St Raymund Nonnatus (EF), Aug 31


St Raymond being nourished by angels
Eugenio Caxes

From the martyrology:

"At Cardona, in Spain, St. Raymond Nonnatus, Cardinal and confessor, of the Order of Mercedarians, renowned for holiness of life and miracles."

The wikipedia notes that:

"According to Mercedarian tradition, he was born at Portell (today part of Sant Ramon), in the Diocese of Urgell, and became a member of the Mercedarian Order, founded to ransom Christian captives from the Moors of North Africa. He was ordained a priest in 1222 and later became master-general of the order. He traveled to North Africa and is said to have surrendered himself as a hostage when his money ran out.

He suffered in captivity. A legend states that the Moors bored a hole through his lips with a hot iron, and padlocked his mouth to prevent him from preaching. He was ransomed by his order and in 1239 returned to Spain. He died at Cardona, sixty miles from Barcelona, either on August 26 or on August 31, 1240. Many miracles were attributed to him before and after his death."

August 30: SS Felix and Audauctus, Memorial


Saints Felix and Adauctus (d. 303 AD) were Christian martyrs who are believed to have lived during the reigns of Diocletian and Maximian.  Felix, a Roman priest, and brother of another priest, also named Felix, being ordered to offer sacrifice to the gods. But at the prayer of the saint the idols fell shattered to the ground. He was then led to execution. On the way an unknown person joined him, professed himself a Christian, and also received the crown of martyrdom. The Christians gave him the name Adauctus (the Latin word for "added"). They were both beheaded.

Beheading of St John the Baptist (Aug 29)



In one of those cutesy euphemisms, this feast has been renamed the 'Passion of John the Baptist' in the Ordinary Form.

The martyrology describes it thus:
"The beheading of St. John the Baptist, who was put to death by Herod about the feast of Easter. However, the solemn commemoration takes place today, when his venerable head was found for the second time. It was afterwards solemnly carried to Rome, where it is kept in the church of St. Silvester, near Campo Marzio, and honored by the people with the greatest devotion."
This saint has a particular significance for Benedictines, as when he moved to Monte Cassino, St Benedict built a chapel in honour of St John the Baptist where previously had stood an altar to Apollo.

In many respects St John represents the two sides of the Benedictine charism - in his ascetic life in the desert, he points to the contemplative dimension; in his work preparing the way for Our Lord by calling the people to repentance, the active dimension.

August 29: The beheading of St. John the Baptist



Today is one of the feast days of one of the most important saints in the calendar, St John the Baptist.

In one of those cutesy euphemisms, this feast has been renamed the 'Passion of John the Baptist' in the Ordinary Form.

The martyrology, however, describes it thus:
"The beheading of St. John the Baptist, who was put to death by Herod about the feast of Easter. However, the solemn commemoration takes place today, when his venerable head was found for the second time. It was afterwards solemnly carried to Rome, where it is kept in the church of St. Silvester, near Campo Marzio, and honored by the people with the greatest devotion." 
This saint has a particular significance for Benedictines, as when he moved to Monte Cassino, St Benedict built a chapel in honour of St John the Baptist where previously had stood an altar to Apollo.

In many respects St John represents the two sides of the Benedictine charism - in his ascetic life in the desert, he points to the contemplative dimension; in his work preparing the way for Our Lord by calling the people to repentance, the active dimension.

The Vespers hymn for the feast is Deus tuorum militum sors.


Ordo for the fifteenth Week after Pentecost



Sunday 28 August –  Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Class II; Commemoration of St Hermes

Matins: Fourth Sunday of August

Lauds: Psalm schema 1 (50, 117, 62); hymn Ecce iam lucis; canticle antiphon and collect, MD 474-5*; for the commemoration, MD [251]

Vespers: Canticle antiphon and collect, MD 474-5*

Monday 29 August - Beheading of St John the Baptist, Class III

Matins: One reading of the feast

Lauds: Festal psalms with antiphons and proper texts for the feast, MD [252] ff

Prime: Antiphon 1 of Lauds

Terce to None: Antiphon, chapter, versicle and collect of the feast, MD [254] ff

Vespers:  Antiphons of Lauds; psalms from Common of Martyr, MD (36); chapter etc, MD [255] ff

Tuesday 30 August - Class IV; SS Felix and Adauctus, memorial [EF/***in some places, St Rose of Lima]

Collect, MD 474-5*; for the commemoration at Lauds, MD [257]

For St Rose, see MD 43**

Wednesday 31 August - Class IV [EF: St Raymond Nonnatus]

Collect, MD 474-5*

Thursday 1 September - Class IV [***In some places, St Vibiana; EF: Commemoration of St Giles]

Collect, MD 474-5*

**For St Vibiana: MD 43**

Friday 2 September - Class IV [EF: St Stephen]

Collect, MD 474-5*

Saturday 3 September - St Pius X, Class III [***In some places St Seraphia]

Lauds and Vespers: Psalms and antiphons of the day, with the rest from the Common of a Confessor Bishop, MD (64); collect, MD [258]

Terce to None: Chapter and versicle from the Common; collect, MD [258]

**For St Seraphia, MD 43**

I  Vespers of First Sunday in September, MD 452-3*/Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost, MD 475*


August 28: Feast of St Augustine, Bishop, Confessor and Doctor


St. Augustine of Hippo is not of course a Benedictine saint. Still, he was an important influence on St. Benedict and the Western monastic tradition in general.

St Augustine's monastic rules are amongst the earliest surviving monastic rules of the Western Church, and reflect the moderation that St. Benedict was to make central to his Rule. He is also a champion of the combination of learning with faith, another Benedictine quality.

There are many quotes from St. Augustine in the Rule, but one of the most interesting areas of St. Augustine's theological influence in the Rule is in the Tools of Good Works (Chapter Four). The injunction "To attribute to God, and not to self, whatever good one sees in oneself, but to recognize always that the evil is one's own doing, and to impute it to oneself," reflects St. Augustine's anti-Pelagian approach over the position being advocated at the time by the Eastern-influenced monks of Lerins, and finally resolved at the contemporary Council of Orange in 529.

St Joseph Calasanctius (EF)/St Monica (OF), Aug 27




From the martyrology:

"At Rome, the demise of St. Joseph, confessor, illustrious by the innocence of his life and miracles, who, to instruct youth in piety and letters, founded the Order of the Poor Clerks Regular of the pious Schools of the Mother of God."

In the Extraordinary Form, St Monica's feast is on May 4, however it was moved, in 1970, to the day before the feast of the son, St Augustine, she converted by her tears, prayers and admonitions.

Please pray for the people of Italy and the monks of Norcia

Many will have already heard of the devastating earthquake that hit Italy yesterday.

The death toll is now estimated at over 120 people.

The monks of Norcia were not injured in the earthquake or its many aftershocks, but it seems their monastery and the basilica they serve has suffered some serious structural damage, forcing a temporary move to Rome.

