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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.

Introduction to the Season of advent

Introduction to the Season of CHRISTMAS

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

Introduction to the Season of Septuagesima

Introduction to the Season of Lent

Introduction to passiontide and holy week

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

The holy virgin who this day claims the homage of our devotion and praise, is offered to us by the Church of Alexandria. Apollonia is a martyr of Christ; her name is celebrated and honoured throughout the whole world; and she comes to us on this ninth day of February, to add her own example to that which we have so recently had from her sister saints, Agatha and Dorothy; like them, she bids us fight courageously for heaven. To her this present life was a thing of little value, and no sooner did she receive God’s inspiration to sacrifice it, than she did what her would-be executioners intended doing: she threw herself into the flames prepared for her. It is no unusual thing, nowadays, for men that are wearied of the trials, or afraid of the humiliations, of this world, to take away their own lives, and prefer suicide to the courageous performance of duty: but Apollonia’s motive for hastening her death by a moment’s anticipation, was to testify her horror of the apostasy that was proposed to her. This is not the only instance we meet with, during times of persecution, of the holy Spirit’s inspiring this lavish sacrifice to saintly virgins, who trembled for their faith or their virtue. It is true, such examples are rare; but they teach us, among other things, that our lives belong to God alone, and that we should be in readiness of mind to give them to Him, when and as He pleases to demand them of us.

There is one very striking circumstance in the martyrdom of St. Apollonia. Her executioners, to punish the boldness wherewith she confessed our Lord Jesus Christ, beat out her teeth. This has suggested to the faithful, when suffering the cruel pain of toothache, to have recourse to St. Apollonia; and their confidence is often rewarded, for God would have us seek the protection of His saints, not only in our spiritual, but even in our bodily sufferings and necessities.

The liturgy thus speaks the praises of our saint.

Apollonia, virgo Alexandrina, sub Decio imperatore, cum ingravescente jam setate ad idola sisteretur, ut eis venerationem adhiberet, illis contemptis, Jesum Christum verum Deum colendum esse prædicabat. Quamobrem omnes ei contusi sunt et evulsi dentes: ac, nisi Christum detestata deos coleret, accenso rogo combusturos vivam minati sunt impii carnifices. Quibus illa, se quamvis mortem pro Jesu Christi fide subituram respondit. Itaquecomprehensa ut combureretur, cum paulisper quasi deliberans quid agendum esset, stetisset, ex illorum manibus elapsa, alacris in ignem sibi paratura, majori Spiritus sancti flamma intus accensa, se injecit. Unde brevi con9umpto corpore, purissimus spiritus in cœlum ad sempiternam martyrii coronam evolavit.
Apollonia was a virgin of Alexandria. In the persecution under the Emperor Decius, when she was far advanced in years, she was brought up to trial, and ordered to pay adoration to idols. She turned from them with contempt, and declared that worship ought to be given to Jesus Christ, the true God. Whereupon, the impious executioners broke and pulled out her teeth; then lighting a pile of wood, they threatened to burn her alive, unless she would hate Christ, and adore their gods. She replied, that she was ready to suffer every kind of death for the faith of Jesus Christ. Upon this, they seized her, intending to do as they said. She stood for a moment, as though hesitating what she should do; then, snatching herself from their hold, she suddenly threw herself into the fire, for there was within her the intenser flame of the Holy Ghost. Her body was soon consumed, and her most pure soul took its flight, and was graced with the everlasting crown of martyrdom.

What energy was thine, Apollonia! Thy persecutors threaten thee with fire; but far from fearing it, thou art impatient for it, as though it were a throne, and thou ambitious to be queen. Thy dread of sin took away the fear of death, nor didst thou wait for man to be thy executioner. This thy courage surprises our cowardice; and yet, the burning pile into which thou didst throw thyself when asked to apostatize, and which was a momentary pain leading thy soul to eternal bliss, was nothing when we compare it with that everlasting fire, to which the sinner condemns himself almost every day of his life. He heeds not the flames of hell, and deems it no madness to purchase them at the price of some vile passing pleasure. And with all this, worldlings can be scandalized at the saints, and call them exaggerated, extravagant, imprudent; because they believed that there is but one thing necessary! Awaken in our hearts, Apollonia, the fear of sin; for sin gnaws eternally the souls of them who die with its guilt upon them. If the fire, which had a charm for thee, seems to us the most frightful of tortures, let us turn our fear of suffering and death into a preservative against sin, which plunges men into that abyss, whence the smoke of their torments shall ascend for ever and ever,[1]as St. John tells us in his Revelation. Have pity on us, most brave and prudent martyr. Pray for sinners. Open their eyes to see the evils that threaten them. Procure for us the fear of God, that so we may merit His mercies, and may begin in good earnest to love Him.

 


[1] Apoc. xiv. 11.

 

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

The sister of the patriarch St. Benedict comes to us to-day, sweetly inviting us to follow her to heaven. Apollonia the martyr is succeeded by Scholastica, the fervent daughter of the cloister. Both of them are the brides of Jesus, both of them wear crowns, for both of them fought hard, and won the palm. Apollonia’s battle was with cruel persecutors, and in those hard times when one had to die to conquer; Scholastica’s combat was the lifelong struggle, whose only truce is the soldier’s dying breath. The martyr and the nun are sisters now in the Heart of Him they both so bravely loved.

God, in His infinite wisdom, gave to St. Benedict a faithful co-operatrix, a sister of such angelic gentleness of character, that she would be a sort of counterpoise to the brother, whose vocation, as the legislator of monastic life, needed a certain dignity of grave and stern resolve. We continually meet with these contrasts in the lives of the saints; and they show us that there is a link, of which flesh and blood know nothing; a link which binds two souls together, gives them power, harmonizes their differences of character, and renders each complete. Thus it is in heaven with the several hierarchies of the angels; a mutual love, which is founded on God Himself, unites them together, and makes them live in the eternal happiness of the tenderest brotherly affection.

Scholastica’s earthly pilgrimage was not a short one; and yet it has left us but the history of the dove, which told the brother, by its flight to heaven, that his sister had reached the eternal home before him. We have to thank St. Gregory the Great for even this much, which he tells us as a sequel to the holy dispute she had with Benedict, three days previous to her death. But how admirable is the portrait thus drawn in St. Gregory’s best style! We seem to understand the whole character of Scholastica:—an earnest simplicity, and a child-like eagerness for what was worth desiring; an affectionate and unshaken confidence in God; a winning persuasiveness, where there was opposition to God’s will, which, when it met such an opponent as Benedict, called on God to interpose, and gained its cause. The old poets tell us strange things about the swan, how sweetly it can sing when dying; how lovely must have been the last notes of the dove of the Benedictine cloister, as she was soaring from earth to heaven!

But how came Scholastica, the humble retiring nun, by that energy, which could make her resist the will of her brother, whom she revered as her master and guide? What was it told her that her prayer was not a rash one, and that what she asked was a higher good than Benedict’s unflinching fidelity to the rule he had written, and which it was his duty to teach by his own observance of it? Let us hear St. Gregory’s answer: 'It is not to be wondered at, that the sister, who wished to prolong her brother’s stay, should have prevailed over him; for, whereas St. John tells us that God is charity, it happened, by a most just judgment, that she that had the stronger love had the stronger power.’

