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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 saint we are to honour to-day is one of the sublimest and most lucid interpreters of divine truth. He rose up in the Church many centuries after the apostolic age, nay, long after the four great Latin doctors, Ambrose, Augustine, Jerome, and Gregory. The Church, the ever young and joyful mother, is justly proud of her Thomas, and has honoured him with the splendid title of the angelical doctor, on account of the extraordinary gift of understanding wherewith God had blessed him; just as his contemporary and friend, St. Bonaventure, has been called the seraphic doctor, on account of the wonderful unction which abounds in the writings of this worthy disciple of St. Francis. Thomas of Aquin is an honour to mankind, for perhaps there never existed a man whose intellect surpassed his. He is one of the brightest ornaments of the Church, for not one of her doctors has equalled him in the clearness and precision wherewith he has explained her doctrines. He received the thanks of Christ Himself, for having well written of Him and His mysteries. How welcome ought this feast of such a saint to be to us during this season of the year, when our main study is our return and conversion to God! What greater blessing could we have than to come to the knowledge of God? Has not our ignorance of God, of His claims, and of His perfections, been the greatest misery of our past lives? Here we have a saint whose prayers are most efficacious in procuring for us that knowledge, which is unspotted, and converteth souls, and giveth wisdom to little ones, and gladdeneth the heart, and enlighteneth the eyes.[1] Happy we if this spiritual wisdom be granted us! We shall then see the vanity of everything that is not eternal, the righteousness of the divine commandments, the malice of Bin, and the infinite goodness wherewith God treats us when we repent.

Let us learn from the Church the claims of the angelical doctor to our admiration and confidence.

Præelarum Christiani orbis decus et Ecciesiæ lumen, beatissiinus vir Thomas, Landulpho Comite Aquinate et Theodora Neapolitana, nobilibus parcntibus natus, futuræ in Deiparam devotionis affectum adhuc infantulus ostendit. Nam chartulam ab eo inventam, in qua salutatio angelica scripta erat, frustra adnitente nutrice, compressa manu valide retinuit, et a matre per vim abreptam, ploratu et gestu repetiit, ac mox redditam deglutivit. Quintum annum agens, monacbis sancti Benedicti Cassinatibns custodiendus traditur. Inde Neapolim studiorum causa missus, jam adolesoens Fratrum Prædicatorum Ordinem suscepit. Sed matre ac fratribus id indigne ferentibus, Lutetiam Parisiorum mittitur. Quem fratres in itinere per vim raptum in arcem castri Sancii Joannis perducunt, ubi varie exagitatus,utsanctum propositum mutaret, mulierem etiam, quæ ad labefactandam ejus constantiam introducta fuerat, titione fugavit. Mox beatus juvenis, flexis genibus ante signum crucis orans, ibique somno eorreptus, per quietem sentire visus est sibi ab angelis constringi lumbos: quo ex tempore omni postea libidinis sensu caruit. Sororibus, quæ, ut eum a pio consilio removerent, in castrum venerant, persuasit ut, contemptis curia sæcularibus, ad exercitationem cœlestis vitæ se conferrent.

Emissus e castro per fenestram, Neapolim reducitur: unde Romam, postea Parisium a fratre Joanne Theutonico, Ordinis Prædicatorum generali magistro, ductus, Alberto Magno doctore, philosophiæ ac theologise operam dedit. Viginti quinque annos natus, magister est appellatus, publiceque philosophos ac theologos summa cura laude est interpretatus. Nunquam se lectioni aut scriptioni dedit, nisi post orationem. In difficultatibus locorum sacræ Scripturæ, ad orationem jejunium adhibebat. Quin etiam sodali suo fratri Reginaldo dicere solebat, quidquid sciret non tam studio aut labore suo peperisse, quam divinitus traditum accepisse. Neapoli, cum ad imaginem Crucifixi vehementius oraret, hanc vocem audivit: Bene scripsisti de me, Thoma: quam ergo mercedem accipies? Cui ille: Non aliara, Domine, nisi teipsum. Collationes patrum assidue pervolutabat; et nullum fuit scriptorum genus in quo non esset diligentissime versatus. Scripta ejus et multitudine, et varietate et facilitate explicandi res difficiles adeo excellunt, ut uberrima atque incorrupta illius doctrina, cum revelatis veritatibus mire consentiens, aptissima sit ad omnium temporum errores pervincendos.

A summo Pontifice Urbano quarto Roman vocatus, ejus jussu ecclesiasticum lucubravit Officium in Corporis Christi solemnitate celebrandum; oblatos vero honores, et Neapolitanum archiepiscopatum etiam deferente Clemente quarto recusavit. A prædicatione divini verbi non desistebat; quod cura faceret per octavam Paschæ in basilica sancti Petri, mulierem, quæ ejus fimbriam tetigerat, a fluxu sanguinis liberavit. Missus a beato Gregorio decimo ad Concilium Lugdunense, in monasterio Fossæ Novæ in morbum incidit, ubi segrotus Cantica canticorum explanavit. Ibidem obiit, quinquagenarius, anno salutis millesimo ducentesimo septuagesimo quarto, Nonis Martii. Miraculis etiam mortuus claruit; quibus probatis, a Joanne vigesimo secundo in sanctorum numerum relatus est, anno millesimo trecentesimo vigesimo tertio; translato postea ejus corpore Tolosam, ex mandato beati Urbani quinti. Cum sanctis angelicis spiritibus non minus innocentia quam ingenio comparatus, doctoris angelici nomen jure est adeptus, eidem auctoritate sancti Pii quinti confirmatum. Leo autem decimus tertius, libentissime excipiens postulationes et vota omnium pene sacrorum antistitum orbis Catholici, ad tot præcipue philosophicorum systematum a veritate aberrantium luera propulsandam, ad incrementa scientiarum, et communem humani generis utilitatem, eum ex sacrorum rituum Congregationis consulto, per apostolicas litteras cœlestem patronum scholarum omnium Catholicarum declaravit et instituit.
The distinguished ornament of the Christian world and light of the Church, the most blessed man Thomas, was born of noble parents, his father being Landulph, Count of Aquino, and his mother a rich Neapolitan lady, by name Theodora. While yet an infant he gave proof of his future devotion towards the Mother of God; for having found a leaflet on which was written the angelical salutation, he clenched it so fast that the nurse tried in vain to take it from his hand. His mother, however, having forced it from him, the child succeeded by tears and signs, in recovering the paper, which he immediately swallowed. When he was five years old he was sent to Monte Cassino, that he might receive from the Benedictine monks his first training. Thence he was sent to Naples, where he went through a course of studies, and, young as he was, joined the Order of Friars Preachers. This step caused great displeasure to his mother and brothers, and it was therefore deemed advisable to send him to Paris, He was waylaid by his brothers, who seized him, and imprisoned him in the castle of Saint John. After having made several unsuccessful attempts to induce him to abandon the holy life he had chosen, they assailed his purity, by sending to him a wicked woman: but he drove her from his chamber with a firebrand. The young saint then threw himself on his knees before a crucifix. Having prayed some time, he fell asleep, and it seemed to him that two angels approached him, and tightly girded his loins. From that time forward, he never suffered the slightest feeling against purity. His sisters also had come to the castle, and tried to make him change his mind; but he, on the contrary, persuaded them to despise the world, and devote themselves to the exercise of a holy life.

It was contrived that he should escape through a window of the castle, and return to Naples. He was thence taken by John the Teutonic, the General of the Dominican Order, first to Rome and then to Paris, in which latter city ho was taught philosophy and theology by Albert the Great. At the age of twenty-five, he received the title of doctor, and explained in the public schools, and in a manner that made him the object of universal admiration, the writings of philosophers and theologians. He always applied himself to prayer, before reading or writing anything. When he met with any difficult passage in the sacred Scriptures, he both fasted and prayed. He used often to say to his companion, brother Reginald, that if he knew anything, it was more a gift from God, than the fruit of his own study and labour. One day, when at Naples, as he was praying with more than his usual fervour, before a crucifix, he heard these words: ‘Well hast thou written of me, Thomas! What reward wouldst thou have me give thee?’ He answered ‘None other, Lord, than thyself.’ His favourite spiritual book was the Conferences of the Fathers, and there was not a book which he had not most carefully read. His writings are so extraordinary, not only for their number and variety, but also for their clearness in explaining difficult points of doctrine, that his copious and sound teaching, so wonderfully consonant with revealed truth, is most apt for utterly refuting the errors of all ages.

Being called to Rome by Pope Urban IV., he composed, at his command, the ecclesiastical Office for the solemnity of Corpus Christi; but he refused to accept any honours, as likewise the archbishopric of Naples offered to him by Pope Clement IV. He was most zealous in preaching the word of God. On one occasion, during Easter week, as he was preaching in the church of St. Peter, a woman touched the hem of his habit, and was cured of an issue of blood. He was sent by Gregory X. to the Council of Lyons; but having reached Fossa Nova, he fell sick, and was received as a guest in the monastery of that place, where he wrote a commentary on the Canticle of Canticles. There he died in the fiftieth year of his age, in the year of our Lord 1274 on the Nones of March (March 7). His sanctity was made manifest after his death, by miracles: which being proved, he was canonized by Pope John XXII. in the year 1323. His body was translated to Toulouse by command of blessed Urban V. Being comparable to the angels, no less by his innocence than by his genius, he has received the title of angelical doctor, confirmed to him by the authority of St. Pius V. Pope Leo XIII. joyfully acceding to the desires and petitions of the bishops of the Catholic world, by a decree of the sacred Congregation of rites and by letters apostolic, ordained and declared him the heavenly patron of all Catholic schools; and this especially for the purpose of repelling the evil of so many philosophical systems abandoned to error, for the increase of knowledge, and for the common utility of mankind.

The Dominican Order, of which St. Thomas is one of the greatest ornaments, has inserted the three following hymns in its liturgy of his feast:

Hymn

Exsultet mentis jubilo
Laudans turba fidelium,
Errorum pulso nubilo
Per novi solis radium.

Thomas in mundi vespere,
Fudit thesauros gratiæ:
Donis pienus ex æthere
Morum et sapientiæ.

De cujus fonte luminis,
Verbi coruscant faculæ,
Scripturæ sacræ Numinis,
Et veritatis regulæ.

Fulgens doctrinæ radiis,
Clarus vitæ munditia,
Splendens miris prodigiis,
Dat toti mundo gaudia.

Laus Patri sit, ac Genito
Simulque sancto Flamini,
Qui sancti Thomæ merito
Nos cœli jungat agmini.

Amen.
Let the assembly of the faithful exult in spiritual joy,
and give praise to God,
who has made a new sun to shine in our world,
and disperse the clouds of error.

It was in the evening of the world
that Thomas shed his treasures of heavenly light.
Heaven had enriched him
with gifts of virtue and wisdom:

From this fountain of light
we have derived a brighter knowledge of the Word,
the understanding of the divine Scriptures
and the rules of truth.

The effulgent rays of his wisdom,
the light of his spotless life,
and the splendour of his miracles,
have filled the universe with joy.

Praise, then, be to the Father, and to the Son,
and to the Holy Ghost.
And may our God, by the intercession and merits of his saint,
admit us into the choir of the blessed in heaven.

Amen.

Hymn

Thomas insignis genere,
Claram ducens originem,
Subit ætatis teneræ
Prædicatorum Ordinem.

Typum gessit luciferi,
Splendens in cœtu nubium,
Plusquam doctores cæteri
Purgans dogma Gentilium.

Profunda scrutans fluminum,
In lucem pandit abdita,
Dum supra sensus hominum
Obscura facit cognita.

Fit paradisi fluvius,
Quadripartite pervius;
Fit Gedeonis gladius,
Tuba, lagena, radius.

Laus Patri sit, ac Genito
Simulque sancto Flamini,
Qui sancti Thomæ merito,
Nos cœli jungat agmini.

Amen.
Noble by birth and parentage,
Thomas, while in the bloom
of youth, embraced
the Order of Preachers.

Like to the star of morn,
brightly does he shine amidst the luminaries of earth,
and, more than any doctor of the Church,
refutes the doctrines of the Gentiles.

He explores the depth of mysteries,
and brings to light the hidden gems of truth,
for he teaches us what the mind of man
had else never understood.

God gives him to the Church as a fountain of wisdom,
like to that four-branched river of paradise.
He made him to be her Gedeon’s sword,
her trumpet, her vase, her torch.

Praise, then, be to the Father, and to the Son,
and to the Holy Ghost.
And may our God, by the intercession and merits of his saint,
admit us into the choir of the blessed in heaven.

Amen.

Hymn

Lauda, mater Ecclesia,
Thomæ felicem exitum,
Qui pervenit ad gaudia
Per Verbi vitæ meritum.

Fossa Nova tunc suscipit
Thecam thesauri gratiæ,
Cum Christus Thomam efficit
Hæredem regni gloriæ.

Manens doctrinæ veritas,
Et funeris integritas,
Mira fragrans suavitas,
Ægris collata sanitas.

Monstrat hunc dignum laudibus
Terræ, ponto, et superis;
Nos juvet suis precibus,
Deo commendet meritis.

Laus Patri sit ac Genito,
Simulque sancto Flamini,
Qui sancti Thomæ merito
Nos cœli jungat agmini.

