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Friday, February 17, 2012

Saint Finan, Bishop and Confessor, Feb 17

Saint Finan, Bishop and Confessor

Finan was an Irish monk from Iona, who succeeded Saint Aidan as Bishop of Lindisfarne. It should be remembered that news of Christ was brought to England from two quarters. Kent and all the south received the Gospel from Rome through the mission of Saint Augustine ; whereas the whole of the northeast, that is Northumbria, in which was included Durham and Yorkshire, was taught through the mission of Saint Columba, which was first established on the holy island of Iona, and afterwards spread to the Island of Lindisfarne. Finan for ten years governed his great Diocese with vigor and holiness. He baptized King Peada of the Middle English, and King Sigbert of the East Angles, and sent missionaries into their territories. And in 661 he went to God, t receive the reward for his diligent teaching of the word of God.

Chapter at Lauds:
Ecclus. 44:16  Behold a great priest who in his days pleased the Lord, and was found righteous; * and in the time of wrath he was taken in exchange for the world.


We beseech thee, O Lord, graciously to hear the prayers which we offer unto thee on this feast of blessed Finan, thy Confessor and Bishop, that, like as he was found worthy to do thee faithful service, so by the succour of his merits, we may be delivered from the chastisement which we have deserved, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Ss. Faustinus and Jovita, martyrs, Feb. 15

Saint Faustinus & Saint Jovita

Ss. Faustinus and Jovita, martyrs, Feb. 15

Faustinus and Jovita were brothers, nobly born, and were zealous professors of the Christian religion, which they preached without fear in their city of Brescia in Lombardy, during the persecution of Adrian. Their remarkable zeal excited the fury of the heathens against them, and procured them a glorious death for their faith.

Faustinus, a priest, and Jovita, a deacon, were preaching the Gospel fearlessly in the region when Julian, a pagan officer, apprehended them. They were commanded to adore the sun, but replied that they adored the living God who created the sun to give light to the world. The statue before which they were standing was brilliant and surrounded with golden rays. Saint Jovita, looking at it, cried out: “Yes, we adore the God reigning in heaven, who created the sun. And you, vain statue, turn black, to the shame of those who adore you!” At his word, it turned black. The Emperor commanded that it be cleaned, but the pagan priests had hardly begun to touch it when it fell into ashes.

The two brothers were sent to the amphitheater to be devoured by lions, but four of those came out and lay down at their feet. They were left without food in a dark jail cell, but Angels brought them strength and joy for new combats. The flames of a huge fire respected them, and a large number of spectators were converted at the sight. Finally sentenced to decapitation, they knelt down and received the death blow. The city of Brescia honors them as its chief patrons and possesses their relics, and a very ancient church in that city bears their names.


O God, which makest us glad with the yearly festival of blessed Faustinus and Jovita, thy holy martyrs, grant, we beseech thee, that as we do rejoice in their merits, so we may be enkindled to follow them in all virtuous and godly living, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Saint Valentine, priest and martyr, Feb. 14

Saint Valentine, priest and martyr, Feb. 14

From the Book on Ecclesiastical Writers by St. Jerome the Priest

ON this day is commemorated blessed Valentine, a priest of Rome who was martyred for Christ, probably in the persecution of Claudius the Goth, about the year 259. He was buried on the Flaminian Way ; and about 350 a church was built over his tomb, and later a catacomb was constructed there under, wherein were buried the remains of many Martyrs. This church, with its cemetery, was the first to greet the eyes of pilgrims coming to Rome to visit the sepulchres of the ancient heroes of the Faith, and therefore his cultus grew, and spread through the world. But in the early years of the ninth century, his body was transferred to the basilica of St. Praxedes lest, being outside of the walls of the city, it should be desecrated by the Saracens. The popular story is that holy Valentine was cajoled with promises in order to wean him from Christ ; and that when these failed he was beaten with clubs, and finally beheaded. In England, from the time of Chaucer onwards, there was a belief that on his feast-day the birds began to choose their mates. From which arose the custom of arranging betrothals in Saint Valentine's Tide ; and in honour of the fidelity of the servant of God, those who were betrothed called each other Valentine, as a pledge of their mutual fidelity, in token that those who wed are united together in Christ, of whose unbreakable union with humanity in his Church, the Sacrament of Marriage is ever an outward and visible sign.