Our season is appropriate for the beautiful lesson taught us by St. Scholastica, fraternal charity. Her example should excite us to the love of our neighbour, that love for which God bids us labour, now that we are intent on giving Him our undivided service, and our complete conversion. The Easter solemnity for which we are preparing, is to unite us all in the grand banquet, where we are all to feast on the one divine Victim of love. Let us have our nuptial garment ready: for He that invites us insists on our having union of heart when we dwell in His house.[1]

The Church has inserted in her Office of this feast the account given by St. Gregory of the last interview between St. Scholastica and St. Benedict. It is as follows:

Ex libro secundo Dialogorum sancti Gregorii Papæ.

Scholastica venerabilis patris Benedicti soror, omnipotenti Domino ab ipso infantiæ tempore dedicata, ad eum semel per annum venire consueverat. Ad quam vir Dei non longe extra januam in possessione monasterii descendebat. Quadam vero die venit ex more, atque ad eam cum discipulis venerabilis ejus descendit frater; qui totum diem in Dei laudibus, sacrisque colloquiis ducentes, incumbentibus jam noctis tenebris, simul accepemnt cibum. Cumque adhuc ad mensam sederent, et inter sacra colloquia tardior se hora protraheret, eadem sanctimonialis femina soror ejus eum rogavit dicens: Quæso te, ut ista nocte me non deseras, ut usquo mane de cœlestis vitæ gaudiis lo quamur. Cui ille respondit: Quid est quod loqueris, soror? manere extra cellam nullatenus possum. Tanta vero erat cœli serenitas, ut nulla in aëre nubes appareret. Sanctimonialis autem femina, cum verba fratris negantis audivisset, insertas digitis manus super mensam posuit, et caput in manibus omnipotentem Dominum rogatura declinavit. Cumque levaret de mensa caput, tanta coruscationis et tonitrui virtus, tantaque inundatio pluviæ erupit, ut neque venerabilis Benedictus, neque fratres qui cum eo aderant, extra loci limen, quo consederant, pedem movere potuerint.

Sanctimonialis quippe femina caput in manibus declinans, lacrymarum fluvium in mensam fuderat, per quas serenitatem aëris ad pluviam traxit. Nec paulo tardiua post orationem inundatio illa secuta est: sed tanta fuit convenientia orationis et inundationis, ut de mensa caput jam cum tonitruo levaret: quatenus unum idemque esset momentum, et levare caput, et pluviam deponere. Tunc vir Dei inter coruscos, et tonitruos, atque ingentis pluviæ inundationem, videns se ad monasterium non posse remeare, cœpit conqueri contristatus, dicens: Parcat tibi omnipotens Deus, soror, quid est quod fecisti? Cui illa respondit: Ecce rogavi te, et audire me noluisti; rogavi Deum meum, et audivit me: modo ergo, si potes, egredere, et me dimissa, ad monasterium recede. Ipse autem exire extra tectum non valens, qui remanere sponte noluit, in loco mansit invitus. Sicque factum est, ut totam noctem pervigilem ducerent, atque per sacra spiritalis vitæ colloquia, sese vicaria relatione satiarent.

Cumque die altero eadem venerabilis femina ad cellam propriam recessisset, vir Dei ad monasterium rediit. Cum ecce post triduum in cella consistens, elevatis in aëra oculis, vidit ejusdem sororis suæ animam de corpore egressam, in columbæ specie cœli secreta penetrare. Qui tantæ ejus gloriæ congaudens, omnipotenti Deo in hymnis et laudibus gratias reddidit, ejusque obitura fratribus denuntiavit. Quos etiam protinus misit, ut ejus corpus ad monasterium deferrent, atque in sepulchro, quod sibi ipsi paraverat, ponerent. Quo facto, contigit ut quorum mens una semper in Deo fuerat, eorum quoque corpora nec sepultura separaret.
From the second book of the Dialogues of St. Gregory, Pope.

Scholastica was the sister of the venerable father Benedict. She had been consecrated to almighty God from her very infancy, and was accustomed to visit her brother once a year. The man of God came down to meet her at a house belonging to the monastery, not far from the gate. It was the day for the usual visit, and her venerable brother came down to her accompanied by some of his brethren. The whole day was spent in the praises of God and holy conversation, and at night fall they took their repast together. While they were at table, and it grew late as they conferred with each other on sacred things, the holy nun thus spoke to her brother: ‘I beseech thee, stay the night with me, and let us talk till morning on the joys of heaven.’ He replied: ‘What is this thou sayest, sister? On no account may I remain out of the monastery.’ The evening was so fair, that not a cloud could be seen in the sky. When, therefore, the holy nun heard her brother’s refusal, she clasped her hands together, and resting them on the table, she hid her face in them, and made a prayer to the God of all power. As soon as she raised her head from the table, there came down so great a storm of thunder and lightning, and rain, that neither the venerable Benedict, nor the brethren who were with him, could set foot outside the place where they were sitting.

The holy virgin had shed a flood of tears as she leaned her head upon the table, and the cloudless sky poured down the wished-for rain. The prayer was said, the rain fell in torrents; there was no interval; but so closely on each other were prayer and rain, that the storm came as she raised her head. Then the man of God, seeing that it was impossible to reach his monastery amidst all this lightning, thunder, and rain, was sad, and said complainingly: 'God forgive thee, sister! What hast thou done?’ But she replied: 'I asked thee a favour, and thou wouldst not hear me; I asked it of my God, and he granted it. Go now, if thou canst, to the monastery, and leave me here!’ But it was not in his power to stir from the place; so that he who would not stay willingly, had to stay unwillingly, and spend the whole night with his sister, delighting each other with their questions and answers about the secrets of the spiritual life.

On the morrow, the holy woman returned to her monastery, and the man of God to his. When lo! three days after, he was in his cell; and raising his eyes, he saw the soul of his sister going up to heaven, in the shape of a dove. Full of joy at her being thus glorified, he thanked his God in hymns of praise, and told the brethren of her death. He straightway bade them go and bring her body to the monastery; which having done, he had it buried in the tomb he had prepared for himself. Thus it was that, as they had ever been one soul in God, their bodies were united in the same grave.

We select the following from the monastic Office for the feast of our saint:

Responsories and Antiphons

R. Alma Scholastica, sanctissimi patris Benedicti soror, * Ab ipso infantiætempore omnipotenti Domino dedicata, viam justitiæ non deseruit.
V. Laudate pueri Dominum, laudate nomen Domini. * Ab ipso infantiæ.

R.
Exemplo vitæ venerabilis, et verbo sanctæ prædicationis informari cupiens, ad eum semel in anno venire consueverat: * Et eam vir Dei doctrinis cœlestibus instruebat.
V. Beatus qui audit verba ipsius, et servat ea quæ scripta sunt. * Et eam.

