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November (end of the year)

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

THE Presentation is one of the minor solemnities of our Lady, and was inscribed at a comparatively late date on the sacred Cycle; it seems to court the homage of our silent contemplation. The world, unknown to itself, is ruled by the secret prayers of the just; and the Queen of saints, in her hidden mysteries, wrought far more powerfully than the so-called great men, whose noisy achievements fill the annals of the human race.

The East had been celebrating for seven centuries at least[1] the entrance of the Mother of God into the temple of Jerusalem,[2] when in 1372 Gregory XI. permitted it to be kept for the first time[3] by the Roman court at Avignon. Mary in return broke the chains of captivity, that had bound the Papacy for seventy years; and soon the successor of St. Peter returned to Rome. The feast of the Visitation, as we saw on July 2nd, was in like manner inserted in the Western Calendar, to commemorate the re-establishment of unity after the schism which followed the exile.

In 1373, following the example of the Sovereign Pontiff, Charles V. of France introduced the feast of the Presentation into the chapel of his palace. By letters dated 10th November 1374, to the masters and students of the college of Navarre, he expressed his desire that it should be celebrated throughout the kingdom: “Charles, by the grace of God king of the Franks, to our dearly beloved : health in him who ceases not to honour his Mother on earth. Among other objects of our solicitude, of our daily care and diligent meditation, that which rightly occupies our first thoughts is, that the blessed Virgin and most holy Empress be honoured by us with very great love, and praised as becomes the veneration due to her. For it is our duty to glorify her; and we, who raise the eyes of our soul to her on high, know what an incomparable protectress she is to all, how powerful a mediatrix with her blessed Son, for those who honour her with a pure heart... Wherefore, wishing to excite our faithful people to solemnize the said feast, as we ourselves propose to do by God's assistance every year of our life, we send this Office to your devotion, in order to increase your joy.”[4]

Such was the language of princes in those days. Now just at that very time, the wise and pious king, following up the work begun at Brétigny by our Lady of Chartres, rescued France from its fallen and dismembered condition. In the State then, as well as in the Church, at this moment so critical for both, our Lady in her Presentation commanded the storm, and the smile of the infant Mary dispersed the clouds.

The new feast, enriched with Indulgences by Paul II., had gradually become general,[5] when St. Pius V., wishing to diminish the number of Offices on the universal Calendar, included this one among his suppressions. But Sixtus V. restored it to the Roman Breviary in 1585, and shortly afterwards Clement VIII. raised it to the rank of Double Major. Soon the Clergy and Regulars adopted the custom of renewing their holy vows on this day, whereon their Queen had opened before them the way that leads by sacrifice to the special love of our Lord.

Hearken, O daughter, and see, and incline thy ear, and forget thy people and thy father's house; and the King shall greatly desire thy beauty. Thus, wording the wishes of the daughters of Tyre, sang the Church of the expectation, on the summit of Mount Moriah; and penetrating the future with her inspired glance, she added: After her shall virgins be brought to the King, her neighbours shall be brought to thee; they shall be brought with gladness and? Voicing: they shall be brought into the temple of the King. Hailed beforehand as beautiful above the sans of men, this King, the most mighty, makes on this day a prelude to his conquests; and even this beginning is wonderful. Through the graceful infant now mounting the temple steps, he takes possession of that temple, whose priests will hereafter vainly disown him: for this child, whom the temple welcomes today, is his throne. Already his fragrance precedes and announ­ces him, in the Mother in whose bosom he is to be anointed with the oil of gladness, as the Christ among his brethren; already the Angels hail her as the Queen whose fruitful virginity will give birth to all those consecrated souls, who keep for the divine Spouse the myrrh and the incense of their holocausts, those daughters of kings, who are to form her court of honour.[6]

But our Lady's Presentation also opens new horizons before the Church. On the Cycle of the Saints, which is not so precisely limited as that of the Time, the mystery of Mary's sojourn in the sanctuary of the Old Covenant is our best preparation for the approaching season of Advent. Mary, led to the temple in order to prepare in retirement, humility, and love for her incomparable destiny, had also the mission of perfecting at the foot of the figurative altar the prayer of the human race, of itself ineffectual to draw down the Saviour from heaven. She was, as Saint Bernardine of Siena says, the happy completion of all the waiting and supplication for the coming of the Son of God; in her, as in their culminating point, all the desires of the saints who had preceded her found their consummation and their term.[7]

Through her wonderful understanding of the Scriptures, and her conformity, daily and hourly, to the minutest teachings and prescriptions of the Mosaic ritual, Mary everywhere found and adored the Messias hidden under the letter; she united herself to him, immolated herself with him in each of the many victims sacrificed before her eyes; and thus she rendered to the God of Sinai the homage, hitherto vainly expected, of the Law understood, practised, and made to fructify, in all the fulness that beseemed its divine Legislator. Then could Jehovah truly say: As the rain and the snow come down from heaven and return no more thither, but soak the earth and water it, and make it to spring: ... so shall my word be: ... it shall not return to me void, but it shall do whatsoever I please.[8]

Supplying thus for the deficiencies of the Gentiles as well as of the Synagogue, Mary beheld in the Bride of the Canticle the Church of the future. In our name she addressed her supplications to him whom she recognised as the Bridegroom, without however knowing that he was to be her own Son. Such yearnings of love, coming from her, were sufficient to obtain from the divine Word pardon for the infidelities of the past, and the immorality into which the wandering world was plunging deeper and deeper.[9] How well did this Ark of the New Cove­nant replace that of the Jews, which had perished with the first temple! It was for her, though he knew it not, that Herod the Gentile had continued the construction of the second temple, after it had remained desolate since the time of Zorobabel; for the temple, like the tabernacle before it, was but the home of the ark destined to be God's throne; but greater was the glory of the second temple which sheltered the reality, than of the first which con­tained but the figure.

The Greeks have chosen for the Lessons of the feast the passages of Scripture which describe the carrying of the Ark into the tabernacle of the desert,[10] and afterwards into the temple of Jerusalem.[11] The historical Lesson relates the traditions concerning the oblation of the Blessed Virgin by her holy parents to God in the temple, at the age of three years, there to dwell until, after the lapse of twelve years, the mystery of our salvation was to be accomplished in her.

In the sixth century, the emperor Justinian built, in honour of the Presentation, a magnificent church, on the southern part of the platform on which had formerly stood the temple and its annexes. It is now the mosque El-Aksa.

The next century gives us the following strophes, which bear witness to the antiquity of the feast.

DE B. VIRGINE IN TEMPLUM RECEPTA.

Salvatoris templum maxime mundum, illa tanti aestimanda ovis et Virgo, sacra illa arca thesaurum divinae continens gloriae hodie adducitur in domum Domini; gratiam secum affert divini Spiritus, dum angeli Dei eam concelebrant: Ipsa palam est coeleste tabernaculum.

Dei ineffabilium et sacrorum mysteriorum dum cerno in hac Virgine gratiam ostensam et aperte cumulatam, gaudeo, nec modos intelligere valeo insolitos et dictu difficiles, quibus electa illa immaculata, sola praestat super omnem creawturam, tam oculis quam mente perceptam; ideo faustis vocibus volens illi plaudere, stupeo vehementer animo et eloquio: audeo tamen eam praedicare, magnamque dicere. Ipsa siquidem est coeleste tabernaculum.

Rerum omnium conditor, opifex et Dominus, ex arcana misericordia et sola elementis sus, se ad nos inclinans, cum lapsum eum videret, quem propriis compegit manibus, misertues est, eumque restituere dignatus est, opere sublimiore, quippe bonus quum esset et misericors, semet exinanivit; propterea Mariam uti Virginem et immaculatam, sacivit sibi participem mysterii, quo genus nostrum sponte assumpsit: ipsa est coeleste tabernaculum.

Pro nobis igitur redemptor et Verbum in carne, cum vellet ostendi, tum Virginem in terram induxit, et novo adventu stupendoque incremento intemeratam illam honestavit; precibus enim hunc fructum concessit, eamque nuntio et praeconio promisit justis Joachim et Annae: receptoquo cum fide craculo, parentes cum amore et laetitia voverunt, se illam Domino oblaturosesse: ipsa est coeleste tabernaculum.

Divino jam numine exorta ama Virgine, justi, prout spoponderant, eam creatori dandam adducebant in templum; laeta ergo Anna palam exclamavit, sacerdotem affata: Eccillam recipito et introduc ad inaccessa templi panetralis, et circumtuere eam: mearum enim precum hic fructus datus est; hanc Deo auctori cum laetitia et fide promisi dicandam: ipsa est coeleste tabernaculum.

The exceedingly pure temple of the Saviour, the inestimable sheep, the holy Virgin, the sacred ark containing the treasure of the divine majesty, is led today into the house of the Lord; thither she brings the grace of the divine Spirit, while the Angels of God sing her praises, saying: Truly she is the heavenly tabernacle.

While I contemplate the grace of God's ineffable and sacred mysteries, revealed in its plenitude in this Virgin, I am full of joy, and I cannot comprehend the wonderful and inexpressible way in which this chosen and immaculate Virgin surpasses all creatures visible and invisible. Desiring then to applaud her with joyful voice, my thoughts and words fail me; yet I dare to proclaim her praises and exalt her, for she is the heavenly tabernacle.

The Creator, Author, and Lord of all things, out of his incomprehensible mercy and compassion, bent down towards us, and seeing the creature he had made with his own hands fallen away, he in his pity, deigned to restore it by a sublimer work than the creation; for he, so good and merciful, emptied himself; and in the mystery whereby he freely took on him our nature, he associated the immaculate Virgin Mary with himself: and she is the heavenly tabernacle.

The Word of God, our Redeemer, willing to show himself for our sake in the flesh, brought the Virgin into this world, and honoured the coming of that spotless one with new and stupendous gifts; for he gave her as the fruit and reward of prayer, and promised and announced her to Joachim and Anne. Her parents believed the word, and with joyful love they vowed to offer her to the Lord: for she is the heavenly tabernacle.

The lovely Virgin being horn according to the divine decree, her holy parents led her to the temple, to fulfil their promise, and give her to her Creator. Anne in her joy thus cried out to the priest: Receive this child, lead her into the most secluded parts of the temple surround her with all care; for she was given to me as the fruit of my prayers, and in the joy of my faith I promised to devote her to God her Creator: she is the heavenly tabernacle.

In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, many churches used to sing on this day the following Prose, composed as an acrostic on the words Ave Maria, benedico te, Amen. Hail Mary, I praise thee, Amen.

Sequence

Altissima providente
Cuncta rite disponente
Dei Sapientia:
Vno nexu conjugatis
Joachim et Anna, gratis
Juga sunt sterilia.

Ex coris affectu toto
Domino fideli voto
Se strinxerunt pariter:
Mox si prolem illis dare
Dignetur, hanc dedicare
In templo perenniter.

Angelus apparuit
Lucidus qui docuit
Exaudita vota:
Regis summi gratia
Ut his detur filia
Gratiosa tota.

In utero consecrata,
Miro modo generata,
Gignet mirabilius
Altissimi Patris natum
Virgo manens, qui realum
Mundi tollet gratius.

Benedicto virgo nata,
Temple trima praesentata
It ter quinis gradibus:
Erecta velox ascendit
Et uterque parens tendit
Se ornando vestibus.

Nova fulsit gloria
Templem, dum ecimia
Virgo praesentatur:
Edocta divinitus,
Visitata coelitus,
Angelis laetatur.

Dum ut nubant jubet multis
Princeps puellis adultis,
Primo virgo renuit:
Ipsam namque devovere
Parentes, ipsa manere
Virgo voto statuit.

Consultus Deus responsum
Dat, ut virgo sumat sponsum
Quem pandet flos editus:
Ostensus Joseph puellam
Ad parentum duxit cellam,
Nuptiis sollicitus.

Tunc Gabriel ad virginem
Ferens conceptus ordinem
Delegatur;
Erudita stat tacita,
Verba quae sint insolita
Meditatur.

At cum ille tradidit
Modum, virgo credidit,
Sique sacro flamine
Mox Verbum concipitur,
Et quod nusquam clauditur
Conditur in virgine.

Ecce virgo singularis,
Quanta laude sublimaris,
Quanta fulges gloria:
Nos ergo sic tuearis,
Ut tructu, quo gloriaris,
Fruamur in patria.

Amen.
The Wisdom of God
with inscrutable providence,
disposeth all things rightly:
Joachim and Anne
are united in wedlock,
but their union is sterile.

With all the heart's affection
they together bind themselves
by inviolable vow to the Lord:
that if he deign to give them offspring,
they without delay will consecrate it
to him forever in the temple.

