Saturday, September 29, 2012

Dedication of St Michael the Archangel (Sept 29, Ben/EF); Michael, Gabriel and Raphael (OF)

Jaime Huguet, 1456
Today's feasts represent a classic example of unfortunate Novus Ordo calendar minimalism!

Instead of retaining separate feasts for each of the Archangels mentioned in the Bible, it groups them all together.

In the older forms of the calendar though, it is the feast of the Dedication of the Basilica of St Michael the Archangel, as the martyrology explains:

"On Mount Gargano, the commemoration of the blessed Archangel Michael. This festival is kept in memory of the day, when under his invocation, was consecrated a church, unpretending in its exterior, but endowed with virtue celestial."

Friday, September 28, 2012

St Wenceslaus (EF/OF); St Lawrence Ruiz and companions (OF) Sept 28

From the martyrology:

"In Bohemia, St. Wenceslas, duke of Bohemia and martyr, renowned for holiness and miracles. Being murdered in his brother's house, he went triumphantly to heaven."

St Lawrence Ruiz (1600-1637) is the first Filippino saint, a lay missionary martyred along with a group of Dominican priests for refusing to renounce Christianity in Japan during the Tokogawa Shogunate.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

SS Cosmas and Damian (Sept 27, EF/OF/Ben); St Vincent de Paul (OF)

From the martyrology:

"At Aegea, during the persecution of Diocletian, the birthday of the holy martyrs Cosmas and Damian, brothers. After miraculously overcoming many torments from bonds, imprisonment, fire, crucifixion, stoning, arrows, and from being cast into thesea, they received capital punishment. With them are said to have also suffered three of their brothers, Anthimus, Leontius, and Euprepius."

And also:

"At Paris, St. Vincent de Paul, priest, and founder of the Congregation of the Mission and of the Daughters of Charity, an apostolic man and a father to the poor."

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Ember Saturday (EF/Ben 62); St Maurice and companions, memorial (Ben), Sept 22

Today is an ember day, traditionally a day of fasting and abstinence.

But it is also the memorial of St Maurice in the Benedictine calendar.

From the martyrology:

"At St. Maurice, near Sion, in Switzerland, the birthday of the holy Theban martyrs Maurice, Exuperius, Candidus, Victor, Innocent, and Yitalis, with their companions of the same legion, whose martyrdom for the faith, in the time of Maximian, filled the world with the glory of their sufferings."

St Maurice was leader of the Roman Theban Legion, which consisted entirely of Christians.  Called to Egypt to help suppress a rebellion they were ordered to harass some local Christians, but refused.

After two rounds of decimation failed to make the soldiers obey, the remaining 6,666 men were all executed.

Friday, September 21, 2012

St Matthew (EF/OF/Ben), Sept 21

From the martyrology:

"The birthday of St. Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist, who suffered martyrdom in Ethiopia, while engaged in preaching. The Gospel written by him in Hebrew was, by his own revelation, found in the time of the emperor Zeno, together with the relics of the blessed apostle Barnabas."

A former tax collector, St Matthew was of course one of the twelve apostles and, modernist speculation aside, author the Gospel bearing his name.  Some of the early Fathers suggest that he originally wrote his Gospel in Hebrew rather than the Greek that was the lingua franca of the time.  But if so that version has not come down to us. 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

St Eustace and companions (EF); SS Andrew Tae-gon, Paul Chon Ha-sang and companions, Sept 20

Vision of St Eustace by Pisanello

Prior to his conversion, St Eustace was a Roman General under the Emperor Trajan.  While out hunting one day he had a vision of Jesus caught between the antler's of a stag.  He and his family immediately converted.  St Eustace was martyred in 118 AD. 

From the martyrology:

"At Rome, the holy martyrs Eustachius, and Theopistes, his wife, with their two sons, Agapitus and Theopistus. Under the emperor Adrian, they were condemned to be cast to the beasts, but through the power of God, being uninjured by them, they were shut up in a burning brazen ox, and thus terminated their martyrdom."

In the ordinary form today, the calendar remembers a number of Korean martyrs, including St Andrew Taegon (1821-46), the first Korean native priest, and Paul Chong Hasang (1794-1839), a lay apostle and married man.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Ember Wednesday (Sept 19); St Januarius (OF)

This is Ember week in the traditional calendar, traditionally days of fasting and abstinence at times marking the change of the seasons.

You can read more about them here..

