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Friday, December 31, 2010

Saint Sylvester, Pope and Confessor

Saint Sylvester, Pope and Confessor
Sylvester, priest of the Church in the City of Rome, discharged his office with such praiseworthiness that in January, 314, he was chosen to succeed Saint Mechiades as Pope. Less than a year before this the Emperor Constantine had granted toleration to Christianity by the Edict of Milan. Sylvester established the Lateran Church, a gift to the Church in Rome from Constantine, as the Cathedral Church in that City. Several other great churches were founded during his pontificate, notably Saint Peter’s on Vatican Hill. It was also during his time that the Council of Arles was gathered out of divers provinces of Gaul, Italy, Africa, Spain, and Britain, to deal with the Donatist heresy. And, among other things, this Council ordered that Easter should be celebrated everywhere on one and the same day. In his time also was held the first Ecumenical Council, to wit, of Nicea in 325, to which he himself went not, but sent legates. Some three hundred and eighteen bishops were present, over whom Hosius of Cordova p0resided. And by these bishops, in the presence of Constantine, the Holy and Catholic Faith was declared, and Arius and his followers were condemned.
This Pope is reputed to have issued many useful ordinances for the Church of God : such as the reservation to bishops of the right of consecrating the holy Chrism and the custom of anointing the newly baptized therewith ; the wearing of a dalmatic and maniple by deacons; the consecration of the Sacrament of the Altar on a linen Corporal ; that all persons taking Holy Orders should remain a while in each grade before being promoted to a higher; that laymen should not go to law against clergy; and that clergy themselves were not to plead before civil tribunals.

To Sylvester is also ascribed the decrees that the first and seventh days of the week should be called respectively the Lord’s Day and the Sabbath; and the others, Second Feria, Third Feria, and so on, in accordance with the use of the word Feria for the week days which had already begun in the Church. This word signifieth an holy-day, and pointeth to the duty of the clergy to lay aside all worldly labour, and leave themselves free to do continually the work of the Lord. In 335 Sylvester went to God, and the date of his feast day is probably the anniversary of his burial, in the church which he built over the Catacombs of Saint Priscilla, on the Salerian Way. In 761 his relicks were translated to the Church of Saint Sylvester. His feast hath been general in the Latin Church since the thirteenth century, and is kept also in the East, because his pastoral concern for all Christians, everywhere, made him generally beloved. For he was Pope immediately after the Church came up out of the Catacombs into freedom. He reigned twenty-one years ten months, and one day.
GRANT, we beseech thee, Almighty God: that we on this day devoutly observing the feast of thy holy Confessor Saint Sylvester, may thereby increase in godliness to the attainment of everlasting life, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Holy Innocents, Dec 28

The Holy Innocents, Dec. 28
A Homily by Saint Jerome the Priest
Joseph took the young Child and his Mother, and fled into Egypt, during the night and in the dark. And the darkness of that night was a figure of the darkness of ignorance in which they fled the unbelievers form whom they fled. But no mention is made in the Gospel either of night or of the dark on their return into Judea, and thereby we are put in mind of that light which will lighten the Jews, when, at the end of the world, they shall receive back the Faith which now lighteneth the Gentiles, even as Judea received Christ returning from Egypt.
We read further : That it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the Prophet, saying : Out of Egypt have I called my Son, Let those who deny the authority of the Hebrew Scriptures, tell us where any such passage is to be found in the Septuagint. And since they will not find it there, I tell them that the fact of its being written in the Prophet Hosea can be proved by the texts which I have lately published.
Again, we read: Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the Prophet, saying, In Ramah was there a voice heard, lamentation, weeping and great mourning ; Rachel weeping for her children. Rachel was the mother of Benjamin, and Bethlehem is not a town belonging to this tribe. We must therefore seek another reason why Rachel should weep for the children of Judah, to whom Bethlehem belongeth, as for her own. The plain answer is that she is buried at Ephratah close to Bethlehem; and because it was there that a resting-place was found for this mother, the place became known by her name; or it is possible that the tribes of Judah and Benjamin were joined together, and Herod slew not only all the children that were in Bethlehem, but also in the borders or coasts thereof.

