27 February 2010

A "Thank you" from the Holy Land...

Recently we sent some support to the Franciscan Boys' Home in Bethlehem, and I received this letter of thanks, along with some pictures.
Words cannot express our gratitude. We, the habitants of the Holy Land, really count ourselves fortunate because we have good and generous people who think of us.

On behalf of the school’s administration, employees and students I would like to thank you for your donation and assure you that it will be used within the “Child Sponsorship” program to help the needy students in the school by paying off their school fees.

The Franciscan Boys’ Home is one of the social service programs connected to the Custody of the Holy Land. It was founded in 2007 in Bethlehem and located 400m away from the Nativity Grotto of our Lord. It hosts children – between 6 and 18 years old – coming from difficult backgrounds.

I will always remember you all in my prayers at the Grotto of the Child Jesus. May the Good Lord bless and protect you now and forever.

Yours in Christ,
Fr. Marwan Di’des, OFM
Bethlehem, Holy Land

During Lent, the students at The Atonement Academy are raising money to support the Christians in the Holy Land.  If anyone would like to augment their efforts, you can send donations to the Academy at 15415 Red Robin Road, San Antonio, Texas 78255, and we'll include your gift with ours.  Make checks payable to The Atonement Academy, marked "Holy Land," and we'll send one check from the school.

25 February 2010

The Transfigured Lord...

Since this text is useful only twice a year, I'm dragging it out again in time for Lent II...

Behold our Lord transfigured,
In Sacrament Divine;
His glory deeply hidden,
'Neath forms of Bread and Wine.
Our eyes of faith behold Him,
Salvation is outpoured;
The Saviour dwells among us,
by ev'ry heart adored.

No longer on the mountain
With Peter, James and John,
Our precious Saviour bids us
To walk where saints have gone.
He has no lasting dwelling,
Save in the hearts of men;
He feeds us with His Body,
To make us whole again.

With Moses and Elijah,
We worship Christ our King;
Lord, make our souls transfigured,
Let us with angels sing.
Lead us in paths of glory,
Give tongues to sing thy praise;
Lord Jesus, keep us faithful,
Now and for all our days.

Text: Fr. Christopher G. Phillips, 1990
Music: "Ewing" by Alexander C. Ewing, 1853

Concert this Sunday...

You are invited to an afternoon of
Chamber Music
featuring musicians from

Monte Vista Strings

Andrew Small, violin
Sayaka Okada, viola
Christopher Guzman, piano

Sunday, February 28, 2010
at 4 o’clock in the afternoon
at Our Lady of the Atonement Church.

The program will include:

Viola Sonata No. 1 in F Minor, Op.120 - Johannes Brahms
Etude in E Major, Op. 10, No.3 - Frédéric Chopin
Passacaglia for Violin and Viola – G.F. Handel
Sonata in E-Flat Major for Violin and Piano, Op.18 – Richard Strauss

A free-will offering will be received
for the support of the parish Music Series

Reception to follow in the Pope John Paul II Library
For more information contact music@atonementonline.com

24 February 2010

A Collect for the Lenten Ember Days

Almighty God, the giver of all good gifts, who of thy divine providence hast appointed various orders in thy Church: Give thy grace, we humbly beseech thee, to all 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 our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

23 February 2010

St. Polycarp, Bishop and Martyr

From the Golden Legend.
Here followeth the Life of Saint Polycarp, martyr.

Saint Polycarp was disciple of Saint John the Evangelist, and Saint John ordained him bishop of Smyrna. And there were at Rome then two heretics, that one was called Marcian and that other Valentine, the which had deceived much people by their false doctrine. Then Saint Polycarp went to Rome on Easter-day, and there by his predication he brought again to the faith them that they had deceived. He wrote to the Philippians a much fair epistle, and much profitable, the which is yet read in Asia unto this day. It happened that in the time that Marcus Antoninus and Marcus Aurelius reigned, which was the year of grace one hundred and sixty-two, was made the fourth persecution on Christian people, after the Emperor Nero, through all Asia.

