O God, who amongst the many marvels of Thy power hast granted the triumph of martyrdom even to weak women: grant in Thy mercy, that we, who keep the festival of blessed Barbara, Thy Virgin and Martyr, may, by her example, advance nearer to Thee. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.
O God, Who wast pleased by the preaching and miracles of blessed Francis, to bring into Thy Church the nations of the Indies: mercifully grant that we who honor his glorious merits, may also follow the pattern of his virtues. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.
A young Spanish gentleman, in the dangerous days of the Reformation, was making a name for himself as a Professor of Philosophy in the University of Paris, and had seemingly no higher aim, when St. Ignatius of Loyola won him to heavenly thoughts. After a brief apostolate amongst his countrymen in Rome he was sent by St. Ignatius to the Indies, where for twelve years he was to wear himself out, bearing the Gospel to Hindostan, to Malacca, and to Japan.
Thwarted by the jealousy, covetousness, and carelessness of those who should have helped and encouraged him, neither their opposition nor the difficulties of every sort which he encountered could make him slacken his labors for souls. The vast kingdom of China appealed to his charity, and he was resolved to risk his life to force an entry, when God took him to Himself, and on the 3rd of December, 1552, he died, like Moses, in sight of the promise.
O God, the giver of all good s, who didst unite in thy servant Bibiana the flower of virginity with the palm of martyrdom: so unite our souls to Thee in the bond of charity by virtue of her intercession, that being freed from all dangers, we may obtain the rewards of everlasting life. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.
Saint Bibiana was a native of Rome, born in the fourth century, the daughter and sister of martyrs. Flavian, her Christian father, was apprehended during the reign of Julian the Apostate, branded on the face as a slave, and banished to Toscany, where he died of his wounds a few days later. Her mother, Dafrosa, was beheaded two weeks later. Their two daughters, Bibiana and Demetria, after the death of their parents were stripped of all they had in the world, and then imprisoned with orders to give them no food. The Roman praetorian offered them rewards if they would abandon their faith, and threatened a cruel death if they would not conform, but they replied courageously that the goods and advantages of this world had no attraction for them, and that they would endure a thousand deaths rather than betray their faith and their Saviour. Demetria, after having pronounced this ardent defense, fell to the ground and expired at her sister's side; she is inscribed in the Roman martyrology on June 21st.
The officer gave orders that Bibiana be placed in the custody of a woman named Rufina, who was commanded to corrupt her or mistreat her. But the martyr made prayer her shield and remained invincible. Enraged at the courage and perseverance of the young virgin, the persecutor ordered her to be tied to a pillar and whipped until she expired, with scourges tipped with leaden plummets. The Saint underwent this punishment cheerfully, and died at the hands of the executioners. She was buried by a holy priest at a site where afterwards a chapel and then a church were built above her tomb. In 1628 the church was splendidly rebuilt by Pope Urban VIII, and in it he placed the relics of the two sisters and of Saint Dafrosa, their mother.
We humbly beseech Thy majesty, O Lord: That as blessed Andrew was raised up to be a preacher and ruler in Thy Church, so he may be our constant intercessor with Thee. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.
Saint Andrew was one of the fishermen of Bethsaida, and was the brother of Saint Peter. He became a disciple of Saint John the Baptist. When called himself by Christ on the banks of the Jordan, his first thought was to go in search of his brother, and he said to Peter, "We have found the Messiah!" and brought him to Jesus.
It was Saint Andrew who, when Christ wished to feed the five thousand in the desert, pointed out a little lad with five loaves and a few fishes. After Pentecost, Saint Andrew went forth upon his mission to plant the Faith in Scythia and Greece and, at the end of years of toil, to win a martyr's crown at Patrae in Achaia. When Saint Andrew first caught sight of the gibbet on which he was to die, he greeted the precious wood with joy. "O good cross!" he cried, "made beautiful by the limbs of Christ, so long desired, now so happily found! Receive me into thy arms and present me to my Master, that He who redeemed me through thee may now accept me from thee!" After suffering a cruel scourging he was left, bound by cords, to die upon this diagonal cross. For two whole days the martyr remained hanging on it, alive, preaching with outstretched arms from this chair of truth, to all who came near, and entreating them not to hinder his passion.
On the last day of November which is dedicated to the Poor Souls in Purgatory, please pray for them--especially those departed members of your family--using the prayers and devotions included in the Purgatory Index below:
The Season of Advent begins on the 4th Sunday before Christmas. This time is set aside by the Church to bring before our eyes the Incarnation of our Lord, the coming of Jesus Christ through Grace, and the coming of our Lord on the Last Day to judge the living and the dead.
On the first day of the Liturgical Year, the Church commemorates the manifestation of our Lord's love for men by His Incarnation and by His Second Coming as the Judge of the World. Jesus our Lord will reward those who yearn for Him and await Him; "Those who trust in Him shall not be confounded."
First Sunday of Advent
They shall see the Son of man coming in a cloud, with great power and majesty.--LUKE xxi. 27.
At Christmas Jesus will be born in our hearts, for at that time the anniversary of His birth will be celebrated. He refuses nothing, to the prayer of the Church, His spouse, and thus He will grant to our soul the same graces which He gave the shepherds and the wise Kings.
Christ will come again also, at the end of all time, to "condemn the guilty to the names, and to call the just with a loving voice to heaven " (Hymn for Matins).
The whole of today's mass is a preparation for this double Advent of mercy and justice. Some parts of it can be applied equally to either (e.g., the Introit, Collect, Gradual, Alleluia), while others refer to our Divine Redeemer's lowly birth, and others again, (e.g. the Epistle and Gospel), to His coming in the splendor of His power and majesty. The same welcome will be given to us by our Lord when He comes to judge us, as we give to Him now when coming to redeem us. Let us prepare for the Christmas feast by holy prayers and aspirations and by reforming our lives, that we may be ready for that last great assize upon which depends the fate of our soul for all eternity. And all this with confidence, for those "who wait upon the Lord will never be confounded" (Introit; Gradual; Offertory).
