Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Feast of SS Peter and Paul

Greco, El - Sts Peter and Paul.jpg
El Greco
We celebrate, over the three days from July 28-30, the martyrdom of SS Peter and Paul.  You can read more about the main feast, in a homily of Pope Benedict XVI here.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Learning the Office mini-course?

I've had a few inquiries from people wanting to learn how to say the Office recently, and so thought I would offer to run a mini-course on it for new starters, so that people can learn as a group and help each other.

The mini-course would be aimed at absolute beginners - those who are interested in learning how to say the Benedictine Office but who haven't yet started to use it (or have started and stopped because it seemed to hard!), or have tried to start themselves but aren't sure they are doing it correctly.

If you are interested, please email me.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

SS John and Paul, martyrs (memorial, June 26)

The original Roman house below the present-day
Basilica of Santi Giovanni e Paolo
SS John and Paul were martyred under Julian the Apostate circa 361-3.  The Martyrology says:
At Rome, on Mount Coelius, the holy martyrs John and Paul, brothers. The former was steward, the other secretary of the virgin Constantia, daughter of the emperor Constantine. Afterwards, under Julian the Apostate, they received the palm of martyrdom by being beheaded. 

Ordo for the Sixth week after Pentecost

The key feasts this week are:
The Most Precious Blood of Our Lord is not included in the General Calendar for the 1962 Benedictine Office but many monasteries do say it, and you can find the chants in the Antiphonale Monasticum (see Tome 11) or Latin and English texts over at Divinum Officium.

Sunday 26 June -  Sixth Sunday after Pentecost Class II ; SS John and Paul, Memorial

Lauds: Psalm schema 1 (50, 117, 62); hymn Ecce iam lucis; canticle antiphon and collect MD 465-6*; for the commemoration at Lauds, MD [167]

Prime to None: All as for Sunday in the psalter; collect, MD 466*

Vespers: Canticle antiphon and collect, MD 466*

Monday 27 June - Class IV

Collect, MD 466*

Tuesday 28 June - Vigil of SS Peter and Paul, Class II

Matins: readings and collect of the feast

Lauds to None: All as in the psalter for the day except for the collect, MD [166-7]

Vespers: I Vespers of SS Peter and Paul, MD [167] ff

Wednesday 29 June – SS Peter and Paul, Class I

Matins: All from the Common of Apostles except for the readings and responsories, of the feast

Lauds: Antiphons and proper texts of the feast, MD [169] ff with festal psalms;

Prime to None: Antiphons of Lauds; chapter and versicles of feast; collect MD [171]

Vespers (of the feast): Antiphons and psalms from Common of Apostles, MD (13), Magnificat antiphon MD [173]

Thursday 30 June - Commemoration of St Paul, Class III; commemoration of St Peter

Matins: Invitatory antiphon and hymn of the feast, one reading of the feast

Lauds: Antiphons and proper texts of the feast, MD [173] ff with festal psalms; note two collects under one ending

Prime to None: Antiphons of Lauds, Chapter etc of the feast; collects as at Lauds

Vespers: Antiphons of Lauds; psalms from common of Apostles, MD (13); rest from MD [178-9]

or 1 Vespers of the Most Precious Blood

Friday 1 July - Class IV [EF: The Most Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Class I]

Collect, MD 466*

or Most Precious Blood

Saturday 2 July - Visitation of the BVM, Class II

Matins: Three nocturns, with invitatory, readings and responsories of the feast, rest from the Common of feasts of the BVM

Lauds: Antiphons of the feast with festal psalms, MD [180] ff

Prime to None: Antiphons from Lauds, chapter etc MD [182] ff

Vespers: Antiphons of Lauds; psalms etc from Common of BVM, MD (119); Magnificat antiphon MD [184]; commemoration of the Seventh Sunday, MD 447-8*

Feasts of July

You can find links on notes about the feasts celebrated in the calendar in July below.

