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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Saint Anthony, Abbot, January 17

St. Anthony, Abbot, January 17

Saint Anthony of Egypt

The life of Saint Anthony (the authorship of which same is ascribed to Saint Athanasius) hath the following items regarding him who is venerated as the first Abbot of monks. Anthony was an Egyptian, the child of noble and Christian parents, whom he lost while yet very young. On one occasion he heard read in church this passage of the Gospel : If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor : and he straightway took these words as addressed to himself personally, and therefore distributed all his possessions to the poor. Since he was about to enter the field of battle against Satan, he first gave heed to the examples set by all those who were eminent for any grace, and strove to copy them. * He was excelled by none in watchfulness and self-restraint, and continual study of the Holy Scriptures. He had such a loathing of hereticks and schismatics, specially Arians, that he would never go near them. He slept lying on the ground. He took nothing with his bread but salt, and drank only water. He never ate or drank before sunset, and often abstained from food altogether for two days at a time. Very often he passed whole nights in prayer. And being so valiant a soldier of God, he was attacked by the devil with divers temptations. * He betook himself to the deserts round about Egypt, where many disciples became monks under his direction. Day by day the attacks of the fiends became more violent, but day by day his strength grew greater to strive against them. At length he came to mock at their powerlessness, saying : Satan is afraid of good men’s prayers and fasts, but above all for their warm love of our Lord, the mere Sign of whose holy Cross is enough to put him to flight. He became such an object of dread to the devils, that many persons tormented by them were delivered by calling on his name. Moreover, the fame of his holiness was so spread abroad that Constantine the Great and his sons wrote to him to commend themselves to his prayers. In the hundred and fiftieth year of his age, having roused up great numbers to follow his example, he passed to heaven, on January 17th, in the year 356.
Grant, we beseech thee, O Lord, that the prayers of thy holy Abbot, blessed Anthony, may commend us unto thee, that we, who have no power of ourselves to help ourselves, may by his advocacy find favour in thy sight, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

December 8th, Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

December 8th, Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

From a Sermon by Saint Jerome the Priest.

The Angel, divinely inspired, declared who and what the blessed and glorious Virgin Mary is when he said : Hail, thou that art highly favored with a fulness of grace, the Lord is with thee, blessed art thou among women. For surely it was fitting that a fulness of grace should be poured into that Virgin who was to give glory to heaven and the Saviour to the world ; whereby she brought peace to earth, death to sin, law to life, and faith to the Gentiles ; thus making plain before our face the straight and narrow way to perfection. It is well said of her that she is full of grace. To others grace cometh measure by measure. On Mary grace was poured out once, in all fulness. It is well said : Full of grace, We believe that the holy Fathers and Prophets had grace, but they were not full of grace. But into Mary cam a fulness of all grace which is in Christ, although it came otherwise than it did to him. Therefore is it said : Blessed art thou among women : that is, Blessed art thou above all women. The fulness of the blessing of Mary utterly neutralized in her any effects of the curse of Eve. As if in praise of her, it is said in the Song of Solomon : Rise up, my dove, my fair one, for the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. And again : Come from Lebanon, my spouse ; come, thou shalt be crowned.

Not unfitly is it said : Come from Lebanon. For Lebanon is so named on account of its stainless and glistering whiteness. The earthly Lebanon is white with snow, but the lonely heights of Mary’s holiness are white with purity and grace, brilliantly fair, whiter far than snow, sparkling with the gifts of the Holy Ghost. Again it is said : Rise up, my dove. Fore like a dove, she is clean, and in her is simplicity. Thus she is full of grace and truth, for the heavens dropped down from above, and the skies poured down righteousness upon her. And therefore she is immaculate, because in her hath never been any corruption. She hath compassed a man in her womb, as saith holy Jeremiah, but she conceived not by the will of fallen man. The Lord, saith the Prophet, hath created a new thing in the earth ; a woman shall compass a man. Verily, it is a new thing, a thing of power greater than all other works, when God,(whom the world cannot compass nor carry, and whom no man shall see and live,) entered the hospice of her womb, breaking not the blissfull cloister of her virgin flesh. And in her womb he dwelt, the Infinite inclosed within her finiteness.

