus est turbator
Et projectus accusator a cœli fastigio.

Sub tutela Michælis
Pax in terra, pax in cœlis, laus et jubilatio:
Cum sit potens hic virtute,
Pro communi stans salute, triumphat in prælio.

Suggestor sceleris, pulsus a superis,
Per hujus æris oberrat spatia:
Dolis invigilat, virus insibilat,
Sed hunc annihilat præsens custodia.

Tres distinctæ hierarchiæ
Jugi vacant theoriæ jugique psallentio:
Nec obsistit theoria
Sive jugis harmonia Jugi ministerio.

O quam miræ caritatis
Est supernæ civitatis ter terna distinctio:
Quæ nos amat et tuetur,
Ut ex nobis restauretur ejus diminutio.

Sicut sunt hominum divisæ gratiæ, sic erunt ordinum
Distinctæ gloriæ justis in præmio:
Solis est alia quam lunæ dignitas,
Stellarum varia relucit claritas: sic resurrectio.

Vetus homo novitati,
Se terrenus puritati conformet cœlestium:
Coæqualis his futurus,
Licet nondum plene punis, spe præsumat præmium.

Ut ab ipsis adjuvemur,
Hos devote veneremur instantes obsequio:
Deo nos conciliat
Angelisque sociat sincera devotio.

De secretis reticentes interim cœlestibus,
Erigamus puras mentes in cœlum cum manibus:
Ut superna nos dignetur cohæredes curia,
Et divina collaudetur ab utrisque gratia.

Capiti sit gloria
Membrisque concordia.

Amen.
Let love break forth into praise;
let our choir sing in presence of the heavenly citizens:
our praise will be pleasing and beautiful,
if the purity of our hearts be in accord therewith.

Let all praise Michæl;
let none deprive himself of this day’s joy.
O happy day! whereon the solemn victory
of the holy angels is recorded.

The old dragon is cast out,
and all his hostile legions put to flight:
the disturber is himself disturbed,
the accuser is hurled down from the height of heaven.

Under Michæl’s protection
there is peace on earth, peace in heaven, praise and exultation;
for he, mighty and valorous,
stands for the safety of all and triumphs in the battle.

Banished from heaven, the originator of sin
wanders through the air:
he watches to lay his snares, and insinuates his poison;
but the guardian band of angels reduces his power to nought.

The three distinct hierarchies
are ever occupied in contemplation and unending song;
nor does their contemplation
nor their ceaseless harmony interrupt their continual ministry.

Oh! in the heavenly city how wondrous is the charity
of the three tripled choirs;
they love us and defend us,
and hope to see their ranks filled up by us.

As among men there are divers graces upon earth, so in the heavenly reward
the just will receive divers degrees of glory;
other is the excellence of the sun, other that of the moon,
and various the brightness of the stars; so shall be the resurrection.

Let the old man be brought into conformity with the new,
the earthly to the purity of the heavenly citizens;
he is one day to be equal to them, and though not yet wholly pure,
let him in hope look forward to the prize.

That we may be assisted by these blessed spirits,
let us devoutly venerate them and be untiring in our homage;
sincere devotion reconciles to God
and unites us with the angels.

Meanwhile let us be silent as to the secrets of heaven,
and lift up pure minds and spotless hands on high:
Thus may the most high senate recognize us as coheirs;
and may the divine grace be praised alike by angels and men.

To our divine Head be glory
and among his members union.

Amen.

[1] Apoc. xii. 7.
[2] Thu ancient Colossæ.
[3] Menolog. Basilii.
[4] Conoil. Lateran. iv. cap. Firmiter.
[5] Thom. Aquin. Summ. Theol. i. q. liv. art. 1-3.
[6] Monsabré 15th Conference, Lent 1875.
[7] Heb. i. 5; ex Ps. ii. 7.
[8] Dionys. Areop. De cælesti hierarchiæ, iv. 4; ex Matt. ii. 13-15, 19-21.
[9] St. Luke xxii. 43.
[10] Heb. ii. 5.
[11] Dionys. De cælesti hierarchia, ii. 5.
[12] Hymn of Lauds.
[13] Dionys. ubi supra, vii. 2.