In the Ordinary Form, St Januarius is remembered.  Here is the entry from the traditional martyrology:

"At Puzzoli, in Campania, the holy martyrs Januarius, bishop of Benevento, Festus, his deacon, and Desiderius, lector, together with Sosius, deacon of the church of Misenum, Proculus, deacon of Puzzoli, Eutychius and Acutius, who were bound and imprisoned and then beheaded during the reign of Diocletian. The body of St. Januarius was brought to Naples, and buried in the church with due honors, where even now the blood of the blessed martyr is kept in a vial, and when placed close to his head, is seen to become liquid and, bubble up as if it were just taken from his veins."

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

St Joseph of Cupertino (EF), Sept 18

From the martyrology:

"At Osimo, St. Joseph of Cupertino, confessor of the Order of the Friars Minor Conventual, who was placed among the Saints by Clement XIII."

Monday, September 17, 2012

St Hildegarde of Bingen OSB (Ben/OF), Sept 17

Pope Benedict XVI formally declared St Hildegard a saint earlier this year, and extended her feast (which has long featured in the Benedictine calendar) to the universal Church. 

He also foreshadowed that she will be declared a Doctor of the Church next month, bringing the number of  Benedictines in that elect group (including St Bernard of Clairvaux) to five.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Seven Sorrows of the BVM (EF/Ben62)/Our Lady of Sorrows (OF)

This is one of those rare feasts that still (even in the Ordinary Form, at least as an option) retain a sequence, viz the Stabat Mater.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Exaltation of the Holy Cross (September 14: EF/OF/Ben62)

Tres Riches Heures du Duc de Berry

"The Exaltation of the Holy Cross, when the emperor Heraclius, after defeating King Chosroes, brought it back to Jerusalem from Persia."

The True Cross was rediscovered in 326 by Saint Helena, the mother of the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great, during a pilgrimage she made to Jerusalem. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre was then built at the site of the discovery, by order of Helena and Constantine.

In 614, that portion of the cross was carried away from the church by the Persians.  It was recovered by the Emperor Heraclius in 628. Initially taken to Constantinople, the cross was returned to the church the following year.  The date of the feast marks the dedication of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in 335.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

St John Chrysostom (OF), Sept 13

St John Chrysostom (349-407), bishop and Doctor of the Church, tends to be rather neglected in the West (though he is cited extensively in the Catechism of the Catholic Church), but undeservedly so in my view. His commentaries on Scripture are wonderful, filled with gems of expositions on key topics, and clearly directed at a lay audience.

Today is his feast in the Ordinary Form, and the martyrology says:

"The same day, the birthday of St. John Chrysostom, bishop of Constantinople, who was sent into exile through the conspiracy of his enemies, but was recalled by a decree of the Sovereign Pontiff, Innocent I. He died on the way from the ill-treatment he received at the hands of the soldiers who guarded him...."

Pope Benedict XVI on St John

Pope Benedict XVI gave two General Audiences on the saint in 2007, the year of the sixteen hundredth anniversary of his death. Here are some extracts on his life:

"He was born in about the year 349 A.D. in Antioch, Syria (today Antakya in Southern Turkey). He carried out his priestly ministry there for about 11 years, until 397, when, appointed Bishop of Constantinople, he exercised his episcopal ministry in the capital of the Empire prior to his two exiles, which succeeded one close upon the other - in 403 and 407. Let us limit ourselves today to examining the years Chrysostom spent in Antioch.

He lost his father at a tender age and lived with Anthusa, his mother, who instilled in him exquisite human sensitivity and a deep Christian faith.

After completing his elementary and advanced studies crowned by courses in philosophy and rhetoric, he had as his teacher, Libanius, a pagan and the most famous rhetorician of that time. At his school John became the greatest orator of late Greek antiquity.

He was baptized in 368 and trained for the ecclesiastical life by Bishop Meletius, who instituted him as lector in 371. This event marked Chrysostom's official entry into the ecclesiastical cursus. From 367 to 372, he attended the Asceterius, a sort of seminary in Antioch, together with a group of young men, some of whom later became Bishops, under the guidance of the exegete Diodore of Tarsus, who initiated John into the literal and grammatical exegesis characteristic of Antiochean tradition.

He then withdrew for four years to the hermits on the neighbouring Mount Silpius. He extended his retreat for a further two years, living alone in a cave under the guidance of an "old hermit". In that period, he dedicated himself unreservedly to meditating on "the laws of Christ", the Gospels and especially the Letters of Paul. Having fallen ill, he found it impossible to care for himself unaided, and therefore had to return to the Christian community in Antioch (cf. Palladius, Dialogue on the Life of St John Chrysostom, 5).