Amen.
Dear Church, our mother!
the happy death of thy Thomas deserves a hymn of praise.
By the merits of him that is the Word of life,
he is now in endless joy.

It was at Fossa Nova that the rich treasury
of grace was welcomed as a guest.
It was there that he received from Christ
the inheritance of eternal glory.

He has left us the fruits of truth;
he has loft us his glorious relics
which breathe forth a heavenly fragrance,
and work cures for the suffering sick.

Right well, then, is honour his due:
earth, and sea, and heaven, all may give him praise.
May his prayers and merits
intercede for us with God.

Praise, then, be to the Father, and to the Son,
and to the Holy Ghost.
And may our God, by the intercession and merits of his saint,
admit us into the choir of the blessed in heaven.

Amen.

How shall we worthily praise thee, most holy Doctor! How shall we thank thee for what thou hast taught us? The rays of the divine Sun of justice beamed strongly upon thee, and thou hast reflected them upon us. When we picture thee contemplating truth, we think of those words of our Lord: 'Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God.’[2] Thy victory over the concupiscence of the flesh merited for thee the highest spiritual delights; and our Redeemer chose thee, because of the purity of thy angelic soul, to compose for His Church the Office whereby she should celebrate the divine Sacrament of His love. Learning did not impair thy humility. Prayer was ever thy guide in thy search after truth; and there was but one reward for which, after all thy labours, thou wast ambitious, the possession of God.

Thy life, alas! was short. The very masterpiece of thy angelical writings was left unfinished. But thou hast not lost thy power of working for the Church. Aid her in her combats against error. She holds thy teachings in the highest estimation, because she feels that none of her saints has ever known so well as thou, the secrets and mysteries of her divine Spouse. Now, perhaps more than in any other age, truths are decayed among the children of men;[3] strengthen us in our faith, procure us light. Check the conceit of those shallow self-constituted philosophers, who dare to sit in judgment on the actions and decisions of the Church, and to force their contemptible theories upon a generation that is too ill-instructed to detect their fallacies. The atmosphere around us is gloomy with ignorance; loose principles, and truths spoilt by cowardly compromise, are the fashion of our times; pray for us; bring us back to that bold and simple acceptance of truth, which gives life to the intellect and joy to the heart.

Pray, too, for the grand Order which loves thee so devoutly, and honours thee as one of the most illustrious of its many glorious children. Draw down upon the family of thy patriarch St. Dominic the choicest blessings, for it is one of the most powerful auxiliaries of God’s Church.

We are on the eve of the holy season of Lent, preparing for the great work of earnest conversion of our lives. Thy prayers must gain for us the knowledge both of the God we have offended by our sins, and of the wretched state of a soul that is at enmity with its Maker. Knowing this, we shall hate our sins; we shall desire to purify our souls in the Blood of the spotless Lamb; we shall generously atone for our faults by works of penance

 


[1] Ps. xviii. 8, 9.
[2] St. Matt. v. 8.
[3] Ps. xi. 2.

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

This day month we were keeping the feast of St. John of Matha, whose characteristic virtue was charity; our saint of to-day was like him: love for his neighbour led him to devote himself to the service of them that most needed help. Both are examples to us of what is a principal duty of this present season; they are models of fraternal charity. They teach us this great lesson, that our love of God is false if our hearts are not disposed to show mercy to our neighbour, and help him in his necessities and troubles. It is the same lesson as that which the beloved disciple gives us, when he says: 'He that hath the substance of this world, and shall see his brother in need, and shall put up his mercy from him, how doth the charity of God abide in him?’[1] But if there can be no love of God where there is none for our neighbour, the love of our neighbour itself is not genuine unless it be accompanied by a love of our Creator and Redeemer. The charity which the world has set up, which it calls philanthropy, and which it exercises not in the name of God, but solely for the sake of man, is a mere delusion; it is incapable of producing love between those who give and those who receive, and its results must necessarily be unsatisfactory. There is but one tie which can make men love one another: that tie is God, who created them all, and commands them all to be one in Him. To serve mankind for its own sake, is to make a god of it; and even viewing the workings of the two systems in this single point of view—the relief they afford to temporal suffering—what comparison is there between mere philanthropy, and that supernatural charity of the humble disciples of Christ, who make Him the very motive and end of all they do for their afflicted brethren? The saint we honour today, was called John of God, because the name of God was ever on his lips. His heroic acts of charity had no other motive than that of pleasing God; God alone was the inspirer of the tender love he had for his suffering fellow-creatures. Let us imitate his example, for our Lord assures us that He considers as done to Himself whatsoever we do even for the least of His disciples.

The liturgy thus portrays the virtues of our saint:

Joannes de Deo, ex Catholicis piisque parentibus in oppido Montis-Majoris, junioris regni Lusitaniæ natus, quam sublimiter in sortem Domini fuerit electus, insuetus splendor super ejus domo refulgens, sonitusque æris campani sua sponte emissus, ab ipso ejus nativitatis tempore non obscure prænuntiarunt. A laxiorisvivendi ratione, divina operante virtute, revocatus, magnæ sanetilatis exhibere specimen cœpit, et ob auditam prædicationem verbi Dei sic ad meliora se excitatum sensit, ut jam ab ipso sanctioris vitæ rudimento consummatum aliquid, perfectumque visus sit attigisse. Bonis omnibus in pauperes carceribus inclusos erogatis, admirabilis pœnitentiæ, suique ipsius contemptus cuncto populo spectaculum factus, a plerisque ceu demena graviter afflictus, in carcorem amentibus deslinatum conjicitur. At Joannes cœlesti charitate magis incensus, gemino atque ampio valetudinario ex piorum eleemosynis in civitate Granatensi exstructo, jactoque novi Ordinis fundamento, Ecclesiam nova prole fœcundavit, Fratrum hospitalitatis, infirmis præclaro animarum corporumque profectu inservientium, et longe lateque per orbem diffusorum.

Pauperibus ægrotis, quos propriis quandoque humeris domum deferebat, nulla re ad animæ corporisque salutem proficua deerat. Effusa quoque extra nosocomium charitate, indigentibus mulieribus viduis, et præcipue virginibus periclitantibus, clam alimenta subministrabat, curamque indefessam adhibehat ut carnis coneupiscentiam a proximis hujusmodi vitio inquinatis exterminaret. Cum autem maximum in regio Granatensi valetudinario excitatum fuisset ineendium, Joannes impavidus prosiliit in ignem, hue illuc diseurrens, quousque tum infirmos humeris exportatos, tum lectulos e fenestris projectos ab igne vindicavit, ac per dimidiam horam inter flammas jam in immensum succrescentes versatus, exinde divinitus incolumis, universis civibus admirantibus, exivit, in schola cliaritatis edocens, segniorem in eum fuisse ignem qui foris usserat, quam qui intus accen derat.

Multiplici aspcritatum genere, demississiiua obcdientia, extrema paupertate, orandi studio, rerum divinarum contemplatione, ac in beatam Virginem pietate mirifico excelluit, et lacrymarum dono enituit. Denique gravi morbo correptus, omnibus Ecclcsiae sacramentis rite sancteque refcctus, viribus licet destitutus. propriis indulus vestibus e lectulo surgens, ac provolutus in genua, manu et corde Christum Dominum e cruce pendentem perstringens: octavo Idus Martii, anno millesimo quingentesimo quinquagesimo, obiit in osculo Domini: quem etiam mortuus tenuit nec dimisit, et in eadem corporis constitutione sex circiter horas, quousque inde dimotus fuisset, tota civitate inspectante, mirabiliter permansit, odorem mire fragrantem diffundens. Quem ante et post obitum plutimis miraculis darum Alexander octavus, Pontifex maximus, in sanctorum numerum retulit; et Leo decimus tertius, ex sacrorum catholici orbis antistitum voto, ac rituum congregationis con sulto, cœlestem omnium hospitalium et infirmorum ubique degentium patronum declaravit, ipsiusque nomen in agonizantium litaniis invocari præcepit.
John of God was born of Catholic and virtuous parents, in Portugal, in the town of Montemor. At his birth, a bright light shone upon the house, and the church bell was heard to ring of itself; God thus evincing to what great things he destined this his servant. For some time he fell into a lax way of living; but was reclaimed by God’s grace, and led a very holy life. His conversion was effected by his hearing a sermon, and so fervently did he practise the exercises of a devout life, that, from the very first, he seemed to have attained the height of perfection. He gave whatsoever he possessed to the poor who were in prison. Extraordinary were the penances he inflicted on himself; and the contempt he had for himself induced him to do certain things, which led some people to accuse him of madness, so that he was for some time confined in a madhouse. His charity only increased by such treatment. He collected alms sufficient to build two large hospitals in the city of Granada, where also he began the new Order, wherewith he enriched the Church. This Order was called the Institute of Friars Hospitallers. Its object was to assist the sick, both in their spiritual and corporal wants. Its success was very great, and it had houses in almost all parts of the world.

The saint often carried the sick poor on his own shoulders to the hospital, and there he provided them with everything they could want, whether for soul or body. His charity was not confined within the limits of his hospitals. He secretly provided food for indigent widows, and girls whose virtue was exposed to danger. Nothing could exceed the zeal wherewith he laboured to reclaim such as had fallen into sins of impurity. On occasion of an immense fire breaking out in the royal hospital of Granada, John fearlessly threw himself into the midst of the flames. He went through the several wards, taking the sick upon his shoulders, and throwing the beds through the windows, so that all were saved. He remained half an hour amidst the flames, which raged with wildest fury in every part of the building. He was miraculously preserved from the slightest injury, and came forth to the astonishment of the whole city, teaching the people, who had witnessed what had happened, that the disciples of charity have a fire within their hearts more active than any which could burn the body.

Among the virtues wherein he wonderfully excelled, may be mentioned his many practices of bodily mortilication, profound obedience, extreme poverty, love of prayer, contemplation, and devotion to the blessed Virgin. He also possessed, in an extraordinary degree, the gift of tears. At length, falling seriously ill, he fervently received the last Sacraments. Though reduced to a state of utter weakness, he dressed himself, rose from his bed, fell on his knees, devoutly took the crucifix into his hands, pressed it to his heart, and kissing it, died on the eighth of the Ides of March (March 8) in the year 1550. He remained in this same attitude with the crucifix still in his hand, for about six hours after his death. The entire city came to see the holy corpse, which gave forth a heavenly fragrance. The body was then removed, in order that it might be buried. God honoured his servant by many miracles, both before and after his death, and he was canonized by Pope Alexander VIII. Leo XIII., at the desire of the bishops of the Catholic world, and having consulted the sacred congregation of rites, declared him the heavenly patron of all hospitals and of the sick in all places, and ordered his name to be inserted in the litany for the dying.

What a glorious life was thine, O John of God! It was one of charity, and of miracles wrought by charity. Like Vincent of Paul thou wast poor, and, in thy early life, a shepherd-boy like him; but the charity which filled thy heart gave thee a power to do what worldly influence and riches never can. Thy name and memory are dear to the Church; they deserve to be held in benediction by all mankind, for thou didst spend thy life in serving thy fellow-creatures, for God’s sake. That motive gave thee a devotedness to the poor, which is an impossibility for those who befriend them from mere natural sympathy. Philanthropy may be generous, and its workings may be admirable for ingenuity and order; but it never can look upon the poor man as a sacred object, because it refuses to see God in him. Pray for the men of this generation, that they may at length desist from perverting charity into a mere mechanism of relief. The poor are the representatives of Christ, for He Himself has willed that they be such; and if the world refuse to accept them in this their exalted character, if it deny their resemblance to our Redeemer, it may succeed in degrading the poor, but by this very degradation it will make them its enemies. Thy predilection, O John of God, was for the sick; have pity, therefore, on our times, which are ambitious to eliminate the supernatural, and exclude God from the world by what is called secularization of society. Pray for us, that we may see how evil a thing it is to have changed the Christian for the worldly spirit. Enkindle holy charity within our hearts, that during these days, when we are striving to draw down the mercy of God upon ourselves, we also may show mercy. May we, as thou didst, imitate the example of our blessed Redeemer, who gave Himself to us His enemies, and deigned to adopt us as His brethren. Protect also the Order thou didst institute, which has inherited thy spirit; that it may prosper, and spread in every place the sweet odour of that charity, which is its very name.


[1] 1 St. John iii. 17

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

The period intervening between the Purification of our blessed Lady and Ash Wednesday (when it occurs at its latest date), gives us thirty-six days; and these offer us feasts of every order of saint. The apostles have given us St. Mathias, and St. Peter’s Chair at Antioch; the martyrs have sent us, from their countless choir, Simeon, Lucius, Blase, Valentine, Faustinus and Jovita, Perpetua and Felicitas, and the forty soldiers of Sebaste, whose feast is kept to-morrow; the holy pontiffs have been represented by Titus, Andrew Corsini, and also by Cyril of Alexandria and Peter Damian, who, like Thomas of Aquin, are doctors of the Church; the confessors have produced Romuald of Camaldoli, John of Matha, John of God, the Seven Founders of the Servites, and the angelic prince Casimir; the virgins have gladdened us with the presence of Agatha, Dorothy, Apollonia, and Scholastica, three wreathed with the red roses of martyrdom, and the fourth with the fair lilies of the enclosed garden[1] of her Spouse; and lastly, we have had a penitent saint, Margaret of Cortona. The state of Christian marriage is the only one that has not yet deputed a saint during this season, which is less rich in feasts than most of the year. The deficiency is supplied to-day by the admirable Frances of Rome.