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

‘I know not Vitalis, I reject Meletius, I pass by Paulinus;[1] he that cleaveth to the Chair of Peter, he is mine.’[2] Thus, about the year 376, when the whole east was disturbed by the competitions for the episcopal See of Antioch, wrote an unknown monk to Pope St. Damasus. It was St. Jerome, a native of Dalmatia, who implored ‘light for his soul redeemed by the Blood of our Lord.’[3]

Far from Stridonium, his semi-barbarous native place, whose austerity and vigour he never lost; far from Rome, where the study of literature and philosophy had not bad sufficient ascendency to withhold him from the seductions of pleasure; the fear of God’s judgments had led him into the desert of Chalcis. There, under a burning sky, in the company of wild beasts, he for four years tormented his body with fearful macerations; and then, as a yet more efficacious remedy, and certainly a more meritorious mortification for one passionately fond of classical beauties, he sacrificed his Ciceronian tastes to the study of the Hebrew language. Such an undertaking was far more laborious then than in our days of lexicons and grammars and scientific works of every description. Many a time was Jerome discouraged and almost in despair. But he had learnt the truth of the maxim he afterwards inculcated to others: ‘Love the science of the Scriptures, and you will not love the vices of the flesh.’[4] So he took up his Hebrew alphabet again, and continued to spell those ‘hissing and panting syllables’[5] until he had so mastered them as even to spoil his pronunciation of Latin.[6] For the rest of his life, all the energy of his spirited nature was spent upon this labour.[7]

God amply repaid the homage thus rendered to His sacred word: Jerome hoped, to obtain by his toil the cure of his moral sickness; he moreover attained the lofty holiness that we now admire in him. Other heroes of the desert remain unknown: Jerome was one of those to whom it is said: ‘You are the salt of the earth; you are the light of the world’; and God willed that in due time this light should be set upon a candlestick that it might shine to all that are in the house.[8]

The once brilliant student returned to Rome an altered man; for his holiness, learning, and humility, he was declared by all to be worthy of the episcopal dignity.[9] Pope Damasus, the virgin doctor of the virgin Church,[10] commissioned him to answer, in his name, the consultations sent from east and west;[11] and caused him to begin, by the revision of the Latin new Testament upon the original Greek text, those great scriptural works, which have immortalized his name and entitled him to the undying gratitude of the Christian world. Meanwhile Helvidius dared to call in question the perpetual virginity of the Mother of God: Jerome’s refutation revealed that talent for polemics, of which Jovinian, Vigilantius, Pelagius, and others, were also to feel the force. Mary rewarded him for thus avenging her honour, by bringing to him a number of holy souls, whom he was to lead in the paths of virtue, and instruct in the mysteries of holy Scripture.

Here was a phenomenon inexplicable to the infidel historian: at the very time when the Rome of the Cæsars was perishing, suddenly around this Dalmatian were gathered the fairest names of ancient Rome. They were thought to have died out, when the lower classes made themselves supreme; but at the critical moment, when Rome was to rise again purified from the flames kindled by the barbarians, they reappeared to claim their birthright and refound the city for its true eternal destiny. The combat was of a new kind; but they were at the head of the army that was to save the world. Four centuries earlier, the apostle had said there were not many wise, and powerful, and noble; Jerome declared that, in his day, they were numerous, ‘numerous among the monks.’[12]

The monastic army in the west was, at its origin, chiefly recruited from the patricians, whose character of ancient grandeur it ever afterwards retained; its ranks included noble virgins and widows; and sometimes husband and wife would enlist together. Marcella was the first to inaugurate the monastic life at Rome, in her palace on the Aventine. She obtained St. Jerome’s direction for her privileged community; but after his departure, she herself was consulted by all, as an oracle, on the difficulties of holy Scripture.[13] She was joined in her retreat by Furia, Fabiola, and Paula, worthy descendants of Camillus, of the Fabii, and of the Scipios. But the old enemy could ill brook such losses to his power: Jerome must be forced to leave Rome.

