Breviary ex Guéranger
Giles was an Athenian, of royal race, who from his childhood applied himself so earnestly to the study of divine things and to works of charity, that he seemed to care for nothing else. On his parents' death he distributed his whole fortune among the poor; even stripping himself of his own garment in order to clothe a poor sick man, who was cured as soon as he put it on. Many other miracles soon made his name so famous, that for fear of renown he fled to St. Cæsarius at Arles. After two years Giles departed thence and retired into a desert, where he lived a life of wonderful holiness: his only food being the roots of herbs and the milk of a hind who came to him at fixed times. One day the hind, being pursued by the royal huntsmen, took refuge in his cave. [Legend has it that in protecting the hind, Giles was wounded in the hand by the huntsman's arrow; a wound that he insisted on enduring for the rest of his life.] Upon this discovery of the holy man, the king of France begged Giles to allow a monastery to be built on the site of the cave. At the king's desire he was obliged, against his will, to undertake the government of this monastery; and after having, for several years, discharged that office with piety and prudence, he passed away to heaven.
Our Lady of Good Hope
is poured out upon Thy lips.
Antiphon: O Blessed Virgin, thou art the Mother of Grace, thou art the hope of the world. Hear us, thy children, who cry unto thee.
Collect: Almighty and everlasting God, Thine only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ, hanging upon the cross didst commend the human race to His Blessed Virgin Mother, grant that through her intercession, we may be filled with true hope of eternal salvation.
St. Stephen of Hungary (1492) is commemorated at Lauds.
Pope Saint Pius X
Pope Saint Pius X
Pope Pius X, whose name previously was Joseph Sarto, was born in the village of Riese in the Venetian province, to humble parents remarkable for their godliness and piety. He enrolled among the students in the seminary of Padua, where he exhibited such piety and learning that he was both an example to his fellow students and the admiration of his teachers. Upon his ordination to the priesthood, he labored for several years first as curate in the town of Tombolo, then as pastor at Salzano. He applied himself to his duties with such a constant flow of charity and such priestly zeal, and was so distinguished by the holiness of his life, that the Bishop of Treviso appointed him as a canon of the cathedral church and and made him the chancellor of the bishop's curia, as well as spiritual director of the diocesan seminary. His performance in these duties was so outstanding and so highly impressed Leo XIII, that he made him bishop of the Church of Mantua.
Lacking in nothing that makes a good pastor, he labored particularly to teach young men called to the priesthood, as well as fostering the growth of devout associations and the beauty and dignity of divine worship. He would ever affirm and promote the laws upon which Christian civilization depend, and while leading himself a life of poverty, never missed the opportunity to alleviate the burden of poverty in others. Because of his great merits, he was made a cardinal and created Patriarch of Venice. After the death of Pope Leo XIII, when the votes of the College of Cardinals began to increase in his favor, he tried in vain with supplications and tears to be relieved of so heavy a burden. Finally he ceded to their persuasions, saying I accept the cross. Thus he accepted the crown of the supreme pontificate as a cross, offering himself to God, with a resigned but steadfast spirit.
Placed upon the chair of Peter, he gave up nothing of his former way of life. He shone especially in humility, simplicity and poverty, so that he was able to write in his last testament : I was born in poverty, I lived in poverty, and I wish to die in poverty. His humility, however, nourished his soul with strength, when it concerned the glory of God, the liberty of Holy Church, and the salvation of souls. A man of passionate temperament and of firm purpose, he ruled the Church firmly as it entered into the twentieth century, and adorned it with brilliant teachings. He restored the sacred music to its pristine glory and dignity; he established Rome as the principal centre for the study of the Holy Bible; he ordered the reform of the Roman Curia with great wisdom; he restored the laws concerning the faithful for the instruction of the catechism; he introduced the custom of more frequent and even daily reception of the Holy Eucharist, as well as permitting its reception by children as soon as they reach the age of reason; he zealously promoted the growth of Catholic action; he provided for the sound education of clerics and increased the number of seminaries in their diverse regions; he encouraged every priest in the practice of the interior life; he brought the laws of the Church together into one body; he condemned and suppressed those most pernicious errors known collectively as Modernism; he suppressed the custom of civil veto at the election of a Supreme Pontiff. Finally worn out with his labors and overcome with grief at the European war which had just begun, he went to his heavenly reward on the twentieth day of August in the year 1914. Renowned throughout all the world for the fame of his holiness and miracles, Pope Pius XII, with the approbation of the whole world, numbered him among the Saints.
Saint Rose of Viterbo, Virgin,
During an illness at about the age of eight Rose was inspired by the Blessed Virgin to be clothed with the habit of the lay Franciscan penitents. She grew to maturity during the Emperor Frederick II's occupation of Viterbo in defiance of his second excommunication at the order of Pope Gregory IX. At about the age of twelve she began to preach public resistance to the emperor and urged the overthrow of the "Ghibelline," or pro imperial garrison. Amid rumors of miracles, her preaching was effective out of all proportion to her years. She obtained the assistance of her parish priest when her father, out of fear of the authorities, forbade her public appearance. But the father's fears were well founded, and Rose escaped the death sentence only through the clemency of the podesta…, who banished her from the city.
The family took refuge at Soriano, where in December of 1250 Rose predicted Frederick II's death, which occurred on the 13th of the month. The papal partisans occupied Viterbo, permitting Rose's return. Denied admission to the convent of St. Mary of the Roses, she prophesied that she would be received there after her death. The parish priest opened a chapel and house for Rose and a few companions who desired to live the religious life; but the nuns prevailed upon Pope Innocent IV close it in order to preserve their status as the only house of women religious in the area.
Rose returned to her parent's home, where she died on March 6, 1252, at about seventeen. At first she was buried in the church of Santa Maria in Podio, but in 1258 her body was translated to the church of the convent of St. Mary of the Roses, as she had foretold. Her body survived the fire which consumed the church in 1357, and is carried in an annual procession through Viterbo. Innocent IV opened the cause of her canonization, which took place in 1457.
Saint Lawrence Justinian, Bishop & Confessor
Saint Lawrence Justinian, Bishop & Confessor
Lawrence was born at Venice, of the noble family of the Justiniani, and was an exceedingly sober lad even from his childhood. He passed a godly boyhood, and feeling the Divine Wisdom calling him to a pure marriage between his own soul and the Word, he began to think of becoming a monk. He therefore tried in private some of the exercises of this new warfare, and, among other afflictions of his body, used to sleep upon the bare boards. As he thus sat weighing on the one hand the pleasures of the world, and a marriage which his mother wished to bring about for him, and, on the other, the hardness of the cloister, he turned his eyes upon the Cross of the suffering Christ, and said: "Thou, O Lord, art my trust; there hast Thou made my surest refuge." He entered among the Canons of St-George's in Alga, where he devised new tortures and declared war against himself as his own worst enemy. He allowed himself no enjoyment, so that he would not even go into the private garden of the house, neither did he ever go thenceforth into the house of his own father, except when his mother was dying, and he went there with dry eyes to pay her the last offices of a son's duty and affection. His obedience, gentleness, and especially his lowliness were very great. He went out of his way to take the meanest pieces of work about the house. He used to go to the most public places of the city, seeking, not so much for food as for mockery, and bore unmoved and in silence the insults and slanders which were cast upon him. He found his ever-present help in prayer, wherein he became often beside himself and rapt in God, and such was the warmth that burned in his heart, that he stirred up failing comrades to hold bravely on and to love Jesus Christ.
