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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Saint Thomas the Apostle, Dec 21

Saint Thomas the Apostle, Dec 21

The Apostle Thomas ( whose name signifieth a twin, for which reason in Greek he is called Didymus) was a Galilean. The historian Eusebius saith that after the descent of the Holy Ghost Thomas preached the Gospel to many different peoples, such as the Parthians, Medes, Persians, Hyrcanians, and Bactrians. It is believed that he went last of all to India (for his ministry there is mentioned by holy Ephraem the Syrian, blessed Jerome, and others ) where, because of his holiness and wondrous works, he drew many after him, and brought them to Christ Jesus. For which reason he is said to have provoked the anger of the idolatrous king, who condemned him to be pierced with lances, whereby he crowned the dignity of his apostleship with the glory of martyrdom. Eight miles from Madras, on Big Hill in the Coromandel coast (called in the Martyrology Calamina), is a spot still pointed out as the place of his holy death. His relicks were reputed to have been translated to Edessa, thence to Chios in the Aegean, and later to Ortona in the Abruzzi, where they are to this day venerated with much devotion by the faithful.

A Homily by St. Gregory the Pope

Dearly beloved brethren, what do ye chiefly notice in this passage? Think ye that is was by accident that this chosen Apostle was not with them when Jesus came? Or that when he came, he heard? Or that when he heard, he doubted? Or that when he doubted, he touched? Or that when he touched, he believed? None of these things was accidental, but providential. It was a wonderful provision of divine mercy, that this incredulous disciple, by thrusting his fingers into the bodily wounds of His master, should apply a remedy to the spiritual wounds of unbelief in our souls. The doubts of Thomas have done us more good than the faith of all the disciples that believed. While he feeleth his way to faith by touching, our minds are freed from doubt, and settled in faith.

Antiphon on Magnificat:
O Thomas Didymus to whom it was given to touch the risen Christ, and who now with him art evermore on high, * we entreat thee to pray for us who suffer amidst the evils of this world, lest amongst the lost we receive the sentence of doom, when the Judge appeared.
Almighty and everliving God, who for the more confirmation of the Faith didst suffer thy holy Apostle Thomas to be doubtful in thy Son’s resurrection, grant us so perfectly, and without all doubt, to believe in thy Son Jesus Christ; that our faith in thy sight may never be reproved, through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Antiphon on the Benedictus:
Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed, * blessed are they that have not seen and yet have believed.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Fourth Sunday in Advent : From a sermon by St. Leo the Great

Fourth Sunday in Advent

From a sermon by St. Leo the Great

Dearly beloved, if we study diligently the history of the creation of our race, we shall find that man was made in the image of God, to the end that he might grow into his Maker’s likeness. This is the natural dignity of human nature, that in us, as in a mirror, there can be a reflection of the goodness of the divine nature. To help us attain this dignity, we are daily offered the grace of our Saviour, for as in the first Adam all men are fallen, so in the second Adam all men can be raised up again.

The cause of our restoration is the mercy of God, and nothing else. We could not love him unless he had first loved us, and scattered the darkness of our ignorance by the light of his truth. This the Lord promised by Isaiah, where he saith : I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not ; I will lead them in paths they that they have not known : I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight : these things will I do unto them and not forsake them. And again : I was found of them that sought me not ; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me.

From the Apostle John we learn how this was fulfilled : We know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son. And again : we love him, because he first loved us. God, by loving us, reneweth his image in us. And that he may find in us the likeness of his goodness, he giveth us grace to do his works. To this end he lighteth the soul as though it were a candle. And so it is that he doth enkindle in our hearts the fire of his holy charity, in order that we may love both him and whatsoever he loveth.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Fifth day in the Octave of the Conception of BVM, Dec. 12th

Fifth day in the Octave of the Conception of BVM, Dec. 12th

A Homily by St. Tharasius, the Patriarch of Constantinople

O Mary where shall I find words to praise thee? Maiden undefiled, Virgin unstained, exaltation of women, thy glory is in thy guilelessness, and thy name is a name of purity. In thee the curse of Adam is done away, and the debt of Eve paid. Thou art the clean offering of Abel, chosen out of the firstlings of the flock, a pure sacrifice. Thou art the hope of Enoch, that firm hope that he had in god, and was not ashamed.

Thou art the vision of the Prophets and the fulfilment of those things which they foretold. Thou art the gate whereof Ezekiel spake, when he prophesied and said : This gate shall be shut, it shall not be opened, and no man shall enter by it ; because the Lord, the God of Israel, hath entered in by it, therefore it shall be shut. Thou art the Rod of Jesse, whereof Isaiah spake, even the Rod whose flower is Christ, and whose offshoots shall choke out all the seedlings of sin, and fill the earth with plants of grace.

And now we, the people of God, a holy generation, an acceptable congregation, the nestlings of the dove of peace, the children of grace do with purified minds and unpolluted lips, praise God in the tongues of all nations on this joyful solemnity of the Virgin. This is a noble feast wherein the Angels keep holiday and men do most fitly offer praise, even a feast wherein we echo with reverence and joy that salutation first spoken by Gabriel. Hail Mary! Hail, thou Paradise of God the Father, whence the knowledge of him floweth in broad rivers to the ends of the earth. Hail, Dwelling-place of God the Son, whence he came forth clothed in flesh. Hail, mysterious Tabernacle of God the Holy Ghost. Hail, thou that art full of grace, the Lord is with thee, even the Lord that is before thee, and from thee, and that now is with us. To him, with the Father, and the most holy and lifegiving Spirit, be ascribed all praise, now and ever, world without end. Amen.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Dec. 9th, Second Day in the Octave of the Conception of BVM


A Homily by St. Sophronius, Patriarch of Jerusalem

When the blessed Angel was sent to the most pure Virgin, what did he say? In what words did he break the happy news of redemption? Hail, that that art full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Now this word hail in the original signifieth Rejoice. This this messenger of joy in his first word biddeth her rejoice. He knew well that his message was one of good tidings of great joy to men, yea, to all creatures, a message of healing to sicknesses. He knew well that his message was one of God’s light to a dark world, that it proclaimed the end of error, that it blunted the sting of death, that it broke the power of corruption, that it brought victory over hell. He knew well that it told of salvation to all the fallen children of Adam, groaning under that yoke of malediction which fell on them when they were thrust out of Eden, and banished from that happy home.

Wherefore, when he began to speak, he spake in tones of rejoicing, and opened his message with sounds of gladness. Therefore he made Joy the herald of these tidings of good things where were to be for a joy unto all believers. And, of a truth, it was fitting that God’s proclamation of joy should open with the accents of gladness. And this s the reason why the Angel nameth joy first, because he knew that the coming fruits of his message, and his converse with the Virgin, were to bring joy to the whole world. Can we find any joy or any brightness like the joy and the brightness of that salutation addressed to the Blessed Mother of Holy Joys?

