FEASTS OF NOVEMBER
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Of Our Lady on Saturday
"I went to the prophetess", he says, "and she conceived and bore a son." To see Mary in the prophetess whom Isaias approached by spiritual foreknowledge one need only recall the words Mary uttered when she was inspired by the spirit of prophecy: "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior; because He has regarded the lowliness of His handmaid; for behold, henceforth all generation shall call me blessed." In fact, if you bear in mind all that she said, you can only agree that she was indeed the prophetess, since the spirit of Lord came upon her, and the power of the Most High overshadowed her.
Lesson i Apocalypse iv: 2-8
Behold there was a throne set in heaven, and upon the throne one sitting. And he that sat, was to the sight like the jasper and the sardius stone; and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald. And round about the throne were four and twenty seats; and upon the seats, four and twenty ancients sitting, clothed in white garments, and on their heads were crowns of gold. And from the throne proceeded lightnings, and voices, and thunders; and there were seven lamps burning before the throne, which are the seven spirits of God. And in the sight of the throne was, as it were, a sea of glass like to crystal; and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four living creatures, full of eyes before and behind. And the first living creature was like a lion: and the second living creature like a calf: and the third living creature, having the face, as it were, of a man: and the fourth living creature was like an eagle flying. And the four living creatures had each of them six wings; and round about and within they are full of eyes. And they rested not day and night, saying: Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, who was, and who is, and who is to come.
Lesson ii: Apocalypse v: 1-8
And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne, a book written within and without, sealed with seven seals. And I saw a strong angel, proclaiming with a loud voice: Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof? And no man was able, neither in heaven, nor on earth, nor under the earth, to open the book, nor to look on it. And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open the book, nor to see it. And one of the ancients said to me: Weep not; behold the lion of the tribe of Juda, the root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof. And I saw: and behold in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the ancients, a Lamb standing as it were slain, having seven horns and seven eyes: which are the seven Spirits of God, sent forth into all the earth. And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat on the throne. And when he had opened the book, the four living creatures, and the four and twenty ancients fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odors, which are the prayers of saints:
Lesson iii: Apocalypse v: 9-14
And they sung a new canticle, saying: Thou art worthy, O Lord, to take the book, and to open the seals thereof; because thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God, in thy blood, out of every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation. And hast made us to our God a kingdom and priests, and we shall reign on the earth. And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne, and the living creatures, and the ancients; and the number of them was thousands of thousands, Saying with a loud voice: The Lamb that was slain is worthy to receive power, and divinity, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and benediction. And every creature, which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them: I heard all saying: To him that sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, benediction, and honor, and glory, and power, for ever and ever. And the four living creatures said: Amen. And the four and twenty ancients fell down on their faces, and adored him that lives for ever and ever.
Dearly beloved brethren: This day we keep, with one great cry of joy, a Feast in memory of all God's holy children; His children, whose presence is a gladness to heaven; His children, whose prayers are a blessing to earth; His children, whose victories are the crown of the Holy Church; His chosen, whose testifying is the more glorious in honor, as the agony in which it was given was the sterner in intensity, for as the battle grew more dread, so the greater grew the fighters, and the triumph of martyrdom became more incisive by the multiplication of suffering, and the heavier the torment the heavier the prize. And it is our Mother, the Catholic Church, spread far and wide throughout all this planet, it is she that has learned, in Christ Jesus her Head, not to fear shame, nor cross, nor death, but has waxed more and more faithful, and, not by fighting, but by enduring, hath breathed into all that noble band who have come up to the bitter starting-post the hope of conquest and glory which hath warmed them manfully to accept the race.
Oh, truly thou art blessed, O my Mother the Church! The blaze of God's mercy beats full upon thee; thine adornment is the glorious blood of victorious Martyrs, and thy raiment the virgin whiteness of untarnished orthodoxy. thy garlands lack neither roses nor lilies. And now, dearly beloved brethren, let each one of us strive to gain the goodly crown of one sort or the other, either the glistening whiteness of purity, or the red crown of suffering. In the army in heaven, peace and war have both floral crowns of their own, to crown Christ's soldiers.
Moreover, to this also has the unutterable and boundless goodness of God seen, that He spreads not the time of working and wrestling, neither makes it long, nor everlasting, and, as it were, but for a moment, so that in this short and scanty life there is wrestling and working, but the crown and the prize is in a life which is eternal. So the work is soon over, but the wage is paid for ever. And when the night of this world is over, the Saints are to see the clearness of the essential light, and to receive a blessedness outweighing the pangs of any torment, as testifies the Apostle Paul, where he says: "The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us."
At that time Jesus seeing the multitudes, He went up into a mountain, and when He was set down, His disciples came unto him. Etc.
homily of Saint Augustine, Bishop
If it be asked what is signified by the mountain, the said mountain may well be understood to figure the higher and greater commandments of righteousness, since those that have been given to the Jews are the lesser. The one God, in an excellent order of times, gave, by His holy Prophets and servants, His lesser commandments unto the people whom it still to be bound by fear, but by His Son He gave the greater commandments unto the people now set free by love. But whether it be the lesser to the lesser, or the greater to the greater, all are alike the gift of Him Who alone knows what is in each age the appropriate medicine for mankind.
Neither is it a marvel that the greater commandments be given touching the kingdom of heaven, and the lesser touching a commonwealth upon earth, since both are alike the gifts of that one God Who is the Maker alike of heaven and of earth. The higher and greater righteousness, then, is that of which the Prophet says: "Thy righteousness is like the mountains of God." Thus is that Teacher, Who alone can give such teaching, mystically represented as teaching upon a mountain. "And when He was set." The attitude of sitting while teaching pertains to the majesty of His instruction. His disciples came nearer to Him in the body, to hear those precepts, by the fulfillment of which they should be nearer in spirit. "And He opened His Mouth, and taught them, saying...." These words "And He opened His Mouth," appear redundant to the sense. It may possibly be that this more pompous introduction is adopted on account of the exceptional length of the discourse to follow. But it may also be that these words are not really redundant, but the pointed declaration that He now opened His Own Mouth, Who, under the Old Law, had been used to open the mouths of the Prophets.
And now, what says He? "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." We have read where it is written concerning the lusting after temporal things: "The wandering of the desire is vanity and presumption of spirit." Presumption of spirit signifies rashness and pride. We say of proud people that they are men of high spirit, and we say well, since spirit is only one of the Latin names for wind. It is so used, for instance, in "Fire, hail, snow, ice, stormy winds." Who hath not heard the proud spoken of as puffed up, as if they were inflated with wind? Hence, alas, the Apostle saith: "Knowledge puffs up, but charity edifies." By the poor in spirit, who are here called blessed, are rightly to be understood such as are lowly and fear God, that is, have not got minds puffed up with windy vanity.
Commemoration of the Faithful Departed
Lesson i: Job vii:16-21
I have done with hope, I shall now live no longer: spare me, for my days are nothing. What is a man that thou should magnify him? or why dost thou set thy heart upon him? Thou visit him early in the morning, and thou prove him suddenly. How long wilt thou not spare me, nor suffer me to swallow down my spittle? I have sinned: what shall I do to thee, O keeper of men? why hast thou set me opposite to thee, and I am become burdensome to myself? Why dost thou not remove my sin, and why dost thou not take away my iniquity? Behold now I shall sleep in the dust: and if thou seek me in the morning, I shall not be.
Lesson ii: Job xiv: 1-6
Man born of a woman, living for a short time, is filled with many miseries. Who comes forth like a flower, and is destroyed, and flees as a shadow, and never continues in the same state. And dost thou think it proper to open thy eyes upon such an one, and to bring him into judgment with thee? Who can make him clean that is conceived of unclean seed? is it not thou who only art? The days of man are short, and the number of his months is with thee: thou hast appointed his bounds which cannot be passed. Depart a little from him, that he may rest, until his wished for day come, as that of the hireling.
Lesson iii: Job xix: 20-27
The flesh being consumed. My bone has cleaved to my skin, and nothing but lips are left about my teeth. Have pity on me, have pity on me, at least you my friends, because the hand of the Lord hath touched me. Why do you persecute me as God, and glut yourselves with my flesh? Who will grant me that my words may be written? Who will grant me that they may be marked down in a book? With an iron pen and in a plate of lead, or else be graven with an instrument in flint stone. For I know that my Redeemer lives, and in the last day I shall rise out of the earth. And I shall be clothed again with my skin, and in my flesh I will see my God. Whom I myself shall see, and my eyes shall behold, and not another: this my hope is laid up in my bosom.
From the Book of Saint
Augustine, Bishop, on duties toward the dead
The arrangements for burial, the preparation of the tomb, the funeral procession are a mark of a good human affection towards the remains of one's friends. Yet it follows not that the bodies of the departed are to be despised and flung aside, and above all of just and faithful men, which bodies as organs and vessels to all good works their spirit has holily used. For if a father's garment and ring, and whatever such like, is the more dear to those whom they leave behind, the greater their affection is towards their parents, in no wise are the bodies themselves to be spurned, which truly we wear in more familiar and close conjunction than any of our putting on. For these pertain not to ornament or aid which is applied from without, but to the very nature of man. Whence also the funerals of the just men of old were with dutiful piety cared for, and their obsequies celebrated, and burial provided: and themselves while living did touching burial or even translation of their bodies give charge to their sons.
Lesson v: Chapter 4
And when this affection is exhibited to the departed by faithful men who were most dear to them, there is no doubt that it profits them who while living in the body merited that such things should profit them after this life. But even if some necessity should through absence of all facility not allow bodies to be interred, or in such places interred, yet should there be no omitting of supplications for the spirits of the dead: which supplications, that they should be made for all in Christian and Catholic fellowship departed, even without mentioning of their names, under a general commemoration, the Church has charged herself withal; to the intent that they which lack, for these offices, parents or sons or whatever kindred or friends, may have the same afforded unto them by the one pious Mother which is common to all. But if there were lack of these supplications, which are made with right faith and piety for the dead, I account that it should not a whit profit their spirits, howsoever in holy places the lifeless bodies should be deposited.
Lesson vi: Chapter 18
Which things being so, let us not think that to the dead for whom we have a care, any thing reaches save what by sacrifices either of the altar, or of prayers, or of alms, we solemnly supplicate: although not to all for whom they are done be they profitable, but to them only by whom while they live it is obtained that they should be profitable. But forasmuch as we discern not who these be, it is meet to do them for all regenerate persons, that none of them may be passed by to whom these benefits may and ought to reach. For better it is that these things shall be superfluously done to them whom they neither hinder nor help, than lacking to them whom they help. More diligently however does each man these things for his own near and dear friends, in order that they may be likewise done unto him by his. But as for the burying of the body, whatever is bestowed on that, is no aid of salvation, but an office of humanity, according to that affection by which no man ever hates his own flesh. Whence it is fitting that he take what care he is able for the flesh of his neighbor, when he is gone that bare it. And if they do these things who believe not the resurrection of the flesh, how much more are they beholden to do the same who do believe; that so, an office of this kind bestowed upon a body, dead but yet to rise again and to remain to eternity, may also be in some sort a testimony of the same faith?
Lesson vii: 1 Corinthians xv: 12-22
From the First Epistle to the Corinthians
Now if Christ be preached, that he arose again from the dead, how do some among you say, that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen again. And if Christ be not risen again, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God: because we have given testimony against God, that he hath raised up Christ; whom he hath not raised up, if the dead rise not again. For if the dead rise not again, neither is Christ risen again. And if Christ be not risen again, your faith is vain, for you are yet in your sins. Then they also that are fallen asleep in Christ, are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now Christ is risen from the dead, the first fruits of them that sleep: For by a man came death, and by a man the resurrection of the dead. And as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive.
Lesson viii: 1 Corinthians xv: 35-44
But some man will say: How do the dead rise again? or with what manner of body shall they come? Senseless man, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die first. And that which thou sow, thou sow not the body that shall be; but bare grain, as of wheat, or of some of the rest. But God gives it a body as he will: and to every seed its proper body. All flesh is not the same flesh: but one is the flesh of men, another of beasts, another of birds, another of fishes. And there are bodies celestial, and bodies terrestrial: but, one is the glory of the celestial, and another of the terrestrial. One is the glory of the sun, another the glory of the moon, and another the glory of the stars. For star differs from star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption, it shall rise in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor, it shall rise in glory. It is sown in weakness, it shall rise in power. It is sown a natural body, it shall rise a spiritual body.
