FEASTS OF JULY
The Precious Blood of Our Lord
From the Epistle of blessed Paul the Apostle to the Hebrews
But when Christ appeared as the high priest of the good things to come, He entered once for all through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made by hands(that is, not of this creation), nor again by virtue of the blood of goats and calves, but by virtue of His own Blood, into the Holies, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkled ashes of a heifer sanctify the unclean unto the cleansing of the flesh, how much more will the Blood of Christ, who through the Holy Ghost offered Himself unblemished unto God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And this is why He is mediator of a new covenant, that, whereas a death has taken place fro redemption from the transgressions committed under the former covenant, they who have been called may receive eternal inheritance according to the promise.
For where there is a testament, the death of the testator must intervene; for a testament is valid only when men are dead, otherwise it has no force as long as the testator is alive. Hence not even the first has been inaugurated without blood; for when every commandment of the Law had been read by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of the calves and of the goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, saying, "This is the blood of the covenant which God has commanded for you." The tabernacle also, and all the vessels of the ministry, he sprinkled likewise with blood; and with blood almost everything is cleansed according to the Law, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.
Since then, brethren, we are free to enter the Holies in virtue of the blood of Christ, a new and living way in which He inaugurated for us through the veil (that is, His flesh), and since we have a high priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in fullness of faith, having our hearts cleansed from an evil conscience by sprinkling, and the body washed by clean water. Let us hold fast the confession our hope without wavering, for He who has given the promise is faithful. And let us consider how to arouse one another to charity and good works.
Do you wish to know the power of Christ's sacred Blood? Let us then review its Old Testament antecedents, let us recall what prefigured it, listening to what sacred Scripture says. Take the story of the tenth plague. The scene is Egypt, and God has foretold the death of all Egypt's firstborn at midnight because they retained His firstborn people. But that His chosen nation would be spared -- for they were living together in the same land -- God devised a visible sign that would save them. A wonderful symbol, one which would vividly bring home to us the power of blood! Now the divine wrath is striking the land, now the destroyer is hurrying to every home! What does Moses do? He says, "Slay a yearling lamb and smear the doorposts with its blood." Such advice, O Moses? Is sheep blood capable of delivering a human being? Yes, he says, not because it is blood, but because it foreshadows the Blood of the Lord.
For just as the statues of kings, which lack life and speech, in times past, delivered men with spirit and mind who embraced them -- not, of course, because they were cast of bronze, but because they represented the king himself -- similarly, brute blood saved the Israelites, not by its own merits, but because it pointed to the divine Blood. And the Destroyer passed by the homes whose entrances were smeared with blood, and dared not enter. Likewise, the devil must now flee from the soul sealed, not with the blood of an ancient type, but with the very Blood of Christ, the divine lamb. If the Destroyer fled in terror from the mere figure, with what unimaginable fright will Satan shrink away when he beholds the true reality! Do you desire to learn another power of this Blood? I want you to look and see whence it first runs, and from what source it flows. It comes from the Cross itself, its origin is in the Lord's side: He laid open the wall of that temple; what I have done is to find there a magnificent treasure: I have had the joy of discovering shining riches.
It was the same way with the lamb: what the Jews did was to kill a lamb; what I have done is to experience the fruit of the sacrament typified by the lamb. From His side flowed Blood and water. Dear listener, I would not have you pass too lightly over the secrets of such a great mystery. I still have to discourse on hidden, mystical matters. I have said that the water and the Blood symbolized baptism and the mysteries of the altar. For it was from these that the Holy Church was founded, through the bath of regeneration, and the renewal of the Holy Ghost. Through baptism, I mean, and the mysteries which are seen to flow from the side of Christ. Thus from His side did Christ build up the Church, as from Adam's side his wife Eve was brought forth. This is the gist of St. Paul's testimony, "We are made from His body and His bones," meaning from Christ's side. For, just as from Adam's side, God caused the woman to be created, so also from His side did Christ give us the Blood and water from which the Church is built up. -- On the nineteen hundredth anniversary of the redemption of the human race, Pope Pius XI wished to celebrate a holy Jubilee to honor such an unutterable benefit. And, that more abundant fruit of that precious Blood of the immaculate Lamb by which we were redeemed might flow to men, and its memory more vividly be brought home to the faithful, the same pope raised the celebration of the Most Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ to the rank of a first class feast, to be celebrated each year by the universal Church.
V.Justified by the Blood of Christ.
R.We shall be saved through Him from the wrath.