A bright Angel appears,
and tells them their prayers are heard,
and by the grace
of the most high King,
a daughter shall be given them,
full of grace.

Holy even in her conception,
she is born in a wondrous manner,
yet in a way more wondrous still
will she give birth, remaining a virgin,
to the Son of the most high Father,
when he comes to freely, cancel the guilt of the world.

She is born then, that blessed Virgin,
and at the age of three years
is presented in the temple;
swift and erect, adorned with her beautiful robe,
she ascends the fifteen steps,
beneath her parents’ gaze.

The temple shines
with a new glory,
when this august Virgin is presented;
there she is taught by God,
is visited by the Angels from heaven,
and rejoices with them.

When the chief priest
bids the maidens of adult age
prepare for marriage,
the Virgin at first refuses;
for her parents have devoted her to God,
and she herself has vowed to remain a virgin.

God, being consulted,
an­swers that the virgin shall take him
for her spouse whom a miraculous flower shall designate;
Joseph thus chosen
weds the maiden
and leads her to his home.

Then Gabriel is sent to her,
telling her how she
is to become a mother;
but the prudent Virgin stands silent,
pondering over
the strangeness of the message.

But when he explains how this shall be,
she believes him;
and thus by the Holy Spirit
the Word is conceived,
and he whom no space can contain
is concealed in the Virgin's bosom.

O peerless maiden,
how dost thou surpass all praise
in thy dazzling glory!
Protect us now, that in our fatherland
we may enjoy thy fruit,
whereby thou art so honoured.

Amen.

“Congratulate me, all ye that love the Lord, because when I was a little one I pleased the Most High.”[12] Such is the invitation thou addressest to us, O Mary, in the Office chanted in thy honour; and on what feast couldst thou do so more appropriately?

When, even more little in thy humility than by thy tender age, thou didst mount, in thy sweet purity, the steps of the temple, all heaven must have owned that it was henceforth just for the Most High to take his delight in our earth. Having hitherto lived in retirement with thy blessed parents, this was thy first public act; it showed thee for a moment to the eyes of men, only to withdraw thee immediately into deeper obscurity. But, as thou wast officially offered and presented to the Lord, he himself doubtless, surrounded by the princes of his court, presented thee not less solemnly to those noble spirits, as their Queen. In the fulness of the new light that then burst upon them, they understood at once thy incomparable greatness, the majesty of the temple where Jehovah was receiving a homage superior to that of their nine choirs, and the august prerogative of the Old Testament to have thee for its daughter, and to perfect, by its teachings and guidance during those twelve years, the formation of the Mother of God.

Holy Church, however, declares that we can imitate thee, O Mary, in this mystery of thy Presentation, as in all others.[13] Deign to bless especially those privileged souls who, by the grace of their vocation, are even here below dwellers in the house of the Lord : may they be like that fruitful olive enriched by the Holy Spirit, to which St John Damascene compares thee.[14] But is not every Christian, by reason of his Baptism, an indweller and a member of the Church, God's true sanctuary, prefigured by that of Moriah? May we, through thy intercession, follow thee so closely in thy Presentation, even here in the land of shadows, that we may deserve to be presented after thee to the Most High in the temple of his glory.[15]


[1] Pitra, Analecta sacra Spicilegio Solesmensi parata, i. 275.
[2] Menaea, ad diem hanc.
[3] This is to be understood only of the feast properly so called; for the marble of Berre, reproduced by Le Blant in No. 542 A of Inscriptions chrétennes de la Gaute, proves that the fact of Mary’s sojourn in the temple of Jerusalem ws recognized and honoured in the West in the fifth century. See Plate 72 of the same work, No. 433.
[4] Launcy, Historia Navarrae gymnasti, Pars I. Lib. i. cap. 10.
[5] From sources which do not come within the learned author’s scope, it appears, that in England, the feast is of much more ancient institution, though the evidence so far collected confines its observance to the monasteries. As Oblatio S. Mariae in templo Domini cum esset trium annorum, it occurs in several monastic Calendars of Saxon times, and, still under the title of Oblatio, in some of later date. This is only one of many interesting facts illustrating the English movement of the 10th and early 11th centuries in its devotional aspect: a side of the question which still awaits special study. (Translator’s note).
[6] Ps. xliv.
[7] Bernardin. Sen. Pro festivitatibus V. Mariae, Sermo iv.
[8] Isaias, lv. 10, 11.
[9] Olier, Vie intérieure de la très-sainte Viergo, Présentation.
[10] Exod. xi.
[11] III Kings viii.
[12] Second Responsory in the Common Office of our Lady.
[13] 2nd Lesson of 2nd Nocturn. Ambr. de Virginibus ii.
[14] 1st Lesson of 2nd Nocturn. Damasc. De Fide orthodoxa, iv.
[15] Collect of the feast.

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

CAECILIA united in her veins the blood of kings with that of Rome's greatest heroes. At the time of the first preaching of the Gospel, more than one ancient patrician family had seen its direct line become extinct. But the adoptions and alliances, which under the Republic had knit more closely the great families by linking them all to the most illustrious among them, formed as it were a common fund of glory, which, even in the days of decline, was passed on intact to the survivors of the aristocracy.

It has now been demonstrated by the undeniable witness of monuments, that Christianity from the very beginning took possession of that glory, by adopting its heirs; and that by a wonderful disposition of divine Providence, the founders of the Rome of the Pontiffs were these last representatives of the Republic, thus preserved in order to give to the two phases of Roman history that powerful unity which is the distinguishing note of divine works. Heretofore bound together by the same patriotism, the Cornelii and the CEmilii, alike heirs of the Fabii, the Caecilii, Valerii, Sergii, Furii, Claudii, Pomponii, Plautii, and Acilii, eldest sons of the Gentile Church, strengthened the connections formed during the Republic, and firmly established, even in the first and second centuries of Christianity, the new Roman society. In the same centuries, and under the influence of the religion preached by Saints Peter and Paul, there came to be grafted on the ever vigorous trunk of the old aristocracy the best members of the new imperial and consular families, worthy by their truly Roman virtues, practised amid the general depravity, to re-inforce the thinned ranks of Rome's founders, and to fill up, without too sudden a transition, the voids made by time in the true patrician houses. Thus was Rome working out her destiny; thus was the building up of the eternal City being accomplished by the very men, who had formerly, by their blood or by their genius, established her strong and mighty on the seven hills.

Caecilia, the lawful representative of this unparalleled aristocracy, the fairest flower of the old stem, was also the last. The second century was passing away; the third, which was to see the empire fall from the hands of Septimus Severus first to the Orientals and then to the barbarians from the banks of the Danube, offered small chance of preservation for the remnants of the ancient nobility. The true Roman society was henceforth at an end; for, save a few individual exceptions, there remained nothing more of Roman but the name: the vain adornment of freedmen and upstarts, who, under princes worthy of them, indulged their passions at the expense of those around them.

Caecilia therefore appeared at the right moment, personifying with the utmost dignity the society that was about to disappear because its work was accomplished. In her strength and her beauty, adorned with the royal purple of martyrdom, she represents ancient Rome rising proud and glorious to the skies, before the upstart Caesars who, by immolating her in their jealousy, unconsciously executed the divine plan. The blood of kings and heroes flowing from her triple wound, is the libation of the old nobility to Christ the conqueror, to the Blessed Trinity the Ruler of nations; it is the final consecration, which reveals in its full extent the sublime vocation of the valiant races called to found the eternal Rome.

But we must not think that to-day's feast is meant to excite in us a mere theoretical and fruitless admiration.[1] The Church recognizes and honours in Saint Caecilia three characteristics, which, united together, distinguish her among all the Blessed in heaven, and are a source of grace and an example to men. These three characteristics are, virginity, apostolic zeal, and the superhuman courage which enabled her to bear torture and death. Such is the threefold teaching conveyed by this one Christian life.

In an age so blindly abandoned as ours to the worship of the senses, is it not time to protest, by the strong lessons of our faith, against a fascination which even the children of the promise can hardly resist? Never, since the fall of the Roman empire, have morals, and with them the family and society, been so seriously threatened. For long years, literature, the arts, the comforts of life, have had but one aim : to propose physical enjoyment as the only end of man's destiny. Society already counts an immense number of members who live entirely a life of the senses. Alas for the day when it will expect to save itself by relying on their energy! The Roman empire thus attempted several times to shake off the yoke of invasion: it fell never to rise again.

Yes, the family itself, the family especially, is menaced. It is time to think of defending itself against the legal recognition, or rather encourage­ment, of divorce. It can do so by one means alone: by reforming and regenerating itself according to the law of God, and becoming once more serious and Christian. Let marriage, with its chaste conse­quences, be held in honour; let it cease to be an amusement or a speculation; let fatherhood and motherhood be no longer a calculation, but an austere duty: and soon, through the family, the city and the nation will resume their dignity and their vigour.

But marriage cannot be restored to this high level, unless men appreciate the superior element, without which human nature is an ignoble ruin: this heavenly element is continence. True, all are not called to embrace it in the absolute sense; but all must do honour to it, under pain of being delivered up, as the Apostle expresses it, to a reprobate sense.[2] It is continence that reveals to man the secret of his dignity, that braces his soul to every kind of devotedness, that purifies his heart and elevates his whole being. It is the culminating point of moral beauty in the individual, and at the same time the great lever of human society. It is because the love of it became extinct, that the ancient world fell to decay; but when the Son of the Virgin came on earth, he renewed and sanctioned this saving principle, and a new phase began in the destinies of the human race.

The children of the Church, if they deserve the name, relish this doctrine, and are not astonished at it. The words of our Saviour and of his Apostles have revealed all to them; and at every page, the annals of the faith they profess set forth in action this fruitful virtue, of which all degrees of the Christian life, each in its measure, must partake. St. Caecilia is one example among others offered to their admiration. But the lesson she gives is a remarkable one, and has been celebrated in every age of Christianity. On how many occasions has Caecilia inspired virtue or sustained courage; how many weaknesses has the thought of her prevented or repaired! Such power for good has God placed in his Saints, that they influence not only by the direct imitation of their heroin virtues, but also by the inductions which each of the faithful is able to draw from them for his own particular situation.

The second characteristic offered for our consideration in the life of St. Caecilia is that ardent zeal, of which she is one of the most admirable models; and we doubt not that here too is a lesson calculated to produce useful impressions. Insensibility to evil for which we are not personally responsible, or from which we are not likely to suffer, is one of the features of the period. We acknowledge that all is going to ruin, and we look on at the universal destruction without ever thinking of holding out a helping hand to save a brother from the wreck. Where should we now be, if the first Christians had had hearts as cold as ours? If they had not been filled with that immense pity, that inexhaustible love, which forbade them to despair of a world, in the midst of which God had placed them to be the salt of the earth? Each one felt himself accountable beyond measure for the gift he had received. Freeman or slave, known or unknown, every man was the object of a boundless devotedness for these hearts filled with the charity of Christ. One has but to read the Acts of the Apostles, and their Epistles, to learn on what an immense scale the apostolate was carried on in those early days; and the ardour of that zeal remained long uncooled. Hence the pagans used to say: “See how they love one another!” And how could they help loving one another? For in the order of faith they were fathers and children.

What maternal tenderness Camilla felt for the souls of her brethren, from the mere fact that she was a Christian! After her we might name a thousand others, in proof of the fact that the conquest of the world by Christianity and its deliverance from the yoke of pagan depravity, are due to such acts of devotedness performed in a thousand places at once, and at length producing universal renovation. Let us imitate in something at least, these examples to which we owe so much. Let us waste less of our time and eloquence in bewailing evils which are only too real. Let each one of us set to work, and gain one of his brethren: and soon the number of the faithful will surpass that of unbelievers. Without doubt, this zeal is not extinct; it still works in some, and its fruits rejoice and console the Church; but why does it slumber so profoundly in so many hearts which God had prepared to be its active centres?

The cause is unhappily to be traced to that general coldness, produced by effeminacy, which might be taken by itself alone as the type of the age; but we must add thereto another sentiment, proceeding from the same source, which would suffice, if of long duration, to render the debasement of a nation incurable. This sentiment is fear; and it may be said to extend at present to its utmost limit. Men fear the loss of goods or position, fear the loss of comforts and ease, fear the loss of life. Needless to say, nothing can be more enervating, and consequently more dangerous to the world, than this humiliating pre-occupation but above all, we must confess that it is anything but Christian. Have we forgotten that we are merely pilgrims on this earth? And has the hope of future good died out of our hearts? Caecilia will teach us how to rid ourselves of this sentiment of fear. In her days, life was less secure than now. There certainly was then some reason to fear; and yet Christians were so courageous, that the powerful pagans often trembled at the words of their victims.