Eugenius IV. named him Bishop of Venice, an office which he very earnestly struggled to avoid, and which he discharged with great honor. He changed in no wise way of living, but kept always to his beloved poverty in his table, his furniture, and his bed. He kept but a small household, saying that he had another very large one, in Christ's poor. At whatsoever hour any one came to see him, he was always ready to receive them, he helped all with the tenderness of a father, not refusing to charge himself with debts, that he might have wherewith to relieve misery. When he was asked with what hope he incurred these liabilities, he answered "On my Lord's help, and He can easily pay for me." And the Providence of God put not his hope to shame, but helped him amply with unexpected funds. He built several Convents of nuns, for whom his watchful care ordered a more perfect way of living. He labored much to wean married women from worldly folly and display, and to reform the discipline of the Church and the lives of all. He was indeed worthy that Eugenius should call him in the presence of the Cardinals "honor and glory of prelates," and that his successor Nicolas V should transfer the title of Patriarch from Grado, and create him the first Patriarch of Venice.
He was eminent for the gift of tears, in which he offered up to God every day the Sacrifice of atonement. When he was so doing one Christmas Midnight, he won to see Christ Jesus in the form of a little Child exceeding fair to look upon. Such was his care of the flock committed to his charge, that it was sometime revealed from heaven that the Commonwealth had been saved by the prayers of her Bishop. He was inspired with the spirit of prophecy, and foretold many things which no wit of man could have perceived. By his prayers he often put diseases and devils to flight. Though very ignorant of letters, he wrote books which breathe heavenly teaching and godliness. When he fell into his last deadly sickness, his servants got ready a more comfortable bed for the suffering old man, but he turned away from such ease as so different from the hardness of the Cross upon which his Master had died. He ordered himself to be laid upon the planks to which he was accustomed, and when he knew that the end of his life was come, he looked up to heaven and said: "O good Jesus, I am coming to thee," and so fell asleep in the Lord on the 8th day of January. How precious was his death was attested by this, that some Charterhouse monks heard Angels singing and that the hallowed corpse, remaining unburied for two months, was whole and uncorrupted, always yielding a sweet smell, and rosy in the face. New miracles took place after his death, whereby Pope Alexander VIII. was moved to enroll his name among those of the Saints. Innocent XII. appointed for his Feast the 5th day of September, being that upon which he had first been enthroned in his Cathedral Church.
Saint Bee of Northumbria, Virgin,
Saint Bee of Northumbria, Virgin,
Bee, or Bega, is said to have been the daughter of an Irish king, sought in marriage by a son of the king of Norway. She had, however, vowed herself a virgin to Christ, and had been given by an angel a bracelet marked with a cross as a token of her heavenly betrothal. The day before she was to be given to the prince she escaped across the sea to the coast of Cumberland. For a time she lived as an anchoress, and the sea-gulls, guillemots, and gannets brought food for her sustenance; but human marauders were less kind, an she was advised by the king of Northumbria, St. Oswald, to become a nun. She therefore received the veil from St. Aidan, and established a monastery at St. Bees, Copeland, which afterward became a cell of the Benedictine abbey of St. Mary at York. She is venerated in Northumbria, and her feast is observed in the diocese of Lancaster.
Saint Regina, Virgin and Martyr,
Saint Regina, Virgin and Martyr,
Regina is said to have been the daughter of Clement, a pagan citizen of Burgundy. Her mother died in childbirth, and Regina was given over to the care of a Christian woman who brought her up in the Faith. When Clement discovered this, he refused to receive his daughter, so she returned to the care of the nurse, earning her keep as a shepherdess. She attracted the affections of the prefect Olybrius, who, learning of her good birth, wanted to marry her. Regina refused him, and would not listen to the persuasions of her father, who, now that his daughter had a distinguished suitor, was willing to own her. She was therefore locked up in a dungeon, and when her spirits remained unbroken, was subject to cruel torture at the instigation of Olybrius. That night she was consoled in her prison by a vision of the cross and a voice telling her that her release was at hand. The next day Olybrius ordered her to be tortured again and then that she might be beheaded; the appearance of a shining dove hovering over her head converted many of the onlookers.
Birthday of the Blessed Virgin,
Birthday of the Blessed Virgin,
Let him kiss me with the kiss of his mouth: for thy breasts are better than wine, Smelling sweet of the best ointments. thy name is as oil poured out: therefore young maidens have loved thee. Draw me: we will run after thee to the odour of thy ointments. The king hath brought me into his storerooms: we will be glad and rejoice in thee, remembering thy breasts more than wine: the righteous love thee. I am black but beautiful, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, as the tents of Cedar, as the curtains of Solomon.
Lesson ii Canticles 1:5-9 5
Do not consider me that I am brown, because the sun hath altered my color: the sons of my mother have fought against me, they have made me the keeper in the vineyards: my vineyard I have not kept. Show me, O thou whom my soul loves, where thou feed, where thou lie in the midday, lest I begin to wander after the flocks of thy companions. If thou know not thyself, O fairest among women, go forth, and follow after the steps of the flocks, and feed thy kids beside the tents of the shepherds. To my company of horsemen, in Pharao's chariots, have I likened thee, O my love. Thy cheeks are beautiful as the turtledove's, thy neck as jewels.
Lesson iii 1 Canticles 1:10-16
We will make thee chains of gold, inlaid with silver. While the king was at his repose, my spikenard sent forth the odor thereof. A bundle of myrrh is my beloved to me, he shall abide between my breasts. A cluster of cypress my love is to me, in the vineyards of Engaddi. Behold thou art fair, O my love, behold thou art fair, thy eyes are as those of doves. Behold thou art fair, my beloved, and comely. Our bed is flourishing. The beams of our houses are of cedar, our rafters of cypress trees.
Dearly beloved brethren, the day for which we have longed, the Feast-day of the Blessed and Worshipful and Ever-Virgin Mary, that day is come. Let our land laugh and sing with merriment, bathed in the glory of this great Virgin's rising. She is the flower of the fields on which the priceless lily of the valleys hath blossomed. This is she whose delivery changed the nature that we draw from our first parents, and cleansed away their offence. At her that dolorous sentence which was pronounced over Eve ended its course to her it was never said "In sorrow thou shalt bring forth children." She brought forth a Child, even the Lord, but she brought Him forth, not in sorrow, but in joy.