Saint Polycarp heard how the people cried and was moved, he therefore was never moved, but abode without dread. And he was gracious and courteous in manners and pleasant in regard, and tarried always in the city as an hardy champion of God. He was so much required of the people that he departed from the city with their familiar friends, that he went to the field nigh unto the city, and there he prayed all the night for the peace of all holy church. And thereof had he a custom all the days of his life. It happed that three days before that he was taken, as he prayed in a night he had a vision, that seemed that his hair was burnt, and when he awoke he told to them that were with him the vision, and expounded it to them, saying that: For certain he should be burnt for love of God. When he saw that they approached him that would have taken him, he went to meet them and right gladly received them, whereof they were much abashed that they were commanded to take so good a man. And anon he laid the table to his enemies, and made to them as good cheer as they had been his friends, and gave to them largely wine and meat, and get of them leave to pray an hour, and all that hour he prayed much devoutly for all the state of holy church. When the hour was passed he mounted upon an ass, and was brought into the city, and as they led him, Herod came, which was provost of the country, and his father with him, and they took him into a chariot with them, and said to him much sweetly: Wherefore do ye not sacrifice as the others do? What harm is it to call Cæsar his lord, and to do sacrifice to the gods for to live surely? And when they saw that it availed not, and that always he was firm and constant in the law of God, they were much wroth with him and did to him much harm in the chariot, and as he approached the city a great multitude of people began to murmur against him. Anon a voice descended from heaven saying unto him: Polycarp be strong and constant. That voice was heard of many but none saw it. Then anon it was told to the provost all openly, that Polycarp had three times confessed to be Christian. When these tidings were heard all the people of the city of Smyrna, paynims and Jews, began to cry in great ire: This is the master and doctor of all the Christian people that be in Asia, and hath destroyed all our gods, we require that he be burnt all quick. Then the people assembled much wood and brought him to a stake. And when they brought him to the stake they would have bound him thereto, and nailed the bonds with great nails. Then he said to them: Let me alone, for he that hath ordained me to suffer this torment of fire shall give to me virtue of patience, without moving me from this place, for to endure and suffer the flame of the fire.

Then the tyrants left the nails, and bound him with cords to the stake, and his hands bound behind him. And as in his passion he praised and blessed our Lord, and the fire was burning and a great flame shining, a much notable miracle was showed right there to much people, which God showed to the end that it should be showed unto all other. And the miracle was this, that the flame departed all about him in manner of a chamber by virtue of a sweet wind that came from heaven, and the body of the martyr was not as flesh burnt in the flame, but as fair as it had been purified in a furnace, and they that were about him felt an odour so sweet as it had been incense or precious ointment. When the tyrants saw that the fire might not consume the body of the glorious martyr, they made the ministers to approach and did them to smite him through the body with a spear, and then issued out of his glorious body so great abundance of blood that it quenched the fire. And when the people saw the miracle they departed, having much marvel that they did so much cruelty to the friends of God. And with this glorious martyr were twelve other martyrs martyred, for to get the joy of heaven. The which grant us the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Amen.

22 February 2010

I want this...

I saw this picture over at the Shrine of the Holy Whapping.

I really want this thurible.  The only problem is, it belongs to the Basilica of St. Anthony in Padua...

Receiving their class rings...

Pictured are the students who received their Academy rings today.  It is our custom to bless the rings on the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter.

Here's a close picture of the class ring, showing the Pelican in the shield, and our motto, "Fides et Ratio."  On one side of the ring is the Jerusalem Cross, and on the other side, the year of graduation.
O Lord God almighty, bless these thy students, that within them may abide health, purity, strength and humility, goodness, meekness and fulfillment of the law, and may they in all things seek to serve thee, the only true God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

21 February 2010

Thou art Peter...

Almighty Father, who didst inspire Simon Peter, first among the apostles, to confess Jesus as Messiah and Son of the living God: Keep thy Church steadfast upon the rock of this faith, that in unity and peace we may proclaim the one truth and follow the one Lord, our Saviour Jesus Christ; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Enshrined in the beautiful Bernini reliquary in St. Peter’s Basilica is a chair which was known in the sixth century, parts of which date to the earliest years of the Christian faith. This is the famous Chair of St. Peter, of which the feast is celebrated each year on February 22nd.

