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Sunday, March 27, 2011

Lord, who throughout these forty days

Lord, who throughout these forty days
for us didst fast and pray,
teach us with thee to mourn our sins,
and close by thee to stay.

As thou with Satan didst contend
and didst the victory win,
O give us strength in thee to fight,
in thee to conquer sin.

As thou didst hunger bear and thirst,
so teach us, gracious Lord,
to die to self, and chiefly live
by thy most holy word.

And through these days of penitence,
and through thy Passiontide,
yea, evermore, in life and death,
Jesus! with us abide.

Abide with us, that so, this life
of suffering over-past,
an Easter of unending joy
we may attain at last!

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

The Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, March 25
A Sermon by St. Ambrose the Bishop

The mysteries of God are unsearchable, as is especially declared in the prophetical words : What man is he that can know the counsel of God? or who can think what the will of the Lord is? Nevertheless, some things have been revealed to us. And hence we may gather, from the words and works of our Lord and Saviour, that there was a special purpose of God in the fact that she who was chosen to bring forth the Lord was espoused to a man. Why did not the power of the Highest overshadow her before she was so espoused? Perhaps it was lest any might blasphemously say that the Holy One was conceived in fornication.

And the Angel came in unto her. Let us learn from this Virgin how to bear ourselves : let us learn by her devout utterance ; above all let us learn by the holy mystery to be timid, to avoid the advances of men, and to shrink from men's addresses. Would that our women would learn from the example of modesty here set before us. She upon whom the stare of men had never been fixed was alone in her chamber, and was found only by an Angel. There was neither companion nor witness there, that what passed might not be debased in gossip ; and the Angel saluted her.

The message of God to the Virgin was a mystery so great that it must needs not be uttered by the mouth of man, but only by an Angel. For the first time on earth the words are spoken : The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee. The holy maiden heareth, and believeth. At length she saith : Behold the handmaiden of the Lord ; be it unto me according to thy word. Here is an example of lowliness, here is a pattern of true devotion. At the very moment she is chosen to be the Mother of the Lord she declareth herself to be his handmaid. The knowledge that she was chosen to this high vocation wrought in Mary only an act of humility.
We beseech thee, O Lord, pour thy grace into our hearts : that, as we have known the incarnation of thy Son Jesus Christ by the message of an Angel ; so by his Cross we may be brought unto the glory of his resurrection. Through the same Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord. Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Saint Gabriel the Archangel

Saint Gabriel the Archangel
 From a sermon by St. Bede the Venerable

The Angel appeared to Zacharias in the sanctuary of the temple at the right side of the altar of incense. Which same was fitting, thus : he appeared in the sanctuary because he came to proclaim sacrifice ; and at the right side thereof, to indicate how joyous was the honour about to be bestowed on mankind by the heavenly gift. The right side is the side of honour, and therefore words indicating a position at the right hand are often used to signify an external good, and by the same token, to be at the left side doth sometimes signify only present good. As for example where to Book of Proverbs singeth thus in praise of wisdom : Length of her days is in her right hand, and in her left hand riches and honour. First of all the Angel comforteth the trembling Zacharias. Fear not, saith he. For just as it is natural for human frailty to fear spiritual manifestations, so it is natural for Angels to comfort with good words the mortals that be in this wise fearful. Contrariwise, when the devil perceiveth that his audacious manifestations do frighten, he proceedeth to frighten as much as he can, and that with an increasing fearsomeness. There is no better way to overcome his workings than by a courageous faith.