Who will hold himself able to tell of all thy splendour? Thou art the exaltation of humanity ; thou art made much higher that the Angels ; thy brightness hath thrown the brightness of the Archangels into shadow ; thou lookest down upon the lofty seats of the Thrones ; thou makest the height of the Lordships to seem low ; thy rank taketh precedence before the rank of the Principalities ; compared with thee the Powers are weakness ; thou art a mighty one mightier than all the Mights ; thine earthly eyes see further than the contemplation of the Cherubim can reach ; the Seraphim have six wings, but thy flight is nobler than theirs. In a word, thou hast far excelled every other work of God ; for thou wast of a purity beyond any other creature ; and thou hast conceived the Creator of all creatures, carried him in thy womb, and brought him forth ; thou hast been chosen, out of all that he hath made, to be his Mother.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Dec. 6, Saint Nicholas, Bishop and Confessor

Dec. 6, Saint Nicholas, Bishop and Confessor
Nicholas was a most holy bishop of Myra in Asia Minor, who died about the year 352, and was there buried, and thence onwards held in highest veneration. Histories agree that he suffered imprisonment for the Faith, and made a glorious confession thereof in the latter part of Diocletian’s persecution, and that he was one of the conciliar fathers at Nicea. But the extraordinary devotion to him from the earliest days, which hath but increased with time, in the West as well as in the East, would seem to be the fruit of his saintliness and his consequent glory with God. * In the West he is reverenced as the patron of children, because of his miracles wrought to protect their innocence, and because of the prodigies of his own precocious devotion ; whereof it is related that as an infant he kept the fasts prescribed for adults, and hence never suckled more than once on Wednesdays and Fridays, and that always after sunset, according to the Canon Law of that day. Exemplifying his great charity is his secret aid to a certain poor man with three marriageable daughters, who for want of a dowry were in danger of being forced into harlotry ; he went to their house by night, and threw in a window ( some tellings make it the chimney) money sufficient for a dowry ; and this he did a second and third time, so that by his charity all three were honorably given in marriage. * In the East he is reverenced as the patron of sailors because, at their behest, he stilled a great tempest by his prayers whilst journeying by ship on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land ; so that the eastern greeting to seafarers is : May Saint Nicholas hold the tiller. Also, on his return from this pilgrimage, he came to Myra when the bishops of the province were deliberating as to the choice of a bishop for that See ; and they were warned to choose the first man that next crossed the threshold of the church, which same was Nicholas, who entered therein to make his devotions. By the Russians he is accounted with Saint Andrew the joint Patron of their nation. In addition to this, he is reckoned as the Patron also of Greece, Apulia, Sicily, and Lorraine. In 1034 his great shrine at Myra passed into the hands of the Saracens, whereat the merchants of Venice and Bari tried to outbid each other for the ransom of his relicks, and in 1087 the latter were permitted to carry them to Bari in Apulia, where they are still venerated by pilgrims from all over the world.


O God, who didst adorn thy blessed Bishop Saint Nicholas, with power to work many and great miracles, grant, we beseech thee that by his prayers and merits we may be delivered from the fires of everlasting torment, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Saint Andrew the Apostle, November 30

Saint Andrew the Apostle

Saint Andrew the first called
The Apostle Andrew, who was blood-brother to Peter, was born at Bethsaida, a town of Galilee. He first became a disciple of the Baptist. But when he heard John say : Behold the Lamb of God : he straightway became a disciple of Jesus, to whom he brought his brother Peter also. Some while after, when they went fishing in the Sea of Galilee, the Lord Christ came by and called them both, before any other of the Apostles, in the words : Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. Whereat without delay they left their nets, and followed him. After the death and resurrection of Christ, according to the ancient historian Eusebius, Andrew was allotted European Scythia as the province of his preaching Other ancient writers say that he went through Epirus and Thrace, and there turned many souls to Christ by his teaching and wondrous works. Finally he is said to have gone to Patras in Achaia, and to have brought many there also to the knowledge of Gospel truth. The particulars of his death were written down by the priests and deacons of Achaia, which same were eye-witnesses of his last sufferings. According to this account, when Aegeas the Proconsul resisted the preaching of the Gospel, the Apostle freely rebuked him, bidding him know that whilst he set himself up as a judge of his fellow men, he was himself in such wise deceived by evil spirits that he was unable to recognize the divine Judge of all men in the person of Christ.
And according to the aforementioned record, blessed Andrew’s martyrdom was on this wise. Aegeas answered the Apostle wrathfully, saying: Boast no more of this matter, for thy Lord Christ spake words even such as thine, but they availed him not, and he was crucified by the Jews. Whereto Andrew boldly answered that Christ of his own will had given himself up to die for man’s salvation. But the Proconsul with blasphemy interrupted him, and bade him look to his own interests ; and if he would save himself, to sacrifice to the gods. Then said Andrew : We have an altar, whereon day by day I offer up to God Almighty, the one and only true God: not the flesh of bulls nor the blood of goats, but a Lamb without spot ; and when all they that believe have eaten of the Flesh thereof, the Lamb that was slain abideth whole and liveth. Then Aegeas, filled with wrath, bound the Apostle in prison. Now the people could easily have accomplished his deliverance, were it not that he himself calmed them, and earnestly besought them not to take from him the crown of martyrdom, for which he longed, and which was drawing near.
And it is said that a short while thereafter, Andrew was brought before the judgement-seat, where he extolled the Mystery of the Cross, and again rebuked Aegeas for his ungodliness. Whereupon Aegeas would bear with him no longer, but commanded him to be crucified, in imitation of Christ. Then was Andrew led to the cross. And when as yet he saw it afar off, he cried out : O gracious cross, made so fair and goodly by the sweet body of my Lord! Long have I desired thee! Constantly have I sought thee! And now that thou art made ready, my soul is drawn to thee! Welcome me from amongst men, and join me anew to my Master, that as by thee in death he redeemed me, so by thee he may take me unto himself once and for all! So he was fastened to the cross, whereon he hung living for two whole days, during which time he ceased not to preach the Faith of Christ, and finally, passed into the presence of him the likeness of whose death he had loved so well. Under the Emperor Constantine the relicks of the Apostle were first taken to Constantinople, whence they were afterwards brought to Amalfi. But in the pontificate of Pope Pius II his head was carried to Rome, where it is kept in the Basilica of Saint Peter, that the relicks of these two blood-brothers might be nigh each other. Blessed Andrew is revered as the Patron of Scotland and Russia, and his name is twice read in the Gregorian Canon ; namely, first in the Canon proper, and secondly in the Embolism.
Antiphon of the Magnificat:
One of the two which followed the Lord was Andrew, * Simon Peter’s brother, Alleluia.
Almighty God, who didst give such grace unto thy holy Apostle Saint Andrew, that he readily obeyed the calling of thy Son Jesus Christ, and followed him without delay : grant unto us all , that we, being called by thy holy Word, may forthwith give up ourselves obediently to fulfil thy holy commandments, through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Antiphon on the Benedictus:
And the bystanders pleaded for him: Spare this innocent man! Restore to us this holy one! Slay not him that is so dear to God! * for he is just and meek and godly.

A Homily by Saint Gregory the Pope

Dearly beloved, ye have heard how Peter and Andrew, at one word of command, left their nets, and followed their Saviour. As yet they had seen none of his miracles. As yet they had received no promise of their eternal and exceeding great reward. Nevertheless, at one word from the Lord they forgat all those things which they seemed to have. We on the contrary have seen many of his miracles. We have received many of his gracious chastenings. Many times hath he warned us of the wrath to come. How is it then that when the Lord calleth we do not follow?
Christ who calleth us to be converted is now enthroned in heaven. He hath bowed the necks of the Gentiles under the yoke of the Faith. He hath laid low the glory of the world, and the ruins thereof on all sides do preach unto us that day when he is to be revealed as our Judge is drawing nigh. Yet so stubborn is our mind that we will not freely abandon what willy nilly we are each day losing. Dearly beloved, what shall we answer at his judgement-seat, we whom no lessons can persuade and no stripes can break from the love of this present world?
Some one perchance will ask in his heart, what these two fishermen had to lose by obeying the call of the Lord? Dearly beloved, we must consider here the intention, rather than the loss incurred by this obedience. He that keepeth nothing for himself giveth up much. He that sacrificeth his all, sacrificeth what is to him a great deal. Beyond doubt, we cling to whatever we have, and what we have least, that we desire most. Peter and Andrew therefore gave up much when they gave up even the desire of possessing anything.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Saint Catherine of Alexandria, Virgin and Martyr