R.
Sancta virgo Scholastica, quasi hortus irriguus,* Gratiarum cœlestium jugi rore perfundebatur.
V. Sicut fons aquarum, cujus non deficient aquæ. * Gratiarum.

R.
Desideriuin cordis ejus tribuit ei Dominus: * A quo obtinuit quod a fratre obtinere non potuit.
V. Bonus est Dominus omnibus sperantibus in eum, animæ quærenti illum. * A quo obtinuit.

R.
Moram faciente Sponso, ingemiscebat Scholastica dicens: * Quis dabit mihi pennas sicut columbæ, et volabo et requiescam?
V. En dilectus meus loquitur mihi: Surge, amica mea, et veni. * Quis dabit.

R
. In columbæ specie Scholasticæ anima visa est, fraterna mens lætata est hymnis et immensis laudibus: * Benedictus sit talis exitus, multo magis talis introitus!
V. Totus cœlesti gaudio perfusus remansit pater Benedictus. * Benedictus.

R
. Anima Scholasticæ ex arca corporis instar columbæ egressa, portans ramum olivæ, signum pacis et gratiæ. * In cœlos evolavit.
V. Quæ cum non inveniret ubi requiesceret pes ejus. * In cœlos evolavit.

Ant. Exsultet omnium turba fidelium pro gloria Virginis almæ Scholasticæ: lætentur præcipue catervæ virginum, celebrantes ejus solemnitatem, quæ fundens lacrymas, Dominum rogavit, et ab eo plus potuit, quia plus amavit.

Ant. Hodie sacra virgo Scholastica in specie columbae, ad æthera tota festiva perrexit: hodie cœlestis vitæ gaudiis cum fratre suo meretur perfrui in sempiternum.
R. The venerable Scholastica, the sister of the most holy father Benedict, * Being from her very infancy consecrated to almighty God, never left the path of righteousness.
V. O ye children, praise the Lord; praise ye the name of the Lord. * Being.

R.
Anxious to be trained by the saintly life and the words of his holy teaching, she used to visit him once a year: * And the man of God instructed her in heavenly doctrine.
V. Blessed is he that heareth Benedict’s words, and keepeth those things which he hath written. * And.

R.
The holy virgin Scholastica like a watered garden, * Was enriched with the ceaseless dew of heaven’s graces.
V. Like a fountain of water whose stream shall not fail. * Was enriched.

R.
The Lord granted her the desire of her heart: * And from him she obtained what her brother refused.
V. The Lord is good to all them that trust in him, to the soul that seeketh him. * And.

R
. The Bridegroom tarrying, Scholastica moaned, saying: * Who will give me the wings of a dove, and I will fly and take my rest?
V. Lo! my beloved speaketh unto me: Arise, my love, and come. * Who will.

R.
Scholastica’s soul was seen in the form of a dove, and the brother’s glad heart sang hymns and praises beyond measure: * Blessed be such a departure, and still more blessed such an entrance!
V. Father Benedict was filled with heavenly joy. * Blessed.

R.
Scholastica’s soul went forth, like a dove, from the ark of her body, bearing an olive branch, the sign of peace and grace. * She took her flight to heaven.
V. She found not whereon to rest her feet. * She took.

Ant. Let all the assembly of the faithful rejoice at the glory of the venerable virgin Scholastica; but above the rest, let the choirs of virgins be glad, as they celebrate the feast of her who besought her Lord with many tears, and had more power with him, because she had more love.

Ant. On this day, the holy virgin Scholastica took her flight, in the shape of a dove, all joyfully to heaven: on this day she is enjoying, with her brother, the eternal joys of the heavenly life she so well deserves.

The same Benedictine breviary gives us these two hymns for this feast:

Hymn

Te beata sponsa Christi,
Te columba virginum,
Siderum tollunt coloni
Laudibus, Scholastica:
Nostra te lætis salutant
Vocibus præcordia.

Sceptra mundi cum coronis
Docta quondam spernere,
Dogma fratris insecuta
Atque sanctæ regulæ,
Ex odore gratiarum,
Astra nosti quærere.

O potens virtus amoris!
O decus victoriæ!
Dum fluentis lacrymarum
Cogis imbres currere,
Ore Nursini parentis
Verba cœli suscipis.

Luce fulges expetita
In polorum vertice,
Clara flammis charitatis
Cum nitore gratiæ:
Juncta Sponso conquiescis
In decore gloriæ.

Nunc benigna pelle nubes
Cordibus fidelium,
Ut serena fronte splendens
Sol perennis luminis,
Sempiternæ claritatis
Impleat nos gaudiis.

Gloriam Patri canamus
Unicoque Filio;
Par tributum proferamus
Inclyto Paraclito,
Nutibus cujus creantur,
Et reguntur sæcula.

Amen.
O Scholastica, blessed bride of Christ!
O dove of the cloister!
the citizens of heaven proclaim thy merits,
and we, too, sing thy praises
with joyful hymns
and loving hearts.

Thou didst scorn
the honours and glory of the world;
thou didst follow the teaching of thy brother
and his holy rule;
and, rich in the fragrance of every grace,
thou caredst for heaven alone.

Oh I what power was in thy love,
and how glorious thy victory,
when thy tears drew rain from the skies,
and forced the patriarch of Nursia
to tell thee what he knew
of the land above!

And now thou shinest
in heaven’s longed for light;
thou art as a seraph in thy burning love,
beautiful in thy bright grace;
and united with thy divine Spouse,
thou art reposing in the splendour of glory.

Have pity on us the faithful of Christ,
and drive from us the miseries
which cloud our hearts;
that thus the Sun of light eternal
may sweetly shine upon us,
and fill us with the joys of his everlasting beams.

Let us sing a hymn of glory to the Father,
and to his only Son;
let us give an equal homage of our praise
to the blessed Paraclete:
yea, to God, the Creator and Ruler of all,
be glory without end.

Amen.

Hymn

Jam noctis umbræ concidunt,
Dies cupita nascitur,
Qua virgini Scholasticæ
Sponsus perennis jungitur.

Brumæ recedit tædium,
Fugantur imbres nubibus,
Vernantque campi siderum
Æternitatis fiori bus.

Amoris auctor evocat,
Dilecta pennas induit;
Ardens ad oris oscula
Columba velox evolat.

Quam pulchra gressum promoves,
O chara proles Principis!
Nursinus Abbas aspicit,
Grates rependit Nummi.

Amplexa Sponsi dextera,
Metit coronas debitas,
Immersa rivis gloriæ,
Deique pota gaudiis.

Te, Christe, flos convallium,
Patremque cum Paraclito,
Cunctos per orbis cardines
Adoret omne sæculum.

Amen.
The shades of night are passing away:
the longed-for day is come,
when the virgin Scholastica
is united to her God, her Spouse.

Winter’s tedious gloom is over;
the rainy clouds are gone;
and the Spring of the starry land
yields its eternal flowers.

The God of love bids his beloved come;
and she, taking the wings of a dove,
flies swiftly to the embrace
so ardently desired.

How beautiful is thy soaring,
dear daughter of the King!
Thy brother, the abbot, sees thee,
and fervently thanks his God.