July 1

Feast of the Most Precious Blood of Our Lord (EF)

July 2

Visitation of Our Lady (Class II)
Novena to St Benedict

July 3

SS Processus and Marcellian memorial

July 5

St Anthony-Mary Zaccaria (EF)

July 9

SS Thomas More and John Fisher

July 11

Translation of the relics of St Benedict

July 12

St John Gualbert OSB (Memorial)
St John Gualbert (Benedictine Martyrology)

July 14

St Bonaventure, Class III

July 15

St Henry II, Patron saint of Benedictine Oblates

July 17

Pope St Leo IV OSB, memorial

July 19

St Vincent de Paul, memorial

July 20

SS Jerome Aemiliain, Joseph Calanctius and John Baptist de la Salle, Confessors, Memorial

July 21

St Mary Magdalene

July 23

St Apollinarus
St Apollinaris and St Brigid of Sweden (Martyrology)

July 24

St Cristina

July 25

St James
St James (Benedict XVI General Audience)

July 26

SS Anne and Joachim, parents of the BVM

July 27

St Panteleon

July 28

SS Nazarius, Celsus, Victor and St Innocent I (July 28, EF)

July 29

SS Felix, Simplicius, Faustinus and Beatrice, Martyrs, Memorial

July 30

SS Abdon and Sennen, Memorial
SS Julitta, Abdon and Sennen (martyrology)

July 31

St Ignatius

Saturday, June 18, 2016

SS Gervase and Protasius (Memorial, 19 June)

SS Gervase and Protasius were martyred in the second century.  They are the patron saints of Milan and of haymakers and are invoked for the discovery of thieves. Their relics were discovered by St Ambrose as a result of a vision (which he records in a letter to his sister; the story is also narrated by St Augustine), who built a church to house them and is buried with them there, and their feast day marks the translation of their relics (you can read more on this over at New Liturgical Movement..

According to their Acts, Gervasius and Protasius were the twin sons of martyrs. Their father Saint Vitalis of Milan, a man of consular dignity, suffered martyrdom at Ravenna, possibly under Nero. The mother Saint Valeria died for her faith at Milan. Gervasius and Protasius were imprisoned, and visited in prison by Saint Nazarius.

The sons are said to have large hands and had been scourged and then beheaded, during the reign of the Emperor Nero, under the presidency of Anubinus or Astasius, and while Caius was Bishop of Milan.

The Martyrology says:
At Milan, the holy martyrs Gervasius and Protasius, brothers. The former, by order of the judge Astasius, was so long scourged with leaded whips, that he expired. The latter, after being scourged with rods, was beheaded. Through divine revelation their bodies were found by St. Ambrose. They were partly covered with blood, and as free from corruption as if they had been put to death that very day. When the translation took place, a blind man recovered his sight by touching their relics, and many persons possessed by demons were delivered. 

Ordo for the Fifth week after Pentecost

Sunday 19 June - Fifth Sunday after Pentecost, Class II; St Gervase and Protase, Memorial [EF: St Juliana Falcionieri]

Lauds: Psalm schema 1 (50, 117, 62); hymn, Ecce iam lucis ; canticle antiphon and collect, MD 464-5*; for the commemoration at Lauds, MD [157]

Prime to None: All as for Sunday in the psalter, with collect MD 464-5*

Vespers: All as in the psalter; Magnificat antiphon, MD 465*

Monday 20 June - Class IV [EF: Commemoration of St Silverius]

Collect MD 464-5*

Tuesday 21 June - Class IV; St Aloysius Gonzaga, memorial

Collect MD 464-5*; for the commemoration, MD [157-8]

Wednesday 22 June - Class IV [EF: ST Paulinus]

Collect MD 464-5*

Thursday 23 June - Vigil of the Nativity of St John the Baptist, Class II

Matins: readings and collect of the feast

Lauds to None: All as in the psalter for the day except for the collect, MD [158]

I Vespers of the Nativity of St John the Baptist, MD [159] ff

Friday 24 June - Nativity of St John the Baptist, Class I

Lauds:  Festal psalms of Sunday; antiphons etc of the feast, MD [161] ff

Prime: Antiphon 1 of Lauds

Terce to None: Antiphons etc, MD [164-5]

Vespers: Antiphons, chapter, responsory, hymn and versicle of Lauds; Psalms from I Vespers of Apostles, MD (2); Magnificat antiphon, MD [165]

Saturday 25 June - Saturday of Our Lady [EF: St William, Class III]

Matins: Reading for Saturday 4 in June

Lauds to None: Office of Our Lady, MD (129) ff

I Vespers of the Sixth Sunday after Pentecost, MD 446-7*

Friday, June 17, 2016

St Ephrem of Syria; SS Mark and Marcellianus, memorials (18 June)

Icône Ephrem le Syrien.jpg

St Ephrem (ca. 306 – 373) was a Syriac deacon and a prolific Syriac-language hymnographer and theologian of the 4th century from the region of Assyria, and is a doctor of the Church.