And from her the Infinite One came forth, so that thereby was fulfilled what was spoken by the Prophet Ezekiel : This gate shall be shut, it shall not be opened, and no man shall enter in by it ; because the Lord, the God of Israel, hath entered in by it, therefore it shall be shut. Hence also in the Song of Songs it is said : A garden inclosed is my sister, my spouse, a spring shut up, a fountain sealed, an orchard with pleasant fruits, with trees of frankincense, and all the chief spices. Verily she was a garden of delights, filled with the sweet savour of graces. She was a garden inclosed in such wise that never did Satan enter therein to sully the blossoms. She was a spring shut up, a founain sealed, yes, sealed with the seal of the Trinity.

O God, who in the foreknowledge of thy Son’s most precious death didst consecrate for him a dwelling-place by the spotless Conception of the Blessed Virgin : mercifully grant that she who was preserved from all defilement, may evermore pray for us until we attain unto thee in purity of heart, through the same Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Saint Ambrose, Bishop, Confessor, & Doctor

Saint Ambrose, Bishop, Confessor, & Doctor December 7

Ambrose was born when his father was Prefect of Gaul, about the year 340. He received a liberal education at Rome, and was afterwards made governour of the province of which Milan was the capital. Now when Auxentius died,(who was the Arian who had been intruded into the Bishoprick of Milan,) the most violent of disputes arose about the choice of successor, and Ambrose urged upon the factions the necessity of keeping the public ; whereupon a child suddenly cried out : Ambrose, Bishop : and the whole assembly took it up, and unanimously called for his election.

Ambrose refused the office, but when the will of the Emperor was added to the desire of the people, he yielded, and received Baptism,(for hitherto he was only a Catechumen,) Confirmation, and Communion, and then the several Orders on successive days, till on the eighth day, which was the seventh of December, in the year 374, the weight of the Episcopate was laid upon his shoulders. Therein he ever shewed himself a stout upholder of Catholic faith and discipline, and turned to the truth great numbers of Arians and other hereticks. Among them, he begat in Christ Jesus that burning and shining light of the Church, the holy Doctor Augustine.

After the massacre which the Emperor Theodosius had commanded at Thessalonica, in 390, he refused to permit that prince to enter a church. The Emperor pleaded that he was no worse than David, who had been guilty of adultery and murder, to which Ambrose answered : As thou hast followed him in sin, follow him also in repentance : whereupon Theodosius humbly did public penance. At length, worn out with his continual labours, this holy bishop knew that death was near. After he had received the Body and Blood of Christ, and with his hands stretched out the form of a cross, he gave his spirit to God, namely, on April 4th in the year of Christ 397, but his feast is kept in most places on December 7th, which is the anniversary of his consecration. He was the author of many hymns for the liturgy, and many homilies and treatises. He is regarded as one of the best-beloved bishops of all time, and is honored as one of the first four western Doctors of the Church.

O God, by whose providence Saint Ambrose was sent to guide thy people in the way of everlasting salvation, grant, we beseech thee, that as we have learned of him the doctrine of life on earth, so we may be found worthy to have him for our advocate in heaven, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Saturday, May 19, 2012


St. Pudentiana, Virgin.


Pudentiana (also called Potentiana) is with good reason believed to be a sainted Virgin, and perhaps a Martyr, of the first or second century. She was sister to holy Praxedes, and daughter to holy Pudens the Roman Senator, of whom the Apostle maketh mention to blessed Timothy, saying : Eubulus greeteth thee, and Pudens. After she, with her sister Praxedes, had distributed to the poor the money which they had obtained by the sale of their inheritance, she gave herself continually to fasting and prayer, and brought he whole household, being ninety-six persons on all, to Christ. And whereas the Emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus had forbidden the Christians to offer sacrifice in public, Saint Pope Pius I used to meet with them in Pudentiana’s house, to celebrate the holy rites. Where she was gracious hostess to them, and ministered to them in such things as were needful for the body. She thus busied herself in works of Christian godliness until she passed from this present life to a better, and was buried in her father’s sepulcher in the cemetery of Saint Priscilla on the Salarian Way upon May 19th.