Saint Catherine of Alexandria, Virgin and Martyr

Catherine of Alexandria, since the tenth century, hath been held in great veneration, and that more in the West than in the East. She is esteemed as the Patroness of learned folk and of wheel-wrights and millers, and the Dominicans have adopted her as one of their Patrons. Her fame is as follows. She was a noble maiden of Alexandria who became, through her studies, a very learned woman, and prevailed over the chief wits of the day. * And she went boldly to Maxentius, and rebuked him for his savage cruelty toward Christians, bringing forward likewise most sage reasons why the Faith of Christ should be needful for salvation. Maxentius marveled at her wisdom, and detained her, whilst he gathered together the most learned men from all quarters, and offered them great rewards if they could confute Catherine, and bring her to worship idols. But the event fell contrariwise, for many of the philosophers who had come to dispute with her were overcome by the force and skill of her reasoning, so that the love of Christ Jesus was kindled in them, and they were content even to die for his sake. Then did Maxentius strive to beguile Catherine with fair words and promises, and when he found it was lost pains, he caused her to be cast into prison and starved. * Afterwards Catherine was brought out of the ward, and a wheel was set, wherein were fastened many and sharp blades, so that her virgin body might be most direfully cut and torn in pieces. But when it was set in motion it flew to pieces, which so enraged Maxentius that he forthwith commanded to behead Catherine. So, on November 25, about the year 310, she attained the twin crowns of martyrdom and virginity. It is said that her body was carried by Angels to Mount Sinai, and there enshrined, in the famous monastery called by her name. And this by some writers is interpreted to mean that it was carried thither by the monks of Sinai, to be their great treasure, for of old times the monastic habit was known as the angelical habit, and those that wore the same were sometimes given the honorific title of Angel, to signify that state of heavenly worship wherein they should live.

O God, who on Mount Sinai didst give the law to Moses, and afterwards, through the ministry of holy Angels, didst mystically give rest thereon to the body of blessed Catherine thy Virgin and Martyr : grant, we beseech thee, that by her intercession, we may be brought unto that mountain which is Christ, by the same thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Aug. 7th, Saint Donatus, Bishop and Martyr

Aug. 7th, Saint Donatus, Bishop and Martyr

This Donatus hath been revered from most ancient times, for he became celebrated as the Bishop of Arezzo in Tuscany in the fourth century, and the holy Doctor Gregory considered him one of the great Fathers of the church. He was born at Nicomedia of parents who had both been slain for Chris’s sake. With the holy monk Hilarinus he fled to Arezzo in Tuscany, of which city he afterwards became Bishop. There the Prefect Quadratian, during the persecution under Julian, about 362, commanded both Hilarinus and Donatus to worship idols, and when they both refused, they were slain. Hilarinus was beaten to death with clubs. Donatus was in divers ways savagely tortured, and then put to the sword. The Christians buried their bodies honorably hard by the city.


O God, who art the glory of thy priests, we humbly pray thee, that we, who keep the feast of thy blessed martyr and Bishop Donatus, may feel the effectual succour of his advocacy, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Aug 5th, Saint Oswald, King and Martyr

Saint Oswald, King and Martyr

Oswald was the son of Ethelfrid the Ravager, King of the Northumbrians. After his father had been slain in battle by Redwald, King of the East Angles, he was carried into exile in Scotland, where he was taught the Faith of Christ and baptized. When he returned to his own country he found Cadwalla, King of the Britons, pitifully wasting everything. This Cadwalla had already slain three kings of the English, and was seeking to destroy all of that nation. Oswald gathered together a small army and, placing his trust in God, bravely attacked the countless hosts of the enemy. Before he joined battle he set up he standard of the Cross of the Lord with his own hands, knelt down, and prayed God to help a righteous war for the saving of the fatherland. He exhorted all his soldiers to do likewise, and so they did ; and all promised that if God granted them the victory they would believe in him who had been crucified. Thereupon they obtained an easy victory, and crushed the tyrant with all his legions. And the place where the Sign of the Cross was set up was afterwards called in the English language Heaven's Field ; and pieces of wood of this cross which Oswald erected were believed to have been the occasion of many miracles in later times.

Oswald being thus placed in possession of his kingdom was fain that all nations should receive the grace of Christian belief. Hence he sent forthwith into Scotland, praying them to send him a bishop, by whose teaching and ministry the English people might receive the Faith and Sacraments of Christ. Whereupon there was sent unto him blessed Aidan, unto whom the King granted at his own prayer the Island of Lindisfarne to be the See of his Bishoprick. After Aidan came many other Gospel-preachers, especially from the Island of Iona. By their preaching and the support given to them from the godliness and zeal of the King, Christ's own kingdom was wonderfully spread abroad in all the country between the Humber and the Forth ; churches were built in divers places, schools set up for the teaching of children, and monasteries founded by the King's bounty, so that the English might learn not only the greater studies but also the institutes of regular discipline. The King himself listened to the preaching of Aidan, and humbly and cheerfully granted all his wishes, and by his own illustrious example did much to set forward the cause of the Church throughout all his dominions. Now Aidan could not speak English well, and when he was preaching the Gospel there could often be seen the lovely spectacle of the King himself interpreting the heavenly Word to his own officers and servants.

Thus did this most devout King Oswald shew himself a loyal and ready subject of the eternal King of kings, and by this he was glorified as regards his temporal dominion more than all that had been before him, so that nearly all the provinces of all Britain came under his sway ; and nevertheless he was never tainted with pride, but was always lowly, kindly, and open-handed to Christ's poor and to strangers. When he had happily reigned for eight years he was encompassed in battle by heathen rebels ; and when he saw that he was bound to perish, he called for the divine mercy for himself and for the souls of them that were about to slay him ; namely, in the year of Christ 642, and of his own age the thirty-eighth, upon the 5th day of August, upon the which day mention is made of his memory in the Martyrology. How precious was his death in the sight of the Lord became afterwards manifest by countless miracles obtained through his intercession.



Almighty and everlasting God, who hast hallowed this day to be a day of gladness and rejoicing by the Martyrdom of thy blessed Saint King Oswald : we pray thee, pour into our hearts such an increase of thy charity, that like as we do honour his glorious battle for thy Faith, so we may imitate him in constancy even unto death. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, who livest and reignest with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

Aug 5th, Our Lady of the Snows

Our Lady of the Snows

This feast is in commemoration of the first church to be dedicated in Rome under the invocation of our Lady, and the third of those Christian temples in the City known as Patriarchal Basilicas. The origin of this building, according to an old story, popular in ancient times, was as followeth. In the middle of the fourth century, during the pontificate of Pope Liberius, there lived at Rome a certain nobleman named John, and a noble lady his wife, who had no children to whom to leave their substance, and who vowed that they would make the holy Virgin Mother of God their heiress. And earnestly they besought her in some way to make known to them upon what godly work she would have their money spent. And thereupon (so saith the story) the blessed Virgin graciously listened to the heart-felt earnestness of their prayers, and by a wondrous sign assured them of her will.

On the fifth day of August, which is the time when the heat of summer waxeth greatest in Rome, a part of the Esquiline Hill was covered at night with snow. And some scholars think that such a strange and unseasonable fall of snow did take place, and so gave rise to the old tale, which goeth on to say on this same night the Mother of God appeared in a dream to John and his wife separately, and told them that on that spot, which in the morning they could see clad in snow, they should build a church, to be dedicated under the name of the Virgin Mary, for that this was the way in which she chose that they should make her their heiress. Then John went and told it to Pope Liberius, who declared that he also had been visited by a like dream.