Why would the entire Catholic world celebrate a feast in honor of a chair? Surely it must be for a better reason than that an apostle sat on it. As interesting as that is, the reason is much greater than that alone. This Chair is the concrete symbol to us of the authority and primacy of St. Peter, the Prince of the Apostles, the one to whom our Lord entrusted the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven, and who was called the Rock on which Christ would build His Church.

The fragments of the Chair (cathedra) of St. Peter are venerated because it was from that very place that the first Pope, the Vicar of Christ, imparted the truth which had been entrusted to him by our Lord Himself, and which has been passed on in its entirety throughout the centuries, and which will continue until Christ returns in glory. The Chair of St. Peter is a reminder to us that we are not members of some man-made religion, but that we are part of the one true Church, founded by Christ upon the Rock which endures.

20 February 2010

Bits 'n' pieces...

Here's a little potpourri of items around Our Lady of the Atonement Church which people may or may not have noticed.  There's no rhyme or reason to these pictures... just things of interest.

*  *  *
There's a lovely little positiv organ in the Chapel of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.  It's from the John Crum Organ Company in Cobleskill, NY, which had brought its components from Germany.  The organ has five ranks of pipes and a zimbelstern (as my parents used to say, "If you don't know what a word means, look it up!).

* * *
The Pieta is in what was the original porch of the church.  When the building was expanded, this is now a quiet place for prayer, just off the nave.  When the statue was restored, we had it painted in the colors of Our Lady of the Atonement, with the distinctive red mantle.

* * *
On either side of the Shrine Chapel of Our Lady of the Atonement are statues of St. Anthony of Padua and St. Therese, the Little Flower.  Of particular interest are the niches in which the statues stand.  Over St. Anthony is a castle-shaped roof, symbolizing the Western Church, and over the Little Flower is a dome-shaped roof, symbolizing the Eastern Church.  In this way, we remember the importance of praying for the unity of the Church, through the intercession of Our Lady of the Atonement and all the saints.

* * *
Halfway up the nave, often not noticed, is a Spanish colonial statue of Our Lady.  Carved in c.1760, she holds a rosary that belonged to our Archbishop Emeritus, who presented it on the day he consecrated the High Altar.

19 February 2010

Stations of the Cross

You can click here for the Order of the Stations of the Cross we use here at the parish.
Assist us mercifully with thy help, O Lord God of our salvation that we may enter with joy upon the meditation of those mighty acts, whereby thou hast given unto us life and immortality; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

The Crusader Times

Click here for a latest issue of The Crusader Times, the newsletter of The Atonement Academy.

Lenten devotions...

On Friday evenings in Lent we celebrate Solemn Evensong, which is followed by the Stations of the Cross and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.  It all begins at 7:00 p.m.

18 February 2010

On our way into Lent...

At that time: Jesus said to his disciples, "The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised." And he said to all, "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake, he will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?
Direct us, O Lord, in all our doings with thy most gracious favor, and further us with thy continual help; that in all our works begun, continued, and ended in thee, we may glorify thy holy Name, and finally, by thy mercy, obtain everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

16 February 2010

Remember, O man...

Thou hast mercy upon all, O Lord, and abhorrest nothing which thou hast made, and winkest at the sins of men, because they should amend, and sparest them: for thou art the Lord our God. Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusteth in thee.

Almighty and everlasting God, who hatest nothing that thou hast made and dost forgive the sins of all those who are penitent: Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of thee, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Masses will be celebrated on Ash Wednesday at 7:00 a.m., 9:15 a.m. and 7:00 p.m., all at the High Altar.  There will be the Imposition of Ashes at each Mass.

Farewell to the Alleluia...

Everything is prepared to bury the Alleluia today, not to be heard again until the Easter Vigil.