Scholastica receives the embrace of her Spouse,
and the crown her works have won;
inebriated with the torrent of glory,
she drinks of the joys of her Lord.

May the world-wide creation
of every age adore thee,
O Jesus, sweet Flower of the vale,
together with the Father and the Holy Ghost.

Amen.

Dear bride of the Lamb! Innocent and simple dove! How rapid was thy flight to thy Jesus, when called home from thine exile! Thy brother’s eye followed thee for an instant, and then heaven received thee, with a joyous welcome from the choirs of the angels and saints. Thou art now at the very source of that love, which here filled thy soul, and gained thee everything thou askedst of thy divine Master. Drink of this fount of life to thy heart’s eternal content. Satiate the ambition taught thee by thy brother in his rule, when he says that we must ‘desire heaven with all the might of our spirit.’[2] Feed on that sovereign Beauty, who Himself feeds, as He tells us, among the lilies.[3]

But forget not this lower world, which was to thee, what it is to us, a place of trial for winning heavenly honours. During thy sojourn here, thou wast the dove in the clefts of the rock,[4] as the Canticle describes a soul like thine own; there was nothing on this earth which tempted thee to spread thy wings in its pursuit, there was nothing worthy of the love which God had put in thy heart. Timid before men, and simple as innocence ever is, thou knewest not that thou hadst wounded the Heart of the Spouse.[5] Thy prayers were made to Him with all the humility and confidence of a soul that had never been disloyal; and He granted thee thy petitions with the promptness of tender love: so that thy brother, the venerable saint, who was accustomed to see nature obedient to his command, was overcome by thee in that contest, wherein thy simplicity was more penetrating than his profound wisdom.

And who was it, O Scholastica, that gave thee this sublime knowledge, and made thee, on that day of thy last visit, wiser than the great patriarch, who was raised up in the Church to be the living rule of them that are called to perfection? It was the same God, who chose Benedict to be one of the pillars of the religious state, but who wished to show that a holy and pure and tender charity is dearer to Him than the most scrupulous fidelity to rules, which are only made for leading men to what thou hadst already attained. Benedict, himself such a lover of God, knew all this; the subject so dear to thy heart was renewed, and brother and sister were soon lost in the contemplation of that infinite Beauty, who had just given such a proof that He would have thee neglect all else. Thou wast ripe for heaven, O Scholastica! Creatures could teach thee no more love of thy Creator; He would take thee to Himself. A few short hours more, and the divine Spouse would speak to thee those words of the ineffable Canticle, which the holy Spirit seems to have dictated for a soul like thine: 'Arise, make haste, my love, my dove, my beautiful one, and come! Show me thy face; let thy voice sound in mine ears; for thy voice is sweet, and comely is thy face.’[6]

Thou hast left us, O Scholastica! but do not forget us. Our souls have not the same beauty in the eyes of our God as thine, and yet they are called to the same heaven. It may be that years are still needed to fit them for the celestial abode, where we shall see thy grand glory. Thy prayer drew down a torrent of rain upon the earth; let it now be offered for us, and obtain for us tears of repentance. Thou couldst endure no conversation which had not eternity for its subject; give us a disgust for useless and dangerous talk, and a relish for hearing of God and of heaven. Thy heart had mastered the secret of fraternal charity, yea of that affectionate charity which is so well-pleasing to our Lord; soften our hearts to the love of our neighbour, banish from them all coldness and indifference, and make us love one another as God would have us love.

Dear dove of holy solitude! remember the tree, whose branches gave thee shelter here on earth. The Benedictine cloister venerates thee, not only as the sister, but also as the daughter of its sainted patriarch. Cast thine eye upon the remnants of that tree, which was once so vigorous in its beauty and its fruits, and under whose shadow the nations of the west found shelter for so many long ages. Alas! the hack and hew of impious persecutions have struck its root and branches. Every land of Europe, as well as our own, sits weeping over the ruins. And yet, root and branches, both must needs revive; for we know that it is the will of thy divine Spouse, O Scholastica, that the destinies of this venerable tree keep pace with those of the Church herself. Pray that its primitive vigour be soon restored; protect, with thy maternal care, the tender buds it is now giving forth; cover them from the storm; bless them; make them worthy of the confidence wherewith the Church deigns to honour them!

 


[1] Ps. lxvii. 7.
[2] Ch. iv., Instrument 46.
[3] Cant. ii. 16.
[4] Ibid., 14.
[5] Ibid., iv. 9.
[6] Cant. ii. 10, 14.

 

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

My bow shall appear in the clouds and I will remember My covenant with you.[1]

The lessons at Matins on February 11, 1854 (Thursday in Sexagesima week) recalled these words, and the world soon learned that on this very day Mary had appeared, more fair than the sign of hope which typified her at the time of the deluge.

Portents, the realization of which we see in these days, were being multiplied. Mankind had grown old, and seemed about to perish in a deluge more dreadful than the former one. ‘I am the Immaculate Conception,’ said the Mother of divine grace to the humble child whom she chose at such a time to bear her message to the captain of the Ark of salvation. She pierced the gathering darkness with the light of that sublime privilege which the supreme pilot, to his eternal glory, had declared three years before to be dogma.

Indeed, if, as the beloved disciple says, it is our faith to which victory on earth is promised,[2] and if faith is nourished by light—what individual dogma is there which so presupposes and recalls all other dogmatic truths, and at the same time throws such light upon them? It is a royal crown on the brow of the victorious queen, resplendent like the rainbow which breaks through the clouds with all the glories of heaven.

But perchance it was still necessary to open the eyes of the blind to these splendours, to inspire courage into hearts saddened by hell’s denials, and to infuse strength to make an act of faith into so many understandings weakened by the education of these days. The Immaculate Virgin summoned the multitudes to the scene of her blessed visit, and both sweetly and strongly succoured the weakness of souls by healing bodies. She smiled upon publicity, welcomed investigation, and confirmed by the authority of miracles her own words and the definition of the Vicar of Christ.

The Psalmist said that the works of God tell His praises in all tongues,[3] and St. Paul taxes with folly and impiety those who will not accept this testimony.[4] So, too, we may say that the men of these times have no excuse if they do not recognize the blessed Virgin in her works. May she extend the field of her beneficence and take pity on that worst of diseases—that weakness of soul which refuses to see out of a secret fear of the conclusions to be drawn from the evidence, and struggles against the truth until the mind is filled with contradictions and the heart with darkness, so that it seems as though the reason itself were given over to that reprobate sense[5] which St. Paul describes as striking the pagans in their flesh.