The readings for his feast in the Roman Office are as follows:
Ephraem was of Syrian descent, and son of a citizen of Nisibis. While yet a young man he went to the holy bishop James, by whom he was baptized, and he soon made such progress in holiness and learning as to be appointed master of a flourishing school at Nisibis, a city of Mesopotamia. After the death of the bishop James, Nisibis was captured by the Persians, and Ephraem went to Edessa. Here he settled first on the mountain among the monks, and then, that he might avoid the great numbers of men who flocked to him, he adopted the eremitical life. He was ordained deacon of the Church of Edessa, but refused the priesthood out of humility. He was conspicuous with the splendour of every virtue and strove to acquire piety and religion by professing true wisdom. He placed all his hope in God alone, despised all human and transitory things, and always longed for the divine and eternal.
 When, led by the Spirit of God, he went to Caesarea in Cappadocia, there he saw Basil, that mouthpiece of the Church, and both enjoyed mutual companionship in a suitable manner. In order to refute the countless errors which were rife at that time, and which were troubling the Church of God, and in order to expound zealously the divine mysteries of our Lord Jesus Christ, he wrote many studies in Syrian, almost all of which have been translated into Greek. St. Jerome beareth witness that he attained such fame, that his writings were read publicly in certain churches after the reading from the Scriptures.
His works taken as a whole, so infused with the bright light of learning, brought it about that this holy man, while yet alive, was held in great honour, and was even considered a Doctor of the Church. He also composed songs in verse, in honour of the most blessed Virgin Mary, and of the Saints, and for this reason he was appropriately named by the Syrians the Harp of the Holy Ghost. He was noted for his great and tender devotion towards the immaculate Virgin. He died, rich in merits, at Edessa in Mesopotamia on the 18th day of June in the reign of Valens. Pope Benedict XV, at the instance of many Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, Patriarchs, Archbishops, Bishops, Abbots, and religious communities, declared him by a decree of the Congregation of Sacred Rites to be a Doctor of the universal Church.
You can read more about him in Pope Benedict XVI's General Audience on him. 

Mark and Marcellian.JPG
C15th (the saints are at the right)

Theigtheenth of June is also the memorial of SS Mark and Marcellian, matyrs under Diocleian c286.  According to their legend, they were twin brothers who were deacons, and refused to offer pagan sacrifices.  In prison their parents attempted to persuade them to apostasize; St Sebastian, however, convinced them to stand firm.  The entry in the martyrology reads:
At Rome, on the Ardeatine road, in the persecution of  Diocletian, the birthday of the saintly brothers Marcus and Marcellian, martyrs, who were arrested by the judge Fabian, tied to a stake, and had sharp nails driven into their feet. As they ceased not to praise the name of Christ, they were pierced through the sides with lances, and thus went to the kingdom of heaven with the glory of martyrdom. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

St Vitus (memorial, 15 June)

circa 1515
St Vitus was from Sicily and was martyred during the persecution of Christians by co-ruling Roman Emperors Diocletian and Maximian in 303. The entry in the Martyrology reads:
In Basilicata, near the river Silaro, the birthday of the holy martyrs Vitus, Modestus, and Crescentia, who were brought thither from Sicily, in the reign of Diocletian, and after being plunged into a vessel of melted lead, after being exposed to the beasts, and on the pillory, from which torments they escaped uninjured through the power of God, they ended their religious combats. 
St Vitus is counted as one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers of medieval Roman Catholicism.