You can help with prayers and donations - for help for the monks, go here.

St Louis OF (EF)/St Joseph Calasanz (OF) - Aug 25

Louis IX with Pope Innocent IV at Cluny
From the martyrology:

"At Paris, St. Louis, confessor, King of France, illustrious by the holiness of his life and the fame of his miracles."
King St Louis IX of France (1214-1270) provides us with the model of the exemplary personal life of a ruler.  Deeply pious, he was a great patron of the arts, and built amongst other things the beautiful Sainte-Chapelle.  You can read more about him here.

Also celebrated today in some calendars is the feast of Saint Joseph Calasanctius (1557 – 1648), aka Joseph Calasanz and Josephus a Matre Dei, was the founder of the Pious Schools and the Order of the Piarists.

August 24: St Bartholomew, Apostle, Class II


From a General Audience of Pope Benedict XVI in 2006:

"In the series on the Apostles called by Jesus during his earthly life, today it is the Apostle Bartholomew who attracts our attention. In the ancient lists of the Twelve he always comes before Matthew, whereas the name of the Apostle who precedes him varies; it may be Philip (cf. Mt 10: 3; Mk 3: 18; Lk 6: 14) or Thomas (cf. Acts 1: 13).

His name is clearly a patronymic, since it is formulated with an explicit reference to his father's name. Indeed, it is probably a name with an Aramaic stamp, bar Talmay, which means precisely: "son of Talmay".

We have no special information about Bartholomew; indeed, his name always and only appears in the lists of the Twelve mentioned above and is therefore never central to any narrative.

However, it has traditionally been identified with Nathanael: a name that means "God has given".

This Nathanael came from Cana (cf. Jn 21: 2) and he may therefore have witnessed the great "sign" that Jesus worked in that place (cf. Jn 2: 1-11). It is likely that the identification of the two figures stems from the fact that Nathanael is placed in the scene of his calling, recounted in John's Gospel, next to Philip, in other words, the place that Bartholomew occupies in the lists of the Apostles mentioned in the other Gospels.

Philip told this Nathanael that he had found "him of whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph" (Jn 1: 45). As we know, Nathanael's retort was rather strongly prejudiced: "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" (Jn 1: 46). In its own way, this form of protestation is important for us. Indeed, it makes us see that according to Judaic expectations the Messiah could not come from such an obscure village as, precisely, Nazareth (see also Jn 7: 42).

But at the same time Nathanael's protest highlights God's freedom, which baffles our expectations by causing him to be found in the very place where we least expect him. Moreover, we actually know that Jesus was not exclusively "from Nazareth" but was born in Bethlehem (cf. Mt 2: 1; Lk 2: 4) and came ultimately from Heaven, from the Father who is in Heaven.

Nathanael's reaction suggests another thought to us: in our relationship with Jesus we must not be satisfied with words alone. In his answer, Philip offers Nathanael a meaningful invitation: "Come and see!" (Jn 1: 46). Our knowledge of Jesus needs above all a first-hand experience: someone else's testimony is of course important, for normally the whole of our Christian life begins with the proclamation handed down to us by one or more witnesses.

However, we ourselves must then be personally involved in a close and deep relationship with Jesus; in a similar way, when the Samaritans had heard the testimony of their fellow citizen whom Jesus had met at Jacob's well, they wanted to talk to him directly, and after this conversation they told the woman: "It is no longer because of your words that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Saviour of the world" (Jn 4: 42).

Returning to the scene of Nathanael's vocation, the Evangelist tells us that when Jesus sees Nathanael approaching, he exclaims: "Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no guile!" (Jn 1: 47). This is praise reminiscent of the text of a Psalm: "Blessed is the man... in whose spirit there is no deceit" (32[31]: 2), but provokes the curiosity of Nathanael who answers in amazement: "How do you know me?" (Jn 1: 48).

Jesus' reply cannot immediately be understood. He says: "Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you" (Jn 1: 48). We do not know what had happened under this fig tree. It is obvious that it had to do with a decisive moment in Nathanael's life.

His heart is moved by Jesus' words, he feels understood and he understands: "This man knows everything about me, he knows and is familiar with the road of life; I can truly trust this man". And so he answers with a clear and beautiful confession of faith: "Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!" (Jn 1: 49). In this confession is conveyed a first important step in the journey of attachment to Jesus.

Nathanael's words shed light on a twofold, complementary aspect of Jesus' identity: he is recognized both in his special relationship with God the Father, of whom he is the Only-begotten Son, and in his relationship with the People of Israel, of whom he is the declared King, precisely the description of the awaited Messiah. We must never lose sight of either of these two elements because if we only proclaim Jesus' heavenly dimension, we risk making him an ethereal and evanescent being; and if, on the contrary, we recognize only his concrete place in history, we end by neglecting the divine dimension that properly qualifies him.

We have no precise information about Bartholomew-Nathanael's subsequent apostolic activity. According to information handed down by Eusebius, the fourth-century historian, a certain Pantaenus is supposed to have discovered traces of Bartholomew's presence even in India (cf. Hist. eccl. V, 10, 3).

In later tradition, as from the Middle Ages, the account of his death by flaying became very popular. Only think of the famous scene of the Last Judgment in the Sistine Chapel in which Michelangelo painted St Bartholomew, who is holding his own skin in his left hand, on which the artist left his self-portrait.

St Bartholomew's relics are venerated here in Rome in the Church dedicated to him on the Tiber Island, where they are said to have been brought by the German Emperor Otto III in the year 983.

To conclude, we can say that despite the scarcity of information about him, St Bartholomew stands before us to tell us that attachment to Jesus can also be lived and witnessed to without performing sensational deeds. Jesus himself, to whom each one of us is called to dedicate his or her own life and death, is and remains extraordinary."

St Philip Benizi (EF)/St Rose of Lima (OF) - Aug 23


Claudio Cuello
St Rose of Lima (1586-1617) was the first canonised saint native to the Americas.  A Dominican tertiary, she devoted herself to prayer and mortification.  She died at the age of 31.

From the martyrology:

"At Todi, St. Philip Beniti of Florence, confessor. He contributed greatly to the growth of the Order of the Servites of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and was a man of the greatest humility. He was numbered among the saints by Clement X."

August 22: St Timothy, Memorial



Pope Benedict XVI gave a General Audience on St Timothy in 2006:

"Timothy is a Greek name which means "one who honours God". Whereas Luke mentions him six times in the Acts, Paul in his Letters refers to him at least 17 times (and his name occurs once in the Letter to the Hebrews).

One may deduce from this that Paul held him in high esteem, even if Luke did not consider it worth telling us all about him.

Indeed, the Apostle entrusted Timothy with important missions and saw him almost as an alter ego, as is evident from his great praise of him in his Letter to the Philippians. "I have no one like him (isópsychon) who will be genuinely anxious for your welfare" (2: 20).

