30 June 2022

St. Junipero Serra, Priest and Missionary


As America was being formed through its revolution in the east, another part of the future United States was being born in the west. Missions were being established under the direction of a grey-robed Franciscan, known to us as St. Junipero Serra. He was born in 1713 in Spain on the island of Majorca. Well into his adult life, until he was thirty-five, he spent most of his time in the classroom, first as a student of theology and then as a teacher. At the same time he was becoming famous for his preaching. Suddenly he gave it all up and followed a vocation God had given him; namely, to preach the Gospel to the native people of the New World.


In 1750 he arrived by ship at Vera Cruz, Mexico. He and a companion walked the 250 miles to Mexico City, but on the way Junipero's left leg became infected by an insect bite. This would remain a difficult and often life-threatening illness for the rest of his life. For eighteen years he worked in central Mexico and in the Baja Peninsula. He then went to the area of present-day Monterey, California. The first mission was founded after the nine-hundred-mile journey north in 1769. Other missions followed, making a total of nine missions being founded under the direction of St. Junipero, and twelve more were founded after his death.


Junipero's missionary life was a long battle with cold and hunger, with unsympathetic and prideful military commanders, and even with danger of death from the native people he had come to serve. During his ministry he baptized more than six thousand people and confirmed some five thousand. His travels would have circled the globe. He brought to the people of the New World not only the gift of faith but also the highest standard of living they had ever known. He was deeply loved by the people he served, which they showed by their outpouring of grief at his death in 1784.


He was beatified in 1987 and canonized on 23 September 2015.


O God, who by thine ineffable mercy hast been pleased through the labours of thy Priest Saint Junipero Serra to count many American peoples within thy Church: grant by his intercession; that we may so join our hearts to thee in love, as to carry always and everywhere before all people the image of thine Only Begotten Son; who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

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Pictured: Statue of St. Junipero Serra,
located in the National Statuary Hall, Washington, D.C.

29 June 2022

The First Martyrs of Rome


These are the holy men and women who are called the "Protomartyrs of Rome." They were accused of burning Rome by Nero, who burned Rome to cover his own crimes. Some martyrs were burned as living torches at evening banquets, some crucified, others were fed to wild animals. These martyrs died before Sts. Peter and Paul, and are called "disciples of the Apostles. . . whom the Holy Roman church sent to their Lord before the Apostles' death."

Pope Clement I, third successor of St. Peter, writes: “It was through envy and jealousy that the greatest and most upright pillars of the Church were persecuted and struggled unto death.... First of all, Peter, who because of unreasonable jealousy suffered not merely once or twice but many times, and, having thus given his witness, went to the place of glory that he deserved. It was through jealousy and conflict that Paul showed the way to the prize for perseverance. He was put in chains seven times, sent into exile, and stoned; a herald both in the east and the west, he achieved a noble fame by his faith... Around these men with their holy lives there are gathered a great throng of the elect, who, though victims of jealousy, gave us the finest example of endurance in the midst of many indignities and tortures. Through jealousy women were tormented... suffering terrible and unholy acts of violence. But they courageously finished the course of faith and despite their bodily weakness won a noble prize.”

O God, who didst consecrate the abundant first fruits of the Roman Church by the blood of the Martyrs: grant, we beseech thee; that with firm courage we may together draw strength from so great a struggle and ever rejoice at the triumph of faithful love; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

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Pictured: "First Martyrs of Rome" by Henryk Siemiradzki (1843–1902)

28 June 2022

St. Peter and St. Paul, Apostles


On June 29th the Church celebrates the feast day of Ss. Peter & Paul. As early as the year 258 there is evidence of an already lengthy tradition of celebrating the solemnities of both Saint Peter and Saint Paul on the same day. Together, the two saints are the founders of the See of Rome through their preaching, ministry and martyrdom there.

Peter, who was named Simon, was a fisherman of Galilee. Jesus gave him the name Cephas (Petrus in Latin), which means ‘Rock,’ because he was to be the rock upon which Christ would build His Church. Peter was the first to recognize that Jesus was “the Messiah, the Son of the living God,” and pledged his fidelity until death.

Although he had his human weaknesses, Peter was chosen to shepherd God's flock. Peter led the Apostles as the first Pope and ensured that the disciples kept the true faith. St. Peter spent his last years in Rome, leading the Church through persecution and eventually was martyred in the year 64. He was crucified upside-down at his own request, because he said he was not worthy to die as his Lord.

He was buried on Vatican hill, and St. Peter's Basilica is built over his tomb.

St. Paul was the Apostle of the Gentiles. His letters are included in the writings of the New Testament, and through them we learn much about his life and the faith of the early Church.

Before using his Gentile name of Paul, he was Saul, a Jewish pharisee who viciously persecuted Christians in Jerusalem. Scripture records that Saul was present at the martyrdom of St. Stephen.

Saul's conversion took place as he was on his way to Damascus to persecute the Christian community there. As he was traveling along the road, he was suddenly surrounded by a great light from heaven. He was blinded and fell from his horse. He then heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” He answered: “Who are you, Lord?” Christ said: “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.” Saul continued to Damascus, where he was baptized and his sight was restored. He spent the remainder of his life preaching the Gospel tirelessly to the Gentiles of the Mediterranean world.

Paul was imprisoned and taken to Rome, where he was beheaded in the year 67. He is buried in Rome in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls.

St. Augustine of Hippo wrote, "Both apostles share the same feast day, for these two were one; And even though they suffered on different days, they were as one. Peter went first, and Paul followed. And so we celebrate this day made holy for us by the apostles' blood. Let us embrace what they believed, their life, their labours, their sufferings, their preaching, and their confession of faith."

O God, who didst give such grace unto thy holy Apostles Saint Peter and Saint Paul, that they were enabled to bear witness to the truth by their death: grant unto thy Church that, as in the beginning she was enlightened by their teaching, so by their intercession she may continue in the same unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ; who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

Basilica of St. Peter, Vatican City State



Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, Rome

O God, who by the preaching of thy holy apostles Ss. Peter and Paul didst cause the light of thy gospel to shine upon the nations: Grant, we beseech thee, that we, having their life and labour in remembrance, may show forth our thankfulness to thee for so great a gift, by following the example of their zeal and service; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

27 June 2022

St. Irenaeus, Bishop and Martyr


St. Irenaeus was born in Asia Minor, probably around the year 125. It is not known when he came to Gaul. He was a priest of the Church of Lyons during the persecution of 177 when St. Pothinus, first bishop of the city and the first martyr of Lyons, was put to death. Irenaeus succeeded him as bishop and twenty-five years later was martyred in his turn during a fresh persecution.