In the late Middle Ages, people in Germany and countries such as Latvia celebrated the feast of Vitus by dancing before his statue. This dancing became popular and the name "Saint Vitus Dance" was given to the neurological disorder Sydenham's chorea. It also led to Vitus being considered the patron saint of dancers and of entertainers in general.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Feast of St Basil the Great (Class III, June 14)

Basil of Caesarea.jpg

The readings in the Roman Office for the feast are set out below.  The sections omitted for the one reading in the Benedictine Office are indicated by square brackets:
This Basil was a noble Cappadocian who studied earthly learning at Athens, in company with Gregory of Nazianzus, to whom he was united in a warm and tender friendship. He afterwards studied things sacred in a monastery, where he quickly attained an eminent degree of excellence in doctrine and life, whereby he gained to himself the surname of the Great. He was called to Pontus to preach the Gospel of Christ Jesus, and brought back into the way of salvation that country which before had been wandering astray from the rules of Christian discipline. He was shortly united as coadjutor to Eusebius, Bishop of Cassarea, for the edification of that city, and afterwards became his successor in the see. One of his greatest labours was to maintain that the Son is of one Substance with the Father, and when the Emperor Valens, moved to wrath against him, was willing to send him into exile, he so bent him by dint of the miracles which he worked that he forced him to forego his intention.
[The chair upon which Valens sat down, in order to sign the decree of Basil's ejectment from the city, broke down under him, and three pens which he took one after the other to sign the edict of banishment, all would not write and when nevertheless he remained firm to write the ungodly order, his right hand shook. Valens was so frightened at these omens, that he tore the paper in two. During the night which was allowed to Basil to make up his mind, Valens' wife had a severe stomach-ache, and their only son was taken seriously ill. These things alarmed Valens so much that he acknowledged his wickedness, and sent for Basil, during whose visit the child began to get better. However, when Valens sent for some heretics to see it, it presently died.]
The abstinence and self-control of Basil were truly wonderful. [He was content to wear nothing but one single garment.] In observance of fasting he was most earnest, and so instant in prayer, that he would oftentimes pass the whole night therein. [His virginity he kept always unsullied]. He built monasteries, wherein he so adapted the institution of monasticism, that he exquisitely united for the inmates the advantages of the contemplative and of the active life. He was the author of many learned writings, and, according to the witness of Gregory of Nazianzus, no one hath ever composed more faithful and edifying explanations of the books of the Holy Scripture. He died upon the 1st day of January, (in the year of our Lord 379,) at which time so essentially spiritual was his life, that his body showed nothing but skin and bones.
St Basil is a key saint from a Benedictine perspective, since St Benedict knew and drew on several of his works.  His shorter rule and several of his homilies were translated into Latin very early, and circulated widely in the West.  St Ambrose, for example, drew heavily on his sermons on the dyas of creation to produce a similar work of his own.  According to the Wikipedia:
Basil was born into the wealthy family of Basil the Elder, a famous rhetor, and Emmelia of Caesarea, in Pontus, around 330. His parents were renowned for their piety. His maternal grandfather was a Christian martyr, executed in the years prior to Constantine I's conversion. His pious widow, Macrina, herself a follower of Gregory Thaumaturgus (who had founded the nearby church of Neocaesarea), raised Basil and his four siblings (who also can be venerated as saints): Macrina the Younger, Naucratius, Peter of Sebaste and Gregory of Nyssa.
Basil received more formal education in Caesarea Mazaca in Cappadocia (modern-day Kayseri, Turkey) around 350-51. There he met Gregory of Nazianzus, who would become a lifetime friend. Together, Basil and Gregory went to Constantinople for further studies, including the lectures of Libanius. The two also spent almost six years in Athens starting around 349, where they met a fellow student who would become the emperor Julian the Apostate. Basil left Athens in 356, and after travels in Egypt and Syria, he returned to Caesarea, where for around a year he practiced law and taught rhetoric.
Basil's life changed radically after he encountered Eustathius of Sebaste, a charismatic bishop and ascetic. Abandoning his legal and teaching career, Basil devoted his life to God. A letter described his spiritual awakening:
“I had wasted much time on follies and spent nearly all of my youth in vain labors, and devotion to the teachings of a wisdom that God had made foolish. Suddenly, I awoke as out of a deep sleep. I beheld the wonderful light of the Gospel truth, and I recognized the nothingness of the wisdom of the princes of this world."
You can read more on the saint in Pope Benedict VI's two General Audiences on him, here and here.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