Lesson ix: 1 Corinthians xv: 51-58
Behold, I tell you a mystery. We shall all indeed rise again: but we shall not all be changed. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall rise again incorruptible: and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption; and this mortal must put on immortality. And when this mortal hath put on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting? Now the sting of death is sin: and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who hath given us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast and unmovable; always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.
Saint Martin de Porres
From Butler's Lives
Among the people to whom the epithet "half-caste" is often given as a term of contempt, the first of whom it is recorded that he practiced heroic Christian virtue is the Dominican lay-brother, Martin de Porres. He was born in Lima, Peru in 1579, the natural child of John de Porres, a Spanish knight, and a black freed-woman from Panama, Anna by Baptism. Martin inherited his mothers features and complexion, a matter of vexation to his noble father, who nevertheless acknowledged the boy and his sister as his children, but eventually left Martin to the care of his mother. At twelve he was apprenticed to a barber-surgeon; but three years later he was admitted to the Rosary convent of the Order of Preachers at Lima, eventually becoming a professed lay-brother. Martin served his Dominican brothers as barber, surgeon, wardrobe keeper, and infirmarian; often holding more than one post simultaneously. Martin's charity extended outside the convent to the sick and poor of the city. He established a foundling hospital and an orphanage, and was responsible for the monastery's daily distribution of food to the poor. He took it upon himself to aid those brought to Peru in slavery from Africa. His continuous charitable activities were matched only by the intensity of his spiritual life; in his lifetime he was known for his penance, levitation, bi-location, and other such supernatural gifts. He died in the Dominican priory of the Rosary on November 3rd, 1639. Beatified in 1837, he was canonized only in 1962, by Pope John XXIII.
Charles Borromeo, Bishop
Charles, of the noble family of Borromeo, was born at Milan. In foretoken of his holy life, God caused a bright light to shine by night over the chamber where his mother lay in travail. As soon as his age would allow him, he received the tonsure. When he was twelve years old, he was made an Abbot but reminded his father that the revenues thereof were not to be used as mere family property. His father, to whom the administration of these revenues fell during his son's non-age, still gave them forthwith over to him, and whatever was left over, he gave to the poor. While he was young he studied letters at Pavia. He kept his purity thoroughly, so that he scared away the unclean women, of whom many were set upon him, to overthrow his self-control. In the twenty-third year of his age, his uncle Pius IV. made him a Cardinal, in which dignity he was a burning and shining light of godliness and all graces before the whole of the Sacred College. About forty days afterwards the same Pope created him Archbishop of Milan. As such it was his great desire to order the Church committed to his charge in accordance with the requirements of the most holy Council of Trent, which was in great part by his labors brought to a conclusion. To raise up the degraded lives of the people, he oftentimes held Synods, but himself set an example of deep godliness. He worked earnestly to purge the parts about the Alps and borders of Switzerland of heresy, and brought many of the heretics to the Christian faith.
Charity was the brightest mark of his life. His principality of Oria, in Naples, he sold for forty thousand crowns, and gave the whole sum to the poor in one day. Twenty thousand crowns being left him as a legacy he gave the whole to the poor. The incomes of the benefices wherewith he had been loaded by his uncle, he spent upon the needs of the poor, except what he used for himself. When the plague grievously raged in Milan, he gave up to the sick poor the furniture of his own house, even to his own bedding, and thenceforward slept upon the boards. He constantly visited the sick, cheered them by his fatherly kindness, and wonderfully comforted them, ministering to them with his own hands the Sacraments of the Church. At the same time he drew near to plead for them with God in lowly entreaty, and ordered a public Procession wherein he walked himself carrying a Cross, with a rope halter round his neck, and his bare feet bleeding from the stones, and fain to turn away the Divine anger by offering himself as a scapegoat for the sins of his people. He was a stout defender of the freedom of the Church. But in the Church he was an earnest reformer of discipline, and once, when he was engaged in prayer, conspirators took a shot at him with a blunderbuss, but, though the ball struck him, the power of God kept him unharmed.
He was remarkable for his abstinence. He very often fasted upon nothing but bread and water, and sometimes nothing but lupines. He tamed his body by depriving himself of sleep, by very rough haircloth, and by constant scourging. He was an earnest practiser of lowliness and meekness. However much he was taken up with business, he never gave himself relaxation from prayer and from preaching the word of God. He built many Churches, convents, and schools. He wrote much matter, useful more especially for the good of Bishops. The publication of the Parish Priests' Catechism [also known as The Catechism of the Council of Trent] was due to his care. In October, 1584, he withdrew himself, for the purpose of making a retreat, to the Sacro Monte of Varallo, an hill whereon the incidents of the Lord's sufferings are represented in life-size groups of colored figures. On Oct. 24 he was taken ill of an ague, but concealed it, and lived there for some days a life of torture by voluntary suffering, but of sweetness by thoughts of Christ's woes. After his return to Milan, his sickness became hopeless, and early in the night between the 3rd and 4th days of November, in the 47th year of his own age, and in that of our Lord 1584, covered with ashes and sackcloth, and with his eyes fixed upon the image of Christ crucified, he exchanged earth for heaven. He was famous for miracles, and Pope Paul V. numbered him among the Saints.
5 Ss. Zachary and Elizabeth
Ss. Zachary and Elizabeth
Zachary was a priest of the Old Testament, and his wife was of the family of Aaron: both were "well approved in God's sight, following all the commandments and the law without reproach." Elizabeth was a kinswoman—in what degree, we are not informed—of the Blessed Virgin Mary. They were without children, and perhaps beyond the normal age for generation, when Zachary, officiating in the Temple, had a vision of an angel who told him that in response to their prayers they should have a son, "to whom thou shalt give the name John," who should be filled with the Holy Ghost even in his mother's womb, and who should bring back many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God.
The coming to pass of these things and their circumstances are detailed in Saint Luke's Gospel: the visitation of our Lady to Elizabeth; the babe leaping in her womb on receiving the Holy Ghost; Elizabeth greeting Mary, "full of grace"; her response, "My soul magnifies the Lord"; and Zachary's canticle when he spoke for the first time after the Baptist's birth, "Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel." Nothing else is recorded in the Scriptures, but it was held by many of the Fathers that Zachary died a martyr, killed by Herod "between the porch and the altar" of the Temple because he refused to disclose his son's whereabouts. The Roman Martyrology says nothing of his martyrdom when it names Zachary and Elizabeth on November 5, the day on which the feast is kept in Palestine, Saint Zachary is named among the saints in the Mass of the Mozarabic rite.
6 Saint Leonard of Noblac
Saint Leonard of Noblac
It is generally presumed that Leonard was an important man among the tribe of the Franks, converted to the Catholic Faith from paganism by Saint Remigius; with Clovis himself serving as God-father. Refusing to accept the episcopate, he joined the monastery of Micy in Orleans, and later entered the eremitical life in the forest of Limoges. It is said that through Leonard's prayers, Clovis' wife was delivered of a dangerous and painful childbirth, which prompted him to reward Leonard with as much land as he could ride around on a mule in one night. On this ground was raised the abbey of Noblac, often identified with the town of Saint-Léonard. Leonard is considered a patron of women in childbirth. He is also held in esteem by prisoners, in accord with a legend that Clovis promised to release every prisoner Saint Leonard visited.
7 Saint Wilibrord, Bishop
Saint Wilibrord, Bishop
Willibrord was born in Northumbria in the year 658, and placed in the monastery at Ripon before his seventh birthday. He spent several year in Ireland at the monastic schools, where he became acquainted with monks anxious to evangelize northern Germany. At thirty-one, a priest for but one year, he was permitted to begin the mission in the company of eleven other monks. At Utrecht they were urged to preach in lower Friesland, recently conquered by the Frank, Pepin of Herstal. Willibrord obtained permission for this mission from Pope Saint Sergius I, who provided him with numerous relics for the consecration of churches. After meeting with considerable success, Willibrord was sent back to Rome with Pepin's request that he be consecrated bishop, which was accomplished in Saint Cecilia's church on her feast day in 695. Willibrord's mission was expanded to include the more hostile territories of upper Friesland and Denmark. Driven by the weather to the island of Heligoland, considered sacred by the pagans, he demonstrated the impotence of their false gods by killing and eating forbidden game, and by drawing and baptizing with water from a forbidden spring. One of his companions was martyred on this occasion, and he barely escaped death himself at the hands of a pagan priest, enraged when he destroyed an idol. In 714 he baptized Charles Martel's son Pepin the Short, prophesying accurately that the child would surpass the glory of his ancestors. After temporary setbacks, Willibrord consolidated his efforts in Friesland and Germany, assisted by Saint Boniface. He died in the monastery he had founded at Echternach, at the age of eighty-one, on November 7th, 739
8 Four Crowned Holy Martyrs
Four Crowned Holy Martyrs
The four Pannonian martyrs Severus, Severian, Carpophorus, and Victorinus were stone masons, sometimes confused with five martyrs of the city of Albano who died on this same day. The four were beaten to death with lead tipped whips under Diocletian after they refused to produce statues of the pagan gods. Their bodies were simply dumped into the public sewer, but were recovered and given honorable burial by Pope Melchiades and Saint Sebastian. During the middle ages they were held in high esteem and venerated as patrons by those who worked in stone.
Dedication of the Archbasilica of the Most Holy Savior
Lesson i: Apocalypse xxi: 9-11
And there came one of the seven angels, who had the vials full of the seven last plagues, and spoke with me, saying: Come, and I will show thee the bride, the wife of the Lamb. And he took me up in spirit to a great and high mountain: and he shewed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, Having the glory of God, and the light thereof was like to a precious stone, as to the jasper stone, even as crystal.
Lesson ii: Apocalypse xxi: 12-15
And it had a wall great and high, having twelve gates, and in the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel. On the east, three gates: and on the north, three gates: and on the south, three gates: and on the west, three gates. And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them, the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. And he that spoke with me, had a measure of a reed of gold, to measure the city and the gates thereof, and the wall.
Lesson iii: Apocalypse xxi: 16-18
And the city lies in a foursquare, and the length thereof is as great as the breadth: and he measured the city with the golden reed for twelve thousand furlongs, and the length and the height and the breadth thereof are equal. And he measured the wall thereof an hundred and forty-four cubits, the measure of a man, which is of an angel. And the building of the wall thereof was of jasper stone: but the city itself pure gold, like to clear glass.
The Rites whereof the Church of Rome makes use for the consecrating of Churches and Altars were first instituted by blessed Pope Sylvester. From the very time of the Apostles there had been places set apart for God, where assemblies took place upon the first day of every week, and where the Christians were used to pray, to hear the word of God, and to receive the Eucharist, which places were by some called Oratories and by others Churches. But these places were not dedicated with so solemn a form, nor did they set up therein an Altar for a pillar, and pour chrism thereon, would symbolize our Lord Jesus Christ, Who is Himself our Altar, our Victim, and our Priest.
But when the Emperor Constantine had by the Sacrament of Baptism received health both of body and soul, then he promulgated a law by which was it allowed to the Christians throughout the whole world to build Churches, to the which holy building he exhorted them by his example as well as by his decree. He dedicated in his own Lateran Palace a Church to the Savior, and built adjoining it a Cathedral in the name of St John the Baptist, upon the place where he had been baptized by holy Sylvester and cleansed from his leprosy. This Cathedral was hallowed by the said Pope upon the 9th day of November. It is this consecration, the memory whereof is still celebrated upon this day, the first whereon the public consecration of a Church ever took place in Rome, and the image of the Savior was seen by the Roman people painted upon the wall.
