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Saturday, April 30, 2011

Matins Lessons for Saturday in the Octave of Easter

Matins Lessons for Saturday in the Octave of Easter

The Holy Gospel according to John Ch. 20

The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre.
Then she runneth, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, They have taken away the LORD out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him.
Peter therefore went forth, and that other disciple, and came to the sepulchre.
So they ran both together: and the other disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulchre.
And he stooping down, and looking in, saw the linen clothes lying; yet went he not in.
Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie,
And the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself.
Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulchre, and he saw, and believed.
For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead.
Then the disciples went away again unto their own home.
But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre,
And seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.
And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my LORD, and I know not where they have laid him.
And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus.
Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.
Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master.
Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.
Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the LORD, and that he had spoken these things unto her.
A Homily by Saint Gregory the Great, Pope

Mary Magdalene ran, and told the disciples [of the empty tomb,] but they who loved him most, namely, Peter and John, did outrun the others. So they ran, both together, but John did outrun Peter, yet went he not in. Then cometh Peter, following him, and went in. What signifieth John, but the synagogue? Or Peter, but the Church? And ye need not think it strange to take the elder Apostle as representing the Church, and the younger as the Synagogue. For if the Synagogue were the first to worship God, yet the herd of the Gentiles of this world is older than the Synagogue, as saith Paul : That was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural. By Peter, then, what was the elder, we may understand the Church of the Gentiles ; and by John, who was the younger, the Synagogue of the Jews. And they ran both together : for from the time of the Church’s birth until now, (and so will it be until the end,) the Church of the Gentiles hath run in a parallel road, and in many wise a common road, with the Synagogue, albeit not with equal understanding. The Synagogue came first to the sepulchre, but she hath not yet entered in ; for, even though she hath received the commandments of the Law, and hath heard the Prophets tell of the incarnation and passion of the Lord, she will not believe in him who died for her. \
According to the Evangelist Mark, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had brought sweet spices, that they might anoint the body of Jesus. These women then, when they came with sweet spices, beheld Angels. Because, to wit, all such souls as do go after the Lord with the perfume of good works, and in the sweet savour of holiness, are fit to behold the citizens of heaven above.
And the Angel was seen sitting on the right hand. By the left hand is always signified something lesser, and by the right hand something greater. May we not therefore interpret the left hand as an indication of this present life, and the right hand of life everlasting? Whence, in the Song of Songs, is written : His left hand is under my head, and his right hand doth embrace me. [ That is, His left hand is under my head, to uphold me in this life by his grace, and his right hand doth embrace me unto life eternal with the consolations of his love.]

Grant, we beseech thee, Almighty God, that we who have devoutly kept this Paschal Festival may thereby be found worthy to attain to everlasting felicity, through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Mass Propers for 1st Sun after Easter

Commonly Called Low Sunday

Greater Double.

INTROIT Quasi modo. 1 St. Peter 2
AS newborn babes, alleluia: desire the sincere milk of the word, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia. Ps. 81 Sing we merrily unto God our strength: make a cheerful noise unto the God of Jacob. V. Glory be.

ALMIGHTY FATHER, who hast given thine only Son to die for our sins, and to rise again for our justification: grant us so to put away the leaven of malice and wickedness, that we may always serve thee in pureness of living and truth; through the merits of the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

EPISTLE. 1 Saint John 5:4-124 Whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.
5 Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?
6 This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth.
7 For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.
8 And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.
9 If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son.
10 He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son.
11 And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.
12 He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.

Alleluia, alleluia. V. St. Mt. 28 In the day of my Resurrection, saith the Lord, I will go before you into Galilee. Alleluia. V. St. John 20. After eight days, the door being shut, Jesus stood in the midst of his disciples and said: Peace be unto you. Alleluia.

GOSPEL. Saint John 20:19-23
19 Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.
20 And when he had so said, he showed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord.
21 Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.
22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:
23 Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.

OFFERTORY. St. Matthew 28. The Angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and said unto the women: He whom ye seek is risen, as he said. Alleluia.