Antiphon on the Benedictus:
These are they which were not defiled with women, * for they are virgins, and they follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth.
O Almighty God, who out of the mouths of babes and sucklings hast
ordained strength, and madest infants to glorify thee by their deaths: mortify and kill all vices in us; and so strengthen us by thy grace, that by the innocency of our lives, and constancy of our faith even unto death, we may glorify thy holy name, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Saint John, Apostle and Evangelist, Dec. 27

Saint John, Apostle and Evangelist, Dec. 27
EPISTLE . I St. John I.1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life;
2 (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and show unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;)
3 That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.
4 And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.
5 This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.
6 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:
7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.
8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

 From the Commentary of St. Jerome on the Epistle to Galatians

The blessed Evangelist John lived at Ephesus down to such an extreme old age that he was with difficulty supported in the arms of his disciples and so was carried to the church. And being unable to articulate many words, he was wont to utter each time to the congregation the simple words: Little Children, love one another. At last his disciples and brethren were weary of hearing these words so often, and asked him : Master, wherefore ever sayest thou this only? Whereto he gave an answer worthy of John : It is the commandment of the Lord, and if this only be done, it is enough.
Antiphon on the Benedictus:This is the same John who leaned on the Lord’s bosom at the Last Supper, * the blessed Apostle, unto whom were revealed the secrets of heaven.

 Merciful Lord, we beseech thee to cast thy bright beams of light upon thy Church, that it being illumined by the doctrine of thy blessed Apostle and Evangelist Saint John, may so walk in the light of thy truth, that it may at length attain to the light everlasting life, through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Antiphon on the Magnificat:
Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die: * yet Jesus said not unto him : He shall not die, but: If I will that he tarry till I come.

Saint Stephen's Day Propers


Double of II Class with simple Octave

INTROIT. Sederunt principes. Ps. 119.
Princes, moreover, did sit, and did witness falsely against me; and the ungodly pressed sore upon me; O Lord, my God, stand up to help me, for thy servant is occupied continually in thy commandments. Ps. ibid. Blessed are those that are undefiled in the way: and walk in the law of the Lord. V. Glory be.

Grant, O Lord, that, in all our sufferings here upon earth for the testimony of thy truth, we may stedfastly look up to heaven, and by faith behold the glory that shall be revealed; and being filled with the Holy Ghost may learn to love and bless our persecutors by the example of thy first Martyr Saint Stephen; who prayed for his murderers to thee, O blessed Jesus, who standest at the right hand of God to succour all those that suffer for thee, our only Mediator and Advocate. AMEN.
Then shall follow the Collect of the Nativity, which shall be said continually unto New Year's Eve
EPISTLE. Acts 7:55-6055 IN those days: Stephen, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God,
56 And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.
57 Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord,
58 And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul.
59 And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.
60 And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

GRADUAL. Ps. 119. Princes also did sit and speak against me: and wicked men have persecuted me. V. Help me, O Lord my God: save me for thy mercy's sake,
Alleluia, alleluia. V. Acts 7. I see the heavens opened, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. Alleluia.
¶ In Votive Masses after Septuagesima, instead of the Alleluia and verse following, is said the Tract from the Common of a Martyr. But in Eastertide, the Gradual is omitted, and in its place is said the Alleluia as above, and then the verse: Thou hast set a crown of pure gold upon his head, O Lord. Alleluia

GOSPEL. St. Matthew 23:34-39
34 BEHOLD, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city:
35 That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar.
36 Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation.
37 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!
38 Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.
39 For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord. The Creed is said on account of the Octave.
OFFERTORY. Acts 6 & 7. The Apostles chose Stephen the Levite, a man full of faith and of the Holy ghost: whom the Jews had stoned calling upon God and saying: Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.

Accept, O Lord, we pray thee, the gifts which we offer unto thee in remembrance of thy Saints: that like as they by suffering obtained thy crown of glory, so we by godly conversation may attain to innocence of life. Through.
Of the Nativity. SECRET.WE beseech thee, O Lord, that by this new Birth of thy only-begotten Son thou wouldest vouchsafe to sanctify these our oblations: and to cleanse us from the defilements of all our iniquities. Through the same.
PREFACE and CANON of Christmas.
COMMUNION. Acts 7. I see the heavens opened and Jesus standing at the right hand of the power of God: Lord Jesus, receive my spirit, and lay not this sin to their charge, for they know not what they do.