Timothy was born at Lystra (about 200 kilometres northwest of Tarsus) of a Jewish mother and a Gentile father (cf. Acts 16: 1).

The fact that his mother had contracted a mixed-marriage and did not have her son circumcised suggests that Timothy grew up in a family that was not strictly observant, although it was said that he was acquainted with the Scriptures from childhood (cf. II Tm 3: 15). The name of his mother, Eunice, has been handed down to us, as well as that of his grandmother, Lois (cf. II Tm 1: 5).

When Paul was passing through Lystra at the beginning of his second missionary journey, he chose Timothy to be his companion because "he was well spoken of by the brethren at Lystra and Iconium" (Acts 16: 2), but he had him circumcised "because of the Jews that were in those places" (Acts 16: 3).

Together with Paul and Silas, Timothy crossed Asia Minor as far as Troy, from where he entered Macedonia. We are informed further that at Philippi, where Paul and Silas were falsely accused of disturbing public order and thrown into prison for having exposed the exploitation of a young girl who was a soothsayer by several unscrupulous individuals (cf. Acts 16: 16-40), Timothy was spared.

When Paul was then obliged to proceed to Athens, Timothy joined him in that city and from it was sent out to the young Church of Thessalonica to obtain news about her and to strengthen her in the faith (cf. I Thes 3: 1-2). He then met up with the Apostle in Corinth, bringing him good news about the Thessalonians and working with him to evangelize that city (cf. II Cor 1: 19).

We find Timothy at Ephesus during Paul's third missionary journey. It was probably from there that the Apostle wrote to Philemon and to the Philippians; he sent both Letters jointly with Timothy (cf. Phlm 1; Phil 1: 1).

From Ephesus, Paul sent Timothy to Macedonia, together with a certain Erastus (cf. Acts 19: 22), and then also to Corinth with the mission of taking a letter to the Corinthians, in which he recommended that they welcome him warmly (cf. I Cor 4: 17; 16: 10-11).

We encounter him again as the joint sender of the Second Letter to the Corinthians, and when Paul wrote the Letter to the Romans from Corinth he added Timothy's greetings as well as the greetings of the others (cf. Rom 16: 21).

From Corinth, the disciple left for Troy on the Asian coast of the Aegean See and there awaited the Apostle who was bound for Jerusalem at the end of his third missionary journey (cf. Acts 20: 4).

From that moment in Timothy's biography, the ancient sources mention nothing further to us, except for a reference in the Letter to the Hebrews which says: "You should understand that our brother Timothy has been released, with whom I shall see you if he comes soon" (13: 23).

To conclude, we can say that the figure of Timothy stands out as a very important pastor.

According to the later Storia Ecclesiastica by Eusebius, Timothy was the first Bishop of Ephesus (cf. 3, 4). Some of his relics, brought from Constantinople, were found in Italy in 1239 in the Cathedral of Termoli in the Molise."

Brush up your rubrics 1: terminology

Le Barroux


We believe that God is present everywhere and that the eyes of the Lord behold the good and the bad in every place. Let us firmly believe this, especially when we take part in the Work of God. 

Let us, therefore, always be mindful of what the Prophet saith, "Serve ye the Lord with fear". And again, "Sing ye wisely".And, "I will sing praise to Thee in the sight of the angels". Therefore, let us consider how it becometh us to behave in the sight of God and His angels, and let us so stand to sing, that our mind may be in harmony with our voice.

Rule of St Benedict, chapter 19

Over the next several weeks I plan to post a series of 'brush up your rubrics' posts, reminding you of some of the key aspects of how to say the Office correctly as I update my how to say the office reference posts.  Today, I want to start with a list of key terms.

The Monastic Diurnal uses a lot of terms you may not have encountered before, so here is a set of brief definitions for some of the key ones you are likely to encounter.  Please do feel free to propose better definitions, correct, or suggest other terms I should include.


The Divine Office 


The Divine Office, also sometimes called the Liturgy of the Hours or 'Work of God', is the official set of prayers said through the day and night.  Together with the Mass, it constitutes the official public (liturgical) prayer of the Church.

Just as there are different versions of the Mass, such as the Eastern rites, the traditional Mass (Extraordinary Form) and the modern Mass (Ordinary Form); there are different versions of the Divine Office.  The main ones are the Roman Rite (modern Liturgy of the Hours, the 1962 Roman Breviary), those of the Eastern Churches, and the forms of the Office used by the various religious orders.

The form of the Office we are looking at on this blog is the one set out by St Benedict (c485-547) in his Rule, and used in various versions by some Benedictines, Cistercians and some other religious orders such as the Carthusians.

The 'hours'


The Divine Office is made up of a number of separate sets of prayers, said at various times through the day and night, called 'hours' (because they mark the passing of the hours).  The shortest hours (Terce, Sext and None) actually only take around 5-10 minutes to say, while the longest, Matins, can last up to 2-3 hours.

In the traditional form of the Benedictine office, the names of the 'hours' are Matins (aka Night Office, Nocturns), Lauds, Prime, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers and Compline.

The part of the hours


Each of the hours is made up of a number of separate elements, including:

Hymns -  The word hymn derives from Greek hymnos, which means a song of praise.  In this context a hymn is a song that is not Scriptural.  In St Benedict's Rule he sometimes refers to hymn as 'the Ambrosian', after St Ambrose who introduced hymn singing to the Western church, and composed a number of hymns that remain in use today, such as the Te Deum.

Psalms - Songs from the book of psalms in the Bible.

Canticles (canticum) - Terms used for songs that come from books of the Bible other than the Book of Psalms.

Antiphon - Short text used with a psalm.  It is used as part of a call and response approach to reciting the psalms.

Chapter (capitulum) - Short lesson from Scripture.

Versicle (versus) - Verse and response, such as 'The Lord be with you; And also with you'.

Responsory - Verses and responses in a more elaborate structure than than the versicle.

Collect (oratio) - Prayer said as part of the closing of each hour of the Office.

The Diurnal


The name of the book most people will be using is the Monastic Diurnal.  Diurnal just means day, so the literal meaning is the Monastic Day.  In fact it means the book that contains all of the texts needed to say the day prayers of the Divine office.

Other key terms you may come across to refer to books containing the parts of the Office include:

Breviary - Office book including all of the hours, including the night hours.

Psalter (pronounced 'salter') - Book containing the psalms arranged in the order they are said in the office, usually with the key prayers for each hour included.

Antiphonale (Monasticum) - Book containing the chants used for the day hours of the Office.

Ordo


Ordo is short for 'ordo recitandi', or 'order of reciting.  It is a set of instructions arranged by calendar date that tells you what texts are used in the office on a particular day.  It usually lists the day of the week, the season (if not time throughout the year), any feasts being celebrated and their level.  It may also provide page numbers for texts that vary from the norm.

