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The Liturgical Year

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

Under this heading of Proper of the Time, we here comprise the movable Office of the Sundays and Ferias of Advent. Though anxious to give to the faithful the flowers of the Advent liturgy, yet were we to bring forward even those which might be considered as the choicest, four volumes would have barely sufficed. The fear of making our work too expensive to the faithful, persuaded us to limit it within much narrower bounds, and out of the abundant treasures before us, to give what we thought could be least dispensed with.

The plan we have adopted is this: We give the whole of the Mass and Vespers for the four Sundays of Advent. On the ferial days, we give one, at least, of the lessons from Isaias, which are read in the Office of Matins; adding to this a hymn or sequence, or some other poetic liturgical composition. All these have been taken from the gravest sources, for example, from the Roman and Mozarabic breviaries, from the Greek anthology and menæa, from the missals of the middle ages, &c. After this hymn or sequence, we have given a prayer from the Ambrosian, Gallican, or Mozarabic missal. So that the faithful will find in our collection an unprecedented abundance of liturgical formulæ, each of which carries authority with it, as being taken from ancient and approved sources.

We have not thought it desirable to give a commentary to each of the liturgical formulæ inserted in our work. It seemed to us that they would be rendered sufficiently intelligible by the general explanation which runs through our work, in which explanation we have endeavoured to excite the devotion of the reader, give unity to the several parts, and afford solid instruction. We shall thus avoid all those repetitions and commonplace remarks, which do little more than fatigue the reader.

We have inserted the Great Antiphons and the Office of Christmas Eve in the proper of the saints, because both of these have fixed days in the calendar, and to put them in the proper of the time, as they stand in the breviary and missal, would have required us to introduce into a book, destined for the laity, rubrics somewhat complicated, which would, perhaps, not have been understood.

For more information on the season of Advent, visit here.

We apply the name of Christmas to the forty days which begin with the Nativity of our Lord, December 25, and end with the Purification of the Blessed Virgin, February 2. It is a period which forms a distinct portion of the Liturgical Year, as distinct, by its own special spirit, from every other, as are Advent, Lent, Easter, or Pentecost. One same Mystery is celebrated and kept in view during the whole forty days. Neither the Feasts of the Saints, which so abound during this Season; nor the time of Septuagesima, with its mournful Purple, which often begins before Christmastide is over, seem able to distract our Holy Mother the Church from the immense joy of which she received the good tidings from the Angels[1] on that glorious Night for which the world had been longing four thousand years. The Faithful will remember that the Liturgy commemorates this long expectation by the four penitential weeks of Advent.
[1] St Luke ii 10.

(From Chapter 1: The History of Christmas)

For more information on the season of Christmas, visit here.

This third section of the liturgical year is much shorter than the two preceding ones; and yet it is one of real interest. The season of Septuagesima has only three weeks of the Proper of the Time, and the feasts of the saints are far less frequent than at other periods of the year. The volume we now offer to the faithful may be called one of transition, inasmuch as it includes the period between two important seasons—viz., Christmas and Lent. We have endeavoured to teach them how to spend these three weeks; and our instructions, we trust, will show them that, even in this the least interesting portion of the ecclesiastical year, there is much to be learned. They will find the Church persevering in carrying out the one sublime idea which pervades the whole of her liturgy; and, consequently, they must derive solid profit from imbibing the spirit peculiar to this season.

Were we, therefore, to keep aloof from the Church during Septuagesima, we should not have a complete idea of her year, of which these three weeks form an essential part. The three preliminary chapters of this volume will convince them of the truth of our observation; and we feel confident that, when they have once understood the ceremonies, and formulas, and instructions, offered them by the Church during this short season, they will value it as it deserves.

For more information on the season of Septuagesima, visit here.

We begin, with this volume, the holy season of Lent; but such is the richness of its liturgy, that we have found it impossible to take our readers beyond the Saturday of the fourth week. Passion-week and Holy Week, which complete the forty days of yearly penance, require to be treated at such length, that we could not have introduced them into this volume without making it inconveniently large.

The present volume is a very full one, although it only comprises the first four weeks of the season of Lent. We have called it Lent; and yet the two weeks of the next volume are also comprised in Lent; nay, they are its most important and sacred part. But, in giving the name of Lent to this first section, we have followed the liturgy itself, which applies this word to the first four weeks only; giving to the two that remain the names of Passion-week and Holy Week. Our next volume will, therefore, be called Passiontide and Holy Week.

For more information on Lent, visit here.

After having proposed the forty-days’ fast of Jesus in the desert to the meditation of the faithful during the first four weeks of Lent, the holy Church gives the two weeks which still remain before Easter to the commemoration of the Passion. She would not have her children come to that great day of the immolation of the Lamb, without having prepared for it by compassionating with Him in the sufferings He endured in their stead.

(From Chapter 1: The History of Passiontide and Holy Week)

For more information on Passiontide and Holy Week, visit here.

WITH this volume we begin the season of Easter, wherein are accomplished the mysteries prepared for, and looked forward to, since Advent. Such are the liturgical riches of this portion of the Christian year, that we have found it necessary to devote three volumes to it.

The present volume is wholly taken up with Easter Week. A week is indeed a short period; but such a week as this, with the importance of the events it brings before us, and the grandeur of the mysteries it celebrates, is, at least, equivalent to any other section of our Liturgical Year. We have abridged our explanations as much as possible; and yet we have exceeded two-thirds of one of our ordinary volumes. Hence, it was out of the question to add the remaining weeks; the more so, as the saints’ feasts recommence on the Monday following the Easter Octave, and their insertion would have obliged us to have made our volume considerably more bulky than even that of Passiontide. We have, therefore, been satisfied with giving the Mass and Office of the Annunciation, already given in our volume for Lent, but which are needed for the Monday after Low Sunday, when Easter falls between March 22 and April 2, which is frequently the case.

For more information on Paschal Tide, visit here.

This volume opens to us the second part of the Liturgical Year, beginning the long period of the Time after Pentecost. It treats of the feasts of the most holy Trinity, of Corpus Christi, and of the sacred Heart of Jesus. These three feasts require to be explained apart. Their dates depend on that of Easter; and yet they are detached, if we consider their object, from the moveable cycle, whose aim is to bring before us, each year, the successive, and so to speak historic, memories of our Lord’s mysteries. After the sublime drama, which has, by gradually presenting to us the facts of our Redeemer’s history, shown us the divine economy of the redemption, these feasts immediately follow, and give us a deep and dogmatic teaching: a teaching which is a marvellous synthesis, taking in the whole body of Christian doctrine.

The Holy Ghost has come down upon the earth, in order to sanctify it. Faith being the one basis of all sanctification, and the source of love, the holy Spirit would make it the starting-point of His divine workings in the soul. To this end, He inspires the Church, which has sprung up into life under the influence of His impetuous breathing, to propose at once to the faithful that doctrinal summary, which is comprised in the three feasts immediately coming after Pentecost. The volumes following the present one will show us the holy Spirit continuing His work, and, on the solid foundations of the faith He established at the outset, building the entire superstructure of the Christian virtues.

This was the idea which the author of the Liturgical year was busy developing in the second part of his work, when death came upon him; and the pen that had begun this volume was put by obedience into the hands of one, who now comes before the faithful, asking their prayers for the arduous task he has undertaken, of continuing the not quite finished work of his beloved father and master. He begs of them to beseech our Lord, that He Himself will vouchsafe to bring to a successful termination an undertaking that was begun for His honour and glory, and that has already produced so much fruit in the souls of men.

Br. L.F. O.S.B.

Solesmes, May 10, 1879.

 

For more information on Time after Pentecost, visit here.

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

WE have already met with the names of several Pontiffs on the Paschal Calendar. They form a brilliant constellation around our Risen Jesus, who, during the period between his Resurrection and Ascension, gave to Peter, their predecessor, the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Anicetus, Soter, Caius, Cletus and Marcellinus, held in their hands the palm of martyrdom: Leo was the only one who did not shed his blood in the cause of his divine Master. To-day there comes before us a holy Pope who governed the Church in these latter times; he is worthy to stand amidst the Easter group of Pontiffs. Like Leo, Pius V was zealous in combating heresy; like Leo, he saved his people from the barbarian yoke.

The whole life of Pius V was a combat. His pontificate fell during those troubled times when Protestantism was leading whole countries into apostasy. Italy was not a prey that could be taken by violence: artifice was therefore used, in order to undermine the Apostolic See and thus develop the whole Christian world in the darkness of heresy. Pius defended the Peninsula with untiring devotedness from the danger that threatened her. Even before he was raised to the Papal Throne he frequently exposed his life by his zeal in opposing the preaching of false doctrines. Like Peter the Martyr, he braved every danger and was the dread of the emissaries of heresy. When seated on the Chair of Peter, he kept the innovators in check by fear, roused the sovereigns of Italy to energy and by measures of moderate severity drove back beyond the Alps the torrent that would have swept Christianity from Europe had not the Southern States thus opposed it. From that time forward, Protestantism has never made any further progress: it has been wearing itself out by doctrinal anarchy. We repeat it: this heresy would have laid all Europe waste, had it not been for the vigilance of the pastor who animated the defenders of truth to resist it where it already existed, and who set himself as a wall of brass against its invasion in the country where he himself was the master.

Another enemy, taking advantage of the confusion caused in the West by Protestantism, organized an expedition against Europe. Italy was to be its first prey. The Ottoman fleet started from the Bosphorus. This again would have meant the ruin of Christendom but for the energy of the Roman Pontiff, our Saint. He gave the alarm, and called the Christian Princes to arms. Germany and France, tom by domestic factions that had been caused by heresy, turned a deaf ear to the call. Spain alone, together with Venice and the little Papal fleet, answered the summons of the Pontiff. The Cross and Crescent were soon face to face in the Gulf of Lepanto. The prayers of Pius V decided the victory in favour of the Christians, whose forces were much inferior to those of the Turks. We shall return to this important event when we come to the Feast of the Rosary in October. But we cannot omit to mention to-day the prediction uttered by the holy Pope, on the evening of the great day of October 7, 1571. The battle between the Christian and Turkish fleets lasted from six o'clock in the morning till late in the afternoon. Towards evening, the Pontiff suddenly looked up towards heaven, and gazed upon it in silence for a few seconds. Then turning to his attendants, he exclaimed: ' Let us give thanks to God! The Christians have gained the victory!' The news soon arrived at Rome; and thus, Europe once more owed her salvation to a Pope! The defeat at Lepanto was a blow from which the Ottoman Empire has never recovered: its fall dates from that glorious day.

The zeal of this holy Pope for the reformation of Christian morals, his establishment of the observance of the laws of discipline prescribed by the Council of Trent and his publication of the new Breviary and Missal have made his six years' pontificate to be one of the richest periods of the Church’s history. Protestants themselves have frequently expressed their admiration of this vigorous opponent of the so-called Reformation.

‘I am surprised,’ said Bacon, ‘that the Church of Rome has not yet canonized this great man.’ Pius V did not receive this honour till about a hundred and thirty years after his death; so impartial is the Church, when she has to adjudicate this highest of earthly honours even to her most revered Pastors!