Next, the angel saith that the prayer of Zacharias was heard, and then straightway promiseth that the wife of Zacharias should bear a child. We are not to understand that he had been praying for the birth of a son whilst he was offering the sacrifice according to the liturgy of that time, for we are told that he had given up hope of a son, and no one prayeth for that which he hath no hope of obtaining. Yea, so hopeless was he of ever having children of his own, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both now well stricken in years, that he did not even believe the Angel's promise. Therefore the words of the Angel : Thy prayer is heard : refer to the redemption of the people, for which Zacharias had prayed in the pleading of the sacrifice. And the words : Thy wife shall bear a son : do shew forth the manner of that redemption, for he addeth that the son of Zacharias shall go before the Redeemer as a herald, to make ready his way amongst the people. Thus, in this saying that the prayer of supplication offered by Zacharias was heard of God, the Angel sheweth in what manner the people can be brought to salvation and perfection ; namely, by repentance at the preaching of John, whereby they are to be led to faith in Christ.

But Zacharias hesitateth because of the sublime things which have been promised. Wherefore he asketh for a sign, that he may believe, albeit the coming of the Angel and his words of promise ought to have been a sufficient sign. Hence he was stricken dumb as a just penalty for his slowness of belief : to be dumb was both a sign to stir him up to the faith which he sought, and the penance which he deserved for his unbelief. We may thus understand that if a man of earth had promised such things, it would be lawful to seek for a sign, but that when an Angel is sent from heaven to give God's promise, there should have been no occasion for doubt. And yet the Angel giveth the desired sign, so that he who spake from disbelief may learn from silence to believe. Note that the Angel saith : I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God, and am sent to speak unto thee these glad tidings. Doubtless when Angels come to us they fulfil this active and outward ministry in such a way that yet do always remain in God's presence by contemplation. Wherefore, they stand in his presence even though they be sent from him on a mission. An Angel is a created spirit, and therefore hath many limitations. But God hath no limitations, and is everywhere. Thus when he sendeth his Angels from his presence, they yet do stand therein, for whithersoever they go on a mission, they go in him.

Collect:O God, who for the announcing of the mystery of thine Incarnation didst choose Saint Gabriel before all the other Angels : mercifully grant that as we do keep his feast here on earth ; so also we may be assisted by his patronage in heaven. Who livest and reignest with the Father, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Saint Benedict, Abbot, Father of Western Monasticism.

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.

Collect: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.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Glory of these Forty Days- 6th Century Lenten Hymn

The glory of these forty days
we celebrate with songs of praise;
for Christ, through whom all things were made,
himself has fasted and has prayed.

Alone and fasting Moses saw
the loving God who gave the law;
and to Elijah, fasting, came
the steeds and chariots of flame.

So Daniel trained his mystic sight,
delivered from the lions' might;
and John, the Bridegroom's friend, became
the herald of Messiah's name.

Then grant us, Lord, like them to be
full oft in fast and prayer with thee;
our spirits strengthen with thy grace,
and give us joy to see thy face.

O Father, Son, and Spirit blest,
to thee be every prayer addressed,
who art in three-fold Name adored,
from age to age, the only Lord.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Saint Cyril of Jerusalem, Bishop, Confessor, and Doctor

Saint Cyril of Jerusalem, Bishop, Confessor, and Doctor

CYRIL of Jerusalem was born about the year 315, and as a young man became a monk. He was ordained priest by holy Maximus, Patriarch of Jerusalem, and undertook with eminent success the task of preaching the Word of God to the faithful and to the catechumens. The works for which he is famous are chiefly two series of instructions ; one for catechumens, given during Lent before Baptism ; the other on Baptism, Confirmation, holy Communion, and the offering of the holy Sacrifice for the living and the dead. These writings are said to furnish the earliest example extant of a formal system of Catholic theology. After the death of St. Maximus, Cyril was chosen as his successor by the bishops of that province. In this office he had to endure for the Faith's sake, like his blessed contemporary Athanasius, many wrongs and sufferings at the hands of the Arian sect. He was of a gentle and conciliatory character ; but the Arians could not bear that he should stedfastly withstand their heresy. Accordingly they assailed him with calumnies, and in a pretended council voted to depose him, and then drove him out of his See.