In former times, on this First Sunday of Advent, all the people of Rome made the station at the Basilica of St. Mary Major, to assist at the solemn mass which the Pope celebrated, surrounded by his clergy. This particular Church was chosen because it is Mary who gave us Jesus and because relics of the crib in which the Blessed Mother placed her Divine Child are preserved in this Church.
November 29th, St. Saturninus, Martyr
As we approach the end of the month of November which is dedicated to the Poor Souls in Purgatory, please continue to pray for them--especially those departed members of your family--each day, using the prayers and devotions included in the Purgatory Index below:
O God, Who dost vouchsafe that we may rejoice on the festival of blessed Saturninum Thy Martyr; grant that we may be assisted by his merits. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.
St. Saturninus went from Rome, by direction of Pope Fabian, about the year 245, to preach the faith in Gaul. He fixed his episcopal see at Toulouse, and thus became the first Christian bishop of that city. There were but few Christians in the place. However, their number grew fast after the coming of the Saint; and his power was felt by the spirits of evil, who received the worship of the heathen. His power was felt the more because he had to pass daily through the capitol, the high place of the heathen worship, on the way to his own church.
One day a great multitude was gathered by an altar, where a bull stood ready for the sacrifice. A man in the crowd pointed out Saturninus, who was passing by and the people would have forced him to idolatry; but the holy bishop answered: "I know but one God, and to Him I will offer the sacrifice of praise. How can I fear gods who, as you say, are afraid of me? On this he was fastened to the bull, which was driven down the capitol. The brains of the Saint were scattered on the steps. His mangled body was taken up and buried by two devout omen.
November 29th, Vigil of St. Andrew
We beseech thee, almighty God, that blessed Andrew the Apostle, whose festival we anticipate, may implore Thy help for us; that being cleansed from our sins, we may be also delivered from all dangers. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.
And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. And Jesus turning, and seeing them following him, saith to them: What seek you? Who said to him, Rabbi, (which is to say, being interpreted, Master,) where dwellest thou? He saith to them: Come and see. They came, and saw where he abode, and they stayed with him that day: now it was about the tenth hour. And Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, was one of the two who had heard of John, and followed him.
He findeth first his brother Simon, and saith to him: We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ. And he brought him to Jesus. And Jesus looking upon him, said: Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is interpreted Peter. John 1: 37, 42
November 28th, Ferial Day, in some places St. Catharine Laboure
On the soul's being presented before the tribunal of God. by St. Alphonsus Di Liguori
When criminals are presented before their judges, though they fear and tremble, yet flatter themselves that either their crimes will not be proved against them, or that their judges will remit in part the punishments which they have deserved. O God! how great will be the terror of a guilty soul when presented before Jesus Christ, from whom nothing will be hidden, and who will judge her with the utmost severity! I am the judge and the witness, Jer. xxix. 23., will He then say to her: I am thy judge and I am witness of all the offences thou hast committed against me. O my Jesus, I deserved to hear this from thy mouth, had the hour of my judgment arrived. But now thou art pleased to assure me, that if I will repent of my sins, thou wilt no longer remember them: I will not remember all his iniquities. Ez. xviii. 22.
It is the opinion of divines, that in the same place in which the soul is separated from the body, she will be judged, and her lot decided either for eternal life or eternal death. But should the soul unhappily depart from the body in sin, what shall she be able to say when Jesus Christ shall remind her of His abused mercies, of the years He granted her, of the calls by which He invited her, and of the many other means which He afforded her of securing her salvation? Jesus my Redeemer, Thou who condemnest obstinate sinners, dost not condemn those who love Thee and who are sorry for having offended Thee. I am a sinner, but I love Thee more than myself, and I am sorry above every evil for having displeased Thee; O, do Thou pardon me before the time comes when Thou wilt judge me.
At what hour you think not, the Son of Man will come. St. Luke xii. 40. When, therefore, O my Jesus and my judge, Thou shalt judge me, after my death, Thy wounds will be a terror to me, reproaching me with my ingratitude for the love which Thou hast shown me in suffering and dying for me; but now they encourage me and give me confidence to hope for pardon from Thee, my Redeemer, who, for the love of me and that Thou mayest not have to condemn me, didst suffer Thyself to be tormented and crucified. We therefore pray Thee, help Thy servants whom Thou hast redeemed with Thy precious blood. O my Jesus! have pity on me, who am one of those sheep for whom Thou didst shed Thy sacred blood. If hitherto I have despised Thee, I now esteem and love Thee above all things. Make known to me the means by which I may be saved, and strengthen me to fulfil Thy holy will. I will no longer abuse Thy goodness. Thou hast placed me under too many obligations to Thee, I will no longer suffer myself to live at a distance from Thee and deprived of Thy love. Mary, mother of mercy, have compassion on me.
November 27th, Ferial Day, in some places the Feast of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal
O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.
On November the 27th, is celebrated the Feast of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal. Follows a brief history of the wondrous events which caused the establishment of that feast:
Sister Catherine Laboure was a humble, pious novice, in a Paris house of the Sisters of Charity. She was praying to Our Lady in the Sisters' Chapel, during the night of November 27, 1830, when Our Lady appeared before her eyes, presenting a medal she held to the novice's gaze. On one side of the medal was a figure of the Blessed Virgin, standing on a globe and crushing the serpent's head with her foot, while rays of light descended to the earth from her outstretched hands, and the other side showed a large M surmounted by a cross, and beneath the M two hearts, one of them encircled with thorns, the other pierced with a sword -- these hearts meaning, of course, the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary.
