Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!


The Holy Family
Sunday within the Octave of Epiphany

Nocturn i
A Lesson from the Epistle of blessed Paul to the Colossians:
iii: 12-16

    Brethren:  Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, a heart of mercy, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if any man has a quarrel against you: even as Christ forgave you, so also do you forgive.  And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfection.  And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also you are called in one body;  and be thankful.  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

    And whatsoever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by Him.  Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.  Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them.  Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord.  Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.

    Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eye-service, seeking to please men; but in singleness of heart, fearing God; and whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.  But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.  Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven.  Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving.

Nocturn ii
From the Apostolic Letter of Pope Leo XIII, Néminem fugit.

    When God in his mercy determined to accomplish the work of man's renewal, which same had so many long ages awaited, he appointed and ordained this work on such wise that its very beginning might show to the world the august spectacle of a Family which was known to be divinely constituted ; that therein all men might behold a perfect model, as well of domestic life as of every virtue and pattern of holiness : for such indeed was the Holy Family of Nazareth.  There in secret dwelt the Sun of Righteousness, until the time when he should shine out in full splendor in the sight of all nations.  There Christ, our God and Savior, lived with his Virgin Mother, and with that most holy man Joseph, who held to him the place of father.  No one can doubt that in this Holy Family was displayed every virtue which can be called forth by an ordinary home life, with its mutual services of charity, its holy intercourse, and its practices of godly piety, since the Holy Family was destined to be a pattern to all others.  For that very reason was it established by the merciful designs of Providence, namely, that every Christian, in every walk of life and in every place, might easily, if he would but give heed to it, have before him a motive and a pattern for the good life.

    To all fathers of families, Joseph is verily the best model of paternal vigilance and care.  In the most holy Virgin Mother of God, mothers may find an excellent example of love, modesty, resignation of spirit, and the perfecting of faith.  And in Jesus, who was subject to his parents, the children of the family have a divine pattern of obedience which they can admire, reverence, and imitate.  Those who are of noble birth may learn, from this Family of royal blood, how to live simply in times of prosperity, and how to retain their dignity in times of distress.  The rich may learn that moral worth is to be more highly esteemed than wealth.  Artisans, and all such as are bitterly grieved by the narrow and slender means of their families, if they would but consider the sublime holiness of the members of this domestic fellowship, cannot fail to find some cause for rejoicing in their lot, rather than for being merely dissatisfied with it.  In common with the Holy Family, they have to work, and to provide for the daily wants of life.  Joseph had to engage in trade, in order to live ; even the divine hands labored at an artisan's calling.  It is not to be wondered at, that the wealthiest men, if truly wise, have been willing to cast away their riches, and to embrace a life of poverty with Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.

    From the foregoing it is evident how natural and fitting it was that devotion to the Holy Family should in due time have grown up amongst Catholics ; and once begun, that it should spread far and wide.  Proof of this lies first in the sodalities instituted under the protection of the Holy Family; then in the unique honors bestowed upon it; and above all, by the privileges and favors granted to this devotion by our predecessors to stimulate fervor and piety in its regard.  This devotion was already held in great esteem in the seventeenth century.  Widely propagated in Italy, France, and Belgium, it spread over almost the whole of Europe ; thence, crossing the wide ocean, through Canada it made is way in the Americas, and finding favor there, became very flourishing.  Indeed, among Christian families, nothing more salutary nor efficacious can be imagined than the example of the Holy Family, where are to be found all domestic virtues in perfection and completeness.  When Jesus, Mary, and Joseph are invoked in the home, charity is likely to be maintained in the family through their example and heavenly entreaty ; a good influence is thus exerted over conduct ; the practice of virtue is thus incited ; and thus the hardships which are everywhere wont to harass mankind, are both mitigated and made easier to bear.—To increase devotion to the Holy Family, Pope Leo XIII prescribed that Christian families should be consecrated thereto.  Benedict XV extended the Mass and Office to the whole Church.

Nocturn iii

    At that time : When Jesus was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast.  And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the Child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem ; and Joseph and his Mother knew not of it.    And so on, and that which follows.

A Homily by St. Bernard the Abbot
Homilia 1 supra
Missus est, n. 7-8

    And he was subject unto them.  Who was subject?  And to whom?  God to man!  God, I repeat, to whom the Angels are subject, whom the Principalities and Powers do obey, was subject to Mary ; and not only to Mary, but to Joseph also for Mary's sake.  Marvel, therefore, both at God and man, and choose that which gives greater wonder, whether it be the most loving condescension of the Son, or the exceeding great dignity of his Mother.  Both amaze us, both are marvelous.  That God should obey a woman is lowliness without parallel, that woman should rule over God, an elevation beyond comparison.  In praise of virgins it is sung of them alone, that they follow the Lamb whithersoever he goes.  Of what praise do ye judge that woman to be worthy who is thus placed before the Lamb of God.