The Blessed Sylvester afterwards decreed, when he was consecrating the Altar of the Prince of the Apostles, that Altars were thenceforward to be made of stone only, but notwithstanding this the Lateran Cathedral hath the altar made of wood. This is not surprising. From Saint Peter to Sylvester the Popes had not been able, by reason of persecutions, to abide fixedly in one place, and they celebrated the Holy Liturgy in cellars, in burying - places, in the houses of godly persons, or wherever need drove them, upon a wooden altar made like an empty box. When peace was given to the Church, holy Sylvester took this box, and to do honor to the Prince of the Apostles, who is said to have offered sacrifice thereon, and to the other Popes who thereon had been used to execute the mystery even unto that time, set it in the first Church, even the Lateran, and ordained that no one but the Bishop of Rome should celebrate the Liturgy thereon for all time coming. The original Lateran Cathedral, cast down and destroyed by fires, pillage, and earthquakes, and renewed by the constant care of the Popes, was at last rebuilt afresh, and solemnly consecrated by Pope Benedict XIII, of the Order of Preachers, on the 28th day of April, in the year 1726, the memory of which Festival he ordained to be kept upon this day. In the year 1884 Leo XIII. took in hand a work which had received the sanction of his predecessor Pius IX. The great sanctuary, the walls of which were giving way with age, was lengthened and widened, a task of immense labor. The ancient mosaic had been renewed previously in several places; it was now restored according to the original design, and transferred to the new apse, the embellishment of which was carried out with great magnificence. The transept was redecorated, and its ceiling and woodwork repaired. A sacristy, a residence for the canons, and a portico connecting with the baptistery of Constantine, were added to the existing buildings.
Lesson vii: Luke
At that time Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. And, behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich. Etc.
A homily of Saint Ambrose, Bishop.
Zacchaeus was "little of stature," that is, he was not raised aloft among men by nobility of birth, and, like the most of the world, he possessed few merits. When he heard that the Lord and Saviour, "Who had come unto His Own, and Whom His Own had not received," was coming, he desired to see Him. But the sight of Jesus is not easy; to any on the earth it is impossible. And since Zacchaeus had neither the Prophets, nor yet the Law, as a gracious help to his nature, he climbed up into a sycamore tree, raising his feet above the vanity of the Jews, and straightening the crooked branches of his former life, and therefore he received Jesus to lodge within his house.
He did well to climb up into a tree, that a good tree might bring forth good fruits, and that the slip of the wild olive, grafted, contrary to nature, into the good olive, might bring forth the fruits of the law. For the root is holy, however unprofitable the branches. Their barren beauty hath now been overshadowed by the belief of the Gentiles in the Resurrection, as by a material upgrowth. Zacchaeus, then, was in the sycamore tree, and the blind man by the way-side. For the one, Jesus stood waiting to show mercy, and asked him before He healed him, what he would that He should do for him; being unbidden of the other, He bade Himself to be his Guest, knowing how rich was the reward of receiving Him. Nevertheless, albeit He had heard no words of invitation, yet had He seen how his heart went.
But lest we should seem haughtily to pass by the poor blind man, and to hurry on to the rich one, let us stand waiting for him, as the Lord stood and waited; let us ask of him, as Christ asked of him. Let us ask, because we are ignorant; Christ asked, because He knew. Let us ask, that we may know whence he received his cure; Christ asked, that all of us may know from one ensample where through we are to earn a sight of the Lord. Christ asked, that we might believe that none, save they that confess Him, can be saved.
Saint Andrew of Avelino
Lancelot Avelino, who afterwards took the name of Andrew, was born at Castro Nuovo, a small town in Lucania, (in the kingdom of Naples, in the year of our Lord 1520.) From his earliest childhood he gave no dark signs of the holiness of his after life. When as a lad he was away from home at school, he so passed the slippery paths of that age, as ever keeping before his eyes, amid the pursuit of earthly knowledge, the true beginning of wisdom, which is the fear of the Lord. Prov. ix. 10. He was exceedingly comely, but withal careful in purity, and thereby escaped oftentimes the shameless proposals of women, and somewhiles even resisted open violence. He had already become a clerk when he went to Naples to study law. There he was ordained Priest, and also took his degree in Jurisprudence. He undertook cases only in the Church Courts, and for certain private persons, according to the rules of the Sacred Canons. l Once in pleading a cause, in a matter indeed which was of no weight, a lie escaped him. Almost forthwith thereafter, in reading the Holy Scriptures, he came upon the words: The mouth that lieth killeth the soul Wisd. i. 11 and so great was the grief and remorse which he felt for his sin that he made up his mind to leave that way of life. He therefore gave up his law business, and set himself altogether to mind the worship of God and the execution of his holy ministry. The eminent pattern which he gave of all the graces proper to a Churchman moved the Archbishop of Naples to commit to him the care of a certain nunnery in that city. The holy man's zeal (for removing all obstacles to the recollection of these spouses of Christ, in which consisteth the very essence of their state and virtue,) stirred up the malice and rage of certain wicked men in the city, (whom he had forbid being admitted to the grate to speak to any of the nuns.) He once narrowly escaped death, with which they threatened him; and another time received three wounds in his face from a bully. These injuries he bore with thorough meekness. Out of an earnest desire of more readily attaining to a perfect disengagement of his heart from all earthly things, he humbly sought and (in 1556) obtained to be admitted into the Order of Regular Clerks, (called Theatines,) and on this occasion, out of the love he bore to the Cross, he entreated that his name might be changed from Lancelot to Andrew.
He entered manfully and cheerily upon the harder life, set to work to better himself therein, and to that end made two very grim vows, the first, perpetually to fight against his own will, the second, always to advance to the utmost of his power in Christian perfection. Of the discipline of his Order he was a stern defender, and when he was set over others the observance thereof was his great care. Whatever time the duties of his work and his institute left him, he gave to prayer and the salvation of souls. His godliness and wisdom in hearing of confessions were beautiful. He went many times through the farthest lanes and suburbs of Naples, bringing Gospel ministry with great gain of souls. The greatness of his love toward his neighbour God was pleased to crown even by signs and wonders. One stormy night he was coming home from hearing a sick man's confession, when the rain and wind put out the light which was carried before him, but he and they that were with him not only came dry through the thickest of the rain, but there came also a strange light out of his body and showed them the way in the deepest of the darkness. He was a wonderful instance of selfcontrol, long-suffering, lowliness, and hatred of self. He bore with stillness the murder of his nephew, held in the passion of his kinsfolk to take revenge, and even asked pity for the assassins from the judges.
He spread in many places the Institute of Regular Clerks, and founded their houses at Milan and Piacenza. The holy Cardinal Charles Borromeo, and the Cardinal Paul of Arezzo, being himself a Regular Clerk, men by both of whom he was well liked, used his help in their care for souls. Toward the Virgin Mother of God he was constant in an extraordinary love and reverence. He won the conversation of Angels, whom he said he used to hear singing when he was praising God. He set an ensample of the highest graces, even to the gift of prophecy, whereby he saw into men's hearts and knew things afar off or even yet to come. Full of years and worn out with work, he was beginning the Liturgy, when, having repeated thrice the words, I will go unto the Altar of God, he was felled by a stroke of apoplexy, and, duly fortified by the Sacraments, in the arms of his friends, most peacefully gave up his soul to God, (upon the 10th day of November, in the year 1608.) The crowds which flock to his grave in the Church of St Paul at Naples are still as great as they were when his body was first laid there. He was famous for signs and wonders both during his life and after his death, and Pope Clement XI solemnly enrolled his name among those of the Saints.
Lesson vii: Luke
At that time Jesus said unto His disciples Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning Etc.
An homily of Pope St Gregory the Great
Dearly beloved brethren, the words of the Holy Gospel, which have just been read, lie open before you, and, lest their very plainness should make them seem to some to be hard, we will go through them with such shortness as that neither may they which understand not remain unenlightened, nor they which understand be wearied. The Lord saith Let your loins be girded about. Now, we gird our loins about, when by continency we master the lustful inclination of the flesh. But, forasmuch as it sufficeth not for a man to abstain from evil deeds, if he strive not to join thereto the earnest doing of good works, it is immediately added And your lights burning. Our lights burn when, by good works, we give bright example to our neighbour; concerning which works the Lord saith Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father Which is in heaven. Matth. v. 16.
Here, then, are two commandments, to gird our loins about, and to keep our lights burning the cleanness of purity in our body, and the light of the truth in our works. Whoso hath the one and not the other, pleaseth not thereby our Redeemer; that is, he pleaseth Him not which doth good works, but bridleth not himself from the pollutions of lust, neither he which is eminent in chastity, but exerciseth not himself in good works. Neither is chastity a great thing without good works, nor good works anything without chastity. And if any man do both, it remaineth that he must look by hope toward our Fatherland above, and not have for his reason wherethrough he turneth himself away from vice, the love of honour in this present world.
Commemoration for Blessed Martyrs Tryphone et companions In the reign of the Emperor Decius one Tryphon strove by preaching the faith of Jesus Christ to bring all men to worship Him. For this cause he was taken by the servants of Decius. He was first tormented upon the rack, and flesh stripped from him with iron claws; then red-hot nails were driven into his insteps, he was beaten with cudgels and scarified with lighted torches. The sight of the courage wherewith he bore all, brought the Praefect Respicius to believe in the Lord Christ, and he forthwith declared himself a Christian. He also was divers ways tormented, and then led along with Tryphon before the statue of Jupiter. When Tryphon prayed, the statue fell down. Then were both Tryphon and Respicius savagely lashed with whips loaded with lead, until they grasped the crown of a most glorious testimony, upon the 10th day of November. Upon the same day a certain maiden named Nympha, having openly confessed that Jesus Christ is very God, added the palm of martyrdom to the crown of virginity.
Martin I, Pope & Martyr
Martin was born at Todi in Tuscany. In 649, at the beginning of his pontificate, he was careful to send embassies with letters to Paul, Patriarch of Constantinople, to call upon him to return to the truth of the Catholic faith from the blasphemous heresy (of the Monothelites.) But Paul, being backed up by the heretic Emperor Constans, had become so rabid, that he sent away the messengers of the Apostolic See into divers places in the islands. This crime moved the Pope to gather together at Rome a council of one - hundred - and five Bishops, by whom Paul was condemned.
Thereupon Constans sent Olympius into Italy as Exarch, straitly commanding him either to slay Pope Martin, or else to bring him into his Imperial presence. Olympius therefore came to Rome and bade a lictor to kill the Pope while as he was celebrating the Liturgy solemnly in the Cathedral Church of St Mary-at-the-Manger. But when the lictor went thither, he was struck with blindness.
From that time forth many evils befell the Emperor Constans; but he repented not. He sent the Exarch Theodore Calliopas to Rome, with command to lay hands on the Pope. By him Martin was treacherously taken on the 17th day of June, 653, and (forthwith carried to the island of Naxos. On the 17th of September in 654 he was) brought to Constantinople, (where he was kept in prison) till he was sent to the Crimea on the 15th of May, 655. There his sufferings for the Catholic faith utterly broke him down, and he left this life for a better, upon the 12th day of November, in the same year 655. He was famous for miracles. His body was afterwards brought back to Rome and buried in the Church dedicated under the names of St Silvester and St Martin of Tours. He ruled the Church for six years, one month, and twenty-six days. He held two ordinations in the month of December, wherein he made eleven Priests, five Deacons, and thirtythree Bishops for divers places.
Lesson vii: Matthew
At that time : Jesus came into the coasts of Cassarea Philippi, and He asked His disciples, saying : Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am? Etc.
Homily by Pope St Leo the Great
When the Lord, as we read in the Evangelist, asked His disciples : Who did men, amid their divers speculations, believe that He, the Son of Man, was; blessed Peter answered and said : Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him : Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona : for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but My Father, Which is in : and I say also unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it; and I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Thus therefore standeth the ordinance of the Truth, and blessed Peter, abiding still that firm rock which God hath made him, hath never lost that right to rule in the Church which God hath given unto him.
In the universal Church it is Peter that doth still say every day, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God, and every tongue which confesseth that Jesus is Lord is taught that confession by the teaching of Peter. This is the faith that overcometh the devil and looseth the bands of his prisoners. This is the faith which maketh men free of the world and bringeth them to heaven, and the gates of hell are impotent to prevail against it. With such ramparts of salvation hath God fortified this rock, that the contagion of heresy will never be able to infect it, nor idolatry and unbelief to overcome it. This teaching it is, my dearly beloved brethren, which maketh the keeping of this Feast to-day to be our reasonable service, even the teaching which maketh you to know and honour in myself, lowly though I be, that Peter who is still entrusted with the care of all other shepherds and of all the flocks to them committed, and whose authority I have, albeit unworthy to be his heir.