Rubrics - Rules for saying the Office.  The rubrics include what words should be said, when they should be said, and the gestures and postures to be used.  The rubrics used for this blog come from the 1962 Breviarium Monasticum.

August 21: Blessed Bernard Ptolemy OSB, Abbot, memorial



The Magnificat antiphon for I Vespers reflects the readings for the first Nocturn of Matins tomorrow, from chapter 1 of the Book of Wisdom.  Today’s Gospel is St Luke 18: 9-14, the story of the Pharisee and the publican at prayer.


It is never to late to be recognised as a saint, with Pope Benedict XVI formally canonising Bernardo Tolomei (1272-1348), abbot and founder of the Congregation of the Blessed Virgin of Monte Oliveto, in 2009. He was beatified by Urban VIII in 1634.

Pope Benedict XVI described him as an "authentic martyr of charity."

According to Zenit, the saint died while taking care of the monks who had fallen ill to the great plague of 1348: "The example of this saint is for us an invitation to translate our faith into a life dedicated to God in prayer and in total surrender to service to one's neighbor, with the instinct of charity ready to take on even the supreme sacrifice," the Holy Father said.

The Wiki has some details of the details of his life (largely from the Catholic Encylopedia):

"Giovanni Tolomei was born at Siena in Tuscany. He took the name of "Bernard" (in its Italian form Bernardo) out of admiration for the saintly Abbot of Clairvaux. He was educated by his uncle, Christopher Tolomeo, a Dominican, and desired to enter the religious life, but his father's opposition prevented him from doing so, and he continued his studies in secular surroundings.

After a course in philosophy and mathematics he devoted himself to the study of civil and canon law, and of theology. For a time Bernardo served in the armies of Rudolph I of Germany. After his return to Siena he was appointed by his fellow citizens to the highest positions in the town government. While thus occupied he was struck with blindness. Having recovered his sight, this being attributed to the intervention of the Blessed Virgin Mary, he retired (1313) to a solitary spot about ten miles from Siena, where he led a life of the greatest austerity.

The fame of his virtues soon attracted many visitors, and Bernardo was accused of heresy. He went to Avignon and cleared himself of this charge before Pope John XXII without difficulty. Upon his return he founded the congregation of the Blessed Virgin of Monte Oliveto (the Olivetans), giving it the Rule of St. Benedict. The purpose of the new religious institute was a special devotion to the Blessed Virgin.

Guido, Bishop of Arezzo, within whose diocese the congregation was formed, confirmed its constitution in (1319), and many favours were granted by Popes John XXII, Clement VI (1344), and Gregory XI. Upon the appearance of the plague in the district of Arezzo, Bernardo and his monks devoted themselves to the care of the sick. As a result of this charitable act, Bernardo and a number of his Olivetian confreres themselves succumbed to the ravages of the plague.

After having ruled the religious body he had founded for 27 years Bernardo died, at the age of 76."

Ordo for the fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Sunday 21 August – Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Class II; St Bernard Ptolemy, memorial 

Matins: Third Sunday in August

Lauds: Psalm schema 1 (50, 117, 62); hymn Ecce iam lucis; canticle antiphon and collect, MD 473-4*; for the commemoration at Lauds, MD [249]

Vespers: Canticle antiphon and collect, MD 473-4*

Monday 22 August - Class IV; St Timothy, memorial [EF: Immaculate Heart of the BVM]

Collect, MD 473-4*; for the commemoration at Lauds, MD [250]

Tuesday 23 August - Class IV [EF: St Philip Benizi]

Collect, MD 473-4*

Wednesday 24 August – St Bartholomew, Class II

Matins: Nocturn II & III readings of the feast, rest from the Common of Apostles

Lauds to Vespers: All as in the Common of Apostles, MD (9) ff except for the collect, MD [250]

Thursday 25 August  - Class IV [in some places/EF: St Louis]

Collect, MD 473-4*

*For St Louis, MD 42**

Friday 26 August - Class IV [EF: Commemoration of St Zephyrinus]

Collect, MD 473-4*

Saturday 27 August - Saturday of Our Lady [EF: St Joseph Calasanctius]

Matins to None: At Matins, reading of Saturday 4&5; Lauds to None, MD (129) ff

I Vespers of Fourth Sunday in August, MD 452* ; Fifteenth Sunday, MD 474-5*

August 20: Feast of St Bernard of Clarivaux "OSB", Class III

Although the Benedictine calendar claims St Bernard (1090-1153) as a saint "of our [Benedictine] order", that is only true in the very broadest sense, since St. Bernard was actually a Cistercian, technically a separate religious order that made a great point of differentiating its approach from that of the "black monks".

Pope Benedict XVI gave a General Audience on the saint in 2009:

"Today I would like to talk about St Bernard of Clairvaux, called "the last of the Fathers" of the Church because once again in the 12th century he renewed and brought to the fore the important theology of the Fathers. We do not know in any detail about the years of his childhood; however, we know that he was born in 1090 in Fontaines, France, into a large and fairly well-to-do family. As a very young man he devoted himself to the study of the so-called liberal arts especially grammar, rhetoric and dialectics at the school of the canons of the Church of Saint-Vorles at Châtillon-sur-Seine; and the decision to enter religious life slowly matured within him. At the age of about 20, he entered Cîteaux, a new monastic foundation that was more flexible in comparison with the ancient and venerable monasteries of the period while at the same time stricter in the practice of the evangelical counsels. A few years later, in 1115, Bernard was sent by Stephen Harding, the third Abbot of Cîteaux, to found the monastery of Clairvaux. Here the young Abbot he was only 25 years old was able to define his conception of monastic life and set about putting it into practice. In looking at the discipline of other monasteries, Bernard firmly recalled the need for a sober and measured life, at table as in clothing and monastic buildings, and recommended the support and care of the poor. In the meantime the community of Clairvaux became ever more numerous and its foundations multiplied.