Of the many miracles which attested the merits of this holy Pontiff, even during his life, we select the two following: As he was one day crossing the Vatican piazza, which is on the site of the ancient Circus of Nero, he was overcome with a sentiment of enthusiasm for the glory and courage of the martyrs who had suffered on that very spot in the first persecution. Stooping down, he took up a handful of dust from the hallowed ground which had been trodden by so many generations of the Christian people since the peace of Constantine. He put the dust into a cloth which the Ambassador of Poland, who was with him, held out to receive it. When the Ambassador opened the cloth, after returning to his house, he found it all saturated with blood, as fresh as though it had been that moment shed: the dust had disappeared. The faith of the Pontiff had evoked the blood of the martyrs, which thus gave testimony against the heretics that the Roman Church, in the sixteenth century, was identically the same as that for which those brave heroes and heroines laid down their lives in the days of Nero.

The heretics attempted more than once to destroy a life which baffled all their hopes of perverting the faith of Italy. By a base and sacrilegious stratagem, aided by treachery, they put a deadly poison on the feet of the crucifix which the Saint kept in his Oratory, and which he was frequently seen to kiss with great devotion. In the fervour of prayer, Pius was about to give this mark of love to the image of his crucified Master, when suddenly the feet of the crucifix detached themselves from the Cross and eluded the proffered kiss of the venerable old man. The Pontiff at once saw through the plot whereby his enemies would fain have turned the life-giving Tree into an instrument of death.

In order to encourage the faithful to follow the sacred Liturgy, we will select another interesting example from the life of this great Saint. When, lying on his bed of death, and just before breathing his last, he took a parting look at the Church on earth, which he was leaving for that of heaven, he wished to make a final prayer for the flock which he knew was surrounded by danger; he therefore recited, but with a voice that was scarcely audible, the following stanza of the Paschal hymn: ‘We beseech thee, O Creator of all things! that in these days of Paschal joy, thou defend thy people from every assault of death!’[1]

Let us now read the eulogy of this saintly Pope of modern times, as given in the divine Office:

Pius in oppido Insubriæ, quod Boscum vocant, natus, sed e Bononia oriundus ex nobili Ghislerioram familia, cum quatuordecim esset annorum, Ordinem Prædicatorum ingressus est. Erat in eo admirabilis patientia, profunda humilitas, summa vitæ austeritas, continuum orationis Studium, et regularis observantiæ, ac divini honoris ardentissima zelus. Philosophiæ vero, ac Theologise incumbens, adeo in iis excelluit, ut illas docendi munus magna cum laude per multos annos exercuerit. Sacras conciones pluribus in locis cum ingenti auditorum fructu habuit. Inquisitionis officium inviolabili animi fortitudine diu sustinuit, multasque civitates, non sine vitæ discrimine, ab hæresi tunc grassante immunes servavit.

A Paulo Quarto, cui ob eximias virtutes charissimus erat, ad Nepesinum et Sutrinum Episcopatum promotus, et post biennium, inter RomanæEcclesiæ Presbyteros Cardinales adscriptus fuit. Tum ad Ecdesiam Montis Regalis in Subalpinis a Pio Quarto translatus, cum plures in eam abusus irrepsisse cog novisset, totam diœcesim lustra vit; rebusque compositis, Romam reversus, gravissimis expediendis negotiis applicatus, quod justum erat apostolica libertate et constantia decemebat. Mortuo autem Pio, præter omnium exspectationem electus. Pontifex, nihil in vitæ ratione, excepto exteriori habitu, immutavit. Fuit in eo religionis propagandæ perpetuum studium, in Ecclesiastica disciplina restituenda indefessus labor, in extirpandis erroribus assidua vigilantia, in sublevandis egentium necessita'tibus indeficiens beneficentia, in Sedis Apostolicæ juribus vindicandis robur invictum.

Selimum Turcarum tyrannum multis el a turn victoriis, ingenti comparata classe, ad Echinades insulas, non tam armis quam fusis ad Deum precibus devicit. Quam victoriam ea ipsa hora qua obtenta fuit, Deo revelante, cognovit, suisque familiaribus indicavit. Dum vero novam in ipsos Turcas expeditionem moliretur, in gravem morbum incidit; et acerbissimis doloribus patientissime tolera tis, ad extrema deveniens, cum Sacramenta de more suscepisset, animam Deo placidissime reddidit, anno millesimo quingentesimo septuagesimo secundo, setatis suae sexagesimo octavo; cumsedisset annos sex, menses tres, dies viginti quatuor. Corpus ejus in Basilica sanctæ Mariae ad Præsepe summa fidelium veneratione colitur, multis a Deo ejus intercessione patratis miraculis. Quibus rite probatis, a Clemente Undecimo, Pontífice Maximo, Sanctorum numero adscriptus est.

Pius was born at Bosco, a town in Lombardy, though his parents were the Ghisleri, a noble family at Bologna. He entered the Order of the Friars Preachers when he was fourteen years of age. He was remarkable for his patience, deep humility, great mortifications, love of prayer and religious discipline, and most ardent zeal for God's honour. He applied himself to the study of Philosophy and Theology, and with so much success that for many years he taught them in a manner that gained him universal praise. He preached the word of God in many places and produced much fruit. For a long period he held with dauntless courage the office of Inquisitor; and at the risk of his life preserved many cities from the then prevalent heresy.

Paul the Fourth, who esteemed and loved him on account of his great virtues, made him bishop of Nepi and Sutri, and two years later numbered him among the Cardinal Priests of the Roman Church. He was translated to the Church of Mondovi in Piedmont by Pius the Fourth, and finding that many abuses had crept in, made a visitation of the whole diocese. Having put all things in order, he returned to Rome, where he was entrusted with matters of the gravest importance; all of which he transacted with an apostolic impartiality and firmness. At the death of Pius the Fourth, he was, contrary to everyone’s expectation, chosen Pope. With the exception of his outward garb, he changed nothing of his manner of life. He showed great virtue in his unremitting zeal for the propagation of the Faith, untiring efforts for the restoration of ecclesiastical discipline, assiduous vigilance in extirpating error, unfailing charity in relieving the necessities of the poor, and invincible courage in vindicating the rights of the Apostolic See.

A powerful fleet having been equipped at Lepanto against Selim, the sultan of the Turks, who was flushed with the many victories he had gained, the Pontiff won the battle, not so much by arms as by prayers. By divine revelation he knew of the victory the moment it was won, and announced it to his household. Whilst engaged in preparing a new expedition against the Turks, he fell dangerously ill. He suffered the most excruciating pains with exceeding great patience. When his last hour approached, he received the sacraments, according to the Christian practice, and most calmly breathed forth his soul into God's hands in the year 1572, and in the sixtyeighth year of his age, after a pontificate of six years, three months, and twenty-four days. His body is honoured by the devout veneration of the faithful; it lies in the Church of Saint Mary Major. Through his intercession, many miracles have been wrought by God; which being authentically proved, he was canonized by Pope Clement the Eleventh.


St Pius is one of the leading glories of the Dominican Order. We find the following Responsories and Hymns in the Breviary of that Order:

Responsories

℟. Dum novus hic Moyses in colle pansis manibus Deum precabatur, ad Naupactum Amalec Israeli perfidus mari profliga tur:
* Partaque victoria Pio revelatur. Alleluia.
℣. Dum extendit virgam Rosarii, demerguntur hostes nefarii.
* Partaque victoria Pio revelatur. Alleluia.

℟. Ad ceram Agni candidi, a Pio benedicti, captant salutem languidi: resiliunt piroboli:
* Sclopos evadunt icti. Alleluia.
℣. Dat farinis incrementa, sedat ignium tormenta: tranquillantur maria.
* Sclopos evadunt icti. Alleluia.

℟. Priscos agones martyrum ostentans Romanorum, ingens edit miraculum:
* In turba populorum. Alleluia.
℣. Oratori Christiano dans e campo Vaticano cruentatos pulveres.
* In turba populorum. Alleluia.

℟. Christi plantas osculari fixas cruci gestiit; sed provita sui chari pedes ista retrahit:
* Toxico imbutis dari oscula prohibuit. Alleluia.
℣. Absit mihi gloriari, absit oscula venari, nisi in cruce Domini:
* Toxico imbutis dari oscula prohibuit. Alleluia.
℟. Whilst this new Moses was praying to God on the mount, with hands extended, the perfidious Amalec, Israel's foe, was put to flight in the gulf of Lepanto,
* And the victory was revealed to Pius. Alleluia.
℣. Whilst he stretched forth the rod of the Rosary, the wicked enemies were drowned in the sea.
* And the victory was revealed to Pius. Alleluia.

℟. The white waxen Lambs, that were blessed by Pius, gave health to the sick: the bullets that were fired, rebounded:
* They that were shot at, escaped injury. Alleluia.
℣. They multiplied flour, they quenched fire, they calmed the sea:
* They that were shot at, escaped, injury. Alleluia.

℟. To show the ancient combats of the martyrs of Rome, he works a great miracle:
* Before a crowd of people. Alleluia.
℣. He gives to a Christian Ambassador some dust impregnated with blood, which he took up from the ground of the Vatican:
* Before a crowd of people. Alleluia.

℟. He wished to kiss the feet of Christ fastened to the cross; but the feet withdrew, that the life of Christ's dear servant might be saved:
* They were covered with poison and would not receive his kiss. Alleluia.
℣. God forbid that I should glory, God forbid that I should seek to imprint my kisses, save on the Cross of my Lord.
* They were covered with poison and would not receive his kiss. Alleluia.

Hymn

Pio beato jubilos
Canora pangant organa:
Nimbosque pellant nubilos
Sacræ diei gaudia.

Hic Michael certamine
Fregit draconis impetum:
Piique sumpto nomine,
Hostem repressit impium.

Ecclesiæ pericula
Umbone firmo depulit:
Sectariorum spicula
Mucrone forti messuit.

Zelosus iste Phinees
Sacris stetit pro mcenibus,
Ut barbaros acinaces
Arceret a fidelibus.

Hic disciplinam moribus
Cura revexit sedula:
Et impiis erroribus
Objecit hic repagula.

Pii talenta largitas
Non vinxit in sudario
Necessitates publicas
Toto juvans ærario.

Pater benignus pauperum
Manus habens tomatiles,
Pavit greges famelicos
Effusione munerum.

Quæsumus auctor omnium,
In hoc paschali gaudio,
Ab omni mortis impetu
Tuum defende populum.

Amen.
Let our sweet organs
give forth their glad sound in honour of blessed Pius!
Let the joys of this sacred day
dispel all stormy clouds.

His name in baptism was Michael
and he conquered the devil in battle:
he took the name of Pius
and repressed the impious foe.

He was the firm shield
against the dangers that attacked the Church:
he was the strong sword
that mowed down the ranks of the heretics.

He was the zealous Phinees
who stood for the defence of the Holy City,
that he might protect the faithful
from the scimitar of the Turks.

His strenuous care
redisciplined morals;
and to impious errors
he opposed a barrier of restraint.

Pius had too generous a heart
to hide his wealth in a napkin;
he threw open his whole treasury,
that he might relieve the necessities of his people.

Kind father of the poor,
with his hands ever pouring forth charity,
he fed and amply provided for his subjects
when suffering famine.

We beseech thee, O Creator of all things!
that in these days of Paschal joy
thou defend thy people
from every assault of death.

Amen.

The following hymn is placed near the tomb of our Saint, in the Church of Saint Mary Major, for the use of those who visit his shrine:

Hymn

Belli tumultus ingruit,
Cultus Dei contemnitur:
Ultrixque culpam persequens,
Jam poena terris imminet.