Assist us mercifully, O Lord: that we, which have received these holy mysteries; may, at the intercession of thy blessed Martyr Saint Stephen, be stablished by thy everlasting protection. Through.
Of the Nativity. POSTCOMMUNION.GRANT, we beseech thee, Almighty God: that like as thy Son, born this day the Saviour of the world, hath been made the author of our heavenly birth; so he may bestow upon us the gift of everlasting life. Who liveth and reigneth with thee.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Day

Feast of the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ

From a Sermon by St. Leo the Pope

Dearly beloved: Unto us in born this day a Saviour. Therefore let us rejoice. Sadness should find no place amongst those who keep the Birthday of Life. For as of this day Life came unto us dying creatures, to take away the sting of death, and to bring the bright promise of joy eternal. And no one is excluded from sharing in this our gladness. For all mankind hath one and the same cause thereof, to wit, that our Lord, the Destroyer of sin and death, because he findeth no one free from condemnation, is come to set everyone free. Rejoice, O saint, for thou drawest nearer thy crown! Rejoice, o sinner, for thy Saviour offered thee pardon! Rejoice, O Jew, for Messias is come. Rejoice, O Gentile, for God calleth thee to life! Now is come the fulness of the time, fixed by the unsearchable counsel of God, when the Son of God took upon Him the nature of man, that he might reconcile it to its Maker. Now is come the time when the devil, the inventor of death, is met and beaten in that very flesh which hath been the field of his victory.
When the Almighty Lord entered this field of battle against the devil, he did so in great and wondrous fairness. For against our cruel enemy he opposed not the armament of his uncreate Majesty, but the lowliness of our flesh. He brou8ght against him the very shape and the very nature of our mortality, with this difference only, that he was without sin. For his birth is not like that of the ordinary run of men, of whom there is the saying : No one is clean from stain, not even the day-0ld babe. In this birth alone no desires of the flesh had place. In this birth alone no consequence of sin had part. A Virgin of the kingly lineage of David was chosen to be the Mother who grew heavy with the sacred Child. She was chosen to conceive this divine and human offspring in her body because already she had conceived him in her soul. And that the unwonted events ordained by the counsel of God might cause her no alarm, she was taught them before-hand when the Angel annou7nced that what was to be wrought in her was of the Holy Ghost, and that to become the Mother of God was not to forego her virgin modesty.
Wherefore, dearly beloved, let us give thanks to God the Father, through his Son, in the Holy Ghost ; who for his great love wherewith he loved us, hath had mercy on us ; and even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, that in him we might be a new creature, and a new workmanship. Let us then put off the old man with his deeds. And, having obtained a share in the Sonship of Christ, let us renounce the deeds of the flesh. Acknowledge, O Christian, thine own dignity, who hast been made partaker of the divine nature, and change not back by misdoing into thy former baseness. Bethink thee whose Body it is whereof thou art made a member, and who is its Head. Be mindful that he hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and translated us into God’s light and God’s kingdom.

Antiphon on the Benedictus:
Glory to God in the highest: * and on earth peace to men of good-will, alleluia, alleluia.
GRANT, we beseech thee, Almighty God: that, as thou hast poured forth upon us the new light of thine incarnate Word; so he, who doth illuminate our hearts by faith, may likewise in all our works shew forth his brightness. Through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who with thee and the Holy Ghost, liveth and reigneth, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Antiphon on the Magnificat: ( II Vespers)
In the day of thy power shall the people offer thee free-will offerings with an holy worship: * the dew of thy birth is of the womb of the morning.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Vigil of the Nativity, Dec. 24

The Vigil of the Nativity - December 24
A Homily by St. Jerome the Priest
Why was the Lord conceived of a virgin espoused rather than of one who was not? First, that Mary’s genealogy might be reckoned from that of Joseph. Secondly, lest she be stoned by the Jews as an adulteress. Thirdly, that she might have a guardian on their flight into Egypt. To these, the Martyr Ignatius hath added a fourth reason; namely, that the birth might take place unknown to the devil, who would thus suppose that Mary had conceived by Joseph.
Before they came together, she was found with child, of the Holy Ghost. That is, she was found by Joseph, not by anyone else, for already he had almost an husband’s privilege to know all that concerned her. But from the words, Before they came together, it doth not follow that they ever did come together. The Scripture is concerned only to shew that up to this time they had not so done.
Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily. If any man be joined to an harlot, he becometh one body with her ; and according to the law, they that be privy to a crime are held to be guilty. How then can it be that Joseph is described as a just man, at the very time he was compounding the criminality of his espoused? These words be none other than a testimony to the virginity of Mary ; for Joseph knew her to be chaste ; wherefore he marveled at all that had come to pass, and hid in silence that of which he knew not the mystery.
Antiphon on the Benedictus:
The Saviour of the world shall arise like as the dawning of the sun upon the darkened world, * even as his coming down into the womb of the Virgin was like as the mist upon the little herbs, alleluia.
O God, who makest us glad with the yearly Expectation of the birth of thine only Son Jesus Christ : grant that as we joyfully receive him for our Redeemer, so we may with sure confidence behold him when he shall come to be our Judge, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, now and forever. Amen.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

3rd Sunday of Advent Propers



INTROIT. Gaudete. Philippians 4:4-6
REJOICE in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice: let your moderation be known unto all men: the Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing: but in every thing, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God. Ps. 85:1 Lord, thou art become gracious unto thy land: thou hast turned away the captivity of Jacob. V. Glory be.