Antiphon: (Ben.)"The blood of the Lamb will be your sign," says the Lord. "Seeing the blood, I will pass over you; thus no destructive blow will come upon you."
V.We beseech Thee, therefore, to help Thy servants.
R.Whom Thou hast redeemed by Thy Most Precious Blood.
Antiphon: (Magn.)This day shall be a memorial feast for you, which all your generations shall celebrate with pilgrimage to the Lord, as a perpetual institution.
Collect:Let us pray: All powerful, and eternal God, Thou hast appointed Thy Son Redeemer of the world, and Thy justice was appeased by His Blood. Each year on this feast we adore that Blood, the price of our salvation; may its power defend us against all the evils of this life on earth, and prepare us for the eternal joy of heaven. This we ask of Thee through the same Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, who with Thee and the Holy Ghost livest and reignest, God, world without end. Amen.
St. Leo II Pope & Confessor
From Dom Guéranger
Pope Leo II was a Sicilian. He was learned in sacred and profane letters, as also in the Greek and Latin tongues, and was moreover an excellent musician. He rearranged and improved the music of the sacred hymns and psalms used in the Church. He approved the acts of the Sixth General Council, which was held at Constantinople under the presidency of the legates of the apostolic see, in the presence of the emperor Constantine, the patriarchs of Constantinople and Antioch, and one hundred and seventy bishops: Leo also translated these said acts into Latin.
It was in this council that Cyrus, Sergius, and Pyrrhus were condemned for teaching that there is in Christ only one will and one operation. Leo broke the pride of the archbishops of Ravenna, who had puffed themselves up under the power of the exarchs, to set at naught the power of the apostolic see. Wherefore he decreed that the election of the clergy of Ravenna should be worth nothing until they had been confirmed by the authority of the Bishop of Rome.
He was a true father to the poor. Not by money only, but by his deeds, his labors, and his advice, he relieved the poverty and loneliness of widows and orphans. He was leading all to live holy and godly lives, not by mere preaching, but by his own life, when he fell asleep in the Lord, having sat as Pope eleven months in the year 683, and was buried in the church of Saint Peter, the fifth of the nones of July. In the month of June he held one ordination, whereat he ordained nine priests, three deacons, and twenty-three bishops for divers places.
Maria Goretti, Virgin & Martyr
Principally from Butler's Lives of the Saints
Maria was born in 1890 at Corinaldo, the daughter of farm laborers. At a young age her father died of malaria, leaving her mother to raise the six children by taking whatever work was available. Although they lived under difficult circumstances, none was more cheerful and encouraging to her mother than Maria. On a hot afternoon in July 1902 she was seated at the top of the stairs of the cottage, mending clothes. A cart stopped outside and a neighbor, a young man of eighteen named Alexander, ran up the stairs. He beckoned Maria into an adjoining bedroom, but as this sort of thing had happened before she refused to go. Alexander seized her, pulled her in, and shut the door. In her muffled cries for help she sobbed that she would die rather than submit. Enraged, the man produced a knife, exposed her flesh, and began stabbing blindly. She sank to the floor, crying out that she was being killed: Alexander plunged the knife into her back and ran.
Maria was taken to the hospital under hopeless circumstances. Her last hours were most touching: her concern for where her mother was going to sleep, her forgiveness for her murderer (whom she now disclosed had long tormented her), and her childlike welcoming of our Lord in Holy Viaticum. Her mother, the parish priest of Nettuno, a Spanish noblewoman, and two nuns watched at her bedside, but within twenty-four hours after her assault she gave up her spirit.
Alexander was sentenced to thirty years' penal servitude. After many years of resentment, Maria appeared to him in a dream, gathering flowers and offering them to him. His repentance and change of demeanor were so clear that he was released, a model prisoner, in only twenty-seven years. His first act when free was to visit Maria's mother to beg her forgiveness. The mother lived to see Maria beatified in 1947. When she was canonized in 1950 by Pope Pius XII, Alexander was still alive.