The things that take place at Lourdes are as famous as any events of contemporary history. Let us listen to the short account which the Church has enshrined in the Liturgy:

Anno quarto a dogmatica definitione de immaculato beatæ Virginis Conceptu, ad Gavi fluminis oram prope oppidnm Lourdes Diœcesis Tarbiensis in Gallia, ipsa Virgo in rupis sinu super specum Massabielle puellæ cuidam, vernacula lingua Bernadette nuncupatæ, pauperrimæ quidem, sed ingenuæ ac piæ, pluries se conspiciendam obtulit. Immaculata Virgo juvenili ac benigno videbaturaspectu, nivea veste niveoque pallio contecta, ac zona cærulea succincta: nudos pedes aurea rosa ornabat. Primo apparitionis die, qui fuit undecimus Februarii anno millesimo octingentesimo quinquagesimo octavo, puellam signum crucis rite pieque faciendum edocuit, atque ad sacri rosarii recitationem, exemplo suo, coronam, quæ prius ex brachio demissa pendebat, manu advoleus, excitavit: quod in ceteris etiam apparitionibus præstitit. Altera autem apparitionis die, puella in simplicitate cordis sui, diabolicam fraudem timens, lustralem aquam in Virginem effudit: sed beata Virgo, leniter arridens, benigniorem illi vultum ostendit. Cum vero tertio apparuisset, puellam ad specum per quindecim dies invitavit. Exinde eam sæpius est alloquuta, ac pro peccatoribus orare, terram deosculari, pœnitentiamque agere est hortata: deinde imperavit ut sacerdotibus ediceret, ædificandutn ibi esse sacellum, solemnisque supplicationis more illo accedendum. Mandavit insuper ut e fonte, qui sub arena adhuc latebat sed mox erat erupturus, aquam biberet eaque se abstergeret. Denique die festo Annuntiationis, percontanti enixo puellæ illius nomen, cujus aspectu toties dignata fuerat, Virgo admotis pectori manibus elatisque in cælum oculis, respondit: Immaculata Conceptio ego sum.

Percrebrescente fama bencficiorum, quæ in sacro specu recepisse fideles dicebantur, augebatur in dies hominum concursus, quos loci religio ad specum advocabat. Itaque prodigiorum fama puellæque candore motus Tarbiensis episcopus, quarto ab enarratis anno, post juridicam factorum inquisitionem, eupernaturales esse apparitionis notas sua sententia probavit, cultumque Virginis Immaculatæ in eodem specu permisit. Mox ædificatum sacellum: ex illa die pene innumeræ fidelium turbæ, voti ac supplicationis causa, ex Gallia, Belgio, Italia, Hispania, ceterisque Europæ provinciis necnon ex longinquis Americæ regionibus quovis anno illuc adveniunt, nomenque Immaculatæ de Lourdes ubique terrarum inclarescit. Fontis aqua in cunctas orbis partes delata, ægris sanitatem restituit. Orbis vero catholicus tantorum memor benefactorum, ædes sacras mirabili opere ibi exstruxit. Vexilla innumera, acceptorum beneficiorum veluti monumenta, illuc a civitatibus ac gentibus missa, ædem Virginis miro ornatu decorant. In hac sua veluti sede Immaculata Virgo jugiter colitur; interdiu quidem precibus, religioso cantu solemnibusque aliis cæremoniis; noctu vero sacris illis supplicationibus, quibus infinitæ propemodum peregrinantium turbæ cereis facibusque accensis procedunt et laudes beatæ Virginis concinunt.

Peregrinationes hujusmodi fidem frigescente sæculo excitasse, animum ad christianam legem profitendam addidisse, cultumque Virginis immaculatæ mirum in modum auxisse, omnibus compertum est. In qua mirabili fidei professione Christianus populus sacerdotes veluti duces habet, qui illuc suas plebes adducunt. Ipsi etiam sacrorum Antistites sanctum locum frequenter adeunt, peregrinationibus præsunt, solemnioribusque festis intersunt. Nec adeo rarum est ipsos RomanæEcclesiæ Purpuratos Patres humili peregrinorum more accedentes conspicere. Ipsi quoque Romani Pontifices, pro sua erga Immaculatam de Lourdes pietate, sacram ædem donis nobilissimis cumularunt. Pius nonus, sacris indulgentiis, Archiconfraternitatis privilegio ac minoris Basilicæ titulo ipsam insignivit; ac Deiparæ imaginem ibidem cultam, solemni ritu per Legatum suum Apostolicum in Gallia diademate distinctam voluit. Leo vero decimus tertius innumera etiam contulit beneficia, indulgentias ad modum Jubilæi vigesimo quinto Apparitionis anno vertente concessit, peregrinationes sua auctoritate verboque provexit, ac solemnem Ecclesiæ sub titulo Rosarii dedicationem suo nomine peragi curavit. Quorum beneficiorum amplitudinem cumulavit, cum plurium Episcoporum rogatu,solemne festum sub titulo Apparitionis beatæ Mariæ Virginis Immaculatæ proprio Officio et propria Missa celebrandum benigne conoessit. Tandem Pins decimus Pontifex Maximus pro sua erga Deiparam pietate, ac plurimomm votis annuens sacrorum Antistitum, idem festum ad Ecclesiam universam extendit.
In the fourth year after the definition of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, the blessed Virgin vouchsafed to appear on several occasions to a poor but pious and innocent child named Bernadette, in a rocky cavern overlooking the grotto of Massabielle on the banks of the Gave near the town of Lourdes in the diocese of Tarbes in France. She showed herself as a young and gracious figure, robed in white, with a white veil and blue girdle, and golden roses on her bare feet. At the first apparition on February 11, 1858, she taught the child to make the sign of the Cross correctly and devoutly, and, taking a chaplet from her own arm, encouraged her by example to say her rosary. This was repeated at subsequent apparitions. On the second day, Bernadette, who feared an illusion of the devil, in all simplicity cast holy water at the apparition, who smiled more graciously than before. At the third apparition Bernadette was invited to repeat her visits to the grotto for fifteen days, during which the blessed Virgin conversed with her, exhorted her to pray for sinners, kiss the ground and do penance, and finally commanded her to tell the priests that a chapel was to be built in the place and processions held. She was also bidden drink and wash in the water, and a spring, until then invisible, gushed out of the ground. On the feast of the Annunciation, the child earnestly begged the Lady who had so often visited her to reveal her name, and the blessed Virgin, joining her hands and raising her eyes to heaven, said: 'I am the Immaculate Conception.’

Rumours of favours received at the holy grotto spread rapidly, and the crowds of devout visitors increased daily, so that the Bishop of Tarbes, who had been impressed by the candour of Bernadette, found it advisable to hold a judicial enquiry into the facts. In the course of the fourth year he gave sentence, recognizing the supernatural character of the apparition, and permitting devotions to our Lady under the title of the Immaculate Conception to be held in the grotto. A chapel was soon built, and since then every year has witnessed innumerable pilgrimages from France, Belgium, Italy, Spain, and all parts of Europe and America. The name of Our Lady of Lourdes has become famous all over the world, and cures are obtained everywhere by use of the water. Lourdes has been enriched by a grateful world with splendidly decorated churches, where countless banners bear witness to the favours received and to the desire of peoples and cities to adorn the house of the blessed Virgin, who is honoured there as in her own palace. The days are filled with prayers, hymns and solemn ceremonies, and the nights are sanctified by the pious supplications of countless people who walk in procession carrying torches, and singing the praises of the blessed Virgin Mary.