    Learn, O man, to obey!  Learn, O earth, to be subject!  Learn, O dust, to submit!  The Evangelist speaking of thy Creator says : And he was subject unto them.  And there is no doubt that this shows us that God was subject to Mary and Joseph.  Shame on you, ye proud entities of dust and ashes!  God abases Himself, and dost thou, O creature sprung from the earth, exalt thyself?  God makes Himself subject to man, and dost thou, who art always so eager to lord it over men, set up thyself to lord it over thy Creator?  For as often as I desire pre-eminency over men, so often do I strive to excel God.  For of Him it was said : And He was subject unto them.  If thou disdain, O man, to follow the example of man, at least thou canst follow thy Creator without dishonor.  If thou canst not, perchance, follow him whithersoever he goes, deign at least to follow him in this thing wherein he hath emptied himself, and made himself of no reputation, for the sake of such as thou.

    If thou canst not enter upon the lofty paths of virginity, at least follow God by the most safe road of humility.  If any turn aside from this straight way, though they be virgins, they do not follow the Lamb, if the truth be told, whithersoever He goes.  The humble man, though stained with sin, follows the Lamb; the virgin, though proud, also follows; but neither of these twain follows whithersoever He goes.  The former cannot attain unto the purity of the Lamb, for he is without spot; the latter deigns not to descend to his meekness, who was dumb, not before the shearer, but before the murderer.  Yet the sinner who follows in humility hath chosen a more saving way than the proud man who follows in virginity; for the humble one makes satisfaction, and is cleansed of his impurity, but the proud one's chastity is stained by his pride.


The Baptism of Our Lord
January 13th

A Sermon of Saint Gregory Nazianzen
Lesson iv-vi
On the feast of the Holy Lights (Epiphany)

    XIV. I am unable to hold back the glad delight which excites and elevates my mind. Forgetting my own insignificance, I hasten eagerly to take upon myself the office , still more, the spirit of service of the great John. For though I am not the Precursor, yet I do come from the desert. So then, Christ becomes radiant with light. Or better still, He floods us with the brightness of His light. Christ is baptized; let us descend with Him, so that we may also ascend.

    XV. John is baptizing, Jesus comes to Him, indeed to sanctify the Baptist, but more particularly to bury the old Adam in the waters; the principal reason, however, was to sanctify the waters of the Jordan by that act. For as He Himself united spirit and flesh, those who would be baptized in the future should be sanctified through the water and the Spirit. The Baptist demurs, Jesus insists. "I ought to be baptized by Thee." So speaks the lamp to the Sun, the voice to the divine Word.

    XVI. Jesus come up out of the water, bring aloft the submerged world. He sees heaven not merely parted but opened; for Adam once had closed heaven to himself and to us, his paradise, even as the entrance to paradise was barred by a flaming sword. The Holy Ghost bears witness, because similar things often occur together. From heaven comes testimony, since He came from heaven in whose behalf testimony was being given.


Saint Hilary of Poitiers, Bishop & Doctor
January 14th

Breviary ex Guéranger

    Hilary was born of a noble family in Aquitaine, and was distinguished for his learning and eloquence. He was a married man who lived the life of a monk, and who, on account of his singular virtue was made Bishop of Poitiers. He discharged his duties in such a way as to become the object of the veneration of the faithful. At that time the emperor Constantius was inflicting every sort of harsh treatment, intimidation, confiscation, and exile, on the Catholics who refused to take the side of the Arian heretics. Hilary set himself as a bulwark against the Arians, thereby bringing upon himself all their fury. On this account, they, many times, sought to ensnare him, and, at length, by the treachery of Saturninus, the Bishop of Arles, he was banished from the council at Beziers into Phrygia. There he raised a dead man to life, and wrote his twelve books On the Trinity against the Arians.

    Four years later, a council was called at Seleucia, a town in Isauria, at which Hilary was compelled to assist. Thence he set out for Constantinople, where, seeing the extreme dangers to which the true Faith had been exposed, he petitioned the Emperor to grant him an audience, in order that he might obtain permission to hold a controversy with his adversaries concerning matters of Faith. But Ursacius and Valens, two Arian Bishops, whom Hilary had refuted in his writings, were afraid of allowing so learned a man to continue there any longer., and persuaded Constantius to restore him to his episcopal see, under the pretense of showing him honor. Then did the Church of Gaul open her arms, as Saint Jerome says, to receive Hilary on his return from battle with the heretics. Saint Martin, who was afterwards Bishop of Tours, followed the holy doctor to Poitiers; how much he profited by the instructions of such a master is evidenced by the sanctity of his after-life.

    From that time he was left in perfect peace, governing the Church of Poitiers. He led the whole of Gaul to condemn the Arian blasphemies. He composed a great many exceedingly learned books, of which Saint Jerome, in a letter to Læeta, says, that they may all be read without the slightest fear of meeting any false doctrine. He assured her that she might run through the books of Hilary without stumbling upon anything dangerous. He passed from this earth to heaven on the Ides (the 13th) of January, during the reign of the Emperors Valentinian and Valens, in the year of our Lord 369. Hilary was called by several Fathers and Councils an illustrious Doctor of the Church, and was publicly honored as such in certain dioceses. At length, at the petition of the Council of Bordeaux, the Supreme Pontiff, Pius XI, after having consulted the Sacred Congregation of Rites, declared him to have been justly called, and to be in effect, a Doctor of the Universal Church; and ordered that on his feast all should recite the Mass and Office Of Doctors.