When therefore, we address our exhortations to your godly ears, 1 Believe ye that ye are hearing him speak whose office we are discharging. Yea, it is with his love for you that we warn you, and we preach unto you no other thing than that which he taught, entreating you that ye would gird up the loins of your mind and lead pure and sober lives in the fear of God. 2 My disciples dearly beloved, ye are to me, as the disciples of the Apostle Paul were to him, Phil. iv. 1, a crown and a joy, if your faith, which, in the first times of the Gospel, was spoken of throughout the whole world, Rom. i. 8, abide still lovely and holy. For, albeit it behoveth the whole Church which is spread throughout all the world, to be strong in righteousness, you it chiefly becometh above all other peoples to excel in worth and godliness, whose house is built upon the very crown of the Rock of the Apostle, and whom not only hath our Lord Jesus Christ, as He hath redeemed all men, but whom also His blessed Apostle Peter hath made the foremost object of his teaching.
Saint Didacus, Confessor
Didacus was a Spaniard, and was born at the little town of San Nicola-del-Porto, in the diocese of Seville. From his childhood he learnt the more holy life under a godly Priest, (who lived hermit) in a lonely Church, and so served his apprenticeship. Afterwards, being fain to be more utterly God's only, he professed himself as a lay brother under the Rule of St Francis in the convent of the Friars Minor, called Observant, of Arrizafa. There he cheerfully bore the yoke of the lowliest obedience and the strictest observance. He was much given to contemplation, and a wonderful light from God shone in him, so that, though he was untaught, he could speak touching heavenly things strangely and as it were supernaturally.
In the Canary Islands, where he was warden of the brethren of his Order, he underwent much, earnestly willing to be a martyr, and by his word and ensample brought many unbelievers to Christ. He came to Rome in the year of the Jubilee in the reign of Pope Nicolas V., and there was set to tend the. sick in the Convent of Ara Coeli, which work he did with such love, that although the city was plagued with a famine, the sufferers (whose sores he would sometimes cleanse even with his tongue) scarcely lacked anything needful. He was a burning and shining light of faith, and had the gift of healing, taking the oil from the lamp which burned before the image of the most blessed Mother of God, to whom he was earnestly devoted, and anointing the sick therewith, whereupon many were marvelously cured.
He was at Alcala when he understood that the end of his life was at hand. Clothed in a ragged cast-away habit, he fixed his eyes upon the Cross, and said with extraordinary earnestness "Sweet the nails, and sweet the iron, Sweet the Weight That hung on thee, thou that wast chosen to up-bear the Lord, the King of heaven," and so he gave up his soul to God in the year of our Lord 1463. To satisfy the godly wishes of the multitude, his body was kept unburied for not a few months, and lay in a right sweet savor, as though the corruptible had already put on incorruption. He was famous for many and great miracles, and Sixtus V enrolled him in the number of the Saints.
Lesson vii: Luke
At that time Jesus said unto His disciples "Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." Etc.
An homily of the Venerable Bede, Priest and Doctor of the Church.
The elect are called a little flock, perchance because the reprobate are far more in number than they, but, more probably, because they love to be lowly, since it is God's will that however much His Church should grow in numbers, she should grow with lowliness even unto the end of the world, and should enter lowly into that kingdom which is hers by His promise. That kingdom He promises to Her here, when He bids Her to seek only the kingdom of God, and, to comfort her in her travail, He doth so sweetly and so graciously say that her Father will give it to Her.
Sell that ye have and give alms. Fear not, He saith, lest, while ye fight for the kingdom of God, ye should lack such things as are needful for this life, nay rather, sell even that which ye have, and give alms. This doth, whosoever for the Lord's sake leaveth all that he hath, and then worketh with his hands, that so he may have to eat, and withal to give alms. In this doth the Apostle boast himself, saying "I have coveted no man's silver, or gold, or apparel, as ye yourselves know for these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me. I have showed you all things, how that so laboring ye ought to support the weak."
Provide yourselves bags which wax not old that is to say, by almsgiving, the reward thereof remaineth for ever. Nevertheless, we must not think here that this commandment forbids the Saints to keep money for their own use, and for helping of the poor. The Lord Himself, to Whom Angels ministered, had a bag, and kept therein that which the faithful people gave unto Him to relieve therewith the need of His disciples, and other poor folk. But we are commanded not to serve God for gain, nor to work unrighteousness for fear of poverty.
In some places the feast of Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini is observed on 13 November
Josaphat, Bishop & Martyr
Saint Josaphat, Bishop & Martyr
Josaphat Kuncewitz was born of noble Catholic parents at Vladimir in Volhynia. Once as a child, as he listed to his mother tell the story of the Passion, a dart came forth from the side of Christ on the crucifix and wounded the boy in the heart. Set on fire with love of God, he devoted himself to prayer and works of charity with such zeal that he became the admiration and the model for youths far older than he. When Josaphat was twenty years old he was professed among the cloistered followers of the monastic rule of Saint Basil. Almost at once he made remarkable progress in evangelical perfection. He went barefoot, even in the severe winters of that country. He never ate meat, and drank wine only when obliged to do so under obedience. He disciplined his body by wearing rough hair-shirts until the day of his death. He kept unspotted the flower of chastity which in his youth he had dedicated to the Virgin Mother of God. He became so celebrated for virtue and learning that despite his youth he was made superior of the monastery at Byten, and the Archimandrite of Vilnius. Finally much against his will, but to the very great joy of the Catholic people, he was made Archbishop of Polotsk.
In the years following the promotion to this dignity, Josaphat did not relax in any way his austere mode of living. Nothing was so close to his heart as service to God and the salvation of the flock entrusted to his care. He was a vigorous champion of Catholic unity and truth. He labored to the utmost of his ability to win back schismatics and heretics to unity with the See of blessed Peter. Both by preaching and writing he defended the Supreme Pontiff and the doctrine of the Pope's plenitude of power. He directed these works, full of piety and learning against most shameful calumnies and the errors of wicked men. Josaphat vindicated episcopal rights and restored ecclesiastical property seized by laymen. He won back an incredible number of heretics to the bosom of holy Mother Church. How successfully he labored to re-establish communion between the Greek and Latin Churches is told in Papal commendations. He gladly spent the revenues set aside for his maintenance to rebuild God's house, to erect convents for consecrated virgins, and to carry on other charitable works. So generous was Josaphat towards the poor that in one instance when he did not have money enough to supply the needs of a certain widow, he pawned his omophorion, that is, his episcopal pallium.
The great progress made by the Catholic faith so stirred up the anger of certain of its wicked enemies that they conspired to murder this athlete of Christ. In a sermon he foretold to his people what was about to happen. As he was setting out for Vitebsk on a pastoral visit, these enemies broke into the episcopal palace, attacking and wounding every one they found. Undaunted, this most kindly man hurried out to the assassins of his own free will and addressed them mildly. My little children, he said, why do ye strike my servants? If ye have any complaint against me, I am here. Thereupon they rushed at him, overwhelmed him with blows and pierced him through with spears. Finally, they slew him a stroke of a great axe and threw his body into the river. Later his body, surrounded by a marvelous light, was raised from the deepest part of the river. The blood of this Martyr benefited first of all those murderers of their spiritual father. Sentenced to die for their crime, almost all abjured their schism and repented of their crime. Because this wonderful high priest became famous after his death for many miracles, the Supreme Pontiff, Urban VIII, honored him with the title Blessed. Pius IX canonized the first eastern Christian to uphold the unity of the Church. The Supreme Pontiff, Leo XIII, extended his Mass and Office to the universal Church.
In that time Jesus said to the Pharisees: "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd giveth his life for his sheep." etc.
An homily of Saint John Chrysostom
Dearly beloved brethren, the Bishops of the Church hold a great office, an office that needs much of that wisdom and strength whereof Christ has given us an example. We must learn from Him to lay down our lives for the sheep, and never to leave them; and to fight bravely against the wolf. This is the difference between the true shepherd and the hireling. The one leaves the sheep and seeks his own safety, but the other considers not his own safety, so that he may watch over the sheep. Christ then having given us the pattern of a good shepherd, warns us against two enemies; first, the thief that comes not but to kill and to steal, and, secondly, the hireling that stands by, and defends not them that are committed to his charge.
Ezechiel hath said of old time: "Woe be to the shepherds of Israel! do they not feed themselves? Should not the shepherds feed the flocks?" But they did the contrary, a great wickedness and the root of many evils. Therefore, he said, they brought not back that which was gone astray neither did they search for that which was lost neither did they bind up that which was broken, nor strengthen that which was sick; for they fed themselves, and not the flock. And Paul hath the same in other words, where he said: "All seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's."
Christ shows Himself very different from either the thief or the hireling; whereas the thief comes to destroy, He came that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. The hireling flees, but He lays down His life for the sheep, that the sheep perish not. When then the Jews went about to kill Him, He ceased not to teach He gave not up them that believed in Him, but stood steadfast and died. Wherefore He hath good title often to say, I am the Good Shepherd. It was but a little while, and He showed us how He could lay down His life for the sheep. And if it appears not as yet how they have life, and have it more abundantly, (but it shall appear, in the world which is to come,) we may well be persuaded of the truth of the second promise, who have seen the fulfillment of the first.
Let us pray Stir up in thy Church, we beseech thee, O Lord, that Spirit which so filled blessed Josaphat thy Confessor and Bishop that he laid down his life for his flock; that by his intercession we, being likewise animated and strengthened by that same Spirit, may not fear to lay down our lives for our brethren.
At that time there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. And Jesus also was invited with His disciples to the marriage. And the wine failing, the mother of Jesus said to Him, "They have no wine."
St. Bernard, Abbot
Here the wine sometimes fails, that is the grace of devotion, the fervor of love. How often have I, brethren, after your miserable complaining, had to implore the Mother of Mercy that she remind her most gentle Son that you had no wine? And if she, I declare to you, beloved Brethren. devoutly is implored by us, then we shall not be lacking in our necessities; for she is merciful and the Mother of mercy. For if she had compassion on the embarrassment of those who invited her to the wedding, much more will she have compassion on us if we devoutly beseech her. For she is pleased with our nuptials, and they concern her more closely than theirs; since it was from her womb, as from His chamber, that the heavenly Bridegroom came forth.
At Lauds & Vespers:
[R] Blessed are those who guard My ways.
Antiphon: Wisdom xiv: 3
15 Saint Albert the
Great, Bishop & Doctor of the Church
Saint Albert the Great, Bishop & Doctor of the Church
Albert, called the Great, because of his extraordinary learning, was born in Suabia, at Lauingen on the Danube, and very carefully educated from boyhood. To further his higher studies he left his native country and went to Padua. At the urging of blessed Jordan, Master General of the Order of Preachers, he asked admission into the family of the Dominicans, in spite of the futile protests of his uncle. After his election to membership among the brethren, Albert was dedicated in all things to God, and was conspicuous for his piety, his strict observance of the rule, and especially for his tender and filial devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Always before study he spent some time in prayer. After his profession of apostolic religion, he so regulated his schedule of life that he became an accomplished preacher of the word of God and an efficient instrument for the salvation of souls. Soon the Order sent Albert to complete his studies at Cologne, where he made such progress in every branch of secular science that he surpassed all his contemporaries in scholarship and achievement. In the meantime, as Alexander IV testifies, he drank so deeply of the health-giving waters of doctrine, sprung forth from the fountain of the divine law, that his soul was flooded with their abundance.
That others might share the rich treasure of his learning, Albert was appointed professor at Hildesheim, then Freiburg, Ratisbon and Strasbourg successively. He became the marvel of all. During the period when he taught sacred theology in the famous University of Paris, he became world-famous, and received the degree of Master of Theology. Examining the teachings of pagan philosophers in the light of sound reason, he demonstrated clearly that they were in fundamental accord with the tenets of the faith. He expounded most brilliantly the thesis on the extent of the power of human understanding to comprehend divine mysteries. How great was his genius, how brilliant his intellect, how zealously he applied himself to study until he had become learned in every branch of scholarship, especially sacred theology, is best shown by his numerous writings. These encompass every known subject. Albert returned to Cologne to become president of the university conducted by his Order. He was so successful that he became ever more widely acknowledged as an authority by the schools ; his reputation for learning increased. Among his pupils was his beloved Thomas Aquinas. Albert was first to recognize and acclaim the greatness of that intellect. He had a deep devotion towards the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar and composed some magnificent works upon it. He also pointed out wider fields for the study of the mystical things of the soul. He succeeded so well that the zeal of this great master spread far and wide in the Church.