Quem nos, in hoc discrimine,
Cœlestium de sedibus
Præsentiorem vindicem,
Quam te, Pie, invocabimus?

Nemo, beate Pontifex,
Intensiore robore
Quam tu, superni numinis
Promovit in terris decus;

Ausisve fortioribus
Avertit a cervicibus,
Quod christianis gentibus
Jugum parabant barbari.

Majora qui cœlo potes,
Tu supplices nunc aspice:
Tu civium discordias
Compesce et iras hostium.

Precante te, pax aurea
Terras revisat, ut
Deo Tuti queamus reddere
Mox lætiora cantica.

Tibi, beata Trinitas,
Uni Deo sit gloria,
Laus et potestas omnia
Per sæculorum sæcula.

Amen.
The scourge of war is on us,
for the worship of God is despised:
the chastisement that avenges guilt
is menacing our earth.

In this peril,
which of the heavenly citizens
can we better invoke
in our defence than thee, O Pius?

O blessed Pontiff!
no mortal ever laboured
with such zealous vigour
to promote God's glory on earth as thou didst;

No mortal ever struggled, as thou didst,
to free Christian lands from the yoke
which barbarians were seeking
to put upon them.

Thy power is greater now
that thou art in heaven:
look upon us thy clients!
Restrain civil discord and repel our enemies.

May thy prayers bring golden peace upon the earth;
that in calm security
we may sing our canticles to God
with a gladder heart.

To thee, O Blessed Trinity,
one God, be glory,
praise and power, for ever
and ever.

Amen.

Pontiff of the living God! thou wast, whilst on earth, the pillar of iron and wall of brass, spoken of by the prophet.[2] Thine unflinching firmness preserved the flock entrusted to thee from the violence arid snares of its many enemies. Far from desponding at the sight of the dangers thou didst redouble thy courage just as men raise the embankments higher when they see the torrent swell. By thee was the spread of heresy checked; by thee was the Mussulman invasion repelled, and the haughty Crescent humbled. God honoured thee by choosing thee as the avenger of his glory and the deliverer of the Christian people: receive our thanks and the homage of our humble praise! By thee were repaired the injuries .done to the Church during a period of unusual trial. The true reform—the reform that is wrought by authority—was vigorously applied by thy strong and holy hand. To thee is due the restoration of the Divine Service by the publication of the books of holy Liturgy. And all these glorious deeds were done in the six short years of thy laborious pontificate!

Hear now the prayers addressed to thee by the Church Militant, whose destinies were once in thy hands. When dying, thou didst beseech our Risen Jesus to grant her protection against the dangers which were then threatening her: oh! see the state to which licentious error has now reduced almost the whole Christian world! The Church has nothing left to her wherewith to make head against her countless enemies, save the promises of her divine Founder; all visible support is withdrawn from her; she has been deprived of everything except the merit of suffering and the power of prayer. Unite, O holy Pontiff, thy prayers to hers, and show how unchanged is thy love of the flock of Christ. Protect in Rome the Chair of thy successor attacked by open violence and astute hypocrisy. Princes and peoples seem to have conspired against God and his Christ: disconcert the schemes of sacrilegious ambition, and the plots of impiety which would fain give the lie to the word of God. Avert, by thine intercession, the scourges which are threatening those nations that have become ungrateful to the Church and indifferent to the attempts made against her to whom they owe all they possess. Pray that the blind may see and the wicked be confounded. Pray that the True Faith may enlighten those numberless souls that call error truth and darkness light.

In the midst of this dark and menacing night, thine eyes, O holy Pontiff, discern them that are the faithful sheep of Christ: bless them, aid them, increase their number. Graft them on the venerable Tree which dieth not, that they may not be carried away by the storm. Obtain for them docility to the Faith and traditions of Holy Church; it is their only stay amidst the tide of error 

which is now threatening to deluge the whole world. Preserve to the Church the holy Order in which thou wast trained for the high mission destined for thee; maintain within her that race of men, powerful in work and word, zealous for the faith and sanctification of souls, of which we read in her Annals, and which has yielded saints such as thyself. And lastly, O Pius, remember that thou wast once the Father of the faithful: continue to be so, by thy powerful intercession, till the number of the elect be filled up!


[1] The Stanza recited by the dying Pontiff was, in the Breviary of his time, as follows: Quæsumus, Auctor omnium, In hoc Paschali gaudio, Ab omni mortis impetus Tuum defende populum. When the hymns were corrected under the pontificate of Urban the Eighth, this stanza was totally changed: Ut sis perenne mentibus, etc. [The Monastic Breviary has retained the original.—Tr.]
[2] Jer. i 18.

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

THE beloved Disciple John, whom we saw standing near the crib of the Babe of Bethlehem, comes before us again to-day; and this time he pays his delighted homage to the glorious Conqueror of death and hell. Like Philip and James, he is clad in the scarlet robe of martyrdom. The month of May, so rich in Saints, was to be graced with the palm of St John.

Salome one day presented her two sons to Jesus, and with a mother’s ambition asked him to grant them the highest places in his kingdom. The Saviour, in his reply, spoke of the chalice which he himself had to drink, and foretold that these two disciples would also drink of it. The elder, James the Great, was the first to give his Master this proof of his love; we shall celebrate his victory when the sun is in Leo: it was to-day that John, the younger brother, offered his life in testimony of Jesus’ divinity.

But the martyrdom of such an Apostle called for a scene worthy the event. Asia Minor, which his zeal had evangelized, was not a sufficiently glorious land for such a combat. Rome, whither Peter had transferred his Chair and where he died on his cross, and where Paul had bowed down his venerable head beneath the sword, Rome alone deserved the honour of seeing the beloved disciple march on to martyrdom, with that dignity and sweetness which are the characteristics of this veteran of the Apostolic College.

Domitian was then Emperor—a tyrant over Rome and the world. Whether it were that John undertook this journey of his own free choice, and from a wish to visit the Mother Church, or that he was led thither bound with chains, in obedience to an imperial edict—John, the august founder of the seven Churches of Asia Minor, appeared before the tribunal of pagan Rome. He was convicted of having propagated, in a vast province of the Empire, the worship of a Jew who had been crucified under Pontius Pilate. He was a superstitious and rebellious old man, and it was time to rid Asia of his presence. He was therefore sentenced to an ignominious and cruel death. He had somehow escaped Nero’s power: but he should not elude the vengeance of Caesar Domitian!

A huge cauldron of boiling oil is prepared in front of the Latin Gate. The sentence orders that the preacher of Christ be plunged into this bath. The hour is come for the second son of Salome to partake of his Master’s chalice. John’s heart leaps with joy at the thought that he—the most dear to Jesus, and yet the only Apostle that has not suffered death for him—is at last permitted to give him this earnest of his love. After cruelly scourging him, the executioners seize the old man, and throw him into the cauldron; but, lo! the boiling liquid has lost all its heat; the Apostle feels no scalding; on the contrary, when they take him out again he feels all the vigour of his youthful years restored to him. The Praetor’s cruelty is foiled, and John, a martyr in desire, is to be left to the Church for some few years longer. An imperial decree banishes him to the niggled Isle of Patmos, where God reveals to him the future of the Church, even to the end of time.

The Church of Rome, which counts among her most glorious memories the abode and martyrdom of St John, has marked with a Basilica the spot where the Apostle bore his noble testimony to the Christian faith. This Basilica stands near the Latin Gate, and gives a title to one of the Cardinals.

In honour of the great Apostle of love, we give the following Sequence, composed by Adam of Saint-Victor:

Sequence

Felix sedes gratiæ,
Summum regem gloriæ
Videns mentis acie
Non repulsa,

Joannem deificat,
Angelis parificat,
Spiritu qui indicat
Cœli summa.

Aquæ vivæ salientis
Hic est potus recumbentis
Supra pectus Domini;

Hic exfulget miris signis,
Hic expugnat vires ignis
Et ferventis olei.

Mirantur, nimia
Tormenti sævitia,
Quod martyr quis fiat
Et pœnas non sentiat.

O martyr, O virgo,
O custos Virginis
Per quam mundo gloria,
Ex quo sunt, in quo sunt,
Per quem sunt omnia,
Per te det suffragia!

O dilecte præ cæteris,
Christum, a quo diligeris,
Interpellans et exorans,
Nos ei concilia.

Tu qui rivus, duc ad fontem,
Tu qui collis, due ad montem;
Præsta Sponsum ad videndum,
Virgo totus gratia.

Amen.
The happy realm of grace,
where the King of glory
is seen by the soul's
unfettered gaze,

Gives union with God
and equality with the angels, to
John, whose revelations have made known
to men the mysteries of heaven.

He drank of the living waters
that spring up to life eternal,
when he leaned on his Lord's breast.

The wonderful miracles which he wrought
have made him shine as a bright light in the Church.
He quenched the heat of the boiling oil.

Men know that the torments prepared
for him are cruel beyond measure;
yet do they wonder within themselves,
how a man can be a martyr and feel no pain.

O martyr, O virgin,
O guardian of the Virgin
by whom the world received him
who is its glory!
pray for us to Jesus, from whom, and in whom,
and by whom are all things.

O thou that wast loved above the rest!
by thine intercession and prayers,
render Jesus, by whom thou wast loved,
propitious unto us.

O thou that art a stream, lead us to the Fountain.
O thou that art a hill, lead us to the mountain!
O thou whom grace made wholly pure,
pray for us that we may see the Beloved.

Amen.

We are delighted to meet thee again, dear disciple of our Risen Jesus! The first time we saw thee was at Bethlehem, where thou wast standing near the Expected of Nations, the promised Saviour, who was sweetly sleeping in his crib. We then thought of all thy glorious titles: Apostle, Evangelist, Prophet, highsoaring Eagle, Virgin, Doctor of charity, and above all, Jesus' Beloved Disciple. To-day we greet thee as martyr; for if the ardour of thy love quenched the fire prepared for thy torture, thy devotion to Christ had honestly and willingly accepted the chalice of which he spoke to thee in thy younger years. During these days of Paschal Time, which are passing so rapidly, we behold thee ever close to this divine Master, who treats thee with every mark of affection. Who could be surprised at his special love for thee? Wast thou not the only one of all the disciples who stood at the foot of the Cross? Was it not to thee that he gave the care of his Mother, making her thine? Wast thou not present when his Heart was opened on the Cross by a spear? When, on the morning of the great Sunday, thou didst repair with Peter to the Tomb, wast thou not, by thy faith, the first of all the disciples to honour Jesus' Resurrection? Oh, yes! thou hast a right to all the special love wherewith Jesus treats thee; but pray to him for us, O blessed Apostle!

We ought to love him for all the favours he has bestowed upon us; and yet we are tepid in his love—we humbly confess it. Thou hast taught us to know the infant Jesus, thou hast described to us the crucified Jesus; show us now the Risen Jesus, that we may keep close to him during these last few days of his sojourn on earth. And when he has ascended into heaven, procure us brave hearts, that like thee we may be prepared to drink the chalice of trials which he has destined for us.