As long as the Emperor Constantius lived Cyril suffered the hardships of exile. But when the Apostate Julian came to the throne, he returned to Jerusalem, where he set himself with burning zeal to deliver his flock from false doctrine and from sin. He was driven into exile a second time under the Emperor Valens. But when peace was restored to the Church by Theodosius the Great, and the cruelty and insolence of the Arians were restrained, Cyril was received with honour by the Emperor as one of Christ's most eminent soldiers, and was finally restored to his See.

How well he fulfilled the duties of his exalted office was made manifest by the flourishing state of the Church of Jerusalem at that time, of which a picture hath been left to us by holy Basil, who dwelt there for a season, whilst worshipping at the holy places. A little while before his death he was present at the second Council of Constantinople, wherein was condemned the heresy of Macedonius, and once more the Arian heresy. After he returned to Jerusalem he died a holy death, in the sixty-ninth year of his age and the thirty-fifth of his episcopate. Of these he had spent sixteen years in the sufferings of exile. From the earliest times he hath been venerated as a Saint, and in 1883 his feast began to be celebrated according to the rite of a Doctor of the Church.

Grant, we beseech thee, Almighty God : that at the intercession of thy blessed Bishop Saint Cyril, we may learn to know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent ; that we may be found worthy to be numbered for ever among the sheep that hear his voice. Through the same Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Matins Lessons for Tuesday after Quadragesima

Matins Lessons for Tuesday after Quadragesima (First Sunday of Lent)
The Lesson from the Holy Gospel according to Saint Matthew

Lesson I Chapter 21: 10ff
At that time : When Jesus was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, and that which followeth …
A Homily by Saint Bede the Priest.What the Lord first shewed forth in a figure by cursing the barren fig tree, he afterwards put before us in action even more plainly by casting the profaners out of the temple. [It is the peculiarity of fig tree that its fruit is well developed before there is any sign of leaves.] The tree was not guilty because of her fruitlessness at this time when the Lord was hungry, for the time of figs was not yet come. But those priests were guilty because they carried on worldly business in the Lord’s house, and thereby neglected to bring forth that fruit of godliness which was due, and which the Lord was hungry to find in them. The Lord made the fig tree to wither away under his curse, that all men who saw it, and all men who hear of it, might know that they will be condemned by the judgement of God, if they content themselves with the sound of good words, without the solid fruit of good works, after the fashion of that barren fig tree which gave pleasant shade and the rustle of green leaves, without the solid fruit, of which those leaves were wont to be an evidence.
But because the buyers and sellers heeded not the parable of the barren fig tree, the Lord visited them with the righteous indignation which they deserved, and cast out the traffickers in earthly things from that house. For it had been commanded that nothing should be done therein save the work of God, to wit, the offering to him of sacrifices and prayers, and the reading, teaching, and singing of his Word. Yet we may well believe that nothing was sold or bought in the temple save things needful to the service thereof , as we read in another place, that when Jesus went into the temple he found them that sold oxen and sheep and doves. For we are certainly given to understand that it was the worshippers from afar who, from the inhabitants of the place, bought such things as were needful for sacrifice in the Lord’s house.
Therefore, if the Lord would not suffer even so much as the buying and selling in the temple of those things which he willed to be offered in sacrifice therein (and this, no doubt, on account of the greed and cheating which so often accompany buying and selling), with what severity, suppose ye, would he visit such as he might find idling away the time of worship in laughter, or in gossip, or in any other sin? If the Lord will not suffer to be carried on in his house such worldly business as may be freely done elsewhere, how much more shall such things as ought never to be done anywhere, draw down the anger of God if they be done in his own holy house? The words : Them that sold doves : do remind us that the Holy Ghost was given unto the Lord in the shape of a dove, and by doves therefore we are reminded of the gifts of the Holy Ghost. They, then, to this day sell doves in the temple of God, who take money in the Church for the laying on of their hands, whereby the Holy Ghost is given from heaven.
Turn thou us, O God our Saviour : and that this our Lenten fast may be profitable unto us, vouchsafe, we pray thee, to instruct our minds in all heavenly learning, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Saint Gregory the Great, Pope, Confessor, Doctor. March 12