Therefore Pope Liberius went in a solemn procession of clergy and people to the snow-clad hill, and traced upon that spot the plan of the church, which same was afterwards built with the money of John and his wife. And later it was rebuilt by Saint Pope Sixtus III. At the beginning it was called by divers names, sometimes the Liberian Basilica, sometimes the Church of Saint Mary-at-the-Manger (because of the presence there of a relick revered as the Manger in which our infant Lord lay), and so on. Howbeit, since there are in Rome many churches called after the holy Virgin Mary, and this church, both in age and dignity, doth excel them all, it is commonly called St. Mary Major. And the memory of the dedication there of is kept every year by this feast-day that taketh name from the strange fall of snow which is said to have taken place on this day.

Lord God Almighty, we beseech thee to keep us thy servants both outwardly in our bodies and inwardly in our souls : that by the glorious intercession of blessed Mary Ever-Virgin, we may be defended from our present heaviness and attain in the end to everlasting gladness. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, who livest and reignest with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

August 2nd, Saint Stephen, Pope and Martyr

August 2nd, Saint Stephen, Pope and Martyr
This Stephen was a Roman, who became Pope in 254, and fulfilled his office during the reign of the Emperors Valerian and Gallienus. His short Popedom was made notable by the controversy over the re-baptism of those christened by hereticks. Such re-baptism he forbade, and wrote to Saint Cyprian in these words : Let us have no innovations, but only what hath been handed down unto us. No sure or certain records of his martyrdom exist. But tradition saith that as persecution was waxing dreader and more dread, Stephen gathered together the clergy, and exhorted them to be brave in lifting up their testimony, and himself celebrated Masses and Councils in the Catacombs ; and that finally, whilst he was one day finishing the Mass, the soldiers of the Emperor brake in upon the Christians and cut off Stephen’s head as he sat in his chair; and that the relicks of the Martyr along with the chair stained with his blood, were buried by the clergy in the cemetery of Saint Callistus, upon the second day of August in the year 257. According to the Pontifical Book, he lived as Pope three years, three months and twenty-two days, and held two December ordinations, and in them ordained six priests, five deacons and three bishops.


Be merciful to the people of thy flock, O Lord, eternal Shepherd and Bishop of the souls of men : and keep us in thy continual protection ; at the intercession of thy blessed Martyr, the Holy Father Stephen, whom thou didst raise up in thy Church to be thine under-shepherd, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God world without end. Amen.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

July 30th, Saints Abdon and Sennen, Martyrs

July 30th, Saints Abdon and Sennen, Martyrs

Abdon and Sennen, as we know from ancient records, were Persians who suffered for Christ at Rome, probably under Diocletian, early in the fourth century. For their feast was already kept in the City in the year 354. It is believed that they had been brought to Rome either as hostages, or as prisoners of the Emperor, after his campaign in their country. In later days it was said that they were apprehended in Rome on the charge that they had interred, on their own farm, the bodies of Christians, which had been thrown out unburied. Whereat they were ordered to sacrifice to the gods, which they refused to do, and so were put into strict confinement. And afterwards when the Emperor returned to Rome, he had them led in chains in his triumph. And being thus dragged into the City and up to the idols, they spat upon them, for which they were cast to bears and lions. And because the beasts were afraid to touch them, they were butchered with the sword. And their corpses, with their feet bound together, were dragged before the image of the sun. Thereafter their remains were stolen away, and Deacon Quirinus buried them in his own house.


O God, who on thy servants Abdon and Sennen didst bestow abundant grace to attain unto the crown of glory : grant unto thy servants the remission of all their sins ; that, by the intercession of the merits of thy Saints, they may be found worthy to be defended against all adversities, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Friday, July 29, 2011

July 29th, Saint Martha, Virgin and Martyr

July 29th, Saint Martha, Virgin and Martyr

Martha, (whose feast is kept on the Octave of St. Mary Magdalene,) lived with her sister Mary and her brother Lazarus, in their home in Bethany. Which same was a place of such noble hospitality that they are believed to have been of gentle birth and ample means. But chiefly Martha is remembered as the loving hostess of our Lord ; for whose sake, and for Mary’s he raised to life again his friend Lazarus, after he had been three days dead, and over whose grave, as the Evangelist saith : Jesus wept. For the Gospel prayeth them this great tribute : Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. According to the ancient fathers. Mary is to be considered a type of the contemplative vocation, but Martha that of the active : that is to say, of a life devoted to God in good works for one’s neighbour. * In the Middle Ages in France a strange story came into belief concerning these three Saints, as followeth. After the Ascension, they and their household were baptized by Maximin, who was one of the seventy-two disciples of the Lord Christ. They all, with many other Christians, were taken by the Jews, and turned adrift upon the open sea in a ship without sail or oars, to meet with certain wreck ; but by the governance of God, the shop came to land at Marseilles with all safe. Through this miracle and the preaching of the Saints, the people round about came to believe in Christ, and Lazarus was made Bishop of Aix. * Mary continued, as it were, to sit at Jesus’ feet, for she ever was altogether given to prayer and the contemplation of heavenly blessedness ; and in order that the good part which she had chosen might not be taken away from her, she withdrew herself to a cave in an exceeding high mountain, where she lived for thirty years, utterly cut off from all conversation with mankind, but having the holy Angels as her familiars. And Martha drew upon herself, by the wondrous holiness and charity of her life, the love of all the inhabitants of Marseilles, until she withdrew in company with some other honorable women, into an out-of-the-way place, to prepare for her going to him who loved her, and whence she passed away to be ever with him.


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

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Saints Nazarius & Celsus, Martyrs. Victor I, Pope & Martyr & Innocent I, Pope & Confessor

Saints Nazarius & Celsus, Martyrs. Victor I, Pope & Martyr & Innocent I, Pope & Confessor

Nazarius and Celsus were early venerated at Milan as Martyrs, and there blessed Ambrose searched for their remains and believed that he had found them. Nazarius was baptized by Saint Pope Linus, and afterwards went to Gaul. Where he met with the boy Celsus, whom he instructed in the Faith, and baptized. Therefore these twain went to Treves, and in Nero’s persecution were both thrown into the sea, whence they had a marvellous escape, and fled to Milan, where they spread the Faith, for which they were apprehended and beheaded, and buried outside the Roman Gate. There their bodies lay unknown and unhonoured till blessed Ambrose found them, and laid them in an honorable sepulchre in Milan. * Pope Victor I was by birth an African, and governed the Church under the Emperor Severus. To his efforts it is chiefly due that the Western Church came to agreement in the celebration of the paschal feast by our present method of reckoning. But Saint Irenaeus interceded with him, that he would not provoke into schism certain of the Church whose custom in this matter was different. He is reputed also to have decreed that , if need be, Baptism can be administered with any water, so long as it be natural. He cast out of the Church Theodotus the Tanner, who came from Constantinople, and taught that Christ was nothing but a man. He wrote upon the subject of the Passover, and composed some other small works. According to the Pontifical Book, he held two December ordinations, wherein he made four priests, seven deacons, and twelve bishops for divers places, and sat in the Chair of Peter nine years, on month and twenty-eight days. He is believed to have received the crown of his testimony, and his burial on Vatican Hill, on July 28th, about the year 197, and by tradition is revered as a Martyr. * Pope Innocent I flourished in the days of Saints Jerome and Augustine, when the times were troublous, and Alaric sacked the Eternal City; on behalf of which he had gone to get the help of the Emperor Honorius at Ravenna, whereby the man of God escaped the grief of seeing the destruction of the Roman people, even as righteous Lot, by God’s providence, escaped the burning of Sodom. This holy Pope was a vigorous administrator of the duties of his office, whereby he left his mark on Christianity for all time. He it was who condemned Pelagius and Caelestius, and made a decree against their heresy, ordering that little children even those whose mothers were Christians, must be born again in Baptism, that their original sin might be done away. Numerous other notable things were done by him. For he befriended and protected holy John Chrysostom. He wrote letters containing prudent decisions which are now observed as laws. To the Bishop of Tolouse he wrote that absolution and holy Communion is never to be denied to dying penitents. To the Bishop of Gubbio he wrote that bishops only (because they alone have the fulness of the priesthood) are administer Confirmation. According to the Pontifical Book, he sat in the throne of Peter fifteen years, one month, and ten days, and held four December ordinations, wherein he made thirty priests, fifteen deacons, and forty-four bishops for divers places. He went to God on March 12th, 417, and was buried in the cemetery known as the Place of the Bear-and-the-Cap, but is honored on the reputed date of his translation.