A pretext was soon found for raising a storm. The Treatise on Virginity addressed to St. Paula’s daughter Eustochium, and written in Jerome’s fearless and pointed style, evoked the animosity of false monks, foolish virgins, and unworthy clerics.[14] In vain did the prudent Marcella predict the tempest: Jerome would make bold to write what others dared to practise.[15] But he had not reckoned on the death of Pope Damasus at that very juncture; an event for which the ignorant and the envious had been waiting, in order to give full vent to their stifled hatred.[16] Driven away by the storm, the lover of justice returned to the desert; not this time to Chalcis, but to the peaceful Bethlehem, whither the sweet recollection of our Saviour’s infancy attracted the strong athlete. Paula and her daughter soon followed him, in order not to forgo the lessons they prized above all else in the world; their presence was a consolation to him in his exile, and an encouragement to continue his labours. All honour to these valiant women! To their fidelity, their thirst for knowledge, their pious importunities, the world is indebted for a priceless treasure, viz: the authentic translation[17] of the sacred Books, which was necessitated by the imperfections of the old Italic Version and its numberless variations, as also by the fact that the Jews were accusing the Church of falsifying the Scripture.[18]

‘Paula and Eustochium, may the labours of my poor life be pleasing to you, useful to the Church, and worthy of posterity; as for contemporaries, I care but little for their judgment.’[19] So said the holy solitary; yet he felt the envious attacks of his bitter enemies more keenly than he would own to himself. ‘Handmaids of Christ,’ he said, ‘shield me with the buckler of your prayers from those who malign me.’[20] Every book he translated brought upon him fresh criticisms, and those not only from enemies. There were the timid, who were alarmed for the authority of the Septuagint, so sacred both to the Synagogue and to the Church;[21] there were the possessors of precious manuscripts, written on purple vellum and adorned with splendid uncials, and with letters of silver and gold, all which would now lose their value. ‘Well, let them keep their precious metal, and leave us our poor papers,’[22] cried Jerome exasperated. ‘And yet, it is you,’ he said to the fair inspirers of his works, ‘who force me to endure all this folly and all these injuries; to put an end to the evil, it were better you enjoined silence on me.’[23] But neither the mother nor the daughter would hear of such a thing, and Jerome yielded to constraint. Finding that the text of his first revision of the Psalter upon the Greek Septuagint[24] had become corrupted through careless transcriptions, they induced him to undertake a second.[25]This version is inserted in our present Vulgate, together with his translation of the other Books of the old Testament from Hebrew or Chaldaic.[26] In all these works the saint appealed to Paula and Eustochium as guarantees of his exactitude, and begged them to collate his translations word for word with the original.[27]

All his old friends in Rome took part in this learned intercourse. Jerome refused to none the light of his knowledge, and pleasantly excused himself for giving one half of the human race a preference over the other: 'Principia, ray daughter in Jesus Christ, I know that some find fault with me for writing to women; let me say, then, to these detractors: If men questioned me on the Scripture, they should receive my answers.’[28]

There was great joy in the monasteries at Bethlehem when news arrived that another Paula was born in Rome. Eustochium’s brother had married Læta, the Christian daughter of the pagan pontiff Albinus. They had vowed their child to God before her birth; and now they rejoiced to hear her lisp into the ear of the priest of Jupiter the Christian Alleluia. On hearing of her grandmother beyond the seas, and of her aunt consecrated to God, the little one would beg to go and join them. ‘Send her,’ wrote Jerome delightedly, ‘I will be her master and foster-father; I will carry her on my old shoulders; I will help her lisping lips to form her words; and I shall be prouder than Aristotle; for he indeed educated a king of Macedon, but I shall be preparing for Christ a handmaid, a bride, a queen predestined to a throne in heaven.’[29]The child was, in fact, sent to Bethlehem, where she was destined to solace the last hours of the aged saint, and to assume, while yet very young, the responsibility of carrying on the work of her holy relatives.