Ss John Fisher & Thomas More, Martyrs
From The Saint Andrew's Missal
Among the Christian heroes who fought resolutely against heresy and laid down their lives rather than adhere to the schism in England, a place of honor is due to cardinal John Fisher and to the chancellor Thomas More. John Fisher, born at Beverley in 1469, chancellor of the academy of Cambridge, later for 33 years bishop of Rochester, refuted in many books the protestant errors. Thomas More, born in London in 1478, a layman, married and the father of a family, learned jurist and scholar, was made High Chancellor of England by Henry VIII. Both were imprisoned in the Tower of London by order of the king because they were opposed to his illegitimate union with Anna Boleyn, and because they refused him the usurpated title of supreme head of the Church of England in matters spiritual as well as temporal. John Fisher, created cardinal by Pope Paul III, ascended the scaffold on the 22th of June 1535 and was beheaded after reading the sentence form the Gospel: "This is eternal life that they may know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent." Thomas More was beheaded in his turn on the 6th of July 1535 for having resisted, after the example of the great doctor of the law Eleazar, all solicitations on the part of his own family and which he deemed contrary to his conscience and to the rights of God, of Christ, and the Church. Pope Pius XI solemnly canonized these two saints on the 19th of March 1935.
At Lauds and Vespers:
[V]In you patience.
[R]You shall possess your souls.
Antiphon: (Magnificat & Benedictus)
The just stood before the Lord and were not separated from each other: they drank the chalice of the Lord, and have been called friends of God.
Collect:O God, who didst raise up Thy blessed martyrs, John and Thomas from among the English to be defenders of the true faith and of the primacy of the holy Roman Church, grant that through their merits and prayers, we may all become and remain one by the profession of the same faith. Through our Lord....
St. Pius I, Pope and Martyr
From Dom Guéranger
Pius, the first of this name, a citizen of Aquileia, and son of Rufinus, was priest of the Holy Roman Church. During the reign of Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius he was chosen Sovereign Pontiff. In five ordinations which he held in the month of December he ordained twelve bishops and eighteen priests. Several admirable decrees of his are still extant: in particular that which ordains that the resurrection of our Lord is always to be celebrated on a Sunday. He changed the house of Pudens into a church, and because it surpassed the other titles in dignity, inasmuch as the Roman Pontiffs had made it their dwelling place, he dedicated it under the title of Pastor. Here he often celebrated the holy mysteries, baptized many who had been converted to the faith, and enrolled them in the ranks of the faithful. While he was thus fulfilling the duties of a good shepherd, he shed his blood for his sheep and for Christ the Supreme Pastor, being crowned with martyrdom on the fifth of the ides of July (c. 150 A.D.). He was buried in the Vatican.
Pope St. Anacletus
From Dom Guéranger
Anacletus, an Athenian by birth, governed the Church in the days of the Emperor Trajan. He decreed that a bishop should be consecrated by no fewer than three bishops; that clerics should be publicly admitted to Holy Orders by their own bishop; and that at Mass all should communicate after the Consecration. He adorned the tomb of blessed Peter, and set aside a place for the burial of the Roman Pontiffs. He held two ordinations in the month of December, and made five priests, three deacons, and six bishops. He sat in St. Peter's Chair nine years, three months, and ten days; was crowned with martyrdom; and was buried in the Vatican.
Our Lady of Mount Carmel
When on the holy day of Pentecost, the Apostles, through heavenly inspiration spoke diverse tongues and worked many miracles by the invocation of the most holy name of Jesus, it is said that many men who were walking in the footsteps of the prophets Elias and Eliseus, and had been prepared for the coming of the Christ by the preaching of John the Baptist, saw and acknowledged the truth, and at once embraced the faith of the Gospel. These new Christians were so happy to be able to enjoy the company of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and venerated her with so special an affection, that they, before all others, built a chapel to the purest of Virgins on that very spot of Carmel where Elias of old had seen the cloud, a remarkable type of the Virgin ascending.
Many times each day they came together to the new oratory, and with pious prayers, ceremonies, and praises, honored the Blessed Virgin Mary as the protector of their order. For this reason, people from all parts began to call them the Brethren of the Blessed Virgin of Mount Carmel; and the sovereign pontiffs not only confirmed this title, but granted special indulgences to whoever called either the whole Order or individual brothers by that name. But the most noble Virgin not only gave them her name and protection; she also bestowed upon blessed Simon, the Englishman, the holy Scapular as a token, wishing the holy Order to be distinguished by that garment, and to be protected by it from the evils which were assailing it. Moreover, as formerly the Order was unknown in Europe, and on this account, many were importuning Honorious III for its abolition, the loving Virgin Mary appeared by night to Pope Honorious, and clearly bade him receive both the order and its members with kindness.