Rome was the scene of thy glorious confession, O holy Apostle! She is most dear to thee; join, then, with Peter and Paul in protecting her. If the palm of martyrdom be in thy hand as well as the pen of the Evangelist, remember it was at the Latin Gate that thou didst obtain it. It was in the East that thou didst pass the greater part of thy life; but the West claims the honour of counting thee as one of her grandest martyrs. Bless our Churches, reanimate our faith, rekindle our love, and deliver us from the Antichrists against whom thou didst warn the faithful of thine own times, and who are causing such ravages among us. Adopted son of Mary! thou art now enjoying the sight of thy Mother's glory: present to her the prayers we are offering to her during this month, which is consecrated to her, and obtain for us the petitions which we presume to make to her.

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

THE eleventh century, the century of contest between the priests of the Church and Barbarism, gives to-day another martyr to our Risen Jesus. It is Stanislaus, beloved by noble Poland as one of her chief protectors. He was slain at the altar by a Christian prince whom he had reproved for his crimes. The blood of the courageous Pontiff was mingled with that of our Redeemer in the same sacrifice. What an invincible energy there is in these lambs whom Jesus has sent amidst the wolves![1] They seem to be straightway changed into lions, as Jesus himself was at his Resurrection. There is not a century that has not had its martyrs: some for the faith, others for the unity of the Church, others for her liberty, others for justice, others for charity, and others, like our great Saint of to-day, for the maintenance of morals. The nineteenth century, too, has had its martyrs; scarcely a year elapses without our hearing of some who have been added to the bright list in the far East. At the commencement of the eighteenth century there was little probability of its providing such an abundant harvest of martyrdom as it did. Of one thing we are quite sure: whatever persecutions may arise in the future, the Spirit of fortitude will not be wanting to the champions of truth. Martyrdom is one of the Church's characteristics and it has never failed her. The Apostles who are very close to Jesus during these days preceding his Ascension drank the chalice which he drank; and only yesterday we were honouring the martyrdom of the favourite disciple—yes, even he had to tread the path prepared for all.

Holy Church tells us, in the account we now subjoin, how the saintly bishop of Cracow was offered the glorious chalice, and how courageously he accepted it.

Stanislaus Polonus, apud Cracoviam nobili genere natus, et piis parentibus, qui antea per annos triginta steriles, ilium a Deo precibus impetrarunt, ab ineunte ætate futuræ sanctitatis specimen dedit. Adolescens bonis artibus operam navavit, multumque in sacra canonum et theologise doctrina profecit: parentibus mortuis, amplum patrimonium pauperibus distribuit, vitæ monasticæ desiderio. Sed Dei providentia Canonicus Cracoviensis, et concionator factus a Lamperto Episcopo, in ejus postea locum, quamvis invitus, sufficitur. Quo in munere, omnium pastoralium virtutum laude, et præcipue misericordia in pauperes, enituit.

Erat tum Poloniæ rex Boleslaus, quem graviter offendi t, quod illius no tam libidinem publice arguebat. Quare in solemni regni conventu Stanislaum per calumniam in judicium coram se vocari curat, tamquam pagum occuparet, quem Ecclesiæ suæ nomine coemerat. Quod cum neque tabulis probare posset, et testes veritatem dicere timerent, spondet episcopus, se Petrum pagi venditorem, qui triennio ante obierat, intra dies tres in judicium adducturum. Conditionecum risu accepta, vir Dei toto triduo jejuniis et orationi incumbit: ipso sponsionis die post oblatum Missae sacrificium, Petrum e sepulchro surgere jubet: qui statim redivivus, episcopum ad regium tribunal euntem sequitur, ibique rege et caeteris stupore attonitis, de agro a se vendito et pretio rite sibi ab episcopo persoluto testimonium dicit, atque iterum in Domino obdormivit.

At Boleslaum frustra sæpe admonitum, Stanislaus tandem a fidelium communione removet. Ille iracundia furens milites in ecclesiam immittit, ut sanctum episcopum confodiant: qui ter conati, occulta vi tertio divinitus sunt depulsi. Postremo impius rex Sacerdotem Dei, hostiam immaculatam ad altare offerentem, sua manu obtruncat: corpus membratim concisum, et per agros projectum, aquilæ a feris mirabiliter defendunt. Mox Canonici Cracovienses sparsa membra nocturni de cœlo splendoris indicio colligunt, et suis locis apte disponunt; quæ subito ita inter se copulata sunt, ut nulla vulnerum vestigia exstarent. Multis præterea miraculis servi sui sanctitatem Deus declaravit post ejus mortem; quibus permotus Innocentius Quartus, summus Pontifex, illum in sanctorum numerum retulit.
Stanislaus was bom at Cracow in Poland. His parents, who were of a noble family, after being thirty years without children, obtained him from God by prayer. He gave promise, even from his infancy, of future sanctity. Whilst young, he applied hard to study, and made great progress in Canon Law and Theology. After the death of his parents, he wished to embrace the monastic life, and therefore distributed his large fortune among the poor. But divine Providence willing otherwise, he was made a Canon and preacher of the Cathedral of Cracow, by Bishop Lampert, whose successor he afterwards became. In the duties thus imposed upon him, he shone in every pastoral virtue, especially in that of charity to the poor.

Boleslaus was then king of Poland. The Saint incurred his grave displeasure for having publicly reprimanded his notorious immorality. Wherefore in a solemn meeting of the grandees of his kingdom, the king summoned him to appear in judgement, to answer to the accusation of having appropriated to himself some land purchased in the name of his Cathedral. The witnesses were afraid to speak the truth and the bishop was unable to produce the deeds of sale,but he promised to bring before the court within three days the seller of the land, Peter, by name, who had died three years previously. His proposition excited laughter, but was accepted. For three days did the man of God apply himself to fasting and prayer; and, on the day appointed, after offering up the sacrifice of the Mass, he commanded Peter to rise from his grave, who, there and then, returned to life, and followed the bishop to the king’s tribunal. There, to the bewilderment of the king and the audience, he gave his testimony regarding the sale of the land, and the price duly paid him by the bishop. This done, he again slept in the Lord.

After several times admonishing Boleslaus, but all to no purpose, Stanislaus separated him from communion with the faithful. Maddened with anger, the king sent soldiers into the church, that they might put the holy bishop to death. They thrice endeavoured to do so, but were each time repelled by the hidden power of God. The impious king himself then went; and finding the priest of God offering the unspotted victim at the Altar, he beheaded him with his own hand. The corpse was then cut in pieces and thrown into a field; but it was miraculously defended from wild beasts by eagles. During the night, the Canons of Cracow, aided by a heavenly light, collected the scattered members, and having placed them in their natural position, they found that they were immediately joined to each other, so that not a single mark of a wound was traceable. God manifested the sanctity of his servant by many other miracles, which occurred after his death, and which induced pope Innocent the Fourth to proceed to his canonization.

Thou wast powerful in word and work, O Stanislaus! and our Lord rewarded thee with a martyr’s crown. From thy throne of glory, cast a look of pity upon us; obtain for us from God that gift of fortitude which was so prominent in thee, and which we so much need in order to surmount the obstacles which impede our progress. Our Risen Lord must have no cowards among his soldiers. He took by assault the kingdom into which he is about to enter; and he tells us plainly that if we would follow him thither, we must prepare to use violence.[2] Brave soldier of the living God! obtain for us brave hearts. We need them for our combat—whether that be one of open violence for the faith or unity of the Church, or one which is to be fought with the invisible enemies of our salvation. Thou wast indeed a good shepherd, for the presence of the world neither made thee flee nor fear; ask our heavenly Father to send us shepherds like thee. Succour Holy Church, for she has to contend with enemies in every part of the world. Convert her persecutors, as thou didst convert Boleslaus; he was thy murderer, but thy martyrdom won mercy for him. Remember thy dear Poland, which honours thee with such fervent devotion. Be with her now that she has regained her rank among nations. During the severe triads which her sins drew down upon her, she maintained the sacred link of Catholic Faith and unity; she was patient and faithful; our Risen Jesus has had pity on her, and rewarded her patience and fidelity by granting her a share in his own Resurrection.


[1] St Matt, x 16.
[2] St Matt, xi 12.

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

DAVID foretold that Emmanuel's entrance into this world would be greeted by the angels and that they would humbly adorehim on his first appearance among us.[1] We saw this prophecy fulfilled on the ever blessed night when Mary brought forth the Fruit of her womb. The angelic choir sang one of their heavenly hymns, which led the shepherds to the stable; we blended our songs with theirs in homage to our infant God. The Resurrection of our Emmanuel was sure to be honoured by the presence of these blessed spirits, who had witnessed with amazement and trembling the humiliations and cruelties of his Passion. The moment he passed through the barrier that imprisoned him in his sepulchre, an angel, with a face bright as the sun, and garments white as snow, came and rolled back the stone, and proclaimed to the holy women that he whom they were seeking had risen. When they entered the cave of the sepulchre, two other angels, clad in white robes, appeared to them, and repeated the tidings of Jesus' triumph.

Let us reverently honour these princely heralds of our deliverance, and consider with what respect they cluster round Jesus their King and God during the forty days after his Resurrection. They adore this glorified humanity, which they are soon to see raised up to the highest heavens and enthroned at the Father's right hand. They rejoice with us in the happiness given by this Paschal feast, which restores immortality to us in the person of our Risen Saviour; and thus, as St Gregory told us a few days back, ‘it is the feast of the angels, because, by recalling us to heaven, it fills up their number,’[2] It was but right, therefore, that one day in Paschal Time should be devoted to honouring the angelic spirits. On the day previous to the Annunciation we kept the Feast of St Gabriel, our Lady's honoured messenger; to-day it is St Michael, the Archangel and prince of the heavenly host, who is to receive our love and praise. He himself selected this day, by appearing on it and leaving us a pledge of his presence and protection.

The very name of Michael urges us to honour this glorious spirit; it is a cry of enthusiasm and fidelity, for it signifies: ‘Who is like unto God?’ Satan trembles at hearing this name, for it reminds him of the noble protest wherewith the bright Archangel answered the call of the rebel angels. Michael proved his strength and prowess when he fought the great battle in heaven. On that account, he was made the guardian and protector of God's people; first of the Jews, and afterwards of the Christian Church, for the Synagogue has forfeited all her honours. Michael now watches over Jesus' Spouse, our mother; he supports her in her trials and she wins no triumph in which he has not had some part.

But we are not to suppose that the holy Archangel is so engaged in attending to the general interests of Christ's kingdom on earth that he cannot listen to the prayers of each individual member of the Church. God has given him a compassionate love for men; and there is not a single soul that escapes his notice. He wields the sword in defence of the Spouse of Christ; he wars with the dragon, who is ever lying in wait for the Woman and her Child;[3] but, at the same time, he is attentive to each one of us; for fter having confessed our sins to Almighty God, and to the Blessed Mary ever a Virgin, we acknowledge them likewise to Blessed Michael the Archangel and beseech him to pray for us to the Lord our God.

He assists at every death-bed, for his special office is to receive the souls of the elect on their quitting the flesh. With loving solicitude and princely bearing, he presents them to the Light Eternal and introduces them into the House of God’s glory. It is Holy Church herself that tells us, in the words of her Liturgy, of these prerogatives of the great Archangel. She teaches us that he has been set over Paradise, and that God has given him the charge of leading to heaven the souls of them that are to be receivedthere. On the last day, when our Risen Jesus is to appear on the clouds of heaven to judge mankind, all of whom will then have resumed their bodies in the general resurrection, Michael with the rest of the angels will have to fulfil a ministry of awful import—that of separating the good from the bad. Our Catholic forefathers, in the Middle Ages, were fond of representing the holy Archangel engaged in this dread function, standing at the foot of Jesus’ judgement-seat, and holding a scale, in which he is weighing the souls of men and their works.