Having, for forty years, led a most saintly life in the married state, upon which she entered when but twelve years of age, Frances retired from the world, where she had endured every sort of tribulation. But she had given her heart to her God long before she withdrew to the cloister. Her whole life had been spent in the exercise of the highest Christian perfection, and she had ever received from our Lord the sublimest spiritual favours. Her amiable disposition had won for her the love and admiration of her husband and children: the rich venerated her as their model, the poor respected her as their devoted benefactress and mother.

God recompensed her angelic virtues by these two special graces: the almost uninterrupted sight of her guardian angel, and the most sublime revelations. But there is one trait of her life, which is particularly striking, and reminds us forcibly of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, and of St. Jane Frances Chantal: her austere practices of penance. Such an innocent, and yet such a mortified, life is full of instruction for us. How can we think of murmuring against the obligation of mortification, when we find a saint like this practising it during her whole life? True, we are not bound to imitate her in the manner of her penance; but penance we must do, if we would confidently approach that God who readily pardons the sinner when he repents, but whose justice requires atonement and satisfaction.

The Church thus describes the life, virtues, and miracles of St. Frances.

Francisca, nobilis matrona romana, ab ineunte ætate illustria dedit virtutum exempla: etenim pueriles ludos, et illecebras mundi respuens, solitudine, et oratione magnopere delectabatur. Undecim annos nata virginitatem suam Deo consecrare, et monasterium ingredi proposuit. Parentum taraen voluntati humiliter obteroperans, Laurentio de Pontianis, juveni æque diviti ac nobili nupsit. In matrimonio arctioris vitæ propositum, quantum licuit, semper retinuit: a spectaculis, conviviis, aliisque hujusmodi oblectamentis abhorrens, lanea ac vulgari veste utens, et quidquid a domesticis curis supererat temporis, orationi, aut proximorum utilitati tribuens, in id vero maxima sollicitudine incumbens, ut matronas romanas a pompis sæculi, et ornatus vanitate revocaret. Quapropter domum Oblatarum, sub regula sancti Benedicti, Congregationis Montis Oliveti, adhuc viro alligata, in Urbe instiiuit. Viri exilium, bonorum jacturam, ac universæ domus mcerorem non modo constantissime toleravit, sed gratias agens cum beato Job, illud frequenter usurpabat: Dominus dedit, Dominus abstulit: sit nomen Domini benedictum.

Viro defuncto, ad prædictam Oblatarum domum convolans, nudis pedibus, fune ad collum alligato, humi prostrata, multis cum lacrymis, earum numero adscribi suppliciter postulavit. Voti mpos facta, licet esset omnium mater, non alio tamen quam ancillæ, vilissimæ que feminæ, et immunditiæ vasculi titulo gloriabatur. Quam vilem sui existimationem, et verbo declaravit, et exemplo. Sæpe enim e suburbana vinea ievertens, et lignorum fascem proprio capiti impositum deferens, vel eisdem onustum agens per Urbem asellum, pauperibus subveniebat, in quos etiam largas eleemosynas erogabat; ægrotantesque in xenodochiis visitans, non corporali tantum cibo, sed salutaribus monitis recreabat. Corpus suum vigiliis, jejuniis, cilicio, ferreo cingulo, crebrisque flagellis, in servitutem redigere jugiter satagebat. Cibum illi semel in die, herbæ et legumina: aqua potum præbuit. Hos tamen corporis cruciatus aliquando confessarii mandato, a cujus ore nutuque pendebat, modice temperavit.

Divina mysteria, præsertim vero Christi Domini Passionem, tanto mentis ardore, tantaque lacrymarum vi contemplabatur, ut præ doloris magnitudine pene confici videretur. Sæpe etiam cum oraret, maxime sumpto sanctissimæ Eucharistiæ sacramento, spiritu in Deum elevata, ac cœlestium contemplatione rapta, immobilis permanebat. Quapropter humani generishostis variis eam contumeliis ac verberibus a proposito dimovere conabatur: quem tamen illa imperterrita semper elusit, angeli præsertim præsidio, cujus familiari consuetudine gloriosum de eo triumphum reportavit. Gratia curationum, et prophetiæ dono enituit, quo et futura prædixit, et cordium secreta penetravit. Non semel aquæ, vel per rivum decurrentes, vele cœlo labentes, intactain prorsus, dum Deo vacaret, reliquerunt. Modica panis fragmenta., quæ vix tribus sororibus reficiendis fuissent satis, sic ejus precibus Dominus multiplicavit, ut quindecim in de exsaturatis, tantum superfuerit, ut canistrum impleverit: et aliquando, earumdem sororum extra Urbem mense Januario ligna parantium, sitim recentis uvæ racemis ex vite in arbore pendentibus mirabiliter obtentis, abunde expleverit. Denique meritis, et miraculis clara, migravit ad Dominum, anno ætatis suæ quinquagesimo sexto, quam Paulus quintus, Pontifex maximus, in sanctarum numerum retulit.
Frances, a noble lady of Rome, led a most virtuous life, even in her earliest years. She despised all childish amusements, and worldly pleasures, her only delight being solitude and prayer. When eleven years old, she resolved on consecrating her virginity to God, and seeking admission into a monastery. But she humbly yielded to the wishes of her parents, and married a young and rich nobleman, by name Lorenzo Ponziani. As far as it was possible, she observed, in the married state, the austerities of the most perfect life to which she had aspired. She carefully shunned theatrical entertainments, banquets, and other such amusements. Her dress was of serge, and extremely plain. Whatever time remained after she had fulfilled her domestic duties was spent in prayer and works of charity. But her zeal was mainly exercised in endeavouring to persuade the ladies of Rome, to shun the world, and vanity in dress. It was with a view to this that she founded during her husband’s life, the house of Oblates of the Congregation of Monte Oliveto, under the rule of Saint Benedict. She bore her husband’s banishment, the loss of all her goods, and the trouble which befell her whole family, not only with heroic patience, but was frequently heard to give thanks, saying with holy Job: 'The Lord hath given, and the Lord hath taken away: blessed be the name of the Lord.’

At the death of her husband, she fled to the aforesaid house of Oblates, and there, barefooted, with a rope tied round her neck, and prostrate on the ground, she humbly, and with many tears, begged admission. Her petition being granted, she, though mother o the whole community, gloried in calling herself everyone’s servant, and a worthless woman, and a vessel of dishonour. She evinced the contempt she had for herself by her conduct, as well as by her expressions. Thus, when returning from a vineyard in the suburbs, she would go through the city, sometimes carrying faggots on her head, sometimes driving an ass laden with them. She looked after, and bestowed abundant alms upon the poor. She visited the sick in the hospitals, and consoled them, not only with corporal food, but with spiritual advice. She was untiring in her endeavours to bring her body into subjection, by watchings, fasting, wearing a hair-shirt and an iron girdle, and by frequent disciplines. Her food, which she took but once in the day, consisted of herbs and pulse, and her only drink was water. But she would somewhat relent in these corporal austerities, as often as she was requested to do so by her confessor, whom she obeyed with the utmost exactitude.

Her contemplation of the divine mysteries, and especially of the Passion, was made with such intense fervour and abundance of tears, that she seemed as though she would die with grief. Frequently, too, when she was praying, and above all after holy Communion, she would remain motionless, with her soul fixed on God, and rapt in heavenly contemplation. The enemy of mankind seeing this, endeavoured to frighten her out of so holy a life, by insults and blows; but she feared him not, invariably baffled his attempts, and, by the assistance of her angel guardian, whose visible presence was granted to her, she gained a glorious victory. God favoured her with the gift of healing the sick, as also with that of prophecy, whereby she foretold future events, and could read the secrets of hearts. More than once, when she was intent on prayer, either in the bed of a torrent, or during a storm of rain, she was not touched by the water. On one occasion, when all the bread they had was scarcely enough to provide a meal for three of the sisters, she besought our Lord, and he multiplied the bread; so that after fifteen persons had eaten as much as they needed, there was sufficient left to fill a basket. At another time, when the sisters were gathering wood outside the city walls, in the month of January, she amply quenched their thirst by offering them bunches of fresh grapes, which she miraculously obtained from a vine hanging on a tree. Her virtues and miracles procured for her the greatest veneration from all. Our Lord called her to himself in the fifty-sixth year of her age, and she was canonized by Pope Paul the fifth.

O Frances, sublime model of every virtue! thou wast the glory of Christian Koine, and the ornament of thy sex. How insignificant are the pagan heroines of old compared with thee! Thy fidelity to the duties of thy state, and all thy saintly actions, had God for their one single end and motive. The world looked on thee with amazement, as though heaven had lent one of its angels to this earth. Humility and penance put such energy into thy soul, that every trial was met and mastered. Thy love for those whom God Himself had given thee, thy calm resignation and interior joy under tribulation, thy simple and generous charity, to every neighbour—all was evidence of God’s dwelling within thy soul. Thy seeing and conversing with thy angel guardian, and the wonderful revelations granted thee of the secrets of the other world, how much these favours tell us of thy merits! Nature suspended her laws at thy bidding; she was subservient to thee, as to one that was already face to face with the sovereign Master, and had the power to command. We admire these privileges and gifts granted thee by our Lord; and now beseech thee to have pity onus, who are so far from being in that path, in which thou didst so perseveringly walk. Pray for us, that we may be Christians, practically and earnestly; that we may cease to love the world and its vanities; that we may courageously take up the yoke of our Lord, and do penance; that we may give up our pride; that we may be patient and firm under temptation. Such was thy influence with our heavenly Father, that thou hadst but to pray, and a vine produced the richest clusters of fruit, even in the midst of winter. Our Jesus calls Himself the true Vine; ask Him to give us of the wine of His divine love, which His cross has so richly prepared for us. When we remember how frequently thou didst ask Him to let thee suffer, and accept thy sufferings for poor sinners, we feel encouraged to ask thee to offer thy merits to Him for us. Pray, too, for Rome, thy native city, that her people may be stanch to the faith, edifying by holiness of life, and loyal to the Church. May thy powerful intercession bring blessings on the faithful throughout the world, add to their number, and make them fervent as were our fathers of old.


[1] Cant. iv. 12.

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

We know the mystery of the number forty. This tenth of March brings it before us. Forty new advocates! Forty encouraging us to enter bravely on our career of penance! On the frozen pool, which was their field of battle, these martyrs reminded one another that Jesus had fasted for forty days, and that they themselves were forty in number! Let us, in our turn, compare their sufferings with the lenten exercises which the Church imposes upon us; and humble ourselves on seeing our cowardice; or, if we begin with fervour, let us remember that the grand thing is to be faithful to the end, and bring to the Easter solemnity the crown of our perseverance. Our forty martyrs patiently endured the cruellest tortures; the fear of God, and their deep-rooted conviction that He had an infinite claim to their fidelity, gave them the victory. How many times we have sinned, and had not such severe temptations as theirs to palliate our fall! How can we sufficiently bless that divine mercy, which spared us, instead of abandoning us as it did that poor apostate, who turned coward and was lost! But, on what condition did God spare us? That we should not spare ourselves, but do penance. He put into our hands the rights of His own justice; justice, then, must be satisfied, and we must exercise it against ourselves. The lives of the saints will be of great help to us in this, for they will teach us how we are to look upon sin, how to avoid it, and how strictly we are bound to do penance for it after having committed it.

The Church, in her liturgy, thus relates to us the martyrdom of the soldiers of Sebaste.

Licinio imperatore, et Agricolao præside, ad Sebasten Armeniæ urbem, quadraginta militum fides in Jesum Christum, et fortitudo in cruciatibus perferendis enituit. Qui sæpius in horribilem carcerem detrusi, vinculisque constricti, cum ora ipsorum lapidibus contusa fuissent, hiemis tempore frigidissimo, nudi sub aperto aere supra stagnum rigens pernoctare jussi sunt, ut frigore congelati necarentur. Una autem erat omnium oratio: Quadraginta in stadium ingressi sumus, quadraginta item, Domine, corona donemur; ne una quidem huic numero desit. Est in honore hic numerus, quem tu quadraginta dierum jejunio decorasti, per quem divina lex ingressa est in orbem terrarum. Elias quadraginta dierum jejunio Deum quærens, ejus visionem consecutus est. Et hæc quidem illorum erat oratio.

Cæteris autem oustodibus somno deditis, solus vigilabat janitor, qui et illos orantes, et luce circumfusos, et quosdam e cœlo descendentes angelos tanquam a Rege missos, qui coronas triginta novem militibus distribuerent, intuens, ita secum loquebatur: Quadraginta hi sunt; quadragesimi corona ubi est? Quæ dum cogitaret, unus ex illo numero, cui animus ad frigus ferendum defecerat in proximum tepefactum balneum desiliens, sanctos illos summo dolore affecit. Verum Deus illorum preces irritas esse non est passus; nam rei eventum admiratus janitor, mox custodibus e somno excitatis, detractisque sibi vestibus, ac se christianum esse clara voce professus, martyribus se adjunxit. Cum vero præsidis satellites janitorem quoque christianum esse cognovissent, bacillis comminuta omnium eorum crura fregerunt.