As Sister Catherine was looking with most loving veneration on the Virgin-Mother of Our Lord and noting the medal she held out, the sister heard a wonderously sweet, pure voice tell her that the rays on the medal were symbols of the graces which the speaker-- Mary Immaculate--obtains for those who ask them, that Our Lady wished a medal to be struck after this model, and that those who wore the medal, properly blessed, in a spirit of true devotion, should receive special graces.
The novice told no one of her miraculous experience except only her spiritual director, and at the solicitation of the latter, she later made the fact known to the Archbishop of Paris, Msgr. de Quelen, by whose authority the first medals of the model shown through the apparition were struck in 1832. From the beginning, these medals proved most efficacious instruments of grace, and those who wore them obtained countless miraculous favors--conversions and cures, especially--until now the practice of wearing Our Lady's Miraculous Medal may be said to be a universal practice among devout Catholics.
At the instance of the late Pope Leo XIII, the Statue of Mary Immaculate of the Miraculous Medal which stands in the chapel of the Apparition, Rue du Bac, Paris, was solemnly crowned by Cardinal Richard on July 26,1897. A famous and glorious example of the wonders worked by means of the Miraculous Medal is found in the conversion of Alphonse Ratisbonne.
Enemies of, and scoffers at, Catholic faith and practice particularly delight in calling devotion to Our Blessed Lady, when it is evidenced by the wearing of her Miraculous Medal, a "childish thing." But such devotion is not childish. It is childlike, instead. And being childlike, showing--as show it does--the wearer's loving trust in the Heavenly Mother, the Catholic's practice of wearing the Miraculous Medal of the Immaculate Virgin cannot fail to make every one who follows it truer and better, by constantly recalling to the heart and the mind she who is not only purity incarnate, piety itself, tenderness unbounded, flawless virtue, but also the Mother of God, and, by His will, our own Mother and Patroness.
O most merciful God, Who when the holy Abbot Sylvester stood within an open tomb, meditating on the transitory vanities of this world, wast pleased to summon him into the wilderness and make his life illustrious by signal virtue: we earnestly beseech Thee, that like him, we may despise earthly things, and enjoy communion with thee forevermore. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.
St. Sylvester was born of noble parentage at Osimo, in the Marches of Ancona. Owning to his rare merit, the Canons of the cathedral of Osimo admitted him to share their dignity. When present one day at the funeral of an illustious man, a relative of his, he was struck by the hideous appearance of the body of a man who had been so handsome, and exclaimed: "I am today what he was, and one day I shall be what he is."
He immediately gave up everything and retired into a desert where he devoted himself to penance and meditation. "Later, he built at Monte Fano" says the Roman breviary, "a church in honor of the holy father Benedict who advised him in a vision to found a religious order whose rule and habit he described to him. It was the Order of the Sylvestrines."
This branch of the Benedictine Order spread in a short time and already numbered twenty-five houses in Italy when its founder died in 1267, at the age of ninety.
In some places the feast of St. Leonard of Port Maurice is celebrated on November 26th.
St. Peter, a man of great virtue and learning, was patriarch of Alexandria, his native city. At the time when the Emperors, Dioclesian and Maximian, endeavored to extirpate the Christian religion, he did all in his power to strengthen the Christians in the true faith and encourage them to prepare for martyrdom. He himself desired nothing more ardently than to give his life for Christ's sake; but the faithful forced him to conceal himself until the persecution ceased. Hardly had this storm abated, when Meletius, a bishop, gave him new trouble, by promulgating heretical dogmas, and committing other crimes, for which St. Peter had to depose him from his see and excommunicate him. The conduct and the doctrine of Meletius were defended, in defiance of St. Peter, by Arius, a proud and ambitious priest of Alexandria; and as neither prayers nor threats could move Arius to desist from such unjust and wicked proceedings, the zealous Patriarch saw himself obliged to separate him also, by excommunication, from the Church of Christ.
During this schism of the Church, an imperial officer arrived at Alexandria, seized St. Peter, and cast him into a dungeon. Arius thought that, after the death of St. Peter, he would surely succeed to the patriarchal chair if he were reconciled to the Church. He therefore pretended to repent of his fault, and going to the clergy, he requested them to beg the Patriarch to revoke the sentence of excommunication, declaring that he had abandoned the cause of Meletius, and was resolved to live and die a Catholic. Achillas and Alexander, moved by his deceitful words begged St. Peter to grant the request. The Patriarch, enlightened by God, replied with a deep sigh: "I know that Arius is full of hypocrisy and blasphemy; how can I receive him again into the Church? You must know that in excommunicating him, I have not acted of my own accord, but by inspiration from the Almighty. Only last night, Christ appeared to me in the form of a beautiful youth, clothed in a snow-white garment, which was sadly rent. I was terrified, and asked: 'Lord, what is the meaning of this? Who has torn Thy robe?' He answered: 'Arius has done it; for, by his heresy, he has divided My Church and will make the rent still larger.'"
Peter added that Christ had forbidden him to receive Arius again into the pale of the Church, and commanded Achillas and Alexander also to reject him, when they would, one after the other, succeed to the patriarchal chair. Having said this, the Saint admonished them to guard, with fatherly care, the flock of Christ, and then, with his blessing, dismissed them. Soon after, by command of the emperor, St. Peter was dragged to the place of execution, without having had a trial. The Christians endeavored to interfere; but the Saint hastened joyfully to the spot where he was to receive the crown of martyrdom. His death happened in the year 310. The Christians carried the holy body into the Church, clothed it in the pontifical robes, and placed it upon the chair of St. Mark, on which Peter's humility and his reverence for the holy Evangelist had never allowed him to sit in his lifetime, as he always sat down on one of the steps leading to it. Having for some time showed all due honors to the holy body, they laid it into the tomb.