All men know how, in spite of the coldness of the world, these pilgrimages have revived faith, restored the observance of the Christian religion, and increased devotion to the Immaculate Virgin. The Faithful are led by their priests in this marvellous development of faith and devotion. The Bishops make frequent visits to the holy spot, lead pilgrimages, and take part in the ceremonies, and the Cardinals of Holy Church are often seen in the humble quality of pilgrims. The Roman Pontiffs have shown their devotion to our Lady of Lourdes, and have bestowed remarkable favours on her sanctuary. Pius IX. enriched it with indulgences, gave it the privilege of an Archconfraternity and the title of minor basilica, and delegated the Apostolic Nuncio in France to crown in his name the statue of the Mother of God. Leo XIII. also granted many favours, including the jubilee of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Apparition. He encouraged pilgrimages, and ordained that the consecration of the Rosary Church should be performed in his name. Moreover, he crowned all these favours by conceding, at the request of many bishops, the celebration of a solemn feast under the title of the Apparition of Our Lady Immaculate, with a proper Office and Mass. Finally, Pius X., out of devotion to the Mother of God, granted the petition of many prelates that this feast should be extended to the Universal Church.

‘O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!’ Thou didst teach us this prayer in 1830 as a safeguard against the dangers of the future. In 1846 the two shepherds of La Salette reminded us of thy tears and exhortations: ‘Pray for poor sinners, pray for the world which is so disturbed.’ To-day the little seer of the grotto of Massabielle brings us thy message: ‘Penitence! Penitence! Penitence!’

We desire to obey thee, O blessed Virgin, to combat in ourselves and all around us that enemy of mankind who is our only real enemy, and sin, that supreme evil which is the source of all others. Praise be to the Almighty, who saved thee from all stain of sin, and thus inaugurated in thee the full restoration of our fallen race. Praise be to thee, who, having no debts of thy own, didst pay our debts with the Blood of thy Son and the tears of His Mother, thus reconciling heaven and earth and crushing the head of the serpent.

Prayer, expiation—the Church from apostolic times has ever urged these thoughts upon us during the days which immediately precede Lent. Dear Mother in heaven, we bless thee for having thus united thy voice to that of our Mother on earth. The world no longer desired, no longer understood, the infallible but indispensable remedy offered by the justice and mercy of God to the misery of man.

Men seemed to have forgotten the words: 'Except you do penance, you shall all perish.’[6] Thy pity wakes us from this fatal stupor, O Mary. Thou knowest our weakness, and hast mingled sweetness in the bitter draught. Thou lavishest temporal favours upon man in order that he may ask of thee eternal blessings. We will not be like those children who welcome their mother’s caresses, but neglect her admonitions and the corrections which her tenderness sought to make acceptable. We will pray and suffer in union with Jesus and thee. By thine assistance during this Lent we will be converted and do penance.

 


[1] Gen. ix. 14-15.
[2] 1 John v. 4.
[3] Ps. xviii. 2-5.
[4] Rom. i. 18-22.
[5] Ibid. i. 28.
[6] Luke xiii. 5.

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

Clouds are gathering over Holy Church. We are reminded on every side of the approach of those days when our Emmanuel will show Himself to us in the pitiable state to which our sins have brought Him. Bethlehem is so soon followed by Calvary. We shall find the Mother of divine grace at the foot of the Cross as we found her at Ephrata. She brought forth her firstborn in joy, but now in tears she is to bring forth those brothers of His whose birth cost her so much. We have shared her joy, and we shall not refuse to weep and suffer with her.

Let us take for our models the saints whom the Church honours to-day. They passed their lives in the contemplation of our Lady’s sorrows, and the Order which they founded has the special mission to spread this devotion. St. Francis of Assisi raised the standard of the Cross anew in a world grown cold. The work of redemption seemed to be taken up afresh, and, as on the great Friday Jesus would not manifest Himself without Mary, the Servites completed the work of the Founder of the Friars Minor. Men regained confidence as they meditated on the Passion of the Son and the Compassion of the Mother.

The two feasts consecrated to the Dolours of our Lady will teach us in due course what place her compassion had in the economy of the Redemption. The Queen of heaven herself showed her predilection for the Order which made itself her apostle, in the striking outpouring of holiness which marked its origin. The simultaneous blooming of seven lilies, gathered on earth to-day by the angels, was a sight new even to heaven. Peter of Verona had a vision of them when they were implanting themselves on Monte Senario; and the future martyr saw the blessed Virgin smile as she gazed on that mountain where countless other flowers sprang up to perfume holy Church. Florence, the city of flowers, had never before given such blooms to God. Hell multiplied its attacks against the noble city, but could not prevail against Mary within its walls. We shall be reminded of these things by the feasts of St. Juliana Falconieri and St. Philip Benizi, which were established before the one we are keeping to-day. Let us unite our gratitude to that which the Church feels for the Religious family of the Servites. The world owes to them the grace of a new development in the knowledge and love of the Mother of God, who became our Mother at the price of unparalleled sufferings.

The lessons read by the Church on this day speak of the merits of our Saints and the favours with which our Lady rewarded their fidelity. February 11, the day first chosen as their common feast, is not the anniversary of the death of any one of them, but the day on which, in the year 1304, after passing through many vicissitudes, their Order obtained the definitive approbation of the Church.

Sæculo tertio decimo, cum Friderici secundi diro schismate, cruentisque factionibus cultiores Italiæ populi scinderentur, providens Dei misericordia præter alios sanctitate illustres, septem e Fiorentina nobilitate viros suscitavit, qui in caritate conjuncti, præclarum fraternæ dilectionis præberent exemplum. Hi, nimirum, Bonfilius Monaldius, Bonajuncta Manettus, Manettus Antelensis, Amedeus de Amideis, Uguccio Uguccionum, Sostenus de Sosteneis et Alexius Falconerius, cum anno trigesimo tertio ejus sæculi, die sacra cælo Virgini receptæ, in quodam piorum hominum conventu, Laudantium nuncupato, ferventius orarent; ab eadem Deipara singulis apparente sunt admoniti, ut sanctius perfectiusque vitæ genus amplecterentur. Re itaque prius cum Florentino præsule collata, hi septem viri, generis nobilitate divitiisque posthabitis, sub vilissimis detritisque vestibus cilicio induti, octava die Septembris in ruralem quamdam ædiculam secessere, ut ea die primordia vitæ sanctioris auspicarentur, qua ipsa Dei Genitrix mortalibus orta sanctissimam vitam inceperat.