But Jerome had still more to suffer, before leaving this world. The elder Paula was the first to be called away, singing: ‘I have chosen to be an abject in the house of my God, rather than to dwell in the tabernacles of sinners.’[30] So great a langour then took possession of St. Jerome, that it seemed his end was approaching.[31] Eustochium, though brokenhearted, repressed her tears, and implored him to live and fulfil his promises to her mother. He therefore aroused himself, finished his translations,[32] and took up again his commentaries on the text. He had completed Isaias,[33] and was engaged upon Ezechiel, when the most awful calamity of those times came upon the world: ‘Rome is fallen; the light of the earth is xtinguished; in that one city the whole universe has perished. What can we do, but hold our peace and think upon the dead?’

He had, however, to think about the living also, for numberless fugitives, destitute of all things, made their way to the holy places; and the uncompromising wrestler was all tenderness to these unfortunates. Loving the practice of the holy Scripture no less than its teaching, he spent his days in discharging the duties of hospitality. In spite of his failing sight, he gave the night hours to his dear studies, wherein he forgot the troubles of the day, and rejoiced to fulfil the desires of the spiritual daughter God had given him. The prefaces to his fourteen books on Ezechiel bear witness to the share taken by the virgin of Christ in this work undertaken despite the misfortunes of the times, his own infirmities, and his last controversies with heretics.[34]

Heresy seemed indeed to be profiting of the troubled state of the world, to rise up with renewed audacity. The Pelagians, supported by bishop John of Jerusalem, assembled one night with torches and swords, and set fire to the monastery of St. Jerome, and to that of the sacred virgins then governed by Eustochium. Manfully seconded by her niece Paula the younger, the saint rallied her terrified daughters, and they escaped together through the midst of the flames. But the anxiety of that terrible night was too much for her already exhausted strength. Jerome laid her to rest beside her mother, near the crib of the Infant God; and leaving his commentary on Jeremias unfinished, he prepared himself to die.

The following is the liturgical account of his life.

Hieronymus, Eusebii filius, Stridone in Dalmatia Constantio imperatore natus, Romæ adolescens est baptizatus, et in liberalibus disciplinis a Donato et aliis viris doctissimis eruditus. Tum discendi studio Galliam peragravit: ubi pios aliquot, et in divinis litteris eruditos viros coluit, multosque sacros libros sua manu descripsit. Mox se in Græciam conferens, philosophia et eloqùentia instructus, summorum theologorum consuetudine floruit: in primis vero Gregorio Nazianzeno Constantinopoli operam dedit: quo doctore se sacras litteras didicisse profitetur. Tum religionis causa visit Christi Domini incunabula, totamque lustravit Palæstinam: quam peregrinationem, adhibitis Hebræorum eruditissimis, ad sacræ Scripturæ intelligentiam sibi multum profuisse testatur.

Deinde secessit in vastam Syriæ solitudinem; ubi quadriennium in lectione divinorum librorum, cœlestis que beatitudinis contemplatione consumpsit, assidua se abstinentia, vi lacrymarum, et corporis afflictatione discrucians. Presbyter a Paulino episcopo Antiochiæ factus, Romam de contro versiis quorumdam episcoporum cum Paulino et Epiphanio ad Damasum Pontificem profectus, ejus ecclesiasticis epistolis scribendis adjutor fuit. Verum cum pristina) solitudinis desiderio teneretur, in Palæstinam reversus, Bethlehem ad Christi Domini præsepe in monasterio, quod a Paula Romana extra ctum erat, cœlestem quamdam vitæ rationem instituit: et quamquam varie morbis doloribusque tentaretur, tamen corporis incommoda piis laboribus et perpetua lectione ac scriptione superabat.