The Lord, his biographer explains, intervened with the illness at the right moment to enable John to follow his true vocation. In fact, he himself was later to write that were he to choose between the troubles of Church government and the tranquillity of monastic life, he would have preferred pastoral service a thousand times (cf. On the Priesthood, 6, 7): it was precisely to this that Chrysostom felt called.

It was here that he reached the crucial turning point in the story of his vocation: a full-time pastor of souls! Intimacy with the Word of God, cultivated in his years at the hermitage, had developed in him an irresistible urge to preach the Gospel, to give to others what he himself had received in his years of meditation. The missionary ideal thus launched him into pastoral care, his heart on fire.

Between 378 and 379, he returned to the city. He was ordained a deacon in 381 and a priest in 386, and became a famous preacher in his city's churches. He preached homilies against the Arians, followed by homilies commemorating the Antiochean martyrs and other important liturgical celebrations: this was an important teaching of faith in Christ and also in the light of his Saints.

The year 387 was John's "heroic year", that of the so-called "revolt of the statues". As a sign of protest against levied taxes, the people destroyed the Emperor's statues. It was in those days of Lent and the fear of the Emperor's impending reprisal that Chrysostom gave his 22 vibrant Homilies on the Statues, whose aim was to induce repentance and conversion. This was followed by a period of serene pastoral care (387-397)..."

In his the second General Audience on the saint Pope Benedict XVI continued:

"...After the period he spent in Antioch, in 397 he was appointed Bishop of Constantinople, the capital of the Roman Empire of the East. John planned the reform of his Church from the outset: the austerity of the episcopal residence had to be an example for all - clergy, widows, monks, courtiers and the rich. Unfortunately, many of those he criticized distanced themselves from him. Attentive to the poor, John was also called "the Almoner". Indeed, he was able as a careful administrator to establish highly appreciated charitable institutions. For some people, his initiatives in various fields made him a dangerous rival but as a true Pastor, he treated everyone in a warm, fatherly way. In particular, he always spoke kindly to women and showed special concern for marriage and the family. He would invite the faithful to take part in liturgical life, which he made splendid and attractive with brilliant creativity."

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Most Holy Name of Mary (EF/OF), September 12

Not, for some reason, included in the 1962 Benedictine calendar, but certainly in the calendar of the Universal Church.

Battle of Vienna, 1683

Older editions of the martyrology note that the feast was established in response to her aid at the Battle of Vienna, in 1683:

"The Feast of the Most Holy Name of the Blessed Virgin Mary, celebrated by order of the Sovereign Pontiff, Innocent XI, on account of the signal victory gained over the Turks, at Vienna in Austria, through her protection."

The  most edition, however, gives a more politically correct account of the rationale for the feast:
"The Holy Name of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a day on which the inexpressible love of the Mother of God for her Holy Child is recalled, and the eyes of the faithful are directed to the figure of the Mother of the Redeemer, for them to invoke with devotion."

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

SS Protus and Hyacinth (Ben/EF); St Theodora, Sept 11

St Theodora

At Rome, in the Cemetery of Basilla, on the old Salarian road, the birthday of the holy martyrs Protus and Hyacinth, brothers and eunuchs in the service of blessed Eugenia, who were arrested, in the time of the emperor Gallienus, on the charge of being Christians, and urged to offer sacrifice to the gods. But as they refused, both were most severely scourged, and finally beheaded.

Also today in the martyrology:

"At Alexandria, St. Theodora, who having committed a fault through imprudence and repenting of it, remained unknown in a religious habit, and persevered until her death in practices of extraordinary abstinence and patience."

She is one of the desert mothers who disguised herself as a man in order to atone for her sin living in a monastery.  Here is an extract from her story:

"St. Theodora and her husband lived in Alexandria. Love and harmony ruled in their family. A certain rich man was captivated by the youthful beauty of Theodora and attempted to lead her into adultery, but was initially unsuccessful. He then bribed a woman of loose morals, who led the unassuming Theodora astray by saying that a secret sin, which the sun does not see, is also unknown to God.