Eve wept, but Mary laughed. Eve's womb was big with tears, but Mary's womb was big with gladness. Eve gave birth to a sinner, but Mary gave birth to the sinless One. The mother of our race brought punishment into the world, but the Mother of our Lord brought salvation into the world. Eve was the foundress of sin, but Mary was the foundress of righteousness. Eve welcomed death, but Mary helped in life. Eve smote, but Mary healed. For Eve's disobedience, Mary offered obedience and for Eve's unbelief, Mary offered faith.
Let Mary now make a loud noise upon the organ, and between its quick notes let the rattling of the Mother's timbrel be heard. Let the gladsome choirs sing with her, and their sweet hymns mingle with the changing music. Hearken to what a song her timbrel will make accompaniment. She says " My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior. For He hath regarded the lowliness of His handmaiden, for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed for He That is Mighty hath done to me great things." The new miracle of Mary's delivery hath effaced the curse of the frail backslider, and the singing of Mary hath silenced the wailing of Eve.
We read in Isaias, "Who shall tell His generation?" But we should not think that the Evangelist is contradicting the Prophet when he begins to tell something which the Prophet has declared impossible to tell. The Prophet spoke of the generation of the Divinity, the Evangelist is speaking of the Incarnation. And he begins from carnal things so that through the man we may begin to learn of God. "The son of David, the son of Abraham." The order is reversed, but this change is necessary, for if it had put Abraham first and then David, he would have had to go back to Abraham again to trace His genealogy.
And so, passing over the others, he calls Him the son of David and of Abraham, for only to these was given the promise concerning Christ. To Abraham it was said, "In thy seed" -- that is, in Christ -- "shall all the nations of the earth be blessed." And to David, "Thine own offspring I will set upon thy throne." -- "And Judas begot Phares and Zara of Thamar." Notice that in the genealogy of the Savior none of the holy women are mentioned, but rather those whom scripture reproves, that He who came because of sinners, being born of sinful ancestors, should wipe out all sin. And so among those who follow are placed Ruth the Moabitess, and Bethsabee the wife of Urias.
"And Jacob begot Joseph." Emperor Julian cites this passage as an example of the lack of agreement among the Evangelists, because the Evangelist Matthew calls Joseph the son of Jacob, while Luke calls him the son of Heli. Julian does not understand the custom of the Scriptures: one writer names Joseph's father according to nature, and the other his father according to law. We know this through Moses' precept, given at God's command, that if a brother or a kinsman dies without children, another is to take his wife to raise up descendents for his brother or his kinsman. "Joseph the husband of Mary." When you hear "husband" do not think of marriage, but remember that custom of Scripture, calling those who are betrothed husband and wife.
Saints Protus and Hyacinth, Martyrs,
Saints Protus and Hyacinth, Martyrs,
Their martyrdom, under Valerian and Gallian, around AD 260 raised the brothers Protus and Hyacinth from servile condition to the highest ranks of heaven's nobility. After being beheaded, their bodies were first laid in the cemetery of St. Hermes on the Old Salarian Way. St. Protus had been venerated for something like a thousand years when Hyacinth's body was found in 1845. Relatively little is known with certainty as to the circumstances of their martyrdom. It is only through an epitaph written by Pope St. Damasus that we know that they were brothers.
Holy Name of Mary,
Holy Name of Mary,
"And the Virgin's name was Mary." Let us speak a little about this name, which is said to mean "star of the sea," and which so well befits the Virgin Mother. Rightly is she likened to a star. As a star emits a ray without being dimmed, so the Virgin brought forth her Son without receiving any injury. The ray takes naught from the brightness of the star, nor the Son from His Mother's virginal integrity. This is the noble star risen out of Jacob, whose ray illumines the whole world, whose splendor shines in the heavens, penetrates the abyss, and, traversing the whole earth, gives warmth rather to souls than to bodies, cherishing virtues, withering vices. Mary is that bright and incomparable star, whom we need to see raised above this vast sea, shining by her merits, and giving us light by her example.
"All of you, who see yourselves amid the tides of the world, tossed by storms and tempests rather than walking on the land, do not turn your eyes away from this shining star, unless you want to be overwhelmed by the hurricane. If temptation storms, or you fall upon the rocks of tribulation, look to the star: Call upon Mary! If you are tossed by the waves of pride or ambition, detraction or envy, look to the star, call upon Mary. If anger or avarice or the desires of the flesh dash against the ship of your soul, turn your eyes to Mary. If troubled by the enormity of your crimes, ashamed of your guilty conscience, terrified by dread of the judgment, you begin to sink into the gulf of sadness or the abyss of despair, think of Mary. In dangers, in anguish, in doubt, think of Mary, call upon Mary. Let her name be even on your lips, ever in your heart; and the better to obtain the help of her prayers, imitate the example of her life:
"Following her, thou strayest not; invoking her, thou despairest not; thinking of her, thou wanderest not; upheld by her, thou fallest not; shielded by her, thou fearest not; guided by her, thou growest not weary; favored by her, thou reachest the goal. And thus dost thou experience in thyself how good is that saying: 'And the Virgin's name was Mary.'"
The Church commemorates numerous occasions on which It
invoked the name of Mary and received her heavenly protection. During the
pontificate of Pope Innocent III, Saint Dominic Guzman established the
Order of Preachers to combat the Albigensian heresy that all material things
were evil. He trained his priests to live a holy life, to use their minds, and
to pray the Rosary. On September 12th 1213, the Christian forces under Simon de
Montfort won a decisive victory over the heretics at Muret in southern France.
Likewise, on the first Sunday of October, the Church recalls the victory of the
Christian naval forces under Don Juan of Austria against the 300-odd ships of
the Moslem Turk, Selim II, in 1571. Again on September 12th 1683, after a
forced march begun in Poland on the August 15th feast of the Assumption, John
Sobieski turned back the 300,000 Moslem invaders besieging Vienna. And, once
again, on August 5th 1716, under the patronage of Mary, Our Lady of the Snows,
Prince Eugene claimed her victory at Peterwardein; shortly thereafter raising
the siege of Corfu and later reclaiming Belgrade. The feast of the Holy Name of
Mary was inscribed in the calendar of the Universal Church by Pope
Innocent XI "as a perpetual memorial of the great blessing of that
signal victory won at Vienna in Austria over the cruel Turkish tyrant who had
been grinding down the Christian people."