St. Valentine

Grant, we beseech thee, Almighty God : that we who observe the heavenly birthday of blessed Valentine thy Martyr, may by his intercession be delivered from all evils that beset us. Through 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, February 9, 2012

Saint Cyril of Alexandria, Bishop, Confessor & Doctor

St. Hilary of Poitiers

Saint Cyril of Alexandria, Bishop, Confessor & Doctor

A homily by Saint Hilary the Bishop

There is, to my thinking, no such thing as salt of the earth. How then can the Apostles be called the salt of the earth? We must seek out the true meaning of these words, and the same will be made plain when we consider the office of the Apostles, and the nature of salt itself. Now salt is a compound of elements, for it joineth in itself a certain weakness like unto water, and a certain power like unto fire, so that it hath a double nature.

Salt is therefore able to serve the use of men in divers ways, for wherever it is added, it both preserveth from corruption and giveth savour. And to the Apostle was given a similar two-fold power. For the words which they scattered upon the world, as preachers of the kingdom of heaven, do act as a preservative unto immorality ; that is, as preachers they do confer a savour of sweetness, even unto life everlasting, upon those who receive their teaching.

Then the nature of salt is to be ever the same, and unchanging. Man, on the other hand, hath this weakness, to be changeable. He alone is called blessed who hath persevered unto the end and in all the works of God. Therefore doth the Lord warn them whom he calleth the salt of the earth, that they are to remain strong in that strength which he hath given unto them, lest, becoming themselves savourless, they have no power to season anything. Once having lost the freshness of their saltness, they are unable to stop the corruption round about them ; and so the Church must needs cast them out of her buttery. Thus both they and those whom they should have salted, will be altogether trodden under foot of such as enter in.

Hagiography of Cyril

Cyril of Alexandria hath been styled the Doctor of the Incarnation. For he was concerned with the Nestorian heresy from its inception, and denounced the same to Saint Pope Celestine I, and at the Council of Ephesus in 431, at which the heresy was solemnly condemned , he presided as the representative of the Roman See. And the rest of his life was given over the defence of the truth that in Christ Jesus there is one divine Person. * Cyril was born of distinguished parents, and was the nephew of Theophilus, Patriarch of Alexandria, whom he succeeded in that office. He was a man of learning, and of much vigor and determination, and he turned all his powers to the extirpation of heresy and unbelief. His sternness in these matters made him many enemies, even amongst those of orthodox practice, but chiefly he was assailed by the followers of Nestorius, who at one time secured a sentence of excommunication against him as a troublemaker, to which many even of the orthodox bishops assented, which same was later declared null and void. * He wrote much regarding the Faith, and was emphatic in his teaching concerning the Eucharist, whereof he said : We receive it, not as common flesh (which God forbid), nor as the flesh of a man sanctified and associated with the Word, but as indeed the lifegiving and very Flesh of the Word himself. But chiefly he is remembered for his teaching that Mary is the Mother of God, which title the Council of Ephesus acceded to her. At length he died a holy death, in June of the year 444, and the 32nd of his episcopate, but in the west his feast is kept in February.


O God, who didst strengthen thy blessed confessor and Bishop Saint Cyril, invincibly to maintain the divine motherhood of the blessed Virgin Mary : vouchsafe that at his intercession we, believing her to be indeed the Mother of God ; may as her children rejoice in her protection, through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Saint Romuald, Abbot, February 7

Saint Romuald, Abbot, February 7

A homily by St. Jerome the Priest

Peter doth speak with a mighty self-confidence! He was but a fisherman ; he was not rich ; he earned his bread only as a skilled labourer ; yet was he bold enough to say : We have forsaken all. And because to forsake things, and to do nothing more, is not enough, he addeth that which maketh all forsaking to be perfect : And we have followed thee. We have done what thou commandest ; how wilt thou reward us? And Jesus said unto them : Verily I say unto you, that ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. Jesus saith not : Ye which have forsaken all,(for even Crates the Philosopher did this, and many others also have despised riches,) but : Ye which have followed me : which words apply only to the Apostles and the rest of the faithful.