Saint Felix, Confessor
Also on January 14th:

    Felix, a priest of Nola, was tormented by the infidels for his violent attacks on idols, and was cast into prison. He was set free in the night by an angel, and was ordered to seek Maximianus, the Bishop of Nola, who had hidden himself in a wood, because he feared that, at his advanced age, he would not be able to bear the torments of his persecutors. Felix, arriving at the place by divine guidance, found the holy bishop lying on the ground half dead. He succored him, and carried him to a Christian widow to be cared for. On another occasion, when he was upbraiding the idol worshippers for their impiety, they rushed at him, and he, flying from them, hid in a narrow space between two walls. The opening was so quickly filled with spiders' webs that no one suspected that a man had recently taken refuge there. After thus escaping his persecutors, Felix lay hid for three months in the house of a pious woman. When peace was restored to the Church, he returned to Nola, and converted many to the Faith of Christ by his example, his teaching, and his miracles. He steadily refused to be made bishop, and, falling asleep in the Lord, was buried near Nola at the place called In Pincis.

Saint Kentigern, Bishop
Also on January 14th:

Kentigern, whom the Scots, on account of his innocence and sweetness of disposition, called "well beloved," was of the royal family of the Picts in northern Britain. While a boy, he was sent to the monastery of Culross, where, under Saint Servanus, he made great progress, both in secular and in religious learning. Thence he withdrew into solitude, near Glasgow in Scotland, where he lead an austere life of prayer and meditation upon heavenly things. He was elected bishop, and when he was thus raised to the pastoral charge, his virtues shone forth as from a candle set upon a candlestick. God confirmed his preaching by many and great miracles. So much so that the holy bishop, mighty in word and deed, kept his flock from the Pelagian heresy, and added a countless multitude of pagans to Christ's Church. A certain impious tyrant banished him to Wales, where, after having spent time with the holy bishop, Saint David, he founded a celebrated monastery at the junction of the rivers Elwy and Cluid, where he had as his disciple, Saint Asaph. At length, in the seventy century, full of days, he slept in the Lord. His body was buried in the cathedral church of Glasgow, wherein it was held in great veneration until the time when the fury of the Calvinists almost extinguished the Catholic Faith in Scotland.


Saint Paul, First Hermit
January 15th
Breviary ex Guéranger

    Paul, the institutor and master of hermits, was born in the lower Thebaid. He lost his parents at fifteen. Shortly thereafter, in order to escape the persecution of Decius and Valerian, and to serve God more freely, he withdrew into the desert, where he made a cave his dwelling. A palm tree afforded him food and clothing. He lived to the age of one hundred and thirteen. In old age, he received a visit from Anthony who was ninety years old. The two saints, though they had not previously known each other, saluted each other by name. While holding a long conversation on the kingdom of God, a crow, which every day brought half a loaf of bread, carried them a whole one.

    Paul said, "See, our truly good and merciful Lord has sent us our repast. For sixty years I have received a half loaf; now, because thou art with me, Christ has doubled the portion for His soldiers." Sitting near the fountain, giving thanks, they ate the bread, were refreshed, returned thanks to God, and spent the night in the divine praises. At dawn, Paul told Anthony of his approaching death, and asked him to bring the cloth which Athanasius had given him, and wrap his corpse in it. As Anthony was returning from his cell he saw Paul's soul going up to heaven amidst choirs of Angels, and a throng of Prophets and Apostles.

    When he had reached the hermit's cell, he found the lifeless body: the knees were bent, the head erect, and the hands stretched out and raised toward heaven. He wrapped it in the cloak, and sang hymns and psalms over it, according to the prescriptions of Christian tradition. Not having a tool to dig a grave, two lions came at a rapid pace from the desert and stood over the body of the venerable Saint, showing how, they lamented his death. They began to tear at the earth with their feet, making a hole large enough to receive the body of a man. When they had gone, Anthony carried the corpse to the place, covered it with soil, arranging the grave in the manner of Christians. Anthony took the tunic which Paul had woven for himself out of palm leaves to wear on the great days of Easter and Pentecost.

 Saint Maurus, Abbot
Also on January 15th:
Breviary ex Guéranger

    Maurus was by birth a Roman. His father, whose name was Eutychius, a Senator by rank, had placed him, when a little boy, under the care of Saint Benedict. Trained in the school of such and so great a master of holiness, he attained to the highest degree of monastic perfection, even before he had ceased to be a child; so that Benedict himself was in admiration, and used to speak of his virtus to everyone, holding him forth to the rest of the house as a model of religious discipline. He subdued his flesh by austerities, such as wearing a hairshirt, night watching, and frequent fasting; giving, meanwhile, to his spirit, the solace of assiduous prayer, holy compunction, and reading the Sacred Scriptures. During Lent he took food but twice in the week, and that so sparingly as to seem rather to be tasting than taking it. He slept standing, or when excessive fatigue obliged him to it, sitting, or at times lying down on a heap of lime and sand over which he threw his hair shirt. His sleep was exceedingly short, for he always recited very long prayers, and often the whole of the Psalter before the midnight Office.

    He gave a proof of his admirable spirit of obedience on the occasion of Placid's fall into the lake. Maurus, at the bidding of his holy father, ran to the lake, walked dryshod upon the water, and taking the child by the hair of his head, drew him safe to the bank; for Placid was to be slain by the sword as a martyr, and our Lord reserved him as a victim which should be offered to Him. On account of such signal virtues as these, the same holy father made Maurus share the care of his duties; for from his very entrance into the monastic life, he had a part in his miracles. He had been raised to the holy Diaconate by Saint Benedict's command; and by placing the stole he wore on a dumb and lame boy, he gave him the power both to speak and to walk.