Grant, we beseech Thee, almighty God, that Thy Faithful, calling upon the Name of the Virgin Mary and rejoicing in her protection, may, by her motherly intercession, be delivered from the evils of the earth and advance to the eternal happiness of heaven. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Saint Eulogius of Alexandria, Patriarch,
Saint Eulogius of Alexandria, Patriarch,
Eulogius was a Syrian by birth and while young became a monk, and at length abbot of his monastery of the Mother of God at Antioch. Amongst the evils with which the Church was then afflicted, the disorder and confusion into which the monophysites had thrown the church of Alexandria called for strong measures and an able pastor endowed with prudence and vigor to apply them. Upon the death of the patriarch John, in 579, St. Eulogius was raised to that dignity. Two or three years later he was obliged to make a journey to Constantinople, where he met St. Gregory the Great, who was at that time the papal representative (apocrisiarius) at the Byzantine court. A lasting friendship grew up and there are extant a number of letters which in after years Gregory addressed to Eulogius. In one of these letters Gregory refers to the success of the monk Augustine among the pagan Angli, "living in an angle of the world," stating that on the preceding Christmas eve ten thousand of them had been baptized; he goes on to use this as an encouragement for Eulogius in his efforts against the monophysites. One passage suggests that Eulogius may have had something to do with Augustine's mission to England. St. Gregory, who had already had to rebuke the Patriarch of Constantinople, John IV the Faster, for assuming the pompous title of "ecumenical Patriarch" and had thenceforward in protest signed himself "Servant of the servants of God," likewise reproved Eulogius for addressing him as "ecumenical Pope." "I do not wish to be exalted in words but in virtue," he wrote. Away with these words which puff up pride and offend charity." St. Eulogius did not long survive his friend Gregory, dying at Alexandria about the year 607.
The Exaltation of the Holy Cross,
The Exaltation of the Holy Cross,
About the end of the reign of the emperor Phocas, Chosroes, king of the Persians, invaded Egypt and Africa. He then took possession of Jerusalem; and after massacring many thousand Christians, he carried away into Persia the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, which Helena had placed upon Mount Calvary. Pochas was succeeded in the empire by Heraclius; who, after enduring many losses and misfortunes in the course of the war, sued for peace, but was unable to obtain it, even under disadvantageous terms; Chosroes being so elated by his victories. In this perilous situation, he applied himself to prayer and fasting, and earnestly implored God's assistance. Then, admonished from heaven, he raised an army, marched against the enemy, and defeated three of Chosroes' generals and their armies.
Subdued by these disasters Chosroes took to flight; and, when about to cross the river Tigris, named his son Medarses his associate in the kingdom. But his eldest son, Siroes, bitterly resenting this insult, plotted the murder of his father and brother. He soon overtook them in flight, and put them both to death. Siroes then had himself recognized as king by Heraclius, on certain conditions, the first of which was to restore the cross of our Lord. Thus, fourteen years after it had fallen into the hands of the Persians, the cross was recovered. On his return to Jerusalem, Heraclius, with great pomp, bore it back on his own shoulders to the mountain wither our Savior had carried it.
This event was marked by a noteworthy miracle. Heraclius, attired as he was in robes adorned with gold and precious stones, was forced to stand at the gate to Mount Calvary. The more he endeavored to advance, the more he seemed fixed to the spot. Heraclius himself, and all the people, were astounded; but Zacharius, the bishop of Jerusalem, said: "Consider, O emperor, how little thou dost imitate the poverty and humility of Jesus Christ, by carrying the cross clad in triumphal robes." Heraclius thereupon laid aside his magnificent apparel, and barefoot, clothed in mean attire, he easily completed the rest of the way, and replaced the cross on Mount Calvary, whence it had been carried away by the Persians. From this event, the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, which was celebrated yearly on this day, gained fresh luster, in memory of the cross being replaced by Heraclius on the spot where it had been set up for our Savior.
The Ember Days
Second or Third Full Week of September
The September Ember Days are observed on the Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday in the same week that falls after September 14th, the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. When September 1 falls on Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday, the Ember days are assigned to the Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday of the Second full Week in September. Otherwise they are assigned to the Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday of the Third full Week in September. In either case, the Ember Days replace the occurring Scripture, which is simply omitted (or read privately). A fourth, fifth, and sixth lesson are provided for Sunday of Ember Week (which may come before September 14
Well do I know, dearly beloved, that many of you are fervent in your observance of all those practices which belong to the Christian Faith, so that ye have no need to be admonished by our exhortations. For what tradition has laid down, and custom well established, is neither unknown to the learned, nor neglected by the devout. But it appertains to the priestly office to exercise the same general care over all the Church's children—in those matters profitable to both the learned and the simple (both of which are equally dear to Us), we do now exhort both to celebrate, with lively faith, and all due discipline of soul and body, the Quarterly Fast, which the seventh month [that is, September] doth once again bring to us in its yearly round.
The Ember Days of fasting are appointed to the four seasons, in order that their quarterly recurrence in the course of the year may teach us how unceasingly we need to be purified, and how, as long as we are tossed about by the changes and chances of this life, we need through fasting and alms-deeds to be cleansed from the stain of that sin which we have contracted by the frailty of our flesh and our concupiscence. Let us diminish a little, beloved, what we are accustomed to use for ourselves, in order that we have somewhat more to use for the relief of the poor and needy.
The conscience of the generous can thus be made glad by the fruits of their own liberality. In giving happiness you shall receive joy. Your love for your neighbor is a unity with your love for God; and He has taught us that in the unity of this twofold charity is to be found the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets. Further, if anyone doubt that what is given to man is offered to God, we have the saying of our Lord and Savior, when He spoke of feeding and helping the poor: "Inasmuch as you have done it unto one of the least of these, My brethren, you have done it unto me" (Matthew 25:40). Therefore, let us fast on Ember Wednesday and Friday; and on Ember Saturday let us also keep vigil at the shrine of blessed Peter the Apostle [the stational church]; by whose merits and prayers we believe that we shall be aided, so that we may please our merciful God in our fasting and prayer.
The continuation of the Holy Gospel according to Mark
At that time, one of the multitude answered and said unto Jesus: "Master, I have brought my son to Thee, having a dumb spirit who, wherever he takes him, dashes him, and he foams, and gnashes with his teeth, and pines away; and I spoke to Thy disciples to cast him out, and they could not." Who answering them, said: "O incredulous generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I put up with you? bring him to me." And they brought him. And when he had seen Him, immediately the spirit troubled him; and being thrown down upon the ground, he rolled about foaming. And He asked his father: "How long has this happened to him?" But he said: "From his infancy: And oftentimes he has cast him into the fire or into the waters to destroy him. But if Thou can do any thing, help us, having compassion on us." And Jesus said to him: "If you can believe, all things are possible to him that believes." And immediately the father of the boy crying out, with tears said: "I do believe, Lord: help my unbelief." And when Jesus saw the multitude running together, He threatened the unclean spirit, saying to him: "Deaf and dumb spirit, I command you, go out of him; and enter not any more into him." And crying out, and greatly sobbing, he went out of him, and he became as dead, so that many said: "He is dead." But Jesus taking him by the hand, lifted him up; and he arose. And when He had come into the house, His disciples secretly asked Him: "Why could not we cast him out?" And he said to them: "This kind can be cast out by nothing, but by prayer and fasting."