In eo supplicio mortui sunt omnes præter Melithonem, natu minimum. Quem cum præsens mater ejus fractis cruribus adhuc viventem vidisset, sic cohortata est: Fili, paulisper sustine, ecce Christus ad januamstat adjuvans te. Cum vero reliquorum corpora plaustris imponi cerneret, ut in rogum inferrentur, ac filium suum relinqui, quod speraret impia turba, puerum, si vixisset, ad idolorum cultum revocari posse; ipso in humeros sublato, sancta mater vehicula martyrum corporibus onusta strenue prosequebatur; in cujus amplexu Melithon spiritum Deo reddidit, ejusque corpus in eumdem illum cæterorum martyrum rogum pia mater injecit: ut qui fide et virtute conjunctissimi fuerant, funeris etiam societate copulati, una in cœlum pervenirent. Combustis ills, eorum reliquiae projectæ in profluentem, cum mirabiliter in unum confluxissent locum, salvæ et integræ repertæ, honorifico sepulchro conditæ sunt.
During the reign of the Emperor Licinius, and under the presidency of Agricolaus, the city of Sebaste in Armenia was honoured by being made the scene of the martyrdom of forty soldiers, whose faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and patience in bearing tortures, were so glorious. After having been frequently confined in a horrid dungeon, shackled with chains, and having had their faces beaten with stones, they were condemned to pass a most bitter winter night in the open air, and on a frozen pool, that they might be frozen to death. When there, they united in this prayer: 'Forty have we entered on the battle; let us, O Lord, receive forty crowns, and suffer not our number to be broken. The number is an honoured one, for thou didst fast for forty days, and the divine law was given to the world after the same number of days was observed. Elias, too, sought God by a forty days’ fast, and was permitted to see him. Thus did they pray.

All the guards, except one, were asleep. He overheard their prayer, and saw them encircled with light, and angels coming down from heaven, like messengers sent by a King, who distributed crowns to thirty-nine of the soldiers. Whereupon, he thus said to himself: ‘There are forty men; where is the fortieth crown?’ While he was thus pondering, one of the number lost his courage; he could bear the cold no longer, and threw himself into a warm bath, which had been placed near at hand. His saintly companions were exceedingly grieved at this. But God would not suffer their prayer to be void. The sentinel, astonished at what he had witnessed, went immediately and awoke the guards; then, taking off his garments, he cried out, with a loud voice, that he was a Christian, and associated himself with the martyrs. No sooner did the governor’s guards perceive that the sentinel had also declared himself to be a Christian, than they approached the martyrs, and broke their legs with clubs.

All died under this torture except Melithon, who was the youngest of the forty. His mother, who was present, seeing that he was still living after his legs were broken, thus encouraged him: ‘My son, be patient yet a while. Lo! Christ is at the door, helping thee.’ But, as soon as she saw the other bodies being placed on carts, that they might be thrown on the pile, and her son left behind (for the impious men hoped that, if the boy survived, he might be induced to worship the idols), she lifted him up into her arms, and, summing up all her strength, ran after the waggons, on which the martyrs bodies were being carried. Melithon died in his mother’s arms, and the holy woman threw his body on the pile, where the other martyrs were, that as he had been so united with them in faith and courage, he might bo one with them in burial, and go to heaven in their company. As soon as the bodies, were burnt, the pagans threw what remained into a river. The relics miraculously flowed to one and the same place, just as they were when they were taken from the pile. The Christians took them, and respectfully buried them.

That we may the more worthily celebrate the memory of the forty martyrs, we borrow a few stanzas from the hymn in which the Greek liturgy so enthusiastically sings their praises.

Hymn
(Die IXMartii)

Generose præsentia sufferentes, in præmiis quæ sperabant gaudentes, sancti martyres ad invicem dicebant: Non vestimentum exuimus, sed veterem hominem deponimus; rigida est hiems, sed dulcis paradisus; molesta est glacies, sed jucunda requies. Non ergo recedamus, O commilitones: paulum sustineamus, ut victoriæcoronas obtineamus a Christo Domino et Salvatore animarum nostrarum.

Fortissima mente martyrium sustinentes, athletæ admirandi, per ignem et aquam transivistis, et inde ad salutis latitudinem perveniatis, in hæreditatem accipientes regnum cœlorum, in quo divinas pro nobis preces facite, sapientes quadraginta martyres.

Attonitus stetit quadraginta martyrum custos coronas aspiciens, et amore hujus vitæ contempto, desiderio gloriæ tuæ, Domine, quæ illi apparuerat, sublevatus est, et cum martyribus cecinit: Benedictus es, Deus patrum nostrorum.

Vitæ amator miles ad lavacrum currens pestiferum mortuus est; Christi autem amicus egregius raptor coronarum quæ apparuerant, velut in lavacro immortalitatis, cum martyribus canebat: Benedictus es, Deus patrum nostrorum.

Virili prædita pectore, mater Deo amica, super humeros tollens quem genuerat fructum pietatis, martyrem cum martyribus victimam adducit, patris Abrahæimitatrix. O fili, ad perenniter manentem vitam velocius currens carpe viam, Christi amica mater ad puerum clamabat. Non fero te secundum ad Deum præmia largientem pervenire.

Venite, fratres, martyrum laudibus celebremus phalangem, frigore incensam, et errons frigus ardenti zelo incendentem; generosissimum exercitum, sacratissimum agmen, consertis pugnans clypeis, infractum et invictum, defensores fidei et custodes, martyres quadraginta, divinam choream, legatos Ecclesiæ, potenter Christum deprecantes ut pacem animis nostris concedat et magnam misericordiam.
The holy martyrs, generously suffering present evils, and rejoicing in the hope of reward, said to each other: 'It is not our raiment, but the old man that we have put off. The winter is cold; but paradise is sweet. The ice is a torture; but the repose is pleasant. Fellow-soldiers! let us not retreat. Let us suffer for a while, that we may obtain our crowns of victory from Christ our Lord, the Saviour of our souls.’

O admirable combatants! you suffered martyrdom with most brave hearts. You passed through fire and water, and thence you came to the spacious land of salvation, receiving the kingdom of heaven as your inheritance. There, O prudent forty martyrs, offer up your holy prayers for us.

The gaoler of the forty martyrs stood in astonishment as he beheld the crowns. Despising this present life, and ambitious to enjoy thy glory, O Lord, which had been shown him in vision, he joined the martyrs in this hymn: ‘Blessed art thou, O God of our fathers!'

The soldier that loved this life, ran to the cursed bath, and there he met with death: but the friend of Christ, he that nobly seized the crown which was offered him, as it were laved in immortality, sang with the martyrs: ‘Blessed art thou, the God of our fathers!'

The mother, whose manly spirit made her dear to God, taking on her shoulders the beloved fruit of her womb, brings him to the martyrs that he may be a martyred victim with them. Thus does she imitate our father Abraham. This mother, dear to Christ, cried out to her child: 'O my son; quickly run the path that leads to life eternal. I cannot brook thy being second to any in coming to the God, who rewards us.’

Come, brethren, let us sing the praises of the troop of martyrs, who were burnt with frost, and whose ardent zeal set fire to the frosty cold of error. Most heroic army; most holy legion, that fought with shields close knit together; unbroken and unconquered troop; defenders and guardians of the faith; the forty martyrs, the sacred choir, the legates of the Church: their powerful prayers to Christ draw down upon our souls his peace and rich mercy.

Valiant soldiers of Christ, who meet us, with your mysterious number, at this commencement of our forty days’ fast, receive the homage of our devotion. Your memory is venerated throughout the whole Church, and your glory is great in heaven. Though engaged in the service of an earthly prince, you were the soldiers of the eternal King: to Him were you faithful, and from Him did you receive your crown of eternal glory. We, also, are His soldiers; we are fighting for the kingdom of heaven. Our enemies are many and powerful; but, like you, we can conquer them, if, like you, we use the arms which God has put in our hands. Faith in God’s word, hope in His assistance, humility, and prudence, with these we are sure of victory. Pray for us, O holy martyrs, that we may avoid all compromise with our enemies; for our defeat is certain, if we try to serve two masters. During these forty days, we must put our arms in order, repair our lost strength, and renew our engagements; come to our assistance, and get us a share in your brave spirit. A crown is also prepared for us: it is to be won on easier terms than yours; and yet we shall lose it, unless we keep up within us an esteem for our vocation. How many times, in our past lives, have we forfeited that glorious crown! But God, in His mercy, has offered it to us again, and we are resolved on winning it. Oh, for the glory of our common Lord and Master, make intercession for us.

Our work of preparation is over: we are ready to obey our mother’s call to Lent. During the three past weeks, we have studied the fall of our first parents, and the miseries it brought upon man; the necessity of a Saviour; the justice of God, against which the human race dared to rebel; the terrible chastisement of the deluge, wherewith that revolt was punished; and finally, the covenant made by God, through Abraham, with those who are faithful to Him, and shun the maxims of a perverse and guilty world.

Now we are to see the accomplishment of the great mysteries, whereby the wounds of our fall were healed, the divine justice was disarmed, and God’s grace was poured out upon us, delivering us from the yoke of Satan and the world.

The Man-God, whose sweet presence has been less sensible during this Septuagesima season, is now about to show Himself to us again, but this time it is on His way to Calvary, where He is to be immolated for our redemption. The dolorous Passion, which our sins have imposed upon Him, is about to be brought before us: the greatest of anniversaries will soon be upon us.

Let us be all attention to the mysteries: let us be fervent in the great work of our own purification. Let us walk on courageously in the path of penance, so that each day the burden of our sins may be lightened, and after we have partaken, by heartfelt compassion, of the cup of our Redeemer’s Passion, our lips will be once more permitted to sing the songs of joy, and our hearts will thrill at Easter with the loud burst of the Church’s Alleluia!

 


 

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

Among all the pastors whom our Lord Jesus Christ has placed, as His vicegerents, over the universal Church, there is not one whose merits and renown have surpassed those of the holy Pope, whose feast we keep to-day. His name is Gregory, which signifies watchfulness; his surname is ‘the Great,’ and he was in possession of that title, when God sent the Seventh Gregory, the glorious Hildebrand, to govern His Church.

In recounting the glories of this illustrious Pontiff, it is but natural we should begin with his zeal for the services of the Church. The Roman liturgy, which owes to him some of its finest hymns, may be considered as his work, at least in this sense, that it is he who collected together and classified the prayers and rites drawn up by his predecessors, and reduced them to the form in which we now have them. He collected also the ancient chants of the Church, and arranged them in accordance with the rules and requirements of the divine Service. Hence it is, that our sacred music, which gives such solemnity to the liturgy, and inspires the soul with respect and devotion during the celebration of the great mysteries of our faith, is known as the Gregorian chant.

He is, then, the apostle of the liturgy, and this alone would have immortalized his name; but we must look for far greater things from such a Pontiff as Gregory. His name was added to the three, who had hitherto been honoured as the great Doctors of the Latin Church. These three are Ambrose, Augustine, and Jerome; who else could be the fourth but Gregory? The Church found in his writings such evidence of his having been guided by the Holy Ghost, such a knowledge of the sacred Scriptures, such a clear appreciation of the mysteries of faith, and such unction and authority in his teachings, that she gladly welcomed him as a new guide for her children.

Such was the respect wherewith everything he wrote was treated, that his very letters were preserved as so many precious treasures. This immense correspondence shows us that there was not a country, scarcely even a city, of the Christian world, on which the Pontiff had not his watchful eye steadily fixed; that there was not a question, however local or personal, which, if it interested religion, did not excite his zeal and arbitration as the Bishop of the universal Church. If certain writers of modern times had but taken the pains to glance at these letters, written by a Pope of the sixth century, they would never have asserted, as they have, that the prerogatives of the Roman Pontiff are based on documents fabricated, as they say, two hundred years after the death of Gregory.