St Anthony of Padua, confessor and doctor, memorial (13 July)

El Greco
From the readings in the Roman Office:

Ferdinand de Bullones, afterwards called Anthony, was born of decent parents at Lisbon in Portugal, on the Feast of the Assumption, in the year of grace 1195. They gave him a godly training, and while he was still a young man, he joined an Institute of Canons Regular. However, when the bodies of the five holy martyred Friars Minor, who had just suffered in Morocco for Christ's sake, were brought to Coimbra, the desire to be himself a martyr took a strong hold upon him, and in 1220 he left the Canons Regular and became a Franciscan. The same yearning led him to attempt to go among the Saracens, but he fell sick on the way, and, being obliged to turn back, the ship in which he had embarked for Spain was driven by stress of weather to Sicily.

From Sicily he came to Assisi to attend the General Chapter of his Order, and thence withdrew himself to the Hermitage of Monte Paolo near Bologna, where he gave himself up for a long while to consideration of the things of God, to fastings, and to watchings. Being afterwards ordained Priest and sent to preach the Gospel, his wisdom and fluency were very marked, and drew on him such admiration of men, that the Pope, once hearing him preach, called him The Ark of the Covenant. One of his chief points was to expend all his strength in attacking heresies, whence he gained the name of the Heretics' everlasting Hammer.

He was the first of his Order who, on account of his excellent gift of teaching, publicly lectured at Bologna on the interpretation of Holy Scripture, and directed the studies of his brethren. He traveled through many provinces. The year before his death he came to Padua, where he left some remarkable records of his holy life. After having undergone much toil for the glory of God, full of good works and miracles, he fell asleep in the Lord upon the 13th day of June, in the year of salvation 1231. Pope Gregory IX. enrolled his name among those of the Holy Confessors.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

St Benedict on the Office

In the daily readings of the Rule of St Benedict as traditionally organised, we have now reached the chapters relating to the Office (viz Chapter 8) which are worth reading, particularly if you are relatively new to the Office, haven't done so before, or haven't read them for a while.

The Rule on the Office

These chapters of the Rule often appear a bit dry, but with a bit of digging they can actually yield a lot in my view.  In particular, they assume a knowledge of Patristic and monastic traditions.  Accordingly this time through the Rule over at my Daily Readings from the Rule Blog I'm providing some extracts from key source texts from before St Benedict's time that I think throw some light on his thinking.

The first post in the series deals with the connection between the first seven chapters of the Rule which set out St Benedict's spiritual theology and the Office, the reasons for praying at night, and the instruction to study the psalms between Matins and Lauds.

St Augustine on prayer through Christ

By way of a taster, on the last point I've included a discussion of prayer in the context of the psalms by St Augustine, who provides a deeply Christological interpretation of prayer which is entirely consistent with St Benedict's approach.

St Benedict starts his Rule with a discussion of the virtues of cenobitic monasticism, where a group of people are made one through God under the abbot.  And the pre-eminent work of this one body is of course the Office, on which St Benedict instructs: 'let nothing be put before the Work of God',  a phrase which Fr Cassian Folsom has pointed out in an excellent series of Conferences can be interpreted as 'put nothing before Christ' (drawing on similar phrases in chapters 43, 4 and 72 of the Rule).

St Augustine summarises and makes clear these linkages saying:
No greater gift could God have given to men than in making His Word, by which He created all things, their Head, and joining them to Him as His members: that the Son of God might become also the Son of man, one God with the Father, one Man with men; so that when we speak to God in prayer for mercy, we do not separate the Son from Him; and when the Body of the Son prays, it separates not its Head from itself: and it is one Saviour of His Body, our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who both prays for us, and prays in us, and is prayed to by us.   He prays for us, as our Priest; He prays in us, as our Head; He is prayed to by us, as our God. Let us therefore recognise in Him our words, and His words in us... 
Therefore we pray to Him, through Him, in Him; and we speak with Him, and He speaks with us; we speak in Him, He speaks in us the prayer of this Psalm, which is entitled, A Prayer of David. For our Lord was, according to the flesh, the son of David; but according to His divine nature, the Lord of David, and his Maker....Let no one then, when he hears these words, say, Christ speaks not; nor again say, I speak not; nay rather, if he own himself to be in the Body of Christ, let him say both, Christ speaks, and I speak. Be thou unwilling to say anything without Him, and He says nothing without you....
There are  a lot of passages like this that I think help us understand what St Benedict is coming from on the Office, and can deepen our understanding of it, so I do hope you will go over and take a look at the contextual texts I've assembled.