WE beseech thee, O Lord, mercifully to accept the prayers and oblations ACCEPT, O Lord, we pray thee, the gifts which in her gladness the Church doth offer unto thee: that they on whom thou hast bestowed the cause of so great a gladness may thereby be profited unto everlasting felicity. [Through.]

COMMUNION. St. John 20. Reach hither thy hand, and behold the print of the nails, alleluia: and be not faithless but believing, alleluia, alleluia.

GRANT, we beseech thee, O Lord our God: that these holy mysteries which thou hast given unto us for the assurance of our salvation, may both in this life and that which is to come be profitable unto us for the healing of our souls. [Through.]
Matins Lessons for Friday in Easter Week

The Lesson from the Holy Gospel according to Matthew

Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them.
And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted.
And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

A Homily by St. Jerome the Priest

After his resurrection Jesus was seen on a mountain in Galilee, and there he was worshipped. And, albeit some doubted, their doubts have led to a further establishing of our faith. The he shewed himself more openly unto Thomas, and pointed out the wound-print of the spear in his side, and the prints of the nails in his hands. And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying: All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Yea, all power is given unto him who but a little while before had been crucified, and buried in the grave, and had lain among the dead, but who also had risen again. Power is given unto him in heaven and in earth, that he who of everlasting had been King of Heaven, might have a monarchy on earth also, through the faith of them which believe in him.

Go ye therefore, saith he, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. First, they were to teach all nations ; then they were to wash with water such as had been taught. For it cannot be that the body should receive the Sacrament of Baptism, if the mind have not first received the truth of the Faith. And they were to be baptized : In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost : for, even as the Godhead of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is all One, so is the one grace of Baptism the gift of all three divine Persons; and the Name of the Trinity is the Name of the one God, not three.

The Evangelist continueth, : Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. The order of the Lord's commands to the Apostles is important. First, to teach all nations ; secondly, to make them partake in the Sacrament of the Faith ; thirdly, when they had believed and been baptized, to teach them what to observe. And lest we should think that he commanded things light and few, he hath said : All things whatsoever I commanded you : so that all who have believed, and have therefore been baptized in the Name of the Trinity, are bound to observe all things whatsoever he hath commanded. And lo, saith he, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. He who promiseth that he will be with his disciples, even unto the end of the world, doth give them thereby to know that they will live forever, and that he will never fail any which believe in him.

Almighty and everlasting God, who hast bestowed on us this Paschal Sacrament, for a pledge of our Redemption : grant, we beseech thee, that those things which we observe in our outward profession we may effectually imitate within our souls, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Thursday in the Octave of Easter

Thursday in the Octave of Easter

A Homily by Saint Gregory the Great

Mary Magdalene, [if we may be permitted to identify her as] the woman of the city who was a sinner, through love of the truth, washed away by her tears the befoulment of her sin ; and thereby the word of the Truth was fulfilled which he spake : Her sins, which are many, are forgiven : for she loved much. She that had remained cold while she sinned, became burning when she loved. And so Mary Magdalene, after that she had been to the sepulchre, and had not found there the body of the Lord, (wherefrom she was led to believe that it had been taken away,) went out and told His disciples ; and they came and saw, and thought it was even as she had said. So it is written : Then the disciples went away again unto their own home. But of her it is said : Mary stood without, at the sepulchre, weeping.

In connection with this matter, we ought to ponder on this, namely, the great store of love which was in that woman's heart. For she, when even his disciples were gone away, could not tear herself from the grave of the Lord. She sought him whom she had not found there, and as she sought, she wept. And the fire of love in her heart yearned after him, who (as she believed) had been taken away. And so it came to pass that she, who had lingered to seek him, was tho only one who then saw him. For the backbone of a good work is endurance, and the voice of the Truth himself hath said : He that endureth to the end shall be saved.

As Mary wept there, she stooped down and looked into the sepulchre. It was but a little whole since she had seen that the sepulchre was empty, and had declared that the Lord was taken away. Why then should she stoop down and look in again? It was because she loved him so well, that one look was not enough ; the energy of her affection constrained her to search again and again. She began by searching and not finding ; but she endured in her search, and behold, it came to pass that she found. And this was done that our own longings for Christ's presence might be taught to expand ; and that we might know how, that as they expand, they will meet with him to whom they aspire.