Theodora betrayed her husband, but soon came to her senses and realizing the seriousness of her fall, she became furious with herself, slapping herself on the face and tearing at her hair. Her conscience gave her no peace, and she went to a renowned abbess and confessed her transgression. Seeing the young woman’s repentance, the abbess spoke to her of God's forgiveness and reminded her of the sinful woman in the Gospel who washed the feet of Christ with her tears and received from Him forgiveness. In hope of the mercy of God, Theodora said: "I believe my God, and from now on, I shall not commit such a sin, and I will strive to atone for my deeds." St. Theodora resolved to go off to a monastery to purify herself by labor and by prayer. She left her home secretly, and dressing herself in men's clothes, she went to a men's monastery, since she feared that her husband would find her in a community of women...."

Monday, September 10, 2012

St Nicholas of Tolentino (EF only); St Pulcheria (Sept 10)

"At Tolentino, in the March of Ancona, the departure from this life of St. Nicholas, confessor, of the Order of Augustinians."

Also today in the martyrology:

"At Constantinople, St. Pulcheria, empress and virgin, distinguished by her piety and zeal for religion."

St Pulcheria, whose coins are pictured above, lived between 398/399 and 453.  The daughter of Eastern Roman Emperor Arcadius and Empress Aelia Eudoxia, she was the second child. When her father Arcadius died in 408, her brother Theodosius II was made Emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire, at seven years old. The fifteen-year-old Pulcheria proceeded to proclaim herself regent over her brother in 414, when he was thirteen, and made herself Augusta and Empress of the Eastern Roman Empire.

She took a vow of virginity when she became Augusta.  When her brother died in an accident in 450, she entered into a marriage on the basis that her vow of virginity would be respected, as the Senate was not prepared to permit a woman as sole ruler. 

Pulcheria is known to have held a significant amount of power, and exercized a great deal of influence over the church and theological practices of this time including anti-pagan policies, church building projects, and the debate over the Marian title Theotokos (Mother of God).

Friday, September 7, 2012

Pope St Adrian III (from the martyrology, Sept 7)

Pope Adrian III (pope from 884-885), of whom the martyrology says:

"At Nonantola, Pope St. Adrian III, remarkable for his zeal to reconcile the Eastern churches with the Holy See. He died in the odor of sanctity at San Cesario, and became widely celebrated by his miracles."

Thursday, September 6, 2012

St Zachary (from the martyrology, Sept 6)

da Vinci

The martyrology often serves to remind us that there are many Old Testament saints, as well as new!  Today, therefore, we celebrate the feast day of St Zachary (Zechariah), one of the twelve minor prophets, whose book was written in the period 520-518 BC.

From the martyrology:

"The prophet Zachary, who returned in his old age from Chaldea to his own country, and lies buried near the prophet Aggeus."

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

St Laurence Justinian (EF), Sept 5

St Laurence Justinian, d 1455, of whom the martyrology says:

"The feast of St. Lawrence Justinian, first Patriarch of Venice, who, by glorious miracles and virtues, illustrated the episcopal dignity which he received against his will on this day. His birthday is the 8th of January."

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

St Marcellus (from the martyrology, Sept 4)

From the martyrology:

"At Chalons, in France, St. Marcellus, martyr, under the emperor Antoninus. Being invited to a profane banquet by the governor Priscus, and abhorring the meats that were served, he reproved with great freedom all persons present for worshipping the idols. For this, by an unheard-of kind of cruelty, the same governor had him burned alive up to the waist. After persevering for three days in praising God, he yielded up his undefiled soul."

Monday, September 3, 2012

Pope St Pius X (EF/Benedictine)/St Gregory (OF), Sept 3

From the martyrology:

"St Pius X, Pope, whose birthday is recorded on August 20."

Pope Pius X has a large fan club amongst traditionalists because of his tough stand on the heresy of modernism, even having a traditionalist society named after him. 

Personally, I always find that rather ironic, since he was also the first of the twentieth century liturgical wreckovators, changing the order of reception of the sacraments, overturning longstanding tradition on the frequency of reception of the Eucharist, and above all fundamentally revamping the Roman Breviary.

Fortunately in the Ordinary Form, today is the feast of a rather more traditional liturgical reformer, St Gregory the Great:

"Likewise at Rome, the raising to the Sovereign Pontificate of St. Gregory the Great, an incomparable man, who, being forced to take that burden upon himself, sent forth from the more exalted throne brighter rays of sanctity upon the world."

Saturday, September 1, 2012

St Giles & 12 Holy Brothers (EF: 1 Sept)

In the Extraordinary Form, today is the feast of St Giles (650-710), a Greek hermit who ended up settling in Provence, and one of the fourteen holy helpers.

From the martyrology:

"In the province of Narbonne, St. Giles, abbot and confessor.

At Benevento, twelve saintly brothers, martyrs."