THE FEASTS OF SEPTEMBER
Saint Giles, Abbot,
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 Province of Venetia. He enrolled among the students at the seminary of Padua and, when he had been ordained priest, was first a curate in the town of Tombolo, then pastor at Salzano, then cantor and chancellor of the bishop's curia at Treviso. He was so outstanding in holiness that Pope Leo XIII 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; he fostered the beauty of divine worship and the growth of devout associations; he saw to the need of the poor with generous charity. Because of his great merits he was made a Cardinal and created Patriarch of Venice. Following the death of Pope Leo XIII he took up the office of the Supreme Pontiff like a cross, having refused it in vain. Placed on the chair of Peter he gave up nothing of his former way of life, but shone especially in humility, simplicity, and poverty. He ruled the Church firmly and adorned it with brilliant teachings. As a most vigilant guardian of the Faith, he condemned and suppressed Modernism, the sum of all heresies. As a most zealous defender of the freedom of the Church, he boldly resisted those who strove to bring about her downfall. He provided for the sound education of clerics; brought the laws of the Church into one body of canon law; and greatly favored the cult and the more frequent reception of the Most Blessed Eucharist. Worn out by his labors and overcome with grief at the war which had just begun in Europe, he departed for the heavenly homeland on the twentieth of August in the year of Our Lord 1914. Pope Pius XII 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 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,
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
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
Third Week of September
Traditionally, the September Ember Days are observed on the Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday in the same week that fall after September 14th, the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. In his 1960 Breviary, Pope John XXIII moved them to the third week in September, quite possibly to perpetually interfere with the readings from the Book of Tobias and its orthodox Catholic theology of matrimony. The following is provided for those of us who observe the traditional custom and theology.
When September 1 falls on Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday, the Ember days are assigned to the Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday of the Second Week in September. When this occurs, the third week is devoted to the reading of the book of Tobias. The reading for Thursday, on page 1156, is delayed until Saturday, and the following passages are read on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of the third week. If the responsories are to be chanted after each lesson, they are taken from the readings of the Ember days.
Therefore, when Tobias thought that his prayer was heard
that he might die, He called to him Tobias, his son. And he said to him,
"Hear, my son the words of my mouth, and lay them as a foundation in thy
heart. When God shall take my soul, thou shalt bury my body; and thou shalt
honor thy mother all the days of her life. For thou must be mindful what and how
great perils she suffered for thee in her womb. And when she also shall have
ended the time of her life, bury her by me. And all of the days of thy life have
God in thy mind. And take heed thou never consent to sin, nor transgress the
commandments of the Lord our God. Give alms out of thy substance, and turn not
away thy face from any poor person; for so it shall come to pass that the face
of the Lord shall not be turned away from thee. According to thine ability be
"If thou have much, give abundantly; if thou have
little, take care even so to bestow willingly a little. For thus thou storest up
to thyself a good reward for the day of necessity. For alms deliver from all
sin, and from death, and will not suffer the soul to go into darkness. Alms
shall be a great confidence before the most high God, to all them that give it.
Take heed to keep thyself, my son, from all fornication; and beside thy wife
never endure to know a crime. Never suffer pride to reign in thy mind, or in thy
words; for from it all perdition took its beginning. If any man hath done any
work for thee, immediately pay him his hire; and let not the wages of thy hired
servant stay with thee at all. See thou never do to another what thou would hate
to have done to thee by another.
"Eat thy bread with the hungry and the needy; with thy garments cover the naked. Lay out thy bread and thy wine upon the burial of a just man, and do not eat and drink thereof with the wicked. Seek counsel always of a wise man. Bless God at all times, and desire of him to direct thy ways, and that all thy counsels may abide in Him. I tell thee also, my son, that I lent ten talents of silver, while thou wast yet a child, to Gabelus, in Rages, a city of the Medes, and I have a note of his hand with me. Now therefore inquire how thou mayest go to him, and receive of him the foresaid sum of money and restore to him the note of his hand. Fear not, my son; we lead indeed a poor life, but we shall have many good things if we fear God and depart from all sin, and do that which is good."