God knows what he has in store for us; but if fear does not soon make way for a sentiment more worthy of men and of Christians, all particular existences will be swallowed up in the political crisis. Come what may, it is time to learn our history over again. The lesson will not be lost, if we come to understand this much: had the first Christians feared, they would have betrayed us, for the word of life would never have come down to us; if we fear, we shall betray future generations, for we are expected to transmit to them the deposit we have received from our fathers.[3]

The Passio Sanctae Caeciliae is marked in the most ancient Calendars on the 16th September,[4] and took place, according to the primitive Acts, under the emperors Marcus Aurelius and Corn modus. The great feast of November 22nd, preceded by a Vigil, was one of the most solemn on the Roman Cycle; it recalled the dedication of the church raised on the site of that palace which had been sanctified by the blood of the descendant of the Metelli, and had been bequeathed by her when dying to Bishop Urban, representative of Pope Eleutherius. This Urban having been later on confounded with the Pope of the same name, who governed the Church in the time of Alexander Severus, the martyrdom of our Saint was thought to have occurred half a century later, as we still read in the Legend of the Office.

It was most probably in the year 178 that Caecilia joined Valerian in heaven, whence, a few months before, the Angel of the Lord had descended, bringing wreaths of lilies and roses to the two spouses.

She was buried by Urban, just as she lay at the moment of death. In the beginning of the following century, the family crypt was given by her relatives to the Roman church, and was set apart for the burial of the Popes. In the ninth century, Paschal I. found her surrounded by these venerable tombs, and brought her back in triumph on May 8th, 822, to her house in the Trastevere, where she remains to this day.

On the 20th October, 1599, in the course of the excavations required for the restoration of the basilica, Caecilia was once more brought forth to the admiring gaze of the city and of the world. She was clad in her robe of cloth of gold, on which traces of her virginal blood were still discernable; at her feet were some pieces of linen steeped in the purple of her martyrdom. Lying on her right side with her arms stretched before her, she seemed in a deep sleep. Her neck still bore the marks of the wounds inflicted by the executioner's sword; her head, in a mysterious and touching position, was turned towards the bottom of the coffin. The body was in a state of perfect preservation; and the whole attitude, retained by an unique prodigy during so many centuries in all its grace and modesty, brought before the eyes with a striking truthfulness Caecilia breathing her last sigh stretched on the floor of the bath chamber.

The spectators were carried back in thought to the day when the holy bishop Urban had enclosed the sacred body in the cypress chest, without altering the position chosen by the bride of Christ to breathe forth her soul into the arms of her divine Spouse. They admired also the discretion of Pope Paschal, who had not disturbed the virgin's repose, but had preserved for posterity so magnificent a spectacle.[5]

Cardinal Sfondrate, titular of St. Caecilia, who directed the works, found also in the chapel called of the Bath the heating-stove and vents of the sudatorium, where the Saint passed a day and a night in the midst of scalding vapours. Recent excavations have brought to light other objects belonging to the patrician home, which by their style, belong to the early days of the Republic.

Let us now read the liturgical history of the illustrious Virgin and Martyr.

Caecilia, virgo Romana, nobili genere nata, a prima aetate christianae fidei praeceptis instituta, virginitatem suam Deo vovit. Sed cum postea contra suam voluntatem data esset in matrimonium Valeriano, prima nuptiarum nocte hunc cum eo sermonem habuit: Ego, Valeriane, in Angeli tutela sum, qui virginitatem meam custodit: quare ne quid in me committas, quo ira Dei in te concitetur. Quibus verbis commotus Valerianus, illam attingere non est ausus: quin etiam addidit, se in Christum crediturum. Si eum Angelum videret. Cui Caecilia, cum sine baptismo negaret id fieri posse, incensus cupiditate videndi Angelum, se baptizari velle respondit. Quare hortatu virginis ad Urbanum Papam, qui propter persecutionem in Martyrum sepulchris via Appia latebat, veniens, ab eo baptizatur.

Inde ad Caeciliam reversus, orantem et cum ea Angelum divino splendore fulgentem invenit. Quo aspectu obstupefactus, ut primum ex timore confirmatus est, Tiburtium fratrem suum accersit: qui a Caecilia Christi fide imbutus, et ab eodem Urbano baptizatus, ipse etiam ejusdem Angeli, quem frater ejus viderat, aspectu dignatus est. uterque autem paulo post Almachio praefecto constanter martyrium subiit. Qui mox Caeciliam comprehendi imperat, ab eaque primum, ubi Tiburtii et Valeriani facultates sint, exquirit.

Cui cum virgo omnia illorum pauperibus distributa esse respondisset, eo furore concitatus est, ut eam in ipsius aedes reductam, in balneo comburi jusserit. Quo in loco cum diem noctemque ita fuisset, ut ne flamma quidem illam attingeret; eo immissus est carnifex, qui ter securi ectam, cum caput abscindere non potuisset, semivivam reliquit. Illa triduo post, decimo calendas decembris Alexandro impertore duplici virginitatis et mrtyrii palma decorata, evolavit in coelum. Cujus corpus ab ipso Urbano Papa in Callisti coemeteric sepultum est, in ejus aedibus ecclesia ipsius Caeciliae nomine consecrata. Ejus et Urbani ac Lucii Pontificum, Tiburtii, Valeriani et Maximi corpora a Paschali primo Pontifice inde translata in Urbem, in eadem sanctae Caeciliae ecclesia condita sunt.
Caecilia, a Roman virgin of noble origin, was brought up from her infancy in the Christian faith, and vowed her virginity to God. Against her will, she was given in marriage to Valerian; but on the first night of the nuptials she thus addressed him: Valerian, I am under the care of an Angel, who is the guardian of my virginity; wherefore beware of doing what might kindle God's wrath against thee. Valerian moved by these words respected her wishes, and even said that he would believe in Christ if he could see the Angel. On Caecilia telling him that this could not be unless he received Baptism, he, being very desirous of seeing the Angel, replied that he was willing to be baptized. Taking the virgin's advice, he went to Pope Urban, who on account of the persecution was hiding among the tombs of the Martyrs on the Appian Way, and by him he was baptized.

Then returning to Caeceliia, he found her at prayer, and beside her an Angel shining with divine brightness. He was amazed at the sight; but as soon as he had recovered from his fear, he sought out his brother Tiburtius; who also was instructed by Caecilia in the faith of Christ, and after being baptized by Pope Urban, was favoured like his brother with the sight of the Angel. Both of them shortly afterwards courageously suf­fered martyrdom under the prefect Almachius. This latter next commanded Caacilia to be apprehended, and commenced by asking her what had become of the property of Tiburtius and Valerian.

The virgin answered that it had all been distributed among the poor; at which the prefect was so enraged, that he commanded her to be led back to her own house, and put to death by the heat of the bath. When, after spending a day and a night there, she remain unhurt by the fire, an executioner was sent to dispatch her; who, not being able with three strokes of the axe to cut off her head, left her half dead. Three days later, on the tenth of the Kalends of December, she took her flight to heaven, adorned with the double glory of virginity and martyrdom. It was in the reign of the emperor Alexander. Pope Urban buried her body in the cemetery of Callixtus; and her house was converted into a church and dedicated in her name. Pope Paschal I. translated her body into the city, together with those of Popes Urban and Lucius, and of Tiburtius, Valerian, and Maximus, and placed them all in this church of St. Caecilia.

The Antiphons and Responsories for the 22nd November are all taken from the Acts of the Saint, and are the same as were used in the time of St. Gregory. We choose such of them as will complete the foregoing history. The first Responsory represents the virgin as singing in her heart to God amid the profane music of the nuptial feast. It was this silent melody, superior to all earthly concerts, that inspired the happy idea of picturing St. Caecilia as the queen of harmony, and proclaiming her patroness of the most attractive of arts.

Antiphons and Responsories

℟. Cantantibus organis Caecilia virgo in corde suo soli Domino decantabat, dicens:
* Fiat Domine cor meum et corpus meum immaculatum, ut non confumdar.

V. Biduanis et triduanis jejuniis orns, commendabat Domino quod timebat. * Fiat.
℟. O beata Caecilia, quae ducs fratres convertisti, Almachium judicem superasti,
* Urbanum episcopum in vultu angelic demonstrasti.[6]

V. Quasi apis argumentosa Domino deservisti. * Urbanum.
℟. Virgo gloriosa semper Evangelium Christi gerebat in pectore, et non diebus neque noctibus vaabat.
* A colloquiis divinis et oratione.

V. Expansis manibus orabat ad Dominum, et cor ejus igne coelesti ardebat. * A colloquiis.
℟. Cilicio Caecilia membra domabat, Deum gemitibus exorabat:
* Tiburtium et Valerianum ad coronas vocabat.

V. Haec est virgo sapiens, et una de numero prudentum. * Tiburtium.
℟. Domine Jesu Christe, pastor bone, seminator casti consilii, suscipe seminum fructus quos in Caecilia seminasti:
* Caecilia famula tua quasi apis[7] tibi argumentosa deservit.

V. Nam sponsum, quem quasi leonem ferocem accepit, ad te quasi agnum mansuctissimum destinavit. * Caecilia. Gloria Patri. * Caecilia.

Ant. Est secretum Valeriane, quod tibi volo dicere: Angelum Dei habeo amatorem, qui nimio zelo custodit corpus meum.

Ant. Beata Caecilia dixit ad Tiburtium: Hodie te fateor meum cognatum, quia amor Dei te fecit esse contemptorem idolorum.

Ant. Credimus Christum Filium Dei verum Deum esse qui sibi talem elegit famulam.

Ant. Dum aurora finem daret, Caecilia exclamavit, dicens: Eia milites Christi, abjicite opera tenebrarum, et induimini arma lucis.

Ant. Triduanas a Domino poposci inducias, ut domum meam ecclesiam consecrarem.
℟. Amid the harmony of musical instruments, the virgin Caecilia sang in her heart to the Lord alone, saying:
* Let my heart, O Lord, and my body be spotless, that I may not be confounded.

V. During two days and three days of fasting and prayer, she commended to the Lord what she feared. * Let my heart.
℟. O blessed Caecilia, who didst convert the two brothers, and overcome the judge Almachius. * Urban the bishop of angelic countenance thou didst show to them.

V. As a busy bee thou didst serve the Lord. * Urban.
℟. The glorious virgin carried always the Gospel of Christ on her heart; and by day and by night she ceased not * From divine colloquies and prayer.

V. With outstretched hands she prayed to the Lord, and her heart burned with a heavenly fire. * From divine.
℟. Caecilia subdued her flesh with hair-cloth, and besought God with groanings. * Tiburtius and Valerian she called to their crowns.

V. This is a wise virgin, one of those who are prudent. * Tiburtius.
℟. O Lord Jesus Christ, good Shepherd, Author of chaste resolutions, receive the fruits of the seed thou didst sow in Caecilia: * Caecilia thy handmaid serves thee like a busy bee.

V. For the spouse whom she had received like a fierce lion, she led to thee as a gentle lamb. * Caecilia. Glory be to the Father. * Caecilia.

Ant. I have a secret, Valerian, which I wish to tell the: I have an Angel of God, who loves me, and with diligent zeal watches over my body.

Ant. Blessed Caecilia said to Tiburtius: Today I acknowledge thee for my brother, because the love of God has made thee become a contemnor of idols.

Ant. We believe that Christ the Son of God, who chose for himself such a handmaid, is true God.

Ant. As dawn was breaking into day, Caecilia cried out saying: Courage, soldiers of Christ, cast away the deeds of darkness, and put on the armour of light.

Ant. Caecilia dying said: I have asked of the Lord three days delay, that I may consecrate my house into a church.

The two following hymns were approved by the Apostolic See in 1852.

Hymn

Terrena cessent organa,
Cor aestuans Caeciliae
Coeleste fundit canticum,
Deoquo totum jubilat.

Dum nuptiali nobilis
Domus resultat gaudio,
Haec sola tristis candido
Gemit columba pectore.

O Christe mi dulcissime,
Cui me sacravit charitas,
Serva pudoris integram,
Averte labem corpore.

Ovis eone sedula
Agnum facit mitissimum:
Hic fonte lotus mystico,
Coelo repente militat.

Solvit Tiburtium soror
Erroris a caligine;
Factoque fratris asseclae
Ad astra pandit semitam.

Seges per illam plurima
Superna replet horrea:
Verbo potens, fit particpes
Apostolorum gloriae.

Delapsus arce siderum
Illam tuetur Angelus;
Rosaeque mixtae liliis
Ambie orines gostiunt.

Sertum rubens et candidum
Affertur una conjugi,
Quem castitatis aemulum
Coelestis ardor efficit.