Devotion to St Michael was sure to spread through the Church, especially after the worship of idols had been banished from the various countries, and men were no longer tempted to give divine honour to creatures. Constantine built a celebrated Church called Michaelion in honour of the great Archangel, and at the time when Constantinople fell under the power of the Turks, there were no fewer than fifteen churches bearing the name of Saint Michael, either in the city or the suburbs. In other parts of Christendom this devotion took root only by degrees; and it was through apparitions of the holy Archangel that the faithful were prompted to have recourse to him. These apparitions were local and for reasons which to us might seem of secondary importance: but God, who from little causes produces great effects, made use of them whereby to excite Christians to have confidence in their heavenly protector. The Greeks celebrate the apparition that took place at Chone, the ancient Colosse in Phrygia. There was in that city a Church dedicated to St Michael, and it was frequently visited by a holy man named Archippus, who was violently persecuted by the pagans. One day, when Archippus was at his devotions in his favourite St Michael's, his enemies resolved to destroy both him and the Church. Hard by ran a brook which flowed into the river Lycus; they turned it aside and flooded the ground on which the church stood. Suddenly there appeared the Archangel St Michael holding a rod in his hand: the water immediately receded, and flowed into a deep gulf near Colosse, where the Lycus empties itself and disappears. The date of this apparition is not certain, but it occurred at the period when the pagans were numerous enough in Colosse to harass the Christians.

Another apparition, which encouraged devotion to St Michael in Italy, took place on Mount Gargano, in Apulia; it is the one honoured by to-day's feast. A third happened on Mount Tomba, on the coast of Normandy: we shall commemorate it on October 16.

The feast we are keeping to-day is not so solemn as the one of September 29; it is, however, more exclusively in honour of St Michael, inasmuch as the autumn feast includes all the choirs of the angelic hierarchy. The Roman Breviary gives us the following account of the apparition on Mount Gargano:

Beatum Michaelem archangelum sæpius hominibus apparuisse, et sacrorum Librorum auctoritate, et veteri sanctorum traditione comprobatur. Quamobrem multis in locis facti memoria celebratur. Eum ut olim synagoga. Judæorum, sic nunc Custodem et Patronum Dei veneratur Ecclesia. Gelasio autem Primo Pontifice maximo, in Apulia in vertice Gargani montis, ad cujus radices incolunt Sipontini, archangeli Michaelis fuit illustris apparitio.

Factum est enim, ut ex gregibus armentorum Gargani cujusdam taurus longe discederet: quem diu conquisitum in aditu speluncæ hærentem invenerunt. Cum vero quidam ex illis ut taurum configeret sagittam emisisset, retorta sagitta in ipsum recidit sagittarium. Quæ res cum præsentes, ac deinceps cæteros tanto timore affecisset, ut ad eam speluncam propius accedere nemo auderet; Sipontini Episcopum consulunt: qui indicto trium dierum jejunio et oratione, rem a Deo respondit quæri oportere.

Post triduum Michael archangelus Episcopum monet, in sua tutela esse eum locum, eoque indicio demonstrasse, velie ibi cultum Deo in sui et angelorum memoriam adhiberi. Quare Episcopus una cum civibus ad eam speluncam ire pergit. Quam cum in templi cujusdam simili tu dinem conformatam vidissent, locum illum divinis ofificiis celebrare coeperunt: qui multis postea miraculis illustratus est. Nec ita multo post Bonifacius papa Romæ in summo Circo sancti Michaelis Ecclesiam dedicavit tertio Kalendas octobris; quo die etiam omnium Angelorum memoriam Ecclesia celebrat. Hodiernus autem dies archangeli Michaelis apparitione consecratus est.
That the blessed Archangel Michael has often appeared to men, is attested both by the authority of sacred Scripture, and by the ancient tradition of the Saints. Hence, the memory of these apparitions is commemorated in divers places. As, heretofore, Michael was honoured by the Synagogue of the Jews as guardian and patron, so is he now by the Church of God. A celebrated apparition of the Archangel took place under the pontificate of Gelasius I, in Apulia, on the top of Mount Gargano, at the foot of which lies the town of Siponto.

A bull, belonging to a man who lived on the mountain, having strayed from the herd, was found after much searching caught fast in the mouth of a cave. One of its pursuers shot an arrow, in order to rouse the animal by a wound; but the arrow rebounding, struck him that had sent it. This circumstance excited so much fear in the bystanders, and in them that heard of it, that no one dared to go near the cave. The inhabitants of Siponto, therefore, consulted the bishop; who answered that in order to know God’s will, they must spend three days in fasting and prayer.

At the end of the three days, the Archangel Michael intimated to the bishop that the place was under his protection, and that what had occurred was an indication of his will that God should be worshipped there, in honour of himself and the angels. Whereupon, the bishop repaired to the cave together with his people. They found it to be shaped like a church, and began to use it for the celebration of divine service. Many miracles were afterwards wrought there. Not long after Pope Boniface dedicated a church in honour of St Michael in the great Circus of Rome, on the third of the Kalends of October (September 29), the day on which the Church celebrates the memory of all the angels. But to-day’s feast is kept in commemoration of the apparition of Michael the Archangel.

Holy Church tells us of the glories of St Michael in several portions of the Liturgy; but particularly in the following Responsory and Antiphons, taken from to-day's Office:

℟. Hic est Michael archangelus, princeps militiæ angelorum:
* Cujus honor præstat beneficia populorum, et oratio perducit ad regna cœlorum, alleluia.
℣. Archangelus Michael præpositus Paradisi, quem honorificant angelorum cives.
* Cujus honor præstat beneficia populorum, et oratio perducit ad regna cœlorum, alleluia.

Ant. Venit Michael archangelus cum multitudine angelorum, cui tradidit Deus animas Sanctorum, ut perdu cat eas in Paradisum exsultationis, alleluia.

Ant. Michael archangelus venit in adjutorium populo Dei; stetit in auxilium pro animabus justis, alleluia.

Ant. Princeps gloriosissime Michael archangele, esto memor nostri: hic et ubique semper precare pro nobis Filium Dei. Alleluia, alleluia.
℟. This is Michael the Archangel, the chief of the angelic host:
* He repays by blessings the honour shown him by the faithful; and his prayer leads us to the kingdom of heaven, alleluia.
℣. The Archangel Michael is set over Paradise, and is honoured by the citizens of heaven.
* He repays by blessings the honour shown him by the faithful, and his prayer leads us to the kingdom of heaven, alleluia.

Ant. The Archangel Michael came with a multitude of angels; God confided unto him the souls of the Saints, that he might lead them to the Paradise of bliss, alleluia.

Ant. Michael the Archangel came unto the aid of God's people; he stood as a help to the souls of the just, alleluia.

Ant. O most glorious prince! Michael the Archangel! be mindful of us: here and in all places ever pray for us to the Son of God. Alleluia, alleluia.

The first of the following hymns is used by the Church in the Vespers of the Feasts of St Michael. The second is taken from the Lauds. They speak the praises, not only of our great Archangel, but likewise of St Gabriel, St Raphael, and of all the blessed spirits in general. The Church has not instituted a feast for the collective celebration of the nine choirs of Blessed Spirits, but she includes all the members of the angelic host in her tribute of honour on the Feasts of St Michael.

First Hymn

Te splendor, et virtus Patris,
Te vita, Jesu, cordium,
Ab ore qui pendent tuo
Laudamus inter Angelos.

Tibi mille densa millium
Ducum corona militat:
Sed explicat victor crucem
Michael salutis signifer.

Draconis hic dirum caput
In ima pellit tartara,
Ducemque cum rebellibus
Coelesti ab arce fulminat.

Contra ducem superbiæ
Sequamur hunc nos principem,
Ut detur ex Agni throno
Nobis corona gloriæ.

Deo Patri sit gloria,
Qui, quos redemit Filius,
Et sanctus unxit Spiritus,
Per Angelos custodiat.

Amen.
In the presence of the angels,
who obey thee, we praise thee,
O Jesus, thou brightness and power of the Father,
thou life of our hearts!

’Tis for thee that fights
this army of a thousand thousand princes,
at whose head is Michael, the Conqueror,
the standardbearer of salvation, who unfurls the Cross.

It was Michael that cast
the cruel dragon into the depths of hell,
and drove the rebels, with their chief,
from the heavenly city.

Let us follow this prince against the king of pride;
that we may deserve to receive,
from the throne of the Lamb,
a crown of glory.

Glory be to God the Father,
who, by means of the angels,
guards those whom the Son hath redeemed
and the Holy Spirit anointed.

Amen.

Second Hymn

Christe, sanctorum decus Angelorum,
Gentis humanæ sator et redemptor,
Cœlitum nobis tribuas beatas
Scandere sedes.

Angelus pacis Michael in ædes
Cœlitus nostras veniat; serenæ
Auctor ut pacis lacrymosa in orcum
Bella releget.

Angelus fortis Gabriel, ut hostes
Pellat antiquos, et amica cœlo
Quæ triumphator statuit per orbem,
Templa revisat.

Angelus nostræ medicus salutis
Adsit e cœlo Raphael, utomnes
Sanet ægrotos, dubiosque vitæ
Dirigat actus.

Virgo dux pacis, Genitrixque lucis,
Et sacer nobis chorus Angelorum
Semper assistat, simul et micantis
Regia cœli.

Præstet hoc nobis Deitas beata
Patris, ac Nati, pariterque Sancti
Spiritus, cujus resonat per omnem
Gloria mundum.

Amen.
O Christ! the glory of the angels,
the Creator and Redeemer of mankind!
grant that we may ascend to the happy thrones
of the heavenly citizens.

May Michael, the angel of peace,
come from heaven into this our temple,
bring us sweet peace,
and drive dismal war back again to hell.

May Gabriel, the angel of strength,
come and rout our ancient foe;
may he often visit the heaven-loved temples
which the triumphant Jesus has placed throughout the world.

May Raphael, our heavenly physician,
descend and visit us,
that he may heal all that are infirm
and direct our faltering steps in the path of life.

May the Virgin Queen of peace, the Mother of light;
may the holy choir of angels;
may the bright court of heaven
ever assist and protect us.

May the Godhead ever blessed of
Father, Son, and Holy
Ghost, whose glory is proclaimed through the whole world,
grant us this our prayer.

Amen.

The following sequence is from the collection of the Monastery of Saint-Gall, and was composed by the monk Notker in the eleventh century:

Sequence

Ad celebres,
Rex cœlice, laudes Cuncta
Pangat jam canora
Caterva symphonia
Odas, atque solvat
Concio tibi nostra.

Cum jam renovantur
Michaelis inclyta valde festa,
Per quæ lætabunda
Perornatur machina Mundi tota.

Novies distincta
Spirituum sunt agmina
Per te facta.

Sed cum vis,
Facis hæc flammea
Per angelicas Officinas.

Inter primæva sunt hæc nam creata tua;
Sed cum simus nos ultima Factura,
Sed imago tua.

Theologica categorizant Symbola
Nobis hæc ter tripartita
Per privata officia.