Tamquam ad oraculum, ex omnibus terræ partibus, ad ipsum divinæScripturæ quæstiones explicandæ referebantur. Illum Damasus Pontifex, illum sanctus Augustinus de locis Scripturæ difficillimis sæpe consuluit, propter ejus singularem doctrinam, et linguæ non solum Latinæ et Græcæ, sed Hebraicæ etiam et Chaldaicæ intolligentiam: et quod omnes pene scriptores, ejusdem Augustini testimonio, legerat. Hæreticos acerrimis scriptis exagitavit: piorum et catholicorum patrocinium semper suscepit. Vetus Testamentum ex Hebræo convertit: novum, jussu Damasi, Græcue fidei reddidit, magna etiam ex parte ex plicavit. Multa præterea Latine reddidit scripta doctorum virorum, et ipse aliis proprii ingenii monumentis Christianam disciplinam illustravit Qui ad suminam senectutem perveniens, sanctitate et doctrina illustris, Honorio imperatore migravit in cœlum. Cujus corpus ad Bethlehem sepultum, postea Romam in basilicam sanctæ Mariæ ad Præsepe translatum est.
Jerome, son of Eusebius, was born at Stridonium in Dalmatia, during the reign of the emperor Constantius. He was baptized at Rome while still young, and was instructed in the liberal arts by Donatus and other learned men. His love of knowledge led him to travel in Gaul, where he made the acquaintance of several pious men learned in divinity, and copied many sacred books with his own hand. He then proceeded to Greece, to study eloquence and philosophy. Here he won the friendship of some great theologians; in particular of Gregory Nazianzen, under whom he studied at Constantinople, and whom he calls his master in sacred learning. Drawn by religious motives, he visited the crib of Christ our Lord, and the whole of Palestine; and he tells us that this pilgrimage, made in the company of some learned Jews, was of the greatest service to him for the understanding of holy Scripture.

After this Jerome retired into the lonely desert of Syria, where he spent four years in reading the holy Scripture, and in the contemplation of heavenly beatitude, afflicting his body by abstinence, weeping, and every kind of penance. He was ordained priest by Paulinus, bishop of Antioch; in whose company and that of Epiphanius, he came to Rome, to settle the disputes that had arisen between certain bishops. Here Pope Damasus engaged him to assist in writing his ecclesiastical letters. But yearning for his former solitude, he returned to Palestine, and settled at Bethlehem in a monastery built by the Roman lady Paula, near our Lord’s crib. Here be led a heavenly life; and though much afflicted with sickness and sufferings he devoted himself, in spite of his bodily weakness, to works of piety and to ceaseless study and writing.

From all parts of the world he was referred to as an oracle for the decision of questions concerning the sacred Scriptures. Pope Damasus and St. Augustine often consulted him on difficult passages of holy Writ, on account of his remarkable learning and his knowledge not only of Latin and Greek but also of Hebrew and Chaldaic. According to St. Augustine, he had read almost every author. In his writings he severely censured heretics; but always lent his support to faithful Catholics. He translated the old Testament from the Hebrew; and at the command of Pope Damasus, revised the new Testament, collating it with the Greek; he also commented the greater part of holy Scripture. Resides this, he translated into Latin the writings of many learned men, and enriched Christian science with other works from his own pen. At length, having reached extreme old age, and being renowned for learning and holiness, he passed to heaven in the reign of Honorius. His body was buried at Bethlehem; but was afterwards translated to Rome and laid in the basilica of St. Mary ad Præsepe.