Throned on the apostolic See, our saint proved himself to be a rightful heir of the apostles, not only as the representative and depositary of their authority, but as a fellow-sharer in their mission of calling nations to the true faith. To whom does England owe her having been, for so many ages, ‘the island of saints’? To Gregory, who, touched with compassion for those Angli, of whom, as he playfully said, he would fain make Angeli, sent to their island the monk Augustine with forty companions, all of them, as was Gregory himself, children of St. Benedict. The faith had been sown in this land as early as the second century, but it had been trodden down by the invasion of an infidel race. This time the seed fructified, and so rapidly that Gregory lived to see a plentiful harvest. It is beautiful to hear the aged Pontiff speaking with enthusiasm about the results of his English mission. He thus speaks in the twenty-seventh Book of his Morals: ‘Lo! the language of Britain, which could once mutter naught save barbarous sounds, has long since begun to sing, in the divine praises, the Hebrew Alleluia! Lo! that swelling sea is now calm, and saints walk on its waves. The tide of barbarians, which the sword of earthly princes could not keep back, is now hemmed in at the simple bidding of God’s priests.’[1]

During the fourteen years that this holy Pope held the place of Peter, he was the object of the admiration of the Christian world, both in the east and in the west. His profound learning, his talent for administration, his position, all tended to make him beloved and respected. But who could describe the virtue of his great soul? That contempt for the world and its riches, which led him to seek obscurity in the cloister; that humility, which made him flee the honours of the papacy, and hide himself in a cave, where, at length, he was miraculously discovered, and God Himself put into his hands the keys of heaven, which he was evidently worthy to hold, because he feared the responsibility; that zeal for the whole flock, of which he considered himself not the master, but the servant, so much so indeed that he assumed the title, which the Popes have ever since retained, of ‘servant of the servants of God’ that charity which took care of the poor throughout the whole world; that ceaseless solicitude, which provided for every calamity, whether public or private; that unruffled sweetness of manner, which he showed to all around him, in spite of the bodily sufferings which never left him during the whole period of his laborious pontificate; that firmness in defending the deposit of the faith, and crushing error wheresoever it showed itself; in a word, that vigilance with regard to discipline, which made itself felt for long ages after in the whole Church? All these services and glorious examples of virtue have endeared our saint to the whole world, and will cause his name to be blessed by all future generations, even to the end of time.

Let us now read the abridged life of our saint, as given us in the liturgy.

Gregorius magnus, Romanus, Gordiani senatoris filius, adolescens philosophiæ operam dedit, et prætorio officio functus, patre mortuo, sex monasteria in Sicilia ædificavit; Romæ septimum sancti Andreæ nomine insuisædibus, pro pe basilicam sanctorum Joannis et Pauli ad clivum Seauri: ubi Hilarione ac Maximiano magistris monachi vitam professus, postea abbas fuit. Mox Diaconus Cardinalis creatus, Constantinopolim a Pelagio Pontifice ad Tiberium Constantinum imperatorem legatus mittitur; apud quern memorabile etiam iliud effecit, quod Eutychium patriarcham, qui scripserat contra veram ac tractabilem corporum resurrectionem, ita convicit, ut ejus librum imperator in ignem injiceret. Quare Eutychius paulo post cum in morbum incidisset, instante morte, pellem manus suæ tenebat, multis præsentibue, dicens: Confiteor quia om nes in hac came resurge mus.

Romam rediens, Pelagio pestilentia sublato, summo omnium consensu Pontifex eligitur: quern honorem ne acciperet, quamdiu potuit, recusavit. Nam alieno vestitu in spelunca delituit: ubi deprehensus indicio igneæ columnæ, ad Sanctum Petrum consecratur. In pontificatu multa successoribus doctrinæ ac sanctitatis exempla reliquit. Peregrinos quotidie ad mensam adhibebat: in quibus et angelum, et Dominum angelorum peregrini facie accepit. Pauperes et urbanos et externos, quorum numerum descriptum habebat, benigne sustentabat. Catholicam fidem multis locis labefactatam restituit. Nam Donatistas in Africa, Arianos in Hispanla repressit: Agnoitas Alexandria ejecit. Pallium Syagrio Augustodunensi episcopo dare noluit, nisi Neophytos hæreticos expelleret ex Gallia. Gothos hæresim Arianam relinquere coegit. Missis in Britanniam doctis et sanctis viris Augustino et aliis monachis, insulam ad Jesu Christi fidem convertit, vere a Beda presbytero Angliæ vocatus apostolus. Joannis patriarchæ Constantinopolitani audaciam fregit, qui sibi universalis Ecclesiae episcopi nomen arrogabat. Mauritium imperatorem, eos qui milites fuissent, monachos fieri prohibentem, a sententia deterruit.

Ecclesiam ornavit sanctissimis institutis et legibus. Apud Sanctum Petrum coacta synodo, multa constituit. In iis, ut in Missa Kyrie eleison novies repeteretur; ut extra id tempus, quod continetur Septuagesima et Pascha, Alleluia diceretur: ut adderetur in Canone: Diesque nostros in tua pace disponas. Litanias, Stationes, et Ecclesiasticum officium auxit. Quatuor Conciliis, Nicaeno, Constantinopolitano, Ephesino et Chalcedonensi, tamquam quatuor E vangeliis honorem haberi voluit. Episcopis Siciliæ, qui ex antiqua Ecclesiarum consuetudine Romam singulis trienniis conveniebant, quinto quoque anno semel venire indulsit. Multos libros confecit: quos cum dictaret, testatus est Petrus diaconus se Spiritum sanctum columbæ specie in ejus capite eæpe vidisse. Adrairabüia sunt quæ dixit, fecit, scripsit, decrevit, præsertim infirma semper et ægra valetudine. Qui denique multis editis miraculis, Pontificatus anno decimo tertio, mense sexto, die decimo,quarto Idus Martii, qui dies festus a Græcis etiam propter insignem hujus Pontificis sapientiam ac sanctitatem, praecipuo honore celebratur, ad cœleetem beatitudinem evocatus est. Cujus corpus sepultum est in basilica sancti Petri, prope secretarium.
Gregory the Great, a Roman by birth, was son of the senator Gordian. He applied early to the study of philosophy, and was entrusted with the office of prætor. After his father’s death he built six monasteries in Sicily, and a seventh, under the title of Saint Andrew, in his own house in Rome, near the basilica of Saints John and Paul, on the hill Scaurus. In this last named monastery, he embraced the monastic life, under the guidance of Hilarión and Maximian, and was, later on, elected abbot. Shortly afterwards, he was created Cardinal-Deacon, and was by Pope Pelagius sent to Constantinople, as legate, to confer with the emperor Constantine. While there, he achieved that celebrated victory over the patriarch Eutychius, who had written against the resurrection of the flesh, maintaining that it would not be a real one. Gregory so convinced him of his error, that the emperor threw his book into the fire. Eutychius himself fell ill not long after, and when he perceived his last hour had come, he took between his fingers the skin of his hand, and said before the many who were there: ‘I believe that we shall all rise in this flesh.’

On his return to Rome, he was chosen Pope, by unanimous consent, for Pelagius had been carried off by the plague. He refused, as long as it was possible, the honour thus offered him. He disguised himself and hid himself in a cave; but he was discovered by a pillar of fire shining over the place, and was consecrated at Saint Peter’s. As Pontiff, he was an example to his successors by his learning and holiness of life. He every day admitted pilgrims to his table, among whom he received, on one occasion, an angel, and, on another, the Lord of angels, who wore the garb of a pilgrim. He charitably provided for the poor, both in and out of Rome, and kept a list of them. He re-established the Catholic faith in several places where it had fallen into decay. Thus, he put down the Donatists in Africa, and the Arians in Spain; and drove the Agnoites out of Alexandria. He refused to give the pallium to Syagrius, bishop of Autun, until be should have expelled the Neophyte heretics from Gaul. He induced the Goths to abandon the Arian heresy. He sent Augustine and other monks into Britain, and, by these learned and saintly men, converted that island to the faith of Christ Jesus; so that Bede truly calls him the Apostle of England. He checked the haughty pretensions of John, the patriarch of Constantinople, who had arrogated to himself the title of bishop of the universal Church. He obliged the emperor Mauritius to revoke the decree, whereby he had forbidden any soldier to become a monk.

He enriched the Church with many most holy practices and laws. In a Council held at St. Peter’s he passed several decrees. Among these, the following may be mentioned: That in the Mass the Kyrie eleison should be said nine times; that the Alleluia should always be said, except during the interval between Septuagesima and Easter. That these words should be inserted in the Canon: Diesque nostros in tua pace disponas (And mayst thou dispose our days in thy peace). He increased the number of processions (litanies) and stations, and completed the Office of the Church. He would have the four Councils, of Nicea, Constantinople, Ephesus, and Chalcedon, to be received with the same honour as the four Gospels. He allowed the bishops of Sicily, who, according to the ancient custom of their Churches, used to visit Rome every three years, to make that visit once every fifth year. He wrote several books; and Peter the deacon assures us, that he frequently saw the Holy Ghost in the form of a dove resting on the head of the Pontiff, while he was dictating. It is a matter of wonder thkt, with his incessant sickness and illhealth, he pould have said, done, written, and decreed, as he did. At length, after performing many miracles, he was called to his reward in heaven, after a pontificate of thirteen years, six months and ten days; it was on the fourth of the Ides of March (March 12), which the Greeks also observe ae a great feast, on account of this Pontiff’s extraordinary learning and virtue. His body was buried in the basilica of Saint Peter near the secretarium.

To these admirable lessons we subjoin a selection of antiphons and responsories, which are taken from an Office approved of by the holy See, for this feast of so great a saint.

Antiphons and Responsories*

Beatus Gregorius in cathedra Petri sublimatus, Vigilantis nomen factis implevit.

Pastor eximius pastoralis vitæ specimen tradidit et regulam.

Dum paginæ sacræ mysteria panderet, columba nive candidior apparuit.

Gregorius, monachorum speculum, pater Urbis, orbis deliciæ.

Gregorius, respiciens Anglorum juvenes, ait: Angelicam ha bent faciem; et tales angelorum in cœlis decet esse consortes.


R.
 Gregorius, ab annis adofescentiæ suæ, Deo caepit devotus existe re.
* Et ad supernæ vitæ patriam totis desideriis anhelavit.
V. Pauperibus opes distribuens, Christum pro nobis egenum, egenus ipse secutus est.
* Et ad supemae vitæ patriam totis desideriis anhelavit.

R.
 Sex in Sicilia monasteria constituens, fratres illic Christo servituros aggregavit; septimum vero intra Romanæ urbis muros instituit:
* In quo et ipse militiam cœlestem aggressus est.
V. Mundum cum flore despiciens, dilectas solitudinis locum quæsivit.
* In quo et ipse militiam ccelestem aggresseus est.

R.
 Ad summi Pontificatus apicem quæsitus, quum ad sylvarum et cavernarum latebras confugisset,
* Visa est columna lucis a summo cœli usque ad eum linea recta refulgens.
V. Tam eximium pastorem sitiens populus, jejuniis et orationibus ad cælum insistebat.
* Visa est columna lucis a summo cœli usque ad eum linea recta refulgens.

R.
 Ecce nunc magni marie fluctibus quatior, pastoralis curæ procellis illisus:
* Et quum priorem vitam recolo, quasi post tergum reductis oculis viso littore suspiro.
V. Immensis fluctibus turbatus feror, vix jam portum valeo videre quern reliqui
* Et quum priorem vitam recolo, quasi post tergum reductis oculis, viso littore suspiro.

R.
 E fonte Scripturarum moralia et mystica proferens, fluenta Evangelii in populos derivavit: 
* Et defunctus adhuc loquitur.
V. Velut aquila perlustrane mundum amplitudine charitatis majoribus et minimis providet.
* Et defunctus adhuc loquitur.

R.
 Cernens Gregorius Anglorum adolescentulos, dolebat tarn lucidi vultus homines a tenebrarum principe possideri:
* Tantamque frontis speciem, mentem ab internis gaudiis vacuam gestare.
V. Ex intimo corde longa trahens suspiria, lugebat imapnem Dei ab antiquo serpente deturpatam.
* Tantamque frontis epeciem, mentem ab internis gaudiis vacuam gestare.

R.
 Quum Joannes episcopus arroganter primæ Sedis jura dissolvere tentaret, surrexit Gregorius fortis et mansuetus:
* Apostólica fulgens auctoritate, humilitate præclarus.
V. Petri claves invictus asseruit, et cathedram principalem illæsam custodivit.
* Apostolica fulgens auctoritate, humilitate præclarus.

R.
 Gregorius, præsul meritis et nomine dignus, antiquæ divinæ laudis modulationes renovans,
* Militantis Ecclesiæ vocem triumphantis sponsæ concentibus sociavit.
V. Sacramentorum codicem mystico calamo rescribens, vete rum patrum instituta posteris transmisit.
* Militantis Ecclesiæ vocem triumphantis sponsæ concentibus sociavit.

R. Stationes per basilicas et martyrum cœmeteria ordinavit:
* Et sequebatur exercitus Domini Gregorium præeuntem.
V. Ductor cœlestis militiæ arma spiritualia proferebat.
* Et sequebatur exercitus Domini Gregorium præeuntem.

The blessed Gregory, being raised to the chair of Peter, fulfilled, by his actions, the meaning of his name, ‘the Watchman.’

This glorious Pastor was the model, and wrote the rule, of the pastoral life.

While he was interpreting the mysteries of the sacred volume, there was seen upon him a dove whiter than snow.

Gregory was the mirror of monks, the father of the holy city, and the favourite of mankind.

Gregory looks upon some youths from Anglia, and says: They have the faces of angels, and such children must needs be companions of angels in heaven.


R.
 From his early youth, Gregory was devout in God’s service,
* And with all his heart sighed after the land of heavenly life.
V. He distributed his wealth to the poor, and became poor himself, after the example of Christ, who made himself poor for us.
* And with all his heart sighed after the land of heavenly life.

R. Six monasteries did he found in Sicily, and put in them communities of brethren, who should serve Christ; a seventh also he founded within the walls of Rome’s city,
* Wherein he, too, enrolled himself in the heavenly warfare.
V. He despised the world with its flowers, and sought out a place of solitude most dear to his soul.
* Wherein he, too, enrolled himself in the heavenly warfare.