As bishop of Lyons he was especially concerned with the Gnostics, who took their name from the Greek word for “knowledge.” Claiming access to secret knowledge imparted by Jesus to only a few disciples, their teaching was attracting and confusing many Christians. After thoroughly investigating the various Gnostic sects and their “secret,” Irenaeus showed to what logical conclusions their tenets led. These he contrasted with the teaching of the apostles and the text of Holy Scripture, giving us, in five books, a system of theology of great importance to subsequent times. Moreover, his work, widely used and translated into Latin and Armenian, gradually ended the influence of the Gnostics.

O God, who didst bestow upon blessed Irenaeus, thy Martyr and Bishop, grace to overcome false doctrine by the teaching of the truth, and to establish thy Church in peace and prosperity: we beseech thee; that thou wouldest give thy people constancy in thy true religion; and grant us thy peace all the days of our life; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

26 June 2022

St. Cyril of Alexandria


St. Cyril (born c. 376) is one of the great Greek fathers of the Church. He was the Church’s defender against Nestorius, who denied the unity of Christ’s person. If this heresy had succeeded, Mary would not be called the Mother of God.

 Along with St. Athanasius and St. Augustine, he was one of the greatest defenders of orthodoxy in the history of the Church. His greatest achievement was the successful outcome of the ecumenical council at Ephesus (431), to which Pope Celestine had appointed Cyril as his papal legate. In this council two important dogmas were defined; namely, that there is but one person in Christ, and that Mary truly and rightly can be called the Mother of God (Theotokos).

 His writings show immense depth and theological clarity, which were so necessary at a time when heresies were threatening the orthodox teaching of the Church.

 St. Cyril died in 444 A.D., after having been bishop of Alexandria for thirty-two years.


O God, who didst strengthen thy blessed Confessor and Bishop Saint Cyril, invincibly to maintain the divine motherhood of the Blessed Virgin Mary: vouchsafe that at his intercession we, believing her to be indeed the Mother of God, may as her children rejoice in her protection; through the same Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

25 June 2022

The Gospel for Trinity II: Some Practical Advice

 

As they were going along the road, a man said to him, "I will follow you wherever you go." And Jesus said to him, "Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head." To another he said, "Follow me." But he said, "Lord, let me first go and bury my father." But he said to him, "Leave the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God." Another said, "I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home." Jesus said to him, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God."

- Luke 9:57-62


In this brief Gospel passage Jesus speaks to three men who said they wanted to follow Him. Jesus gives them some very practical advice, applicable to all of us who want to be His disciples.

To the first man, His advice was, "Before you follow me, understand that there’s a cost to it – after all, even the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head." To follow Christ is demanding, but the demands are high – and that’s for our own good. A religion consisting of “the lowest common denominator” moves nobody. In fact, it can leave a person worse off than having no religion, because it’s quite possible to settle into a non-demanding sense of vague spirituality, something of one’s own making, with no demands, no real worship except towards oneself.

Jesus' words to the second man at first may sound harsh, but that probably has to do with translating a cultural expression. In fact, it's probable that the man's father was not dead yet, but the man was thinking about that eventuality. What he was most likely saying was, "I will follow you after my father has died." In other words, “I’ll do it someday; I’ll get to it later.” To this man Jesus makes the important point that in everything there is a crucial moment. If that moment is missed the thing most likely will never be done at all. This second man had some stirrings in his heart to get out of his spiritually dead surroundings, and Jesus is telling him that if he missed this moment he might never move on. This is a reminder to all of us, that we need to be mindful about putting off the doing of some good thing or right act until later. If we take one simple example - sometimes we think we should write a letter, perhaps of sympathy, perhaps of thanks, perhaps of congratulations. What happens if we put it off? Probably it’ll never be written. Jesus urges us to act at the moment when our hearts are stirred.

Christ’s words to the third man state a plain truth. No ploughman ever ploughed a straight furrow looking back over his shoulder. Any farmer can tell us that. If we’re always looking back, we aren’t looking where we’re going, and in fact we may well lose sight of the goal God has put in front of us. If we spend all our time remembering only “what it was like,” we’re in danger of missing out on “what is supposed to be.”

24 June 2022

Immaculate Heart of Mary


Following upon the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus is the commemoration of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  Here is a prayer for consecrating ourselves to her motherly heart.

O Mary, Virgin most powerful and Mother of mercy, Queen of Heaven and Refuge of sinners; we consecrate ourselves to thy Immaculate Heart. We consecrate to thee our very being and our whole life: all that we have, all that we love, all that we are. To thee we give our bodies, our hearts, and our souls; to thee we give our homes, our families, and our country. We desire that all that is in us and around us may belong to thee, and may share in the benefits of thy motherly blessing. And that this act of consecration may be truly fruitful and lasting, we renew this day at thy feet the promises of our Baptism and our First Holy Communion.


We pledge ourselves to profess courageously and at all times the truths of our holy Faith, and to live as befits Catholics, who are submissive to all directions of the Pope and the Bishops in communion with him. We pledge ourselves to keep the commandments of God and of His Church, in particular to keep holy the Lord’s Day. We pledge ourselves to make the consoling practices of the Christian religion, and above all, Holy Communion, an important part of our lives, in so far as we are able to do.


Finally, we promise thee, O glorious Mother of God and loving Mother of men, to devote ourselves wholeheartedly to the spreading of devotion to thy Immaculate Heart, in order to hasten and assure, through thy queenly rule, the coming of the Kingdom of the Sacred Heart of thine adorable Son Jesus Christ, in our own country, and in all the world; as in Heaven, so on earth. Amen.

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Pictured: "Immaculate Heart of Mary"
by Charles Bosseron Chambers (1882-1964)

23 June 2022

The Most Sacred Heart of Jesus


When there was no such concept as time, before creation, God existed as the Holy Trinity, in fellowship with Himself, and His love existed within that communion. With the creation, humanity was brought into that communion of divine love. The love of God was the only love there was then, the love of God is the only love there is now, and the love of God is the only love there will ever be. We are not creators of love, but we are the receivers and transmitters of the love of God. And we can transmit only as much as we receive. To tell us of His love, God sent his only Son. “The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.” Jesus is the greatest expression of the love of God for us and He is the greatest expression of the human response to that love.