Amid so many very important duties Albert shone as an exemplar of the religious life. His brethren, therefore, selected him to be prior of the German province. He was summoned to Anagni, in the presence of the Supreme Pontiff, Alexander IV to refute that William who had been impiously and arrogantly attacking the mendicant orders. Soon after this the Pope appointed Albert Bishop of Ratisbon. As Bishop, Albert devoted himself almost entirely to the care of his flock. Yet he retained meticulously his humility and love of poverty. Up to the time he resigned his see, Albert was prompt and energetic in fulfilling the duties of his episcopal office. He ministered to the spiritual needs of souls throughout Germany and the neighboring provinces. He was careful that the advice he gave to those who sought his counsels was wise and salutary. So prudent was he in settling disputes that at Cologne he was called the peacemaker. From far distant places, prelates and princes invited him to act as an arbiter to resolve differences. Saint Louis, King of France, presented him with some relics of the sacred Passion of Christ, and Albert cherished them devoutly all his days. In the second Council of Lyons he was instrumental in bringing to a successful conclusion several weighty matters. He taught until he was worn out with age. His last days were spent in holy contemplation. In the year 1280 he entered into the joy of his Lord. By the authority of the Roman Pontiffs, the honors of the altar had long since been conferred upon Albert in many dioceses and in the Order of Preachers, when Pius XI, gladly accepting the recommendations of the Congregation of Sacred Rites, extended his Feast to the universal Church, and conferred upon the title of Doctor. Pope Pius XII appointed him the heavenly patron with God of all those who study the natural sciences.
At that time: Jesus said to his disciples: "You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt lose its savor, wherewith shall it be salted?" etc.
A homily of Saint Augustine, Bishop
The Lord would have us understand how that men do lose their power of savoring others with righteousness when they are willing to place their eternal welfare in jeopardy for the sake of any temporal advantage, like as attainment of ease or luxury, or escape from suffering or toil. For that which is eternal, unlike things of this world, can neither be bestowed by men, nor by them taken away. Hence, when he asked : "If the salt have lost his savor, wherewith shall it be salted?" he would have us understand the question to be : If ye, by whom mankind is preserved from corruption, be willing to lose the kingdom of heaven so as to escape trials or persecutions in this world, who is there to preserve you from corruption, seeing ye are they that God hath chosen to preserve all others from corruption?
Those that should be the salt of the earth, but have lost their savor, are thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. But no one that suffers persecution is truly said to be trodden under foot of men. Rather, that one is truly trodden under foot of men who through fear of persecution hath lost the savor of righteousness. For no one can be trodden upon, unless he be beneath him which treads upon him. And certainly no one who hath his heart in heaven, no matter how grievously he doth suffer in his body on earth, is rightly said to be beneath anyone who misuses him.
Ye are the light of the world. And we are to understand the word World in the same sense as the word Earth when he spoke above of the salt of the earth, that is, not that earth whereupon we walk with our bodily feet, but the men which dwell upon the earth ; in other words, sinners, for the sweetening and correction of whose corruption, the Lord hath sent his Apostles, as it were, as so much salt. And so by the world we are to understand, not the heaven and the earth, but the men who are in the world and love the world, for the enlightening of whom the Apostles have been sent. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid : that is, what is founded upon the heights of righteousness, whereof the mountain upon which the Lord gave this discourse was itself a figure, is magnificent in the eyes of all men.
O God, who didst make blessed Albert, thy bishop and doctor, great in subjecting human wisdom to divine faith; grant we pray, that we may so adhere to the footprints of his authoritative teaching that in heaven we may enjoy perfect life. This we ask through our Lord.
Saint Gertrude, Virgin & Abbess
Gertrude was born of a noble family at Eisleben, in Saxony. At five years of age she offered her virginity and herself to Jesus Christ, in the Benedictine nunnery at Rossdorf. From that time forth she was utterly estranged from earthly things, ever striving for things higher, and began to lead a kind of heavenly life. To learning in human letters she added knowledge of the things of God. In the thought thereof she earnestly desired, and soon reached, the perfection of a Christian soul. Of Christ, and of the things in His life, she spoke often times with moving of the spirit. The glory of God was the one end of all her thoughts, and to that her every longing and her every act were given. Though God had crowned her with so many and so noble gifts both of nature and of grace, her belief regarding herself was so humble that she was used to number as among the greatest of the wonders of His goodness that He had always in His mercy borne with one who was so utterly unworthy.
In the thirtieth year of her age she was elected Abbess of Rossdorf, where she had professed herself in the religious life, and afterwards of Heldelfs. This office she bore for forty years in love, wisdom, and zeal for strict observance, so that the house seemed like an ideal ensample of a sisterhood of perfect nuns. To each one she was a mother and a teacher, and yet would be as the least of all, being in sooth in all lowliness among them as she that served. That she might be more utterly God's only, she tormented her body with sleeplessness, hunger, and other afflictions, but withal ever true to herself, stood forth a pattern of innocence, gentleness, and long-suffering. The salvation of her neighbors was her constant earnest endeavor, and her godly toil bore abundant fruit. The love of God oftentimes threw her into trances, and she was given the grace of the deepest contemplation, even to union of spirit with God.
Christ Himself, to show what such a bride was to Him, revealed that He had in the heart of Gertrude a pleasant dwelling-place. The Virgin Mother of God she ever sought with deep reverence as a mother and warden whom she had received from Jesus Himself, and from her she had many benefits. Toward the most Divine Sacrament of the Eucharist, and the sufferings of the Lord, her soul was moved with love and gratitude, so that she sometimes wept abundantly. She helped with daily gifts and prayers the souls of the just condemned to the purifying fire. She wrote much for the fostering of godliness. She was glorified also by revelations from God, and by the gift of prophecy. Her last illness was rather the wasting of a home - sickness to be with God than a decay of the flesh, and she left this life, to live the undying life in Him. God made her bright with miracles both during her life and after her death.
At that time Jesus said to His disciples "The Kingdom of heaven shall be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the Bridegroom and the Bride." Etc.
Homily by Pope St Gregory the Great.
Dearly beloved brethren oftentimes do I warn you to fly corrupt conversation, and to keep yourselves unspotted from the world. But the portion which is this day read from the Holy Gospel doth oblige me to say that even to these good things which ye do, ye must needs take all careful heed. Look ye well to it, that, when ye work righteousness, ye do it not as seeking the praise and admiration of men, for if the lust of praise do once creep in, that which seemed so fair without, loses its reward within. Behold how the Redeemer speaks of these ten virgins. He called them all virgins, yet entered not all of them into the door of blessedness, for there were some of them who sought outwardly the honor of virginity, but would take no oil within their vessels with their lamps.
First of all, it is for us to ask What is the kingdom of Heaven? And wherefore shall the same be likened unto ten virgins, whereof, albeit five were wise, yet five were foolish For if the kingdom of heaven be such that there shall in no wise enter into it anything that defiles, neither whatsoever works abomination, or makes a lie, how can it be like unto five virgins which were foolish? But we must know that, in the word of God, the kingdom of heaven doth oftentimes signify the Church as she now is, touching the which the Lord says in another place "The Son of Man shall send forth His Angels, and they shall gather out of His kingdom all things that offend." In that kingdom of Blessedness, wherein peace shall have her perfect reign, there shall be nothing found that offends for the angels to gather out.
The body of every man has five senses, and five being doubled, is ten. Forasmuch, therefore, as the whole body of the faithful doth consist of two sexes, the Holy Church is likened unto ten virgins. And forasmuch as in the Church the good are for the present mingled with the bad, and the reprobate with the elect, it is rightly said that, of the ten virgins, five are wise and five are foolish. There are many who have self-control, which do keep themselves from lusting after things outward, whose hope bears them to things inward, who chastise the flesh, who long with intense home-sickness for their Fatherland which is in heaven, who seek an eternal reward, and who will not to receive for their labors the praise of men. These are they who reckon their glory, not in the mouths of men, but in the testimony of their own conscience. And many there be likewise who afflict the body by self-control, and yet who seek for their self-control applause from men.
O God, Who didst make unto thyself a pleasant dwelling-place in the heart of thy blessed hand-maiden Gertrude, be Thou entreated for the same thy servant's sake, and by her prayers, to purge away in thy mercy all defilement from our hearts, and to grant us one day to rejoice with her in thy presence. Through our Lord.
Saint Gregory the "Wonder-worker," Bishop
Gregory, Archbishop of Neo-Cæsarea, in Pontus, is famous indeed for his holiness and doctrine, but much more so on account of the signs and wonders which he wrought, the number and character of which were so extraordinary that they have gotten him the name of Thaumaturgos—the Wonderworker. Holy Basil compared him with Moses, with the Prophets, and with the Apostles, and testified that by his prayers he moved a mountain that stood in the way of the building of a Church. Moreover, he dried up a marsh, which was a cause of strife between brothers. Also, when the River Lycus overflowed and wasted the fields, he set his walking-stick on the bank, which stick forthwith grew into a green tree, and confined the stream within its bed, so that it never more passed that place again.
He oftentimes cast out devils either from heathen idols or from the bodies of men, and did many other marvelous things, whereby he drew countless numbers to believe in Jesus Christ. Also he had the spirit of prophecy, and foretold things to come. When he was at the point of death, he asked how many unbelievers were left in the city of Neo-Caesarea? and when they answered Seventeen, he gave God thanks, and said: Just so many were the faithful when I took the Bishopric. He wrote a great deal, whereby, as well as by his wonders, he hath enlightened the Church of God.
Our blessed Father Gregory is safe now, and we may safely praise his great deeds. He that kept such a manful hand upon the tiller of faith, hath now cast the anchor of hope in moorings of great calm, and brought his ship, heavy laden with heavenly riches and everlasting merchandise, safe into the heaven where he would be. Thus fares it now with him who never fainted, but for so long time held up ever the shield of the fear of God against all that did beset him. What was his whole life but one long fight against an enemy that never slept?
And Jesus answering, said to them: "Have the faith of God. Amen I say to you, that whosoever shall say to this mountain, Be thou removed and be cast into the sea, and shall not stagger in his heart, but believe, that whatsoever he says shall be done; it shall be done unto him." And etc.
A homily of Venerable Bede of Jarrow
The heathen, who have written blasphemies against the Church, are used to cast in our teeth that we have not full faith in God, since we have never been able to move mountains. Such should be answered that we do not possess records of everything that hath come to pass in the Church, any more than, the Scripture being witness, we possess records of all the doings of our Lord Christ Himself. Mountains may have been removed and cast into the sea, in case of need; a like case, indeed, as we read, was that which came to pass at the prayers of the Blessed Father Gregory, Archbishop of Neo-Caesarea, in Pontus, that right worthy and mighty man, when a mountain was moved from one place on land to another place on land, as the dwellers in the city had need.
Gregory wished to build a Church in a meet place, but the site was too narrow, being wedged in between a mountain on the one side and a precipice going down into the sea on the other. He came therefore by night to the place, kneeling down, and reminding the Lord of His promise, and calling upon Him to remove the mountain. And in the morning, when he came thither again, he found that the mountain had been removed back, and as much room left for the builders of the Church as they needed. This man therefore would have been able, and any other man of like grace would have been able, if need were, to obtain of the Lord, by the force of his faith, that even a mountain should be removed, and be cast into the sea.
Mystically however by a mountain is sometimes signified the devil, on account of the pride whereby he lifted himself up against God, and would fain be like unto the Most High. And when holy teachers, strong in faith, do preach the Word, this mountain is removed, and cast into the sea, that is to say, the unclean spirit is removed out of the hearts of such as are foreordained unto eternal life, and sent free to exercise the wild rage of his tyranny in the riotous and embittered minds of the unfaithful.