Ordo for the Fourth week after Pentecost

Sunday 12 June – Fourth Sunday after Pentecost, Class II

Lauds: Psalm schema 1 (50, 117, 62); hymn Ecce iam lucis; canticle antiphon and collect, MD 463-64*

Prime to None: All as for Sunday in the psalter, with collect MD 464*

Vespers: Canticle antiphon and collect, MD 464*

Monday 13 June -  Class IV; St Anthony of Padua, memorial [EF: Class III; OF: Immaculate Heart of the BVM]

Collect, MD 464*; for the commemoration at Lauds, MD [154]

Tuesday 14 June – St Basil the Great, Class III

Lauds and Vespers: Antiphons and psalms of the day, rest from Common of a confessor bishop, MD (64); Magnificat antiphon for a doctor; collect MD [155]

Terce to None: Chapter and versicle from Common; collect, MD [155]

Wednesday 15 June  – Class IV; St Vitus, memorial [EF: also SS Modestus and Crescentia]

Collect, MD 464*; at Lauds for the commemoration, MD [155]

Thursday 16 June - Class IV

Collect, MD 464*

Friday 17 June - Class IV [EF: St Gregory Barbarigo]

Collect, MD 464*

Saturday 18 June  - Saturday of Our Lady;  St Ephrem Syrus, SS Mark and Marcellianus, memorials [EF: St Ephrem, Class III]

Matins: Reading for Saturday 3 in June

Lauds to None: Office of Our Lady, MD (129) ff ; for the commemorations at Lauds, MD [156-7]

I Vespers of Fifth Sunday after Pentecost, MD 446*

Friday, June 10, 2016

St Barnabas, Apostle, Class III (June 11)


The Matins readings in the Roman Office for the feast are set out below:
Joseph, who by the Apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, the Son of Consolation,) a Levite and of the country of Cyprus, [having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the Apostles' feet. (Acts iv. 36, 37.) When Paul, after his conversion, was come to Jerusalem, the disciples were all afraid of him, but Barnabas took him, and brought him to the Apostles, (ix. 26, 27,) When tidings that a great number believed and turned unto the Lord at Antioch came unto the ears of the Church which was at Jerusalem, they sent forth Barnabas that he should go as far as Antioch. Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord. For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost, and of faith, and much people was added unto the Lord. xi. 21-24.
Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus for to seek Paul, and, when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass that a whole year they assembled themselves with the Church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch. And in these days came prophets from Jerusalem unto Antioch. And there stood up one of them, named Agabus, and signified, by the Spirit, that there should be great dearth throughout all the world which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar. Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judea, which also they did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Paul. xi. 25-30. And Barnabas and Paul returned from Jerusalem, when they had fulfilled their ministry, and took with them John, whose surname was Mark. xii. 25.
Now there were in the Church that was at Antioch, certain Prophets and teachers and, as Paul and Barnabas, together with them, ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Ghost said Separate Me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia and from thence they sailed to Cyprus xiii. 1-4 in the which island, and in many other cities and countries, they journeyed about, preaching the Gospel with great gain to them that heard them. Nevertheless, at last, Paul and Barnabas departed asunder one from the other. And so Barnabas took Mark and sailed unto Cyprus, xv. 39, once more. And there it was that upon a certain nth of June, in or about the seventh year of the reign of Nero, Barnabas crowned the dignity of the Apostolate with the glory of martyrdom. During the reign of the Emperor Zeno, his body was found in its grave in Cyprus on his breast lay a copy of the Gospel according to Matthew, written by the hand of Barnabas himself.
A cousin of St Mark the Evangelist, St Barnabas may have been one of the seventy disciples sent out to evangelise by Jesus.  He was martyred in Cyprus around 61 AD  at the hands of a Jewish mob enraged by his preaching in the synagogue.  He was dragged out, tortured and then stoned him to death. His kinsman, John Mark, who was a spectator of this barbarous action, privately interred his body.