Plebs angelica,
Phalanx et archangelica,
Principans turma.

Virtus uranica,
Ac Potestas almiphona,
Dominantia numina,
Divinaque subsellia,
Cherubim ætherea,
Ac Seraphim ignicoma.

Vos, O Michael, cœli Satrapa, Gabrielque
Vera dans Verbi nuntia, Atque Raphael,
Vitæ vernula, Transferte nos inter Paradisicolas.

Per vos Patris cuncta
Complentur mandata,
Quæ dat ejusdem Sophia,
Compar quoque Pneuma,
Una permanens in usia,
Cui estis administrantia Deo millia
Millium sacra.

Vices per his quinas
Bis atque quingenta vestra
Centena millena
Assistunt in aula,
Ad quam Rex ovem centesimam verbigena,
Drachmamque decimam Vestra
Duxit ad agalmata.

Vos per æthra,
Nos per rura terrea, pars electa,
Harmonica vota damus hinc
Per lyricas citharas.

Quo post bella Michaelis inclyta
Nostra Deo sint accepta auream super aram
Thymiamata, quo in coeva jam gloria
Condecantemus Alleluia.
O King of heaven!
may our whole assembly and choir
now sound forth
its instruments of sweet music
and sing hymns
in thy praise.

For this is the day
of Michael's most glorious feast,
which fills the whole earth
with great joy.

Thou dividest the spirits
created by thee,
into nine choirs;

yet are they all flames of fire
when thou wiliest
to seek their ministry.

They were the first creatures of thy hands;
whereas we are thy last,
but made after thine image.

This triple division of the heavenly spirits,
according to their special offices,
reveals to us the mysterious design of God.

First comes the angelic army;
then the phalanx of Archangels;
then the host of the Principalities.

After these follow the heavenly Virtues,
the sweet-sounding Powers,
The spiritual Dominations,
the divine Thrones,
the ethereal Cherubim,
the burning Seraphim.

O Michael, prince of the heavenly court! Gabriel,
messenger of the Incarnate Word! Raphael,
our guide through life! lead us to the company of the citizens of Paradise.

By you are fulfilled
all the commands of the Father,
the Son who is his Wisdom,
and the co-equal Spirit,
the Three, One in essence,
the God before whom ye stand thousands
of thousands in number, as ministering spirits.

Ye stand in his court, ten thousand
times a hundred thousand;
and hither did the King,
the Father of the Word,
bring the hundredth sheep,
and the tenth groat,
that they might share in your bliss.

Ye in the high heavens,
and we the elect flock on earth,
give forth our tuneful praise
on sweetsounding harps.

Thus after Michael's glorious battles, may our incense,
when set on the golden altar, be acceptable to God;
Thus, when united in the same eternal glory,
may we sing together our Alleluia!

How beautiful art thou, O Michael. in thy heavenly armour, giving glory to the God whose enemy thou hadst overcome! Thine humble and fervent gaze is fixed on the throne of Jehovah, whose rights thou didst defend, and who gave thee the victory. Thy sublime cry: ‘Who is like unto God?’ roused the faithful legions and became thy name and thy crown. It will remind us for all eternity of thy fidelity to our Creator and thy triumph over the dragon. Meanwhile, we enjoy thy loving protection; we are thy happy clients.

Guardian angel of Holy·Church! now is the time for thee to exert all the might of thine arm. Satan is furious in his efforts against the noble Spouse of thy Master; brandish thy bright sword, and give battle to this implacable enemy. The kingdom of Christ is shaken to its very foundations. Is it that the reign of the Man of Sin is about to be proclaimed on the earth? Are we near that last day when, this guilty world is to be destroyed by fire, and thou art to exercise, in the name of the Sovereign Judge, the terrible office of separating the goats from the sheep? If this earth is still to exist; if the mission of the Church is not yet completed; is it not time for thee, O Michael! to show the dragon of hell that he may not, with impunity, insult on this earth the God who created it, who redeemed it, and whose name is King of kings and Lord of lords? The forces of error and crime are unceasingly dragging the world to the brink of the precipice; save it, O glorious Archangel, by confounding the dark plots which are laid for its destruction!

Thou, O Michael, art the protector of our souls in their passage from time to eternity. During this present life thine eye is upon our wants, and thine ear open to our prayers. Though awed by the brightness of thy glory, we love thee, dear prince of heaven! and we live happy and contented beneath the shadow of thy wings. In a few days, or at most years, our holy Mother the Church will be performing her last sacred rites over our lifeless remains; she will pray for us to our heavenly Father, that we may be delivered from the lion's mouthand that the standard-bearerSt Michael, may bring us into the holy light.[4] Watch over us now, O holy Archangel, lest we should then not deserve thy protection. The dragon is ever threatening us; he makes no secret of his wish to devour us. Teach us, O Michael, to repeat thy beautiful words: ' Who is like unto God?’ God’s honour, the rights he has over us, our obligation to be faithful to him, and serve him, and confess him as our Lord in all times and places—yes! these thoughts must be our shield in danger, and the armour wherewith we must fight, like thee, and win the battle. But we need the sturdy courage which resulted from the love thou hadst within thee. Oh! pray for us, that we, too, may love our common Lord and Master; then shall we be invincible. Satan cannot make head against a creature that is filled with the love of the great God.

God created thee, O Michael! and thou lovest him as thy Creator; but he has not only created us, he has redeemed us, yea, and at the price of his own Blood! What, then, should be the intensity of our love for him! Strengthen this love in our hearts; and since we are fighting under thy leadership, guide us, inspirit us; let thy look give us courage; ward off from us the blows of the enemy’s sword. We venture to hope that thou wilt be present at our last moments, O standard-bearer of our salvation! In return for our tender devotion towards thee, deign to keep guard round our deathbed, cover it with thy shield. If the dragon see the flash of thy sword, he will not dare to come near us. May our soul, on leaving the body, throw herself with affection into thine arms! Cast her not from thee, O holy Archangel, when she seeks to cling to thee; carry her to the judgement-seat, cover her beneath thy wings, calm her fears; and may the Lord, thy Master, bid thee bear her speedily to the kingdom of eternal bliss!


[1] Ps. xcvi 8; Heb, i 6.
[2] Paschal Time, vol. i, page 135.
[3] Apoc. xii 13
[4] Mass for the Dead. Offertory.

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

SIDE by side with Athanasius, another Doctor of the Church comes forward at this glad season to offer to the Risen Jesus the tribute of his learning and eloquence. It is Gregory of Nazianzum, the friend of Basil, the great orator, the admirable poet, whose style combines energy of thought with a remarkable richness and ease of expression; the one of all the Gregories who has merited and received the glorious name of Theologian, on account of the soundness of his teachings, the sublimity of his ideas, and the magnificence of his diction. Holy Church exults at being able to offer us so grand a Saint during Easter Time, for no one has spoken more eloquently than he on the Mystery of the Pasch. Let us listen to the commencement of his second Sermon for Easter; and then judge for ourselves:

I will stand upon my watch, says the admirable Prophet Habacuc.[1] I, also on this day, will imitate him; I will stand on the power and knowledge granted me by the favour of the Holy Ghost, that I may consider and know what is to be seen, and what will be told unto me. And I stood and I watched: and lo! a man ascended to the clouds; and he was of exceeding high stature, and his face was the face of an angel, and his garment was dazzling as a flash of lightning. And he lifted up his hand towards the East, and cried out with a loud voice. His voice was as the voice of a trumpet, and around him stood, as it were, a multitude of the heavenly host, and he said: "To-day is salvation given to both the visible and the invisible world. Christ hath risen from the dead: do ye also rise. Christ hath returned to himself: do ye also return. Christ hath freed himself from the tomb: be ye set free from the bonds of sin. The gates of hell are opened, and death is crushed; the old Adam is laid aside, and the new one is created. Oh! if there be a new creature formed in Christ, be ye made new!”

Thus did he speak. Then did the other angels repeat the hymn they first sang when Christ was born on this earth, and appeared to us men: Glory be to God in the highestand peace on earth to men of good will! I join my voice with them, and speak these things to you: oh! that I could have an angel’s voice, to make myself heard throughout the whole earth!

It is the Pasch of the Lord! the Pasch!—in honour of the Trinity, I say it a third time: the Pasch! This is our Feast of feasts, our Solemnity of solemnities. It is as far above all the rest, not only of those which are human and earthly, but of those even which belong to Christ and are celebrated on his account—yea, it as far surpasses them all as the sun surpasses the stars. Commencing with yesterday, how grand was the day with its torches and lights! . . . But how grander and brighter is all on this morning! Yesterday’s light was but the harbinger of the great Light that was to rise; it was but a foretaste of the joy that was to be given to us. But to-day we are celebrating the Resurrection itself, not merely in hope, but as actually come to pass, and drawing the whole earth to itself.[2]

This is a sample of the fervour and eloquence wherewith our Saint preached the mysteries of faith. He was a man of retirement and contemplation. The troubles of the world in which he had been compelled to live damped his spirits; the duplicity and wickedness of men fretted his noble heart; and leaving to another the perilous honour of the see of Constantinople, which he had reluctantly accepted a very short time previously, he retired to his dear solitude, there to enjoy his God and the study of holy things. And yet, during the short period of his episcopal government, notwithstanding all the obstacles that stood in his way, he confirmed the faith that had been shaken, and left behind him a light which continued even to the time when St John Chrysostom was chosen to fill the troubled Chair of Byzantium.

The holy Liturgy thus speaks to us of the virtues and actions of this great Saint:

Gregorius, nobilis Cappadox, ex singulari divinarum litterarum scientia Theologi cognomen consecutus, Nazianzi in Cappadocia natus, Athenis in omni disciplinarum genere una cum sancto Basilio eruditus, ad studia sacrarum litterarum se convertit, in quibus se in cœnobio per aliquot annos exercuerunt, illarum sententiam non ex proprio ingenio, sed ex majorum ratione et auctoritate interpretantes. Qui cum doctrina et vitæ sanctitate florerent, vocati ad munus praedicandæ Evangeli cæ veritatis, plurimos Jesu Christo filios pepererunt.

Gregorius igitur aliquando domum reversus, primum Sasimorum Episcopus creatus est, deinde Nazianzenam Ecclesiam administravit. æ Constantinopolim ad eam regendam Ecclesiam accersitus, cum civitatem hæresum purgatane erroribus ad Catholicam fidem reduxisset, quod ei summum omnium amorem conciliare debebat, multorum paravit invidiam. Itaque cum inter Episcopos magna propterea esset facta seditio, sponte cedens Episcopatu, illud Prophetæ dictum usurpa vit: Si propter me commota est ista tempestas, dejicite me in mare, ut vos jactari desinatis. Quare Nazianzum reversus, cum illi Ecclesiæ Eulalium præficiendum curasset, totum se ad contemplationem et scriptionem divinarum rerum contulit.