Jesus as the divine Son of God was also human, the son of Mary. He spoke with divine authority but He spoke in human language. He spoke in the simple language of the ordinary people of His day about the things they were most familiar with: the birds of the air, the lilies of the field, the sower and the seed, the vine and the branches. When He wanted to tell His apostles how important they were He said that they were the “light of the world” and the “salt of the earth.” And when He wanted to tell us of God’s love He used the heart, the human symbol of love. He told us that we should learn of Him, that He was meek and humble of heart, and we would find rest for our souls.

The contemporaries of Jesus knew this meek and humble heart of Jesus and they knew that it beat with unconditional love for them. Rough, simple fishermen left their boats and nets to follow him. Learned doctors sat at His feet to hear His wisdom. A tax collector left his money table to become His disciple. Multitudes followed Him for days, and so captivated were they that they forgot to bring food to eat. The sick fought their way through the crowds just to touch the hem of His garment. And they all found peace and rest for their souls.

In a time when man desperately needs God’s love, here he can find it, in the Lord Jesus Christ, whose Sacred Heart is a refuge where God’s love may be found, a fountain from which God’s love is poured out upon us.

O God, who hast suffered the Heart of thy Son to be wounded by our sins, and in that very Heart hast bestowed on us the abundant riches of thy love: grant, we beseech thee; that the devout homage of our hearts which we render unto him, may of thy mercy be deemed a recompense acceptable in thy sight; through the same Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

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Pictured: "Sacred Heart of Jesus"
by Charles Bosseron Chambers (1882 - 1964)

22 June 2022

Nativity of St. John the Baptist


St. John the Baptist was a contemporary of our Lord who was known for preparing the way for Jesus Christ, and for baptizing Him. John was born through an act of God to Zachariah and his wife Elizabeth, who were both advanced in age. According to the scriptures, the Angel Gabriel visited Zachariah to tell them they would have a son and that they should name him John. Zachariah was skeptical and for this he was rendered mute until the time his son was born and named John, in fulfillment of God's will.


The fact that our Lord Jesus Christ praised St. John the Baptist so highly, saying that among those born of women there was none greater, encouraged a special veneration, and so we find a regular cycle of feasts in his honour beginning in the early years of the Church.


It was the firm belief among the faithful from the time of the early Church that John was freed from original sin at the moment of the meeting of his mother with the Blessed Virgin, when the child "leaped in the womb" of St. Elizabeth. Saint Augustine mentioned this belief as a general tradition in the ancient Church, establishing that he was "filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother's womb" and, therefore, was born without original sin. Accordingly, the Church celebrates his natural birth by a festival of his nativity, assigned some six months before the nativity of Christ, since John was six months older than the Lord.


Almighty God, by whose providence thy servant Saint John the Baptist was wonderfully born, and sent to prepare the way of thy Son our Saviour, by preaching of repentance: make us so to follow his doctrine and holy life, that we may truly repent according to his preaching; and after his example constantly speak the truth, boldly rebuke vice, and patiently suffer for the truth’s sake; through the same Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.


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Pictured: "Birth of St. John Baptist," 
detail from an altarpiece by Rogier van der Weyden (c.1399 - 1464)

21 June 2022

St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More, Martyrs


Two great heroes of the English Church, forever linked, are St. John Fisher (1469-1535) and St. Thomas More (1478-1535). Standing for the apostolic dignity of the Church as against secular attempts to undermine its rightful authority, these two shed their blood for their consciences' sake, out of love for Jesus Christ and His Holy Catholic Church.

St. John Fisher, born in Beverly, Yorkshire, was educated at Cambridge, from which he received his Master of Arts degree in 1491. He served as the vicar of Northallerton from 1491 until 1494 and then became proctor of Cambridge University. In 1497, he was appointed confessor to Lady Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry VII. While at Cambridge he created scholarships, introduced Greek and Hebrew into the curriculum, and brought in the world-famous Erasmus as professor of Divinity and Greek. In 1504, he became Bishop of Rochester and Chancellor of Cambridge, in which capacity he also tutored Prince Henry who was to become Henry VIII.

From 1527 St. John Fisher actively opposed the King's divorce proceedings against Catherine, his wife in the sight of God, and steadfastly resisted the encroachment of Henry on the Church. Unlike the other Bishops of the realm, St. John refused to take the oath of succession which acknowledged the issue of Henry and Anne as the legitimate heir to the throne, and he was imprisoned in the tower in April 1534. The next year he was made a Cardinal by Pope Paul III and King Henry retaliated by having him beheaded within a month. A half hour before his execution, St. John opened his New Testament for the last time and his eyes fell on the following words from St. John's Gospel: "Eternal life is this: to know You, the only true God, and Him Whom You have sent, Jesus Christ. I have given You glory on earth by finishing the work You gave me to do. Do You now, Father, give me glory at Your side". Closing the book, he observed: "There is enough learning in that to last me the rest of my life." 

 St. Thomas More wrote these words about St. John Fisher: "I reckon in this realm no one man, in wisdom, learning, and long approved virtue together, meet to be matched and compared with him."

When it comes to our knowledge about St. Thomas More, we are fortunate to have a lengthy description of him, written by his good friend Erasmus, in a letter dated 1519:

“You ask me to paint you a full-length portrait of More as in a picture. Would that I could do it as perfectly as you eagerly desire it. At least I will try to give a sketch of the man, as well as from my long familiarity with him I have either observed or can now recall. To begin, then, with what is least known to you, in stature he is not tall, though not remarkably short. His limbs are formed with such perfect symmetry as to leave nothing to be desired. His complexion is white, his face fair rather than pale, and though by no means ruddy, a faint flush of pink appears beneath the whiteness of his skin. His hair is dark brown, or brownish black. The eyes are grayish blue, with some spots, a kind which betokens singular talent, and among the English is considered attractive, whereas Germans generally prefer black. It is said that none are so free from vice.

“His countenance is in harmony with his character, being always expressive of an amiable joyousness, and even an incipient laughter, and, to speak candidly, it is better framed for gladness than for gravity and dignity, though without any approach to folly or buffoonery. The right shoulder is a little higher than the left, especially when he walks. This is not a defect of birth, but the result of habit, such as we often contract. In the rest of his person there is nothing to offend. His hands are the least refined part of his body.