Let us pray Grant, we beseech thee, O Almighty God, that the worshipful Feast of thy blessed Confessor and Bishop Gregory, may avail us to the in crease both of godliness toward thee, and healthfulness to our own souls.
Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, Widow
Elisabeth, was born daughter of Andrew, King of Hungary. She began to fear God even from a little child, and grew in grace as she grew in years. In her fourteenth year she was married to Lewis, Landgrave of Hesse and Thuringia, and thenceforth gave herself up to the things of her husband, with as much zeal as to the things of God. She rose in the night to make long prayers. She consecrated herself to works of mercy. She waited continually on widows and orphans, the sick and the needy. When a sore famine came, she provided corn bountifully from her own house. She founded an house of refuge for lepers, and would even kiss their hands and feet. She built also a great hospital for the suffering and starving poor.
Her husband died, on his way to the Holy War. Then Elizabeth, willing more utterly to be God's alone, laid aside all the garments of earthly state, clad herself in mean raiment, and entered the Third Order of St Francis, wherein she was a burning and shining light of longsuffering and lowliness. Her brother in-law stripped her and her three little children of all their goods, and turned them out of their own house. She was deserted by all, and assailed with insults, gibes, and calumnies, but she bore it all with patience, yea, even rejoicing that she suffered such things for God's sake. She gave herself to the meanest services toward the poor and sick, and sought for them the needs of life, while she lived herself only on potherbs and vegetables.
In these and many other holy works she prayerfully passed the rest of her life, till in the twenty-fourth year of her life, the end of her earthly pilgrimage came, as she had already foretold to her servants. With her eyes fixed on heaven, absorbed in the thought of God, by Him wondrously comforted, and strengthened by the Sacraments, she fell asleep in the Lord. Forthwith many miracles were wrought at her grave, which being known and duly proved, Gregory IX. numbered her name among those of the Saints.
At that time Jesus spoke unto His disciples this parable "The kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field." etc.
A homily of Pope Saint Gregory the Great.
Dearly beloved brethren, the kingdom of heaven is likened unto the things of earth, to the end that by the mean of things which we know, our mind may rise to the contemplation of the things which we know not by the ensample of things which are seen, may fix her gaze on things which are not seen by the touch of things which she uses, may be warmed towards the things which she uses not; by things which she knows and loves, to love also the things which she knows not. For, behold, " the kingdom of heaven is likened unto treasure hid in a field, which when a man has found, he hides, and, for joy thereof, goes and sells all that he hath and buys that field."
And herein we must remark that the treasure, when once it hath been found, is hidden to keep it safe. He who keeps not hidden from the praises of men his eager striving heavenwards, doth not enough to keep the same safe from the attacks of evil spirits. In this life we are, as it were, on the way home, and the road is beset by evil spirits, as it were, by highwaymen. He, therefore, invites robbery who carries his treasure openly. This I say, not that our neighbor should not see our good works since it is written "Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father" by what we do, to gain the praise of men. Let the outward work agree with the inward thought, that by our good works we may give an ensample to our neighbor, and still, by our intention, directed only to the pleasing God, we may also have assurance that our works were secret.
Pontian was a Roman, who ruled the Church in the reign of the Emperor Alexander. This Emperor banished him into the Island of Sardinia, along with the Priest Hippolytus, on account of their profession of the Christian faith. There he. endured many hardships because of his belief in Christ, and departed this life upon the 19th day of November, in the year of our Lord 235. His body was brought to Rome by Pope Fabian and his clergy, and buried in the cemetery of Callistus, upon the Appian Way. He sat in the seat of Peter four years, four months, and twenty-five days. He held two Ordinations in the month of December, wherein he made six Priests, five Deacons, and six Bishops for divers places.
Let us pray Enlighten, O God of mercy, the hearts of thy faithful people, and by the glorious prayers of thy blessed handmaid Elizabeth, make us to set little store by the good things of this world, and to rejoice ever in thy heavenly comfort.
Let us pray Look forgivingly on thy flock, Eternal Shepherd, and keep it in thy constant protection, by the intercession of blessed Pontianus thy Martyr and Sovereign Pontiff, whom thou didst constitute Shepherd of the whole Church.
Saint Felix of Valois, Confessor
Felix de Valois, who afterwards took the name of Felix, was born in 1127, of the same family of the de Valois which in after times became Kingly. From his earliest childhood he gave tokens, especially by his pity toward the poor, of the holiness of his coming life. When he was still a little lad he distributed money to the poor with his own hand, with the seriousness of an old man. When he was a little bigger he used to send them dishes from the table, and took especial delight in treating poor children with the most toothsome of the sweetmeats. As a boy he took clothes off his own back more than once, to cover the naked. He begged and obtained from his uncle Theobald, Earl of Champagne and Blois, the life of a felon condemned to death, foretelling to him that this blackguard cut-throat would yet become a man of most holy life which did indeed come to pass as he had said.
After a praiseworthy boyhood, he began to think of withdrawing from the world in order to be alone with heavenly thoughts. But he first wished to take orders, to the end that he might clear himself of all expectation of succeeding to the crown, to which, in consequence of the Salic Law, he was somewhat near. He became a Priest, and said his first Mass with deep devotion. Then, in a little while, he withdrew himself into the wilderness, where he lived in extreme abstinence, fed by heavenly grace. Thither, by the inspiration of God, came the holy Doctor John de la Mata of Paris, and found him, and they led an holy life together for several years, until they were both warned of an Angel to go to Rome and seek a special Rule of life from the Pope. Pope Innocent III. while he was solemnly celebrating the Liturgy on the 28th day of January, 1198, received in a vision the revelation of the Order and Institute for the redemption of bondsmen, and he forthwith clad Felix and John in white garments marked with a cross of red and blue, made after the likeness of the raiment wherein the Angel had appeared. This Pope also willed that the new Order should bear, as well as the habit of three colors, the name of the Most Holy Trinity.
When they had received the confirmation of their rule from Pope Innocent, John and Felix enlarged the first house of their Order, which they had built a little while before at Cerfroi, in the diocese of Meaux, in France. There Felix wonderfully devoted himself to the promotion of Regular Observance and of the Institute for the redemption of bondsmen, and thence he busily spread the same by sending forth his disciples into other provinces. Here it was that he received an extraordinary favor from the blessed Virgin Mother. On the night of the Nativity of the Mother of God, the brethren lay all asleep, and by the Providence of God woke not to say Matins. But Felix was watching, as his custom was, and came betimes into the Choir. There he found the Blessed Virgin in the midst of the Choir, clad in raiment marked with the Cross of his Order, the Cross of red and blue; and with her a company of the heavenly host in like garments. And Felix was mingled among them. And the Mother of God began to sing, and they all sang with her and praised God; and Felix sang with them; and so they finished the Office. So now that he seemed to have been already called away from glorifying God on earth, to glorify Him in heaven, an Angel told Felix that the hour of his death was at hand. When therefore he had exhorted his children to be tender to the poor and to slaves, he gave up his soul to God on the 4th day of November in the year of Christ 1212, in the time of the same Pope Innocent III, being four-score-and-five years old, and full of good works.
At that time Jesus said unto His disciples "Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." Etc..
A homily of Venerable Bede of Jarrow
The elect are called a little flock, perchance because the reprobate are far more in number than they, but, more probably, because they love to be lowly, since it is God's will that however much His Church should grow in numbers, she should grow with lowliness even unto the end of the world, and should enter lowly into that kingdom which is hers by His promise. That kingdom He promises to her here, when He bids her to seek only the kingdom of God, and, to comfort her in her travail, He does so sweetly and so graciously say that her Father will give it to her.
Sell that ye have and give alms. Fear not, He saith, lest, while ye fight for the kingdom of God, ye should lack such things as are needful for this life, nay rather, sell even that which ye have, and give alms. This doth, whosoever for the Lord's sake leaveth all that he hath, and then worketh with his hands, that so he may have to eat, and withal to give alms. In this doth the Apostle boast himself, saying "I have coveted no man's silver, or gold, or apparel, as ye yourselves know for these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me. I have showed you all things, how that so laboring ye ought to support the weak."
Provide yourselves bags which become not old; that is to say, by almsgiving, the reward thereof remains forever. Nevertheless, we must not think here that this commandment forbids the Saints to keep money for their own use, and for helping of the poor. The Lord Himself, to Whom Angels ministered, had a bag, and kept therein that which the faithful people gave unto Him, to relieve therewith the need of His disciples, and other poor folk. But we are commanded not to serve God for gain, nor to work unrighteousness for fear of poverty.
O God, Who by a sign from heaven didst call thy blessed Confessor Felix out of the desert to become a redeemer of bondsmen, grant, we beseech thee, unto his prayers, that thy grace may deliver us from the bondage of sin, and bring us home unto our very fatherland, which is in heaven. This we ask of Thee through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Presentation of the Blessed Virgin in the
I wisdom dwell in counsel, and am present in learned thoughts. The fear of the Lord hateth evil: I hate arrogance, and pride, and every wicked way, and a mouth with a double tongue. Counsel and equity is mine, prudence is mine, strength is mine. By me kings reign, and lawgivers decree just things, By me princes rule, and the mighty decree justice. I love them that love me: and they that in the morning early watch for me, shall find me.
With me are riches and glory, glorious riches and justice. For my fruit is better than gold and the precious stone, and my blossoms than choice silver. I walk in the way of justice, in the midst of the paths of judgment, That I may enrich them that love me, and may fill their treasures. The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his ways, before he made any thing from the beginning. I was set up from eternity, and of old before the earth was made. The depths were not as yet, and I was already conceived. neither had the fountains of waters as yet sprung out: The mountains with their huge bulk had not as yet been established: before the hills I was brought forth:
Blessed is the man that hears me, and that watches daily at my gates, and waits at the posts of my doors. He that shall find me, shall find life, and shall have salvation from the Lord: But he that shall sin against me, shall hurt his own soul. All that hate me love death. Wisdom has built herself a house, she has hewn her out seven pillars. She hath slain her victims, mingled her wine, and set forth her table. She hath sent her maids to invite to the tower, and to the walls of the city: Whosoever is a little one, let him come to me. And to the unwise she said: Come, eat my bread, and drink the wine which I have mingled for you
Joachim took to wife that most eminent and praiseworthy woman, Anne. And even as the ancient Hannah, being stricken with barrenness, by prayer and promise became the mother of Samuel, so likewise this woman also through prayer and promise received from God the Mother of God, that in fruitfulness she might not be behind any of the famous matrons. And thus grace (for such is the signification of the name of Anne) is mother of the Lady (for such is the signification of the name of Mary.) And indeed she became the Lady of every creature, since she hath been mother of the Creator. She first saw the light in Joachim's house, hard by the Pool of Bethesda, at Jerusalem, and was carried to the Temple. There planted in the Lord, the dew of His Spirit made her to flourish in the courts of her God, and like a green olive she became a tree, so that all the doves of grace came and lodged in her branches. And so she raised her mind utterly above the lust of life and the lust of the flesh, and kept her soul virgin in her virgin body, as became her that was to receive God into her womb.
Such was Mary that her single life offers an example to all. If then the doer displease us not, let us applaud the deed; if any other woman seek like reward, let her follow after like works. In the one Virgin how many glorious examples do shine forth. Hers was the hidden treasure of modesty, hers the high standard of faith, hers the self-sacrifice of earnestness, hers to be the pattern of maidenhood at home, of kins-womanhood in ministry, of motherhood in the Temple. O to how many virgins have she been helpful, how many has she taken in her arms and presented unto the Lord, saying Here is one who, like me, has kept stainless the wedding-chamber, the marriage-bed of my Son!
Why should I go on to speak of the scantiness of her eating, or of the multiplicity of her work? how her labor seemed above human capacity, and her refreshment insufficient for human strength, her toil never missing a moment, her fasting taking two days together. And when she decided to eat, she took not dainties, but whatsoever food came first to hand that would keep body and soul together. She would not sleep till sleep was necessary, and even then, while her body rested, her soul watched, for she often talked in her sleep, either repeating things that she had read, or going on with what she was doing before sleep interrupted her, or rehearsing things executed, or talking of things projected.