We pray thee, O Lord : that the glorious confession of thy blessed Saints, Nazarius, Celsus, Victor, and Innocent, may strengthen us against all temptations, and obtain for the frailty of our mortal nature the succour of thy bounteous goodness, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

July 27th, Saint Pantaleon, Martyr.

July 27th, Saint Pantaleon, Martyr.

Pantaleon (whose name by interpretation is The-All-Compassionate) died the death of a martyr, as Theodoret and others do testify, and the year thereof was probably 305. Little more than this is certainly known of him, but in after years his story came to be told on this wise. He was of a noble family of Nicomedia, a learned man and a Christian, who became the physician of the Emperor Galerius Maximian. At whose wicked court he was seduced into sin, and became an apostate. But when he had been brought back to Christ by a zealous Christian named Hermolaus, he gave all that he had to the poor, and out of his great compassion served them without pay. Whereat he was denounced as a Christian by some jealous fellow-physicians, and put to the torture under the Emperor Diocletian ; first on the rack, and then by searing of his body with red-hot metal, and in divers other ways. All which bitterness of suffering he bore with a quiet and brave heart, and at last received the stroke of the sword, and the crown of martyrdom. He is counted as one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers, being venerated as a patron of the sick and those who care for them. In the east he is entitled : Great Martyr and Healer : and is numbered along with Saints Cosmas and Damian, among those known as The-Holy-and-Moneyless-Physicians, which three saints all Catholics do honour, next after Luke the Beloved Physicians, and Patrons of medical men.


Grant, we beseech thee, Almighty God : that by the prayers of thy holy Martyr blessed Pantaleon, we may be delivered from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011



From a Sermon by St. John Damascene

The home of Anne is set before us, that herein we may see an ensample both of married and of maiden life, the one in the person of Anne the mother, the other in that of Mary her daughter. Whereof one hath but now ceased to be barren, and the other is in a little while destined, beyond the course of nature, to become the Mother of the Messiah by a singular birth, specially designed of God to build up anew our nature. We can imagine, then, how Anne, filled with the Holy Ghost, with joyful and jubilant spirit, might have sung aloud: Rejoice with me, for out of my barren womb I have borne the bud of promise, and, as I have longed to do, I nourish at my breasts the fruit of benediction ; I have laid aside the mournful garments of barrenness, and put on the joyful raiment of fruitfulness ; let Hannah, the adversary of Peninnah, make merry with me, and join with me for fellow-feeling, in the singing of this new and unhoped-for wonder that is wrought in me ; let Sarah be glad that was joyfully pregnant in her old age. She was but a shadow cast before of my conception, even before me that hitherto have been barren. Let all the barren and fruitless break forth into singing, when they behold in what wondrous wise I have been visited from heaven.

Let all other mothers also, when they like Anne are gifted with fruitfulness, say : Blessed be he that gave their desire unto them that besought him! that gave fruitfulness unto her that was barren! that granted unto her that from her should bud forth the joy-bringing Virgin! Who, according to the flesh, was Mother of God, and whose womb was a heaven wherein he dwelt whom no place can contain. Let us also with them offer our praises to her that was called barren, but now is become the mother of a maid-child ; let us say unto her in the words of the Scripture : O how blessed is the house of David from whence thou art sprung! and that womb wherein God hath fashioned the ark of his holiness! her, by whom he was himself conceived without man's seed!

Right blessed art thou, yea, thrice blessed, whom God hath so blest as to make thee to bring forth, as his own gift, the babe Mary! Whose very name is highly honourable, out of whom Christ, the Flower of life, blossomed! A maiden whose rising is glorious, and whose delivery is worth more than the world. We also, O Anne, woman right blessed, do with thee joy. In sooth thou hast brought forth what we all have hoped for, and God hath given us, namely, the babe of promise. Blessed indeed art thou, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb! The tongues of all the godly do magnify thine offspring, and every glad word is spoken concerning her of whom thou art delivered. It is indeed meet and right, and our bounden duty, to praise her who received a revelation from the goodness of God, and bore for us such and so great a fruit, from whom sweet Jesus sprang.




O God, who didst vouchsafe to give grace to blessed Saint Anne that she might be worthy to bear the Mother of thine only-begotten Son : mercifully grant that we who rejoice in the observance of her feast day, may by her intercession find favour in thy sight. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, who livest and reignest with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

July 23rd, Saint Apollinaris, Bishop & Martyr

July 23rd, Saint Apollinaris, Bishop & Martyr

Apollinaris was the first to be Bishop of Ravenna, and Saint Peter Chrysologus, the most illustrious of his successors, in a sermon which hath come down to us, referred to him as a Martyr, but added that although he frequently shed his blood for Christ, his persecutors did not take away his life. However, he was venerated in the early days as one f the greatest of Martyrs, and it is therefore to be presumed that he suffered much and often for Christ. * The Book of his Acts saith that he came to Rome along with blessed Peter, and that the Apostle himself consecrated him as bishop, and sent him to Ravenna to preach the Gospel, where he converted many to the Christian Faith. For which the idolatrous priests caught him and gave him a sharp flogging. Whereafter a second riot was got up against him because he healed Boniface, a nobleman who had long been dumb, and delivered his daughter from an unclean spirit. On this occasion Apollinaris was flogged again, and made to walk barefoot over hot embers, and them expelled from the city. Whereupon he hid for a while with certain Christians, and afterwards went to Emilia, where he brought many to Christ. For which the ruler of that city also had him driven from place to place and country to country, until he was thus driven back to Ravenna, where he was denounced by the same idolatrous priests as before. * After which things Apollinaris fled away again, but was followed after, and caught and beaten, and left for dead by the roadside, where some Christians found him, and took him and cared for him, so that he lived seven days, exhorting them to stand firm in the Faith. And so he departed this life with the glorious splendour of martyrdom, and his body was buried hard by the wall of the city.


O God, who rewardest the souls of the faithful, who hast likewise made this day holy with the martyrdom of thy blessed Priest Apollinaris : grant, we pray thee, that we thy servants, who here observe his solemn festival, may by his intercession obtain the pardon of thy mercy, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Friday, July 22, 2011

July 22, Saint Mary Magdalene

From a Sermon by St. Gregory the Pope

When even Christ’s disciples went away to their own homes, Mary Magdalene still stood without at his sepulchre, weeping. She sought him whom her soul loved, but she found him not. She searched for him with tears, and yearned with strong desire for him who (as she believed) had been taken away. And this it befell her that being the only one who had remained to seek him, she was the only one that saw him. How true it is that the backbone of a good work is perseverance. At first when she sought him, she found him not. But she went on searching, and so it came to pass that she found him. And this was so, to the end that her longing might grow in earnestness, and so in its earnestness might find what it sought. Hence is it that the Bride in the Song of Songs saith as representing the Church : By night on my bed I sought him whom my soul loveth. We seek on our bed for him whom our soul loveth, when, having got some little rest in this world, we still sigh for the presence of our Redeemer. But it is by night that we so seek him, for though our mind may be on the alert for him, yet still he is hidden from our eyes by the darkness that now is.