St. Peter is one of those glorious martyrs, who joyfully hastened to the place of execution to give their lives for the true faith. Have you not sometimes desired that you had lived at that period, and given your blood for Christ? I praise you for having had such a pious wish. But as you have no occasion now to die a martyr for the love of the Saviour, endeavor at least to live for Him, and to be a martyr without shedding your blood. How can this be done? Origen says: "We can be martyrs without shedding our blood, by patiently bearing crosses and trials." In like manner speaks St. Bernard, when he says: "By preserving true patience continually in your mind, you may become a martyr without the sword." St. Gregory says the same, and remarks, also: "To bear wrongs and persecutions patiently, and to love our enemy, is a kind of martyrdom." "It is martyrdom," says St. Chrysostom, "when we bear poverty patiently for God's sake." "If a Christian," writes St. Augustine, "lives according to the gospel, his entire life is one cross, one long martyrdom." The same holy teacher instructed us, on a former occasion, that we are martyrs by conquering our passions, by avoiding lust, by preserving justice, by despising avarice and by restraining pride.
In a sermon of St. Lawrence, we read that "martyr," according to the Greek, means " witness." "As often, therefore," says he, "as we fulfil the commands of Christ, and do good, so often are we witnesses of the Lord, and in that sense, martyrs." Hence you may become a martyr of Christ, in this manner and you will find frequent opportunity for it. Endeavor, therefore, to bear patiently crosses and sufferings; live according to the Gospel of the Lord; moderate your passions; be chaste, and avoid all vices; let your conduct be witness of your fidelity to your Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be a true, though bloodless, martyr.
November 25th, St. Catherine of Alexandria, Virgin and Martyr
O God, Who gavest the law to Moses from the top of Mount Sinai and didst marvelously carry thither by Thy holy Angels the body of Thy blessed Virgin and Martyr Catherine: grant we beseech Thee, that through her merits and intercession we may be able to reach that mountain which is Christ: Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.
November 24th, St. John of the Cross, Confessor and Doctor of the Church
O God, Who didst endow holy John, Thy Confessor and Doctor, with a wonderful love of self-denial and of the Cross: grant that, by ever clinging to his example, we may obtain everlasting glory. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.
John of the Cross, born of pious parents at Hontiveros in Spain, was from his very infancy dear to the Virgin Mother of God. When he was five years old he fell into a well, but the hand of the same Mother of God lifted him out, and he escaped unharmed. So ardently did he burn with a desire to suffer that when he was but nine years old, he accustomed himself to sleep upon twigs, spurning a softer bed. As a young man he engaged himself as a servant to the sick poor in the hospital of Medina del Campo.
He showed the strength of his charity towards these unfortunates by undertaking the most menial offices. His example inspired others to devote themselves to similar charitable works. As he was called to a still higher vocation, John entered the institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel, where under obedience he was ordained to the priesthood. But he desired a more severe discipline, and a more austere mode of life. He obtained permission of his superior to follow the primitive rule of the order. As a constant reminder of the passion of the Lord, he declared war upon himself as against his own worst enemy. By vigils, fastings, iron disciplines and all kinds of penances he crucified his body with its vices and concupiscences. Saint Teresa considered him worthy to be numbered among the holiest and purest souls, then ornamenting the Church of God.
The extreme austerities which he practiced, the armor of virtue he admired, and above all his constant contemplation of divine Hysterics were the source of the prolonged and wonderful ecstasies which he experienced frequently. He burned with such love of God that the divine fire could not be confined within himself; it radiated to all from his countenance. John was exceedingly zealous to help his neighbors to salvation, so he devoted himself to preaching the word of God and to administering the sacraments.
As his soul became enriched with many merits, as he strove constantly to help others to follow a stricter rule of life, in the providence of God, he was assigned as companion to Saint Teresa, that she who had restored the ancient strict observance to her order of the Sisters of Carmel, might with John's help extend it among his brethren. Like that handmaiden of God, John endured all the trials of great labor in carrying out this assignment. Disdaining hardships and dangers, one by one he visited all the convents the saintly Teresa had founded in Spain. In these, and in many other monasteries which he erected through his own efforts, he spread the rule of the stricter observance. Moreover he confirmed his words by his own example. After Teresa, he may very justly be said to be the founder as well as the first advocate of the Discalced Carmelites.
John kept his virginity unspotted. He not only repulsed certain shameless women who tried to tempt his virtues; he even won them back to Christ. The Apostolic See has declared that he was divinely aided in expounding the mysteries of God, as was Saint Teresa also. The books he wrote on mystical theology are filled with heavenly wisdom. Once when Christ asked him what reward he wanted in return for his great labors, John answered, "Only that I may suffer and be despised for love of Thee."
He was renowned for his power over demons, and his ability to cast them out from possessed persons. He was famous because he could read the souls of men, had the gift of prophecy, and worked the most glorious miracles. Yet with it all he was so humble that he begged the Lord again and again to give him a death of absolute obscurity. This prayer was granted. John died at Ubeda, suffering from dreadful malady, the gangrenous infection of five distinct ulcers upon his leg. He endured these sufferings bravely, for in his excess of love he wished to suffer.
When he had received the last sacraments of the Church with holy and saintly devotion, he embraced the image of Christ crucified, who was in his heart always as well as on his lips, and said, "Into Thy hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit." Having spoken this he fell asleep in the Lord. He died on the day, and at the very hour, he had predicted in the year of salvation 1591, in the forty-ninth year of his age. At his death a ball of fire enveloped his soul. His Body exhaled exhaled a distinct fragrance and still lies uncorrupted and reverenced at Segovia. As he had been famous for his miracles, both before and after his death, the supreme pontiff, Benedict XIII enrolled him among the saints. Pius XI, after consultation with the Congregation of Sacred Rites, declared him a doctor of the universal Church.
Also commemorated Nov. 24th
St. Chrysogonus, Martyr
The birth of heaven," says the Roman Martyrology, "of St. Chrysogonus, martyr, who after having been long in chains and in prison for the faith of Christ, having endured these torments with the greatest fortitude, was taken to Aquileia, by order of Diocletian, and there beheaded and thrown into the sea: such was his glorious martyrdom." St. Chrysogonus is mentioned in the Canon of the Mass and in his church at Rome is held the Station on Monday in Passion Week.