In the regeneration (saith the Lord) when the Son of Man shall sit on the throne of his glory, and when from corruption the dead shall be raised in incorruption, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones of judgement, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And why? Because ye believed in me, whereas they would not. And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my Name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life. This passage is in agreement with that other where the Saviour saith : I came not to send peace, but a sword ; for I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law ; and a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. Everyone, therefore, that for Christ’s Faith’s sake, and the preaching of the Gospel, hath set no sore by natural affection, and the riches and pleasures of this world, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.

By reason of these words : And hundredfold : some will have it that there shall be a thousand years after the resurrection, wherein they that have forsaken all things shall receive an hundredfold of those things that they have forsaken, and shall inherit everlasting life. But it should be noted that even if this could be said of most things, of wives it could not be said. For it is unseemly to say that he that hath forsaken one wife in this world , shall receive an hundred wives in that which is to come. Rather, the meaning is this, that every one who for the Saviour’s sake hath forsaken earthly things, shall receive spiritual things. Which things, being rightly weighed against earthly things, are as though an hundredfold were weighed against one.

Hagiography of St. Romuald.

Romuald was born of the family of Onesti, Dukes of Ravenna, and though he grew up a worldly youth and the slave of his passions, he occasionally experienced aspirations toward a holy life. Now it happened that his father killed a kinsman in a duel fought because of a dispute about property rights. And Romuald, who had been ordered by his father to be present at the duel under pain of disinheritance, was thereupon so horrified that he felt obliged to do penance for his father and himself, to which end he withdrew for forty days of retreat to a neighboring Benedictine Monastery. During this time he became more and more penetrated with the love of God, partly because of the lay-brother who waited on him, which same proved to be such a humble man of God as to give Romuald to think. He therefore asked permission to be clothed in the habit of blessed Benedict, which was granted, and in due time he was professed. * He was ever inclined to harshness in dealing with sins of himself and others, but it is said that the joy which beamed from his face drew all men to him. With the Abbot’s consent, he betook himself to a holy hermit, Marinus by name ; and thither also came Peter Orseoli, a famous admiral and former Doge of Venice, who also became a monk ; and they with some others founded a new religious family of hermit-monks. Romuald’s dedication of himself made a lasting impression on many nobles ; and even on his own father, who likewise became a monk. And it was an edifying sight to see noblemen and princes, who had been remarkable for their luxurious way of life, now living a life of penance, and earning their bread in the sweat of their brow at the monasteries which Romuald reformed or founded. * The best known of his foundations was that of the Camaldolese, which began the revival of the eremitical life at Camaldoli, near Arezzo, in 1oo9. A near kinsman of the Emperor Otto (which prince had himself been turned from a course of sin by Romuald) became a monk here under the direction of holy Romuald, and afterwards was sent as a missionary to Prussia, and was martyred there after he became Bishop, namely, the holy Boniface of whom mention is made in the Martyrology on June 19th. After having served God in a life of great penance, whereby he turned many other men to God, not so much by what he preached as what he himself did, he passed to heaven on June 19th, in 1027. But his feast kept on the day his holy body was translated to its present shrine at Fabiano.


Grant, we beseech thee, O Lord, that the prayers of thy holy Abbot, blessed Romuald 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, February 5, 2012

February 5th, Saint Agatha, Virgin and Martyr

February 5th, Saint Agatha, Virgin and Martyr

Agatha was early recognized by the Church as one of the most illustrious of virgin Martyrs. Therefore, along with Lucy, Agnes, and Cecilia, her name is mentioned in the Gregorian Canon. She was martyred in about 251, in Sicily and soon filled Christendom with her praises. According to her Acts, (which were compiled long after her death), the Praetor of Sicily, Quintianus, conceived a passion for Agatha, who was of noble birth and of great beauty. And when he could not make her consent to his wicked desires, he had her arrested as a Christian, and turned her over to an evil woman, named Aphrodisia, to be corrupted. Of such methods for breaking down Christian hardihood, Tertullian wrote to the pagans : Ye, by condemning the Christian maid to the lewd youth, rather than to the brute lion, do acknowledge that we more dread a stain to purity than any torment or death ; but your cruel cunning availed only to gain men over to our holy religion.