Homily by the Venerable Bede, Priest
Mark says that this possessed person whom the Lord healed, after that He was come down from the mount was deaf and dumb, whereas Matthew (17:14) says that he was lunatic. This term refers to those of whom it is said: "A fool is changed as the moon" (Ecclesiasticus 27:12). These are they who never continue in one condition, but change now to one sin, and now to another, waxing and waning—dumb, in that they confess not the faith; deaf, in that they have no ears for the word of truth. They foam at the mouth when they overflow with foolishness and pine away with folly. It is characteristic of idiots, and the feeble, and the stupefied, to drool saliva from their mouths. They gnash their teeth when they are inflamed with the heat of anger. They waste away in the paralysis of idleness and live enervated lives devoid of any strong exercise.
When the boy's father says, "I told Thy disciples to cast it out, but they could not," he obliquely blaming the Apostles. But the lack of a cure can sometimes be linked to a lack of faith in those needing the cure, rather than to deficiencies within the healers, as the Lord's words, "Let it be done to you according to your faith" had indicated. Here, addressing the crowd, Jesus said: "O incredulous generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I put up with you?" Not that He who was so calm and gentle—the Lamb who opened not His mouth before the shearers was overcome by irritation and flew into a rage. Rather, Christ was speaking like a physician who found his patient disobeying his orders would say: "How long do you expect me to continue making house-calls at your home? Why should I waste my skill and my energy? When I order one thing, you do another!"
Jesus told His disciples: "This kind can be cast out by nothing, but by prayer and fasting." While teaching the Apostles how the prince of devils must be driven out, He gives us a lesson for life. It is this: we must realize that the worst temptations and trials, whether brought by evil spirits or by men, can be overcome by praying and fasting. Moreover, these serve as singular means for making atonement when God's just anger has been stirred up by our sins. Now, fasting in a wider sense, means more than restricting what we eat. It means keeping all of the allurements of the flesh at a distance; indeed, keeping one's self from every sinful passion. Likewise prayer, in the wider sense must consist of more than mere words calling for God's mercy; it embraces everything we do in the service of our Creator with a dedicated spirit of faith.
And one of the Pharisees desired Him to eat with him. And He went into the house of the Pharisee, and sat down to meat. And behold a woman that was in the city, a sinner, when she knew that He sat at meat in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster box of ointment; And standing behind at His feet, she began to wash His feet, with tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head, and kissed His feet, and anointed them with the ointment. And the Pharisee, who had invited him, seeing it, spoke within himself, saying: "This Man, if He were a prophet, would surely know who and what manner of woman this is that touches Him, that she is a sinner." And Jesus answering, said to him: "Simon, I have somewhat to say to you." But he said: "Master, say it." "A certain creditor had two debtors, the one who owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. And as they had no means to repay him, he forgave them both. Now, which of the two men would love him the most?" Simon answering, said: "I suppose that he to whom he forgave the most." And he said to him: "You have judged rightly." And turning to the woman, he said to Simon: "Dost you see this woman? I entered into your house, you gave me no water for my feet; but she has washed my feet with tears, and with her hair has wiped them. You gave me no kiss; but she, since she came in, has not ceased to kiss my feet. My head with oil you did not anoint; but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Wherefore I say to you: 'Many sins are forgiven her, because she has loved much. But to whom less is forgiven, he love less.'" And He said to her: Your sins are forgiven you. And those who sat at meat with Him began to say within themselves: "Who is this that forgives sins also?" And He said to the woman: "Your faith has saved you, go in peace."
An Homily of Pope Saint Gregory the
Of what is the Pharisee that was exalted by self-righteousness a type, other than the Jewish people? And of what the woman who was a sinner and came and wept at the Lord's feet a type, but of the conversion of the Gentiles? She brought an alabaster box of ointment, and stood at His feet behind Him weeping, and began to wash His feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed His feet, and anointed them with the ointment. Of us, therefore, even of us, was that woman a type, if after our sins we turn unto the Lord with all our heart, and imitate the example of her repentant grief. And of what is the ointment a type, but of the sweet savor of a good reputation? Whence also Paul said: "In every place we are unto God a sweet savor of Christ" (cf. 2 Corinthians 2:15).
If we do good works, whereby we gain for the Church the savor of good reputation, what do we but pour ointment upon the body of the Lord? But the woman stood at the feet of Jesus, behind Him we stood opposite to the feet of the Lord, when we were in sin, and went contrary to His ways. But when we turn again, and truly repent us of our sins, we stand behind His feet, for we follow His footsteps against Whom we once contended. The woman washed His feet with her tears and we do the same when we show the tenderness of sympathy to any of His humbler members, when we feel with His Saints in their tribulations, when we make their woes our own.
She wipes the Lord's feet with our hair when we give charity, even out of such things as we have ourselves no need of, to His holy ones, with whom we feel in their trials, in as far as our heart sympathizes, that the bounty of our hand shows the truth of our compassion. He washes the feet of the Redeemer, but wipes them not with his hair, who feels for the sufferings of his neighbors, but nevertheless, relieves them not, even out of such things as he himself has no needr. He weeps, but wipes not, who offers words of tenderness, but soothes not sorrow by giving the things that are lacking. The woman kissed the Feet and we do fully the same, if we warmly love those whom out of generosity we support, so that the neediness of our neighbor is not grievous unto us, nor the penury which we relieve a weariness to us, nor, when the hand is giving what is needful, the heart is too numb to love.
At that time, Jesus spoke unto the multitudes this parable: "A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it, and found none. And he said to the dresser of the vineyard: 'Behold, for these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it done therefore: why should it encumber the ground?' But he answering, said to him: 'Lord, let it alone this year also, until I dig about it, and dung it. And if happily it bear fruit: but if not, then after that you shall cut it down.'" And he was teaching in their synagogue on their Sabbath.
And behold there was a woman, who had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years: and she was bowed together, neither could she look upwards at all. Whom when Jesus saw, He called her unto him, and said to her: "Woman, you are delivered from your infirmity." And He laid His hands upon her, and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God. And the ruler of the synagogue (being angry that Jesus had healed on the Sabbath) answering, said to the multitude: "Six days there are wherein you ought to work. In them therefore come, and be healed; and not on the Sabbath day." And the Lord answering him, said: "You hypocrites, does not every one of you, on the Sabbath day, loose his ox or his ass from the manger, and lead them to water? And ought not this daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day? And when He said these things, all his adversaries were ashamed: and all the people rejoiced for all the things that were gloriously done by Him.
An Homily of Pope Saint Gregory the Great.
Our Lord and Redeemer speaks unto us sometimes by words, and sometimes by deeds, sometimes one thing by words, and another by deeds, and sometimes the same thing both by word and deed. In the portion of the Gospel read today, you have heard, my brethren, two things, the parable of the fig-tree and the history of the woman which was bowed together. In both is a manifestation of the Lord's mercy, but in the one by a parable, in the other by an example. But the barren fig-tree signifies the same thing as doth the woman bowed together, and the patience shown to the fig-tree the same thing as does the healing of the woman bowed together.