In those same years before 1130 Bernard started a prolific correspondence with many people of both important and modest social status. To the many Epistolae of this period must be added numerous Sermones, as well as Sententiae and Tractatus. Bernard's great friendship with William, Abbot of Saint-Thierry, and with William of Champeaux, among the most important figures of the 12th century, also date to this period. As from 1130, Bernard began to concern himself with many serious matters of the Holy See and of the Church. For this reason he was obliged to leave his monastery ever more frequently and he sometimes also travelled outside France. He founded several women's monasteries and was the protagonist of a lively correspondence with Peter the Venerable, Abbot of Cluny, of whom I spoke last Wednesday. In his polemical writings he targeted in particular Abelard, a great thinker who had conceived of a new approach to theology, introducing above all the dialectic and philosophical method in the constructi0n of theological thought. On another front Bernard combated the heresy of the Cathars, who despised matter and the human body and consequently despised the Creator. On the other hand, he felt it was his duty to defend the Jews, and condemned the ever more widespread outbursts of anti-Semitism. With regard to this aspect of his apostolic action, several decades later Rabbi Ephraim of Bonn addressed a vibrant tribute to Bernard. In the same period the holy Abbot wrote his most famous works such as the celebrated Sermons on the Song of Songs [In Canticum Sermones]. In the last years of his life he died in 1153 Bernard was obliged to curtail his journeys but did not entirely stop travelling. He made the most of this time to review definitively the whole collection of his Letters, Sermons and Treatises. Worthy of mention is a quite unusual book that he completed in this same period, in 1145, when Bernardo Pignatelli, a pupil of his, was elected Pope with the name of Eugene III. On this occasion, Bernard as his spiritual father, dedicated to his spiritual son the text De Consideratione [Five Books on Consideration] which contains teachings on how to be a good Pope. In this book, which is still appropriate reading for the Popes of all times, Bernard did not only suggest how to be a good Pope, but also expressed a profound vision of the Mystery of the Church and of the Mystery of Christ which is ultimately resolved in contemplation of the mystery of the Triune God. "The search for this God who is not yet sufficiently sought must be continued", the holy Abbot wrote, "yet it may be easier to search for him and find him in prayer rather than in discussion. So let us end the book here, but not the search" (XIV, 32: PL 182, 808) and in journeying on towards God.

I would now like to reflect on only two of the main aspects of Bernard's rich doctrine: they concern Jesus Christ and Mary Most Holy, his Mother. His concern for the Christian's intimate and vital participation in God's love in Jesus Christ brings no new guidelines to the scientific status of theology. However, in a more decisive manner than ever, the Abbot of Clairvaux embodies the theologian, the contemplative and the mystic. Jesus alone Bernard insists in the face of the complex dialectical reasoning of his time Jesus alone is "honey in the mouth, song to the ear, jubilation in the heart (mel in ore, in aure melos, in corde iubilum)". The title Doctor Mellifluus, attributed to Bernard by tradition, stems precisely from this; indeed, his praise of Jesus Christ "flowed like honey". In the extenuating battles between Nominalists and Realists two philosophical currents of the time the Abbot of Clairvaux never tired of repeating that only one name counts, that of Jesus of Nazareth. "All food of the soul is dry", he professed, "unless it is moistened with this oil; insipid, unless it is seasoned with this salt. What you write has no savour for me unless I have read Jesus in it" (In Canticum Sermones XV, 6: PL 183, 847). For Bernard, in fact, true knowledge of God consisted in a personal, profound experience of Jesus Christ and of his love. And, dear brothers and sisters, this is true for every Christian: faith is first and foremost a personal, intimate encounter with Jesus, it is having an experience of his closeness, his friendship and his love. It is in this way that we learn to know him ever better, to love him and to follow him more and more. May this happen to each one of us!

In another famous Sermon on the Sunday in the Octave of the Assumption the Holy Abbot described with passionate words Mary's intimate participation in the redeeming sacrifice of her Son. "O Blessed Mother", he exclaimed, "a sword has truly pierced your soul!... So deeply has the violence of pain pierced your soul, that we may rightly call you more than a martyr for in you participation in the passion of the Son by far surpasses in intensity the physical sufferings of martyrdom" (14: PL 183, 437-438). Bernard had no doubts: "per Mariam ad Iesum", through Mary we are led to Jesus. He testifies clearly to Mary's subordination to Jesus, in accordance with the foundation of traditional Mariology. Yet the text of the Sermone also documents the Virgin's privileged place in the economy of salvation, subsequent to the Mother's most particular participation (compassio) in the sacrifice of the Son. It is not for nothing that a century and a half after Bernard's death, Dante Alighieri, in the last canticle of the Divine Comedy, was to put on the lips of the Doctor Mellifluus the sublime prayer to Mary: "Virgin Mother, daughter of your own Son, / humble and exalted more than any creature, / fixed term of the eternal counsel" (Paradise XXXIII, vv. 1 ff.).

These reflections, characteristic of a person in love with Jesus and Mary as was Bernard, are still a salutary stimulus not only to theologians but to all believers. Some claim to have solved the fundamental questions on God, on man and on the world with the power of reason alone. St Bernard, on the other hand, solidly founded on the Bible and on the Fathers of the Church, reminds us that without a profound faith in God, nourished by prayer and contemplation, by an intimate relationship with the Lord, our reflections on the divine mysteries risk becoming an empty intellectual exercise and losing their credibility. Theology refers us back to the "knowledge of the Saints", to their intuition of the mysteries of the living God and to their wisdom, a gift of the Holy Spirit, which become a reference point for theological thought. Together with Bernard of Clairvaux, we too must recognize that man seeks God better and finds him more easily "in prayer than in discussion". In the end, the truest figure of a theologian and of every evangelizer remains the Apostle John who laid his head on the Teacher's breast.

I would like to conclude these reflections on St Bernard with the invocations to Mary that we read in one of his beautiful homilies. "In danger, in distress, in uncertainty", he says, "think of Mary, call upon Mary. She never leaves your lips, she never departs from your heart; and so that you may obtain the help of her prayers, never forget the example of her life. If you follow her, you cannot falter; if you pray to her, you cannot despair; if you think of her, you cannot err. If she sustains you, you will not stumble; if she protects you, you have nothing to fear; if she guides you, you will never flag; if she is favourable to you, you will attain your goal..." (Hom. II super Missus est, 17: PL 183, 70-71). "

August 18: St Agapitus, memorial


Saint Agapitus was a member of the noble Anicia family of Palestrina At the age of fifteen, in 274, he was beheaded on orders of the prefect Antiochus and the emperor Aurelian because he was a Christian. The date of his death is sometimes given as August 18, 274. 

St Stephen of Hungary (OF)/St Joachim (EF), Aug 16



In the ordinary form, today is the feast of St Stephen of Hungary (c967-1038), of whom the martyrology (of 15 August) says:

"At Albareale in Hungary, St. Stephen, king of the Hungary, Confessor, who was the first to convert the Hungarians to the faith of Christ.  He was received into heaven by the Virgin Mother of God on the very day of her Assumption..."

In the Extraordinary Form, today is the feast of St. Joachim, father of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary (in the Benedictine calendar his feast was celebrated together with St Anne's a week or so back).