“He was from his boyhood always most careless about whatever concerned his body. His youthful beauty may be guessed from what still remains, though I knew him when be was not more than three-and-twenty. Even now he is not much over forty. He has good health, though not robust; able to endure all honourable toil, and subject to very few diseases. He seems to promise a long life, as his father still survives in a wonderfully green old age.

“I never saw anyone so indifferent about food. Until he was a young man he delighted in drinking water, but that was natural to him. Yet not to seem singular or morose, he would hide his temperance from his guests by drinking out of a pewter vessel beer almost as light as water, or often pure water. It is the custom in England to pledge each other in drinking wine. In doing so he will merely touch it with his lips, not to seem to dislike it, or to fall in with the custom. He likes to eat corned beef and coarse bread much leavened, rather than what most people count delicacies. Otherwise he has no aversion to what gives harmless pleasure to the body. He prefers milk diet and fruits, and is especially fond of eggs.

“His voice is neither loud nor very weak, but penetrating; not resounding or soft, but that of a clear speaker. Though he delights in every kind of music he has no vocal talents. He speaks with great clearness and perfect articulation, without rapidity or hesitation. He likes a simple dress, using neither silk nor purple nor gold chain, except when it may not be omitted. It is wonderful how negligent he is as regards all the ceremonious forms in which most men make politeness to consist. He does not require them from others, nor is he anxious to use them himself, at interviews or banquets, though he is not unacquainted with them when necessary. But he thinks it unmanly to spend much time in such trifles. Formerly he was most averse to the frequentation of the court, for he has a great hatred of constraint (tyrannis) and loves equality. Not without much trouble he was drawn into the court of Henry VIII., though nothing more gentle and modest than that prince can be desired. By nature More is chary of his liberty and of ease, yet, though he enjoys ease, no one is more alert or patient when duty requires it.

“He seems born and framed for friendship, and is a most faithful and enduring friend. He is easy of access to all; but if he chances to get familiar with one whose vices admit no correction, he manages to loosen and let go the intimacy rather than to break it off suddenly. When he finds any sincere and according to his heart, he so delights in their society and conversation as to place in it the principal charm of life. He abhors games of tennis, dice, cards, and the like, by which most gentlemen kill time. Though he is rather too negligent of his own interests, no one is more diligent in those of his friends. In a word, if you want a perfect model of friendship, you will find it in no one better than in More. In society he is so polite, so sweet-mannered, that no one is of so melancholy a disposition as not to be cheered by him, and there is no misfortune that he does not alleviate. Since his boyhood he has so delighted in merriment, that it seems to be part of his nature; yet he does not carry it to buffoonery, nor did he ever like biting pleasantries. When a youth he both wrote and acted some small comedies. If a retort is made against himself, even without ground, he likes it from the pleasure he finds in witty repartees. Hence he amused himself with composing epigrams when a young man, and enjoyed Lucian above all writers. Indeed, it was he who pushed me to write the ‘Praise of Folly,’ that is to say, he made a camel frisk.

“In human affairs there is nothing from which he does not extract enjoyment, even from things that are most serious. If he converses with the learned and judicious, he delights in their talent; if with the ignorant and foolish, he enjoys their stupidity. He is not even offended by professional jesters. With a wonderful dexterity he accommodates himself to every disposition. As a rule, in talking with women, even with his own wife, he is full of jokes and banter.

“No one is less led by the opinions of the crowd, yet no one departs less from common sense. One of his great delights is to consider the forms, the habits, and the instincts of different kinds of animals. There is hardly a species of bird that he does not keep in his house, and rare animals such as monkeys, foxes, ferrets, weasels and the like. If he meets with anything foreign, or in any way remarkable, he eagerly buys it, so that his house is full of such things, and at every turn they attract the eye of visitors, and his own pleasure is renewed whenever he sees others pleased."


On the morning of 19 May 1935 in St. Peter's Basilica, this Solemn Proclamation was made by Pope Pius XI:

"In honour of the Undivided Trinity, for the exaltation of the Catholic Faith and the increase of the Christian religion, by the authority of Our Lord Jesus Christ, of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, and our own, after mature deliberation and imploring the divine assistance, by the advice of our Venerable Brethen the Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, the Patriarchs, Archbishops and Bishops present in the city, We decree and define as Saints, and inscribe in the Catalogue of the Saints, Blessed John Fisher and Thomas More, and that their memory shall be celebrated in the Universal Church on the anniversaries of their heavenly birth."


Although St. Thomas More was martyred on 1 July 1535, two weeks after St. John Fisher, their respective feast days have been joined together and are celebrated on 22 June.

O GOD, who didst raise up amongst the English people thy blessed Martyrs John and Thomas to be defenders of the faith and to witness to the primacy of the Roman Church: grant by their merits and prayers; that in the profession of one faith we may all be made one in Christ, and in him continue to be at one with one another; through the same Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

20 June 2022

St. Aloysius Gonzaga


Aloysius Gonzaga grew up in 16th-century Italy, and it was a time and place not so different from what we experience today in many parts of the world. It was a morally lax and self-indulgent time, and as Aloysius saw the decadence around him, he vowed not to be part of it. That did not mean, however, that he withdrew from life around him. Like any young person, he wanted to have a good time, and as a member of an aristocratic family he had plenty of opportunities for amusement. He enjoyed horse races, banquets and the elaborate parties held in palace gardens. But if Aloysius found himself at a social function that took a turn to the immoral, he left.

Aloysius did not just want to be good, he wanted to be holy; and on this point he could be tough and uncompromising. He came by these qualities naturally. Among the great families of Renaissance Italy, the Medici were famous as patrons of the arts, and the Borgias as schemers, but the Gonzagas were a warriors. While most Gonzaga men aspired to conquer others, Aloysius was determined to conquer himself.

Aloysius wanted to be a priest. When he was twelve or thirteen, he invented for himself a program he thought would prepare him for the religious life. He climbed out of bed in the middle of the night to put in extra hours kneeling on the cold stone floor of his room. Occasionally, he even beat himself with a leather strap. Aloysius was trying to become a saint by sheer willpower. It was not until he entered the Jesuit novitiate in Rome that he had a spiritual director, St. Robert Bellarmine, to guide him into a better and more fruitful way.