It came before the law, in that by natural understanding, He let all know by example of Himself, what and how they should do toward their neighbor. In the law He came teaching. After the law He came by grace, opening, manifesting His merciful Presence. But after all these three years He yet had to complain that He found no fruit upon the fig-tree, for there are still some degraded minds which the inborn voice of the natural law doth not control, which the commandments do not teach, and which the wonders of the Incarnation itself do not convert. Of what is the dresser of the vineyard a type, but of the Episcopacy? For these are they who have the government in the Church, and are therefore truly called the dressers of the Lord's vineyard.
The Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary,
From the Prophet Jeremias: Lamentations i: 2, 20-21
Bitterly she weeps at night, tears upon her cheeks, with
not one to console her of all her dear ones.; her friends have all betrayed her
and become her enemies. "Look, O Lord, upon my distress; all within me is
in ferment, my heart recoils within me from my monstrous rebellion. In the
streets the sword bereaves, at home death stalks. They have heard my groaning,
and there is no one to console me."
Lesson ii, Ibid. ii: 13, 15-16
Lesson ii, Ibid. ii: 13, 15-16
To what can I liken or compare you, O daughter Jerusalem?
What example can I show thee for thy comfort, virgin daughter Sion? For great as
the sea is thy downfall; who can heal thee? All who pass by clap their hands at
thee; they hiss and wag their heads over daughter Jerusalem: "Is this the
all-beautiful city, the joy of the whole earth?" All thine enemies open
their mouths against thee; they hiss, and gnash their teeth, and say, "We
will devour her."
Lesson iii Ibid.,ii: 17-18
Lesson iii Ibid.,ii: 17-18
The Lord has done as He decreed: He has fulfilled the
threat he set forth from days of old; He has destroyed and had no pity, letting
the enemy gloat over thee, and exalting the horn of thy foes. Their heart cried
out to the Lord upon the walls of daughter Sion; let thy tears flow like a
torrent day and night; let there be no respite for thee, no repose for thine
The martyrdom of the Virgin is set before, us both in
Simeon's prophecy, and in the narrative of the Lord's Passion. "This Child
is destined," the holy old man said of the child Jesus, "for a sign
that shall be contradicted; and thine own soul," he said to Mary, "a
sword shall pierce." And, in truth, O Blessed Mother, thy soul was pierced.
Unless the sword had passed through thy soul, it would not have pierced the
flesh of thy Son. And after thy Jesus had sent forth His spirit, clearly the
cruel lance that had opened His side could not reach His soul, but it pierced
thine. For His soul was no longer there, but thine could not be torn away.
The full force of sorrow pierced thy soul. It is,
therefore, correct to call thee more than martyr; thou in whom the love of
compassion went far beyond the feeling of bodily suffering. And, was not that
word more than a sword to thee, indeed piercing thy soul, and reaching, even, to
the division of soul and spirit, "Woman, behold thy son"? What a
change! John is given thee instead of Jesus; the servant for the Lord, the
disciple for the Master, the son of Zebedee for the Son of God, a mere man for
the true God! How could your most affectionate soul not have been pierced at
this hearing, since even our hearts, which are like stone, which are like iron,
are torn by simply remembering it?
Do not wonder, brethren, that Mary is called a martyr in
soul. We may wonder if we do not remember the words of Paul, saying that among
the greatest crimes of the gentiles was that they were without affection. Far is
this from the heart of Mary, and it should be far from her servants. But,
perhaps someone will say, "Didn't she know that He was going to die?"
She did. "Did she not hope that He would soon rise again?" This she
did with all steadfastness. "In spite of this, did she sorrow over the
crucified?" Vehemently. And what kind of man are you, brother, and what
kind of wisdom is this to find Mary's compassion more wonderful than the Passion
of Mary's Son? If He could die the death of the body, could she not die with Him
in her heart? Love did the first, love greater than any man ever had; and love
also did the latter, a love like none other than His.
At that time, there were, standing by the cross of Jesus, His mother, and His mother's sister, Mary of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus, therefore, saw His mother and the disciple standing by, whom He loved, He said to His mother, "Woman, behold, thy son." Then He said to the disciple, "Behold thy mother." And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.
A homily of St. Ambrose, Bishop
The mother stood by the cross; when men fled, she stood
undaunted. Consider whether the mother of Jesus could abandon her virginal
modesty, when she did not let her courage flinch. With loving eyes she looked at
her Son's wounds, through which she knew that the world would be redeemed. The
mother who had not feared the executioner was looking at no degrading spectacle.
The persecutor placed her Son upon the Cross, and she offered up herself in
Mary, the mother of the Lord, stood at the cross of her
Son. No other has taught me this but St. John the Evangelist. Others have
written of the earth shaking at the Lord's Passion, of the heavens being
darkened, of the sun hiding, of the thief received into paradise after his
loving confession. John teaches what the others do not; that Jesus, hanging on
the cross addressed His mother. He conquered His torments to perform His filial
duty to her; and John found this more noteworthy than the giving of the kingdom
of heaven. For, if it leads us to God to consider that He pardoned the thief, it
is far richer for devotion to consider that the mother should be honored with
such affection by her Son.
"Behold thy Son," He said, "Behold thy mother." Christ made His will upon the cross, and divided the duties of love between His mother and the disciple. The Lord made a will which was not only public, but also concerned with His household; and John signed the will, a witness worthy of such a Testator. What an excellent will, not concerned with money, but with eternal life; which was not written with ink, but by the Spirit of the living God who says, "My tongue is nimble as the pen of a skillful scribe."
Impression of the Stigmata of St. Francis,
Impression of the Stigmata of St. Francis,
Two years before the faithful servant and minister of Christ, Francis, gave up his spirit to God, he retired alone into a high place, which is called Mount Alvernia, and began a forty day fast in honor of the Archangel St. Michael. The sweetness of heavenly contemplation was poured out on him more abundantly than usual, till, burning with the flame of celestial desires, he began to feel an increasing overflow of these divine favors. While the seraphic ardor of his desires thus raised him up to God, and the tenderness of his love and compassion was transforming him into Christ the crucified Victim of excessive love; one morning about the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, as he was praying on the mountain-side, he saw what appeared to be a Seraph, with six shining and fiery wings, coming down from heaven. The vision flew swiftly through the air and approached the man of God, who then perceived that it was not only winged, but also crucified; for the hands and feet were stretched out and fastened to a cross; while the wings were arranged in a wondrous manner, two being raised above the head, two outstretched in flight, and the remaining two crossed over and veiling the body. As he gazed, Francis was much astonished, and his soul was filled with mingled joy and sorrow. The gracious aspect of him, who appeared in so wonderful and loving a manner, rejoiced him exceedingly, while the sight of his cruel crucifixion pierced his heart with a sword of sorrowing compassion.