But if we find not him whom our soul liveth, it remaineth that we should rise and go about the city ; that is, by thought and questioning, go through the holy Church of the elect. We should seek him in the streets, and in the broad ways; that is , walk, anxiously looking about us, both in the narrow and the broad places, if so be, that we may find his footsteps there ; for there be some even of those who live for the world, from whom the godly may learn a thing or two worth imitating. As we this go wakefully about, the watchmen, that keep the city, find us ; that is, the holy Fathers (who are in effect the Church) come to meet our good endeavours, and to teach us either by their words or by their writing. And it needeth but little to pass form them, but w3e find him whom our soul loveth ; that is, even by passing through a little of their teaching, we may find our Redeemer. For he in lowliness became as a man among men, yet by right of his divine nature he is still above them.

O Almighty God, whose blessed Son didst call and sanctify Mary Magdalene to be a witness to his resurrection : mercifully grant that by thy grace we may be healed of all our infirmities, and always serve thee in the power of his endless life, through the same Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, unto ages of ages. Amen.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

July 21st, Saint Praxedes, Virgin.

Apse of the Church of St. Praxedes
July 21st, Saint Praxedes, Virgin.

This Praxedes (as we know from ancient records ) was a maiden of Rome in the second century who was buried in the Cemetery of holy Priscilla, next to the maiden Pudentiana, who is therefore reputed to be her sister, and whose Legend is given on May 19th. The story that hath been told for many centuries concerning Praxedes is that she constantly assisted with money, labour, comfort, and every helpful office of Christian charity, all those Christians whom the Emperor Marcus Antoninus was at that time hunting down like wild beasts. Some she his in her house, some she exhorted to firmness in professing the Faith, of some she buried the bodies. For those in prison, and those toiling in slavery, she supplied every need. At last the sight of such butchery of Christians was more that she could bear, and she implored God that she might die, if it were expedient for her so to do, and to be released form such suffering. And on July 21st, she went to god. Whereupon Pastor the Priest, so it is said, laid her body in the double-grave of her father and sister, and Saints Pudens and Pudentiana, in the cemetery of Saint Priscilla.

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

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

July 20th, Saint Margaret of Antioch, Virgin and Martyr

St.Margaret of Antioch

July 20th, Saint Margaret of Antioch, Virgin and Martyr

This Margaret is one of the most widely venerated Saints of the Church East and West, who suffered death for Christ at Antioch. In the East she is called The Great-Martyr Marina, which name, like Margaret, signifieth a pearl ; and her feast is kept on July 12th. From the East her fame spread to the West, and in the seventh century her name, changed to Margaret, appeared in an English Litany. During the middle ages she came to be much beloved throughout Europe, being invoked against demoniac possession, and by women in childbirth, and by those who were fearful. In 908 her relicks were stolen from Antioch, and brought to Europe, and finally enshrined in the Cathedral of Monte-fiascone. * According to the late compiled volume of her Acts, she was bon at Antioch in Pisidia, her father being the heathen priest Aedesius, which same put her out to nurse with a Christian woman. From her she learnt Christ, whereupon her father would have none of her. And so she was forced to make her living as a shepherdess, and was seen by the Prefect Olybrius, who for her rare beauty desired her to wife, if she were a free woman, but sin with, if she were a slave ; but she would have nothing to do with him. At his judgement-seat she was questioned by him thus : What is thy name and birth and religion? To whom she answered : Margaret is my name ; I am of noble birth ; and by religion I am a Christian. * Then said the Prefect : The first and second answers befit thee, but the third is a folly, for who can make a god out of one crucified? To whom the Virgin replied : Whence didst thou learn that the Lord Jesus was crucified? To which the Prefect answered : Out of the books of the Christians. And Margaret made answer : Is this thy wisdom? That when in the same books both the passion and glory of Christ are witnessed to thou dost believe one and reject the other? Whereupon she was tried with all kinds of tortures ; and in the darkness of her prison it seemed to her that the devil came as a great and swallowed her up, but could not stomach the cross which she carried, and therefore spewed her forth. And other spiritual trials and agonies came to her during her physical conflict; but in her patience she in such wise possessed her soul in Christ that many came to believe in him ; whereupon she went in triumph to him her Spouse by beheading, namely, in the reign and persecution of Diocletian, early in the fourth century.

Grant, O Lord, that, like as blessed Margaret, thy Virgin and Martyr : by the merits of her chastity and godliness of conversation did ever walk acceptably in thy sight ; so she may at all times effectually intercede for our forgiveness, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Monday, July 18, 2011

July 17th, St. Symphorosa and her seven sons, Martyrs.

July 17th, St. Symphorosa and her seven sons, Martyrs.

Church of the Holy-Angel-in-Fish-Market

Symphorosa was martyred on July 18th, about the year 135. And at that time seven young men, who died for Christ, were in such wise associated with her testimony that they have ever since been called her sons, albeit it is no longer known whether she mothered them in the flesh or only in the spirit like unto the similar case of the Seven Holy Brethren and blessed Felicity. Symphorosa is reputed to have been a woman of Tivoli, the wife of the Martyr Getulius. And such a mother in Israel was she that these seven young men (who, if they were not brethren because of common blood, were brethren by the blood which they shed in common for Christ), were constrained by her faith to persevere unto death. And it is no longer certainly known how they died. But it is said that a stone was tied to the neck of Symphorosa, and that she was then thrown into the river, and that afterwards her body was found by one of her family. Of he seven sons, however, it is related that they were tied each to a stake, and all pt to death in divers ways. Crescens, the eldest was stabbed in the throat ; Julian in the breast ; Nemesius in the heart ; and Prinitivus in the navel. Justin was hacked limb from limb. Stacteus was shot to death with darts. Eugene was cut into two parts across his breast, from the head downwards. Thus, so it is said, were these sacrifices of sweet savour offered to God. Their bodies were thrown into a deep pit, on the road between Rome and Tivoli, at the Ninth Milestone from Rome, but were afterwards brought to Rome and buried in the Church of the Holy-Angel-in-Fish-Market.


O God, who vouchsafest unto us to keep the heavenly birthday of thy holy Martyrs Symphorosa and her sons, grant, we beseech thee, that we may rejoice in the perpetual felicity of their friendship, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

July 17th, Saint Alexius, Confessor

July 17th, Saint Alexius, Confessor

Early in the fifth century there lived in Edessa, Syria, a beggar. Which same was of such sanctity that he was revered as a Saint, and was known by no other name than The-Man-of-God. Sometime after his death, probably between the years 450 and 475, and unknown writer wrote an account of him. Wherein we are told that he lived by begging at church doors, and that he shared the alms with other poor folk, and himself existed on what little was left when their needs were supplied. And when he died, he was buried in the potter’s field of Edessa. But before his death he confided to the man that was nursing him that he was a member of one of the noblest Roman families. A later rescension of this book saith (on what authority no one knoweth) that his name was Alexius. And that from his penitent love for Jesus Christ, he received a particular command from God not to touch the bride that he was about to take unto himself, but rather to undertake a pilgrimage to the most famous churches of the world. So that for many years he remained occupied in these journeys and utterly unknown. In the course of which he came back to Rome, and fared to the house of his won father. Who knew him not, but gave him shelter in a space under the stairs leading up to the house, where he lived unrecognized by any for many years. Who by such a hard and hidden penitent life sheweth unto worldlings that God hath servants who have loved Christ Jesus with a love passing that of women, for which same they count the world well lost.