At that time as Jesus spoke unto the multitudes, a certain woman of the company lift up her voice and said unto Him Blessed is the womb that bare thee. etc.
A homily of the Venerable Bede
It is plain that this was a woman of great earnestness and faith. The Scribes and Pharisees were at once tempting and blaspheming the Lord, but this woman so clearly grasped His Incarnation, and so bravely confessed the same, that she confounded both the lies of the great men who were present, and the faithlessness of the heretics who were yet to come. Even as the Jews then, blaspheming the works of the Holy Ghost, denied the very Son of God Who is of one substance with the Father, so afterwards did the heretics, by denying that Mary always a Virgin did, under the operation of the Holy Ghost, supply flesh to the Only begotten One of God, when He was about being born in an human Body, even so, I say, did the heretics deny that the Son of Man should be called a true Son, Who is of one substance with His Mother.
If we shall say that the Flesh, Wherewith the Son of God was born in the flesh, was something outside of the flesh of the Virgin His Mother, without reason should we bless the womb that bare Him, and the paps which He hath sucked. But the Apostle says God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, (Galatians iv: 4) and they are not to be listened to who read this passage Born of a woman, made under the law. He was made of a woman, for He was conceived in a virgin's womb, and took His Flesh, not from nothing, not from elsewhere, but from the flesh of His Mother. Otherwise, and if He had not been sprung of a woman, He could not with truth be called the Son of man. Let us therefore, denying the doctrine of Eutyches, lift up our voice, along with the Universal Church, whereof that woman was a figure, let us lift up our heart as well as our voice from the company, and say unto the Savior Blessed is the womb that bare thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked, Blessed Mother of whom one hath said thou art His Mother Who reigns over earth and over heaven for ever.
Yea, rather, blessed are they that hear the Word of God and keep it. How nobly doth the Savior say Yea to the woman's blessing, declaring also that not only is she blessed who was meet to give bodily birth to the Word of God, but that all they who spiritually conceive the same Word by the hearing of faith, and, by keeping it through good works, bring it forth and, as it were, carefully nurse it, in their own hearts, and in the hearts of their neighbors, are also blessed. Yea, and that the very Mother of God herself was blessed in being for a while the handmaid of the Word of God made Flesh, but that she was much more blessed in this, that through her love she keeps Him for ever.
Let us pray. O God, Who was pleased that the blessed Mary always a Virgin, being herself the dwelling-place of the Holy Ghost, should, as on this day, be presented in Thine earthly Temple, grant, we beseech thee, that by her prayers we may worthily be presented in the heavenly Temple of Thy glory.
St. Cecelia, V.M.,
1 Cor 7:25-31
A reading from the first letter of St. Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians:
Now concerning virgins, I have no commandment of the Lord; but I give counsel, as having obtained mercy of the Lord, to be faithful. I think therefore that this is good for the present necessity, that it is good for a man so to be. Art thou bound to a wife? seek not to be loosed. Art thou loosed from a wife? seek not a wife. But if thou take a wife, thou hast not sinned. And if a virgin marry, she hath not sinned: nevertheless, such shall have tribulation of the flesh. But I spare you. This therefore I say, brethren; the time is short; it remains, that they also who have wives, be as if they had none; And they that weep, as though they wept not; and they that rejoice, as if they rejoiced not; and they that buy, as though they possessed not; And they that use this world, as if they used it not: for the fashion of this world passes away.
But I would have you to be without solicitude. He that is without a wife, is solicitous for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please God. But he that is with a wife, is solicitous for the things of the world, how he may please his wife: and he is divided. And the unmarried woman and the virgin thinks on the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit. But she that is married thinks on the things of the world, how she may please her husband. And this I speak for your profit: not to cast a snare upon you; but for that which is decent, and which may give you power to attend upon the Lord, without impediment.
But if any man think that he seems dishonored, with regard to his virgin, for that she is above the age, and it must so be: let him do what he will; he sins not, if she marry. For he that has determined, being steadfast in his heart, having no necessity, but having power of his own will; and hath judged this in his heart, to keep his virgin, doth well. Therefore, both he that gives his virgin in marriage, doth well; and he that gives her not, doth better. A woman is bound by the law as long as her husband lives; but if her husband die, she is at liberty: let her marry to whom she will; only in the Lord. But more blessed shall she be, if she so remain, according to my counsel; and I think that I also have the spirit of God.
Cecilia was a Roman maiden of noble birth, trained up from her earliest years in the teaching of the Christian faith, and who by vow consecrated her virginity to God. She was afterwards given in marriage, against her will, to Valerian. On the first night she said to him Valerian, I am under the guardianship of an Angel, who keeps me always a maiden. Therefore do nothing unto me, lest the anger of God should be aroused against thee. Valerian was moved at her words, and dared not to touch her. Also he added even this, that he would believe in Christ, if he could see the Angel. Cecilia answered him that that could not be unless he were first baptized, and for the sake of seeing the Angel he was willing. So she bade him go unto Pope Urban, who was hiding in the sepulcher of the Martyrs on the Appian Way on account of the persecution. And he went to him and was baptized.
He returned to Cecilia, and found her praying, and the Angel with her, shining from the glory of God. As soon as he had recovered from the shock of wonder and fear, he brought his brother Tiburtius. And Cecilia taught him about Christ, and he was baptized by the same Pope Urban, and he also was allowed to see the Angel whom his brother had seen. A little while after, both of them bravely suffered martyrdom under the Prefect Almachius, who then caused Cecilia to be taken, and asked of her, first of all, where was the property of Tiburtius and Valerian?
To him the Virgin answered that all their goods had been given to the poor. Thereupon he was filled with fury, and commanded her to be taken home, and burnt in the bath. She was in that place a day and a night, but the fire had not harmed her. Then was sent the executioner, who gave her three strokes of the axe, and, as he could not cut off her head, left her half-dead. Three days thereafter, upon the 22nd day of November, in the reign of the Emperor Alexander Severus, she winged her flight for heaven, glorified with the twin palms of virginity and martyrdom. Her body was buried in the cemetery of Callistus by the aforementioned Pope Urban, who also consecrated a Church in her name in her own house. Her relics were brought into the city by Pope Paschal I, along with those of Tiburtius, Valerian, and Maximus, and all laid together in the said Church of St Cecilia.
At that time, Jesus said to his disciples: "Then shall the kingdom of heaven be like to ten virgins, who taking their lamps went out to meet the bridegroom and the bride." Etc.
An homily of St John Chrysostom. Number 79 on Matthew:
Wherefore doth the Lord set forth this parable under the figure of virgins, and not make it of acceptation for all men? He had spoken great things touching virginity, saying "There be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it." He knew also that virginity is a thing which is held in great honor among men, being indeed a thing higher than nature, as is plain from this, that under the Old Testament even the Patriarchs and Saints did not practice it, and that under the New Testament it is not enjoined by any commandment of necessity; for the Lord did not make it binding, but left it open to the free choice of the faithful. Whence also Paul said "Concerning virgins I have no commandment of the Lord; yet I give my judgment, as one that hath obtained mercy of the Lord to be faithful. I suppose therefore that this is good for the present distress, that it is good for a man so to be. But and if thou marry, thou hast not sinned, and if a virgin marry, she hath not sinned."
Virginity then, being a thing in itself so great and so much esteemed among many, lest any man having attained unto it, and kept it undefiled, should think that he hath done all, and so leave the rest undone, the Lord puts forth this parable, in order to show that if virginity, though it have all else, lack mercy, its owner will but have his portion without among the fornicators, among whom Christ doth justly place the heartless and pitiless celibate. The fornicator is entangled in lust after bodies, the other in lust after money. The lust for bodies and the lust for money are two very different things, of which the fleshly is by far the sharper and the more stubborn appetite. They that strive with the weaker enemy are therefore much less excusable if they fall. Wherefore the Lord hath called such virgins foolish, for having first won the stern battle, and then been destroyed in the light one.
By the lamps spoken of in this parable, the Lord signifies the actual gift of virginity and holy continence, and by the oil gentleness, almsgiving, and helpfulness toward the needy. While the Bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. His disciples hoped that His kingdom was to come forthwith. To call them away from this hope, to lead them away from this thought, He shows them that the time of waiting for the Bridegroom would not be very. They all slumbered and slept. He calls death a sleep. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the Bridegroom cometh, go ye out to meet Him. This at midnight is either a continuation of the parable (and so signifies the waking of the dead,) or else means that the rising to come will actually take place in the night. Of the cry Paul also makes mention, where he said "The Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the Archangel, and with the trumpet of God."
O God, Who year by year dost gladden thy people by the solemn feast of thy blessed Virgin and Martyr Cecilia, grant unto us, we beseech thee, not only devoutly to observe the same, but also to follow after the pattern of her godly conversation. Through our Lord Jesus Christ.
St. Clement, P., M.,
Clement was a Roman by birth, son of Faustinus who dwelt
in the region of Monte Coelio. He was a disciple of blessed Peter; and is
mentioned by St. Paul in his Epistle to the Philippians, in these words: I
entreat thee also, my sincere companion, help those women who have labored with
me in the Gospel, with Clement and the rest of my fellow laborers, whose names
are in the book of life. He divided Rome into seven regions, appointing a notary
for each, who was to ascertain and record with the greatest care the acts and
sufferings of the martyrs. He wrote may useful and learned works, such as did
honor to the Christian name.
He converted many to the Faith of Christ by his learning
and holiness of life, and on that account was banished by the emperor Trajan to
the desert of Cherson beyond the Black Sea. Here he found two thousand
Christians, likewise banished, who were employed in quarrying marble. Seeing
them suffer from want of water, Clement betook himself to prayer, and then
ascended a neighboring hill , on the summit of which he saw a Lamb, pointing out
with his right foot a spring of sweet water. At this source they all quenched
their thirst; and man infidels were converted by the miracle, and began to
revere Clement as a saint.
On hearing this Trajan was enraged, and sent officers with
orders to cast Clement into the sea with an anchor tied to his neck. After the
execution of this sentence, as the Christians were praying on the shore, the sea
began to recede for the distance of three miles; on approaching they found a
small building of marble, in the form of a temple, wherein lay the martyr's body
in a stone coffin, and beside it the anchor with which he had drowned. The
inhabitants of the country were so astounded by this miracle that they were led
to embrace the Christian Faith. The holy body was translated to Rome under Pope
Nicholas I, and deposited in the church of St. Clement. A church was also
built and dedicated in his honor, on that spot in the island, where the
miraculous fountain had sprung up. He held the pontificate nine years, six
months, and six days. In two ordinations in the month of December, he made ten
priests, two deacons, and fifteen bishops for divers places.
At that time: When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, "Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?" Etc.
A Homily of Saint Leo the Great
As we read in today's Gospel, our Lord asked his disciples who did men, amid the many opinions held about Him, believe Him, the Son of Man, to be, blessed Peter answered and said: "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." And the Lord answered and said unto him: "Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father, which is in heaven: and I say also unto thee: That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it; and I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." But the dispensation of truth endures, and blessed Peter, continuing in the strength of the rock which he hath received, has not relinquished the position he assumed at the helm of the Church.
In the universal Church it is as if Peter were still saying every day: "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." For every tongue which confesses the Lord is taught that confession by the teaching of Peter. This is the Faith that overcomes the devil and looses the bonds of his captives. This is the Faith which makes men free of the world and brings them to heaven, and the kingdom of hell is powerless against it. This is the rock which God has fortified with the power of salvation, that the pestilence of heresy will never infect it, nor idolatry nor unbelief overcome it. And therefore, dearly beloved, we celebrate today's festival with proper obedience, that in my humble person he may be acknowledged and honored who doth continue to care for all the shepherds as well as sheep entrusted unto him, and who doth lose none of his dignity even in a successor as unworthy as We are.
That blessed woman Felicity, whose natal day we are keeping today, had as much dread of leaving her seven sons living after her in the flesh, as have carnal minded mothers of seeing them go dead before them. When she was taken in the strong pains of persecution, she braced up the hearts of her children by bidding them cleave to the Fatherland above, and became their mother for the spiritual, as she had before been for their bodily life, bringing them forth for God by her exhortation, as she had brought them forth for the world by her body. And shall I not call this woman a Martyr? Nay, more than Martyr. The seven whom she trusted to God were seven children sent before her to death. She suffered first and triumphed last.