Alleluia dulce carmen,
Vox perennis gaudii,
Alleluia laus suavis
Est choris coelestibus,
Quam canunt Dei manentes
In domo per saecula.

Alleluia, song of sweetness,
voice of joy that cannot die;
alleluia is the anthem
ever dear to choirs on high:
in the house of God abiding
thus they sing eternally.

UPDATE:  At the conclusion of Mass the Alleluia was taken in procession to the Lady Chapel, where our Blessed Mother will "keep watch" until the Easter Vigil.  I noticed that one of the teachers included one of our discipline cards in the box, which says that it's to be applied to "Any student who says Alleluia during Lent...!"

13 February 2010

A blog from the Holy Land...

Fr. Firas Aridah is a dynamic priest of the Latin Patriarchate, and is the parish priest of St. Joseph Parish in Jifna.

He has a blog, and I encourage you to visit it.  You can have a look by clicking here.  Our school children will be raising money during Lent to support the work of the Church in the Holy Land, and I encourage you to send a gift, too.  And always, please pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ, who live in difficult circumstances, but who maintain the Faith that was revealed in that place first.

The Sunday before Ash Wednesday...

...is traditionally called Quinquagesima Sunday, and marks fifty day until Easter. 

The Prayer Book Collect for this day is as follows:
O LORD, who hast taught us that all our doings without charity are nothing worth; Send thy Holy Ghost, and pour into our hearts that most excellent gift of charity, the very bond of peace and of all virtues, without which whosoever liveth is counted dead before thee. Grant this for thine only Son Jesus Christ's sake. Amen.
The Epistle reading would be the well-known passage from St. Paul's First Epistle to the Corinthians, reminding us of the importance of charity, and picking up that theme from the Collect, as we prepare to begin our Lenten discipline:
THOUGH I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
I Corinthians xiii.1
The Gospel we would have heard on this Sunday speaks to us of "sight" - the physical sight miraculously restored to the blind man, and also the spiritual sight given to us as our attention is directed to what will be commemorated during Holy Week, with the betrayal and passion of the Lord:
THEN Jesus took unto him the twelve, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished. For he shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spitted on: and they shall scourge him, and put him to death: and the third day he shall rise again. And they understood none of these things: and this saying was hid from them, neither knew they the things which were spoken. And it came to pass, that as he was come nigh unto Jericho, a certain blind man sat by the way-side begging: and hearing the multitude pass by, he asked what it meant. And they told him, that Jesus of Nazareth passeth by. And he cried, saying, Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy on me. And they which went before rebuked him, that he should hold his peace: but he cried so much the more, Thou son of David, have mercy on me. And Jesus stood, and commanded him to be brought unto him: and when he was come near, he asked him, saying, What wilt thou that I shall do unto thee? And he said, Lord, that I may receive my sight. And Jesus said unto him, Receive thy sight: thy faith hath saved thee. And immediately he received his sight, and followed him, glorifying God: and all the people, when they saw it, gave praise unto God.
St. Luke xviii. 31

11 February 2010

"Born anew of water and the Holy Ghost..."

We had the great of joy of baptising one of our Upper School students this morning.  Timothy Ryan Lee came to our school a few years ago with no thought at all of being baptized.  Through his studies at the Academy he became more interested in what the Catholic Church teaches, and because of the great example and encouragement of his classmates, he made his decision to request baptism.  He'll be confirmed and will receive his First Holy Communion on Saturday.

We yield thee hearty thanks, most merciful Father, that it hath pleased thee to regenerate this thy Servant with thy Holy Spirit, to receive him for thine own Child, and to incorporate him into thy holy Church. And humbly we beseech thee to grant, that he, being dead unto sin, may live unto righteousness, and being buried with Christ in his death, may also be partaker of his resurrection; so that finally, with the residue of thy holy Church, he may be an inheritor of thine everlasting kingdom; through Christ our Lord. Amen.

09 February 2010

"Be sealed with the Holy Spirit..."