Thou completest, O illustrious saint, the brilliant constellation of doctors in the heavens of holy Church. The latest stars are now rising on the sacred cycle; the dawn of the eternal day is at hand; the Sun of justice will soon shine down upon the valley of judgment. O model of penance, teach us that holy fear, which restrains from sin, or repairs its ravages; guide us along the rugged path of expiation. Historian of great monks,[35] thyself a monk and father of the solitaries attracted like thee to Bethlehem by the sweetness of the divine Infant, keep up the spirit of labour and prayer in the monastic Order, of which several families have adopted thy name. Scourge of heretics, attach us firmly to the Roman faith. Watchful guardian of Christ’s flock, protect us against wolves, and preserve us from hirelings. Avenger of Mary’s honour, obtain for our sinful world that the angelic virtue may flourish more and more.

O Jerome, thy special glory is a participation in the power of the Lamb to open the mysterious Book; the key of David was given to thee to unclose the many seals of holy Scripture and to show us Jesus concealed beneath the letter.[36] The Church, therefore, sings thy praises to-day, and presents thee to her children as the official interpreter of the inspired writings which guide her to her eternal destiny Accept her homage and the gratitude of her sons. May our Lord, by thy intercession, renew in us the respect and love due to His divine word. May thy merits obtain for the world other holy doctors, and learned interpreters of the sacred Books. But let them bear in mind the spirit of reverence and prayer with which they must hear the voice of God in order to understand. God will have His word obeyed, not discussed; although, among the various interpretations of which that divine word is susceptible, it is lawful, under the guidance of the Church, to seek out the true one; and it is praise-worthy to he ever sounding the depths of beauty hidden in that august doctrine. Happy is he who follows thy footsteps in these holy studies! Thou didst say: 'To live in the midst of such treasures, to be wholly engrossed in them, to know and to seek nothing else, is it not to dwell already more in heaven than on earth? Let us learn in time that science which will endure for ever.’[37]


[1] Hieron. Epist. xv. al. lvii. ad Damas.
[2] Epist. xvi. al. lviii.
[3] Ibid.
[4] Epist. cxxv. al. iv. ad Rusticum.
[5] Ibid.
[6] Epist. xxix. al. cxxx. ad Marcellam.
[7] Epist. cviii. al. xxvii, ad Eustochium.
[8] St. Matt. v. 13, 14, 15.
[9] Hieron. Epist. xlv. al. xcix. Ad Asellam.
[10] Epist. xlviii. al. 1. ad Pammachium.
[11] Epist. cxxiii. al. xi. ad Agcruchiam.
[12] Epist. lxvi. al. xxvi. ad Pammachium.
[13] Epist. cxxvii. al. xvi. ad Princ.
[14] Epist. xxii. ad Eustochium, de custodia virginitatis.
[15] Epist. xxvii. al. cxx. ad Marcellam.
[16] Præf. Versionis Didymi de Spirita Sancto; Epist. xlv. al. xcix. ad Ascllam.
[17] Conc. Trid. Sess. iv.
[18] Hier. Præf. in Isaiam, ad Paulam et Eustochium.
[19] Præf. in Daniel.
[20] Præf. in Reg.
[21] Aug. ad Hieron. Epist. lvi al. lxxxvi.
[22] Hier. Præf. in Job. ad easdem.
[23] Præf, in Jerem.
[24] Psalt. rom.
[25] Psalt. gall. Hier. Præf, in Psalmos.
[26] Except Baruch, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Machabees, and a few fragments, retained from the old Italic.
[27] Hier. Præf, in Esther.
[28] Epist. lxv. al. cxl. ad Principi m.
[29] Epist. cvii. al. vii. ad Lætam.
[30] Ps. lxxxiii. 11. Hier. Epist. cviii. al. xxvii. ad Eustochium.
[31] Epist. xcix. al. xxxi. ad Theophilum.
[32] Præf. in Josue, Jud. et Ruth.
[33] Comment, in Isaiam.
[34] Comment, in Ezech, i, Prolog.
[35] St. Paul the Hermit, St. Hilarion, St. Malchus.
[36] Hier. Epist. liii. al. ciii. ad Paulinum.
[37] Ibid.

 

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