O God, who hast united the diversity of nations in the confession of thy Name : grant that they who are born again in the waters of Baptism, may agree in stedfastness of faith and godliness of life, through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Matins Lesson for Wednesday in Easter Week

A Homily by Saint Gregory the Great, Pope

The Lesson from the Holy Gospel which hath now been read in your ears, my brethren, knocketh loudly at the door of your hearts with a certain question, the answer whereto calleth for thought. This same question concerneth Peter, who before his conversion had been a fisherman; to wit, Wherefore did he, after his conversion, again go a-fishing? For the Truth hath said ; No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God. Wherefore did Peter return to that which he had left? But if we take thought we can see the answer to this question. The trade which was harmless before his conversion, did not become harmful because he had been converted.

We know that Peter had been a fisherman, and Matthew a publican, and that Peter after his conversion went back to his fishing, but Matthew did not return to the receipt of custom. It is one thing to seek a livelihood by fishing, and another to amass money by the farming of taxes. Verily, there are many kinds of business that can hardly, or never, be practiced without committing sin ; and to such kinds of business, he which hath once been converted must not again return.

It may likewise be asked why, when the disciples were toiling in the sea, the Lord, after his resurrection, stood on the shore ; whereas, before the resurrection, he had walked on the waves before them all. A mystical reason will be perceived if we bethink ourselves of the inner nature of the case. The sea is a figure of this present world, tossed to and fro by changing fortune, and continually ebbing and flowing with divers tides of life. The fixedness of the shore is an image of the never-ending rest of the eternal home. Therefore, the disciples, (who were as yet tossed to and fro upon the waves of a dying life,) were toiling in the sea, but the Redeemer, (who had already laid aside all that is this body is subject to corruption, and had risen again from the dead,) stood safely upon the shore.
O God, who gladdenest us with the yearly Festival of the Resurrection of thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord : mercifully grant that we may so observe this temporal feast, that we may be found worthy to attain to everlasting felicity, through the same thy Son our Lord Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Jesus Christ is risen today

Jesus Christ is risen today, Alleluia!
our triumphant holy day, Alleluia!
who did once upon the cross, Alleluia!
suffer to redeem our loss. Alleluia!

Hymns of praise then let us sing, Alleluia!
unto Christ, our heavenly King, Alleluia!
who endured the cross and grave, Alleluia!
sinners to redeem and save. Alleluia!

But the pains which he endured, Alleluia!
our salvation have procured, Alleluia!
now above the sky he's King, Alleluia!
where the angels ever sing. Alleluia!

Joy to thee O Queen of Heaven, Alleluia!
He who it was thine to bear, Alleluia!
As He promised hath arisen, Alleluia!
Pray for us to God above, Alleluia!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Passion For Good Friday

The Gospel. St. John xix. 1.

PILATE therefore took Jesus, and scourged him. And the soldiers platted a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and they put on him a purple robe, and said, Hail, King of the Jews! and they smote him with their hands. Pilate therefore went forth again, and saith unto them, Behold, I bring him forth to you, that ye may know that I find no fault in him. Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man! When the chief priests therefore and officers saw him, they cried out, saying, Crucify him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Take ye him, and crucify him: for I find no fault in him. The Jews answered him, We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God. When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he was the more afraid; and went again into the judgment hall, and saith unto Jesus, Whence art thou? But Jesus gave him no answer. Then saith Pilate unto him, Speakest thou not unto me? knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee? Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin. And from thenceforth Pilate sought to release him: but the Jews cried out, saying, If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar's friend: whosoever maketh himself a king, speaketh against Caesar. When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus forth, and sat down in the judgment-seat in a place that is called the Pavement, but in the Hebrew, Gabbatha. And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King ! But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar. Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified. And they took Jesus, and led him away. And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha: where they crucified him, and two other with him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst. And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was, JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS. This title then read many of the Jews: for the place where Jesus was crucified was nigh to the city; and it was written in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin. Then said the chief priests of the Jews to Pilate, Write not, The King of the Jews; but that he said, I am King of the Jews. Pilate answered, What I have written I have written. Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took his garments, and made four parts, to every soldier a part; and also his coat: now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout. They said therefore among themselves, Let us not rend it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be: that the scripture might be fulfilled, which saith, They parted my raiment among them, and for my vesture they did cast lots. These things therefore the soldiers did. Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son ! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home. After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst. Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a spunge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth. When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost. The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. Then came the soldiers, and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs: but one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water. And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe. For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken. And again another scripture saith, They shall look on him whom they pierced

The Collects.