This Saturday morning, I'll be presenting eighty-nine candidates to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation.  Bishop Grahmann (Bishop Emeritus of Dallas) will be here to administer the sacrament.  If you would, please pray for the confirmandi.
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 devoutly serve thee; through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the same Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

08 February 2010

07 February 2010

If we had kept Sexagesima...

As I mentioned a week ago here, I miss the old pre-Lenten season of the Gesima Sundays.  This would have been the Collect:
O LORD God, who seest that we put not our trust in any thing that we do; Mercifully grant that by thy power we may be defended against all adversity; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost ever, one God, world without end. Amen.
The Gospel would serve as a reminder that we need to prepare ourselves to be "good soil" for the seeds that will be planted in our lives during the coming Lenten season:

WHEN much people were gathered together, and were come to him out of every city, he spake by a parable: A sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the way-side; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it. And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it. And other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit an hundredfold. And when he had said these things, he cried, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. And his disciples asked him, saying, What might this parable be? And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand. Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. Those by the way-side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away. And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection. But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.
- St. Luke viii.4

06 February 2010

Happy 99th Birthday, President Reagan

In 1964, Ronald Reagan travelled throughout the country, campaigning for Barry Goldwater.  Several times he delivered what came to be known as "The Speech."  As I listened to this, I was reminded that no matter how much things change, the more they stay the same.  The only difference is the size of the numbers he quotes.  Have a listen:

Another event in the Music Series...

On Sunday, 7th February, at 4 o'clock in the afternoon, the parish will host an organ recital to commemorate the third anniversary of the dedication of our Casavant pipe organ.

The program will include works by Bach, Boellman, Bruhns, Elgar, Franck, Mendelssohn, and Mathias and will feature organists Madolyn Fallis, Jennifer Seighman, Liam McDonough and Edmund Murray.

A reception will follow in the Pope John Paul II Library.

05 February 2010

Anglicanorum coetibus: A Bishop Speaks

Here's an excellent article by Bishop Peter J. Elliot, Auxiliary Bishop of Melbourne, himself a convert from Anglicanism.  It's posted over at The Anglo-Catholic.
Understanding the Pope’s Welcome

AT their November Meeting, 2009, the members of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference appointed me their Delegate for the Australian project of establishing “a Personal Ordinariate for Anglicans who wish to enter full communion with the Catholic Church”, to use the words of Pope Benedict’s Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus.

Before I explain what this involves, I should introduce myself. I was born into Anglicanism, in the Anglo-Catholic tradition. My father, Rev. Leslie Llewelyn Elliott, was for some time President of the Australian Church Union. While studying theology at Oxford, in St Stephen’s House, I followed my conscience and was reconciled to “Rome” in 1968. I then studied for the priesthood in Melbourne and was ordained in 1973. After parish appointments, work as a bishop’s secretary and doctoral study in Rome, I served for ten years in the Roman Curia, Pontifical Council for the Family. I returned to Melbourne in 1997 to work for Archbishop Pell in preparing the religious education texts, To Know, Worship and Love. Then I served as a parish priest and Director of the John Paul II Institute before ordination to the episcopate in June 2007.

Am I grateful for my Anglican heritage? Yes, I am. Where did I first learn the Catholic Faith? At home, in the vicarage.

Read the whole article here.

04 February 2010

St. Agatha, Virgin and Martyr

Almighty and everlasting God, who didst enkindle the flame of thy love in the heart of thy holy virgin and martyr St. Agatha: Grant to us, thy humble servants, a like faith and power of love, that we who rejoice in her triumph may profit by her example; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

From Butler's Lives of the Saints:

THE cities of Palermo and Catana, in Sicily, dispute the honour of her birth; but they do much better who, by copying her virtues, and claiming her patronage, strive to become her fellow-citizens in heaven. It is agreed that she received the crown of martyrdom at Catana, in the persecution of Decius, in the third consulship of that prince, in the year of our Lord 251. She was of a rich and illustrious family, and having been consecrated to God from her tender years, triumphed over many assaults upon her chastity.