In 478 Barnabas appeared in a dream to the Archbishop of Constantia (Salamis, Cyprus) Anthemios and revealed to him the place of his sepulchre beneath a carob-tree. The following day Anthemios found the tomb and inside it the remains of Barnabas with a manuscript of Matthew's Gospel on his breast. Anthemios presented the Gospel to Emperor Zeno at Constantinople and received from him the privileges of the Greek Orthodox Church of Cyprus, that is, the purple cloak which the Greek Archbishop of Cyprus wears at festivals of the church, the imperial sceptre and the red ink with which he affixes his signature.  Anthemios then placed the venerable remains of Barnabas in a church which he founded near the tomb. Excavations near the site of a present-day church and monastery, have revealed an early church with two empty tombs, believe to be that of St. Barnabas and Anthemios.

An epistle ascribed to Barnabas, though non-canonical is perfectly orthodox and worth reading, though its attribution to him is disputed.

St. Barnabas is venerated as the Patron Saint of Cyprus.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

St Norbert (June 6)

Martin Pepijn

The readings on the life of St Norbert for the feast in the Roman Office are set out below.  In the Benedictine Office, the feasts has one reading only, and the sections of the text that are omitted are indicated in square brackets:

Norbert, born in the year 1080 of parents of the highest rank, thoroughly educated in his youth in worldly knowledge, and a member of the Imperial court, turned his back upon the glory of the world, and chose rather to enlist himself as a soldier of the Church. Being ordained Priest, he laid aside all soft and showy raiment, clad himself in a coat of skins, and made the preaching of the Word of God the one object of his life. [He had the right to rich revenues of the Church but these he renounced and to an ample fortune from his father; but this he gave to the poor. He ate only once a day, and that in the evening, and then his meal was of the fare of Lent. His life was one of singular hardness, and he was used even in the depth of winter to go out with bare feet and ragged garments.] Hence came that mighty power of his words and deeds, whereby he was enabled to turn countless heretics to the true faith, sinners to repentance, and enemies to peace and brotherly love.

Being one while at Laon, the Bishop besought him not to leave his diocese,] and he therefore made choice of a wilderness at the place called Prémontré, whither he withdrew himself with thirteen disciples, and thus founded the Order of the Praemonstratensian Canons, [whereof he, by the will of God, received the Rule, in a vision, from St. Austin. When, however, the fame of his holy life became every day more and more noised abroad, and great numbers sought to become his disciples, and the Order had been approved by Honorius II., and other Popes, many more monasteries were built by him, and the Institute wonderfully extended.

Being called to Antwerpen, he there gave the death-blow to the shameful heresy of Tanchelm. He was remarkable for the spirit of prophecy and for the gift of miracles.] He was created (albeit he would rather not have had it so) Archbishop of Magdeburg, and as such he was a strong upholder of the discipline of the Church, especially contending against the marriage of the clergy. At a Council held at Rheims he was a great help to Innocent II., and went with some Other Bishops to Rome, where they stamped out the schism of Peter Leoni. It was at last at Magdeburg that this man of God, full of good works and of the Holy Ghost, fell asleep in the Lord, on the 6th day of June, in the year of salvation 1134.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Ordo for the Third Week after Pentecost

This week's Ordo is below.

Just a reminder of a few key points to enhance your understanding of the Office:

1.  The antiphon at I Vespers of Sunday (ie Saturday night) generally refers to the first Nocturn readings of Sunday Matins.  If you want to have a look at the text in advance, you can find the list of readings here.  This week for example, the Matins reading is from 1 Samuel 9-10 and covers Samuel's anointing of Saul as the first king of Israel.

2. The antiphons for Lauds and Vespers of Sunday normally refer to the Gospel for Sunday, which is also said at Matins in the Benedictine Office and is generally the same as that for the EF Mass.  The readings for Matins can generally be found on my lectio divina blog (they are scheduled to appear at 4pm Australian EST on Saturday, or the day before major feasts).