ALMIGHTY God, we beseech thee graciously to behold this thy family, for which our Lord Jesus Christ was contented to be betrayed, and given up into the hands of wicked men, and to suffer death upon the cross; who now liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost ever, one God, world without end. Amen.

ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, by whose Spirit the whole body of the Church is governed and sanctified; Receive our supplications and prayers, which we offer before thee for all estates of men in thy holy Church, that every member of the same, in his vocation and ministry, may truly and godly serve thee; through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

MERCIFUL God, who hast made all men, and hatest nothing that thou hast made, nor desirest the death of a sinner, but rather that he should be converted and live; Have mercy upon all who know thee not as thou art revealed in the Gospel of thy Son. Take from them all ignorance, hardness of heart, and contempt of thy Word; and so fetch them home, blessed Lord, to thy fold, that they may be made one flock under one shepherd, Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Lessons for Maundy Thursday

The Epistle. 1 Corinthians xi. 23.

I HAVE received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come.

The Gospel. St. John xiii. 1.

NOW before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end. And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him; Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God; he riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded. Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet? Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter. Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me. Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head. Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all. For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean. So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you? Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.

The Collect.

ALMIGHTY Father, whose dear Son, on the night before he suffered, did institute the Sacrament of his Body and Blood; Mercifully grant that we may thankfully receive the same in remembrance of him, who in these holy mysteries giveth us a pledge of life eternal; the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who now liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit ever, one God, world without end. Amen.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Saint Alphege, Bishop & Martyr

Saint Alphege, Bishop & Martyr

Alphege, born of noble blood, sought in youth for training in nobler things at the monastery of Deerhurst in Gloucestershire ; after which he became a hermit at Bath ; where disciples came to him, with whom he founded the monastery in that place. But when Bishop Saint Ethelwold of Winchester died, Saint Dunstan of Canterbury, being warned of God by a vision of the blessed Apostle Andrew, obliged Alphege to leave his monastery and accept the bishoprick of Winchester ; where he soon distinguished himself as a good shepherd to his flock, and wondrous for kindness to all the poor and lowly. After the death of Aelfric, Archbishop of Canterbury, Alphege was, at the desire of all, set in his place, whereafter he strove with much might to preserve Christian godliness and church-discipline.In particular he held a national council at Oenham, in which thirty-two canons were passed for the reformation of abuses and the establishment of godly living, one of which was for the enforcement of the ancient Friday fast. At that time the English were in sore straits from the invasions of the Danes ; and the holy Archbishop, in the wideness of his love, strove both to assuage the sorrows of his flock, and to convert these enemies themselves to the Faith of Christ. Frequently the Danish army beleaguered Canterbury, threatening death to its citizens. Wherefore Alphege advised all who could to escape from the city, but he himself would not desert his flock in the hour of danger. And when the city was taken, and set on fire, the Archbishop stood in the way of the advancing blood-thirsty hordes, and adjured the raging savages to stay the slaughter of the innocent.Whereupon they seized him and beat him, and made him watch the desecration and burning of his cathedral church, and the murder of many of his monks and other friends. After which they shut him up for seven months in a foul prison, and demanded a huge ransom, which he declared the country was too poor to pay. And even though a plague broke out among the invaders, and Alphege healed many of them, they were so incensed at his refusal to seek for a ransom from his flock, that they took him to Greenwich, and there wounded him with swords, and split open his head with an axe, namely, on April 19th, 1012. Thereafter, when his body had been recovered by the English, he was buried in Saint Paul's, London ; but in 1023 the Danish King Canute translated his relicks with great honour to Canterbury. In later times Archbishop Lanfranc raised the question as to whether or not holy Alphege died for the Faith ; to whom Saint Anselm replied that death for the sake of justice is death for Christ.
OGod, who didst adorn blessed Alphege, devoutly confessing thy most holy Name, with the dignity of priesthood and the palm of martyrdom : mercifully grant that, by his inter-cession, we may find such succour in thy sight, that we may be found worthy to rejoice with him in everlasting felicity. Through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Passion Sunday Propers