O God, who makest us glad with the yearly feast of blessed Alexius, thy Confessor, mercifully grant, that, as we now observe his heavenly birthday, so we may follow him in all virtuous and godly living, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

July 15th, Translation of Saint Swithun, Bishop and Confessor

Translation of Saint Swithun, Bishop and Confessor

Swithun entered the monastery of Winchester, and became a priest therein. King Egbert of the West Saxons heard of his fame and gave his son Ethelwulf into his care ; and when this prince years afterwards succeeded to the kingdom, he nominated Swithun Bishop of Winchester, with the consent of the Archbishop of Canterbury and his clergy. Thereafter, in his duty towards his See, Swithun left nothing undone which is the part of a faithful shepherd. * He shrank from all display and gaining of glory in the sight of men, and desired nothing more than that all the good which he did should be unknown save to God and to his own conscience. When he was dying, (to wit, on July 2nd, 862,) he expressed the wish that his body should be laid in the earth outside the church, under the open sky, that the feet of them that came thither might pass over him, and that the rain and the dew might fall upon him ; and his lowly wish was carried out. * Wherefrom hath spring the belief that because of his love of both sunshine and rain, God doth ever grant his request for either, whichever he preferreth for his feast day, and for forty days continuously thereafter. But when the new Cathedral Church of Winchester was built, the relicks of blessed Swithun were translated thereto, to wit, in 1093.


Almighty and everlasting God, who hast made this day honorable unto us by reason of the festival of blessed Swithun thy Confessor and Bishop : grant, we beseech thee, that thy Church may so rejoice in this solemnity, that e which on this day do honour him on earth may by his intercession obtain thy succour in heaven, through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.

Friday, July 15, 2011

July 15th, Saint Henry, Emperor and Confessor

Saint Henry, Emperor and Confessor.

Henry II, surnamed the Good, was born in 972, and became successively Duke of Bavaria, King of Germany, and Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, of which he was one of the best and holiest of rulers.  Some say that he once wished to become a monk, and vowed obedience to the Abbot of Verdun ; whereupon the Abbot put him under obedience to retain his royal power, and use it always for the extension of God's kingdom.  As Emperor, he earnestly set himself to the furtherance of the cause of godliness.  He restored churches which had been ruined, built and endowed monasteries, founded new dioceses, and ordered various synods of bishops to assemble, and legislate for the better ordering of things ecclesiastical.  * He waged many wars, some against oppressors of the Church, some for the consolidation of the Empire, but all against injustice.  He made frequent visitations throughout his dominions to relieve the poor, prevent oppressions, and enquire into public abuses.  But he never forgot that governance of himself was his first obligation, and so he never undertook anything until he made it a subject of prayer.  Once in battle he is said to have seen, leading his army, the Angel of the Lord, and his own patrons Saints Lawrence, George, and Adrian, under whose protection he had placed his soldiers. * He gave his sister in marriage to King Stephen of Hungary, to whom his example and friendship was of much worth, for Stephen grew in holiness, and is revered as the Saint who brought the Hungarians to Christ.  Henry himself wedded the maiden Cunegunda, who is commemorated in the Martyrology on March 3rd, and revered as a virgin-Saint ; for it is believed that before their marriage they both vowed themselves to virginity.  The perfume of his holy life spread its sweetness far and wide, and the glory of his holiness outshone the splendour of his crown.  When the work of his life was done, he was called by the Lord to the possession of an eternal kingdom, namely, on July 13th, 1024, and his body was buried in the Church of Saints Peter and Paul at Bamberg.  In 1146 he was numbered among the Saints.

O God, who as on this day didst cause thy blessed Confessor Saint Henry to9 pass from the crown of earthly empire to thy everlasting kingdom : we humbly beseech thee, that as by the abundance of thy grace preventing him, thou didst enable him to overcome the temptations of this life, so thou wouldest suffer us, following his pattern, to avoid the deceits of this world, and in perfect purity of heart to attain unto thee, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Monday, July 11, 2011

July 11th, Saint Benedict, Abbot, Father of Western Monasticism.

I had posted the same commemoration on March 21, but I think that date is probably a modern Roman Catholic revision, though not Vatican II, and so to resynchronize with Orthodox Calendars, I present again...

July 11th, Saint Benedict, Abbot, Father of Western Monasticism.

Benedict was born at Norcia in Umbria about the year 480. He is reputed to have been of noble birth and to have studied at Rome. Desiring to give himself wholly to Christ Jesus, he betook himself to a deep cave at a place called Subiaco, wherein he hid himself in prayer and contemplation for three years. But then his fame spread abroad, and some monks living nearby put themselves under him for guidance. Which same, it is said, turned against him because of his insistence upon complete dedication to God, and even plotted to poison him. But when Benedict made the Sign of the Cross over the cup, it brake. Whereupon the holy father left his unworthy monks and retired to a desert place alone.

Nevertheless, disciples came to him again, and finally he established for them the famous Abbey of Monte Cassino, and set holy laws to govern them. Up until his time the monasteries in the West, for want of proper direction, had not flourished. The regulations which this father wrote are known as the Holy Rule, and in time nearly all the monasteries of Europe adopted the same, so that Saint Benedict became the Lawgiver and Patriarch of monks in the West as Saint Basil was in the East. The monks of Saint Benedict of later times, schooled under the Holy Rule, taught the barbarians of Europe to think and work, and to worship Christ. For which reason ho9ly Benedict might well be called the father of western civilization.

The little which we know of Saint Benedict, apart from his Rule, is to be found in Book II of the Dialogues of Saint Gregory the Great, wherein it is shewn that he was a man as loveable as he was great. He passed to God on the twenty-first of March, in the year 543. He was famous for prophecy and miracles , and two of his monks said that at his death they saw him going to God, clothed in glistering white raiment, and surrounded with light.

Grant, we beseech thee, O Lord, that the prayers of thy holy Abbot, blessed Benedict 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.

July 11th, St. Pius I, Pope and Martyr

St. Pius I, Pope and Martyr

Pius, the first of that name to be Pope, was successor to Saint Hyginus, and is said to have been a brother of that Hermas who wrote the treatise known as The Shepherd. According to the Pontifical Book, he was from Aquileia, but was a priest in Rome when he was elected Pope ; in which office he served God during the time of the Emperors Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius, and held five ordinations in the month of December, wherein he ordained twelve bishops and eighteen priests. In his day the church was greatly troubled by the hereticks, Valentinus and Marcion. Pius vigorously opposed their heresy of Gnosticism, with the aid of Saint Justin Martyr who was in Rome at that time ; and he excommunicated Marcion, who had come thither also. The conflicts which he sustained won for him the title Martyr. But some say that he was beheaded for Christ, namely, on July 11th 154, and buried on the Vatican Hill.

Collect: Be merciful to the people of thy flock, O Lord, eternal Shepherd and Bishop of the souls of men, and keep us in thy continual protection, at the intercession of thy Martyr, the holy Father Pius, whom thou didst raise up in thy Church, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

July 10th, Seven Holy Brethren, Martyrs, and Saints Rufina and Secunda, Virgins and Martyrs

July 10th, Seven Holy Brethren, Martyrs, and Saints Rufina and Secunda, Virgins and Martyrs