R.
 When they were in search of him to set him on the throne of the Papal dignity, he fled to the woods and caves and hid himself;
* But a bright pillar of light was seen to shine upon him, in a straight line from the high heavens.
V. The people, in their eager desire to have so excellent a pastor, besieged heaven with their fastings and prayers.
* But a bright pillar was seen to shine upon him, in a straight line from the highest heavens.

R.
 Lo! now I am tossed by the waves of the great sea, and am buffeted by the storms of pastoral care:
* And when I remember my former life, I sigh like one that looks back on the shore he has left behind.
V. I am carried to and fro on huge waves, which scarcely permit me to see the port I sailed from.
* And when I remember my former life, I sigh like one that looks back on the shore he has left behind.

R.
 He drew moral and mystical interpretations from the Scripture fountain, and made the streams of the Gospel flow upon the people:
* And being dead, he yet speaketh.
V. Like an eagle flying from one end of the world to the other, he provided for all, both little and great, by his large-hearted charity.
* And being dead, he yet speaketh.

R.
 As he gazed on the boys of Anglia, it grieved him to think that such bright-faced youths should be in the power of the prince of darkness:
* And that they who had such comely faces, should have souls devoid of interior joy.
V. Deeply did he sigh, and, from his inmost soul, grieve that the image of God should be disfigured by the old serpent.
* And that they who had such comely faces, should have souls devoid of interior joy.

R.
 When John, the bishop, arrogantly strove to interfere with the rights of the first See, bravely and meekly did Gregory rise up,
* Radiant with apostolic authority, and humble exceedingly.
V. Unflinchingly did he defend the keys of Peter, and guard from insult the principal Chair.
* Radiant with apostolic authority, and humble exceedingly.

R.
 Gregory, a Pontiff great in merit and name, restored the ancient melodies used in the divine praise,
* And united the songs of the Church militant with those of the bride triumphant.
V. His mystic pen transcribed the book of the Sacraments, and handed down to posterity the institutions of the ancient fathers.
* And united the songs of the Church militant with those of the bride triumphant.

R.
 He regulated the Stations to be made at the basilicas and cemeteries of the martyrs:
* And the army of Christ went in procession, with Gregory at their head.
V. He was the leader of the heavenly warfare, and gave to all their spiritual armour.
* And the army of Christ went in procession, with Gregory at their head.

St. Peter Damian, whose feast we kept a few days back, composed the following hymn in honour of our apostle:

Anglorum jam apostolus,
Nunc angelorum eocius,
Ut tunc, Gregori, gentibus
Succurre jam credentibus.

Tu largas opum copias,
Omnemque mundi gloriam
Spernis, ut inops inopem
Jesum sequaris principem.

Videtur egens naufrague,
Dum stipem petit angelus;
Tu munus jam post geminum,
Præbes et vas argenteum.

Ex hoc te Christus tempore
Suæ præfert Ecclesiæ:
Sic Petri gradum percipis,
Cujus et normam sequeris.

O Pontifex egregie,
Lux et decus Ecclesiæ,
Non sinas in periculis,
Quos tot mandatis instruis.

Mella cor obdulcantia
Tua distillant labia,
Fragrantum vim aromatum
Tuum vincit eloquium.

Scripturæ sacræ mystica
Mire solvis ænigmata,
Theorica mysteria
Te docet ipsa Veritas.

Tu nactus apostolicam
Vicem simul et gloriam,
Nos solve culpæ nexibus,
Redde polorum sedibus.

Sit Patri laus ingenito,
Sit decus Unigenito,
Sit utriusque pariti
Majestas summa Flamini.

Amen.
O Gregory, that once wast the apostle of the Angli,
and now art a companion of the angels!
protect now, as of old, the nations
that believe in Christ.

Thou spurnest wealth and riches
and all the glory of the world,
that so thou, being poor,
mayst follow the Lord Jesus, who was poor.

An angel presents himself to thee,
in the garb of one that was shipwrecked, and asks an alms;
thou first makest him a double gift,
and then thou givest him a silver vase.

After this, Christ puts thee over his Church,
for thou didst imitate the virtues,
and now thou hast
the honours, of Peter.

O excellent Pontiff!
Light and ornament of the Church!
Thou hast so richly instructed us,
assist us in our dangers.

From thy lips there flows honey
that brings sweetness to the heart.
Thy words are more fragrant
than the richest perfume.

Admirably dost thou solve
the obscure figures of sacred Writ.
The divine mysteries are taught thee
by him that is the very Truth.

O thou that hast
the office and the glory of the apostles,
pray for us, that we may be loosed from the bonds of sin,
and obtain the thrones prepared for us above.

To the unbegotten Father,
and to his only-begotten Son,
and to the Spirit of them
both be praise and highest kingship.

Amen.

Father of the Christian people! Vicar of the charity, as well as of the authority, of Christ! O Gregory, vigilant Pastor! the Church, which thou hast so faithfully loved and served, turns to thee with confidence. Thou canst not forget the flock, which keeps up such an affectionate remembrance of thee; hear the prayer she offers thee on this thy solemnity. Protect and guide the Pontiff, who now holds the place of Peter, as thou didst; enlighten and encourage him in the difficulties wherewith he is beset. Bless the hierarchy of the pastors, which has received from thee such magnificent teachings and such admirable examples. Assist it to maintain inviolate the sacred trust of faith; bless the eSorts it is now making for the restoration of ecclesiastical discipline, without which all is disorder and confusion. God chose thee as the regulator of the divine service, the holy liturgy; foster, by thy blessing, the zeal which is now rising up among us for those holy traditions of prayer, which have been so neglected; teach us the long-forgotten secret, that the best way of praying is to use the prayers of the Church. Unite all Churches in obedience to the apostolic See, which is the ground and pillar of faith, and the fountain of spiritual authority.

But there is one country which was most dear to thee—our own native land. O apostle of England! look down with aSection on this island, which has now rebelled from Rome, and has become the resort of countless false religions. But now, after three centuries of apostasy from the true faith, the hand of God’s mercy is pressing her to conversion. She is thine own child in Christ Jesus: wilt thou not aid her to return to Him? Wilt thou not guide her, by thy prayers, to come forth out of the darkness, which still so thickly clouds her, and follow the light which heaven holds out to her? Oh! if England were once more Catholic, who can tell the good she would do? For what country is there that can do grander things for the propagation of the faith? Pray for her, then; she may regain her glorious title of Isle of Saints, for she has thee for her apostle!

These are the days of salvation; pray for the faithful, who have entered on their career of penance. Obtain for them compunction of heart, love of prayer, and an appreciation of the liturgy and its mysteries. The solemn ami devout homilies which thou didst address, at this season, to the people of Rome, are still read to ns; may they sink into our hearts and fill them with fear of God’s justice, and hope in His mercy, for His justice and mercy change not to suit the time. We are weak and timid, and this makes us count as harsh the laws of the Church which oblige us to fasting and abstinence; get us brave hearts, brave with the spirit of mortification. Thy holy life is an example to us, and thy writings are our instruction; what we still want is to be made true penitents, and this thy intercession must do for us: that so we may return, with the joy of a purified conscience, to the divine Alleluia, which thou hast taught us to sing on earth, and which we hope to chant together with thee in heaven.

 

[1] Moral, in Job. Lib. xxvii. Cap. xi.

* We may be permitted to express a hope, that the day is not far distant, when the Proper Offices, approved of by the holy See, will be adopted in England, for those saints in whom England has a special interest. Proper hymns, &c., have been composed and approved for St. Augustine of Canterbury and St. Anselm. [TRANSULATOR.]

 

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

The saint we have to honour to-day is the apostle of that faithful people, whose martyrdom has lasted three hundred years: it is the great St. Patrick, he that gave Erin the faith. There shone most brightly in this saint that gift of the apostolate, which Christ has left to His Church, and which is to remain with her to the end of time. The ambassadors or missioners, sent by our Lord to preach His Gospel, are of two classes. There are some who have been entrusted with a small tract of the Gentile world; they had to sow the divine seed there, and it yielded fruit more or less according to the dispositions of the people that received it: there are others, again, whose mission is like a rapid conquest, that subdues a whole nation, and brings it into subjection to the Gospel. St. Patrick belongs to this second class; and in him we recognize one of the most successful instruments of God's mercy to mankind.

And then, what solidity there is in this great saint’s work! When is it that Ireland received the faith? In the fifth century, when Britain was almost wholly buried in paganism; when the race of the Franks had not as yet heard the name of the true God; when Germany had no knowledge of Christ’s having come upon the earth; when the countries of northern Europe deeply slumbered in infidelity: yes, it was before these several nations had awakened to the Gospel, that Ireland was converted. The faith, brought to her by her glorious apostle, took deep root and flourished and fructified in this isle, more lovely even by grace than she ifl by nature. Her saints are scarcely to be numbered, and went about doing good in almost every country of Europe; her children gave, and are still giving, to other countries, the faith that she herself received from her beloved patron. And when the sixteenth century came with its protestantism; when the apostasy of Germany was imitated by England, Scotland, and the whole north of Europe, Ireland stood firm and staunch; no persecution, however cleverly or however cruelly carried on against her, has been able to detach her from the faith taught her by Saint Patrick.

Let us honour the admirable apostle, chosen by God to sow the seed of His word in this privileged land; and let us listen to the simple account of his labours and virtues, thus given in the lessons of his feast:

Patritius, Hiberniæ dictus apostolus, Calphurnio patre, matre Conchessa, sancti Martini Turonensis episcopi, ut perhibent, consanguInea, majori in Britannia natus, puer in barbarorum sæpius incidit captivitatem. Eo in statu pascendis gregibus præpositus, jam tum futuræ sanctitatis specimen præbuit. Fidei namque, divinique timoris, et amoris spiritu repletus, antelucano tempore per nivea, gelu, ac pluvias ad preces Deo fundendas impiger consurgebat; solitus centies interdiu, centiesque noctu Deum orare. A servitute tertio exemptus, et inter clericos relatus, in divinis lectionibus longo se tempore exercuit. Galliis, Italia, insulisque Tyrrheni maris labore summo peragratis, divino tandem monitu ad Hibernorum salutem advocatur; et facta a beato Cœlestino Papa Evangelii nunciandi potestate, coneecratusque episcopus, in Hibemiam perrexit.

Eo in munere mirum quot vir apostoiicus mala, quot ærumnas, et labores, quot pertulerit adversarios. Verum Dei afilante benignitate, terra illa, idolorum antea cultrix, eum mox prædicante Patritio fructum dedit, ut sanctorum insula deinde fuerit appellata. Frequentissimi ab eo populi sacro sunt regenerati lavacro:episcopi, clericique plurimi ordinati; virginea ac viduæ ad continentiæ leges institutæ. Armachanam Sedem, Romani Pontificis auctoritate, totius insulæ principem metropolim constituit, sanctorumque reliquiis ab Urbe relatis decoravit. Supernis visionibus, prophetiæ dono, ingentibusque signis, et prodigiis a Deo exornatus adeo refulsit, ut longe, lateque celebrior Patritii se fama diffuderit.

Præter quotidianam Ecclesiarum sollicitudinem, invietum ab oratione spiritum nunquam relaxabat. Aiunt enim, integrum quotidie psalterium, una cum canticis et hymnis, ducentisque orationibus consuevisse recitare: ter centies per dies singulos flexis genibus Deum adorare, ac in qualibet hora diei canónica centies se crucis signo munire. Noctem tria in spatia distribuens, primum in centum psalmis percurrendis, et bis centies genuflectendo, alterum in reliquis quinquaginta psalmis, algidis aquis immersus, ac corde, oculis manibusque ad ccelum erectus, absolvendis insumebat; tertium vero super nudum lapidem stratus tenui dabat quieti. Humilitatis eximius cultor, apostólico more a manuum suarum labore non abstinuit. Assiduis tandem curis pro Ecclesia consumptus, verbo et opere clarus, in extrema senectute, divinis mysteriis refectus, obdormivit in Domino; sepultusque est apud Dunum in Ultonia, a Christiana salute sæculo quinto.
Patrick, called the apostle of Ireland, was born in Great Britain. His father’s name was Calphumius. Conchessa, his mother, is said to have been a relation of St. Martin, bishop of Tours. He was several times taken captive by the barbarians, when he was a boy, and was put to tend their flocks. Even in that tender age, he gave signs of the great sanctity he was afterwards to attain. Full of the spirit of faith, and of the fear and love of God, he used to rise at the earliest dawn of day, and, in spite of snow, frost, or rain, go to offer up his prayers to God. It was his custom to pray a hundred times during the day, and a hundred during the night. After his third deliverance from slavery, he entered the ecclesiastical state and applied himself, for a considerable time, to the study of the sacred Scriptures. Having made several most fatiguing journeys through Gaul, Italy, and the islands of the Mediterranean, he was called by God to labour for the salvation of the people of Ireland. Pope Saint Celestine gave him power to preach the Gospel, and consecrated him bishop. Whereupon, he set out for Ireland.