Saint Justin Martyr

St. Justin Martyr,

USTIN the Philosopher, usually surnamed Martyr, was the first to defend the Christian religion in written works of any considerable length. Wherefrom we learn that he was born in Palestine, probably about the year 100, of pagan parents, who we may suppose to have been of Greek descent. But Justin saith that he was, as it were, a Samaritan, in that he was born at Sychem (which same is now called Nablus). His parents used their wealth to give him a good education, and he so loved truth that he studied all the known philosophies of the whole world. But each and everyone of them left him unsatisfied. Then one day he saw a venerable old man that seemed to be following him. With whom he held converse, and was told of a philosophy nobler and more satisfying than any he knew. It concerned a revelation from God to Hebrew Prophets, and was consummated in the coming of the very Truth of God in one named Jesus.
Henceforth he kept the Scriptures in his hands day and night. And therefrom he acquired an excellent knowledge of Christ Jesus ; and when he was about thirty, he became a Christian. Thereafter he devoted his great learning to the composition of books, and to private and public disputations, in the defence and explication of our holy religion. Of his many treatises, three only have come down to us entire, to wit, the two Apologies and the Dialogue with Tryphon. The first Apology is addressed to the Emperor, his two sons, the Senate, and the Roman people. It is a vindication of the moral and spiritual character of Christianity, which same the Roman courts held to be criminal practice, worthy of death. Towards the end of this treatise are described the ceremonies of Baptism and the Sunday Eucharist of those days, wherein we have a most precious record of an ancient form of the Church's liturgy. The second Apology is something of an appendix to the first. And the Dialogue with Tryphon is a vindication of Christianity against the attacks of Judaism.
In the garb of a philosopher, Justin travelled much, holding disputations with pagans, hereticks, and Jews. Finally he came to Rome, where he debated publicly with the cynic Crescens, whom he convicted of ignorance and wilful misrepresentations. But on a later visit to Rome, he was apprehended, probably through the enmity of the Cynics, and sentence by the Prefect Rusticus to be scourged and beheaded. The Acts of his trial and martyrdom are authentic, and shew how boldly he witnessed to Christ in the face of death. With him were martyred six other Christians, five men and one woman. The date of their heavenly birthday is not recorded, but it was somewhere around the year 165. However the Feast of Saint Justin is kept on the day following the commemoration in the Martyrology of the Martyr Carpus, whose name in the Chronicle of Eusebius immediately precedeth Justin Martyr. The purpose of whose life is summed up in his own words : It is our duty to make known our doctrine, lest we incur the guilt and punishment of those who sin through ignorance.

O God, who by the foolishness of the Cross didst wondrously teach thy blessed Martyr Saint Justin and excellent knowledge of Christ Jesus : grant that by his intercession, we being delivered from the deceitfulness of all false doctrine, may be firmly grounded in thy true Religion. Through the same Christ our Lord, who livest and reignest with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