    Maurus was sent by Saint Benedict into France. Scarcely had he set his foot in that land, then he had a vision of the triumphant entrance of his holy father into heaven. He promulgated in that country the rule which Saint Benedict had written with his own hand, and had given to him on his leaving Italy. The labor and the anxiety he had to go through in the accomplishment of his mission were exceedingly great. Having built the celebrated monastery which he governed for forty years, so great was the reputation of his virtues, that several of the noblest lords of King Theodebert's court put themselves under Maurus direction, and enrolled in the holier and more meritorious warfare of the monastic life.

    Two years before his death, he resigned the government of his Monastery, and retired into a cell near the Oratory of St. Martin. There he exercised himself in most rigorous penance, wherewith he fortified himself for the contest he had to sustain against the enemy of mankind, who threatened him with the death of his monks. In this combat a holy Angel was his comforter, who, after revealing to him the snares of the wicked spirit, and the designs of God, bade him and his disciples win the crown prepared for them. Having, therefore, sent to heaven before him, as so many forerunners, a hundred and more of his brave soldiers, and knowing that he, their leader, was soon to follow them, he signified his wish to be carried to the Oratory, where, being strengthened by the Sacrament of Life, and lying on his hairshirt, as a victim before the altar, he died a saintly death. He was upwards of seventy years of age. It would be difficult to describe the success wherewith he propagated monastic discipline in France, or to tell the miracles which, both before and after his death, rendered him glorious among men.

Saint Marcellus
January 16th
Breviary ex Guéranger

    Marcellus was a Roman, and governed the Church from the reign of Constantius and Galerius to that of Maxentius. It was by his counsel that a Roman Matron, named Lucina, made the Church of God the heir of all her property. He established in the City five and twenty Titles, as so many districts for the administration of baptism and penance to Pagans converted to the Christian religion, and for providing burial to the Martyrs. All this irritated Maxentius, and he threatened Marcellus with sever punishment unless he laid down his Pontificate and offered sacrifice to the idols.

    Marcellus heeded not the senseless words of man, and therefore went to the stables, there to take care of the beasts that were kept at the public expense. In this place Marcellus spent nine months, fasting and praying without ceasing, and visiting by his letters the churches he could not visit in person. He was thence delivered by some of his clergy, and was harbored by the blessed Lucina, in whose house he dedicated a church, which is now called the church of St. Marcellus. Here did the Christians assemble for prayer, and the blessed Marcellus preach.

    Maxentius, coming to hear these things, ordered that church to be turned into the stable for the beasts, and Marcellus to be made its keeper. Sickened by the foul atmosphere, and worn out by his many cares, he slept in the Lord. The blessed Lucina had his body buried in the Priscillia cemetery on the Salarian Way, the seventeenth of the Calends of February (January 16th). He sat five years, one month, and twenty-five days. He wrote a letter to the bishops of the Antioch province, concerning the primacy of the Church of Rome, which he proves ought to be called "the Head of the Churches." In the same letter there occurs this passage, that no Council may be rightly celebrated without the authority of the Roman Pontiff. He ordained at Rome, in the month of December, twenty-five priests, two deacons, and twenty-one bishops for various places.

Saint Anthony, Abbot
January 17th
Breviary ex Guéranger

    Anthony was born in Egypt of noble and Christian parents, who left him an orphan at an early age. Having one day entered a church, he heard these words of the Gospel being read: "If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell all thou hast, and give to the poor." He took them as addressed to himself, and thought it his duty to obey these words of Christ his Lord. Selling therefore his possessions, he distributed all the money among the poor. Being freed from these obstacles he resolved to lead on earth a heavenly life. But at his entrance on the perils of such a combat, he felt that beside the shield of faith wherewith he was armed, he needed to fortify himself with the other virtues; and so ardent was his desire to possess them, that whomsoever he saw excelling in any virtue, him did he study to imitate.

    Nothing, therefore, could exceed his continency and vigilance. He surpassed all in patience, meekness, mercy, humility, manual labor, and the study of the Sacred Scriptures. So great was his aversion for the company of, or conversation with, heretics, especially the Arians, that he used to say that we ought not even go near them. He lay on the ground when necessity obliged him to sleep. As to fasting, he practiced it with so much fervor that his only nourishment was bread seasoned with salt, and he quenched his thirst with water; neither did he take his food and drink until sunset, and frequently abstained from it altogether for two successive days. He very frequently spent the whole night in prayer. Anthony became so valiant a soldier of God that the enemy of mankind, ill-brooking such extraordinary virtue, attacked him with manifold temptations; but the Saint overcame them all by fasting and prayer. Neither did his victories over Satan make him heedless, for he knew how innumerable are the devil's artifices for injuring souls.