Graciously hear us, O God of our salvation, that, like as we do rejoice in the festival of blessed Pudentiana thy holy Virgin, so we may learn to follow her in all godly and devout affections, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Saint Dunstan, Bishop and Confessor

Saint Dunstan, Bishop and Confessor

This Dunstan was born of a noble family. He was expelled from the king’s court through the efforts of his enemies, whereupon he bade farewell to the world, and betook himself to Glastonbury. As there were then no monks there, he got together some, of whom he was made Abbot. He was a great favourite of the Kings Edmund and Edred, but was peculiarly obnoxious to Edwy, because he had the courage often to rebuke this King for his perverse doings, and feared not to oppose his wishes. In consequence of his line of conduct, the King took proceedings against him, from which he was obliged to abscond. And he went and lived abroad at Ghent, in Flanders. * In the reign of Edgar he was called home again, with great popular applause, and soon afterwards promoted to the Archbishoprick of Canterbury. He was excessively severe in using Church discipline, and never spared one who had erred. He ejected all the married clergy from their churches, and put monks in their places, and forced the King himself to do penance for seven years of sins which he had committed. * Dunstan’s strictness caused him to be regarded with fear by many, but all admired him as a Saint, so that he got among the lower classes the name of being a good archbishop. After the death of Kings Edgar and Edward, he put the crown of Etheldred, the next heir, to whom he is said to have foretold an unhappy reign, and no cessation from trouble.

He died full of days, and was buried in his own Church, towards the end of the tenth century. He is reckoned the patron of gold-and silver-smiths, and also musicians, in that he ever laboured much and well, even with his own hands, for ecclesiastical decencies in worship.

O God, who didst exalt blessed Dunstan thy Bishop to thy heavenly kingdom, grant, we beseech thee, that by his glorious merits we may attain to everlasting felicity, through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord. Amen.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Saint Patrick, Bishop and Confessor, Enlightener of Ireland

Saint Patrick, Bishop and Confessor, Enlightener of Ireland.

Patrick, called the Apostle of Ireland, was born about the year 389, of Roman and British parentage. Blessed Martin of Tours is said to have been among his kin. When Patrick was a lad he was taken prisoner by slavers and carried to Ireland, whence he escaped after six years. Meanwhile he learned to serve God well, for whilst attending the flock of his master he would rise before the light, in snow and frost and rain, to make his prayers. * Having been finally raised to the priesthood, Saint Germanus of Auxerre consecrated him bishop, and sent him back to Ireland, in succession to Saint Palladius the first Christian missionary, who, after twelve months of labour there, had gone to Scotland and then died. Patrick travelled to every part of Ireland, converting many of the people and their chiefs by his preaching and example. And everywhere his preaching of the Word was confirmed by wonders and signs following. He washed many of the Irish folk in the laver of regeneration, ordained many bishops and clerks, and decreed rules for virgins and for widows living in continency. And he established Armagh as the primatial See of all Ireland.
* Besides that which came upon him daily, the care of all the churches of Ireland, he never suffered his spirit to weary in constant prayer. It is said that is was his custom to repeat daily the whole Book of Psalms, together with certain other hymns and prayers, and that he took his short rest lying on a bare stone. He was a great practiser of lowliness, and after the pattern of the Apostle, always continued work with his own hands. At last he fell asleep in the Lord in extreme old age, according to some authorities about the year 461, glorious both in word and deed. His body was translated to the Cathedral of Down in Ulster in 1185.

O God, who didst send forth blessed Patrick, thy Confessor and Bishop, to preach unto the Gentiles the glory of thy Name : grant that by his merits and intercession, we may of thy mercy be enabled to fulful all such things as thou commandest, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.