Saint Gregory the Great, Pope, Confessor, Doctor. March 12

Gregory the Great was a Roman, the son of Gordian the Senator, and was born about the year 540. As a young man, he was trained in philosophy, and later was given the highest office in Rome, that of Prefect of the City. In his boyhood he saw various sieges and sackings of Rome, and the horrors thereof. For, according to Procopius, at one time only five hundred persons remained alive in the City, and all were reduced to subsistence on grass and weeds, and the City itself was in complete ruin. Gregory's family, which was one of the few patrician families left, was distinguished for its piety, having given the Church two Popes, namely Saints Agapitus and Felix III, which latter was his great-great-grandfather. After his father's death, he was by inheritance one of the richest men in Rome, and he thereupon proceeded to give away all he had. He built six monasteries in Sicily, and in Rome he made a seventh monastery out of his own house, hard by the Church of Saints John and Paul, which same he dedicated under the invocation of the Apostle Andrew, and wherein he became a monk, and was finally elected the Abbot thereof.

Later on he was created Cardinal Deacon, and sent to Constantinople as Legate of Pope Pelagius II to the Emperor Tiberius Constantine, where he had a famous disputation with the Patriarch regarding the bodily resurrection. After he had returned to Rome, where Pelagius had died during the great plague of 590, Gregory was unanimously chosen Pope in his stead. But Gregory greatly preferred to remain in his monastery, and pressure from all sides was necessary to make him accept the pontifical honours. But in his exercise of this office he set an example to all who have followed him therein. He tenderly cared for the poor, of whom he kept a list, as well as those without as within the City. In particular he undertook to restore the Catholic Faith wherever it had been overthrown, and to introduce it where it was not.

He sent to Britain the blessed Augustine and other godly monks ; for according to the Venerable Bede he was moved thereto by something which happened before he became Pope ; namely, that he saw in Rome some captive children of fair countenance and golden hair ; and when he was told that they were Angles he said that the Faith should be carried to their land, so that they could have fellowship with the Angels. Wherefore Saint Gregory hath been called Apostle of the English, since through his efforts the mission of Saint Augustine was sent to their land. He adorned the Church with holy customs and laws ; and to him is attributed the nine-fold repetition of Kyrie eleison in the Mass, the saying of Alleluia except from Septuagesima till Easter, and the addition to the Canon of the words : Do thou order our days in peace. He is also credited with revision of the holy chant, and the compilation of the Antiphonary, and the foundation of several choir-schools for training men in ecclesiastical music. Because of his supervision of the Western Liturgy, the Western Canon is called after him The Gregorian Canon. It is a marvel how much he spoke, did, wrote, and legislated, suffering all the while from a weak and sickly body. He is rightly therefore venerated as the fourth of the great Western Doctors of the Church. At last God called him away to be blessed forever in heaven, in the year 604, being the twelfth day of March. He was buried in Saint Peter's, and this his feast-day is observed by the Greeks, as well as by us, on account of his eminent wisdom and holiness.

O God, who on the soul of thy servant Gregory didst bestow the rewards of everlasting felicity : mercifully grant ; that we, which are sore oppressed by the burden of our sins, may by the succour of his intercession be relieved. 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.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Forty Holy Martyrs, March 10th