O LORD Jesus Christ, who at thy first coming didst send thy messenger to prepare thy way before thee: grant that the ministers and stewards of thy mysteries may likewise so prepare and make ready thy way, by turning the hearts of the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, that at thy second coming to judge the world we may be found an acceptable people in thy sight, Who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Spirit ever, one God, world without end. AMEN.

EPISTLE. 1 Corinthians 4:1-5
1 Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God.
2 Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.
3 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man's judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self.
4 For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord.
5 Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.

GRADUAL. Ps. 80. Shew thyself, O Lord, thou that sittest upon the Cherubims, stir up thy strength and come. V. Hear, O thou Shepherd of Israel: thou that leadest Joseph like a sheep.
Alleluia, alleluia. V. Stir up thy strength, O Lord: and come and help us. Alleluia

GOSPEL. St. Matthew 11:2-10
2 Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples,
3 And said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?
4 Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and show John again those things which ye do hear and see:
5 The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.
6 And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.
7 And as they departed, Jesus began to say unto the multitudes concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind?
8 But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings' houses.
9 But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet.
10 For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.

OFFERTORY. Ps. 85. Lord, thou art become gracious unto thy land: thou hast turned away the captivity of Jacob: thou hast forgiven the offence of thy people.

COMMUNION. Isa. 35. Say to them that are of a fearful heart: Be strong, fear not: behold your God will come and save you.

HAVE mercy upon us, O Lord, we beseech thee: and grant that the heavenly assistance of thy holy mysteries may so cleanse us from all our iniquities, that we may be made ready worthily to keep thy coming festival. [Through.]

Monday, December 13, 2010

Of Thy Mystic Supper O Son of God

This Chant is set to an Ambrosian chant tune. It is chanted immediately before the Communion in our parish.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Propers for the 2nd Sunday in Advent

Better Late than never, I always say! These propers are used for all Ferial days until the 3rd Sunday anyway, like they were at yesterday's Mass.

INTROIT. Populus Sion. Isa. 30
O PEOPLE of Sion, behold, the Lord is nigh at hand to redeem the nations: and in the gladness of your heart the Lord shall cause his glorious voice to be heard. Ps. 80. Hear, O thou Shepherd of Israel: thou that leadest Joseph like a sheep. V. Glory be.

BLESSED Lord, who hast caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant that we may in such wise hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that by patience and comfort of thy holy Word, we may embrace, and ever hold fast, the blessed hope of everlasting life, which thou has given us in our Saviour Jesus Christ. AMEN
COLLECT 2 of Advent; 3 of St Mary.
EPISTLE. Romans 15:4-13
4 BRETHREN: whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
5 Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus:
6 That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
7 Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God.
8 Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers:
9 And that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy; as it is written, For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy name.
10 And again he saith, Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with his people.
11 And again, Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles; and laud him, all ye people.
12 And again, Esaias saith, There shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust.
13 Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.

GRADUAL. Ps. 50. Out of Sion hath God appeared: in perfect beauty. V. Gather my saints together unto me: those that have made a covenant with me with sacrifice.
Alleluia, alleluia. V. Ps. 122 I was glad when they said unto me: we will go into the house of the Lord. Alleluia.

GOSPEL. St. Luke 21:25-33
25 AT that time; Jesus said unto his disciples: And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring;
26 Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.
27 And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.
28 And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.
29 And he spake to them a parable; Behold the fig tree, and all the trees;
30 When they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand.
31 So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand.
32 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled.
33 Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Conception of the Mother of God

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 path 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 came 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. For 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 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, and orchard with pleasant fruits, with trees of frankincense, and all the chief spices. Verily she was a garden of delights, filled with the perfumes of all flowers and spices, rich 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 fountain sealed, yes, sealed with the seal of the Trinity.