Bellarmine put a stop to Aloysius’ harsh approach to sanctity, commanding him to follow the Jesuit rule of regular hours of prayer and simple acts of self-control and self-denial. Aloysius thought the Jesuits were too lenient, but he obeyed. Such over-the-top zeal may have exasperated Bellarmine, but he believed that Aloysius’ fervor was genuine and that with proper guidance the boy might be a saint.

To his credit, Aloysius recognized that his stubborn personality was a problem. From the novitiate he wrote to his brother, "I am a piece of twisted iron. I entered the religious life to get twisted straight."

Then in January 1591 the plague struck Rome. The city’s hospitals overflowed with the sick and the dying, and the Jesuits sent every priest and novice to work in the wards. This was a difficult assignment for the squeamish Aloysius. Once he started working with the sick, however, fear and disgust gave way to compassion. He went into the streets of Rome and carried the ill and the dying to the hospital on his back. There he washed them, found them a bed, or at least a pallet, and fed them. Such close contact with the sick was not without risk, and within a few weeks Aloysius contracted the plague himself and died. He was 23 years old.

In the sick, the helpless, the dying, St. Aloysius saw the crucified Christ. The man of the stubborn will who thought he could take Heaven by sheer determination surrendered at last to divine grace.

O God, the giver of all spiritual gifts, who in the angelic youth of thy blessed Saint Aloysius didst unite a wondrous penitence to a wondrous innocence of life: grant, by his merits and intercession; that although we have not followed the pattern of his innocence, yet we may imitate the example of his penitence; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

St. Alban, Protomartyr of England


THE STORY OF SAINT ALBAN
as recounted in the
Ecclesiastical History of the English People
by the Venerable Bede [672 - 735]


When infidel rulers were issuing violent edicts against the Christians, Alban, though still a heathen at the time, gave hospitality to a certain cleric who was fleeing from his persecutors. When Alban saw this man occupied day and night in continual vigils and prayers, divine grace suddenly shone upon him and he learned to imitate his guest's faith and devotion. Instructed little by little by his teaching about salvation, Alban forsook the darkness of idolatry and became a wholehearted Christian. When this cleric had been staying with him for some days, it came to the ears of the evil ruler that a man who confessed Christ, though not yet destined to be a martyr, was hiding in Alban's house. He at once ordered his soldiers to make a thorough search for him there. When they came to the martyr's dwelling, St. Alban at once offered himself to the soldiers in place of his guest and teacher, and so, having put on the garment, that is to say the cloak, which the cleric was wearing, he was brought in bonds to the judge.

Now it happened that, when Alban was brought in to him, the judge was standing before the devils' altars and offering sacrifices to them. Seeing Alban, he immediately flew into a rage because this man of his own accord had dared to give himself up to the soldiers and to run so great a risk on behalf of the guest whom he had harboured. He ordered Alban to be dragged before the images of the devils in front of which he was standing and said, 'You have chosen to conceal a profane rebel rather than surrender him to my soldiers, to prevent him from paying a well-deserved penalty for his blasphemy in despising the gods; so you will have to take the punishment he has incurred if you attempt to forsake our worship and religion.' St. Alban had of his own accord declared himself a Christian before the enemies of the faith, and was not at all afraid of the ruler's threats; arming himself for spiritual warfare, he openly refused to obey these commands. The judge said to him, 'What is your family and race?' Alban answered, 'What concern is it of yours to know my parentage? If you wish to hear the truth about my religion, know that I am now a Christian and am ready to do a Christian's duty.' The judge said, 'I insist on knowing your name, so tell me at once.' The man said, 'My parents call me Alban and I shall ever adore and worship the true and living God who created all things.' The judge answered very angrily, 'If you wish to enjoy the happiness of everlasting life, you must sacrifice at once to the mighty gods.' Alban answered, 'The sacrifices which you offer to devils cannot help their votaries nor fulfill the desires and petitions of their suppliants. On the contrary, he who has offered sacrifices to these images will receive eternal punishment in hell as his reward.' When the judge heard this he was greatly incensed and ordered the holy confessor of God to be beaten by the torturers, thinking that he could weaken by blows that constancy of heart which he could not affect by words. Alban, though he was subjected to the most cruel tortures, bore them patiently and even joyfully for the Lord's sake. So when the judge perceived that he was not to be overcome by tortures nor turned from the Christian faith, he ordered him to be executed.

As he was being led to his execution, he came to a rapid river whose stream ran between the town wall and the arena where he was to suffer. He saw there a great crowd of people of both sexes and of every age and rank, who had been led (doubtless by divine inspiration) to follow the blessed confessor and martyr. They packed the bridge over the river so tightly that he could hardly have crossed it that evening. In fact almost everyone had gone out so that the judge was left behind in the city without any attendants at all. St. Alban, whose ardent desire it was to achieve his martyrdom as soon as possible, came to the torrent and raised his eyes towards heaven. Thereupon the river-bed dried up at that very spot and he saw the waters give way and provide a path for him to walk in. The executioner who was to have put him to death was among those who saw this. Moved by a divine prompting, he hastened to meet the saint as he came to the place appointed for his execution; then he threw away his sword which he was carrying ready drawn and cast himself down at the saint's feet, earnestly praying that he might be judged worthy to be put to death either with the martyr whom he himself had been ordered to execute, or else in his place.

So while he was turned from a persecutor into a companion in the true faith, and while there was a very proper hesitation among the other executioners in taking up the sword which lay on the ground, the most reverend confessor ascended the hill with the crowds. This hill lay about five hundred paces from the arena, and, as was fitting, it was fair, shining and beautiful, adorned, indeed clothed, on all sides with wild flowers of every kind; nowhere was it steep or precipitous or sheer but Nature had provided it with wide, long-sloping sides stretching smoothly down to the level of the plain. In fact its natural beauty had long fitted it as a place to be hallowed by the blood of a blessed martyr. When he reached the top of the hill, St. Alban asked God to give him water and at once a perpetual spring bubbled up, confined within its channel and at his very feet, so that all could see that even the stream rendered service to the martyr. For it could not have happened that the martyr who had left no water remaining in the river would have desired it on the top of the hill, if he had not realized that this was fitting. The river, when it had fulfilled its duty and completed its pious service, returned to its natural course, but it left behind a witness of its ministry. And so in this spot the valiant martyr was beheaded and received the crown of life which God has promised to those who love him. But the one who laid his unholy hands on that holy neck was not permitted to rejoice over his death; for the head of the blessed martyr and the executioner's eyes fell to the ground together.