Scripsit autem multa, et soluta oratione, et versibus, mirabili pietate et eloquenfia: quibus doctorum hominum sanctorumque judicio id assecutus est, ut nihil in illis, nisi ex veræ pietatis et Catholicæ religionis regula reperiatur, nemo quidquam jure vocare possit in dubium. Consubstantialitatis Filii fuit acerrimus propugnator. Ut autem vitæ laude nemo ei præpositus est, sic et orationis gravitate omnes facile superavit. In iis scribendi ac legendi studiis ruri vitam monachi exercens, imperatore Theodosio, ad cœlestem vitam, senio confectus, migravit.
Gregory, a Cappadocian noble, surnamed the Theologian, on account of his extraordinary learning in the sacred sciences, was born at Nazianzum in Cappadocia. He went through a complete course of studies at Athens, together with St Basil, after which he applied himself to the study of the sacred Scriptures. The two friends retired to a monastery, where they spent several years over the Scripture, interpreting it not according to their own views, but by the mind and authority of the earlier Fathers. Owing to their reputation for learning and virtue, they were called to the ministry of preaching the Gospel, and became the spiritual fathers of many souls.

After Gregory had returned home, he was made bishop of Sasima, and afterwards administered the church of Nazianzum. Being called later on to govern the Church of Constantinople, which was infected with heresy, he converted it to the Catholic faith. This success, far from gaining him the love of everyone, excited the envy of a great many and caused a division among the bishops, which led the Saint to resign his see. He said to them in the words of the prophet: ' If this tempest be stirred up on my account, cast me into the sea, that you may cease to be tossed.' Whereupon he returned to Nazianzum; and, having secured the appointment of Eulalius, Bishop of that Church, he devoted his whole time to the contemplation of divine things, and to writing treatises upon them.

He wrote much, both in prose and verse, of an admirable piety and eloquence. In the opinion of learned and holy men, there is nothing to be found in his writings which is not conformable to true piety and Catholic faith, or which anyone could reasonably call in question. He was a vigorous defender of the consubstantiality of the Son of God. No one ever led a more saintly life than he; no one was to be compared to him for eloquence. He led the life of a monk, spending his whole time in solitude, occupied in writing and reading. Having reached a venerable old age, he died during the reign of the emperor Theodosius, and entered into the blessed life of heaven.

The Greek Church, in her Menæa, gives the following magnificent encomium of St Gregory Nazianzen:

Hymn
(Die XXV Januarii)

Late resonans organum, modulatam citharam, harmonicam cinyram, et dulcisonam, pontificum principem, magnum Ecclesise Christi præceptorem laudibus celebremus canentes: Salve, divinæ abyssus gratiæ; salve, cœlestium sublimitas cogitationum, Pater pat rum Gregori.

Quibus hymnis et cantibus te celebrabimus, par angelis, in terris non humano more, sed supra vi ven tem? Verbi Dei præconem, vere amicum casta Virginis, apostolorum throni consortem, martyrum et sanctorum gloriosum decus, divinum Trinitatis sempiterna adoratorem, sanctissime archisacerdos.

Pontificum principem, patriarcharum decus, interpreten! dogmatum et cogitationum Christi, mentem sublimissimam, o fideles, in unum congregati, hymnis celebremus spiritualibus, dicen tes: Salve, ions theologiæ, sapientiæ flumen, et origo divina cognitionis. Salve, astrum lucidissimum, quod tuis doctrinis universum illustras mundum. Salve, potens pietatis defensor, et generose impietatis insectator.

Pater Gregori, sapienter pericula et insidias camis effugisti: et super currum quadrijugem virtutum, per medium cœli transcendens, ad pulchritudinem ineffabilem ad volasti, qua repletus et exsultans, nunc animabus nostris obtines pacem et magnani misericordiam.

Verbo Dei aperiens os tuum, sapientiæ Spiritum attraxisti; et plenus gratia, divina resonare fecisti dogmata, ter beate Gregori; et angelicis initiatus potestatibus, trinum et indivisibile lumen prædicasti. Ideo tuis illuminati divinis doctrinis, adoramus Trini ta tem in una Dei tate recognitam, ad obtinendam an imarum nostrarum salutem.

Infiammata lingua tua, Deo inspirate Gregori, verborum versutias hæreticomm cum Domino pugnantium penitus incendisti. Vere apparuisti velut os divinum, in Spiritu loquens magnalia Dei, et scriptis repræsentans nobis eamdem potentiam et substantiam absconditæ et mysticæ Trinitatis. Sicut lumen trisolare terrestrem illuminasti mundum.; et nunc indesinenter intercedis pro animabus nostris.

Salve, flumen Dei, semper aquis gratiæ plenum et omnem laetificans civitatem regis Christi divinis verbis et dogmatibus tuis; voluptatis torrens, mare inexhaustum, fidelis et justus doctrinæ custos, acerrimus Trinitatis propugnator, organum Spiritus Sancti, mens vigilans, harmonica lingua, profunda Scripturamm interpretans mysteria; nunc Ghristum exora ut animabus nostris magnam concedat misericordiam.

Super virtutum montem ascendisti, terrenis rebus renuntians, et totus ab operibus mortuis alienus; et tabulas manu Dei descriptas, dogmata purissima theologiæ tuæ recepisti, cœlestia docens mysteria, sapiens Gregori.

Dei Sapientiam dilexisti, et verborum pulchritudinem amasti, et præ cunctis terræ voluptatibus æstimasti. Ideo corona gratiarum te mirabiliter decoravit Dominus, beatissime, et Theologum sibi segregans delegit.

Ut venerandæ Trinitatis claritate mentem tuam abundanter illuminares, Pater, illam expolivisti, optima virtutum professione immaculatam efficiens, velut novum et antefactum recens speculum. Unde et divinis imaginibus simillimus Deo apparuisti.

Novus Samuel a Deo datus apparuisti, Deo ipsi datus etiam ante conceptionem, beatissime; ornatus prudentia, temperantia, et sanctissima pontificatus stola decoratus, Pater; mediator factus inter Creatorem et creaturam.

Ad sapientiæ craterem venerabile os tuum admovisti, Pater Gregori; et divinum theologiæ flumen inde exhausisti, et fidelibus abundanter distribuisti; hæreseon torrentem pemiciosum, et blasphemiis abundantem reprimens. Spiritus enim Sanctus te velut gubematorem invenit, repellentem et submoventem impiorum audaces impetus, velut violentos flatus ventorum; et Trinitatem in uni tate substantiæ annuntiantem.

Lyram Spiritus Sancti, hæreseon falcem, orthodoxorum voluptatem, alterum super pectus recumbentem discipulum, Verbi contemplatorem, sapientem archipastorem, nos Ecclesiæ oves, theologicis hymnis celebremus, dicentes: Tu es pastor bonus, Gregori, temetipsum tradens pro nobis, sicut magister noster Christus; et nunc cum Paulo gaudens exsultas, et intercedis pro animabus nos tris.

Let us celebrate the praises of the prince of Pontiffs, the great Doctor of the Church of Christ, the loud pealing organ, the well tuned harp, the harmonious and sweet-sounding lute; and let us thus sing: Hail, O abyss of divine grace! Hail, Gregory, Father of fathers, whose spirit soared aloft in heavenly thoughts!

With what hymns and canticles shall we praise thee, who wast as an angel, leading on earth a superhuman life? Thou wast the herald of the Word of God, the friend of the chaste Virgin, companion of the apostolic choir, the glorious ornament of the martyrs and Saints, the fervent adorer of the Eternal Trinity. O most holy and most worthy priest!

O ye faithful! let us, assembled now together, honour, in sacred hymns, the prince of pontiffs, the glory of patriarchs, the interpreter of the dogmas and thoughts of Christ, the most sublime mind; let us thus address him: Hail, fount of theology, river of wisdom, and source of the knowledge of divine things! Hail, most bright star, that enlightenest the whole world by thy doctrine! Hail, powerful defender of piety, and generous opponent of impiety!

Thou, O father Gregory, didst wisely shun the dangers and snares of the flesh: and, ascending through the heavens on a chariot of four virtues, thou didst soar upwards to beauty ineffable. Now thou art replete with it; thou rejoicest in it, and obtainest for us peace and great mercy.

Opening thy mouth to receive the Word of God, thou didst draw in the Spirit of wisdom, and full of grace, sound forth the divine dogmas, O thrice blessed Gregory! Initiated into angelic powers, thou didst preach the triple and undivided Light. Illumined, therefore, by thy sublime teachings, we adore the Trinity, in which we confess one Godhead, that thus we may obtain the salvation of our souls.

Thou, O divinely inspired Gregory, didst, with thy tongue of fire, bum to nought the captious formulas of the heretics that fought against the Lord. Thou didst appear as a man with lips divine, speaking in the Spirit the wondrous works of God, and showing us, in thy writings, the one same power and substance of the hidden and mysterious Trinity. Like a triple sun thou didst enlighten this terrestrial globe; and now thou ceaselessly intercedest for our souls.

Hail, river of God, ever full of the waters of grace, and gladdening the whole city of Christ the King with thy sublime words and teachings! Hail, torrent of delight, exhaustless sea, faithful and just guardian of doctrine, most vigorous defender of the Trinity, organ of the Holy Spirit, mind ever watchful, harmonious tongue explaining the profound mysteries of the Scriptures! Pray now to Christ, that he grant his great mercy unto our souls.

Thou didst ascend the mount of virtues, renouncing all things earthly, and holding no fellowship with dead works. There thou didst receive the tables written with God's own hand, the pure dogmas of thy theology, wherein thou teachest us heavenly mysteries, O most wise Gregory.

Thou didst love the Wisdom of God and the beauty of his words, and prize them above all the pleasures of earth. Therefore, O most blessed one, did the Lord wonderfully adorn thee with a diadem of graces, and choose thee as his own theologian.

That thou mightest brightly enlighten thy mind with the light of the adorable Trinity, thou, O Father, didst polish it, making it spotless by thy perfect profession of every virtue, as a new and freshly formed mirror. The divine reflections fell upon thee, and thou wast an image most like unto God.

Thou wast a second Samuel given by God, yea, given to God before thy conception, O most blessed one! Thou wast adorned with prudence and temperance, and wast beautified with the most holy robe of the pontificate, O Father! as a mediator between the Creator and creature.

Thou puttest thy venerable lips to the cup of Wisdom, O Father Gregory, drawing thence a divine stream of theology, distributing it abundantly to the faithful, and repelling the torrent of heresies, which was laying waste the land and teeming with blasphemy. For in thee the Holy Ghost found a steersman to drive back and quell the bold attacks of the impious, which raged like furious storms of wind; thou didst proclaim the Trinity in Unity of substance.

Let us, the sheep of the Church, celebrate, in sacred hymns the harp of the Holy Spirit, the scythe of heresy, the favourite of the orthodox, the second disciple that leans on Jesus' Breast, the contemplator of the Word, the wise Archpastor; and let us thus address him: Thou, O Gregory, art the good Shepherd, delivering thyself up for us, as did Christ our Master, Now thou art joyously exulting together with Paul, and art interceding for our souls.