Monday, April 11, 2011

St. Leo, Pope and Confessor, April 11

St. Leo, Pope and Confessor, April 11
Of the early life of Pope Leo I, and of his education, almost nothing is known, save that he was not taught the Greek tongue. He was consecrated Bishop of Rome in 440. And his wisdom of administration, as well as his wondrous defence of the Faith, and his singular success in saving Rome from utter destruction, (first when invaded by the Vandals,) raised the dignity of the Holy See to new heights in the eyes of all the world. Thus was gained for him the title of The Great, which name is shared by only two other Popes, to wit, Saints Gregory I and Nicholas I. Attila, King of the Huns, surnamed the Scourge of God, raged through Italy, pillaging, burning, and destroying, and came towards Rome, as far as the River Po. There he was met by Leo, whose fearless and eloquent intervention on behalf of the City, caused Attlia to turn aside and go back whither he had come. Later Genseric, King of the Vandals, invaded Rome, and Leo was able to induce him to be content with the pillage of the City, and to retire without further destruction thereof. * However, Leo was not only the defender of Rome against Attila and Genseric, who by their armies would have destroyed the City ; but of the whole Church against Nestorius and Eutyches, who by their heresies would have destroyed the Faith. Nestorius denied that the Child born of Mary was God. Against which heresy, the true Faith asserteth that the Person of God the Son, in his divine nature, took human nature from Mary, so that she was thus truly the Mother of God. Eutyches, in his zeal for Christ’s Godhead, denied that he hath two natures, to wit, the divine and human. And in 447 his followers assembled at Ephesus in the Robber Council ( as it was later called) and upheld his false teaching. At the same time they suppressed a long, dogmatic letter which Leo had written in definition of the true Faith. In 449 the General Council of Chalcedon was assembled, wherein was read the Dogmatic Letter of Leo. At this Council of Ephesus this Tome of Leo was adopted as the final definition of the Church regarding the two natures of her Lord. * In those days the office of preaching was allowed only to bishops. So he set about to instruct the church in Rome, which he purposed to make a pattern for all other churches. By sermons given at home, and letters sent abroad, many of which have been preserved, he took oversight of all God’s flock willingly. He restrained the heretical Manichaeans who had fled from the Vandals in Africa and settled in Rome. He refuted by letters sent to Spain the heresy of Priscillianism, which was making headway there. As Patriarch of the West, he acted promptly and firmly to secure justice and good order throughout the Western Church. He decreed that only men of mature years and disciplined mind and life should be ordained to the priesthood. He added to the Canon of the Mass the words : These holy and unspotted sacrifices : thus describing the oblations of bread and wine, for the Manichaeans taught that all natural things are evil. After many noteworthy acts, and after having written many things that are both holy and clear to the understanding, he fell asleep in God, in the twenty-second year of his pontificate, to wit, in 461, on November 10th. But his feast is kept on the day of the translation of his relicks, which are now enshrined in the Vatican Basilica.
O God, who by the words and acts of thy holy Doctor and Bishop Saint Leo, didst withstand the enemies of thy sacred humanity and of thy Church : grant we beseech thee, that we, being guided by the light of his teaching, may be enabled to walk in his path of virtue, through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who livest and reignest, with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God for ever and ever. Amen.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Sacred Head Surrounded

Passion Sunday

From a Sermon by St. Leo the Pope

Amongst all the solemn feasts which are kept by Christians, we are well aware, dearly beloved, that the paschal mystery holdeth first place. The observances of all the year are ordered to the end of preparing us to celebrate duly and worthily this one mystery. But the days which have now come upon us make an especial claim on our devotion, seeing they are those which be in immediate preparation for that most glorious mystery of the divine mercy. The holy Apostles themselves ( taught doubtless by the Holy Ghost) ordered a strict fast to be kept on these days, that by sharing together Christ's Cross with him, we too may in some measure partake in what he did for our sake, as the Apostle saith: We are the children of God, if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. He that is partaker of the sufferings of the Lord hath a sure and certain hope of that blessedness which he hath promised unto us.

To no one, no matter what be the circumstances of his life, dearly beloved, is denied a shared in this glory of partaking in Christ's sufferings, as if times of calm were without their occasions of exercising strength. The Apostle giveth us this warning : All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. Therefore, so long as godliness is not lacking, neither is persecution lacking. The Lord himself saith in one of his own exhortations : He that taketh not his cross, and followeth not after me, is not worthy of me. And we must not doubt that these words of Christ apply not only to his immediate disciples, to whom he spake them, but belong to all the faithful and to the whole Church. For the Church in the person of believers which were present and heard these words, believed and heard on behalf of all them who would afterwards accept the way of salvation in the Church.