Hoc vitæ institutum quam sibi foret acceptum Deus miraculo ostendit. Nam cum paulo deinceps hi septem viri per Florentinam urbem ostiatim eleemosynam emendicarent, accidit, ut repente infantium voce, quos inter fuit sanctus Philippus Benitius quintum ætatis mensem vix ingressus, beatæMariæ Servi acelamarentur: quo deinde nomine semper appellati sunt. Quare, vitandi populi occursus ac solitudinis amore ducti in Senarii montis recessu omnes convenere, ibique cæleste quoddam vitæ genus aggressi sunt. Victitabant enim in speluncis, sola aqua herbisque contenti: vigiliis aliisque asperitatibus corpus attenebant: Christi passionem ac mœstissimæ ejusdem Genitricis dolores assidue meditantes. Quod quum olim sacra Parasceves die impensius exsequerentur, ipsa beata Virgo illis iterato apparens, lugubrem vestem quam induerent, ostendit, sibique acceptissimum fore significavit, ut novum in Ecclesia regularem Ordinem excitarent, qui jugem recoleret ac promoveret memoriam dolorum, quos ipsa pertulit sub cruce Domini. Hæc sanctus Petrus, inclytus Ordinis Prædicatorum martyr, ex familiari cum sanctis illis viris consuetudine ac peculiari etiam Deiparæ visione quum didicisset; iis auctor fuit ut Ordinem Regularem sub appellatione Servorum beatæ Virginis instituerent; qui postea ab Innocentio quarto Pontifice Maximo approbatus fuit.

Porro sancti illi viri, quum plures sibi socios adjunxissent, Italiæ civitates atque oppida, præsertim Etruriæ, excurrere cœperunt, prædicantes ubique Christum cruci fixum, civiles discordias compescentes, et innumeros fere devios ad virtutis semitam revocantes. Neque Italiam modo, sed et Galliam, Germaniam ac Poloniam suis evangelicis laboribus excoluerunt. Denique quum bonum Christi odorem longe lateque diffudissent, portentorum quoque gloria illustres, migrarunt ad Dominum. Sed quos unus veræ fraternitatis ac religionis amor in vita scoiaverat, unum pariter demortuos contexit sepulchrum, unaque populi veneratio prosecuta est. Quapropter Clemensundecimus et Benedictus decimus tertius Pontifices Maximi delatum iisdem a pluribus sæculis individuum cultum confirmarunt: ac Leo decimus tertius, approbatis antea miraculis, post indultam venerationem ad collectivam earumdem invocationem a Deo patratis, eosdem anno quinquagesimo sacerdotii sui Sanctorum honoribus cumulavit eorumque memoriam Officio ac Missa in universa Ecclesia quotannis recolendam instituit.
When in the thirteenth century the most cultured peoples of Italy were divided by factions, and the schism fostered by Frederic II, the merciful providence of God raised up many persons remarkable for their holiness, among whom were seven noble Florentines whose union of spirit gave to the world a striking example of fraternal love. They were Bonfilius Monaldi, Bonagiunta Manetti, Manettus dell' Antella, Amadeus de Amadei, Hugo Lippi, Gerard Sostegni, and Alexis Falconieri. The Mother of God appeared to each of them on the feast of her Assumption, 1233, when they were praying fervently in the Chapel of the pious Confraternity of the Laudesi, and exhorted them to embrace a more perfect life. They took counsel with the Bishop of Florence, and at once bade farewell to their wealth and rank, clothing themselves in hair cloth and old and ragged garments. On September 8 they established themselves in a humble retreat outside the city, desiring to begin their new life on the day when the Mother of God began her own most holy life upon earth.

God showed by a miracle that their resolution was pleasing to him. One day shortly afterwards, when all seven were begging from door to door in Florence, they were hailed by the voices of children, among whom was St. Philip Benizi, then only five months old, as the “Servants of Mary,” which was for the future to be their title. This prodigy and their love of solitude led them to choose Monte Senario as a place of retreat, that thus they might avoid great concourse of people. Their life was truly heavenly. They lived in caves, took no food but herbs and water, and subdued their bodies by vigils and penances. The Passion of Christ and the Dolours of his afflicted Mother were the subject of their continual meditations. One Good Friday, when they were absorbed in fervent prayer, the blessed Virgin appeared to them all in person a second time, showed them the sombre habit they were to adopt, and told them that she wished them to found a new Order of Religious, whose mission was to cultivate and spread devotion to the sorrows which she endured at the foot of the Cross. They were aided in this work by Peter, an illustrious Friar Preacher, who died the death of a martyr. He was their intimate friend, and had been instructed about the new Order in a vision by the blessed Virgin herself. The Order received the name of Servites, or Servants of the blessed Virgin Mary, and was approved by Innocent IV.

The holy Founders were soon joined by many disciples, and began to preach Christ Crucified in the towns and cities of Italy, especially in Tuscany. They brought civil feuds to an end, and recalled numbers of sinners to the paths of virtue. Not only Italy, but France, Germany, and Poland benefited by their apostolic labours, and their miracles made them famous. Finally, after having carried the good odour of Christ into distant lands, they went to God. In life they were one in their love of religion and of the brotherhood, in death they wore united in one tomb and in the veneration of the people. Popes Clement XI. and Benedict XIII. confirmed the cultus which had been paid to them unitedly for many centuries. Leo XIII., having approved this devotion, and recognized the miracles wrought by God in answer to this collective invocation, proceeded to their formal canonization in the fiftieth year of his priesthood, and ordered that their Office and Mass should be said every year throughout the Church.

You made the sorrows of Mary your own, and now she shares her eternal joys with you. The vine with its miraculously ripening grapes, which prefigured your fruitfulness in a frozen world, still yields a sweet odour in this land of exile, and the faithful still appreciate its fruit. Philip and Juliana have long been honoured as branches of this blessed vine, and to-day we pay our homage to the sevenfold root from which they sprang. You rejoiced in the obscurity which covered the life upon earth of the Queen of saints herself, but to-day the glory of Mary pierces all clouds, and no shadow can withdraw the servants from the radiance which surrounds the Mistress. May your glory be increased by the favours you bestow upon men! Teach an aged world to seek warmth at the fire whence you draw a love strong enough to triumph over the world and sacrifice self for God.

O Heart of Mary, pierced by the sword of sorrow, furnace of love which throughout all eternity feeds the fires of the very Seraphim, be our model, our refuge, and our consolation until the dawn of that blissful day which is to be the end of our exile in this vale of tears.

 

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

The Church honours, on this fourteenth day of February, the memory of the holy priest Valentine, who suffered martyrdom towards the middle of the third century. The ravages of time have deprived us of the details of his life and sufferings; so that extremely little is known of our saint. This is the reason of there being no lessons of his life in the Roman liturgy. His name, however, has always been honoured throughout the whole Church, and it is our duty to revere him as one of our protectors during the season of Septuagesima. He is one of those many holy martyrs, who meet us at this period of our year, and encourage us to spare no sacrifice which can restore us to, or increase within us, the grace of God.

Pray, then, O holy martyr, for the faithful, who are so persevering in celebrating thy memory. The day of judgment will reveal to us all thy glorious merits: oh, intercede for us, that we may then be made thy companions at the right hand of the great Judge, and be united with thee eternally in heaven.

Antiphon

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

Oremus

Præsta, quæsumus, omnipotens Deus, ut qui beati Valentini martyris tui natalitia colimus, a cunctis malis imminentibus ejus intercessione liberemur. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
This saint fought even unto death, for the law of his God, and feared not the words of the wicked; for he was set upon a firm rock.