Ordo for the Thirteenth week after Pentecost

Sunday 14 August – Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Class II

Matins: Second Sunday in August

Lauds: Psalm schema 1 (50, 117, 62); hymn Ecce iam lucis; canticle antiphon and collect, MD 472-3*
Prime to None: All as for Sunday in the psalter, with collect, MD 473*

I Vespers of the Assumption, MD [230] ff with a commemoration of the Sunday, MD 473*

(Note that there is a choice of Office: the ‘new’ Office composed after the formal declaration of the dogma, MD [230] ff, or the older version, MD [238] ff)

Monday 15 August - Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Class I

Lauds: MD [233] ff or MD [241] ff – Festal psalms with texts of the feast

Prime to None: Antiphons and chapters of the feast

Vespers: All as for I Vespers except for Magnificat antiphon

Tuesday 16 August - Class IV [EF: St Joachim]

All as in the psalter; collect, MD 473*

Wednesday 17 August - Class IV [EF: ST Hyacinth]

All as in the psalter; collect, MD 473*

Thursday 18 August - Class IV; St Agapitus, memorial

All as in the psalter; collect, MD 473*; for the commemoration, MD [245]

Friday 19 August - Class IV [EF: St John Eudes]

All as in the psalter; collect, MD 473*

Saturday 20 August - St Bernard, Class III

Matins: One reading, of the feast

Lauds and Vespers: Antiphons and psalms of the day, rest from the Common of a Confessor, MD (78), collect, MD  [245]

Prime to None: Antiphons etc from the Common; collect of the feast, MD [245]

I Vespers of third Sunday of August, MD 451*; fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost, MD 473-4* 

August 13 – SS Pontianus, Pope and Hippolytus, Martyrs, Memorial

St Petersburg, The Hermitage, 1383-4
St Pontianus (or Pontian) was pope from 21 July 230 to 29 September 235; St Hippolytus, his schismatic rival, is the only anti-pope to be celebrated in the calendar as a saint.

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, the "Liber Pontificalis" gives Rome as St Pontian's native city and calls his father Calpurnius. With him begins the brief chronicle of the Roman bishops of the third century, of which the author of the Liberian Catalogue of the popes made use in the fourth century and which gives more exact data for the lives of the popes. According to this account St Pontian was made pope 21 July, 230, and reigned until 235.

The schism of Hippolytus continued during his episcopate; towards the end of his pontificate there was a reconciliation between the schismatic party and its leader with the Roman bishop.  In 235 in the reign of Maximinus the Thracian began a persecution directed chiefly against the heads of the Church. One of its first victims was Pontian, who with Hippolytus was banished to the unhealthy island of Sardinia. To make the election of a new pope possible, Pontian resigned 28 Sept., 235, the Liberian Catalogue says "discinctus est".

Shortly before this or soon afterwards Hippolytus, who had been banished with St Pontian, became reconciled to the Roman Church, and with this the schism he had caused came to an end. How much longer Pontian endured the sufferings of exile and harsh treatment in the Sardinian mines is unknown. According to old and no longer existing Acts of martyrs, used by the author of the "Liber Pontificalis", he died in consequence of the privations and inhuman treatment he had to bear.

Pope Fabian (236-50) had the remains of SS Pontian and Hippolytus brought to Rome at a later date and St Pontian was buried on 13 August in the papal crypt of the Catacomb of Callistus. In 1909 the original epitaph was found in the crypt of St. Cecilia, near the papal crypt. The epitaph, agreeing with the other known epitaphs of the papal crypt, reads: PONTIANOS, EPISK. MARTUR (Pontianus, Bishop, Martyr).


These days St Hippolytus is most often associated with the Eucharistic Prayer II, which is allegedly based on the form of the liturgy preserved under his name. The fact that he was a schismatic for most of his life aside, anyone who has actually translated the text concerned will quickly realise that the connection is tenuous indeed. And modern scholarship (alas too late to stop the Bugninisation of the liturgy) has now largely rejected the argument that the relevant prayers actually represented the liturgy of early Christian Rome.

August 12: St Clare, Virgin, Memorial

1280s altarpiece
Today is the feast day of the great disciple of St Francis, and foundress of the Poor Clares, St Clare of Assisi (1194-1253).

Pope Benedict XVI gave a General Audience on the saint in 2010:

"One of the best loved Saints is without a doubt St Clare of Assisi who lived in the 13th century and was a contemporary of St Francis. Her testimony shows us how indebted the Church is to courageous women, full of faith like her, who can give a crucial impetus to the Church's renewal.

So who was Clare of Assisi? To answer this question we possess reliable sources: not only the ancient biographies, such as that of Tommaso da Celano, but also the Proceedings of the cause of her canonization that the Pope promoted only a few month after Clare's death and that contain the depositions of those who had lived a long time with her.

Born in 1193, Clare belonged to a wealthy, aristocratic family. She renounced her noble status and wealth to live in humility and poverty, adopting the lifestyle that Francis of Assisi recommended. Although her parents were planning a marriage for her with some important figure, as was then the custom, Clare, with a daring act inspired by her deep desire to follow Christ and her admiration for Francis, at the age of 18 left her family home and, in the company of a friend, Bona di Guelfuccio, made her way in secret to the Friars Minor at the little Church of the Portiuncula. It was the evening of Palm Sunday in 1211. In the general commotion, a highly symbolic act took place: while his companions lit torches, Francis cut off Clare's hair and she put on a rough penitential habit. From that moment she had become the virgin bride of Christ, humble and poor, and she consecrated herself totally to him. Like Clare and her companions, down through history innumerable women have been fascinated by love for Christ which, with the beauty of his Divine Person, fills their hearts. And the entire Church, through the mystical nuptial vocation of consecrated virgins, appears what she will be for ever: the pure and beautiful Bride of Christ.

In one of the four letters that Clare sent to St Agnes of Prague the daughter of the King of Bohemia, who wished to follow in Christ's footsteps, she speaks of Christ, her beloved Spouse, with nuptial words that may be surprising but are nevertheless moving: "When you have loved [him] you shall be chaste; when you have touched [him] you shall become purer; when you have accepted [him] you shall be a virgin. Whose power is stronger, whose generosity is more elevated, whose appearance more beautiful, whose love more tender, whose courtesy more gracious. In whose embrace you are already caught up; who has adorned your breast with precious stones... and placed on your head a golden crown as a sign [to all] of your holiness" (First Letter to Blessed Agnes of Prague: FF, 2862).

Especially at the beginning of her religious experience, Francis of Assisi was not only a teacher to Clare whose teachings she was to follow but also a brotherly friend. The friendship between these two Saints is a very beautiful and important aspect. Indeed, when two pure souls on fire with the same love for God meet, they find in their friendship with each other a powerful incentive to advance on the path of perfection. Friendship is one of the noblest and loftiest human sentiments which divine Grace purifies and transfigures. Like St Francis and St Clare, other Saints too experienced profound friendship on the journey towards Christian perfection. Examples are St Francis de Sales and St Jane Frances de Chantal. And St Francis de Sales himself wrote: "It is a blessed thing to love on earth as we hope to love in Heaven, and to begin that friendship here which is to endure for ever there. I am not now speaking of simple charity, a love due to all mankind, but of that spiritual friendship which binds souls together, leading them to share devotions and spiritual interests, so as to have but one mind between them" (The Introduction to a Devout Life, III, 19).