As, then, it is the duty of the whole body of the Church to live godly, so also it is the duty of all times to be a-bearing of the Master's Cross, and that not only in the mystical body in general, but individually in the person of each member thereof, who each and every on supporteth the weight of the Cross in his own way and measure. The one common name for all their carrying of the Cross is persecution, but the manner of suffering is special to each. Now there is often more danger from the open enemy. Blessed Job, who was well tried in this world by alternate changes of good and evil, said devoutly and truly : Is there not an appointed time to man upon earth? That is, Is not man's life appointed as a time of trial? The attack upon the faithful soul cometh not alone in bodily pains and suffering. For if the health of the bodily members be sound, often the soul is grievously sick of longing for fleshly indulgence. But since the flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh, the rational mind must be disciplined by the carrying of the Cross on such wise that, albeit the soul is enticed by evil desires, the will refuseth to give consent, by reason of the piercing of the nails of continence and the fear of God.

Antiphon on the Benedictus:
Jesus said unto the multitude of the Jews, and to the chief priests: * He that is of God heareth God's words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.

We beseech thee, Almighty God, mercifully to look upon thy people, that by thy great goodness they may be governed and preserved evermore, both in body and soul, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Saint Isidore of Seville, Bishop and confessor

Saint Isidore of Seville, Bishop and confessor

Isidore, the most learned man of his time and the surpassing Doctor of Spain, was born in the sixth century, perhaps at Carthage, where his father was governour of the province. His sister Flourentina, who was foundress and abbess of several convents, and two of his brothers, to wit, the ecclesiastical writer Fulgentius, Bishop of Ruspe, and Leander, Bishop of Seville, who Isidore succeeded in that See, are also venerated as Saints. From his two holy brothers, he received a solid training in learning and godliness. And it is said that Leander shewed his love by being a stern taskmaster, and that the lad Isidore ran away to escape from the lessons which were so hard to remember. And that when he stopped to rest at a spring, he asked a woman what it was that made the hollows in the hard rock where the waters fell. Who told him that the constant dripping of the waters made these marks, just as the constant repetition of his lessons would make their marks on his soul. Whereat the lad returned to his brother, content to become a scholar.

It was Isidore who fostered in Spain the growth of Christian culture amidst the barbarism of Europe which had resulted from the conquests of the Visigoths. He presided at the fourth Council of Toledo in 633, the most celebrated in Spain, where he succeeded in enacting a decree that a cathedral school should be established in every diocese, to teach every known branch of knowledge ; that is, the liberal arts with law and medicine, as well as Greek and Hebrew. In these Spanish schools Aristotle was studied long before the Arabs had brought him to the attention of the rest of Europe. Isidore himself wrote many useful books, full of learning ; such as a dictionary of synonyms, a treatise on physical geography and astronomy, a history of the world, a biography of great men, extensive biblical and ecclesiastical studies, and a history of the Goths, Vandals, and Suevi. He also compiled an encyclopaedia of universal knowledge, in twenty volumes, which for centuries was everywhere used as a textbook ; for which reason he was known as the Schoolmaster of the Middle Ages. To his is also ascribed the completion of the Missal and Breviary of the Mozarabic Rite for the use of the Goths, which Leander had begun to arrange from the earlier Spanish liturgy. And he greatly assisted the monastic Orders by the regulations which he gave them.

He finished the work of converting the Visigoths from Arianism, and in 619, at the second Council of Seville, stamped out the strange heresy of the Acephali which was just then arising. He was a great example in the episcopate of all good works, and zealously laboured for the restoration of ecclesiastical discipline. To this end, he continued to organize the Spanish Church along the lines Leander had begun, into a system of representative government through synods, which was the precursor of the parliamentary secular governments of a later day. After governing his See for about forty years, he passed to heaven at Seville, in the year 636, and was buried in his cathedral church, between Saints Leander and Florentina. Many years later, when the Moors had overrun that region, his relicks were ransomed at a great price, and enshrined at Leon, where they are still venerated.
O God, by whose providence blessed Isidore was sent to guide thy people in the way of everlasting salvation : grant we beseech thee that as we have learned of him the doctrine of life on earth, so we may be found worthy to have him for our advocate in heaven. Through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who livest and reignest with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.