We salute thee, O glorious Doctor of the Church, on whom both East and West have conferred the title of Theologian!Illumined by the rays of the glorious Trinity, thou gavest us to share in the light thus imparted to thee—and a brighter was never granted to mortal eye. In thee was verified that saying of our Saviour: Blessed are the clean of heartfor they shall see God.[3] The purity of thy soul prepared thee to receive the divine light, and thy inspired pen has transmitted to thy fellow-men something of thine own soul's enraptured knowledge. Obtain for us the gift of faith, which puts the creature in communication with its God; obtain for us the gift of understanding, which makes the creature relish what it believes. The object of all thy labours was to guard the faithful against the seductive wiles of heresy, by putting before them the magnificence of the divine dogmas. Oh! pray for us, that we may avoid the snares of false doctrines, and have our eye ever fixed on the ineffable light of the mysteries of faith; for, as St Peter tells us, it is as a lamp in a dark placethat shineth until the day dawnand until the day-star arise in our hearts.[4]

There now seems to be a gleam of hope for the East, that has been, for so many long ages, a prey to error and slavery. Great changes are preparing for the unfortunate Byzantium, and politicians are studying how to profit by the crisis, and make her the prey of their respective Governments. Canst thou forget the city of which thou wast once the pastor, and where thy name is still held in veneration? Oh! help her to throw off the shackles of schism and heresy. Her being a slave to the infidel is the punishment of her having revolted against the Vicar of Christ! this yoke seems about to be broken; pray, O Gregory, that the more dangerous and humiliating one of error and schism may also be broken. A movement of return to the truth has already begun to show itself. Whole provinces are awakening to a knowledge of their misery, and are casting a look of hope towards the common Mother of all Churches, who opens her arms to receive them. Aid this long-desired conversion by thy prayers. Both East and West honour thee as one of the sublimest preachers of divine Truth; obtain by thy powerful intercession that East and West may be once more united in the one fold, and under the one shepherd, before our Risen Jesus returns to our earth to separate the cockle from the good seed, and lead back to heaven the Church, his Spouse and our Mother, out of whose pale there is no salvation.

Help us, during this season, to contemplate the glories of our Risen Lord. Oh! for something of the holy enthusiasm for this Pasch, which inebriated thee with its joys and inspired thee with such glowing eloquence! Jesus, the Conqueror of Death, was the object of thy fervent affections even from thy childhood; and when old age came, thy heart still beat with love for him. Pray for us, that we too may persevere in his service; that his divine mysteries may ever be our grandest joy; that this year’s Pasch may ever abide in our souls; that the renovation it has brought us may be visible throughout our lives; and that it may, each year as it returns, find us attentive and eager to receive its graces, until the eternal Easter comes with its endless joy!


[1] Hab. ii 1.
[2] Oratio II in sanctum Pascha.
[3] St Matt, v 8.
[4] 2 St Pet. i 19.

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

THE Order of St Dominic, which has already presented to our triumphant Jesus Peter the Martyr and Catharine the seraph of Siena, offers him to-day one of the many bishops trained and formed in its admirable school. It was in the fifteenth century, a period when sanctity was rare on the earth, that Antoninus realized in his own person the virtues of the greatest bishops of ancient times. His apostolic zeal, his deeds of charity, his mortified life, are the glory of the Church of Florence, which was confided to his care. Heaven blessed that illustrious city with temporal prosperity on account of its saintly archbishop. Cosmo de Medici was frequently heard to say that Florence owed more to Antoninus than to any other man. The holy prelate was also celebrated for his great learning. He defended the Papacy against the calumnies of certain seditious bishops in the Council of Basle: and, at the General Council of Florence, he eloquently asserted the truth of the Catholic faith, which was assailed by the abettors of the Greek schism. How beautiful is our holy Mother the Church, who produces such children as Antoninus, and has them in readiness to uphold what is true and withstand what is false!

She thus speaks the praises of the Saint of to-day:

Antoninus Florentiæ honestis parentibus natus, ab ipsa jam pueritia egregium futuræ sanctitatis specimen exhibuit. Annum agens sextum decimum, Religionem Prædicatorum amplexus, cœpit exinde maximis clarere virtutibus. Otio perpetuum bellum indixit. Post nocturnum brevem somnum primus matutinis precibus aderat; quibus persolutis, reliquum tempus noctis orationibus, aut certe lectioni, et scriptioni librorum tribuebat; et si quando importunior fessis membris somnus obreperet, ad parietem paululum declinato capite, ac tantisper discusso somno, sacras vigilias avidius repetebat.

Disciplinæ regularis sui ipsius severissimus exactor, carnes, nisi in gravi ægritudine, nunquam edit. Humi aut in nudo tabulato cubabat: cilicio semper usus, et interdum zona ferrea ad vivam cutem incinctus, virginitatem integerrime semper colui t. In explicandis consiliis tantæ dexteritatis fuit, ut communi elogio Antoninus consiliorum diceretur. Adeo autem in eo humilitas enituit, ut etiam cœnobiis ac provinciis præfectus, abjectissima monasterii officia demississime obiret. Ab Eugenio Quarto Florentinus Archiepiscopus renuntiatus, aegerrime tandem, nec nisi Apostolicis minis perterrefactus, ut Episcopatum acciperet, acquievit.

In eo munere vix dici potest quantum prudentia, pietate, charitate, mansuetudine, et sacerdotali zelo excelluit. Istud mirandum, tantum ingenio valuisse, ut omnes ferme scientias per se, nullo adhibito præceptore, absolutissime didicerit. Tandem post multos labores, multis etiam editis insignis doctrinæ libris, sacra Eucharistia et Unctione percepta, complexus Crucifixi imaginem, mortem lætus aspexit, sexto Nonas Maii, anno millesimo quadringentesimo quinquagesimo nono. Miraculis vivens et post mortem conspicuus, Sanctorum numero adscriptus est ab Hadriano Sexto, anno Domini millesimo quingentesimo vigesimo tertio.

Antoninus was bom at Florence, of respectable parents. He gave great promise, even when quite a child, of his future sanctity. At the age of sixteen he entered the Religious Order of Friars Preachers and at once became an object of admiration, by his practice of the highest virtues. He declared ceaseless war against idleness. After taking a short sleep at night, he was the first at the Office of Matins; after which he spent the remainder of the night in prayer, or reading, or writing. If at times, owing to fatigue, he felt himself oppressed with unwelcome sleep, he would lean his head for a while against the wall, and then, shaking off the drowsiness, resume his holy vigils with renewed earnestness.

He was a most rigid observer of Religious discipline, and never ate flesh-meat, save in the case of severe illness. His bed was the ground or a bare board. He always wore a hair shirt, and sometimes an iron girdle next to his skin. He observed the strictest chastity during his whole life. Such was his prudence in giving counsel, that he was called Antoninus the Counsellor. His humility was so great that, even when Prior and Provincial, he used to fulfil the lowest duties of the Monastery with the utmost self-abjection. He was made Archbishop of Florence by Pope Eugenius the Fourth. Great was his reluctance to accept such a dignity; nor would he have consented, but for fear of incurring the spiritual penalties wherewith he was threatened by the Pope.

It would be difficult to describe the prudence, piety, charity, meekness and apostolic zeal wherewith he discharged his episcopal office. He learned almost all the sciences to perfection, and, what is more surprising, he accomplished this by his own extraordinary talent without having any master to teach him. Finally, after many labours, and after having published several learned books, he fell sick. He received the Holy Eucharist and Extreme Unction, and embracing the crucifix, joyfully welcomed death, on the sixth of the Nones of May (May 10), in the year 1459. He was illustrious for the miracles which he wrought during his life, as also for. those which followed his death. He was canonized by Adrian the Sixth, in the year of our Lord 1523.

Disciple of the great Dominic, inheritor of his burning zeal, protect the holy order which he founded, and of which thou art so bright an ornament. Show that thou still lovest it. Give it increase, and procure for its children the holiness that once worked such loveliness and fruit in the Church. Holy Pontiff, be mindful of the faithful, who implore thine intercession at this period of the year.

Thy eloquent lips announced the Pasch, so many years, to the people of Florence, and urged them to share in the Resurrection of our divine Head. The same Pasch, the immortal Pasch, has shone once more upon us. We are still celebrating it; pray that its fruits may be lasting in us, and that our Risen Jesus, who has given us life, may, by his grace, preserve it in our souls for all eternity.

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

TWO more martyrs ascend from our earth on this day and are admitted to share in Jesus’ glory. Again it is Rome that deputes them to bear her homage to the Conqueror of Death. Gordian was one of the magistrates who were commissioned, under Julian the Apostate, to persecute the Christians. One day, whilst exercising his office, he suddenly descended from the tribunal and took his place among the criminals. He was soon called upon to shed his blood for the faith. His martyrdom, together with that of the illustrious brothers, John and Paul, whose feast we shall keep in June, closes the period of the pagan persecutions in the West. The fact of his being buried in the crypts on the Latin Way awakened the memory of another martyr, whose relics, half consumed by fire, had long before been brought thither from Alexandria. His name was Epimachus; and on this day the two martyrs were inseparably united in the devotion of the faithful. Neither the place nor the period of their combat was the same; but both of them fought for the one cause and won the same victory. The two conquerors are buried in peace in the Eternal City; but he, for whose name they delivered their bodies to death, is mindful of their precious remains. Yet a little while, and he will fulfil, in their regard, the promise he made when he said: I am the Resurrection and the Life. He that believeth in me, although he he dead, shall live.[1]

Gordianus judex, quum ad eum Januarius presbyter, ut condemnaretur, sub Juliano Apostata ductus esset, ab eodem in Christiana fide instructs, cum uxore et quinquaginta tribus aliis ex eadem familia, Romæ baptizatur. Quare Præfectus, relegato Januario, Gordianum a Clementiano vicario includi jubet in carcerem: qui postea eumdem Gordianum vinctum catenis ad se accersitum, cum a fidei proposito deterrere non posset, plumbatis diu cæsum capite plecti imperat. Cujus corpus ante Apollinis templum canibus objectum, noctu a Christianis via Latina sepelitur in eadem crypta, in quam reliquiae beati Epimachi Martyris translatæ fuerant ab Alexandria: ubi is diu propter Christi confessionem constrictus in carcere, postremo combustus, martyrio coronats est.
During the reign of Julian the Apostate, Januarius, a priest, was brought before the judge, Gordian, that he might be condemned; but Gordian, after being instructed in the Christian faith by this same priest, was baptized by him at Rome, together with his wife and fiftythree other members of his house. Whereupon the Prefect, having sent Januarius into exile, ordered his deputy Clementianus to imprison Gordian. The deputy, after some time, had Gordian led in chains before his tribunal, and sought to induce him to deny the faith: but, failing in the attempt, he ordered him to be first scourged with whips laden with plummets of lead, and then beheaded. His body was exposed before the temple of Apollo, that it might be devoured by dogs; but during the night the Christians took it, and buried it on the Latin Way, in the same crypt wherein had previously been laid the relics of the holy martyr Epimachus, brought from Alexandria, in which city he had endured a long imprisonment for the Christian faith, and was finally crowned with martyrdom by being burned to death.

Sleep your sleep of peace, O holy martyrs! Rest yet a little timetill your fellow-servants and brethrenwho are to be slain even as youshall be filled up.[2] The number has been added to in every century; but the world is now near its end, and its last period is to be rich in martyrdom. When the reign of the man of sin[3] begins its course, and the final tempest rages against the bark of holy Church, then, O martyrs of Christ, protect the Christian people, in return for the yearly tribute of honour that it has paid to your venerable names. Pray also for those living during these sad times, whose miseries seem like the distant howling of the storm that is to precede the end of the world. Strengthen our hearts, O holy martyrs! and whatever may be the lot prepared for us by Providence, obtain for us that we may be faithful to him, who would be to us what he has been to you—the Resurrection and the Life.[4]


[1] St John xi 25.
[2] Apoc. vi 11.
[3] 2 Thess. ii 3.
[4] St John xi 25.

 

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