Te, sponse, Jesu, virginum
Beata laudent agmina;
Patrique cum Paraclito
Par sit per aevum gloria.

Amen.
Hushed be the music of earth:
Cecilia's burning heart
pours out the heavenly song
she sings to her God alone.

While the noble house
resounds with the nuptial joy,
this dove alone is sad,
and her pure heart sighs out:

O Christ, most sweet,
to whom I am bound by love,
preserve my purity
of soul and body.

The diligent sheep converts
the lion into a meek lamb;
and he, washed in the mystic font,
begins at once to fight for the King of heaven.

Sister now of Tiburtius,
she frees him from darksome error,
and bidding him follow his brother,
points out the path to heaven.

Through her efforts an abundant harvest
fills the heavenly granaries;
powerful in word,
she shares the glory of the Apostles.

An Angel comes down
from the highest heavens to protect her;
a rose and lily wreath
entwines her flowing locks.

White and ruddy also
is the crown brought to her spouse,
whom heavenly love has led
to emulate her purity.

May the happy choirs of virgins
praise thee, O Jesus, their Spouse;
to the Father and the Paraclete
be equal and eternal glory.

Amen.

Hymn

Nunc ad coronas pergite,
Clamat suis Caecilia:
Mox ipsa virgo sistitur
Ad judicis praetorium.

Minantis iram despicit,
Et falso ridet numina:
Jam morte digna ducitur
Puella culpae nescia.

Inclusa perstat balneo:
Ardent calore fornices
Ast urit intus virginem
Divinus ignis fortior.

Intaminatam barbarus
Ter ense lictor percutit:
Scelus tamen non perficit;
Christu smoras dat martyri.

Horae supremae proxima,
Deo sacrandas devovet
Aedes avitas, libera
Volatque ad Agni nuptias.

Salvato, corpus martyris,
Diu sub antris abditum:
Nova refulgens gloria
Romae parenti redderis.

Ne flos tenebris areat,
Te Virgo servat virginum;
Rubens cruoris purpura
Stola micante cingeris.

Dormi silenti marmore,
Dum sede laetus coelica
Indulget hymnis spiritus,
Votisque dexter annuit.

Te, sponse, Jesu, virginum
Beata laudent agmina;
Patrique cum Paraclito
Par sit per aevum gloria.

Amen.
Now haste ye to your crowns,
cries Caecilia to her brethren;
and soon the virgin herself
is led before the judge.

She despises his angry threats
and laughs at his false gods;
wherefore the innocent maiden
is declared deserving of death.

She remains long inclosed in the bath,
while the furnace rages beneath;
but stronger is the divine fire
that burns in the virgin's heart.

Thrice does the barbarous lictor
strike the innocent victim:
he cannot accomplish his crime,
for Christ has granted a delay to the martyr.

As her last hour draws nigh,
she devotes her ancestral mansion to God,
then free she wings her flight
to the nuptials of the Lamb.

Hail! Body of the martyr,
long hidden in the sombre crypt;
shining with a new glory,
thou art restored to thy mother Rome.

The Virgin of virgins watches over thee,
lest thou fade as a flower in the darkness,
while thou liest empurpled with the blood of thy martyrdom,
and clad in thy golden robe.

Sleep in thy silent marble tomb,
while thy spirit enthroned in heaven
hymns its glad joy,
and graciously re­ceives our prayers.

May the happy choirs of virgins
praise thee, O Jesus, their Spouse;
to the Father and the Paraclete
be equal and eternal glory.

Amen.

It would need the language of Angels worthily to celebrate thy greatness, O bride of Christ! And we have but the faltering, timid accents of mortals and sinners. O queen, who standest at the King's right hand, clad in the vesture of gold of which the Psalmist sings, look down upon us with a favourable eye, and deign to accept this offering of our praise, which we lay on the lowest step of thy lofty throne. We make bold to join thereto a prayer for the holy Church, whose humble daughter thou wast heretofore, as now thou art her hope and her support. In the dark night of this present life the Bridegroom is long a-coming. In the midst of this solemn and mysterious silence he suffers the virgin to slumber till the cry shall announce his arrival. We honour the repose earned by thy victories, O Caecilia, but we know that thou dost not forget us, for the Bride says in the Canticle: I sleep, and my heart watcheth.

The hour draws nigh when the Spouse is to ap­pear, calling all who are his to gather under the standard of his Cross. Soon will the cry be heard: Behold the Bridegroom cometh, go ye forth to meet him. Then, O Caecilia, thou wilt say to all Christians what thou saidst to the faithful band grouped around thee at the hour of thy combat: “Soldiers of Christ! Cast off the works of darkness, and put on the armour of light.”[8]

The Church daily pronounces thy name with love, and confidence, in the Canon of the Mass; and she looks for thy assistance, O Caecilia, knowing it will not fail her. Prepare a victory for her, by raising up the hearts of Christians to the realities, which they too often forget while they run after the vain shadows from which thou didst win Tiburtius. When the minds of men become once more fixed up on the thought of their eternal destiny, the salvation and peace of nations will be secured.

Be thou for ever, O Caecilia, the delight of thy divine Spouse. Breathe eternally the heavenly fragrance of his roses and lilies; and be unceasingly enraptured with the ineffable harmony of which he is the source. From the midst of thy glory thou wilt watch over us; and when our last hour draws nigh, we beseech thee by the merits of thy heroic martyrdom, assist us on our death-bed. Receive our soul into thy arms, and bear it up to the everlasting abode, where the sight of the bliss thou enjoyest will give us to understand the value of Virginity, of the Apostolate, and of Martyrdom.[9]


[1] So far we have summed up the thoughts of our illustrious Father and Master in his Sainte Cécile et la Societé romaine aux deux premiers sièckes; what follows in quoted directly from the Preface to his first Histoire de Sainte Cécile, Viergo romaine et Martyrs.
[2] Rom. i. 28.
[3] Dom Gueranger, ubi supra.
[4] Martyrology of St. Jerome.
[5] Dom Gueranger, Sainte Cécile et la Société romaine.
[6] Magnun virum, Urbanum nomine, in quo est aspectus angelicus. ACTS, wods of Valerian to Tiburtius.
[7] The ancient legend had the word ovis, which recalls the text of Isaias: Leo et ovis simu morabuntur. The lion and the sheep shall abide together. Isaias xi. 6.
[8] Acta S. Caeciliae.
[9] Dom Gueranger, Histoire de sainte Cécile, conclusion.

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

THE memory of St. Clement has been surrounded with a peculiar glory from the very beginning of the Roman Church. After the death of the Apostles, he seems to eclipse Linus and Cletus, although these preceded him in the Pontificate. We pass as it were naturally from Peter to Clement; and the East celebrates his memory with no less honour than the West. He was in truth the universal Pontiff, and his acts as well as his writings are renowned throughout the entire Church. This wide-spread reputation caused numbers of apocryphal writings to be attributed to him, which, however, it is easy to distinguish from his own. But is remarkable that all the falsifiers who have thought fit to put his name to their own works, or to invest stories concerning him, agree in declaring that he was of imperial descent.

With only one exception, all the documents which attest Clement’s intervention in the affairs of distant churches, have perished with time; but the one that remains, shows us in full action the monarchical power of the Bishop of Rome at the primitive epoch. The church of Corinth was disturbed with intestine quarrels, caused by jealousy against certain pastors. These divisions, the germ of which had appeared even in St. Paul’s time, had destroyed all peace, and were causing scandal to the very pagans. The Corinthiansat last felt the necessity of putting an end to a disorder, which might be prejudicial to the extension of the Christian faith; and for this purpose, it was requisite to seek assistance from outside. The Apostles had al departed this life, except St. John, who was still the light of the Church. It was no great distance from Corinth to Ephesus, where the Apostle resided; yet it was not to Ephesus but to Rom that the Church of Corinth turned. Clement examined the case referred to his judgment by that Church, and sent to Corinth five commissaries to represent the Apostolic See. They were bearers of a letter, which St. Irenaeus calls potentissimas litteras.[1] It was considered at the time so beautiful and so apostolic, that it was long read in many churches as a sort of continuation of the canonical Scriptures. Its tone is dignified but paternal, according to Saint Peter’s advice to pastors. There is nothing in it of a domineering spirit; but the grave and solemn language bespeaks the universal pastor, whom none can disobey without disobeying God himself. These words so solemn and so firm wrought the desired effect: peace was re‑established in the church of Corinth, and the messengers of the Roman Pontiff soon brought back the happy news. A century later, St. Dionysius, Bishop of Corinth, expressed to Pope St. Soter the gratitude still felt by his flock towards St. Clement for the service he had rendered.

Brought up in the school of the Apostles, Clement had retained their style and manner. These are visible in his two Letters to virgins, which are mentioned by St. Epiphanius and St. Jerome, and were found in the eighteenth century translated into Syriac, in a manuscript brought from Aleppo.[2] As St. Cecilia reminded us yesterday, the principle of chastity being vowed to God was, from the very beginning, one of the bases of Christianity, and one of the most effectual means for the transformation of the world. Christ himself had praised the superior merit of this sacrifice; and St. Paul, comparing the two states of life, taught that the virgin is wholly taken up with our Lord, while the married woman, whatever her dignity, is divided.[3] Clement had to develop this doctrine, and he did so in these two letters. Anticipating those great doctors of Christina virginity, St. Athanasius, St. Ambrose, St. Jerome, St. John Chrysostom, St. Augustin, he developed the teachings of St. Peter and St. Paul on this import subject. “He or she,” he says, “who aspires to this higher life, must lead like the Angels an existence all divine and heavenly. The virgin cuts herself off from the allurements of the senses; not only does she renounce the right to their even lawful use, but she aspires to that hope which God, who can never deceive, encourages by this promise, and which far surpasses the natural hope of posterity. In return for her generous sacrifice, her portion in heaven is the very happiness of the Angels.”

Thus spoke the Disciple chosen by St. Peter to set his hand to the task of renovating Rome. It needed no less than this strong doctrine, in order to combat the depraved manners of the Empire. Had Christianity been satisfied with inviting men to honour, as the Philosophers had done, its efforts would have been to no purpose. Stoicism, by exciting great pride, could bring some men even to despise death; but it was utterly powerless against sensuality, which we must own to have been the strongest auxiliary to the tyranny of the Caesars. The ideal of chastity, thrown into the midst of that dissolute society, could alone arrest the ignominious torrent that threatened to submerge all human dignity. Happily for the world, Christian morality succeeded in gaining ground; and, its maximums being followed up by striking examples, it at length forced itself upon the public notice. Roman corruption was amazed to hear of virginity being held in honour and practised by a great many followers of the new religion; and that at a time when the greatest privileges and the most terrible chastisements could scarcely keep to their duty the six vestals, upon whose fidelity depended the honour and the safety of the city. Vespasian and Titus were aware of the infringements upon their primary duty committed by these guardians of the Palladium; but they considered that the low level at which morals then stood, forbade them to inflict the ancient penalties upon these traitresses.

The time, however, was at hand, when the emperors, the senate, and all Rome, were to learn from the first Apology of St. Justin the marvels of purity concealed within that Babylon of iniquity. “Among us, in this city,” said the Apologist, “there are many men and women who have reached the age of sixty or seventy years; brought up from infancy under the law of Christ, they have persevered to this day in the state of virginity; and there is not a country where I could not point out many such.” Athenagorus, in a memorial presented a few years later to Marcus Aurelius, was able to say in like manner: “You will find among us a multitude of persons, both men and women, who have passed their life up to old age in the state of virginity, having no ambition but to unite themselves more intimately to God.”

Clement was predestined to the glory of martyrdom; he was banished to the Chersonesus on the Black Sea. The Acts, which relate the details of his sufferings, are very great antiquity; we shall not here enter into discussions concerning them. They tell us how Clement found in the peninsula a considerable number of Christians already transported there, and employed in working the rich and abundant marble quarries. The joy of these Christians on seeing clement is easily conceived; his zeal in propagating the faith in this far-off country, and the success of his apostolate, are no matter for surprise. The miracle of a fountain springing from the rock at Clement’s word, to quench the thirst of the Confessors, is a fact analogous to hundreds of others related in the most authentic Acts of the Saints. Lastly, the apparition of the mysterious Lamb upon the mountain, marking with his foot the spot whence the water was to flow, carries back the mind to the earliest Christian mosaics, on which may still be see the symbol of the lamb standing on a green hillock.[4]

In the ninth century St. Cyril, apostle of the Slavs, discovered near Cherson the precious remains of the martyr-pontiff. Clement was brought back to Rome; and the great church which had hitherto, according to St. Jerome, preserved the memory of his name[5], henceforth possessed a still richer treasure. The very memory, however, was of great value for science no less than for piety: on the testimony of ancient traditions, this church was built on the site of St. Clement’s old home in the region of Monte Coelio, which we know from other sources to have been the quarter preferred by the Roman aristocracy of the period. Modern archeological investigations have discovered beneath the apse of the primitive basilica, and forming a sort of underground Confession or crypt, the rooms of a private dwelling, the style and ornaments of which are of the Flavian period.[6]

It is time to read the liturgical account of the great Pope of the first century.