The soldier who had been constrained by the divine will to refuse to strike God's holy confessor was also beheaded there. In his case it is clear that though he was not washed in the waters of baptism, yet he was cleansed by the washing of his own blood and made worthy to enter the kingdom of heaven. Then the judge, who was astonished by these strange heavenly miracles, ordered the persecution to cease and began to respect the way in which the saints met their death, though he had once believed that he could thereby make them forsake their devotion to the Christian faith. The blessed Alban suffered death on 22 June near the city of Verulamium which the English now call either Uerlamacaestir or Uaeclingacaestir (St. Albans). Here when peaceful Christian times returned, a church of wonderful workmanship was built, a worthy memorial of his martyrdom. To this day sick people are healed in this place and the working of frequent miracles continues to bring it renown.

O Eternal Father, who, when the Gospel of Christ first came to England, didst gloriously confirm the faith of Alban by making him the first to win the martyr’s crown: grant that, assisted by his prayers and following his example in the fellowship of the Saints, we may worship thee, the living God, and faithfully witness to Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord; who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

18 June 2022

Corpus Christi: God With Us


Everything about the Solemnity of Corpus Christi draws our attention to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. This is the day when the Church gathers up ancient mysteries and makes them new. We look to the mystifying figure of Melchizedek, the king of Salem and high priest to Abram. We look to young Isaac carrying the wood upon which his father Abraham intended to offer him in sacrifice. We envision the children of Israel looking upon the bronze serpent lifted high upon the staff of Moses, and we marvel with the Israelites as they eat their fill of the manna. In all those things, and more, we see the foreshadowing of Jesus Christ our great High Priest who offers Himself for us in sacrifice.

All these things point to Jesus, about whom the scripture tells us, “though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form He humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross.”

This is the central mystery, brought before us on the Solemnity of Corpus Christi: that is, Jesus Christ humbling Himself, and coming to us, and remaining with us under the forms of bread and wine, all for the sake of His love for us. At the Annunciation He took upon Himself human flesh. At the Nativity the God of creation was cradled in the arms of a human mother. During His Passion the Lord was abused by the very ones He came to save. When He died, the eternal God breathed His last, and when He was buried, the God who is Light consecrated the darkness of the grave. God did this, and then left the Holy Mass as the continual and living Presence of it all.

What was His purpose? What was His plan, and how can we understand it? We should cast our minds back to our first parents, Adam and Eve. Created in the image and likeness of God, they were placed in a perfect communion with their Creator. They were told that all things were theirs, and that there was only one thing they could not do; namely, that they were not to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. That, of course, was the one thing that they were tempted to do.

Remember the words of Satan as he tempted Eve. He said, “Surely you will not die... no... your eyes shall be opened, and you shall be as God Himself, knowing good and evil...” That was their sin: through their disobedience, they grasped at equality with God, and in so doing, they lost their communion with God. St. Paul reminds us that our Lord Jesus “did not regard equality with God something to be grasped...” In other words, Jesus didn’t need to snatch at equality with God.... no, it is His by right. And also, it means that He didn’t clutch at equality with God as something to hold jealously to Himself. Rather, He laid it down willingly for the sake of our salvation.

The fact of all this – the laying down of His life, His sacrifice upon the Cross – are all spoken of by Christ as being a necessity, as something indispensable. The shadow of the Cross stretches over His life. He speaks of His blood as being shed for the remission of sins, and His body as being given for His disciples. He says that He has come to give His life as a ransom for many.

All of this prepares us for what we find in the teaching of the apostles. We find in their teaching a great stress upon the death of Christ, and that the greatest blessings and highest gifts are always connected with His suffering and with the shedding of His blood. Throughout Scripture we read of forgiveness, of redemption, of healing, of cleansing, of sanctification - of atonement - all won for us by the death of our Lord Jesus Christ. It all comes to us through the great fact of history, that He was lifted up upon the Cross, and there He died – and He has left us the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar, which gives us immediate and daily access to all His saving work.

Here is the point that Christ makes: that when He is lifted up upon the Cross, it is the Atonement which He accomplishes – “And I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto myself...” He says. The great gulf is bridged, and mankind is once more made “at one” with God, just as we were before the Fall of our first parents, Adam and Eve. The gates of heaven are opened to us. It is all made possible through the lifting up of Christ, and His death upon the Cross.

He was lifted up upon the Cross so that we can be lifted up to heaven. He was broken so that we can be made whole. The only lesson we need to learn is to be learned at the foot of the Cross of Jesus Christ – that even though we are sinful and fall short of the glory of God, in spite of it all, God loves us with that yearning, passionate love which led Him to give Himself to be lifted up for us. Our hearts cannot help but be broken open to receive that Love which knows no rest and which never tires until it has found us, and has brought us to our true home in Christ’s kingdom.

So on the Solemnity of Corpus Christi we look to Jesus. We see Him humble Himself by taking upon Himself the outward forms of bread and wine, and we see Him lifted up resplendent in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar.

And He does it all for a reason. He does all this to be with us, and to allow us to be with Him. He does this so that we can spend time with Him. He does it because of His intense and eternal love for all of us, and He asks us to return that love by giving Him our worship and obedience, by living lives worthy of our calling to be members of His Body.

O God, who in a wonderful Sacrament hast left unto us a memorial of thy Passion: grant us, we beseech thee, so to venerate the sacred mysteries of thy Body and Blood; that we may ever know within ourselves the fruit of thy redemption; who livest and reignest with the Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

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Pictured: "Corpus Christi Procession" by Carl Emil Doepler (1824–1905)

 

15 June 2022

St. Richard of Chichester


Richard of Wyche was born in 1197 at Droitwyche, the son of a prosperous yeoman farmer. He and his brother were orphaned at an early age, and an incompetent guardian wasted their inheritance. Richard worked long and hard to restore the family property, and when he had succeeded, he turned it over to his brother and went off to Oxford to become a scholar. He was too poor to afford a gown or a fire in winter, but he did very well at his studies, with Robert Grosseteste among his teachers, and he established what would be a lifelong friendship with his tutor, Edmund Rich (Edmund of Abingdon). He studied canon law at Oxford (and probably also at Paris and Bologna) and, having acquired a doctorate, he became Chancellor of Oxford in 1235.