O Eternal Shepherd, watch over the peace of Thy flock, and through blessed Clement, Thy Martyr and Sovereign Pontiff, whom thou didst appoint shepherd over the whole Church, keep her under Thy constant protection. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.
O God, Who dost gladden us with the yearly festival of blessed Cecilia thy Virgin and Martyr: grant, that we who honor her with our service, may also follow the example of her godly life. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.
November 21st, The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
O God, Who didst will the blessed and ever-Virgin Mary, herself the dwelling-place of the Holy Ghost, should this day be presented in the temple; grant, we beseech Thee, that through her intercession we may be found worthy to be presented in the temple of Thy glory. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.
The Presentation of Mary in the Temple
The king shall greatly desire thy beauty: for He is the Lord Thy God, and Him they shall adore. (Psalm xliv. 12.)
Mary from the first moment of her existence offered herself to God as an entire and an unblemished holocaust. From the instant when she was conceived immaculate the burden of her continual song was this: "I live; not I, but God Who lives in me." Oh, glorious child, who was thus from the first a participator of the divine nature!
But she was not content with this mere offering of her heart. She must in outward act consecrate herself to God. As soon as her tine feet could walk she was brought to the Temple by her holy parents, Joachim and Anne. With what an ecstasy of delight she must have entered into the Temple, crying out: "How lovely are Thy tabernacles, O Lord of hosts: my soul longeth and fainteth for the courts of the Lord." (Psalm lxxxiii. I, 2.) Have I any of the same desire to consecrate my life to God?
Mary knew that God is not to be found in the midst of the tumult and confusion of distracting cares, but that it is in silence and in solitude that He speaks to the heart (Osee ii. 14). She was teaching us to give, in some quiet retreat, now and again, our thoughts and our hearts to God and God alone.
Mary, it was thy lowliness,
Well pleasing to the Lord,
That made thee worthy to become
The Mother of the Word.
O God, Who didst vouchsafe by a token from heaven to call blessed Felix Thy Confessor out of the desert to the work of ransoming captives: grant, we beseech Thee, that we, being by his intercession delivered through Thy grace from the captivity of sin, may be brought to our heavenly country. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.
Enlighten the hearts of Thy faithful O God of mercy; and through the renowned prayers of blessed Elizabeth, grant that we may despise worldly welfare, and ever be gladdened by consolation from heaven. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.
November 18th, Dedication of the Basilicas of Sts. Peter and Paul
O God, Who year by year bringest round once more the day of the consecration of this Thy holy temple, and summonest us, still hale and well, to take part again and again in these holy mysteries: graciously hear Thy people's prayer, and grant that, whosoever shall enter into this holy temple to ask good things from Thee, they may receive with joy whatever they shall ask. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.
Dedication of the Basilicas of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul
Among the holy places venerated by the ancient Christians, the most honored and most frequented were those where were preserved the bodies of saints, or some relic or memento of the Martyrs. Chief among these sanctuaries has been that portion of Vatican Hill called the Confession of Saint Peter. Christians from all parts of the world have flocked here as to the rock of faith and the foundation of the Church. With the greatest reverence and devotion they have honored this spot, hallowed by the tomb of the Prince of the Apostles.
Here came the Emperor Constantine the Great on the octave day of his baptism. Taking off his crown he prostrated himself upon the ground and wept bitterly. Then, taking a shovel and a two-pronged fork, he broke the sod. From that spot twelve baskets of earth, in honor of the twelve apostles, were taken away. Thus Constantine marked out the site on which he built the basilica of the Prince of the Apostles.
The holy pope Sylvester dedicated it on November 18th as he had consecrated the Lateran church on November 9th. In this basilica Sylvester set up a stone altar and anointed it with holy chrism. Henceforth, he decreed, all altars must be of stone. This same blessed Sylvester dedicated the basilica of Saint Paul the Apostle, a magnificent edifice also constructed by the Emperor Constantine, out on the Ostian Way. This same emperor endowed these basilicas by grants of many estates and decorated them lavishly with rich gifts.
November 17th, St. Gregory Thaumaturgus, Bishop and Confessor
Grant, we beseech Thee, Almighty God: that the holy festival of blessed Gregory Thy Confessor and Bishop may both increase our devotion and advance our salvation. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.
O God, Who in the heart of the blessed Virgin Gertrude, didst provide for Thyself a dwelling very pleasing in Thy sight: through her merits and intercession mercifully wash the stains from our hearts and grant that we may enjoy fellowship with her. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.
November 15th, St. Albert the Great, Bishop, Confessor and Doctor of the Church
O God, Who didst make Blessed Albert, Thy Bishop and Doctor, great through subordinating human wisdom to divine faith: grant, we beseech Thee, that we may keep so firmly in the path of his authoritative teaching that we may enjoy perfect light in heaven. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.
November 15th, St. Albert the Great, Bishop, Confessor and Doctor of the Church
O God, Who didst make Blessed Albert, Thy Bishop and Doctor, great through subordinating human wisdom to divine faith: grant, we beseech Thee, that we may keep so firmly in the path of his authoritative teaching that we may enjoy perfect light in heaven. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.
Stir up within Thy Church, O Lord, we beseech Thee, the Spirit which did so fill blessed Josaphat, Thy Martyr and Bishop, that he laid down his life for his sheep: by his intercession let us be so stirred and strengthened by the same Spirit, that we may not shrink from giving our lives for the brethren. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.
Music: Bogurodzica (The Mother of God), is the oldest Polish religious hymn. It was composed somewhere between the 10th and 13th centuries.