Clemens Romanus, Faustini filius, de regione Coelii montis, discipulus beati Petri, cujus meminit Paulus scribens ad Philippenses: Etiam rogo et te germane compar, adjuva illas quae mecum laboraverunt in Evangelio, cum Clemente et caeteris adjutoribus meis, quorum nominasunt in libro vitae. Hic septem Urbus regions divisit septem Notariis, singulas singulis attribuene, qui passions Martyrum et res ab eis gestas diligentissime conquisitas litteris mandarent. Multa scripsit et ipse accurate et salutariter, quibus christianam religionem illustravit.

Cum autem doctrina ac vitae sanctitate multos ad Christi fidem converteret, a Trajano imperatore relegates est trans mare Ponticum in solitudine Urbis Chersonae, in qua duo milia Christianorum reperit, qui ab eodem Trajano condemnati fuerant. Qui cum in eruendis et secandis marmoribus aquae penuria laborarent, Clements facta oration, in vicinum collem ascendit, in cujus jugo vidit Agnum dextero pede fontem aquae dulcis, qui inde scatebat, attingentem; ubi omnes sitim expleverunt: eoque miraculo ulti infidels ad Christi fidem conversi, Clementis etiam sanctitatem venerari coeperunt.

Quibus concitatus Trajanus, misit illuc, qui Clementem, alligata ad ejus collum anchors, in profundum dejicerent. Quod cum factum esset, Christianis ad littus orantibus, mare ad tria milliaria recessit: eoque illi accendentes, aediculam marmoream in temple formam, et intus arcam lapideam, ubi Martyris corpus conditum erate, et juxta illued anchoram, qua mersus fuerat, invenerunt. Quo miraculo incolae permoti, Christi fidem susceperunt. Ejus corpus postea Romam, Nicolao primo Pontifice translatum, in ecolesia ipsius sancti Clementis conditum est. ecclesia etiam in eo insulse loco, unde divinitus fons manarat, ejusdem nomine dedicate est. vixit in pontificatu annos novem, menses sex dies sex. Fecit ordinations duas mense decembri, quibus creavit presbyteros decem, diaconos duos, episcopos per diversa loca quindecim.
Clement was a Roman by birth, son of Faustinus who dwelt in the region of Monte Coelio. H was a disciple of blessed Peter; and is mentioned by St. Paul in his Epistle to the Philippians, in these words: I entreat thee also, my sincere companion, help those women who have labored with me in the Gospel, with lement and the rest of my fellow-labourers, who names are in the book of life. He divided Rome into seven regions, appointing a notary for each, who was to ascertain and record with the greatest care the acts and sufferings of the martyrs. He wrote many useful and learned works, such as did honour to the Christian name.

He converted many to the faith of Christ by his learning and holiness of life, and was on that account banished by the emperor Trajan to the desert of Cherson beyond the Black Sea. Here he found two thousand Christians, likewise banished by Trajan, who were employed in quarrying marble. Seeing them suffering from want of water, Clement betook himself to prayer, and then ascended a neighbouring hill, on the summit of which he saw a Lamb, pointing out with his right foot a spring of sweet water. At this source they all quenched their thirst; and many infidels were converted by the miracle, and began to revere Clement as a Saint.

On hearing this Trajan was enraged, and sent officers with orders to cast Clement into the sea with an anchor tied to his neck. After the execution of this sentence, as the Christians were praying on the shore, the sea began to recede for the distance of three miles; on approaching they found a small building of marble, in the form of a temple, wherein lay the martyr’s body in a stone coffin, and beside it the anchor with which he had been drowned. The inhabitants of the country were so astounded at the miracle, that they were led to embrace the Christian faith. The holy body was afterwards translated to Rome, under Pope Nicholas I. and deposited in the church of St. Clement. A church was also built and dedicated in his honour, on that spot in the island where the miraculous fountain had sprung up. He held the pontificate nine years, six months, and six days. In two ordinations in the month of December, he made ten priests, two deacons, and fifteen bishops for divers places.

The proper Antiphons of St. Clements Office form a graceful collection, bearing evident signs of antiquity.

Antiphons

Oremus omnes ad Dominum Jesum Christum, ut Confessoribus suis fontis venam aperiat.

Orante sancto Clemente, apparuit ei Agnus Dei.

Non meis meritis ad vos me misit Dominus, vestris, coronis participem fieri.

Vidi supra montem Agnum stantem, de sub cujus pede fons vivus emanate.

De sub cujus pede fons vivus emanate, fluminis impetus laetificat civitatem Dei.

Omnes gentes per gyrum crediderunt Christo Domino.

Cum iter ad mare cepisset, populous voce magna clamabat: Domine Jesu Christe, salva illum: et Clemens cum lacrymis dicebat: Suscipe Pater spiritum meum.

Dedisti Domine habitaculum Martyri tuo Clementi in mari, in modum temple marmorei, angelicis minibus preparatum, iter praebens populo terrae, ut enarrent mirabilia tua.
Let us all beseech our Lord Jesus Christ to discover a source of water to his confessors.

While holy Clement was praying, the Lamb of God appeared to him.

Not through any merits of mine hath the Lord sent me to you to share your crowns.

I sat upon the mountain the Lamb standing, from beneath whose feet sprang up a fount of living waters.

From beneath his feet sprang up a fount of living waters: the stream of the river maketh glad the city of God.

All the surrounding nations believed in Christ the Lord.

As he approached the sea, the people cried with a loud voice: Lord Jesus Christ, save him; and Clement weeping said: Father, receive my spirit.

Thou has given, O Lord, to thy martyr Clement, a dwelling-place in the sea, a marble temple built by the hands of Angels; and thou openest a way thither for the people of the earth, that they may tell thy wonderful works.

We take the following beautiful formulae from the Leonian Sacramentary.

Prayer

Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, qui in omnium Sanctorum tuorum es virtute mirabilis: da nobis in beait Clementis annua solemnitate laetari, qui Filii tui Martyr et Pontifex, quod ministerio gessit, testimonio comprobavit, et quod praedicavit ore, firmavit exemplo. Per Dominum.
O Almighty, eternal God, who art wonderful in the virtue of all thy Saints, grant us to rejoice in the annual solemnity of blessed Clement, who, being the Martyr and Pontiff of the Son, justified his ministry by his words, and corroborated his teaching by his example. Through our Lord.

Preface

Vere dignum Sancti Clementis Martyris tui Natalitia celebrantes, qui cognationem reliquit et patriam; et post odorem tui nominis terras mariaque transmittens, abnegansque semetipsum, crucom peregrinationis assumpsit, ut te per Apostolorum tuorum vestigial sequeretur. Cui tu, Domine, … beatissimi Petri mox tradito discipulo, … deinde Magistri sui Vicarium per ordinem subrogando, Romanae Urbis, cujus propter te despexerat dignitatem, tenere constituis Principatum, proque transitoria claritate, coelesti facis honore conspicuum. Postremo Martyrii Gloria sublimatum, pro temporalibus gestis aeternam provehis ad coronam. Per.
It is truly right that we should give thee thanks, while celebrating the birthday of holy Clement thy Martyr, who abandoned his people and his country, and drawn by the sweet odour of thy name passed over lands and seas; denying himself, the took up the cross of these wanderings, that he might follow thee in the footsteps of thine Apostles. He was first a disciple of blessed Peter, and afterwards his vicar and successor; and thus didst thou, O Lord, appoint him to rule that city of Rome, who dignitaries he had despised for thy sake and instead of transitory honours thou didst ennoble him with heavenly dignity. Finally thou didst raise him to the glory of martyrdom, and reward his temporal labours with an eternal crown.

The Lord saith: My words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth: and they gifts shall be accepted upon my alter.[7] Thus does the Church open the chants of the great Sacrifice in thy honour, O holy Pontiff! It was indeed a joy and a supreme consolation to her, to experience that after the departure of the Apostles, the word did not fail; for all the fits left her by her divine Spouse at his Ascension into heaven, this was the most indispensable. In thy writings, the word continued to traverse the world, authoritative and respected, directing, pacifying, sanctifying the people, as fully and as surely as in the days of the Apostles or of our Lord himself. Clear and manifest, thanks to thee, was the proof that Jesus, according to this promise, remains with his disciples till the end of the world. Be thou blessed for having thus, in the earliest times, consoled our Mother the Church.

Thou didst understand, O Clement, that the great apostolic work, the diffusion of the Gospel among all nations, was not to be interrupted by the departure of the first labourers. Thou didst cause death and darkness to retreat farther and farther. All nations owe thee a deep debt of gratitude; but especially the French: for thou didst send thy messengers to Paris and its sister cities, crying in thy name: Rise thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead; and Christ shall enlighten thee.[8]

But the labours of an apostolate attacked in every land by the prince of this world, and the cares of universal government, did not exhaust the zeal that fired thy apostolic soul. Be thou blessed for having reserved thy special teaching and solicitude for the best-loved portion of our Lord’s flock, for them that follow the Lamb on the mountain, where thou didst see him, and whithersoever he goeth. Through thy prayers, may the imitators of Flavia Domitilla increase in number and still more in merit. May every Christian learn from the lesson of thy life, that the nobility of this world is nothing compared with that which is won by the love of Christ. May the world, and its capital, once given to God by the Apostles and the Roman patricians, become once more his undisputed kingdom.

Commemoration of Saint Felicitas, Martyr

On the 10th July we honoured St. Felicitas, mother of the Martyrs, giving a second and heavenly birth to her seven sons. But her own recompense was delayed for four long months. The Church has inscribed her name on the sacred diptychs; let us, then, again offer her our prayers and praises on this day, whereon the sword at length fulfilled her desires, and in justification of her name, restored her to her sons in eternal felicity.

Antiphon

Ant. Date ei de fructu manuum suarum, et laudent eam in portis opera ejus.

V. Diffusa est gratia in labiis tuis.

℟. Propterea benedixit te Deus in seternum.
ANT. Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.

V. Grace is spread abroad in thy lips.

℟. Therefore hath God blessed thee forever.

Prayer

Praesta, quaesummus omnipotens Deus; ut, beatae Felicitatis Martyris tuae solemnia recensentes, meritis ipsius protegamur et precibus. Per Dominum.
Grant we beseech thee, O Almighty God, that celebrating the solemnity of blessed Felicitas thy Martyr, e may be protected by her merits and prayers. Through our Lord.

[1] Contra haereses, iii. 3.
[2] Although modern critics have questioned the authenticity of the text believed by others to be that of St. Clement to virgins, the fact that the holy Pope wrote in favour of virginity still remains, upheld by the concordant testimonies of St. Epiphanius (H. xxx, 15), and St. Jerome (contra Jovinian. 1, 12).
[3] I Cor. vii.
[4] Dom Gueranger, ubi supra.
[5] Hieron. De viris illustribus, xv.
[6] Mullooly, St. Clement and his basilica; DE ROSSI, Bullet. 1863, 1870 etc.
[7] Introit of the feast, from Isaias.
[8] Eph. v. 14.

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

LET us go with the Church to Mount Carmel, and offer our grateful homage to John of the Cross, who, following in the footsteps of Teresa of Jesus, opened a safe way to souls seeking God.

The growing disinclination of the people for social prayer was threatening the irreparable destruction of piety, when in the sixteenth century the divine goodness raised up Saints, whose teaching and holiness responded to the needs of the new times. Doctrine does not change: the asceticism and mysticism of that age transmitted to the succeeding centuries the echo of those that had gone before. But their explanations were given in a more didactic way and analysed more narrowly; their methods aimed at obviating the risk of illusion, to which souls were exposed by their isolated devotion. It is but just to recognize that under the ever fruitful action of the Holy Ghost, the psychology of supernatural states became more extended and more precise.

The early Christians, praying with the Church, living daily and hourly the life of her Liturgy, kept her stamp upon them in their personal relations with God. Thus it came about that, under the persevering and transforming influence of the Church, and participating in the graces of light and union, and in all the blessings of that one Beloved so pleasing to the Spouse, they assimilated her sanctity to themselves, without any further trouble but to follow their Mother with docility, and suffer themselves to be carried securely in her arms. Thus they applied to themselves the words of our Lord: Unless you become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. We need not be surprised that there was not then, as now, the frequent and assiduous assistance of a particular director for each soul. Special guides are not so necessary to the members of a caravan or of an army: it is isolated travellers that stand in need of them; and even with these special guides, they can never have the same security as those who follow the caravan or the army.