During the course of the second century, as we know, the seven young men whose feast is kept today, suffered martyrdom at Rome for Christ’s sake. According to the book of their Acts (which was probably put in its present form in the sixth century) these seven men were brethren, sons of the holy woman Felicity, whom the Prefect Publius first essayed to cajole by kindness, and then to shake by fear, that he might seduce them to deny Christ and worship the gods. But, by their own bravery and the exhortation of their mother, they remained firm in their confession, and were all put to death in divers ways. Januarius was lashed to death with whips loaded with lead ; Felix and Philip were beaten with cudgels ; Silvanus was thrown over a precipice ; Alexander, Vitalis and Martial were beheaded. Their mother, however, did not gain her palm of martyrdom until four months afterwards, to with, on November 23rh, on which day her feast is kept. But the seven Brethren gave up their sols to god on the tenth day of July. * Rufina and her sister Secunda were maidens of Rome, who in 257 died for Christ, and were buried on the Aurelian Way, at a place afterwards known as Santa Rufina. According to the Acts of these Saints, (which Acts are also a compilation of a date much later than their martyrdom,) they were betrothed to two Christian young men who, to escape persecution, forsook Christ. However, the two maidens would not follow the example of their lovers, nor would they marry them. Rather, to escape from the apostate young men, they endeavored to leave Rome secretly. Whereupon thy were overtaken not far from the City, and there first tortured, and then beheaded, and so went to Christ as to the true Bridegroom of their souls. * Concerning the aforesaid seven brethren, and Felicity who is reputed to be their mother, Saint Gregory preached a beautiful sermon, as is noted on her feast-day, November 23rd. And holy Augustine also celebrated their praises in the following words. Wonderful is the sight, my brethren, which is set before the eyes of our faith, a mother of more than human love, watching her sons leaving this life before her. All men would fain depart hence before their children, but she was ready to die last. Departing from her, they were not lost, but gone before. And she looked, not to the life they were ending, but to the life they were beginning. They laid aside a life which must needs end in death, and began that life wherein they are alive forever. The least of her work was that she was an on-looker ; more amazing is it, when we remember that she was their exhortress. Her courage was more fruitful than her womb, and when she saw them contending and conquering, he heart contended and conquered in each.

Grant, we beseech thee, Almighty God, that, like as we have known thy glorious Martyrs to be constant in their confession of thy Faith, so we may feel the succour of their loving intercession, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Saint Procopius, Martyr

Saint Procopius, Martyr

According to Eusebius, Bishop of Caesarea, who was a contemporary of Saint Procopius, and wrote an account of his death, this holy man, was the first Martyr of Palestine during the persecution of Diocletian. He lived on bread and water, and sometimes fasted for a week at a time ; meditation so filled his being that he remained absorbed in it day and night, without sense of fatigue ; and because therefrom he was filled with goodness and gentleness, he edified everyone by his discourses. He was born at Jerusalem, but lived at Bethsan, where he acted as lector. Then, sent with some others to Caesarea Maritima, he was at once arrested as a Christian, and brought before the judge. To whom he straightway preached the Kingdom of Christ in such wise that he was immediately condemned to beheading ; and so passed happily to eternal life by the shortest possible road on July 8th, 303.

Grant, we beseech thee, Almighty God, that we, who this day keep the heavenly birthday of blessed Procopius, thy holy Martyr, may by his prayers be stablished in the love of thy holy Name, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Two Saints are commemorated this day, July 7th

St. Palladius, Bishop and Confessor

Palladius was a deacon in Rome, who stirred up saint Pope Celestine I to send Saint Germanus against the Pelagians of Britain. And later this same Pope consecrated Palladius as first Bishop of Ireland, and sent him to minister to the Christians there. But he met with such cruel opposition from the heathen that he was unable to do much in the way of organizing the mission ; and I less than a year was driven out of Ireland, and went over to the Picts in Scotland. Where he died in peace, near Aberdeen, about the year 432, and was locally venerated as a Martyr because of the great things that he had suffered for Christ.

Saint Willibald, Bishop and Confessor

This Willibald was blood-brother to Saints Wunnibald and Walburga, the holy children of the West Saxon thane Saint Richard. He went with his father and brother on a six year pilgrimage through the shrines of Europe and the Holy Land, and finally became a monk at Monte Cassino. Whence he was sent to Germany, to assist his kinsman Saint Boniface ; who consecrated him Bishop of Eichstadt, as a reward for his apostolic labours in that region. Where he founded a double monastery, namely, at Heidenheim ; over which he set his brother Saint Wunnibald to rule the monks, and his sister Saint Walburga to rule the nuns. He went to God in peace, about the year 786.

Grant, we beseech thee, Almighty God, that the devout observance of this festival of blessed
N, they Confessor and Bishop, may be profitable unto us for our advancement in all godliness, and for the attainment of everlasting salvation, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Antiochian WRV Parochial Divine Office yields timely message,

While praying the Office this morning, the appointed psalms seemed very apt in contrast to all the vengeful venting online and in public regarding the Casey Anthony verdict. Many people are quite exercised that she was not found guilty of murder and sentenced to death, or at least life without parole.

"...but grieve not thyself at him whose way doth prosper, against the man that doeth after evil counsels. Leave off from wrath, and let go displeasure: * fret not thyself, else shalt thou be moved to do evil. Wicked doers shall be rooted out; * and they that patiently abide the LORD, those shall inherit the land. Yet a little while, and the ungodly shall be clean gone: * thou shalt look after his place, and he shall be away." psalm 37

One point lost on many is that in our system of jurisprudence, if the state cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused did the deed, the jury is required to exonorate. This high standard is so important for the liberty of all the citizens of our Republic, and that is the way we want it, lest the government be empowered to do away with its opponents by juridical chicanery.

While she may indeed be guilty, she will face divine justice. That's an awful lot fierier than the human variety.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary - From a Sermon by St. John Chrysostom

The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

From a Sermon by St John Chrysostom

As soon as our Redeemer was come among us, he went with haste, while as yet he was in his mother’s womb, to visit his friend John. And John, in the one womb, as if conscious of the presence of Jesus in the other womb, dashed himself impatiently against the narrow walls of his natural prison, as though crying out : I perceive the very Lord that gave nature her bounds! Why therefore should I wait for the due season of my birth? What need is there for me to linger here till none months are ended, now that the Timeless One is with me! I would break out of my dark cell? I would proclaim my manifold knowledge of marvellous things! I am meant to be a sign, and so even now I would shew that the Christ is here! I am the trumpet-voice, and I desire to peal forth the news that the Son of God is come in the flesh. Let me sound as a trumpet, and bless and loose my father’s tongue, and make it speak again! Let me sound as a trumpet and quicken my mother’s womb!

Thou seest, O brethren beloved, how new and how strange a mystery is here! John is not yet born, but by leaping he speaketh. He is as yet unseen, but he giveth warning. He is not yet able to cry, but by his acts he beareth witness. He draweth not yet the breath of life, but he preacheth God. He seeth not yet the light, but he maketh known the Sun. He is not yet come out of the womb, but he hateth to play the Forerunner. In the presence of the Lord he cannot restrain himself, but rebelled against the bounds set by nature, and struggleth to break out of the prisoning womb, eager to herald the coming Saviour. He saith, as it were : Behold, the Deliverer cometh, and why am I yet in bonds, and made to abide here? The Word cometh, that he may set right all things, and am I still to tarry in prison? I would go forth! I would run before him, and proclaim to all mankind : Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world!

But do thou tell us, O John, how it came to pass that while thou wast still in the darkness of thy mother’s womb, thou didst see and hear? How didst thou behold the things of God? How didst thou leap and bound for joy? If we could hear him answer, he would say : Great is the mystery of that which here taketh place. Beyond the understanding of men are these doings! It is meet that I should shew forth a new thing in nature for the sake of him who is making new things which are beyond nature. Even though I be yet in the womb, I perceive, for forth upon me from another womb the Sun of Righteousness shineth. As it were, with mine ears I understand, for I was created to be the Voice of the Great Word. I would cry aloud, for I contemplate the only-begotten Son of the Father clothed in flesh. I tremble for joy, for I perceive that he, by whom all things were made, hath taken upon him the form of a servant. I leap as I think of the Redeemer of the world being made flesh, for I would run before his coming. Nonetheless, I herald his approach unto you as best I can, and make on this wise my confession of him whose Forerunner I am.


We beseech thee, O Lord, pour into our hearts the abundance of thy heavenly grace : that like as the child-bearing of the blessed Virgin Mary was unto us thy servants the beginning of salvation, so the devout observance of her Visitation may avail for the increasing of our peace, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.