3.  The antiphons for feasts (where they are of the particular feast) typically refer to incidents in the saints' life, so it is worth checking the notes on the saints.  My past posts on the saints of June are a little thin, so I'll try and fill in gaps as we go this month.

Sunday 5 June – Third Sunday after Pentecost

Lauds: Psalm schema 1 (50, 117, 62); hymn Ecce iam lucis; canticle antiphon and collect, MD 462-3*

Prime to None: All as for Sunday in the psalter, with collect MD 463*

Vespers: Canticle antiphon and collect, MD 463*

Monday 6 June - St Norbert, Class III

See also: notes on St Norbert

Matins: One reading, of the feast

Lauds and Vespers: Antiphons and psalms of the day, rest from Common of a confessor bishop, MD (64); collect, MD [152]

Terce to None: Chapter and versicle from Common; collect, MD [152]

Tuesday 7 June - Class IV

Collect, MD 463*

Wednesday 8 June - Class IV 

Collect, MD 463*

Thursday 9 June - Class IV; SS Primus and Felician, memorial [**in some places, St Columba]
Collect, MD 463*; for the commemoration at Lauds, MD [153]

Friday 10 June - Class IV [EF: St Margaret of Scotland]

Collect, MD 463*

Saturday 11 June -  St Barnabas, Class III

Matins: One reading of the feast

Lauds: Antiphons and psalms of the day, rest from Common of an Apostle, MD (10); collect, MD [153-4]

Terce to None: Chapter and versicle from Common; collect, MD [153-4]

I Vespers of Fourth Sunday after Pentecost, MD 445*

Thursday, June 2, 2016

SS Marcellius and Peter (memorial)

C4th from the catacomb of Marcellinus and Peter,
,showing Christ between Peter and Paul, and below them
the martyrs Gorgonius, Peter, Marcellinus, and Tiburtius
Today the calendar marks the feast of two martyrs from the persecution of Diocletian, who died around 304 AD.  The martyrology entry goes as follows:
At Rome, the birthday of the holy martyr Marcellinus, priest, and Peter, exorcist, who instructed in the faith many persons detained in prison. Under Diocletian, they were loaded with chains, and, after enduring many torments, were beheaded by the judge Serenus, in a place which was then called the Black Forest, but which was in their honor afterwards known as the White Forest. Their bodies were buried in a crypt near St. Tiburtius, and Pope St. Damasus composed for their tomb an epitaph in verse. 
As noted in the entry above, their cult was originally fostered by Pope Damasus I, who learnt thier story from their executioner, who became a Christian after their deaths. 

Pope Damasus states that they were killed at an out-of-the-way spot by the magistrate Severus or Serenus so that other Christians would not have a chance to bury and venerate their bodies. The two saints happily cleared the spot chosen for their death: a thicket overgrown with thorns, brambles, and briers three miles from Rome. They were beheaded and buried in that spot.  Two women, Lucilla and Firmina, assisted by divine revelation, found the bodies, however, and had them properly buried. They buried their bodies near the body of St. Tiburtius on the Via Labicana in what became known as the Catacombs of Marcellinus and Peter.

Constantine the Great built a church in honor of them as the earlier church built by Pope Damasus had been destroyed, and had his mother St. Helena buried there.  Their relics were subsequently transferred to Germany in the ninth century under the monk Eginhard, who had previously been Charlemagne's secretary.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Saints and feasts of June

You can find links to notes on some of the feasts that occur in June below.

June 1

St Inigo OSB

June 2

SS Marcellius and Peter

June 5

St Boniface OSB

June 6

St Norbert

June 9

SS Primus and Felician

June 11

St Barnabas

June 13

St Anthony of Padua

June 14

St Basil the Great (Class III)

June 15

St Vitus (memorial)

June 18

SS Ephrem, Mark and Marcellianus (memorials)
St Ephrem Syrus, comm of Mark and Marcellianus

June 19

St Romuald OSB
SS Gervase and Protase (memorial)

June 21

St Aloysius Gonzaga

June 23

Vigil of St John the Baptist

June 24

Birthday of St John the Baptist

June 25

St William of Monte Virgine OSB

June 26

SS John and Paul

June 28

Vigil of SS Peter and Paul

June 29

SS Peter and Paul

June 30

Commemoration of St Paul