Almighty and everlasting God, Who in Thy wonderful providence hast chosen the weak things of the world to confound the strong, mercifully grant to us, Thy humble servants, that through the good prayers of blessed Didacus Thy confessor, we may become worthy to be raised to everlasting glory in heaven. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.
Born in Spain about A.D. 1400, he gave up all he possessed and entered, as a lay-brother, the Franciscan monastery at Arrizafa. He devoted himself especially to contemplation and was favored by God by such wonderful light that he spoke of heavenly things in an almost divine way. His ardent desire for martyrdom while he was in the Canary Islands was partly satisfied by all manner of tribulations.
He returned to Rome the year of the Jubilee, under the pontificate of Nicholas V, was put in charge of the sick at the convent of Ars Caeli, and practiced so much charity, that in spite of the scarcity which desolated the city, those who were committed to his care never wanted the necessaries of life. The passion of Jesus was the ordinary subject of his meditations and prayers. Feeling that his end was near, with his eyes fixed on the cross, he uttered the words of the sacred hymn: "Wood and nails full of sweetness, ye bear the sweetest of loads; how great your glory since you have been judged worthy to bear the King of heaven." He piously gave up his soul to God at Alcala de Henares in 1463.
O Eternal Shepherd, watch over the peace of thy flock, and through blessed Martin, Thy Martyr and Sovereign Pontiff, whom Thou didst appoint shepherd over the whole Church, keep her under Thy constant protection. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.
Martin was born at Todi in Umbria. At the beginning of his pontificate he sent letters and emissaries to Paul, patriarch of Constantinople in an endeavor to recall that bishop from his deplorable apostasy from the true Catholic faith. But Paul, supported by the heretical emperor Constans, had become so steeped in that madness that he banished the legates of the Apostolic See to various places in the islands. The Pontiff, indignant at this outrage, summoned a council at Rome. One hundred and five bishops attended this assembly which condemned Paul.
Constans, therefore, sent the exarch Olympius into Italy to plan either to assassinate Pope Martin or to bring him prisoner to the emperor. When Olympius reached Rome he ordered a lictor to slay the Pope while he was celebrating Mass in the basilica of Saint Mary at the Manger. As the lictor arrived at the church he was suddenly stricken blind.
Ffrom that time on Constans suffered many calamities but they did not make him
better. He sent Theodore Calliopas to the City to lay hands upon the Pope. Theodore arrested Martin through treachery and took him to Constantinople. Constans exiled him to the Chersonesus, where on September 16th, worn out by his sufferings for the Catholic faith, Martin died. Even then he was renowned for miracles. Later his body was taken to Rome and buried in the church dedicated to Saint Sylvester and Saint Martin. He had ruled the Church six years, one month and twenty-six days. During that time he had held two ordinations in the month of December, ordained eleven priests, five deacons, and consecrated thirty-three bishops for various sees.
November 11th, St. Martin of Tours, Bishop and Confessor
O God, Who knowest that we stand not by any strength of our own: mercifully grant, that by the intercession of blessed Martin Thy Confessor and Bishop, we may be shielded from all harm. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.
Saint Martin, born in Pannonia (Hungary), followed his father, a military tribune in the service of Rome, to Italy. Although he was raised in paganism, he felt nothing but contempt for its cult, and as though he were Christian by nature, he took pleasure only in the assemblies of the faithful, which he attended despite his family's opposition. When he was fifteen years old, he was forcibly enrolled in the Roman armies and went to serve in Gaul, the land he was predestined to evangelize one day. What would become of this young boy, when exposed to the libertinage of the camps? Would his faith not be obliterated? No, for God was watching over His vessel of election.
The most famous episode of this period in his life is his meeting with a poor man almost naked in the dead of winter, and trembling with cold. Martin did not have a penny to give him, but he remembered the text of the Gospel: I was naked, and you clothed Me. My friend, he said, I have nothing but my weapons and my garments. And taking up his sword, he divided his cloak into two parts and gave one to the beggar. The following night he saw Jesus Christ in a dream, clothed with this half-cloak and saying to His Angels: It is Martin, still a catechumen, who covered Me. Soon afterwards he received Baptism.
Disinterested charity, purity, and bravery distinguished the life of the young soldier. He obtained his discharge at the age of about twenty. Martin succeeded in converting his mother, but was driven from his home by the Arians. He took refuge with Saint Hilary, Bishop of Poitiers. After having given striking proofs of his attachment to the faith of Nicea, he founded near Poitiers the celebrated monastery of Ligugé, the first in Gaul. The brilliance of his sanctity and his miracles raised him in 372 to the episcopal throne of Tours, despite his lively resistance. His life thereafter was but a continual succession of prodigies and apostolic labors. His flock, though Christian in name, was still pagan at heart. Unarmed and attended only by his monks, Martin destroyed the heathen temples and groves, and completed by his preaching and miracles the conversion of the people. His power over demons was extraordinary. Idolatry never recovered from the blows given it by Saint Martin.
After having visited and renewed his diocese, the servant of God felt pressed to extend his journeyings and labors beyond its confines. Clothed in a poor tunic and a rude cloak, and seated on an ass, accompanied only by a few religious, he left like a poor missionary to evangelize the countryside. He passed through virtually all the provinces of Gaul, and neither mountains, nor rivers, nor dangers of any description stopped him. Everywhere his undertakings were victorious, and he more than earned his title of the Light and the Apostle of Gaul.
O God, Thou didst marvelously lift up to Thyself the heart of blessed Andrew Thy Confessor, by means of his steadfast vow to advance in virtue daily: grant, we beseech Thee, that through his merits and intercession we may share in the like grace, so that, by ever following the more perfect way, we may happily be brought to Thy glory on high. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.