    Knowing this he betook himself to one of the largest deserts of Egypt, where such was his progress in Christian perfection that the wicked spirits, whose attacks grew more furious as Anthony's resistance grew more resolute, became the object of his contempt, so much so indeed, that he would sometimes taunt them for their weakness. When encouraging his disciples to fight against the devil, and teaching them the arms wherewith they would vanquish him, he used often to say to them, "Believe me, brethren, Satan dreads the watchings of holy men, and their prayers, and fasts, and voluntary poverty, and works of mercy, and humility, and above all, their ardent love for Christ our Lord, at the mere sign of His most holy Cross, he is disabled and put to flight." So formidable was he to the devils that many persons in Egypt who were possessed by them were delivered by invoking Anthony's name. So great, too, was his reputation for sanctity, that Constantine the Great and his sons wrote to him, commending themselves to his prayers. At length, having reached the hundred and fifth year of his age, and having received a countless number into his institute, he called his monks together; and having instructed them how to regulate their lives according to Christian perfection, he, venerated both for the miracles he had wrought, and for the holiness of his life, departed from this world to heaven on the sixteenth of the Calends of February (January 17).

Saint Peter's Chair at Rome
January 18th
(1792 except for lessons proper to the Second Nocturn)

1st Nocturn

Lesson i: Chapter i: 1-5

    Here begins the first Epistle of blessed Peter the Apostle.
Peter, an Apostle of Jesus Christ, to the sojourners of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, chosen unto the sanctification of the Spirit according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, unto obedience to Jesus Christ and the sprinkling of His blood: grace and peace be given you in abundance. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has begotten us again, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, unto a living hope, unto an incorruptible inheritance -- undefiled and unfading, reserved for you in heaven. By the power of God you are guarded through faith for salvation, which is ready to be revealed in the last time.

Lesson ii: Chapter i: 6-9

    Over this you rejoice; though now for a little while, if need be, you are made sorrowful by various trials, that the temper of your faith -- more precious by far than gold which is tried by fire -- may be found unto praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Him, though you have not seen, you love. In him, though you do not see Him, yet believing, you exult with joy unspeakable and triumphant; receiving as the final issue of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Lesson iii: Chapter ii: 10-12

    The prophets who foretold the grace that was to come for you made earnest inquiry and search concerning this salvation. They searched what time of circumstances the Spirit of Christ in them was signifying, when He foretold the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. To them it was revealed that, not to themselves but to you, they were ministering those things which now have been declared to you by those who preached the Gospel to you by the Holy Ghost sent from heaven. Into these things angels desire to look.

2nd Nocturn

From Guéranger, The Liturgical Year
Lesson iv

    Our Lord Jesus Christ chose Simon for this sublime dignity of being His Vicar. He changed his name into one that signifies the Rock, that is "Peter"; and in giving him this new name, he tells us that the whole Church throughout the world is to rest upon this man as upon a Rock which nothing shall ever move. But this promise of our Lord included another; namely, that as Peter was to close his earthly career by the Cross, he would give him Successors in whom Peter and his authority should live to the end of time.

Lesson v

    But again, there must be some mark or sign of this succession, to designate to the world who the Pontiff is on whom, to the end of the world, the Church is to be built. There are so many bishops in the Church: in which one of them is Peter continued? This Prince of the Apostles founded and governed several churches; but only one of these was watered with his blood, and that one was Rome: only one of these is enriched with his tomb, and that one is Rome; the Bishop of Rome, therefore, is the successor of Peter, and consequently the Vicar of Christ. It is of the Bishop of Roma alone that it is said: "Upon thee will I build My Church"; and again: "To thee will I give the keys of the kingdom of heaven"; and again: "I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not; do thou confirm thy brethren"; and again: Feed My lambs; feed My sheep."

Lesson vi

    Protestantism saw the force of this argument, and therefore strove to throw doubts on St. Peter's having lived and died in Rome. They who labored to establish doubts of this kind rightly hoped that, if they could gain their point, they would destroy the authority of the Roman Pontiff, and even the very notion of a Head of the Church. But history has refuted this puerile objection, and now all learned Protestants agree with Catholics in admitting a fact which is one of the most incontestable, even on the ground of human authority. (For many centuries the Church had not solemnized the mystery of the pontificate of the Prince of the Apostles by any distinct feast, but had made the single feast of February 22nd serve for both the Chair at Antioch and the Chair at Rome.) It was in order to nullify, by the authority of the Liturgy, the pretension of the Protestants, that Pope Paul IV, in 1558 restored the ancient feast of St. Peter's Chair at Rome and fixed it on the 18th of January.

3rd Nocturn
Chapter xvi: 13-19

A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Matthew
At that time Jesus, having gone into the district of Cæsarea Philippi, began to ask His disciples, saying, "Who do men say the Son of Man is?" Etc.

A homily of Pope St. Leo
Sermon 3 on the anniversary of his own election, near the beginning

Lesson i

    The Lord asks the Apostles what men are thinking about Him: and their answers are those common among men as long as the uncertainty of human understanding is being expressed. But when the disciples are asked what they think, he who is the first in apostolic dignity is the first to confess the Lord. When he had said, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God," Jesus answered him, "Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to thee, but My Father who is in heaven." That is, you are blessed because My Father had taught you; you have not been deceived by earthly opinions, but taught by heavenly inspiration; and it is not flesh and blood, but He whose only Son I am who has shown Me to you.