The Forty Holy Martyrs, March 10th
The Forty Holy Martyrs were amongst the most greatly venerated Martyrs of early times. They were forty soldiers at Sebaste, a city of Armenia, who in the year 320 gave a singular instance of faith in Jesus Christ, and bravery under suffering. After being often remanded to a horrid prison-house, bound in fetters, and their mouths bruised with stones, they were ordered out in the depth of winter, stripped naked, and put upon a frozen pool, to die of cold during the night. The prayer of them all was the same : O Lord, forty of us have begun to run in the race ; grant that all forty of us may receive the crown ; let not one be wanting at the last. * When the keepers were all asleep, and the watchman only was awake, the latter saw on of them whose courage could not bear the cold, which same came and leaped into a warm bath that stood ready at hand. Whereby the other thirty-nine were sorrowed grievously. Nevertheless God suffered not that their prayer should return unto them void ; for the watchman thereupon stripped himself of his clothes, and with a loud voice confessed himself a Christian, and joined the Martyrs. When the pagans knew that the watchman also had become a Christian, they went with clubs and brake the legs of the forty men. * Under this torment they died, except Melito who was the youngest. Now his mother stood by, land when she saw that his legs were broken, but that he was yet alive, she cried out to him ; My son, have patience but a little longer ; behold how Christ standeth at the door to help thee. When she saw the bodies of all the others put upon carts and taken away to be buried, and that her son was left behind, because the multitude wickedly hoped that being but a lad, if he lived, he might yet be drawn to commit idolatry, the holy mother took him on her own shoulders and bravely followed behind the carts laden with the bodies of the Martyrs. In her arms Melito gave up his soul to God, and the mother who loved him so well laid his body with her own hands upon the pile, with those of the other Martyrs, that, as they had all been one in faith and strength, in death they might not be divided. Their bodies were burned, but their ashes were rescued and laid in an honorable sepulchre. These holy Martyrs are spoken of by saints Basil the Great, Gregory of Nyssa, Gaudentius of Brescia, and by many other writers, and a copy of the document or testament which the Martyrs themselves executed on the verge of martyrdom is still extant.
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.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Ash Wednesday Matins Lessons

The First Lesson

Isaiah 58:1-12

Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins. Yet they seek me daily, and delight to know my ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and forsook not the ordinance of their God: they ask of me the ordinances of justice; they take delight in approaching to God. Wherefore have we fasted, say they, and thou seest not? wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge? Behold, in the day of your fast ye find pleasure, and exact all your labours. Behold, ye fast for strife and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness: ye shall not fast as ye do this day, to make your voice to be heard on high. Is it such a fast that I have chosen? a day for a man to afflict his soul? is it to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the Lord? Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh? Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy rereward. Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am. If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity; And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noon day: And the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not. And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in.


The Second Lesson

Hebrews 12:1-14

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin. And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed. Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:


The Collect

Ash Wednesday

ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, who hatest nothing that thou hast made, and dost forgive the sins of all those who are penitent; Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of thee, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Saints Perpetua and Felicity, Martyrs.

Saints Perpetua and Felicity, Martyrs.

Perpetua and Felicity, along with that other great Martyr, Anastasia, are the holy Matrons who have mention in the Gregorian Canon. The Acts of Saint Perpetua and her Companions are one of the greatest treasures of ecclesiastical history, and in the fourth century were read in the African Church like as if they were Holy Scripture itself. They were written by one of the blessed Companions of Perpetua, perhaps by the Martyr Satyr, and after their deaths were completed by another hand, and are therefore accepted as genuine.

ACCORDING to these Acts, Perpetua and Felicity, in the persecution of the Emperor Severus in Africa, were seized along with Revocatus, Saturninus and Secundulus, and thrown into a very dark prison. Afterwards Satyr joined himself to them voluntarily. There in prison they were baptized, for hitherto they were but catechumens. Then were they condemned to the beasts. Whereupon one of the guards asked Felicity, who was in the labour of childbirth : What wilt thou do when thou art thrown to the beasts if thou groanest thus now? To whom she answered : I alone suffer now ; but when I come to die, there is One who will comfort me, seeing that he is always with me, and that it is for him that I shall then be suffering.