But the companionship of Aphrodisia in the brothel made Agatha only the more determined to live faithful to Christ. Whereat the Praetor ordered her brought before him, that he might try to turn her from Christian living, which he declared to be fit only for slaves. Then the Praetor gave her the choice of sacrificing to the gods or undergoing torture. And when beatings, the rack, and branding with white-hot metal failed to shake her constancy to Christ, he ordered her breasts cut off. Whereat Agatha cried, and said that he who had suckled at a mother’s breasts should feel shame to order such cruel indignity done to a woman. But that night, after she had been returned in irons and pain to prison, the Apostle Peter appeared to her, and healed her wounds.

The following day she was subjected to new tortures. But an earthquake, from Mount Aetna, shook the town and terrified the people. Whereupon the Praetor, fearing a riot, ordered Agatha to be returned quietly to prison. And there, in the town of Catania, she died at peace, in prayer, on February 5th, and her body was taken and buried by the Christians. She is invoked against earthquake and fire and molten lava, and is accounted patroness of bell-founders.


O God, who among the manifold works of thine almighty power hast bestowed even upon the weakness of women the strength to win the victory of martyrdom : grant, we beseech thee ; that we, who on this day recall the heavenly birth of Saint Agatha thy Virgin and Martyr, may so follow in her footsteps, that we may likewise attain unto thee, 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, February 2, 2012

Candlemas : Feb. 2, The Presentation of Christ in the Temple, or The Purification of the BVM

Feb. 2, The Presentation of Christ in the Temple, or The Purification of the BVM

Also known as Candlemas

From a Sermon by St. Augustine the Bishop

Concerning that time it was written : And of Sion it shall be reported that he was born in her, and the Most High shall establish her. O how blessed is the omnipotence of him that was born! Yea, how blessed is the glory of him that came from heaven to earth! Whist he was yet in his Mother’s womb, he was saluted by John the Baptist. And when he was presented in the temple, he was recognized by the old man Simeon, a worthy who was full of years, proved and crowned. The ancient one, as soon as he knew him, worshipped and said : Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation.

He had lingered in the world to see the birth of him who made the world. The old man knew the Child, and in that Child became a child himself, for in the love wherewith he regarded the Father of all, he felt his own years to be but as yesterday. The ancient Simeon bare in his arms the new-born Christ, and all the while, Christ ruled and upheld the old man. Simeon had been told by the Lord the he should not taste death before he had seen the birth of the Lord’s Christ. Now that Christ was born, all the old man’s wishes on earth were fulfilled. He that was come into a decrepit world now also came to an old man.

Simeon wished not to remain long in the world, but with great desire he had desired to see Christ in the world, for he had sung with the Prophet : Shew us thy mercy, O Lord, and grant us thy salvation. And now at last, that ye might know how that, to his joy, his prayer was granted, he said : Now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation. The Prophets have sung that the Maker of heaven and earth world converse on earth with men. An Angel hath declared that the Creator of flesh and spirit would come in the flesh. The unborn John, yet in the womb, hath saluted the unborn Saviour yet in the womb. The Old man Simeon hath seen God as a little Child.

Antiphon on the Benedictus:

And when his parents brought in the Child Jesus, then Simeon took him up in his arms, and blest God, saying, * Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace.


Almighty and everliving God, we humbly beseech thy Majesty, that, as thy only-begotten Son was this day presented in the temple in substance of our flesh; so we may be presented unto thee with pure and clean hearts, by the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Antiphon on the Magnificat:

Today the blessed Virgin Mary presented the Child Jesus in the temple, * and Simeon, filled with the Holy Spirit, received him into his arms, and began to bless God, whom he blesseth unto all eternity.