He, who appeared outwardly to Francis, taught him inwardly that, although weakness and suffering are incompatible with the immortal life of a seraph, yet this vision had been shown to him to the end that he, a lover of Christ, might learn how his whole being was to be transformed into a living image of Christ crucified, not by martyrdom of the flesh, but by the burning ardor of his soul. After a mysterious and familiar colloquy, the vision disappeared, leaving the saint's mind burning with seraphic ardor, and his flesh impressed with an exact image of the Crucified, as though, after the melting power of that fire, it had next been stamped with a seal. For immediately the marks of nails began to appear in his hands and feet, their heads showing in the palms of his hands and the upper part of his feet, and their points visible on the other side. There was also a red scar on his right side, as if it had been wounded by a lance, and from which blood often flowed, staining his tunic and underclothing.
Francis, now a new man, honored by this new and amazing miracle, and, by a hitherto unheard of privilege, adorned with the sacred stigmata, came down from the mountain bearing with him the image of the Crucified, not carved in wood or stone by the hand of an artist, but engraved upon his flesh by the finger of the living God. The seraphic man well knew that it is good to hide the secret of the king; wherefore, having been thus admitted into his king's confidence, he strove, as far as in him lay, to conceal the sacred marks. But it belongs to God to reveal the great things which He Himself has done; and hence, after impressing those signs upon Francis in secret, He publicly worked miracles by means of them, revealing the hidden and wondrous power of the stigmata by the signs wrought through them. Pope Benedict XI willed that this wonderful event, which is so well attested and in pontifical diplomas has been honored with the greatest praises and favors, should be celebrated by a yearly solemnity. Afterwards, Pope Paul V, wishing the hearts of all the faithful to be enkindled with the love of Christ crucified, extended the feast to the whole Church.
Our Lady of La Salette
Our Lady of La Salette
On September 19th 1846 the Blessed Virgin appeared to the two young cowherds Melanie Mathieu and Maximin Giraud in the parish of La Salette, in the diocese of Grenoble. She brought a warning for the many who had fallen away from the practice of the Faith; violating the Sunday observance and constantly taking her Son's name in vain; only a few old women attended Mass, even the children neglected their prayers. A great famine would come; the potatoes would rot, the grain would crumble, the grapes would rot, the walnuts would turn bad; little children would die in their parents' arms, the parents would be grievously afflicted with hunger. When news of this event became known, various attempts were made to determine the authenticity of the apparition. Under examination the children's' accounts were consistent. Equally convincing was the discovery of a spring, flowing out of season, at the place of the apparition. A woman suffering from chronic illness, drinking some of the spring's water in conjunction with a novena to the Blessed Virgin, was restored to perfect health. The bishop ordered an official investigation, during which many people made pilgrimages to La Salette and even more returned to the practice of their Faith throughout the region. In 1851 the children committed a private message of the Blessed Virgin to writing and it was forwarded to Pope Pius IX. Not to be revealed until 1858, the letter spoke of a more nearly world wide loss of the faith brought about by apostate civil and religious authorities; a global cataclysm. In November of 1851 Bishop de Bruillard declared the apparition to Melanie and Maximin worthy of belief and authorized the cult of Our Lady of La Salette.
Saints Eustace and Companions, Martyrs,
Saints Eustace and Companions, Martyrs,
Eustace, otherwise called Placid, was a Roman, illustrious for his birth, wealth, and military renown, so that under the emperor Trajan he became general of the army. Once while hunting, he was chasing a stag of remarkable size, which suddenly halted and showed him between its horns a large and bright image of Christ our Lord hanging upon the cross and inviting him to make everlasting life the object of his pursuit. Thereupon together with his wife Theopista and his two little sons Agapitus and Theopistus, he entered the ranks of Christian warfare.
Some time afterwards he returned to the place of the vision, in obedience to the command of the Lord, from whom her there heard how much he was to suffer for God's glory. He underwent, with wonderful patience, such incredible losses that in a short time he was reduced to utmost need, and was obliged to retire privately. On the way he had the unhappiness to see first his wife, and then his two sons taken from him. Overwhelmed by all these misfortunes, he lived for a long time unknown, in a distant country, as a farm bailiff; until at length a voice from heaven comforted him; and soon after, a fresh occasion of war arising, Trajan had him sought out and again placed at the head of the army.
During the expedition, he unexpectedly found his wife and children again. He returned to Rome in triumph amidst universal congratulations; but was soon commanded to offer sacrifice to the false gods in thanksgiving for his victory. On his firm refusal every art was tried to make him renounce his faith in Christ, but in vain. He was then, with his wife and sons, thrown to the lions. But the beasts showed nothing but gentleness; whereupon the emperor in a rage, commanded the martyrs to be shut up in a brazen bull heated by a fire underneath it. There, singing the praises of God, they consummated their sacrifice, and took their flight to eternal happiness on the twelfth of the calends of October. Their bodies were found intact, and reverently buried by the faithful, but were afterwards transferred with honor to a church erected in their names.
Our Lady of Ransom,
Our Lady of Ransom,
At the time when the Saracen yoke oppressed the larger and more fertile part of Spain, and great numbers of the faithful were detained in cruel servitude, at the great risk of denying the Christian faith and losing their eternal salvation, the most blessed Queen of heaven graciously came to remedy all these great evils, and showed her exceeding charity in redeeming her children. She appeared with beaming countenance to Peter Nolasco, a man conspicuous for wealth and piety, who in his holy meditations was ever striving to devise some means of helping the innumerable Christians living in misery as captives of the Moors. She told him it would be very pleasing to her and her only-begotten Son if a religious Order were instituted in her honor, whose members should devote themselves to delivering captives from Turkish tyranny. Animated by this heavenly vision, the man of God was inflamed with burning love, having but one desire at heart, viz: that both he and the Order he was to found, might be devoted to the exercise of that highest charity, the laying down of life for one's friends and neighbors.
That same night, the most holy Virgin appeared also to bless Raymond of Pennafort, and to James of Aragon, telling them of her wish to have the Order instituted, and exhorting them to lend their aid to so great an undertaking. Meanwhile Peter hastened to relate the whole matter to Raymond who was his confessor; and finding it had been already revealed to him from heaven, submitted humbly to his direction. King James next arrived, fully resolved to carry out the instructions he also had received from the blessed Virgin. Having therefore taken counsel together and being all of one mind, they set about instituting an Order in honor of the Virgin Mother, under the invocation of our Lady of Mercy for the ransom of captives.
On the tenth of August, in the year of our Lord one thousand two hundred and eighteen, king James put into execution what the two holy men had planned. The members of the order bound themselves by a fourth vow to remain, when necessary, as securities in the power of the pagans, in order to deliver Christians. The king granted them license to bear his royal arms upon their breast, and obtained from Gregory IX the confirmation of this religious institute distinguished by such eminent brotherly charity. God Himself gave increase to the work, through His Virgin Mother; so that the order spread rapidly and prosperously over the whole world. It soon reckoned many holy men remarkable for their charity and piety who collected alms from Christ's faithful to be spent in redeeming their brethren; and sometimes giving themselves up as ransom for many others. In order that due thanks might be rendered to God and His Virgin Mother for the benefit of such an institution, the apostolic See allowed this special feast and Office to be celebrated, and also granted innumerable other privileges to the Order.