Quintianus, a man of consular dignity, bent on gratifying both his lust and avarice, imagined he should easily compass his wicked designs on Agatha’s person and estate by means of the emperor’s edict against the Christians. He therefore caused her to be apprehended and brought before him at Catana. Seeing herself in the hands of the persecutors, she made this prayer: “Jesus Christ, Lord of all things, you see my heart, you know my desire-possess alone all that I am. I am your sheep, make me worthy to overcome the devil.” She wept, and prayed for courage and strength all the way she went.

On her appearance, Quintianus gave orders for her being put into the hands of Aphrodisia, a most wicked woman, who, with six daughters, all prostitutes, kept a common stew. The saint suffered in this infamous place assaults and stratagems against her virtue infinitely more terrible to her than any tortures or death itself. But placing her confidence in God, she never ceased with sighs and most earnest tears to implore his protection, and by it was an overmatch for all their hellish attempts the whole month she was there. Quintianus, being informed of her constancy after thirty days, ordered her to be brought before him. The virgin, in her first interrogatory, told him that to be a servant of Jesus Christ was the most illustrious nobility and true liberty.

The judge, offended at her resolute answers, commanded her to be buffeted and led to prison. She entered it with great joy, recommending her future conflict to God. The next day she was arraigned a second time at the tribunal, and answered with equal constancy that Jesus Christ was her life and her salvation. Quintianus then ordered her to be stretched on the rack, which torment was usually accompanied with stripes, the tearing of the sides with iron hooks, and burning them with torches or matches. The governor, enraged to see her suffer all this with cheerfulness, commanded her breast to be tortured, and afterwards to be cut off. At which she made him this reproach: “Cruel tyrant, do you not blush to torture this part of my body, you that sucked the breasts of a woman yourself? “He remanded her to prison, with a severe order that neither salves nor food should be allowed her.

But God would be himself her physician, and the apostle St. Peter in a vision comforted her, healed all her wounds,. and filled her dungeon with a heavenly light. Quintianus, four days after, not the least moved at the miraculous cure of her wounds, caused her to be rolled naked over live coals mixed with broken potsherds. Being carried back to prison, she made this prayer: “Lord, my Creator, you have ever protected me from the cradle; you have taken me from the love of the world, and given me patience to suffer: receive now my soul.” After which words she sweetly gave up the ghost. Her name is inserted in the canon of the mass in the calendar of Carthage, as ancient as the year 530, and in all martyrologies of the Latins and Greeks. Pope Symmachus built a church in Rome on the Aurelian Way under her name, about the year 500, which is fallen to decay.

St. Gregory the Great enriched a church which he purged from the Arian impiety with her relics, which it still possesses. This church had been rebuilt in her honour by Ricimer, general of the Western Empire, in 460. Gregory II built another famous church at Rome, under her invocation, in 726, which Clement VIII gave to the congregation of the Christian doctrine. St. Gregory the Great ordered some of her relics to be placed in the church of the monastery of St. Stephen, in the Isle of Capreae, now Capri. The chief part, which remained at Catana, was carried to Constantinople by the Greek general, who drove the Saracens out of Sicily about the year 1040; these were brought back to Catana in 1127, a relation of which translation, written by Mauritius, who was then bishop, is recorded by Rocci Pyrrho and Bollandus. The same authors relate in what manner the torrent of burning sulphur and stones which issue from mount Aetna, in great eruptions, was several times averted from the walls of Catana by the veil of St. Agatha, (taken out of her tomb,) which was carried in procession. Also that through her intercession, Malta (where she is honored as patroness of the island) was pre served from the Turks who invaded it in 1551. Small portions of relics cf. St. Agatha are said to be distributed in many places.