It would be difficult to relate how much this apostolic man had to suffer in the mission thus entrusted to him: he had to bear with extraordinary trials, fatigues, and adversaries. But, by the mercy of God, that land, which heretofore had worshipped idols, so well repaid the labour wherewith Patrick had preached the Gospel, that it was afterwards called the island of saints. He administered holy Baptism to many thousands: he ordained several bishops, and frequently conferred Holy Orders in their several degrees; he drew up rules for virgins and widows, who wished to lead a life of continency. By the authority of the Roman Pontiff, he appointed Armagh the metropolitan See of the whole island, and enriched that church with the saints’ relics, which he had brought from Rome. God honoured him with heavenly visions, with the gift of prophecy and miracles; all which caused the name of the saint to be held in veneration in almost every part of the world.

Besides his daily solicitude for the churches, his vigorous spirit kept up an uninterrupted prayer. For it h said, that he was wont to recite every day the whole psalter, together with the canticles and the hymns, and two hundred prayers: that he every day knelt down thrco hundred times to adore God; and that at each canonical hour of the day, he signed himself a hundred times with the sign of the cross. He divided the night into three parts: the first was spent in the recitation of a hundred psalms, during which he genuflected two hundred times: the second was spent in reciting the remaining fifty psalms, which he did standing in cold water, and his heart, eyes, and hands lifted up to heaven; the third he gave to a little sleep, which he took laid upon a bare stone. Being a man of extraordinary humility, he imitated the apostles, and practised manual labour. At length, being worn out by his incessant fatigues in the cause of the Church, powerful in word and work, having reached an extreme old age he slept in the Lord, after being refreshed with the holy mysteries. He was buried at Down, in Ulster, in the fifth century of the Christian era.

The following sequence, in honour of our saint, is taken from an ancient manuscript missal, published by Messingham, in his Florilegiam Insulœ Sanctorum, Paris, 1624:

Sequence

Læta lux est hodierna,
Qua conscendit ad superna
Vir Dei Patricius.

Qui prælatus in hanc lucem
Puer bonus Christi crucem
Veneratur ocyus.

Humo pressit signum crucis,
Fons erupit, donum lucis
Cæco nato præbuit.

In mel aquam convertebat,
Quo nutrici, quæ languebat,
Sanitatem tribuit.

A piratis venditur,
Fit cuetos porcorum:
Aurum quo redimitur
Reperit decorum.

Opprimens per triduum
Satan hunc vexavit:
Sed Helias artuum
Robur reparavit.

Deprimit a vitiis,
Moribus imbutus,
Corpus abstinentiis,
Moysen secutus;
In montis cacumina
Scandit et jejunat;
Glacierum fragmina
Succendens adunat.

Sub Germani disciplina,
Documentis et doctrina
Studet evangelicis.

His a Papa Cœlestino
Doctor est, nutu divino,
Transmissus Hibemicis.

Balat hircus ventre furis,
Fur punitur plagie duris,
Et ejus successio.

Fugiens mortem sago tectus
Obiit ante, post revectus
Orante Patricio.

Virosa reptilia
Prece congregata
Pellit ab Hibernia,
Mari liberata.
Cœlos aliquoties
Apertos aspexit;
Et Jesum suspiciens
Dominum conspexit.
Transit pater ab hac luce
Signis plenus,
Christo duce,
Lucie ad palatium.

Ubi nobis, prece sua,
Confer, bone Jesu, tua
Pietate gaudium.

Amen.
Joyful is the light of this day's feast,
whereon Patrick, the man of God,
ascended to heaven!

When yet in the early dawn of life,
the holy youth devoutly venerated
the cross of Christ.

He made the sign of the cross on the ground:
a fount gushed forth upon the spot,
and with its waters he gave sight to one born blind.

He turned water into honey,
and by it restored
his nurse to health.

He was led captive by pirates,
and was made keeper of swine:
but the saint found a piece of glittering gold,
and with it bought his freedom.

For three days did satan harass him
with bodily injuries;
but Elias healed him,
and gave him back his strength.

His soul was vigorous in grace,
and, like Moses,
he restrained his body
from vices by fasting.
He ascends a high mountain,
and there he fasts.
He throws ice upon a fire,
and it burns as though it were wood.

He puts himself under the care
and teaching of Germanus,
and studies under him the maxims of the Gospel.

Pope Celestino, by a divine inspiration,
sends him to teach salvation
to the people of Hibernia.

The thief, that had stolen a goat,
was discovered by its bleating;
and he and his family were punished with a severe scourge.

A man had covered himself with a cloth,
and asked to be restored to health. He was first punished with real death,
and was then restored to life by Patrick’s prayer.

He drew together, by his prayer,
all venomous reptiles,
and drove them from Hibernia’s shore.
At times, he saw
the heavens opened;
and as he gazed above,
he saw the Lord Jesus.
Our father passed out of this world,
under the guidance of Christ;
and, glorious by his miracles,
he was taken to the courts
of heavenly light.

Mercifully grant unto us, O good Jesus!
by his intercession,
that we may enter into joy.

Amen.

The following antiphons and prayers are taken from the Officium Sancti Patricii, Paris, 1622:

ANT. Veneranda imminentis diei solemnia, læta mente, concelebrat fidelium turma; quo beatus præsul Patricius, deposita corporali gleba, felix migravit ad regna cælestia.

ANT. Ave præsul egregio, pastor gregis Hiberniæ! O Patrici, præsul pie, nostræ cuetos familiæ, funde preces quotidie, pro nobis, Regi glorias.

ANT. Benedictus sit Dominus universorum, qui suam visitavit plebem per beatum Patricium, cujus prece absoivamur a vinculis criminum, et requie perfruamur cum illo beatorum.
ANTThe faithful people, with glad souls, celebrate the venerable solemnity of this day’s feast; whereon the blessed pontiff Patrick laid aside the burden of mortality, and joyfully took his flight to the heavenly kingdom.

ANT. Haü illustrious pontiff, pastor of Hibernia’s flock! O Patrick! holy bishop! the guardian of our people! pray for us daily to the Kin of glory.

ANT. Blessed be the Lord of all, who hath visited his people by blessed Patrick; by whose prayers may we be loosed from the bonds of our sins, and come to the enjoyment of rest of the blessed, together with him.


Another favourite antiphon, used in the ancient Proper Office of St. Patrick, was composed of the words spoken to him by the angel:

ANT. Hibernenses omnes clamant ad te pueri: Veni, sancte Patrici, salvos nos facere.
ANT. All the children of Ireland cry out to thee: Come, O holy Patrick, and save us!

We conclude these liturgical extracts with a prayer from an ancient manuscript breviary of Armagh.

Prayer

Deus qui beatum Patricium Scotorum apostolum tua providentia elegisti, ut Hibernenses gentes, in tenebris et in errore gentilitatis errantes, per lavacra regenerationis filios Dei excelsi efficeres: tribue nobis quæsumus, ut ejus intercessionibus ad ea quæ recta sunt quantocyus festinemus. Per Dominum.
O God, by whose providence the blessed Patrick was chosen to be the apostle of the Irish; that thus the people of Hibernia, who had gone astray in darkness and in the errors of the Gentiles, might be made children of the Most High by the laver of regeneration: grant, we beseech thee, that by his intercession, we may hasten without delay to the paths of justice. Through, etc.

Thy life, great saint, was spent in the arduous toils of an apostle; but how rich was the harvest thou didst reap! Every fatigue seemed to thee light, if only thou couldst give to men the precious gift of faith; and the people to whom thou didst leave it have kept it with a constancy which is one of thy greatest glories. Pray for us, that this faith, without which it is impossible to please God,[1] may take possession of our hearts and minds. It is by faith that the just man liveth,[2] says the prophet, and it is faith that, during this holy season of Lent, is showing us the justice and mercy of God, in order that we may be converted, and offer to our offended Lord the tribute of our penance. We are afraid of what the Church imposes on us, simply because our faith is weak. If our principles were those of faith, we should soon be mortified men. Thy life, though so innocent, and so rich in good works, was one of extraordinary penance: gain for us thy spirit, and help us to follow thee, at least at a humble distance. Pray for Erin, that dear country of thine, which loves and honours thee so fervently. She is threatened with danger even now, and many of her children have left the faith thou didst teach. An odious system of proselytism has disturbed thy flock; protect it, and suffer not the children of martyrs to be apostates. Let thy fatherly care follow them that have been driven by suffering to emigrate from their native land: may they keep true to the faith, be witnesses of the true religion in the countries to which they have fled, and ever show themselves to be the obedient children of the Church. May their misfortunes thus serve to advance the kingdom of God. Holy pontiff! intercede for England; pardon her the injustice she has shown to thy children; and, by thy powerful prayers, hasten the happy day of her return to Catholic unity. Pray, too, for the whole Church; thy prayer, being that of an apostle, easily finds access to Him that sent thee.

 


[1] Heb. xi. 6.
[2] Hab. ii. 4.

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

It was right that the Church should honour, during these days devoted to the instruction of catechumens, the Pontiff whose very name suggests the zeal and knowledge which pastors ought to show in preparing candidates for baptism. He has long had a place in the Martyrology of the Western Church, but to-day, in addition to expressing our gratitude for what he did fifteen hundred years ago, we ask him for aid, which is as necessary now as it was in the first ages of Christianity. It is true that baptism is now administered to infants. The gift of faith then infused puts man in possession of all truth before his intelligence has ever met with falsehood. But it too often happens in our days that children are deprived of the protection their weakness really needs. Modern society has denied Jesus Christ, and strives by the hypocritical neutrality of its laws to stifle the divine seed in the baptized soul before it can grow and bear fruit. Baptism, however, has its rights with regard to society as well as with regard to the individual, and our best way of honouring St. Cyril is to remind ourselves on his feast that this first Sacrament has just claims in respect of the education due to the baptized.

For fifteen centuries the western nations, whose social fabric rested on the solid rock of the faith of Rome, have enjoyed a happy ignorance of the difficulties experienced by a soul in rising out of the abyss of error into the pure light of the truth. Our fathers, like ourselves, were baptized at their entrance into this world. They had, moreover, an advantage which we have not, for, in their day, the civil power joined with the Church to protect that plenitude of truth which was the greatest treasure of men, and the safeguard of the world. The protection of individuals is a duty binding upon all princes and rulers, whatever be their title, and this duty is greater in proportion to the interests to be safeguarded. But this protection gives greater glory to the power which exercises it, when it is extended to the lowly and weak. The law of man never appears more majestic than when standing beside a little child—a new-born babe or a defenceless orphan—to protect its name, its life or its inheritance. A newly-baptized child possesses advantages greater than all those given by noble birth, money or the richest natural gifts. He has a divine life within him; he is the equal of the angels in virtue of his name of Christian; his inheritance is that plenitude of truth of which we spoke above—God Himself, possessed by faith here below until the beatific vision opens out the possession of eternal love. What greatness there is in a little child! But what a responsibility for the world! If God does not wait for the age of reason before bestowing His gifts, this sublime haste is due to the impatience of His love, but at the same time He oounts upon men to reveal in due time their dignity to these children of heaven, to form them to the duties incumbent on them, and to educate them in a way befitting their divine lineage. The education of a king’s son corresponds to the dignity of his birth, and those who have the honour of being his tutors never forget that he is a prince. Instructions, common to all, are presented to him in a way which harmonizes with his exalted destiny, and everything is directed to rendering him capable of wearing his crown with glory. Does the education of a child of God need less care?

Is it right that his teachers should forget his birth and his destiny?

It is true that the Church alone can explain to us the ineffable origin of the sons of God. She alone knows how to use the elements of human knowledge for the supreme end which dominates the life of a Christian. The natural conclusion is, that the Church is by right the first and principal teacher of the nations. When she founds schools, she is on her own ground in all branches of knowledge, and a mission to teach from her is of more value than any diploma. Further, with regard to diplomas, which she herself has not conferred, these official commissions to teach draw their legal value, in the eyes of Christians, from her approval, and they are always by right subject to her supervision. She is the mother of the baptized, and even when a mother does not teach her own children, she has the right to supervise their education.

But the Church is not only the Mother of the Faithful, she is the Bride of the Son of God and the guardian of His sacraments. It is her duty to see that the Precious Blood has not been shed in vain. Our Lord has entrusted these seven fountains to the care of the ministers of His Church, and they must not be opened except when there is good reason to hope that the sacramental grace will be well used. Baptism especially, which raises man out of his own nothingness to a supernatural nobility, must be safeguarded in its administration with a prudence and watchfulness corresponding to the sublime and ineffaceable character which it confers. A baptized Christian who, through his own or others’ fault, is ignorant of his rights and duties, is like a descendant of a noble race who, knowing nothing of his family traditions, is despised by his kinsmen and drags out an aimless existence in a station of life below that to which by birth he is entitled.

The Church is no less vigilant to-day than she was in the time of Cyril. She has never admitted—she cannot admit—anyone to the sacred font without requiring from him a guarantee of sufficient instruction. An adult must give proof of his knowledge before he receives the Sacrament, and if the Church consents to receive an infant into the Christian family, it is because she considers that the Christian faith of those who present him to her and of the society in which they live will assure to him an education conformable to the supernatural life which is about to be given him.