After spending a period of several months at other monastic communities, resisting the pressure of her relatives who did not at first approve of her decision, Clare settled with her first companions at the Church of San Damiano where the Friars Minor had organized a small convent for them. She lived in this Monastery for more than 40 years, until her death in 1253. A first-hand description has come down to us of how these women lived in those years at the beginning of the Franciscan movement. It is the admiring account of Jacques de Vitry, a Flemish Bishop who came to Italy on a visit. He declared that he had encountered a large number of men and women of every social class who, having "left all things for Christ, fled the world. They called themselves Friars Minor and Sisters Minor [Lesser] and are held in high esteem by the Lord Pope and the Cardinals.... The women live together in various homes not far from the city. They receive nothing but live on the work of their own hands. And they are deeply troubled and pained at being honoured more than they would like to be by both clerics and lay people" (Letter of October 1216: FF, 2205, 2207).

Jacques de Vitry had perceptively noticed a characteristic trait of Franciscan spirituality about which Clare was deeply sensitive: the radicalism of poverty associated with total trust in Divine Providence. For this reason, she acted with great determination, obtaining from Pope Gregory IX or, probably, already from Pope Innocent III, the so-called Privilegium Paupertatis (cf. FF., 3279). On the basis of this privilege Clare and her companions at San Damiano could not possess any material property. This was a truly extraordinary exception in comparison with the canon law then in force but the ecclesiastical authorities of that time permitted it, appreciating the fruits of evangelical holiness that they recognized in the way of life of Clare and her sisters. This shows that even in the centuries of the Middle Ages the role of women was not secondary but on the contrary considerable. In this regard, it is useful to remember that Clare was the first woman in the Church's history who composed a written Rule, submitted for the Pope's approval, to ensure the preservation of Francis of Assisi's charism in all the communities of women large numbers of which were already springing up in her time that wished to draw inspiration from the example of Francis and Clare.

In the Convent of San Damiano, Clare practised heroically the virtues that should distinguish every Christian: humility, a spirit of piety and penitence and charity. Although she was the superior, she wanted to serve the sick sisters herself and joyfully subjected herself to the most menial tasks. In fact, charity overcomes all resistance and whoever loves, joyfully performs every sacrifice. Her faith in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist was so great that twice a miracle happened. Simply by showing to them the Most Blessed Sacrament distanced the Saracen mercenaries, who were on the point of attacking the convent of San Damiano and pillaging the city of Assisi.

Such episodes, like other miracles whose memory lives on, prompted Pope Alexander IV to canonize her in 1255, only two years after her death, outlining her eulogy in the Bull on the Canonization of St Clare. In it we read: "How powerful was the illumination of this light and how strong the brightness of this source of light. Truly this light was kept hidden in the cloistered life; and outside them shone with gleaming rays; Clare in fact lay hidden, but her life was revealed to all. Clare was silent, but her fame was shouted out" (FF, 3284). And this is exactly how it was, dear friends: those who change the world for the better are holy, they transform it permanently, instilling in it the energies that only love inspired by the Gospel can elicit. The Saints are humanity's great benefactors!

St Clare's spirituality, the synthesis of the holiness she proposed is summed up in the fourth letter she wrote to St Agnes of Prague. St Clare used an image very widespread in the Middle Ages that dates back to Patristic times: the mirror. And she invited her friend in Prague to reflect herself in that mirror of the perfection of every virtue which is the Lord himself. She wrote: "Happy, indeed, is the one permitted to share in this sacred banquet so as to be joined with all the feelings of her heart (to Christ) whose beauty all the blessed hosts of the Heavens unceasingly admire, whose affection moves, whose contemplation invigorates, whose generosity fills, whose sweetness replenishes, whose remembrance pleasantly brings light, whose fragrance will revive the dead, and whose glorious vision will bless all the citizens of the heavenly Jerusalem, because the vision of him is the splendour of everlasting glory, the radiance of everlasting light, and a mirror without tarnish. Look into this mirror every day, O Queen, spouse of Jesus Christ, and continually examine your face in it, so that in this way you may adorn yourself completely, inwardly and outwardly.... In this mirror shine blessed poverty, holy humility, and charity beyond words..." (Fourth Letter to Blessed Agnes of Prague, FF, 2901-2903).

Grateful to God who give us Saints who speak to our hearts and offer us an example of Christian life to imitate, I would like to end with the same words of Blessing that St Clare composed for her Sisters and which the Poor Clares, who play a precious role in the Church with their prayer and with their work, still preserve today with great devotion. These are words in which the full tenderness of her spiritual motherhood emerges: "I give you my blessing now while living, and after my death, in as far as I may: nay, even more than I may, I call down on you all the blessings that the Father of mercies has bestowed and continues to bestow on his spiritual sons and daughters both in Heaven and on earth, and with which a spiritual father and mother have blessed and will bless their spiritual sons and daughters. Amen" (FF, 2856)."

August 11 – St. Tiburtius, Martyr, Memorial

SS Peter and Paul, with St Tibertius among the four martyrs below,
Catacomb of SS Marcellinus and Peter, Via Labicana

Chromatius, prefect of Rome, condemned several Christians to death. In the process, however, he was converted by St. Tranquillinus. Tiburtius his son was also baptized through the persuasion of St Sebastian. 

Tiburtius hid in his father's house during the persecution of Diocletian. Betrayed by an apostate, he was brought before the prefect Fabianus and tried. He confessed his faith which he confirmed by a miracle, for protecting himself only by the sign of the cross he walked over red-hot coals barefoot without suffering any injury. But the miracle was ascribed to magic and Tiburtius was beheaded at the third mile-stone of the Via Labicana in the year 286. The spot of execution was called "at the two laurel trees" (ad duas lauros).

August 10 – St. Lawrence, Martyr, Class II

Fra Angelico, 1447-1450
St Lawrence before Valerian
St Lawrence, whose vigil we celebrated yesterday, is remembered for his guardianship of the treasures of Rome, including, famously the Grail, which he had sent off to his family in Spain, and then to a monastery, for safekeeping.

After the death of Pope St Sixtus, the prefect of Rome demanded that Lawrence turn over the riches of the Church. St Laurence asked for three days to gather together the wealth. Lawrence worked swiftly to distribute as much Church property to the poor as possible, so as to prevent its being seized by the prefect. On the third day, at the head of a small delegation, he presented himself to the prefect, and when ordered to give up the treasures of the Church, he presented the poor, the crippled, the blind and the suffering, and said that these were the true treasures of the Church. One account records him declaring to the prefect, "The Church is truly rich, far richer than your emperor." This act of defiance led directly to his martyrdom.

Tradition holds that Laurence was burned or "grilled" to death, hence his association with the gridiron. Tradition also holds that Lawrence joked about their cooking him enough to eat while he was burning on the gridiron, stating something along the lines of, "turn me over ... I'm done on this side".