This was understood, in the course of the last few centuries, by the men of God who, taking their inspiration from the many different aptitudes of souls, became the leaders of schools, one it is true in aim, but differing in the methods they adopted for counteracting the dangers of individualism. In this campaign of restoration and salvation, where the worst enemy of all was illusion under a thousand forms, with its subtle roots and its endless wiles, John of the Cross was the living image of the Word of God, more piercing than any two-edged sword, reaching unto the division of the soul and the spirit, of the joints also and the marrow; for he read, with unfailing glance, the very thoughts and intentions of hearts. Let us listen to his words. Though he belongs to modern times, he is evidently a son of the ancients.

“The soul,” he says, “is to attain to a certain sense, to a certain divine knowledge, most generous and full of sweetness, of all human and divine things which do not fall within the common-sense and natural perceptions of the soul; it views them with different eyes now, for the light and grace of " the Holy Ghost differ from those of sense, the " divine from the human.[1] The dark night, through which the soul passes, on its way to the divine light of the perfect union of the love of God — so far as it is in this life possible — requires for its explanation greater experience and light of knowledge than I possess. For so great are the trials, and so profound the darkness, spiritual as well as corporal, which souls must endure, if they will " attain to perfection, that no human knowledge can comprehend them, nor experience describe them.[2]

The journey of the soul to the divine union is called night, for three reasons. The first is derived from the point from which the soul sets out, the privation of the desire of all pleasure in all the things of this world, by an entire detachment therefrom. This is as night for every desire and sense of man. The second, from the road by which it travels; that is, faith, for faith is obscure like night to the intellect. The third, from the goal to which it tends, God, incomprehensible and infinite, who in this life is as night to the soul. We must pass through these three nights if we are to attain to the divine union with God.

They are foreshadowed in holy Scripture by the three nights which were to elapse, according to the command of the angel, between the betrothal and the marriage of the younger Tobias.[3] On the first night he was to burn the liver of the fish in the fire, which is the heart whose affections are set on the things of this world, and which, if it will enter on the road that leadeth unto God, must be burned up, and purified of all created things in the fire of this love. This purgation drives away the evil spirit who has dominion over our soul, because of our attachment to those pleasures which flow from " temporal and corporeal things.

The second night, said the angel, thou shalt be admitted into the society of the holy Patriarchs, the fathers of the faith. The soul having passed the first night, which is the privation of all sensible things, enters immediately into the second night, alone in pure faith, and by it alone directed: for faith is not subject to sense.

The third night, said the Angel, thou shalt obtain a blessing — that is, God, who in the second night of faith communicates himself so secretly and so intimately to the soul. This is another night, inasmuch as this communication is more obscure than the others. When this night is over, which is the accomplishment of the communication of God in spirit, ordinarily effected when the soul is in great darkness, the union with the bride, which is the Wisdom of Go immediately ensues.[4]

O spiritual soul, when thou seest thy desire obscured, thy will arid and constrained, and thy faculties incapable of any interior act, be not grieved at this, but look upon it rather as a great good, for God is delivering thee from thyself, taking the matter out of thy hands; for however strenuously thou mayest exert thyself, thou wilt never do anything so faultlessly, so perfectly, and securely as now — because of the impurity and torpor of thy faculties — when God takes thee by the hand, guides thee safely in thy blindness, along a road and to an end thou knowest not, and whither thou couldst never travel guided by thine own eyes, and supported by thy own feet.”[5]

We love to hear the Saints describe the paths which they themselves have trodden, and of which, in reward for their fidelity, they are the recognized guides in the Church. Let us add that “in sufferings of this kind, we must take care not to excite our Lord's compassion before his work is completed. There can be no mistake about it, certain graces which God gives to the soul are not necessary for salvation, but they must be obtained at a price. If we were to make too many difficulties, it might happen that, to spare our weakness, our Lord would let us fall back into a lower way. This, to the eye of faith, would be a terrible and irreparable misfortune.”[6]

“For the interests of holy Church and the glory of God, it is more important than we are able to say, that truly contemplative souls should be multiplied upon the earth. They are the hidden spring, the moving principle of everything that is for the glory of God, for the kingdom of his Son, and for the perfect fulfilment of his divine Will. Vain would it be to multiply active works and contrivances, yea, and even deeds of sacrifice; all will be fruitless if the Church militant have not her saints to uphold her, saints still wayfarers (in via), which is the state in which the Master chose to redeem the world. Certain powers and a certain fruitfulness are inherent to the present life; it has in itself so few charms that it will not have been useless to show, as we have done, that it has also some advantages.”[7]

The life of St. John of the Cross is thus related by holy Church.

Joannes a Cruce, Fontiberi in Hispania piis parentibus natus, a primis annis certo innotuit, quam Deiparae Virgini futurus esset acceptus; nam quinquennis in puteum lapsus, ejusdem Deiparae manu sublatus, incolumis evasit. Tanto autem patiendi desiderio flagravit, ut novennis, spreto molliori lecto, super sarmentis cubare consueverit. Adolescens hospitio pauperum aegrotantium Metymnae Campi famulum sese addixit, quibus magno caritatis ardore vilissima quaeque complectens officia, praesto aderat. Cujus exemplo excitati ceteri, eadem caritatis munera ardentius obibant. Verum ad altiora vocatus, beatae Mariae Virginis de Monte Carmelo institutum amplexus est: ubi sacerdos ex obedientia factus, severioris disciplinae et arctioris vitae cupidissimus, primitivam ordinis regulam ex superioris licentia ita professus est, ut, ob jugem Dominicae passionis memoriam, bello in se, tamquam in infensissimum hostem indicto, vigiliis, jejuniis, ferreis flagellis, omnique poenarum genere, brevi carnem cum vitiis et concupiscentiis suis crucifixerit: dignus plane, qui a sancta Teresia inter puriores sanctioresque animas Ecclesiam Dei id temporis illustrantes recenseretur.

Singulari vitae austeritate, et omnium virtutum praesidio munitus, prae assidua rerum divinarum contemplatione, diuturnas et mirabiles extases frequenter patiebatur: tantoque in Deum aestuabat amore, ut cum divinus ignis sese intro diutius continere non posset, foras erumpere, ejusque vultum irradiare visus sit. Proximorum saluti summopere intentus, tum in verbi Dei praedicatione, tum in sacrmentorum ad ministratione fuit assiduus. Hinc tot meritis auctus, strictiorisque disciplinae promovendae ardore vehementer accensus, sancae Teresiae comes divinitus datus est, ut quam ipsa inter sorores primaevam Carmeli ordinis observantiam instauraverat, eamdem et inter fratres, Joanne adjutore, restitueret. Innumeros itaque una cum Dei famula in divino opere promovendo perpessus labores, coenobia quae ejusdem sanctae Virginnis cura per total Hispaniam erecta fuerant, nullis vitae incommodis et periculis territus, singula perlustravit: in quibus aliisque quamplurimis ejus opera erectis, restauratam observantiam propagando, verbo et exemplo firmavit; ut merito primus post sanctam Teresiam Carmelitarum Excalceatorum ordinis professor et parens habeatur.

Virginitatem perpetuo coluit, impudentesque mulieres ejus pudicitiae insidiari conantes, non modo repulit, sed etiam Christo lucrifecit. In divinis explicandis arcanis aeque ac sancta Teresia, apostolicae sedis judicio, divinitus instructus, libros de mystica theologia caelesti sapientia refertos conscripsit. Semel interrogatus a Christo, quid praemii pro tot laboribus posceret, respondit: Domine, pati et contemni pro te. Imperio in daemones, quos e corporibus saepe fugabat, discretione spirituum, prophetiae dono, miraculorum gloria celebratissimus, ea semper fuit humilitate, ut saepius a Domino flagitaverit eo loco mori, ubi omnibus esset ignotus. Voti compos factus, Ubedae diro morbo, et in crure quinque plagis sanie manantibus, ad implendum patiendi desiderium constantissime toleratis. Ecclesiae sacramentis pie sancteque susceptis, in Christi cruxifixi amplexu, quem semper in corde atque ore habuerat, post illa verba: IN manus tuas commendo spiritum meum, obdormivit in Domino, die et hora a se praedictis, anno salutis millesimo quingentesimo nonagesimo primo, aetatis quadragesimo nono. Migrantem ejus animam splendidissimus ignis globus excepit: corpus vero suavissimum odorem spiravit, quod etiamnum incorruptum Segoviae honorifice colitur. Eum plurimis ante et post obitum fulgentem signis Benedictus decimus tertius, Pontifex Maximus, in sanctorum numerum retulti.

John of the Cross was born of pious parents at Hontiveros in Spain. From his infancy it was evident how dear he would be to the Virgin Mother of God, for at five years of age, having fallen down a well, he was held up by our Lady in her arms, so that he sustained no injury. He had so great a desire of suffering, that when he was but nine years old he discarded his soft bed and slept on faggots. As a young man, he devoted himself to the service of the sick in the hospital of Medina del Campo. Here he showed the ardour of his charity by undertaking the vilest offices; and his example incited others to devote themselves to the same charitable deeds. But as God called him still higher, he entered the order of the blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel, where he was made priest in obedience to his superiors; and in his ardour for more severe discipline and a more austere manner of life, he obtained their leave to observe the primitive rule of the Order. being ever mindful of our Lord’s Passion, he declared war against himself as against his worst enemy; and by watchings, fasting, iron disciplines, and every kind of penance, he soon crucified his flesh with the vices and concupiscences; so that St. Teresa considered him worthy to be numbered among the holiest and purest souls then adorning God's Church.

Besides his singular austerity of life, John was equipped for the spiritual combat with the armour of all the virtues. He devoted himself assiduously to the contemplation of divine things, in which he frequently experienced long and wonderful ecstasies; and his heart burned with such love of God that this divine fire could not be contained within, but would break forth and light up his countenance. He was exceedingly zealous for his neighbour's salvation, and devoted himself to preaching the word of God and administering the Sacraments. Enriched with all these merits and kindled with the desire of promoting stricter discipline, he was given by God as a companion to St. Teresa, that as she had restored primitive observance among the Sisters of the Order of Carmel, she might with John's help do the same among the Brethren. In carrying out this divine work, he together with that handmaid of God underwent innumerable labours; and fearing neither sufferings nor dangers, he visited all the monasteries founded by the holy virgin in Spain, and himself erected others, propagating in all the restored observance and strengthening it by his words and example. He has thus every right to be called, after St. Teresa, the first professed and the father of the Discalced Carmelites.

He preserved his virginity intact, and not only repulsed impudent women, who tried to ensnare him, but even gained them to Christ. The Holy See has declared that, like St. Teresa, he was divinely inspired in explaining the hidden mysteries of God; and he wrote books on mystical theology, full of divine wisdom. When asked one day by Christ what reward he desired for so many labours, he replied: Lord, sufferings and contempt for thy sake! He was renowned for his power over the devils, whom he often cast out of the possessed; and also for the gifts of discernment of spirits and prophecy; while such was his humility that he often begged our Lord to let him die in a place where no one knew him. His prayer was granted; and after a cruel malady, and the patient endurance of five ulcers in his leg, sent him to satisfy his love of suffering, he fell asleep in our Lord at Ubeda, having received the Sacraments of the Church in the holiest dispositions, and embracing the image of Christ crucified whom he had ever had in his heart and on his lips. His last words were: Into thy hands I commend my spirit. His death took place on the day and at the hour he had foretold, in the year of salvation 1591, the forty-ninth of his age. A brilliant glove of fire received his departing soul; while his body gave forth a most sweet perfume, and is still reverently preserved incorrupt at Segovia. As he was renowned for many miracles both before and after death, Pope Benedict XIII enrolled him among the saints.


On Carmel’s height and on the mountains, in the plain and in the valleys, may there be an ever-increasing number of such souls as are able to reconcile earth to heaven, to draw down the blessings of God, and to avert His anger! We are all called to be saints: may we then, after thy example and through thy prayers, O John of the Cross, suffer the grace of God to work in us with all the plenitude of its purifying and deifymg power. Then shall we be able one day to Say with thee:

O divine Life, who never killest but to give life, as Thou never woundest but to heal; Thou hast wounded me, O divine hand! That Thou mayst heal me. Thou hast slain in me that which made me dead, and destitute of the life of God which I now live. O gentle, subtle touch, the Word, the Son of God, who, because of the pureness of Thy nature, dost penetrate subtilely the very substance of my soul, and touching it gently absorbest it wholly m divine ways of sweetness, not heard of in the

Land of Chanaan, nor seen in Theman.[8] O touch of the Word, so gentle, so wonderfully gentle to me; and yet Thou wert overthrowing the mountains and breaking the rocks in pieces in Horeb by the shadow of Thy power going before Thee, when Thou didst announce Thy presence to the prophet in the whistling of a gentle air.[9] O gentle air, how is it that Thous touchest so gently when Thou art so terrible and so strong?