Lesson viii

    "And I," He said, "say to you" -- that is, as My Father has shown you My divinity, so I will make known to you your excellence. "Thou art Peter" -- that is, as I am the inviolable rock, the cornerstone that makes two things into one, the foundation that no man can replace with another, so you also are a rock, for you are made firm by My power, so that you are to share in common participation with Me in what is proper to my power. "And upon this rock I will build My Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." On this strength, He says, I will build an eternal temple, and the height of My Church which is to reach into heaven will rise on the firmness of this faith.

Lesson ix

    The gates of hell shall not do away with this confession, the chains of death shall not bind it. For this voice is the voice of life. And, as He will raise up to heaven those who confess Him, so He will plunge into hell those who deny Him. This is why He says to the most blessed Peter, "I will give thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." A certain force of this power was transmitted to the other Apostles as well, and the essence of this decree has passed on to all the chiefs of the Church; but there is a point in committing to one person that which is meant for all. It is entrusted to Peter in a special way because Peter is to be an example for all those who rule the Church. Therefore Peter's privilege stands, wherever judgment flows from his justice. Nor will either severity or leniency be too great where nothing will be bound and nothing loosed, unless blessed Peter has either loosed or bound it.

St. Prisca, Virgin & Martyr
Also January 18th (in some places)

Breviary ex Guéranger

    Prisca, a noble virgin of Rome, aged thirteen, was accused of being a Christian in the reign of the emperor Claudius. By his command she was led to the temple of Apollo that she might sacrifice to the idols, and when she had shown her detestation of them was beaten and cast into prison. When brought out of prison she persevered in her steadfast confession of faith and was therefor scourged, tortured with boiling fat, and again cast into prison. After three days she was exposed to a lion in the amphitheater, but the beast, forgetting his natural fierceness, crouched humbly at her feet. After three days in prison with nothing to eat, she was racked, torn with iron hooks, and cast onto a funeral pyre, but was wonderfully preserved from harm. Finally she was beheaded outside the City walls, thus adding the crown of martyrdom to her virginity. He body was buried by the Christians on the Ostian Way, about ten miles from the City, on the fifteenth of the Kalends of February.


Ss. Marius, Martha, Audifax, and Abachum, Martyrs
January 19th
Breviary ex Guéranger

    Marius, a Persian of noble birth, came to Rome under the emperor Claudius to venerate the sepulchres of the martyrs in the company of his wife Martha, a noble lady, and their two sons Audifax and Abachum. There they ministered to the Christians in prison, maintaining them both by their wealth and their personal service, and buried the bodies of the saints. They were all accordingly arrested, and since they could not be induced by fear or threats to sacrifice to the gods, they were first beaten with clubs, then dragged about with ropes, burnt with hot iron plates, and torn with hooks. Lastly, their hands were cut off and tied about their necks, and they were led through the City and by the Via Cornelia to the place called Nymphe, thirteen miles from Rome, where they were put to death. The first to die was Martha, who earnestly exhorted her husband and sons to bear their sufferings with constancy for the Faith of Jesus Christ. Then the others were beheaded in the same sandpit, and their bodies were thrown into the fire. Felicitas, a Roman matron, took them when they were half burned and buried them on her own estate.

Saint Canute, King & Martyr
Also on January 19th:
Breviary ex Guéranger

    Canute the Fourth, son of Sweyn Estrithius, King of Denmark, was conspicuous for his faith, piety, and purity of life, and even from his infancy gave proof of exceeding holiness. Having been elected by the votes of his people to the throne held by his father, he at once began zealously to promote religion, to add to the revenues of the churches, and to provide them with costly fittings and furniture. Being also inflamed with zeal for the propagation of the faith, he refused not to enter into just war with barbarous nations, which when he had conquered and subdued, he subjected to the law of Christ. Having obtained several glorious victories, and increased the riches of his treasury, he laid his regal diadem at the feet of a crucifix, offering himself and his kingdom to Him who is the King of kings and Lord of lords. He chastised his body by fasting, hair-shirts, and disciplines. He was assiduous in prayer and contemplation, liberal in his alms to the poor, and ever kind to all, never deviating from the path of justice and the divine commandments.

    By these and other such virtues the holy king made rapid strides to the summit of perfection. Now it happened that William, Duke of Normandy, invaded the kingdom of England with a formidable army, and the English sought assistance from the Danes. The King resolved to grant them this aid, and intrusted the expedition to his brother Olaf. But he, from the desire he had of getting possession of the throne, turned his forces against the King, and stirred up the soldiers and the people to rebellion; for the King had issued laws commanding the payment of ecclesiastical tithes, the observance of the commandments of God and His Church, and the infliction of penalties on defaulters; all of which were made a handle of by perverse and wicked malcontents, fromspreading discontent, exciting the people to revolt, and at last to plot the death of the saintly King.

    Foreknowing what was to happen, the King saw that he would soon be put to death for justice' sake. Having foretold it, he set out for Odense, where entering into the Church of St. Alban the Martyr, as the place of combat, he fortified himself with the Sacraments, and commended his last struggle to our Lord. He had not long been there when a band of conspirators arrived. They endeavored to set fire to the church, to burst open the doors and to force an entrance. But failing in this, they scaled the windows, and with great violence threw a shower of stones and arrows upon the holy King, who was on his knees praying for his enemies. Thus wounded, and at last pierced through with a spear, he was crowned with a glorious martyrdom, and fell before the altar with his arms stretched out. Gregory VII was the reigning Pontiff. God showed by many miracles how glorious was his Martyr; and Denmark was afflicted with a great famine and sundry calamities in punishment of the sacrilegious murder which had been perpetrated. Many persons who were afflicted with various maladies found aid and health by praying at the tomb of the Martyr. On one occasion, when the Queen endeavored during the night to take up his body secretly and carry it to another place, she was deterred from her design by being struck with fear at the sight of a most brilliant light, which came down from heaven.