August 9 : Vigil of St Lawrence, martyr, Class III


St Lawrence of Rome (c. 225 – 258) was one of the seven deacons of ancient Rome who were martyred during the persecution of Valerian in 258. He is famous for his cry during his torture, "This side’s done, turn me over and have a bite."

Vigil of St Lawrence/St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, OF (Aug 9)




Today is the feast of St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein) Carmelite, martyred by the Nazis.

Also today, the vigil of St. Lawrence, martyr.

St Mary of the Cross (Class I in Australia, August 8)



Mary Helen MacKillop RSJ (15 January 1842 – 8 August 1909), or St Mary of the Cross, was an Australian nun who founded the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart (the Josephites), a congregation of religious sisters that established a number of schools and welfare institutions throughout Australasia, with an emphasis on education for the rural poor.

Her Order was initially established on the feast day of the Presentation of Mary in 1866, and by 1871, 130 sisters were working in more than 40 schools and charitable institutions across South Australia and Queensland.

Her path was not easy: she encountered considerable opposition from bishops and priests, and  at one point was excommunicated unjustly.

She was canonised in 2010.

St Cyriacus (August 8)



From the martyrology:
"The holy martyrs Cyriacus, deacon, Largus, and Smaragdus, with twenty others who suffered on the 16th of March, during the persecution of Diocletian and Maximian. Their bodies were buried on the Salarian Way by the priest John, but were on this day translated by Pope St. Marcellus to the estate of Lucina, on the Ostian Way. Afterwards they were brought to the city and placed in the church of St. Mary in Via Lata."
St Cyriacus was a Roman nobleman who converted to Christianity as an adult and, renouncing his material wealth, gave it away to the poor. He spent the rest of his life ministering to the slaves who worked in the Baths of Diocletian.

Under the reign of Western Roman Emperor Maximian, co-emperor with Diocletian, St Cyriacus was tortured and put to death, beheaded in 303 on the Via Salaria, where he was subsequently buried. With him were martyred his companions Largus and Smaragdus, and twenty others, including Crescentianus, Sergius, Secundus, Alban, Victorianus, Faustinus, Felix, Sylvanus, and four women: Memmia, Juliana, Cyriacides, and Donata.

Saint Cyriacus is credited with exorcizing demons from two girls. The first was Artemisia (or Artemia), the daughter of Emperor Diocletian, which resulted in both Artemisia and her mother Saint Serena converting to Christianity. The second was Jobias, the daughter of Shapur II of Persia (reigned 241-272), which led to the conversion of the King's entire household.

He is one of the fourteen holy helpers.

SS Sixtus, Felicissimus and Agapitus, memorial (August 7)

c14th


Pope Sixtus II, whose name appears in the canon of the Mass, was Pope from August 30, 257 to August 6, 258, and was martyred under the Emperor Valerian. Felicissimus and Agapitus were his deacons, and were martyred with him.

Ordo for the twelfth week after Pentecost

Sunday 7 August -- Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost, Class II ; SS Sixtus II, Felicissimus and Agapitus, memorial 

Matins: Sunday 1 in August

Lauds: Psalm schema 1 (50, 117, 62); hymn Ecce iam lucis; canticle antiphon and collect, MD 471-72*; for the commemoration at Lauds, MD [219]

Vespers: Canticle antiphon and collect, MD 472*

Monday 8 August  - Class IV; St Cyriacus, memorial [EF: St John Mary Vianney; Australia and NZ: St Mary of the Cross]

Collect, MD 472*; for the commemoration at Lauds, MD [219-20]

*For St Mary of the Cross, Common of Virgins

Tuesday 9 August – Vigil of St Lawrence, Class III

Matins: Two nocturns with three readings of the feast; responsories from the preceding Sunday

Lauds to Vespers: All as in the psalter for the day; collect, MD [220]

Wednesday 10 August  - St Lawrence, Class II

Lauds: Antiphons of the feast, MD [221] with festal psalms, MD 44; rest from MD [222-3]

Prime to None: Antiphons of Lauds with chapter etc, MD [223] ff

Vespers: Antiphons, MD [225] with psalms from the Common of a Martyr, MD (36); rest from MD [225] ff

Thursday 11 August - Class IV; St. Tiburtius, Memorial  [EF: and St Susanna]

All as in the psalter, collect, MD 472*; for the commemoration at Lauds, MD [227-8]

Friday 12 August  – Class IV; St. Clare, memorial [EF: Class III]

Collect, MD 472*; for the commemoration at Lauds, MD [228]

Saturday 13 August  - Saturday of Our Lady; SS Pontianus and Hippolytus, memorial [EF: SS Hippolytus and Cassian]

Matins: Reading of Saturday 2

Lauds to None, MD (129) ff; for the commemoration at Lauds, MD [228-9]

I Vespers of Second Sunday of August, MD 451*/ collect, MD 472-3*

August 6: Transfiguration of Our Lord, Class II

Aelbrecht Bouts, c15th

At an Angelus address, Pope Benedict XVI spoke on the significance of the Transfiguration:

"...After Jesus had foretold his Passion to the disciples, “he took with him Peter, James and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain apart. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his garments became white as light” (Mt 17:1-2). According to the senses the light of the sun is the brightest light known in nature but, according to the spirit, the disciples briefly glimpsed an even more intense splendour, that of the divine glory of Jesus which illumines the whole history of salvation. St Maximus Confessor says that “[the Lord’s] garments appear white, that is to say, the words of the Gospel will then be clear and distinct, with nothing concealed” (Ambiguum 10: PG 91, 1128 B).

The Gospel tells that beside the transfigured Jesus “there appeared... Moses and Elijah, talking with him” (Mt 17:3); Moses and Elijah, figure of the Law and of the Prophets. It was then that Peter, ecstatic, exclaimed “Lord, it is well that we are here; if you wish, I will make three booths here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah” (Mt 17:4). However St Augustine commented, saying that we have only one dwelling place, Christ: “he is the Word of God, the Word of God in the Law, the Word of God in the Prophets” (Sermo De Verbis Ev. 78:3: PL 38, 491).

In fact, the Father himself proclaims: “this is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him” (Mt 17:5). The Transfiguration is not a change in Jesus but the revelation of his divinity: “the profound interpenetration of his being with God, which then becomes pure light. In his oneness with the Father, Jesus is himself ‘light from light’” (Jesus of Nazareth: From the Baptism in the Jordan to the Transfiguration, Doubleday, New York, 2007, p. 310).

Peter, James and John, contemplating the divinity of the Lord, are ready to face the scandal of the Cross, as it is sung in an ancient hymn: “You were transfigured on the mountain and your disciples, insofar as they were able, contemplated your glory, in order that, on seeing you crucified, they would understand that your Passion was voluntary and proclaim to the world that you are truly the splendour of the Father” (Κοντάκιον είς τήν Μεταμόρφωσιν, in: Μηναια, t. 6, Rome 1901, 341)."