Antiphon on the Benedictus:
Today let us celebrate with duteous solemnity the Conception of
God's most holy mother, the ever Virgin Mary: * from whom the Son of the Highest went forth, alleluia.
O merciful God, hear the supplication of thy servants; that we who are gathered
together to honor the conception of the Virgin Mother of God may through her prayers be delivered by thee from the perils which beset us. Through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.
Antiphon on Magnificat:
All generations shall call me blessed: * for God hath regarded his lowly handmaiden.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Saint Bibiana, Virgin and Martyr

Saint Bibiana, Virgin and Martyr
Bibiana (also known as Viviana) hath been venerated as a virgin and Martyr since the earliest times. A church dedicated to her is known to have existed in Rome in the fifth century, which same is said to have been built by Pope Saint Simplicius. This saint suffered her passion in the reign of Julian the Apostate, and the tale is as follows: The family of Bibiana, being pre-eminent for Christianity, was marked for persecution. Hence her father, who had been prefect of Rome, was branded as a slave, and banished, shortly after which he was martyred. * His wife Dafrosa, and his two daughters, Bibiana and Demetria, were at first imprisoned and starved, and then Dafrosa was beheaded. Whereafter the two daughters were continually persecuted, in an attempt to keep them from imitating the unshakeable constancy of their holy parents ; and Demetria was so worn out by her sufferings that she suddenly dropped dead in the presence of the judge before whom she was making a brave witness to Christ. * Whereupon Bibiana was put in charge of an artful woman who had orders to seduce her, with promises of freedom if she would embrace a life of luxury and ill-fame. But she stedfastly refused such blandishments, and kept her virginity undefiled. Hence she was cruelly flogged to death, and her body left to be eaten by dogs. But a priest named John cam by night, and buried her remains near the graves of her holy mother and sister, nigh to which place was built the church named for her. And Urban VIII, when he restored this ancient temple is said to have placed the relicks of all three of these holy women under the high altar.
Antiphon on the Magnificat:
Come, thou bride of Christ, receive the crown, * which the Lord hath prepared for thee for ever (alleluia).
O God, the giver of all good gifts, who didst bestow on thy servant Bibiana both the flower of virginity and the palm of martyrdom : we pray thee, that, by her intercession, our hearts may in such wise be joined in charity unto thee, that we, being defended against all dangers, may attain unto the rewards of everlasting salvation, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Antiphon on the Benedictus:
The kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchantman seeking goodly pearls, * who when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it (alleluia).

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Saint Peter Chrysologus, Bishop, Confessor, Doctor

Saint Peter Chrysologus, Bishop, Confessor, Doctor
Peter ( on account of his eloquence surnamed Chrysologus, which is Greek for Him-of-the -golden-words) was born in Imola, near Ravenna and very early displayed a leaning to godliness. Wherefore Cornelius, Bishop of Imola, soon ordained him deacon. On the death of the Archbishop of Ravenna, Saint Pope Sixtus III ( so it is said ) was warned in a dream to consecrate this deacon to that post, and thereupon refused to ratify the election made by the people of Ravenna, but consecrated the unwilling Peter instead. The Emperor Valentinian and the Empress-Mother Galla Placidia lived in Ravenna, and the young Archbishop soon won their confidence, and well as that of the successor to Saint Sixtus III, who was Pope Saint Leo the Great. * Now there was much paganism left round about Ravenna, and many abuses had crept in amongst the faithful. Wherefore Peter strove mightily for Christ, building splendid churches, caring for the poor, and above all preaching the Gospel. He once preached a most severe sermon against the revelries of New Year’s Day, in which he said : He that jesteth with the Devil shall never rejoice with Christ. In his preaching he was wont to recommend frequent Communions, that the Body of Christ might be our daily bread. In 708, and hundred and seventy-six of his discourses were collected, which same are still extant, all of them being brief, for he feared to weary his hearers. * It is said that when he preached his vehemence was such that he sometimes became speechless with excitement. Moreover, his hearers were not seldom moved to tears, cries, and prayers. By command of Pope Saint Leo, he addressed an Epistle to the Council of Chalcedon against the heretick Eutyches, and also confuted him in another letter addressed to Eutyches himself. When he had ruled the Church in Ravenna for about eighteen years, he passed in peace to a better life, on December 2nd, about 450, at Imola ; whither he had gone, forewarned by God, to prepare himself for his death ; and where his holy body was buried, hard by the remains of his chosen patron Saint Cassian the Schoolmaster.
Antiphon on the Benedictus:
Well done, good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things, saith the Lord (alleluia).
O God, who by divine foreshowing wast pleased to summon thy great teacher Saint Peter Chrysologus to be a ruler and Doctor of thy Church : 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.
Antiphon on the Magnificat:The Lord loved him and adorned him, he clothed him with a rove of glory, * and at the gates of Paradise he crowned him (alleluia).