After a holy youth devoted to serious studies of philosophy and the humanities in Venice, Lancelot Avellino was ordained priest by the bishop of Naples. He was assigned to the chaplaincy of a community of nuns, sadly in need of reform; his intrepid courage and perseverance finally overcame many difficulties, and regular observance was restored in the monastery. Certain irritated libertines, however, decided to do away with him and, waiting for him when he was about to leave a church, felled him with three sword thrusts. He lost much blood, but his wounds healed perfectly without leaving any trace. The viceroy of Naples was ready to employ all his authority to punish the authors of this sacrilege; the holy priest, not desiring the death of sinners but rather their conversion and their salvation, declined to pursue them. One of them, however, died soon afterwards, assassinated by a man who wished to avenge a dishonor to his house.
He was still practicing law, which he had studied in Naples; one day a slight untruth escaped him in the defense of a client, and he conceived such regret for his fault that he vowed to practice law no longer. In 1556, at the age of thirty-six, he entered the Theatine Order, taking the name of Andrew out of love for the cross. After a pilgrimage to Rome to the tombs of the Apostles, he returned to Naples and was named master of novices in his Community, a duty he fulfilled for ten years. He was also chosen to be Superior of the house there, and then was sent out to found two houses elsewhere, at Milan and Piacenza. At the latter city he again met the opposition of libertines; but the Duke of Parma, to whom letters accusing him were directed, was completely charmed when he met him, and regarded him thereafter as a Saint.
He then became Superior of the Milan foundation, where his friendship with Saint Charles Borromeo took root; the two Saints conversed together often. And Saint Andrew, with his admirable simplicity, confided to the Archbishop that he had seen Our Lord, and that since that time the impression of His divine beauty, remaining with him constantly, had rendered insipid all other so-called beauties of the earth. Petitions were presented to Pope Gregory XIV to make him a bishop, but he declined that honor with firmness, having always desired to remain obedient rather than to command. When his term as superior ended, he was successful in avoiding the government of another Theatine residence for only three years, then became superior at Saint Paul of Naples.
Once when Saint Andrew was taking the Viaticum to a dying person and a storm extinguished the lamps, a heavenly light surrounded him, guided his steps, and sheltered him from the rain. But he was far from exempt from sufferings. His horse threw him one day on a rough road, and since his feet were caught in the stirrups, dragged him for a long time along this road. He invoked Saint Dominic and Saint Thomas Aquinas, who came to him, wiped his face covered with blood, cured his wounds, and even helped him back onto the horse. He attributed such episodes to his unworthiness, believing he was among the reprobate, but Saint Thomas once again came to him, accompanied by Saint Augustine, and restored his confidence in the love and mercy of God.
On the last day of his life, November 10, 1608, Saint Andrew rose to say Mass. He was eighty-eight years old, and so weak he could scarcely reach the altar. He began the Judica me, Deus, the opening prayer, but fell forward, the victim of apoplexy. Laid on a straw mattress, his whole frame was convulsed in agony, while the ancient fiend, in visible form, advanced as though to seize his soul. Then, while the onlookers prayed and wept, he invoked Our Lady, and his Guardian Angel seized the monster and dragged it out of the room. A calm and holy smile settled on the features of the dying Saint and, as he gazed with a grateful countenance on the image of Mary, his holy soul winged its way to God.
November 9th, Dedication of the Basilica of Saint Saviour and St. Theodore
O God, Who dost encompass and shield us by the glorious confession of blessed Theodore Thy Martyr: grant that we may profit by his example, and be strengthened by his intercession. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.
Saint Theodore Tyro, one of the most celebrated of the oriental martyrs, was born of a noble family in the East, and enrolled while still a youth in the imperial army. Early in 306, when he had just joined the legion and marched with its soldiers into the Pont, the Roman Emperor issued an edict requiring all Christians to offer sacrifice. The young man was faced with the choice between apostasy and death. He declared before his commander that he was ready to be cut in pieces and offer up every limb to his Creator, Who had died for him. Wishing to conquer him by gentleness, the commander left him in peace for a while, that he might think over his resolution.
He profited from his liberty to fortify other confessors for martyrdom, and in his ardor for the downfall of idolatry he set fire to a temple dedicated to the goddess Cybel, called "the mother of the gods." He did not attempt to conceal his act, but when arrested admitted at once that he was the author of it, and that he had undertaken it to prevent the sacrileges committed every day in that place of abomination. The judge could not persuade him to renounce this "crime" and adore the empires divinities; he therefore had him cruelly whipped and then shut up in a solitary cell with the order to give him nothing to eat and let him die of hunger.
Our Lord visited him during the night and consoled him, and He told his servant He Himself would nourish him invisibly. This visit filled him with such joy that he began to sing; and at the same moment, Angels in white robes appeared in his prison, to sing hymns of joy with him. The jailers and guardians all witnessed this spectacle, as did also the judge Publius who had condemned him, but none of them were touched by it. They gave him an ounce of bread and a flask of water every day, only to prolong his martyrdom. The Saint refused these offerings.
When the authorities made him fine promises and attempted to persuade him to conform, he protested that never would he say one word or make one gesture contrary to the fidelity he owed to his sovereign Lord. He was again beaten and tortured with iron hooks, then burnt with torches, and condemned finally to be burnt alive, to punish him for the fire he had ignited. He made the sign of the Cross, and filled with faith, hope and pure love of God, gave up to Him his beautiful soul, victorious and laden with merits. The year was 304. The Christians saw his soul rise to heaven like a flash of light and fire.
Dedication of the Lateran Basilica
The residence of the Popes which was named the Lateran Palace was built by Lateranus Palutius, whom Nero put to death to seize his goods. It was given in the year 313 by Constantine the Great to Saint Miltiades, Pope, and was inhabited by his successors until 1308, when they moved to Avignon. The Lateran Basilica built by Constantine near the palace of the same name, is the first Basilica of the West. Twelve councils, four of which were ecumenical, have assembled there, the first in 649, the last in 1512.