Meanwhile, his tutor had become Archbishop of Canterbury, and soon asked Richard to become his Chancellor. When the Archbishop rebuked King Henry III for keeping various bishoprics vacant as long as possible (because as long as they were vacant their revenues went to the Crown), Henry forced him into exile, and Richard accompanied him to France and nursed him in his final illness. After the Archbishop's death in 1240, Richard studied at the Dominican house in Orleans, and was ordained priest in 1243.

In 1244 he was elected Bishop of Chichester, but Henry would not recognize the election, locked him out of the bishop's residence, and pocketed the revenues. Richard accepted shelter with a village priest, and spent the next two years walking barefoot through his diocese, preaching to fishermen and farmers, and correcting abuses. He held synods to legislate, and insisted that the sacraments must be administered without payment, and the Liturgy celebrated with reverence and order. The clergy were required to be celibate, to wear clerical dress, and to live in the parishes to which they were assigned and to carry out their duties in person. The laity were required to attend services on all Sundays and holy days, and to know by heart the Lord's Prayer, the Hail Mary, and the Apostles' Creed. After two years, Henry was pressured into recognizing Richard as Bishop, but Richard continued to live as he had before. He caught a fever and died in 1253.

A well-known prayer written by him reads in part as follows:

Thanks be to Thee, my Lord Jesus Christ
For all the benefits Thou hast given me,
For all the pains and insults Thou hast borne for me.
O most merciful Redeemer, friend and brother,
May I know Thee more clearly,
Love Thee more dearly,
Follow Thee more nearly,
Day by day.  Amen.

12 June 2022

Two Hymns in Honour of St. Anthony




       1.    Praise to God the mighty Father, who didst call Saint Anthony
            from a life of sore temptation to the way of purity.
Humble work and meek obedience marked his holy way of love;
now, his earthly task completed, works his wonders from above.

            2.      Praise to Jesus Christ our Saviour, who didst give Saint Anthony
grace to preach with zeal and boldness, giving truth new charity.
Men, once lost, who heard the Gospel from the lips of Francis' son
came to know God's grace and favour, and the life which Christ had won.

      3.      Praise to God the Holy Spirit, who inspired Saint Anthony
in the way of love and service, calling men to charity,
lifting up the fallen sinner, feeding them with Living Bread,
showing men the way to heaven, there to live with Christ their Head.

           4.      Gracious Doctor and Confessor, holy Priest with golden tongue,
joined with all the saints of heaven, praising God the Three in One;
help us in our earthly journey, keep our thoughts on God most high,
that with thee, Christ's saint and servant, we may live and never die.

Tune: Rustington, by Charles H. H. Parry (1848-1918)
Text: Fr. Christopher G. Phillips



            1.      Simple saint and faithful priest,
            at this Eucharistic feast
we recall thy holy face,
and with thee our Lord embrace.
Give us true simplicity:
pray for us, Saint Anthony.

      2.      Word of God thou didst proclaim;
            unto thee God's Spirit came,
bringing faith when thou didst preach,
showing truth when thou didst teach.
May we speak words truthfully:
pray for us Saint Anthony.

            3.      Error flees before God's Light:
            through thy life Christ shineth bright,
showing men the way to peace,
evil's hold from them release.
Free from evil may we be:
pray for us Saint Anthony.

Tune: Bread of Heaven, by William Dalrymple Maclagan (1826-1910)
Text: Fr. Christopher G. Phillips

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Image of St. Anthony by Charles Bosseron Chambers (1882-1964)

St. Anthony of Padua


St. Anthony was born in Portugal and entered the Augustinian monastery of Sao Vicente in Lisbon when he was fifteen. When news of the Franciscan martyrs in Morocco reached him, he joined the Franciscans at Coimbra. At his own request, he was sent as a missionary to Morocco, but he became ill, and on his return journey his boat was driven off course and he landed in Sicily. He took part in St. Francis' famous Chapter of Mats in 1221 and was assigned to the Franciscan province of Romagna.


He became a preacher by accident. When a scheduled preacher did not show up for an ordination ceremony at Forli, the Franciscan superior told Anthony to go into the pulpit. His eloquence stirred everyone, and he was assigned to preach throughout northern Italy. Because of his success in converting heretics, he was called the "Hammer of Heretics" and because of his learning, St. Francis himself appointed him a teacher of theology.


St. Anthony of Padua was such a forceful preacher that shops closed when he came to town, and people stayed all night in church to be present for his sermons. He became associated with Padua because he made this city his residence and the center of his great preaching mission.


After a series of Lenten sermons in 1231, Anthony's strength gave out and he went into seclusion at Camposanpiero but soon had to be carried back to Padua. He did not reach the city but was taken to the Poor Clare convent at Arcella, where he died. He was thirty-six years old, and the whole city of Padua turned out in mourning for his passing.


Grant, O Lord, that the solemn festival of thy holy Confessor Saint Anthony may bring gladness to thy Church: that being defended by thy succour in all things spiritual, we may be found worthy to attain to everlasting felicity; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

----------------


Several years ago I wrote two hymn texts in honour of St. Anthony:


  1.  Praise to God the mighty Father, who didst call Saint Anthony

       from a life of sore temptation to the way of purity.

        Humble work and meek obedience marked his holy way of love;

        now, his earthly task completed, works his wonders from above.


  2.   Praise to Jesus Christ our Saviour, who didst give Saint Anthony

        grace to preach with zeal and boldness, giving truth new charity.

        Men, once lost, who heard the Gospel from the lips of Francis' son

        came to know God's grace and favour, and the life which Christ had won.


  3.  Praise to God the Holy Spirit, who inspired Saint Anthony

        in the way of love and service, calling men to charity,

        lifting up the fallen sinner, feeding them with Living Bread,

        showing men the way to heaven, there to live with Christ their Head.


  4.  Gracious Doctor and Confessor, holy Priest with golden tongue,

        joined with all the saints of heaven, praising God the Three in One;

        help us in our earthly journey, keep our thoughts on God most high,

        that with thee, Christ's saint and servant, we may live and never die.


Tune: Rustington, by Charles H. H. Parry (1848-1918)

Text: Fr. Christopher G. Phillips



+   +   +   +   +   +   +



           1.  Simple saint and faithful priest,

                 at this Eucharistic feast

                 we recall thy holy face,

                 and with thee our Lord embrace.