St. Wulstan, Bishop & Confessor
Also January 19th (in some places)
Breviary ex Guéranger

    Wulstan, while a simple priest, had acquired a renown for great holiness. Afterwards, having become a monk of Worcester Priory, he was raised in a short time to the rule of that same church. Almost entirely ignorant of secular learning, he gave himself over to spiritual science. He was numbered among the most eloquent speakers of the English language. It is principally remembered that by his assiduous preaching he converted the citizens of Bristol, whom neither the regal nor the pontifical power could withdraw from the infamous slave trade.

    Being made bishop, he sedulously fulfilled all the duties of a good shepherd. He began to visit all parts of his diocese, to give ordinations, to dedicate churches, to reprove sinners, and to animate the souls committed to his care, both by word and example, to the desire of eternal life. It frequently happened that he fasted from sunrise till nightfall while occupied in confirming children to the number of two and three thousand, who were brought from all parts. Such was his meekness and zeal for souls in hearing confessions that persons came to him from all parts of England, and by his admonitions sinners amended their crimes by worthy deeds of penance.

    Neither did he, while watching over the salvation of others, neglect his own. He served God by constant celebration of Mass, by assiduous prayer, by continued abstinence from flesh meat and by overflowing charity to the needy. The more humbly he esteemed himself, by so much more his virtues were proclaimed by all, so that not only the English and the Normans, but the kings and rulers of foreign nations also commended themselves to his prayers. He died a very old man in the year from the Incarnation of our Lord, one thousand and ninety-five, and was buried in his church at Worcester.

Ss. Fabian, Pope & Martyr; Sebastian, Martyr
January 20th
Breviary ex Guéranger

    Fabian, a Roman by birth, governed the Church from the reign of Maximian to that of Decius. He divided the City into seven parts, which he consigned to as many deacons, and to them he gave the charge of looking after the poor. He created also a like number of subdeacons, who were to collect the Acts of the Martyrs, written by seven notaries. It was he who decreed that every year, on the fifth feria of our Lord's Supper, the Chrism should be renewed and the old should be burnt. At length, on the thirteenth of the Kalends of February (January 20), he was crowned with martyrdom in the persecution of Decius, and was buried in the cemetery of Callixtus, on the Appian Way, after reigning fifteen years and four days. He held five ordinations in the month of December, making twenty-two priests, seven deacons, and eleven bishops for diverse places.

    Sebastian, whose father was of Narbonne, and his mother a lady of Milan, was beloved by Diocletian on account of his noble birth and his virtues. Being a captain of the pretorian cohort, he was able to give assistance and alms to the Christians, whose faith he himself followed, though privately. When he perceived any of them trembling at the great tortures of the persecutors, he made it his duty to encourage them; and so well did he do it, that many, for the sake of Jesus Christ, would freely offer themselves to the executioners. Of this number were the two brothers, Mark and Marcellian, who were in custody under Nicostratus, whose wife, named Zoe, had recovered her speech by the prayer made for her by Sebastian. Diocletian, being told of these things, summoned Sebastian before him; and after upbraiding him in very strong words, tried every means to induce him to turn from the faith of Christ. But finding that neither promises nor threats availed, he ordered him to be tied to a stake, and to be shot to death with arrows.

    Everyone thought that he was dead, and a pious woman named Irene gave orders that his bodies should be taken away during the night and buried; but she, finding him to be still alive, had him taken to her house, where she took care of him. Not long after, having quite recovered, he went before Diocletian, and boldly chided him for his wickedness. At first the emperor was struck dumb with astonishment, for he had been told that Sebastian was dead; but at length the strange event and the martyr's sharp rebuke so inflamed him with rage, that he ordered him to be scourged to death with rods. His body was thrown into a sewer, but Lucina was instructed by Sebastian, in her sleep, both as to where his body was and where he wished to be buried. Accordingly she buried him at the Catacombs, where afterwards a celebrated church was built, called Saint Sebastian's.

St. Agnes, Virgin & Martyr
January 21st
Lesson i
From the Book of Ecclesiasticus li: 1-7

    I give Thee thanks, O Lord, O King; I praise Thee, O God my Savior! I will make known Thy name, for Thou hast been my helper and protector. Thou hast kept back my body from the pit; Thou hast delivered me from the snare of a slanderous tongue, and from lips that went over to falsehood; in the sight of those who stood by, Thou hast been my helper. Thou hast delivered me in Thy great mercy, from those who were roaring, prepared to devour, from the power of those who sought my life and from the troubles that surrounded me; from flames that hemmed me in on every side, so that I was not burnt in the midst of the fire; from the deep belly of the nether world, from deceiving lips and painters of lies, from an unjust king and from a dishonest tongue.