Then Tobias going forth found a handsome young man,
standing girded and, as it were, ready to walk. And not knowing that he was an
angel of God, he saluted him, and said, "From whence art thou, good young
man?" But he answered, "Of the children of Israel." And Tobias
said to him, "knowest thou the way that leads to the country of the
Medes?" And he answered, " I know it, and I have often walked through
all the ways thereof; and I have abode with Gabelus our brother, who dwelleth at
Rages, a city of the Medes, which is situate in the mount of Ecbatana.
And Tobias went forth, and the dog followed him, and he
lodged the first night by the river Tigris. And he went out to wash his feet;
and behold a monstrous fish came up to devour him. And the angel said to him,
"Take him by the gill and draw him to thee." And when he had done so,
he drew him out on the land, and he began to pant before his feet. Then the
angel said to him, "Take out the entrails of this fish, and lay up his
heart, his gall, and his liver for thee, for these are necessary for useful
medicines. If thou put a little piece of its heart upon the coals, the smoke of
it will drive out devils of all kinds, either from man or from woman, so that
they come no more to them. And the gall is good for anointing the eyes, in which
there is a white speck; and they shall be cured.
And Tobias said to him, "Where wilt thou that we lodge?" The angel answering said, " Here is one whose name is Raguel, a near kinsman of thy tribe. And he hath a daughter named Sara, but he has no son nor any other daughter beside her. All his substance is due to thee, and thou must take her to wife. Ask her therefore of her father, and he will give her thee to wife." Then Tobias answered and said, "I hear that she has been given to seven husbands, and they all died. Moreover, I have heard that a devil killed them. Now I am afraid, lest the same thing should happen to me also, and as I am the only child of my parents, I should bring down their old age with sorrow to hell." Then the angel Raphael said to him, "Hear me and I will show thee who they are, over whom the devil can prevail. For they who in such manner receive matrimony, as to shut out God from themselves, and from their mind, and to give themselves to their lust, as the horse and the mule, which have not understanding; over them the devil has power. But thou, when thou shalt take her, go into the chamber, and for three days keep thyself continent from her, and give thyself to nothing else but to prayers with her. And on that night lay the liver of the fish on the fire, and the devil shall be driven away. But the second night thou shalt be admitted to the society of the holy Patriarchs. And the third night, thou shalt obtain a blessing that sound children may be born of you. And when the third night is passed, thou shalt take the virgin with the fear of the Lord, moved rather for love of children than for lust; that in the seed of Abraham thou mayest obtain a blessing in children."
And as their going pleased him, Raphael said to Tobias,
"Take with thee the gall of the fish, for it will be necessary." So
Tobias took some of that gall and departed. But Anna sat beside the way daily at
the top of a hill, from whence she might see afar off. And while she watched his
coming from that place, she saw him from afar off, and presently perceived that
it was her son coming. And returning, she told her husband, " Behold thy
son cometh." And Raphael said to Tobias, "As soon as thou shalt come
into thy house, adore the Lord thy God forthwith, and giving thanks to Him, go
to thy father and kiss him. And immediately anoint his eyes with this gall of
the fish, which thou carriest with thee. For be assured that his eyes shall be
presently opened, and thy father shall see the light of heaven, and shall
rejoice in the sight of thee."
Then the dog, which had been with them in the way, ran
before, and coming as if he had brought the news, showed his joy by his fawning
and wagging his tail. And Tobias' father that was blind, rising up, began to
run, stumbling with his feet; and giving a servant his hand, went to meet his
son. And receiving him, kissed him, as did also his wife. And they began to weep
for joy. And when they had adored God, and given Him thanks, they sat down
together. Then Tobias, taking of the gall of the fish, anointed his father's
eyes. And he stayed about a half an hour, and a white skin began to come off of
his eyes, like the skin of an egg. And Tobias took hold of it, and drew it from
his eyes. And immediately he recovered his sight.
And they glorified God, both he and his wife, and all that knew him. And Tobias said, I bless Thee, O Lord, God of Israel, because Thou hast chastised me, and Thou hast saved me. And behold, I see Tobias, my son. And after seven days, Sara, his son's wife, and all the family, arrived safe, and likewise the cattle and the camels, and abundance of money of his wife, and that money also which he had received of Gabelus. And he told his parents all the benefits of God, which He had done to him by the man that conducted him. And Achior and Nabath, the kinsmen of Tobias, came, rejoicing for Tobias, and congratulating with him for all the good things God had done for him. And for seven days they feasted and rejoiced all with great joy.
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.