                 Give us true simplicity:

                 pray for us, Saint Anthony.


           2.  Word of God thou didst proclaim;

                 unto thee God's Spirit came,

                 bringing faith when thou didst preach,

                 showing truth when thou didst teach.

                 May we speak words truthfully:

                 pray for us Saint Anthony.


           3.  Error flees before God's Light:

                 through thy life Christ shineth bright,

                 showing men the way to peace,

                 evil's hold from them release.

                 Free from evil may we be:

                 pray for us Saint Anthony.


Tune: Bread of Heaven, by William Dalrymple Maclagan (1826-1910)

Text: Fr. Christopher G. Phillips

11 June 2022

Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity


Even the most brilliant theologian would have to say that the doctrine of the Holy Trinity cannot truly and completely be understood. However, the mystery of the Trinity can be known, because our knowledge – and indeed, our experience – of the Holy Trinity has been revealed to us by God Himself, in and by our Lord Jesus Christ.

From Christ we have learned what nature alone could never show us about the Godhead. From Christ we have learned what our own human understanding could never fathom. If we were left to our own understanding, we would probably try to understand the Trinity from a mathematical point of view – one God; three Persons; three equals one, which is an impossibility; therefore God as Trinity is an impossibility.

But Christ has revealed this mystery to us in a completely different way. It’s not about mathematics; rather, it’s about the relationship of Persons within the one Godhead. From Christ we have learned to know God as Father, Son, and Holy Ghost – Three in One and One in Three – the Father sending the Son to redeem the world, the Holy Spirit being sent from the Father and the Son to dwell in us, and to make us holy, even as God is holy.

When we look back on all that we celebrate throughout the year, we see that the foundation of the Catholic Faith is the reality of the Holy Trinity. From the birth of our Saviour, to His crucifixion; from His resurrection and ascension, to the coming of the Holy Spirit in wind and fire, so we have had the revelation from God Himself that He is Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Of course, it is through Jesus Christ, and through Him alone, that we truly know Almighty God. Christ has explained and interpreted God to man. Christ has told us, “He who has seen me has seen the Father.” The Father and the Son are one. The Father and the Son are so united in the majesty and perfect holiness of their divine nature that whoever saw the Son, even though in human flesh, saw the immortal and invisible Father. It was so strange and wonderful a thing, that even his Apostles were astonished and perplexed by it. Remember when St. Philip said to Christ, “Lord, show us the Father, and it will be enough.” And Jesus answered him, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you do not know me? He who has seen me has seen the Father…” In Jesus Christ is the fullest and most perfect revelation of what God is, of what God loves, of what God does and of what God will do.

Only in Jesus Christ can we fully know God. Certainly, the world which He made tells us about Him. All around us is the evidence of His power, and in His creation we see His wisdom and His goodness. So whether we look to the stars and sky above, or to any part of creation, these things tell us of the God who created those things. But they tell us only that He “is,” not necessarily Who He is. It is Christ who has brought God close to us, so that we can actually know Him, and not simply know “about” Him.

Christ has shown us the image and holiness of the unseen God. In Christ we know who God is. We are able to comprehend Him. In the mind of Christ we read the mind of God. In the character of Christ we learn everything that we can know of the character of God. In the deeds of Christ we see the love and pity and tenderness and long-suffering of God. In the words of Christ we hear the judgements of God, and in Christ we can know the truth as it is revealed and upheld by God. We see in Christ the spotless goodness of God – and in the sacrifice of Christ on the cross we see what our thoughts and imagination could never have dreamed of, when it comes to the love of God for us. Namely this: that “God so loved the world, that He gave his only-begotten Son, to the end that all that believe in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” And so in Christ God is love Incarnate. And this love is meant to take root in our own hearts, because God can be known by no one except those who are like Him through the godly love in their hearts. And in this way, Christ teaches us not only of the Father, but of the Holy Spirit, too, who is that very love within us, and who makes us “ambassadors of Christ” in the world. Our vocation is to “incarnate” God’s mercy and love and forgiveness to others.

The mystery of the Holy Trinity – that God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit, one God – tells us that we can know God as He wants us to know Him. He is not only the unseen incomprehensible and divine power, who can do as He wills with us, and whose ways we cannot see or even guess at – but God is the one who is the loving Father of us all, the God of truth and righteousness, the God whose eyes are upon all His works in merciful and loving wisdom, who pities the sinner and forgives the sin, who hears the prayer and fills the soul with grace and gladness, whose Spirit dwells in our hearts and whose Incarnation dwells in our tabernacles.

We can know Him as the God who, even though far above us, nonetheless has come down to us, and in fact, into us – giving us peace, speaking within us as that still, small voice – the voice we can always hear, whether in the silence of the soul, or in the busy noise of the world.

Because Christ has revealed the fulness of the God-head, we can know Him and fear Him and love Him, both here in this life, and in eternity when we have passed out of this world. It is God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – who reaches out to us so that we can reach out to Him, and find in Him our true hope, and our true home.

Almighty and everlasting God, who hast given unto us thy servants grace, by the confession of a true faith, to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity, and in the power of the divine majesty to worship the Unity: we beseech thee; that this holy faith may evermore be our defence against all adversities; who livest and reignest, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

10 June 2022

Ember Saturday in Whitsun Week


We beseech thee, O Lord, graciously pour the Holy Spirit into our hearts: by whose wisdom we were created, and by whose providence we are governed; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the same Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.



For those to be ordained:


Almighty God, the giver of all good gifts, who of thy divine providence hast appointed divers Orders in thy Church: give thy grace, we humbly beseech thee, to all those who are called to any office and ministry for thy people; and so fill them with the truth of thy doctrine and clothe them with holiness of life, that they may faithfully serve before thee, to the glory of thy great Name and for the benefit of thy holy Church; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.



For the choice of fit persons for the ordained ministry:


O God, who didst lead thy holy Apostles to ordain ministers in every place: grant that thy Church, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, may choose suitable men for the ministry of Word and Sacrament, and may uphold them in their work for the extension of thy kingdom; through him who is the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls, Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.



For all Christians in their vocation:


Almighty and everlasting God, by whose Spirit the whole body of thy faithful people is governed and sanctified: receive our supplications and prayers, which we offer before thee for all members of thy holy Church, that in their vocation and ministry they may truly and godly serve thee; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.


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Painting: "The Mass of St. Gregory"

Spanish, c.1490-1500