Look forgivingly on thy flock, Eternal Shepherd, and keep it in Thy constant protection, by the intercession of blessed Clement Thy Martyr and Sovereign Pontiff, whom Thou didst make Shepherd of Thine whole Church. This we ask of Thee through our Lord.
Commemoratio Saint Felicitas, Martyr
Antiphon: Give her of the fruit of her hands, * and let her own works praise her in the city gates.
V. Grace is poured into thy lips. R. Therefore God hath blessed thee for ever.
Grant, we beseech thee, O Almighty God, that in celebrating the victory of Thy blessed Martyr Felicitas, we may find protection in her merits and in her prayers.
24 St. John of the Cross, C., D.C.,
St. John of the Cross, C., D.C.,
John of the Cross was born to pious parents at Fontiveros
in Spain. From his infancy it was evident how dear he would be to the Virgin
Mother of God, for at five years of age, having fallen down a well, he was held
up by our Lady in her arms, so that he sustained no injury. So great was his
penitence that when he was but nine years old he discarded his soft bed and
began sleeping on charred sticks. As a young man, he devoted himself to the
service of the sick in the hospital of Medina del Campo. Here he showed the
ardor of his charity by undertaking the vilest offices; and his example incited
others to devote themselves to the same charitable deeds. But as God called him
still higher, he entered the order of the blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel,
where he was made priest in obedience to his superiors; and in his ardor for
more severe discipline and a more austere manner of life, he obtained their
leave to observe the primitive rule of the Order. Being ever mindful of our
Lord's Passion, he declared war against his own inclinations as his worst enemy;
and by watchings, fasting, iron disciplines, and every kind of penance, he soon
crucified his flesh together with its vices and concupiscences; so theat St.
Teresa considered him worthy to be among the holiest and purest souls then
adorning God's Church.
Besides his singular austerity of life, John was equipped
for the spiritual combat with the armor of all the virtues. He devoted himself
assiduously to the contemplation of divine things, in which he frequently
experienced long and wonderful ecstasies; and his heart burned with such love of
God that this divine fire could not be contained within, but would break forth
and light up his countenance. He was exceedingly zealous for his neighbors'
salvation and devoted himself to preaching the word of God and administering the
Sacraments. Enriched with all these merits, and kindled with the desire of
promoting stricter discipline, he was given by God as a companion to St. Teresa,
that as she had restored the primitive observance among the sisters of the Order
of Carmel, she might with John's help do the same among the brethren. In
carrying out this divine work, he, together with than handmaid of God, underwent
innumerable labors; and fearing neither sufferings nor dangers, he visited all
the monasteries founded by this holy virgin in Spain, and himself erected
others, propagating in all the restored observance and strengthening it by his
words and example. He has thus every right to be called, after St. Teresa, the
first professed and the father of the Discalced Carmelites.
He preserved his virginity intact, and not only repulsed
impudent women who tried to ensnare him, but even gained them for Christ. The
Holy See has declared that, like St. Teresa, he was divinely inspired in
explaining the mysteries of God; and that the books which he wrote on mystical
theology are full of wisdom. When asked one day by Christ what reward he desired
for so many labors, he replied: Lord, sufferings, and contempt, for Thy sake! He
was renowned for his power over the devils, whom he often cast out of the
possessed; and also for the gifts of discernment of spirits and prophecy; while
such was his humility that he often begged our Lord to let him die in a place
where no one knew him. His prayer was granted, and after a cruel malady, and the
patient endurance of five ulcers in his leg, sent him to satisfy his love of
suffering, he fell asleep in our Lord at Ubeda, having received the last
Sacraments of the Church in the holiest dispositions, and embracing the image of
Christ crucified, whom he had ever had in his heart and on his lips. His last
words were: Into Thy hands I commend my spirit. His death took place on the day
and at the hour he had foretold, in the year of salvation 1591, the forty-ninth
of his age. A brilliant globe of fire received his departing soul; while his
body gave forth a most sweet perfume, and is still preserved incorrupt at
Segovia. As he was renowned for many miracles, both before and after his death,
Pope Benedict XIII enrolled him among the saints.
St. Chrysogonus, Martyr
St. Chrysogonus, Martyr
Rome honors today one of her own illustrious sons, Chrysogonus, who gave his life for Christ at Aquileia during the reign of Diocletian. His splendid church in the Travestevere, which possess his venerable head, was first built at the time of the triumph of the Faith over idolatry. Chrysogonus instructed in that holy Faith the blessed martyr Anastasia, whose memory is so touchingly united with that of our Savior's birth, the Aurora Mass on Christmas Day having been from time immemorial celebrated in her church. The names of both Chrysogonus and his spiritual daughter are daily pronounced in the Holy Sacrifice.
Saint Sylvester, Abbot
Silvester was born of a noble family at Osimo, in Picenum, and in his childhood was a remarkable example both in regard to letters and good living. When he grew older his father sent him to Bologna to study law, but God warned him to give himself to divinity, and he thereby incurred the wrath of his father, which he bore with complacency for ten full years. On account of his eminent graces he was elected an honorary canon of the Cathedral of Osimo, in the which dignity he ministered to the people by his prayers, his example, and his sermons.
When, at the funeral of a certain nobleman, he saw in the open grave the disfigured corpse of a kinsman of his own who had been very handsome in his lifetime, and he said to himself, "I am what he was, and what he is I shall be." Immediately after the funeral he read the words of the Lord, "If any man will come after Me let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me." Thereupon he withdrew into the desert to seek after greater perfection, and then gave himself up to watching, praying, and fasting, very often taking no food but raw herbs. In order, however, to isolate himself from men, he moved from one place to another, and at length came to Mount Fano, which is hard by Fabriano, but was itself then uninhabited. Then he built a church in honor of the holy Father Saint Benedict, and founded the congregation of Silvestrines, with a rule and dress which were revealed to him in a vision by the holy Patriarch himself.
Satan envied him, and strove to trouble his monks by divers terrors, and made an hostile attack by night upon the gates of his monastery, but the man of God so overcame the assault of the enemy that his monks were the more confirmed in their Institute and recognized the holiness of their father. He shone with the spirit of prophecy and other gifts. These things he always preserved by the deepest humility, whereby he so stirred up against him the hatred of the devil that that evil spirit cast him headlong down the stairs of his oratory, nearly killing him, but he was restored to health by a gift of the Virgin. This help he remembered with an unceasing and singular love toward her until the last breath of his life, the which breath he resigned to God, famous for holiness and miracles, aged almost ninety years, upon the 26th day of November, in the year of salvation 1267. The Supreme Pontiff Leo XIII. extended his Office and Mass to the whole Church.
At that time Peter said unto Jesus, "Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee what shall we have therefore?" Etc.
An homily of St Jerome, Priest. Book 3 on Matthew xix.
Peter was a fisherman, he was not rich, he earned his bread by his hand and skill, and nevertheless he is thus bold, and saith confidently: We have forsaken all. And because it suflficeth not to forsake only, he addeth that which to do is to be perfect: and followed thee. We have done that which Thou hast commanded us, what reward therefore wilt Thou give us? And Jesus said unto them Amen I say unto you, that ye which have followed Me, in the regeneration, when the Son of Man shall sit in the throne of His glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. He said not, Ye which have forsaken all, for this did even Crates the philosopher, and they which have set nothing by riches are many, but, Ye which have followed Me. This did the Apostles, and this do believers do.
Reading 8 In the regeneration, when the Son of Man shall sit in the throne of His glory, and when the dead shall rise again from corruption incorruptible, i Cor. xv. 53, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones of judgment, condemning the twelve tribes of Israel, because, when ye believed in Me, they would not. John iii. 18. And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for My Name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life. This place agreeth well with that other where the Saviour saith I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man's foes shall be they of his own household. Matth. x. 34. Every one, therefore, that hath set no store by affection, and riches, and the pleasures of the world, for Christ's faith's sake, and the preaching of the Gospel, shall receive an hundred-fold, and shall inherit everlasting life.
Reading 9 Commemoratio S. Petri Alexandrini Martyris This Peter succeeded that eminent Saint, Theonas, as Pope of Alexandria, (in the year of our Lord 300,) and the glory of his holiness and teaching hath enlightened not Egypt only, but the whole Church of God. The wondrous patience wherewith he bore the roughness of the times in the persecution under Maximian Galerius caused many greatly to increase in Christian graces. He was the first who cut off Arius, then a Deacon of Alexandria, from the Communion of the faithful, on account of his leaning to the Meletian schism. He was condemned to death by Maximian, and was in prison when there came to him the two Priests Achilles and Alexander to plead for Arius, but Peter told them that Jesus had appeared to him in the night clad in a rent garment, and when he asked what was thereby signified, had said unto him Arius hath torn My vesture, which is the Church. Also, he foretold to them that they should be Popes of Alexandria after him, and strictly commanded them never to receive Arius into Communion, because he knew him to be dead in the sight of God. That this was a true prophecy the event did shortly prove. At length, in the twelfth year of his Popedom, upon the 26th day of November, in the year of salvation 311, his head was cut off, and he went hence to receive the crown of his testimony.
Let us pray Most merciful God, Who when the holy Abbot Sylvester was devoutly meditating upon the vanity of this world beside an open grave, graciously willed to call him into the desert and enrich him with unusual merits, we humbly pray that, following his example, despising the things of earth, we may thoroughly enjoy Your everlasting presence.
Commemoratio S. Petri Alexandrini Martyris
Ant. He that hateth his life * in this world, shall keep it unto life eternal.
V. The righteous shall flourish like the palm-tree. R. He shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon.
Let us pray Mercifully consider our weakness, O Almighty God, and whereas by the burden of our sins we are sore let Peter your Martyr be mercifully pleased to deliver us from all things which may hurt our bodies, and from all evil thoughts which may defile our souls
27 Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal
Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal
Our Blessed Lady appearing in the year 1830 to St. Catherine Labouré, a Sister of Charity, showed her the pattern of the medal now universally known as the "Miraculous Medal," because of the many wonders which it has pleased almighty God to work by its means in His Church. The proper name of the Medal is the Medal of the Immaculate Conception. This doctrine is symbolically portrayed in the representation of Mary crushing the head of the serpant, a reference to Genesis 3:15, "I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed; she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for thy heel." It is specifically mentioned in the golden letters which formed round the Virgin: "O Mary, conceived without sin...." There can be no doubt that the apparition of the Medal hastened the definition of the Immaculate Conception. It was indeed the "great sign" that "appeared in the heavens," an indication that time was ripe for the vindication of Mary's glorious privilege. Pius IX himself asserted that the impetus for his pronouncement came from France.
28 Saint Catherine Laboré, Virgin
Saint Catherine Laboré, Virgin
Catherine Labouré was born on May 2, 1806. She entered the community of the Daughters of Charity, rue de Bac, Paris, where our Lady revealed to her in 1830 the Miraculous Medal of the Immaculate Conception. She was afterwards placed in the Hospice of Enghien, Faubourg Saint-Antoine, where she apent forty-five years, performing the humblest tasks in perfect obedience, devotion, and silence. She died on December 30, 1876; and was canonized by Pius XII on July 27, 1947. Her incorrupt body lies beneath an altar built on the spot where Our Lady appeared to her.
29 St. Saturninus, Martyr
St. Saturninus, Martyr
The aged Saturninus and Sisinnius, the deacon were beheaded on this day at Rome on the Salarian Way under the Emperor Maximian. After they had been weakened by a long imprisonment, the prefect of the city ordered them to be put on the rack and stretched, beaten with rods and scourges, scorched with fire, and taken down from the rack and beheaded. Saint Saturninus is said, in an epitaph by Pope St. Damasus to have been a priest who came to Rome from Carthage; he was buried in the cemetery of Thraso on the Via Salaria Nova.
Another Saturninus, a missionary who served as the first bishop of Toulouse. He was martyred by the pagan priests who blamed him for the silence of their oracles. They tied him to a bull, who dragged him about until at last his skull was broken and his brains dashed out. His relics were enshrined in the church of St. Serin.
St. Andrew, Apostle