Lesson ii: li: 8-17

    I will praise the Lord even at the point of death. My soul was nearing the depths of the nether world. They hemmed me in on every side, and there was no one to help me; I looked for one to sustain me, but could find no one. But then I remembered Thy mercies, O Lord, Thy kindness through ages past; for Thou save those who wait for Thee, Lord, and rescue them from the hands of the gentiles. Thou put me on earth. Death was coming upon me; I entreated Thee. I called upon Thee, Lord, Father of my Lord; do not abandon me in time of trouble; do not leave me without help in the hands of the proud. I will ever praise Thy name, and will praise it with thanksgiving. Thereupon the Lord listened to my appeal. Thou saved me from evil and preserved me in time of trouble. For this reason I thank Thee and I praise Thee; I bless the name of the Lord.

Lesson iii
From the book of St. Ambrose, Bishop
On Virgins, Book 1, near the beginning

    Today is the birthday of a Virgin; let us imitate her virginal innocence. It is the birthday of a Martyr; let us also bring sacrifice. It is the birthday of Saint Agnes; let men look up in admiration and children not be disheartened. You who are married, be filled with wonder; you unmarried, follow in her footsteps. But where shall we find words of adequate praise, since her very name bespeaks her glory and renown? In her we see a devotion that far surpasses her age, a virtue that exceeds all power of nature. Hence, it seems to me that she has not merely a human name, but, prophetically, she was given the name of a Martyr, to indicate beforehand what she was to be. The name of our Virgin is a guarantee of her purity. If I call her Martyr, already I have praised enough. For, that is great praise, indeed, which one does not need to seek, but is freely given by others. No one can be more praised than one who is praised by all. As many men, so many encomiums. They have only to mention her name to praise her as a Martyr. According to tradition, it was in her thirteenth year when she suffered martyrdom. How despicable the cruelty that spared not even this tender age! But how great the power of faith that found even that age its witness!

Ss. Vincent, Deacon and Anastasius, Martyrs
January 22nd
Breviary ex Guéranger

    Vincent was born at Huesca, a town of northern Spain, and when quite a child applied himself to study. He was taught the sacred sciences by Valerius, the Bishop of Saragossa. This prelate intrusted him with the duty of preaching the Gospel because he was not able to discharge that office himself, by reason of an impediment in his speech. This having reached the ears of Dacian, who had been made governor of that province by Diocletian and Maximian, Vincent was apprehended at Saragossa, and was led in chains to Valencia, before the judgment-seat of Dacian. There he was tortured by lashes and the rack in the presence of many people; but neither the violence of the torments, nor the harsh nor bland speeches addressed to him, could induce him to swerve from his resolution. He was therefore laid upon a gridiron, which was set upon burning coals; his flesh was torn off with iron hooks, and red-hot plates were laid over him. After this he was led back to prison, the floor of which had been strewed with broken potsherds, in order that when he lay down to sleep, his body might be tortured by their sharp edges.

    But while he was shut up in this dark prison, a most bright light penetrated the place. They who were present were astonished beyond measure, and the gaoler informed Dacian of what had occurred. Vincent was then ordered to be taken out of prison and put on a soft bed; for the governor thought by such comforts as this to gain over him whom he had failed to seduce by tortures. But Vincent's invincible spirit, strengthened by his faith and hope in Christ Jesus, overcame all their efforts; and after triumphing over fire and sword, and all his tortures, took flight to heaven, there to receive the crown of martyrdom on the eleventh of the Kalends of February (January 22). His body was thrown in a marsh, and denied burial; but a crow miraculously defended it by its claws, beak, and wings, against birds of prey and a wolf. Dacian, hearing this, ordered it to be thrown in a deep part of the sea: but by a fresh prodigy it was washed to the shore, and the Christians gave it burial.

    Anastasius, a Persian by birth, embraced the monastic life during the reign of Heraclius. After visiting the holy places in Jerusalem, he courageously endured at Cæsarea in Palestine both imprisonment and scourgings for the faith of Christ. Not long after, the Persians put him to several kinds of torture for the same reason. King Chosroes at last ordered him to be beheaded, together with seventy other Christians. His relics were at first carried to Jerusalem, to the monastery where he had professed the monastic life; afterwards they were translated to Rome, and were deposited in the monastery near the Salvian Waters.


Espousal of the Blessed Virgin

Saint Raymund of Peñafort, Confessor
January 23rd
Lesson ii of the Epousal:
A Homily of St. Jerome, from the Vigil of Christmas (1146-1148).


Lesson iii of Saint Raymond of Peñafort,

from the Proper (1713).

At Lauds & Vespers:
Proverbs xxviii

A faithful man shall be greatly praised.

    [R] He that is the keeper of his Lord shall be glorified.

Antiphon:   Joseph, son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary, thy wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.

Collects:  We beg The to impart upon Thy servants, O Lord, the gift of heavenly grace: that those who learned the lesson of salvation in the Childbirth of the Blessed Virgin; may by the solemnity of her espousal be granted an increase of peace.

(and, under one conclusion:)

    May we be helped, O Lord, we pray, by the merits of the Spouse of Thy holy Mother, Saint Joseph: so that what we cannot obtain for ourselves, may be given to us through his intercession.

At Lauds:  Commemoration of St. Raymond from the Proper (1714).



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