The perfect purity of intention by which St. Agatha was entirely dead to the world and herself, and sought only to please God, is the circumstance which sanctified her sufferings, and rendered her sacrifice complete. The least cross which we bear, the least action which we perform in this disposition, will be a great holocaust, and a most acceptable offering. We have frequently something to offer-sometimes an aching pain in the body, at other times some trouble of mind, often some disappointment, some humbling rebuke, or reproach, or the like. If we only bear these trials with patience when others are witnesses, or if we often speak of them, or are fretful under them, or if we bear patiently public affronts or great trials, yet sink under those which are trifling, and are sensible to small or secret injuries, it is evident that we have not attained to true purity of intention in our patience; that we are not dead to ourselves. We profess ourselves ready to die for Christ, yet cannot bear the least cross or humiliation. How agreeable to our divine spouse is the sacrifice of a soul which suffers in silence, desiring to have no other witness of her patience than God alone, who sends her trials; which shuns superiority and honours, but takes all care possible that no one knows the humility or modesty of such a refusal; which suffers humiliations and seeks no comfort or reward but from God. This simplicity and purity of heart; this love of being hid in God, through Jesus Christ, is the perfection of all our sacrifices, and the complete victory over self-love, which it attacks and forces out of its strongest intrenchments: this says to Christ, with St. Agatha, “Possess alone all that I am.”

02 February 2010

"By the intercession of St. Blaise..."

O Almighty God, who didst give to thy holy martyr and bishop St. Blaise boldness to confess the Name of our Savior Jesus Christ before the rulers of this world, and courage to die for this faith: Grant that we may always be ready to give a reason for the hope that is in us, and to suffer gladly for the sake of the same our Lord Jesus Christ; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Update: the Deacons and I blessed more than eight hundred throats at the two Masses this morning.  I couldn't help but think that poor St. Blaise gets worked off his feet on this one day, and the rest of the year... nothing!

According to the law of Moses...

AND when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord; (as it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;) and to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtle-doves, or two young pigeons. And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord's Christ. And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law, then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: for mine eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel. And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him. And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; (yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed. And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; and she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem. And when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth. And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him. (St. Luke ii.22)

01 February 2010

Successful Open House...

The Open House at the Academy yesterday was a tremendous success.  The hallways were crowded with families here to see the school, and some who had come with a little interest were able to make the decision to enroll their children as students.  Our Honors Choir arrived back from the Cathedral, where they had sung for the Mass at 10:00 a.m., and they then presented a brief concert here.  What a marvellous group of students they are!

And here's a story from yesterday which is an affirmation of our efforts to educate the whole person: one of our very young students was standing there, listening to the choir.  Suddenly he noticed something.  He tugged on his mother's hand and said to her, "Those are the guys on the basketball team!" 

The "gesima" Sundays...

There are things about the old calendar that I miss, and I hope there will be a restoration in a revised liturgical use for the Ordinariate. 

I always loved the old "gesima" Sundays - the three Sundays of Septuagesima, Sexagesima and Quinquagesima, forming a pre-Lenten season which served as a bridge between Epiphanytide and the great Forty Days.  Yesterday would have been Septuagesima Sunday.  The Collect appointed for the day makes for a real change of gears, as we moved from the outward-looking aspect of the manifestation of Christ to the world, into a more instrospective attitude by looking into our own hearts and souls.  Here's what the Collect would have been:
O Lord, we beseech thee favourably to hear the prayers of thy people; that we, who are justly punished for our offences, may be mercifully delivered by thy goodness, for the glory of thy Name; through Jesus Christ our Saviour, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost ever, one God, world without end. Amen.
The Epistle reading which was appointed for that day has a long association with the fact that the people would have had a lengthy walk to the stational Mass at the Church of St. Lawrence, where Pope St. Gregory determined this should take place.  Tired from their pilgrim walk, they would have heard these words from St. Paul's First Epistle to the Corinthians (9:24-27):
Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.
The Gospel reading then served as a reminder that the coming discipline of Lent was to prepare us for our work in building God's Kingdom, as we would have read in St. Matthew's Gospel (chapter 20):
The kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard. And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the market-place, and said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way. Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise. And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle? They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive. So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the labourers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first. And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny. But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny. And when they had received it, they murmured against the goodman of the house, saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day. But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny? Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee. Is it not lawful for me to do what will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good? So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.
There's a spiritual richness when these things are put into an historical context, and it would be a pity to lose it.  It's all part of the treasury of the Church.