If for several centuries the Popes have no longer dwelt in the Palace, the primacy of the Basilica is not thereby altered; it remains the head of all churches. Saint Peter Damian wrote that "just as the Saviour is the Head of the elect, the church which bears His name is the head of all the churches. Those of Saints Peter and Paul, to its left and its right, are the two arms by which this sovereign and universal Church embraces the entire earth, saving all who desire salvation, warming them, protecting them in its maternal womb."
The Divine Office narrates the dedication of the Church by the Pope of Peace, Saint Sylvester:
"It was the Blessed Pope Sylvester who established the rites observed by the Roman Church for the consecration of churches and altars. From the time of the Apostles there had been certain places dedicated to God, which some called oratories, and others, churches. There, on the first day of the week, the assembly was held, and there the Christian people were accustomed to pray, to hear the Word of God, and to receive the Eucharist. But never had these places been consecrated so solemnly; nor had a fixed altar been placed there which, anointed with sacred chrism, was the symbol of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Who for us is altar, victim and Pontiff. But when the Emperor Constantine through the sacrament of Baptism had obtained health of body and salvation of soul, a law was issued by him which for the first time permitted that everywhere in the world Christians might build churches.
Not satisfied to establish this edict, the prince wanted to give an example and inaugurate the holy labors. Thus in his own Lateran palace, he dedicated a church to the Saviour, and founded the attached baptistry under the name of Saint John the Baptist, in the place where he himself, baptized by Saint Sylvester, had been cured of leprosy. It is this church which the Pontiff consecrated in the fifth of the ides of November; and we celebrate the commemoration on that day, when for the first time in Rome a church was thus publicly consecrated, and where a painting of the Saviour was visible on the wall before the eyes of the Roman people."
When the Lateran Church was partially ruined by fires, enemy invasions, and earthquakes, it was always rebuilt with great zeal by the Sovereign Pontiffs. In 1726, after one such restoration, Pope Benedict XIII consecrated it anew and assigned the commemoration of that event to the present day. The church was afterwards enlarged and beautified by Popes Pius IX and Leo XIII.
The Apostles, disciples of Christ, are held to be teachers of the faithful; the valiant Confessors give battle, the heroic martyrs triumph, and Christian hosts, armed by God, always prevail over the devil. All these have been men, alike in valor, unlike in their strife, glorious in their victory. Hence, O Christian, you are but a faint-hearted soldier if you think you can conquer without a battle, triumph without a struggle. Use your strength, fight manfully, wage a fierce battle. Remember your covenant, consider your situation, study your battlefield. You have pledged yourself to a contract, you have taken up a responsibility, you have enlisted in an army.
Four Holy Crowned Martyrs
Grant, we beseech thee, Almighty God: that we, who acknowledge the boldness of the glorious Martyrs in their confession, may enjoy their loving intercession with Thee. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.
On the Means We All Have to Become Saints
by Bishop Richard Challener
Consider first, that if our Lord calls upon us all to be Saints, and even commands us all to be Saints; He that never commands impossibilites, furnishes us also with the means, which, if we make good use of, will make us Saints. Witness, those manifold graces, and spiritual helps, which He continually favours us with; which if we duly corresponded with, we should all be Saints. Witness that early knowledge He has given us of His heavenly truths; and those repeated invitations with which He sweetly presses us to turn from our sins, and to come to Him. O if we did but welcome these first divine calls, how quickly would they produce in our souls strong desires of dedicating ourselves in good earnest to divine love! Now such strong desires as these are the beginning of true wisdom, and the very foundation of all sanctity. For since God desires we should be Saints, if we also sincerely desire it, the work will be done. Strong desires will make us earnest in prayer; they will make us diligent and fervent in all spiritual exercises. Strong desires will make us labour in earnest: we shall spare no pains in the acquisition of virtues, if our desires are strong indeed. Such desires as these are that hunger and thirst after justice, recommended! by our Lord, which never fails of being filled, Matt. v. 6. O who can complain of wanting the means to become a Saint, when strong desires may do the work!
Consider 2dly, the many particular helps for sanctity which we meet with every where in the church of God: which, as they have already made many great Saints, in every state and condition of life; are capable of doing as much for us; and will not fail of doing it, if we are not wanting to God, and to ourselves, by the abuse or neglect of them. Such are the sacraments, those conduits of divine grace, instituted by Jesus Christ on purpose to make us Saints. Such, in particular, is that most holy sacrament, and divine sacrifice, of the body and blood of Christ; in which we have always amongst us, and may daily approach to, the very fountain of all sanctity. Oh! my soul, one good and perfect communion may suffice to make thee a Saint. Such again is the word of God, which is so often preached to us, or read by us: the truths of eternity, so often set before us: the gospel of Jesus Christ: the lives of the Saints: the great examples of the living servants of God: the mysteries relating to our redemption, which we so often celebrate in the public worship of the church, in such manner, as to make them as it were present to the eyes of our souls: with abundance of other spiritual advantages which are continually found in the communion of the true church of Christ. O, Christians, let us never complain of our wanting the means to become Saints, when we have so many powerful graces and helps always at hand! If we are not saints, it must be entirely our own fault. And, what an account shall we have one day to give for all these graces and helps, if we do not make good use of them!
Consider 3dly, that in order to be Saints, nothing is required on our parts, but what God on His part will make sweet and easy to us : for His yoke is sweet, and His burthen is light. We may apply to His commandment of our being Saints, what is written Deut. xxx. 11, &c. This commandment that I command thee this day, is not above thee, nor far off from thee: nor is it in heaven, that thou shouldst say, which of us can go up to heaven, to bring it to us: . . . nor is it beyond the sea, that thou mayest excuse thyself, and say, which of us can cross the sea, and bring it. . . . But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it. Yes, Christians, our God is very near us: He is in the very center of our souls. With Him are all the treasures of grace and sanctity; with Him is the law of love, He is all love: He is a consuming fire, the property of which is to destroy all our vices, and to transform our souls into Himself. He is the inexhaustible source of a