Thus the baptism of infants could not become a general custom until the reign of Jesus Christ was firmly established upon earth. We must not be surprised to find that, as the conversion of the nations was gradually completed, the Church found herself alone in the work of education. The barren classes of grammarians, philosophers, and rhetoricians, who taught everything but the one thing necessary— the end for which man was created—were deserted for the episcopal and monastic schools, where the science of salvation held the first place, radiating its light upon all other branches of knowledge. Knowledge, thus made Christian, gave birth to the Universities, and produced a fruitful union of the sciences which, until then, had been quite unconnected, if not opposed to one another. The Universities were unknown before the establishment of Christianity, for it alone could solve the problem of this union, which is the essence of University life, and hence they remain the inalienable domain of the Church. The State, which to-day is pagan once more, may deny to the Mother of the nations and claim for itself the right to give the name of University to its higher schools, but peoples, which have lost their Christianity, can never have the right to found nor the power to maintain those glorious institutions in the true spirit of the name they bear. A state without faith cannot maintain any union among the sciences but that of Babel. This is already evident. The monument of a pride which rises against God and His Church will only serve to bring back that terrible confusion of tongues from which the Church had snatched the pagan peoples. Any thief or robber can assume the titles of the victim he has robbed, but his inability to display the qualities, which these titles suppose in their bearer, only serves to show more clearly that a theft has been committed.

Are we, then, to deny to a state which is pagan or, as they say nowadays, neutral, the right to educate the infidels which it has produced after its own image? No, the protection which is the right and duty of the Church extends only to the baptized. Moreover, if the Church finds one day that the state of society is no longer a sufficient guarantee for baptism, she will return to the discipline of the early ages, when the grace of this initial Sacrament was not granted indiscriminately to all, but only to those adults who had shown themselves to be worthy of it, or to infants whose families could give an assurance on which she could rely. The nations will then be once more divided into two classes—on the one side the children of God, living His life and heirs of His Kingship; on the other those men who have basely preferred to remain the slaves of the King, although by His Incarnation He has made His palace among the sons of Adam and desires to number them all among His children. An education which is common and neutral will then appear more impossible than ever. A training designed for the servants of the palace can never be suitable for the princes of the bloodroyal.

Are we drawing near to those times when men whom circumstances have unfortunately excluded from baptism at their entrance into this world will have to gain for themselves the privilege of admission into the Christian family? God alone knows, but more than one sign seems to point to it. It is possible that the institution of to-day’s feast is designed by divine Providence to correspond with the new situation which will then be created for the Church. A week ago we paid our homage to St. Gregory the Great, the Doctor of the Christian people; three days earlier our Christian students were honouring St. Thomas Aquinas, the Doctor of the Schools; why do we celebrate to-day, after fifteen centuries, the Doctor of the Catechumens, a class which has now disappeared, if not because the Church sees that St. Cyril of Jerusalem is called to render her new services by his immortal Catechetical Instructions? Even now many wandering Christians have no greater obstacle in the way of their return to God than an ignorance as desperate as, and more profound than, that of the Jews and pagans in the time of Cyril.

The lessons for the feast of this holy Doctor give a splendid account of his life and work.

Cyrillus Hierosolyraitanus, a teneris annis divinarum Scripturarum studio sumraopere deditus, adeo in carura scientia profecit, ut ortbodoxæ fidei strenuus assertor evaserit. Monasticis insti tutis imbutus, perpetuæ continentiæ, oranique severiori vivendi rationi se addictum voluit. Postquam a sancto Maximo Hierosolymæ Episcopo presbyter ordinatus fuit, munus verbi divini fidelibus prædicandi et catechumenos edocendi summa cum laude iraplevit, atque illas vere mirandas conscripsit catecheses, quibus totam ecclesiasticam doctrinam dilucide et copiose complexus, singula religionis dogmata contra fidei hostes solide propugnavit. Itavero in hic enucleate et distincte disseruit, ut non solum jam exortas hæreses, sed futuras etiam quasi præsagiens everterit, quemadmodum præetitit asserendo Corporis et Sanguinis Christi realem præsentiam in mirabili Eucharistiæ sacramento. Vita au tem functo sancto Maximo, a provinciæ episcopis in illius locum suffectus est.

In episcopatu injurias multas et calamitates, non secus ac beatus Athanasius, cui coævus erat, ab Arianorum factionibus fidei causa perpessus fuit. Hi enim ægre ferentes Cyrillum vehementer hæresibus obsistere, ipsum calumniis aggrediuntur et in concibabulo depositum e sua eede deturbant. Quorum furori ut se subtraheret, Tarsum Ciliciæ aufugit, et quoad vixit Constantius, exsilii rigorem pertulit. Post illius mortern, Juliano Apostata ad imperium evecto, Hierosolymam redire potuit, ubi ardenti zelo gregi suo ab erroribus et a vitiis revocando operam navavit. Sed iterum, Valente imperatore, exsulare coactus est, donee reddita Ecclesiæ pace per Theodosium Magnum et Arianorum crudelitate audaciaque repressa, ab eodem imperatore tamquam fortissimus Christi athleta honoribus sueceptus suæ sedi restitutus fuit. Quam strenue et sanete sublimis officii eui munia impleverit, luculenter apparet ex florenti tuno temporis Hierosolymitanæ ecclesiæ statu, quem sanctus Basilius loca sancta veneraturus, ibi aliquamdiu commoratus, describit.

Venerandi hujus Præsulis sanctitatem cælestibus signis a Deo fuisse illustratam, memorise traditum accepimus. Inter hæc recensetur præclara Crucis, solis radiis fulgentioris, apparitio, quæ episcopatus ejus initia decora vit. Hujus modi prodigii ethnici et christiani testes oculares fuerunt cum ipso Cyrillo, qui gratiis primum in Ecclesia Deo redditis, illud per epistolarn Constantio imperatori narravit. Nec minus admiratione dignum quod Judæis templum a Tito eversum restaurare ex impio imperatoria Juliani jussu conantibus, evenit. Vehement! enim terræmotu oborto, et ingentibus flammarum globis e terra erumpentibus, omnia opera ignis consumpsit, ita ut Judæi et Julianus deterriti, ab incepto destiterint; prout scilicet indubitanter futurum Cyrillus prædixerat. Qui demum paulo ante obitum concilio æcumenico Constantinopolitano interfuit, in quo Macedona hæresis, et iterum Ariana condemnata est. Ac Jerusalem inde reversus, fere septuagenarius, trigesimo quinto sui episcopatus anno, sancto fine quievit. Ejus officium et missam Leo deoimue tertiufl Pontifex Maximus ab universa Eccleeia celebran mandavit.
Cyril of Jerusalem was given to the study of the Holy Scriptures from childhood, and made such progress that he became an eminent champion of the orthodox faith. He embraced the monastic institute and bound himself to perpetual chastity and austerity of life. He was ordained priest by St. Maximus, Patriarch of Jerusalem, and undertook the work of preaching to the faithful and instructing the catechumens, in which he won the praise of all. He was the author of those truly wonderful Catechetical Instructions, which embrace clearly and fully all the teaching of the Church, and contain an excellent defence of each of the dogmas of religion against the enemies of the faith. His treatment of these subjects is so distinct and clear that he refutes not only the heresies of his own time, but also, by a kind of foreknowledge, as it were, those which were to arise later. Thus he maintains the Real Presence of the Body and Blood of Christ in the adorable sacrament of the Altar. On the death of St. Maximus, the bishops of the province chose Cyril in his place.

As Bishop he endured, like blessed Athanasius, his contemporary, many wrongs and sufferings for the sake of the faith at the hands of the Arians. They could not bear his strenuous opposition to their heresy, and thus assailed him with calumnies, deposed him in a pseudo-council and drove him from his see. To escape their rage, he fled to Tarsus in Cilicia and, as long as Constantius lived, he bore the hardships of exile. On the death of Constantius and the accession of Julian the Apostate, Cyril was able to return to Jerusalem, where he set himself with burning zeal to deliver his flock from false doctrine and from sin. He was driven into exile a second time, under the Emperor Valens, but when peace was restored to the Church by Theodosius the Great, and the cruelty and insolence of the Arians were restrained, he was received with honour by the Emperor, as a valiant soldier of Christ, and restored to his see. With what earnestness and holiness he fulfilled the duties of his exalted office was proved by the flourishing state of the Church at Jerusalem, as described by St. Basil, who spent some time there on a pilgrimage to the holy places.

Tradition states that God rendered the holiness of this venerable Patriarch illustrious by signs from heaven, among which is numbered the apparition of a cross, brighter than the sun, which was seen at the beginning of his Patriarchate. Not only Cyril himself, but pagans and Christians alike were witnesses of this marvel, which Cyril, after having given thanks to God in church, announced by letter to Constantius. Å thing no less wonderful cama to pass when the Jews were commanded by the impious Emperor Julian to restore the Temple which had been destroyed by Titus. An earthquake arose and great balls of fire broke out of the earth and consumed the work, so that Julian and the Jews were struck with terror and gave up their plan. This had been clearly foretold by Cyril. A little while before his death, he was present at the (Ecumenical Council at Constantinople, where the heresies of Macedonius and Arius were condemned. After his return to Jerusalem, he died a holy death in the sixtyninth year of his age and thirty-fifth of his episcopate. Pope Leo XIIIordered that his office and mass should be said throughout the Universal Church.

Thou wert a true child of the light, O Cyril. Thou didst give thy heart to Holy Wisdom, while yet a child, and she set thee up as a lighthouse at the entrance of the harbour to be the guide of unfortunate souls tossing on the sea of error. The Church confided to thee the mission of preparing for baptism those happy multitudes whom her recent victory had won for her from all ranks of society, and this mission was to be accomplished in a century rich in holy doctors and in the region consecrated by the mysteries of our redemption. Thou wast nourished by Holy Scripture and the teaching of the Mother of all mankind, and thy words flowed pure and abundant as water from a spring. History tells us that the many duties of thy holy ministry would not permit thee to devote thyself exclusively to the Catechumens, and thus thou wert led to improvise those admirable instructions wherein the science of salvation is set forth with such clearness. The soundness of thy doctrine and the completeness of thy exposition have never been surpassed. In thy eyes, O holy Pontiff, this science of salvation was the knowledge of God and of His Son Jesus Christ, contained in the creed of Holy Church. Preparation for baptism, for life, for the love of God, was the acquisition of this knowledge, so deep, so far-reaching and so necessary. It was to be acquired, not by the impression of a vain sentimentality, but by the reception of the word of God in the right spirit, and by constant meditation, so that the soul comes to be firmly established in the fullness of truth, in moral rectitude, and in hatred of evil.

Thou wast sure of thy hearers and didst not fear to unveil before their eyes the arguments and abominable devices of their secret enemies. There are times and circumstances, only to be judged by the shepherds of the flock, when it is necessary to disregard the revulsion of feeling caused by such revelations in order to denounce the danger and warn the sheep against intellectual or moral scandals. Thus, O Cyril, thy invectives pursued Manicheism to its most secret haunts. Thou didst see in this heresy the principal agent of that mystery of iniquity which pursues its path of darkness and destruction throughout the ages, until it shall bring the world to decay. In these times the Manichee triumphs openly. The societies founded by him have gained power. The secret of the Lodges still hides from the uninitiated the sacrilegious symbols and dogmas brought once from Persia, but the prince of this world has cleverly united all social forces in the hands of this ally. The first use he makes of his power is to attack the Church out of hatred of Christ. He assails her fruitfulness by denying her the right to teach which she has received from her divine Head. The children, whom she has brought forth and who are hers in virtue of their baptism, are snatched from her by main force, and she is forbidden to preside over their education. She calls thee to her aid, O Cyril, in these unhappy times; do not disappoint her expectations. Thou didst understand so well the claims of the sacrament of regeneration. Protect the baptism of so many innocent souls in whom men seek to stifle the divine germ. Strengthen and rekindle the faith of Christian parents and teach them that if it is their duty to defend their children from death at the risk of their own bodies, they must remember that the souls of these little ones are still more precious. It has greatly consoled us to see how many have understood this and, faithful to the dictates of their conscience, have suffered violence rather than yield to the regulations of a pagan state. Bless them, O Cyril, and increase their number. Bless also, strengthen and multiply those faithful souls who devote themselves to the instruction of poor children whose spiritual interests are betrayed by the secular power. There is no mission to-day more urgent than that of catechists, and none, surely, dearer to thy heart.

Holy Church has just related to us the apparition of the holy Cross, which marked the beginning of thy episcopate, and similar marvels have been witnessed in our own times. But the apparition in thy day announced a triumph—the triumph thou didst foresee when St. Helena discovered the tree of our redemption, the triumph which, at the time of thy death, had been confirmed by the fulfilment of the prophecies concerning the Jewish Temple. Can it be that our times are to witness only defeat and ruin? We have confidence in thy aid, O holy Pontiff. We remember that the triumph which thou didst witness was brought by the sufferings of the whole Church, in which thou thyself didst share by thrice-repeated deposition and twenty years of exile. The Cross, whose great anniversary is now approaching, is not conquered, but triumphs in the sufferings of the faithful and their patient endurance. It will appear once more, as a sign of eternal victory, over the ruins of the world on the Day of Judgment.

 

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