The Blessed Virgin has enriched the Order so dear to her with many privileges, not only in this world, but also in the next; for everywhere she is most powerful and most merciful. It is piously believed that those of her children who have been enrolled in the Confraternity of the Scapular, have fulfilled the small abstinences, said the prayers prescribed, and maintained chastity according to their state in life, will be consoled by our Lady while they are being purified by the fire of purgatory, and will, through her intercession, be taken thence as soon as possible to the country of heaven. The Order, thus laden with so many graces, has ordained that this solemn commemoration of the Blessed Virgin should be observed annually forever, to her greater glory.
St. Alexius, Confessor
From Dom Guéranger
Alexius was the son of one of Rome's noblest families. Through his exceeding love for Jesus Christ, he, by special inspiration from God, left his wife still a virgin on the first night of their marriage, and undertook a pilgrimage to the most illustrious churches all over the world. For seventeen years he remained unknown, while performing these pilgrimages, and then his name was revealed at Edessa, a town of Syria, by an image of the most holy Virgin Mary. He therefore left Syria by sea and sailed to the port of Rome, where he was received as a guest by his own father, who took him for a stranger. He lived in his father's house, unknown to all, for seventeen years, and having then passed to heaven, leaving a written paper which revealed his name, his family, and the story of his whole life. His death occurred in the Pontificate of Innocent I.
St. Praxedes, Virgin
From Dom Guéranger
Praxedes was a Roman Virgin, and sister of the virgin Prudentiana. When the emperor Marcus Antoninus persecuted the Christians, she devoted both her time and her wealth to consoling them, and to doing them every charitable service in her power. Some she concealed in her house: others she encouraged to firmness of faith. She buried the dead and saw that those who were imprisoned wanted for nothing. But at length being unable to bear the grief caused by such wholesale butchery of the Christians, she prayed God that if it were expedient for her to die He would take her away from so much evil. Her prayer was heard and on the twelfth of the Calends of August (July 21st), she was called to heaven to receive the reward of her charity. Her body was buried by the priest Pastor in the tomb where lay her father and her sister Prudentiana, in the cemetery of Priscilla, on the Salarian Way.
St. Christina, Virgin & Martyr
From various sources
Christina, whose very name fills the Church with the fragrance of the Spouse, comes as a graceful harbinger to the feast of the elder "son of thunder," Saint James. The ancient Vulsinium, seated by its lake with basalt shores and clear calm waters (now called the lake of Bolsena), was the scene of a triumph over Etruscan paganism, when this child of ten years despised the idols of the nations, in the very place where, according to the edicts of Constantine, the false priests of Umbria and Tuscany held a solemn annual reunion. The young girl, of the Roman family of the Anicii destroyed the gold and silver idols of her father's house, selling the pieces to accommodate the poor. Her father attempted unsuccessfully to drown her. But being preserved from his wrath, she was given to the civil authority who severed her tongue, subjected her to venomous snakes, and finally shot her through with arrows. A Eucharistic miracle, which may have influenced the establishment of the feast of Corpus Christi is said to have taken place in her church in Bolsena.
St. Pantaleon, Martyr
Principally from Dom Guéranger
Pantaleon was a nobleman of Nicomedia and a physician. Some say that he was instructed in the faith and baptized by the priest Hermolaus, and soon persuaded his father Eustorgius to become a Christian. Others hold by that he was brought to the faith by his mother, and that the priest Hermolaus persuaded him to return to it after he succumbed to the temptations of the imperial court. In either event, he freely preached the faith of our Lord Christ in Nicomedia, and encouraged all to embrace his doctrine. But he became subject to the persecution during the reign of Diocletian. He was tortured on the rack, and red hot plates were applied to his body. He bore the violence of these tortures calmly and bravely, and being finally beheaded, obtained the crown of martyrdom around 305 A.D. He is numbered among those saints referred to as "helpers," serving as a friend in need and physician to the poor.
Ss. Abdon & Sennen, Martyrs
From Dom Guéranger
During the reign of Decius, two Persians, Abdon and Sennen, were accused of burying on their own estate the bodies of Christians which had been exposed. By order of the Emperor they were apprehended and commanded to sacrifice to the gods. As they refused to obey, and moreover with the greatest constancy proclaimed Jesus Christ to be God, they were placed in close confinement, and when later Decius returned to Rome they were led in chains in his triumphal march. They were dragged to the Roman idols, but to show their hated of the demons they spat upon them. Upon this they were exposed to the fury of lions and bears, but the beasts did not dare to touch them; at length they were put to death by the sword. Their bodies were dragged by the feet before the statue of the sun, but they were secretly carried away and buried by Quirinus the deacon in his own house.