O my God, and my life, they shall know Thee and behold Thee when Thou touchest them, who, making themselves strangers upon earth, shall purify themselves, because purity coresponds with purity. As in Thee there is nothing material, so the more profoundly dost Thou touch me, changing what in me is human into divine, according as Thy divine essence wherewith Thou touchest me is wholly unaffected by modes and manner, free from the husks of form and figure. Thou the more gently touchest, the more Thou art hidden in the purified souls of those who have made themselves strangers here, hidden from the face of all creatures, and whom Thou shalt hide in the secret of Thy face from the disturbance of men. Thou removest the soul far away from every other touch whatever, and makest it Thine own; Thou leavest behind Thee effects and impressions so pure, that the touch of everything else seems vile and low, the very sight offensive, and all relations therewith a deep affliction.[10]

Rome honours today one of her own illustrious sons Chrysogonus, who gave his life for Christ at Aquileia in the reign of Diocletian. His spendid church in the Trastevere, which possesses his venerable head, was first built at the very time of the triumph of the faith over idolatry. Chrysogonus instructed in that holy faith the blessed martyr Anastasia, whose memory is so touchingly united with that of our Saviour’s birth, the Aurora Mass on Christmas day having been from time immemorial celebrated in her church. The names of both Chrysogonus and his spiritual daughter are daily pronounced in the holy Sacrifice.

Prayer

Adesto, Domine, supplicationibus nostris: ut qui ex iniquitate nostra reos nos esse cogniscimus, beati Chrysogoni martyris tui intercessione liberemur. Per Dominum.

Attend, O Lord, to our supplications; that we who know ourselves to be guilty on account of our iniquities, may be delivered by the intercession of thy blessed martyr Chrysogonus. Through our Lord.


[1] Complete works of St. John of the Cross, translated from the original Spanish by David Lewis, M. A. The obscure night of the Soul, Book ii. chap. ix.
[2] The Ascent of Mount Carmel. Prologue.
[3] Tob. vi. 18.
[4] The Ascent of Mount Carmel, Book i. chap. ii.
[5] The Obscure night of the soul. Book. ii. chap. xvi.
[6] The Spiritual Life and Prayer, according to holy Scripture and monastic Tradition, Solesmes 1899. Translated by the Benedictines of Stanbrook. Chap. xiv.
[7] Ibid. Chap. xix.
[8] Baruch iii, 22.
[9] 3 Kings xix. 22, 12
[10] “The Living Flame of Love,” stanza ii., line 3, passim.

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

GERTRUDE the Great, from her very infance, felt a special attraction towards the glorious virgin Catharine. As she was desirous of knowing how great were her merits, our Lord showed her St. Catharine seated on a throne so lofty and so magnificent, that it seemed her glory was sufficient to have filled the courts of heaven had she been its sole queen; while from her crown a marvellous brightness was reflected on her devout clients.[1] It is well known how the Maid of Orleans, entrusted by St. Michael to the guidance of St. Catharine and St. Margaret, received aid and counsel from them during seven years; and how it was at Sainte-Catherine-de-Fierbois that she received her sword.

In the twelfth and thirteenth centuries the Crusaders of the West experienced the powerful assistance of the Alexandrian martyr; and on their return from the East they introduced her cultus, which soon became extremely popular. An Order of knighthood was founded to protect the pilgrims visiting her holy body on Mount Sinai. Her feast was raised to the rank of first class, and as observed was a holiday of obligation by many churches. She was honoured as patroness by Christian philosophers, scholars, orators, and attorneys. The senior advocate was called bastonier, because it was his privilege to carry her banner; while confraternities of young girls were formed under the invocation of St. Catharine, whose members vied with one another in their zeal for adorning her venerated image. She was classed among the helping saints, as being a wise counsellor; and was claimed patroness by various associations merely on account of their experience of her powerful intercession with our Lord. Her betrothal with the divine Child, and other scenes from her legend, furnished Christian rt with many beautiful inspirations.

The holy and learned Baronius regretted that even in his day the Acts of the great Oriental martyr were open to discussion on certain points, which were eagerly seized upon by the extreme critics of the succeeding centuries in order to lessen popular devotion towards her.[2] There remains, however, this grlory to Christian honoured by pupils and masters and became the guiding spirit in the development of human though during the centuries illustrated by such brilliant suns of lerning as Albert the Great, Thomas of Aquin, and Bonaventure. “Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God.”[3] Methodius, a bishop and martyr of the third century, thus speaks in his “Banquet of Virgins”: “The virgin must have a very great love of sound doctrine; and she ought to hold an honourable place among the wise.”[4]

Let us now read the abridged Legend of St. Catharine in the book of holy Church.

Catharina, nobilis virgo Alexandrina, a prima aetate studia liberalium artium cum fidei ardore conjungens, brevi ad eam sanctitatis et doctrinae perfectionem pervenit, ut decem et octo anuos nata eruditissimum quemque superaret. Quae cum Maximini jussu multos propter christianae religionis professionem varie tornetis cruciatos, ad supplicium rapi videret, non dubitanter ipsum audiit Maximinum, eique nefariam immanitatem objeciens, sapientissimis rationibus Christi fidem ad salutem necessariam esse affirmavit.

Cujus prudentiam Maximinus admiratus, retineri eam jubet, accersitis undique doctissimis hominibus, magnisque propositis praemiis, qui convictam Catharinam a Christi fide ad idolorum cultum perduxissent. Quod contra accidit. Nam plures philosophi, qui ad eam coarguendam convenerant, vi ac subtilitate ejus disputationis tauto Jesu Christi amore sunt incensi, ut pro illo mori non dubitaverint. Quamobrem Maximinus blanditiis ac promissis Catharinam de sententia deducere aggreditur: verum id frustra fieri intelligens, verberibus affectam, plumbatisque contusam, dies undecim sine cibo ac potu inclusam tenet in carcere.

Quo tempore Maximini uxor, et Porphyrius belli dux, visendae virginis causa carcerem ingressi, et ejusdem praedicatione in Jesum Christum credentes, postea martyrio coronati sunt. Interim Catharina educitur e custodia, et rota expeditur, crebris et acutis praefixa gladiis, ut virginis corpus crudelissime dilaceraretur. Quae machina brevi, Catharinae oratione, confracta est: eoque miraculo multi Christi fidem suscepereunt. Ipse Maximinus in impietate et crudelitate obstinatior, Catharinam securi percuti imperat. Quae fortiter dato capite, ad duplicatum virginitatis et martyrii praemium evolavit septimo calendas Decembris: cujus corpus ab angelis in Sina Arabiae monte mirabiliter collocatum est.

Catharine, a noble virgin of Alexandria, united from early youth the study of the liberal arts with an ardent faith; and attained in a short time to such a degree of holiness and science, that at the age of eighteen she surpassed the most learned men. Seeing many, at the command of Maximin, cruelly tortured and executed for professing the Christian religion, she went boldly to Maximin himself and reproached him for his impious cruelty, showing him by wise reasons that faith in Christ is necessary for salvation.

Maximin, marvelling at her wisdom, caused her to be kept in custody. Then he summoned the most learned men from all parts, and promised a large reward to him that should refute Catharine's arguments, and lead her from the faith of Christ to the worship of idols. But the result was contrary to his expectations. For many of the philo­sophers who had assembled to refute her were, by the force and subtility of her reasoning, so enkindled with love of Jesus Christ, that they were ready to die for him. Maximin next tried to seduce her by flatteries and promises; but seeing his labour lost, he caused her to be lashed and torn with scourges tipped with lead, and finally shut up in prison for eleven days without food or drink.

During this interval, Maximin’s wife, and Porphyrius general of the army, going to see the virgin in prison, were by her exhortations brought to believe in Jesus Christ, and were afterwards crowned with martyrdom. Meanwhile Catharine was brought out of prison, and a wheel was set up garnished with many sharp knives cruelly to rend the virgin’s body. But at Catharine’s prayer the wheel was speedily broken; by which miracle many were converted to the faith of Christ. Maximin only grew more obstinate in wickedness and cruelty, and ordered Catharine to be beheaded. Offering her head bravely to the sword, she took her flight to heaven, adorned with the double crown of virginity and mrtyrdom, on the seventh of the Kalends of December. Her body was miraculously carried away by angels and buried on Mount Sinai in Arabia.


Today’s feast has inspired many liturgical compositions in the West. We will limit our selections to a sequence from the Gradual of St. Victor’s, and a beautiful and touching responsory still used by the Friars Preachers.

Sequence

Vox sonora nostri chori
Nostro sonet Conditori,
Qui disponit omnia,
Per quem dimicat imbellis,
Per quem datur et puellis
De viris victoria;

Per quem plebs Alexandrina
Feminae non feminina
Stupuit ingenis,
Quum beat Catharina
Doctos vinceret doctrina,
Ferrum patientia.

Haec ad gloriam parentum
Pulchrum dedit ornamentum
Morum privilegia,
Clara per progrenitores,
Claruit per sacros mores
Ampliori gratia.

Florem eneri decoris,
Lectionis et laboris
Attrivere studia:
Nam perlegit disciplinas
Saeculares et divinas
In adolescentia.

Vas electum, vas virtutum,
Reputavit sicut lutum
Bona transitoria,
Et reduxit in contemptum
Patris opes et parentum
Larga patrimonia.

Vasis oleum includens
Virgo sapiens et prudens
Sponso pergit obvia,
Ut, adventus ejus hora,
Praeparata, sine mora
Intret ad convivia.

Sistitur imperatori,
Cupiens pro Christo mori;
Cujus in praesentia
Quinquaginta sapientes
Mutos reddit et silentes
Virginis facundia.

Carceris horrendi claustrum,
Et rotarum triste plaustrum,
Famem et jejunia,
Et quaecumque flunt ei,
Sustinet amore Dei,
Eadem ad omnis.

Torta superat tortorem,
Superat imperatorem
Feminae constantia:
Cruciatur imperator,
Quia cedit cruciator,
Nec valent supplicia.

Tandem capite punitur,
Et, dum morte mors finitur,
Vitae subit gaudia.
Angelis mox fuit curae
Dare corpus sepulturae
Terra procul alia.

Oleum ex ipsa manat
Quod informos multos sanat
Evidenti gratia.
Bonum nobis dat unguentum,
Si per suum interventum
Nosra sanet vitia.

Gaudens ipsa videat
De se praesens gaudia,
Et futura praebeat,
Quae dedit praesentis,
Et hic hobis gaudest,
Illi nos in gloria,

Amen.

Let the voices of our choir
resound in praise of our Creator,
who disposes all things;
by whom they fight
who are unskilled in war,
by whose power maidens triumph over men.

Through him, the people of Alexandria
stand amazed to see
in blessed Catharine
qualities that seem above her sex,
when she vanquishes learned men by her science
and the sword by her courage.

To the glory of her race
she adds the precious ornaments
of incomparable virtue;
and noble by birth,
she becomes more noble still
by grace and holy living.

Tender is the flower of her beauty,
yet she spares it
neither labour nor study;
and in early youth
she masters earthly science
and that which is of God.

A chosen vessel full of virtue,
she considers transitory
goods as mire,
contemning her
father's wealth
and her ample patrimony.

Filling her vessel with oil,
as a wise and prudent virgin,
she goes to meet the Spouse;
that, ready at the hour of his coming,
she may enter without delay
to the feast.

Longing to die for Christ,
she is led before the emperor;
and in his presence,
by her eloquence,
puts fifty philosophers
to silence.

For love of God she endures
the horrors of the prison,
the cruel wheel,
hunger and want,
and all her other sufferings;
she remains unchanged through all.

The tortured overcomes her torturer,
a woman's constancy
triumphs over the emperor;
yea, the emperor himself is tormented,
seeing both executioner
and torments un­availing.

At length she is beheaded,
and by death ending death,
enters into the joys of life,
while Angels with all care
bury her body
in a far-off land.

An oil flowing from her body,
by a visible grace
heals the sick;
good indeed is the unction she gives us,
if she heals our vices
by her prayers.

May she rejoice
to see the joy she causes us;
may she who gives us present joys
give likewise those to come;
and may she now rejoice with us,
and we with her in glory.

Amen.


Responsory

Virgo flagellatur, crucianda fame religatur, carcere clausa manet, lux coelica fusa refulget:
* Fragrat odor dulois, cantant coeli agmina laudes.