Saint Sergius of Radonezh, Abbot
Saint Sergius of Radonezh, Abbot
Sergius was born into a noble family about 1315 near Rostov, and was christened Bartholomew. He was slower in learning than his brothers, which he felt would keep him from learning to read the Sacred Scriptures. Legend has it that he mentioned his difficulty to a monk he chanced to meet; whereupon the monk gave him a sweet tasting bread to eat, and from that hour he could read and write. With the growth of the principality of Moscow, his parents, Cyril and Mary, being of the Rostov nobility, fell out of favor and had to flee to Radonezh, where they worked the fields to earn a living. In 1335 they died and Bartholomew and his brother Stephen set out to establish a hermitage in the forest of Makovka, miles from the nearest neighbor. Shortly after the Metropolitan of Kiev dedicated the hermitage to the Most Holy Trinity, Stephen departed for a monastery at Moscow, leaving Bartholomew as a solitary. Having been tonsured by a visiting Abbot, Bartholomew now called Sergius, lived in a manner reminiscent of the desert fathers, but afflicted rather by ice and cold instead of sand and heat. As often happens, other men seeking God in solitude came to Sergius for direction, building individual huts around the monastery chapel. When the monks numbered twelve, Sergius was elected Abbot and ordained priest by the bishop at Pereyaslav Zalesky. In 1354 the monastery consolidated the hermits' huts and erected a more communal foundation, the monks becoming "cenobitical"; sharing a "common table," and living quarters. Some of the monks objected, and Sergius' was for some time displaced by his brother Stephen who returned to lead those wanting to remain hermits. Ultimately, Sergius and the cenobites prevailed. Somewhat like Saint Bernard in the West, Sergius was called upon for advice and mediation of disputes. At his urging, Prince Dimitry of Moscow engaged and repelled the Tartar invaders; an event similar in circumstance and significance to the battles of Tours and Poitiers. Sergius learned of the victory in prayer. Six months beforehand, Sergius predicted his death. He resigned his office, appointed a successor, and took ill for the first time in his life. He received Our Lord for the last time and went to heaven with a prayer on his lips on September 25, 1392, probably aged seventy-eight.
Ss. Cyprian, Martyr, and Justina, Virgin and Martyr
Ss. Cyprian, Martyr, and Justina, Virgin and Martyr
Cyprian, who was first a magician and afterwards a martyr, attempted, by charms and spells, to make Justina, a Christian virgin, consent to the passion of a certain young man. He consulted the devil as to the best way to succeed, and was told in reply that no art would be of any service to him against the true disciples of Christ. This answer made so great an impression on Cyprian, that, grieving bitterly over his former manner of life, he abandoned his magical arts and was completely converted to the faith of Christ our Lord. Accused of being a Christian, he was seized together with the virgin Justina, and they were both severely scourged. They were thrown into prison to see if they would change their mind; but on being taken out, as they remained firm in the Christian religion, they were cast into a cauldron of boiling pitch, fat, and wax. Finally, they were beheaded at Nicomedia. Their bodies were left six days unburied; after which some sailors carried them secretly by night to their ship, and conveyed them to Rome. They were first buried on the estate of a noble lady named Rufina, but afterwards were translated into the city and laid in Constantine's basilica, near the baptistery.
In the United States and Canada
From among the members of the Society of Jesus who were
taking care of the rugged mission territory of New France in the middle of the
seventeenth century and bringing great glory to the early Church in North
America, God chose for Himself eight most pure victims, who were sacrificed in
various localities now called New York State and Ontario, Canada. Regarded as
the leaders and teachers among them are John de Brébeuf and Isaac Jogues;
valiant men, inflamed with apostolic zeal for souls, mortifying themselves to a
high degree, joined close to God in prayer. Likewise, kindred virtues adorned
the lives of the priests Anthony Daniel, Gabriel Lalemant, Charles Garnier, and
Noel Chabanel, as well as the lives of their helpers, René Goupil and John
Lalande. Their life itself was like a martyrdom because of the character and
wretched conditions of the Huron Indians at that time. All encountered a bloody
death for the same blessed cause, their holy religion, although not all were
killed in the same place or time. The courage with which they endured their
torments aroused the admiration of their savage captors. The holy Pope,
Pius XI designated them Blessed, and, after many miracles were attributed
to their intercession, he declared them among the Saints.
St. Michael the Archangel
A Sermon of Pope St. Gregory: Homily 34 on the Gospels
We speak of nine choirs of Angels, because we know, by the
testimony of Holy Scripture, that there are the following: Angles, Archangels,
Virtues, Powers, Principalities, Dominations, Thrones, Cherubim, and Seraphim.
Nearly every page of Scripture witnesses to the fact that there are Angels and
Archangels. The prophetic books, as has been noted often, speak of Cherubim and
Seraphim. Four more orders are enumerated by Paul the Apostle, writing to the
Ephesians, when he says, "Above every Principality and Power and Virtue and
Domination." And again, writing to the Colossians, he says, "Whether
Thrones, or Powers, or Principalities, or Dominations." When, then, we add
the Thrones to those he mentions in Ephesians, there are five orders, to which
are to be added Angels, Archangels, Cherubim and Seraphim, certainly making nine
orders of Angels in all.
It must be realized that "Angel" is the name of
their office, not of their nature. For the holy spirits of the heavenly homeland
are always spirits, but they cannot always be called Angels; they are Angels
only when they are announcing something. And so the Psalmist says, "He who
makes spirits His Angels," as if he said plainly that, when He wills, He
uses as Messengers those spirits who are always His. Those who announce less
important things are called Angels, and those who announce the highest things
are called Archangels. And so not any Angel but the Archangel Gabriel was sent
to Mary; for this ministry it was fitting to have the highest Angel, since he
was to announce the greatest news of all. These Archangels are also given
special names to describe their particular virtue. For Michael means "Who
is like unto God?" Gabriel means "Strength of God," and Raphael
"Medicine of God."
Whenever something is to be done needing great power, Michael is sent forth so that from his action and from his name we can understand that no one can do what God can do. Hence that old enemy who through pride desired to be like God, saying, "I will scale the heavens, I will set up my throne, I will be like the Most High," is shown at the end of the world left to his own strength, and about to undergo the final punishment, as destined to fight with Michael the Archangel. Similarly, Gabriel was sent to Mary; he who is called "strength of God" came to announce Him who deigned to appear in humility to conquer the powers of the air. And Raphael is interpreted, as we said, "Medicine of God," for when he touched the eyes of Tobias to do the work of healing, he dispelled the night of his blindness.
Our Lady of the Rosary,
144 North Federal Highway (US#1), Deerfield Beach, Florida 33441