Let us Pray

Grant, we beseech thee, O almighty God, that we who solemnize the festival of blessed Valentine, thy martyr, may, by his intercession, be delivered from all the evils that threaten us. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

 

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

The two brothers whom we are to honour to-day suffered martyrdom in the beginning of the second century, and their memory has ever been celebrated in the Church. The glory of the great ones of this world passes away, and men soon forget even their very names. Historians have oftentimes a difficulty in proving that such heroes ever existed, or, if they did exist, that they flourished at such a period, or achieved anything worth notice. Brescia, the capital of one of the Italian provinces, can scarcely mention the names of those who were its governors or leading men in the second century; and yet here are two of her citizens, whose names will be handed down, with veneration and love, to the end of the world, and the whole of Christendom is filled with the praise of their glorious martyrdom. Glory, then, to these sainted brothers, whose example so eloquently preaches to us the great lesson of our season, fidelity in God's service.

The sufferings which merited for them the crown of immortality, are thus recorded in the liturgy:

Faustinus et Jovita fratres nobiles Brixiani, in multis Italiæ urbibus quo vincti, sæviente Trajani persecutione, ducebantur, acerbissima supplicia perpessi, fortes in Christianæ fidei confessione perstiterunt. Nam Brixiæ diu vinculis constricti, feris etiam objecti in ignemque conjecti, et a bestiis et flamma integri et incolumes servati sunt; inde vero iisdem catenis colligati Mediolanum venerunt, ubi eorum fides tentata exquisitissimis tormentis, tanquam igne aurum, in cruciatibus magis enituit. Postea Romam missi, ab Evaristo Pontifice confirmati, ibi quoque crudelissime torquentur. Denique perducti Neapolim, in ea etiam urbe varie cruciati, vinctis manibus pedibusque in mare demerguntur: unde per angelos mirabiliter erepti sunt. Quare multos et constantia in tormentis, et miraculorum virtute ad Christi fidem converterunt. Postremo reducti Brixiam, initio suscepti ab Adriano imperii, securi percussi, illustrem martyrii coronam acceperunt.
The two brothers, Faustinus and Jovita, were born of a noble family in Brescia. During the persecution under Trajan, they were led captives through various cities of Italy, in each of which they were made to endure most cruel sufferings, by reason of their brave confession of the Christian faith, which nothing could induce them to deny. At Brescia, they were for a long time confined in chains; then were exposed to wild beasts, and cast into fire, from neither of which tortures did they receive hurt or harm. From Brescia they were sent to Milan, still fettered with the same chains: and there their faith was put to the test of every torment that cruelty could devise; but, like gold that is tried by fire, their faith shone the brighter by these sufferings. After this, they were sent to Rome, where they received encouragement from Pope Evaristus; but there, also, they were made to endure most cruel pains. At length they were taken to Naples, and there, again, put to sundry tortures; after which, they were bound hand and foot, and cast into the sea; but were miraculously delivered by angels. Many persons were converted to the true faith, by seeing their courage in suffering, and the miracles they wrought. Finally, they were led back to Brescia, at the commencement of the reign of the Emperor Adrian; there they were beheaded, and received the crown of a glorious martyrdom.

When we compare our trials with yours, noble martyrs of Christ, and our combats with those that you had to fight, how grateful ought we to be to our Lord for having so mercifully taken our weakness into account! Should we have been able to endure the tortures, wherewith you had to purchase heaven, we that are so easily led to break the law of God, so tardy in our conversion, so weak in faith and charity? And yet, we are made for that same heaven which you now possess. God holds out a crown to us also, and we are not at liberty to refuse it. Rouse up our courage, brave martyrs! Obtain for us a spirit of resistance against the world and our evil inclinations; that thus we may confess our Lord Jesus Christ, not only with our lips, but with our works too, and testify, by our conduct, that we are Christians.

 

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

How venerable our saint of to-day, with his hundred and twenty years, and his episcopal dignity, and his martyr-crown! He succeeded the apostle St. James in the see of Jerusalem; he had known Jesus, and had been His disciple; he was related to Jesus, for he was of the house of David; his father was Cleophas, and his mother that Mary, whom the tie of kindred united so closely to the blessed Mother of God that she has been called her sister. What grand titles these of Simeon who comes with all our other martyrs of Septuagesima, to inspirit us to penance! Such a veteran, who had been a contemporary of the Saviour of the world, and was a pastor who could repeat to his flock the very lessons Jesus had given him, could never rejoin his divine Master save by the path of martyrdom, and that martyrdom must be the cross. Like Jesus, then, he dies on a cross; and his death, which happened in the year 106, closes the first period of the Christian era, or, as it is called, the apostolic age. Let us honour this venerable pontiff, whose name awakens within us the recollection of all that is dear to our faith. Let us ask him to extend to us that fatherly love, which nursed the Church of Jerusalem for so many long years. He will bless us from that throne which he won by the cross, and will obtain for us the grace we so much need, the grace of conversion.

The following is the lesson given on St. Simeon:

Simeon, filius Cleophæ, post Jacobum proximus Hierosolymis ordinatus episcopus, Trajano imperatore, apud Atticura consularem est accusatus, quod christianus esset, et Christi propin quus. Comprehendebantur enim omnes eo tempore, quicumque ex genere David orti essent. Quare multis cruciatus tormentis, eodem passionis genere, quod Salvator noster subierat, afficitur, mirantibus omnibus, quod homo ætate confectus (erat enim centum et viginti annorum) acerbissimos crucis dolores fortiter constanterque pateretur.
Simeon, the son of Cleophas, was ordained bishop of Jerusalem, and was Saint James’s immediate successor in that see. In the reign of the Emperor Trajan, he was accused to the Consul Atticus of being a Christian and a relation of Christ; for, at this time, all they that were of the house of David were seized. After having endured various tortures, Simeon was put to death by the same punishment which our Saviour suffered, and all the beholders were filled with astonishment to see how, at his age (for he was a hundred and twenty years old), he could go through the intense pains of crucifixion, without showing a sign of fear or irresolution.

Receive, most venerable saint, the humble homage of our devotion. What is all human glory compared with thine? Thou wast of the family of Christ; thy teaching was that which His divine lips had given thee; thy charity for men was formed on the model of His sacred Heart; and thy death was the closest representation of His. We may not claim the honour thou hadst, of calling ourselves brothers of the Lord Jesus: but pray for us, that we may be of those of whom He thus speaks: ‘Whosoever shall do the will of My Father that is in heaven, he is My brother, and sister, and mother.’[1] We have not, like thee, received the doctrine of salvation from the very lips of Jesus; but we have it in all its purity, by means of holy tradition, of which thou art one of the earliest links; oh, obtain for us a docility to this word of God, and pardon for our past disobedience. We have not to be nailed to a cross, as thou wast; but the world is thickly set with trials, to which our Lord Himself gives the name of the cross. These we must bear with patience, if we would have part with Jesus in His glory. Pray for us, O Simeon, that henceforth we may be more faithful; that we may never more become rebels to our duty; and that we may repair the faults we have so often committed by infringing the law of our God.

 


 

[1] St. Matt. xii. 50.

 

 

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