V. Sponsun amat sponsam, Salvator visitat illam. * Fragrat.
Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto.
* Fragrat.

The virgin is scourged, loaded with chains, tormented with hunger; but while she remains shut up in prison a heavenly light shines around.
* A sweet fragrance fills the air, and the hosts of heaven are there singing praises.

V. The Spouse loves his bride and visits her as a Saviour. * A sweet fragrance.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.
* A sweet frangrance.


O blessed Catharine, accept us as thy disciples. In thy person, philosophy, true to its beautiful name, leads us to Eternal Wisdom, truth leads to goodness, and science to Christ who is the way, the truth, and the life. “O curious inquirers, who delight in idle, fruitless speculation,” exclaims the most eloquent of thy panegyrists, “know that the brilliant light of science which enchants you, is not intended merely to please your eyes, but to guide your steps and rule your conduct. Vain minds, that make such pompous display of your learning in order to win men's praise, learn that this glorious talent has not been entrusted to you for your self-advancement, but for the triumph of the truth. And you, cowardly, sordid souls, who use science as a means of gaining earthly goods, consider seriously that so " divine a treasure is not meant to be traded within so unworthy a manner ; and that the only commerce it is concerned with, is of a higher and sublimer kind, viz: the redemption of souls.”[5]

Thus, O Catharine, thou didst employ thy science solely for the truth. Thou madest “the majesty of Jesus Christ so visible, that his presence dissipated all the errors of philosophy, and the truths it had usurped acknowledged him for their Master, or rather were gathered up in him as in their centre. Let us learn from this holy example to bear witness to the truth and to make it triumph over the world, employing all our light of knowledge in the fulfilment of this duty. O holy truth I owe thee the testimony of my words, of my life, of my blood: for the truth is God himself.”[6]

This, O magnanimous virgin, is the thought of holy Church, when she thus formulates her prayer for today: O God, who didst give the law to Moses on the summit of Mount Sinai, and didst wonderfully deposit in the same place the body of the blessed Virgin and Martyr Catharine by means of thy holy Angels; grant, we beseech thee, that by her merits and intercession, we may be enabled to arrive at the mountain, which is Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee for ever and ever.[7]


[1] Legatus divinae pietatis, iv. 57.
[2] Baron, Annal, ad ann. 307.
[3] Matt v.8.
[4] Method, Conviv. Oratio I. i.
[5] Bossuet, Panegyric on St. Catharine.
[6] Bossuet, Panegyric on St. Catharine.
[7] Collect of the day.

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

GOD often brings the world to those who flee from it, as Sylvester Gozzolini among others experienced. In the thirteenth century, the world, all in admiration at the sanctity and the eloquence of the new Orders, seemed to have forgotten the monks and the desert. God, who never forgets, led his elect silently into solitude, and the wilderness began again to rejoice and flourish like the lily; strength was restored to the weak hands and feeble knees of the sons of the cloister.[1] The austerities of olden days and the fervour of prolonged prayer were revived at Monte Fano, and extended into sixty other monasteries; the new religious family of the Sylvestrians was approved by Innocent IV. in 1247. Though originated seven centuries after St. Benedict, and distinguished from the elder families by its blue habit, it claims the Patriarch of Cassino for its legislator and father.

Let us read the life of St. Sylvester which was inserted in the Breviary by Pope Leo XIII.

Silvester, Auximi in Piceno nobilii genere ortus, statim puerilem aetatem litteris ac bonis moribus mirifice exornavit. Adolescens Bononiam ad studia jurisprudentiae missus a patre, um sacris litteris a Deo monitus dedisset operam, parentis incurrit indignationem, quam aequo animo toto decennio pertulit. Ob egregiam ejus virtutem a canonicis cathedralis Auximanae ecclesiae socius honoris eletus est; in quo munere populo orationibus, exemplo et concionibus opem tulit.

Inter funus nobilis cujusdam defuncti, in aperto tumulo formosi viri suique propinqui deforme cadaver conspiciens: Ego, inquit, sum, quod hic fuit; quod hic est, ego ero. Et mox, peracto funere, illa sibi Domini sibi occurrente sententia: Qui vult venire post me, abneget semetipsum, et tollat crucem suam, et sequatur me, in solitudinem majoris perfectionis studio secessit, ibique vigiliis, orationibus jejuniisque deditus, crudas tantum herbas in cibum saepius adhibuit. Ut autem magis lateret homines varias mutavit sedes; a demum pervenit ad montem Fanum, locum, quamvis prope Fabrianum, eo tamen tempore desertum, ibique in honorem sanctissimi Patris Benedicti templum erecit, congregationisque Silvestrinorum fundmenta jecit, sub regula et habitu in visione sibi ab eodem Sancto ostensis.

At invidens satanas veriis terroribus illius monachos turbare nitebatur, noctu monasterii januas hostiliter invadens. Sed vir Dei hostis impetum ita repressit, ut monachi in sancto instituto magis confirmarentur, ac patris sanctitatem agnoscerent. Spiritu prophetiae aliisque donis enituit. Quae ut semper profunda humilitate conservavit ita contra se daemonis invidiam concitavit a quo praeceps actus per scalas oratorii, et prope intermendus, praesentisimo Virginis beneficio incolumitati redditus est. quod beneficium perpetua et singulari in illam pietate commendavit ad ultimum usque vitae spiritum, quem fere nonagenarius, sanctitate et miraculis clarus, Deo reddidit anno salutis millesimo ducentesimo sexagesimo septimo, sexto calendas decembris. Ejus Officium ac Missam Leo Decimus tertius Pontifex Maximus ad universam extendit Ecclesiam.

Sylvester was born of a noble family at Osimo in the Marches of Ancona, and in his boyhood was remarkable for his love of study and his good conduct. As a youth he was sent by his father to Bologna to study jurisprudence, but was admonished by God to devote himself to sacred learning. This incited his father to anger, which Sylvester patiently endured for ten years. On account of his remarkable virtue, the Canons of Osimo elected him an honorary mem­ber of their chapter, in which position he benefited the people by his prayers, his example, and his sermons.

While assisting at the funeral of a nobleman, his relative, who had been remarkably handsome, he looked into the open coffin, and seeing the corpse all deformed, said to himself: What this man was, I am now; what he is now, I shall be hereafter. As soon as the funeral was over, reading these words of our Lord: If any one will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me, he retired into solitude in order to attain greater perfection; there he gave himself up to watching, prayer and fasting, often eating nothing but raw herbs. The better to conceal himself from men he frequently changed his place of abode ; and at length settled at Monte Fano, which, though near to Fabriano, was at that time a desert. There he built a church in honour of the most holy father Benedict, and founded the Congregation of Sylvestrians, under the rule and habit shown him by St. Benedict in vision.

Satan, roused to envy, strove in many ways to terrify his monks, making assaults by night at the monastery gates. But the man of God repressed the enemy's attack with such vigour, that the monks, recognizing their father's sanctity, were more and more confirmed in their holy purpose. Sylvester was remarkable for the spirit of prophecy and other gifts, which he guarded by deep humility. This so stirred up the devil's envy that he cast the saint headlong down the oratory stairs and well nigh killed him, but the blessed Virgin at once graciously restored him to health. In gratitude for this benefit, Sylvester showed her the tenderest unfailing piety to the end of his life. He died at the age of about ninety years, renowned for sanctity and miracles, on the sixth of the Kalends of December, in the year of salvation 1267. The Sovereign Pontiff Leo XIII. extended his Office and Mass to the universal Church.


Death, by revealing to thee, O Sylvester, the vanity of noble birth and beauty, opened to thee the path of life. The frivolous world, deceived by the mirage of false pleasures, cannot understand the Gospel, which defers beatitude to another life, and paves the way to it with renunciation, humility, and the cross. With the Church, we ask of our merciful God, in consideration of thy merits, the grace to despise, as thou didst, the fleeting joys of this world, that we may partake with thee of true and eternal happiness. Deign to support our petition with thine own supplication.

We beseech him who has glorified thee to bless and multiply thy sons, to sustain them and the whole monastic Order, and every religious family, under the sufferings of the present time. O holy Abbot, reward by new benefits the confidence of the Sovereign Pontiff, who in these sad days has extended thy cultus to the entire Church.

 

Commemoration of Saint Peter of Alexandria, Bishop and Martyr

Peter, successor of St. Theonas in the See of Alexandria, was by his learning and holiness the glory of Egypt, and the light of the whole Church of God. Such was his courage under the terrible persecution raised by Maximian Galerius, that the example of his admirable patience strengthened a great many in Christian virtue. He was the first to cut off from the communion of the faithful, Arius, deacon of Alexandria, for favouring the schism of the Meletians. When Peter had been condemned to death by Maximian, the priests Achillas and Alexander came to him in prison to intercede for Arius; but the bishop answered that during the night Jesus had appeared to him with his garment torn, and on his asking the cause, had replied: “Arius has rent my garment, which is the Church.” He then foretold that they two would succeed him in turn in the episcopate, and forbade them ever to receive Arius to communion, for he knew that he was dead to God. The truth of this prophecy was soon proved by the event. Peter was beheaded, and thus went to receive the crown of martyrdom on the sixth of the Kalends of December, in the twelfth year of his episcopate.[2]

Let us offer our homage and prayers to the great bishop whom the Church thus commemorates today. For a long time he went by the name of Peter the Martyr, until in the thirteenth century another Peter martyr, himself illustrious among all, came to claim the title, leaving his glorious brother to be known as St. Peter of Alexandria.

Ant. Iste sanctus pro lege Dei sui certavit usque ad mortem et a verbis impiorum non timuit: fundatus enim erat supra firmam petram.

V. Gloria et honore coronasti eum Domine.
℟. Et constituisti eum super opera manuum tuarum.
Ant. This Saint fought even to death for the law of his God, and feared not the words of the wicked; for he was founded upon a firm rock.

V. Thou hast crowned him with glory and honour, O Lord,
℟. And hast set him over the works of thy hands.

 Prayer

Infirmitatem nostram respice, omnipotens Deus: et quia pondus propriae actionis gravat, beati Petri Martyris tui atque Pontificis, intercessio gloriosa nos protegat. Per Dominum.
Have regard to our weakness, O Almighty God: and since the weight of our own deeds is grievous to us, may the glorious intercession of blessed Peter, thy Martyr and Bishop, protect us. Through.

[1] Is. xxxv. 1, 2, 3.
[2] Legend of St. Peter of Alexandria in the Roman Breviary.

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

CHRISTMAS begins to glimmer on the horizon. The last Sunday after Pentecost has given us the closing instructions of the moveable Cycle. Beginning with the twenty-seventh of this month, the present days belong in some years to the new Cycle, in others to the one which is ending.

The last Lesson from the Scripture of the Time[1] ends with the solemn declaration of the last of the Prophets, announcing the approach of a new era: From the rising of the sun even to the going down, my Name is great among the Gentiles, and in every place there is sacrifice, and there is offered to my Name a clean oblation! For my Name is great among the Gentiles, with the Lord of hosts.[2] And in to-day's Gospel we have St. John the Baptist echoing the words of Malachias, and joining the old and the new times together: Behold the Lamb of God! He points out to us the Messias close at hand.

Andrew, brother of Peter, and another of John's disciples, asked this Messias: Rabbi, where dwellest thou? Jesus answered: Come and see. And they went, continues the Evangelist, and saw where he abode, and they stayed with him that day.[3] Whereupon St. Augustine speaking in the name of the Church on this Vigil, says: “Let us build him a dwelling in our hearts, that he may come to us, and teach us, and live with us.”[4] Here is our Advent planned out for us.

Let us put that blessed season under the protection of the Apostle of the Cross, and also of the holy Martyr Saturninus, whom the Church has honoured on this day from time immemorial.

Prayer

Quaesumus omnipotens Deus: ut beatus Andreas Apostolus, cujus praevenimus festivitatem, tuum pro nobis festivitatem, tuum pro nobis imploret auxilium; ut a nostris reatibus absoluti, a cunctis etiam periculis eruamur. Per Dominum.
We beseech thee, O Almighty God, that the blessed Apostle Andrew, whose festival we anticipate, may implore thy help for us; that absolved from our sins, we may also be delivered from all dangers. Through our Lord.

Prayer

Deus, qui nos beati Sacturnini Martyris tui concedis natalitio perfrui: ejus nos tribue meritis adjuvari. Per Dominum.
O God, who grantest us to rejoice in the festival of blessed Saturninus thy Martyr, grant us to be assisted by his merits. Through our Lord.

[1] Saturday before the 1st Sunday in Advent.
[2] Malach. i. 11.
[3] Gospel of the Vigil.
[4] Homily on the Vigil. Aug. Tract. vii. in Johann.

 

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