Thereafter they were led into the amphitheatre, with all the people looking on. And first they were lashed with scourges. Then Perpetua and Felicity were tossed about by a very fierce heifer, which had been maddened for the purpose. Afterwards they were beaten by cudgels, and struck down to the earth. At last, with their Companions who had been harassed by divers beasts, they consummated martyrdom on March 7th, about the year 203.

O God, who among the manifold works of thine almighty power hast bestowed even upon the weakness of women strength to win the victory of martyrdom : grant, we beseech thee, that we, who on this day recall the heavenly birth of blessed Perpetua and Felicity, thy Martyrs, may so follow in their footsteps, that we may likewise attain unto thee, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Saint Chad, Bishop & Confessor

March 2 Saint Chad, Bishop and Confessor
Chad was one of four holy brothers, all of whom became priests, whereof two were advanced to the episcopate, namely, holy Chad himself and his elder brother Saint Cedd. Chad was at first Abbot of the monastery called Lastingham, in the Wolds of Yorkshire, and a man holy and lowly, well read in the Scriptures, and a diligent practiser of what he learnt therefrom. Wherefore Wini, Bishop of the West Saxons, at the desire of King Oswy, ordained him Bishop of York. Being so consecrated, he set himself to look to the orthodoxy and clean-living of the fledgy, to seek after lowliness, self-control, and learning ; and to make a visitation of the towns, country, cottages, hamlets, and castles, that he might preach the Gospel therein ; going always not on horseback, but on foot, after the fashion of the Apostles. * Theodore, Archbishop of Canterbury, took Bishop Chad to task as though he had not been rightly consecrated. To whom he answered : If thou knowest that I have not rightly been made a bishop, I willingly lay down mine office ; neither did I ever deem myself fit to hold it ; but when I was commanded, I took it, for obedience’ sake. Theodore marveled at his lowliness, and made him Bishop of the Mercians and of Lindisfarne in the which office he strove to do his duty in great perfection of life, after the ensample of our ancient Fathers. * When the hour of his death drew near, he exhorted the brethren who stood by to keep love and peace with each other and with all the faithful of the monastic life. His sickness increasing, he made him ready to depart by receiving the Body and Blood of the Lord ; and on the seventh day his soul was set free from the toilsome prison of his body, and went away to be in gladness for ever. He died at his own See City of Lichfield, on March 2nd, 672.
Almighty and everlasting God, who on this day dost gladden us with the feast of blessed Chad thy confessor and Bishop ; we humbly beseech thy mercy, that we which here do honour him wi9th our devout observance, may by his intercession obtain thy healing unto life eternal, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Saint David of Wales, Bishop & Confessor

March 1, Saint David of Wales, Bishop and Confessor
Holy David, Patron of Wales, is one of the most celebrated of the British Saints. He lived in the latter part of the sixth century, and is said to have been the son of a Welsh chieftain. He was ordained priest, and studied for while, perhaps on the Isle of Wight, under the direction of a disciple of that Saint Germanus who later became Bishop of the Isle of Man. Thereafter David was a most active missionary, and taught the Faith and built churches in very many places. Finally he settled in the southwest corner of Wales, at Menevia, and founded a monastery, wherein he and his monks lived a life of extreme austerity, in imitation of the cenobites of the Thebaid. And because they never drank anything stronger than water, Saint David got the nick-name Waterman. * There is an old story that he made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and that he was there consecrated Archbishop of Wales by the Patriarch of Jerusalem. However it may have happened, it is certain that he was made Bishop of Menevia, which same was afterwards called Saint David’s in his honour, and was the chief See of Wales. His death is supposed to have occurred about the year 601. Giraldus saith that he was a great ornament and example to his age, and that he continued his rule as bishop until he was a very old man, when he went to God.

Grant, we beseech thee, Almighty God: that the devout prayers of blessed David, thy Confessor and Bishop, may in such wise succour and defend us, that we which on this day observe his festival, may follow his constancy in the defence of thy true religion, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.