LITURGY OF THE SAINTS: September 3-5, 2001

Feast of the Holy Popes

Monday, September 3, 2001

    "Jesus said to Simon Peter, 'Simon, son of John, dost thou love Me more than these do?' He said to Him, 'Yes Lord, Thou knowest that I love Thee.' He said to him, 'Feed My lambs.' He said to Him, 'Yes, Lord, Thou knowest that I love Thee.' He said to him 'Feed My lambs.' A third time He said to him, 'Simon, son of John, dost thou love Me?' Peter was grieved because He said to him for the third time, 'Dost thou love Me?' And he said to Him, 'Lord, Thou knowest all things, Thou knowest that I love Thee.' He said to him, 'Feed My sheep.'"
      John 21: 15-17
Feast of Pope Saint Gregory the Great, Religious and Doctor of the Church

   The same barbarian ransacking that Augustine faced in the early 400's revisited in the early 600's while Pope Saint Gregory the Great was guiding Holy Mother Church as the 64th successor of Saint Peter. Born in Rome in 540 to a Roman Senator, Gregory began his career following in the footsteps of his father by becoming prefect of Rome from 573-578. After the death of his father, Gregory gave it all up for God. He gave everything he had to an assortment of monasteries, building six monasteries in Sicily and even turned his own palatial home in Rome into a monastery. In 579 Pope Pelagius II ordained Gregory a deacon, sending him as an emissary to Constantinople amid the opulence in the court of the Emperor there. But Gregory disdained these perks, opting to continue living the monastic way of life while still carrying out his duties. In 586 Pope Pelagius recalled him to Rome where Gregory was given the position of abbot of St. Andrew's Monastery, while performing the full time duties of the Holy Father's Secretary. It was an important step in his grooming for four years later he was chosen to succeed Pelagius who had died from the plague on February 7, 590. Seven months later on September 3, 590 Gregory became Pope. This Benedictine was the first monk in the history of the Church to be elevated to pontiff and continued his contemplative ways while still maintaining a busy, active schedule as the leader of his people, calling himself the "Servant of the servants of God." His first official act was forming penitential processions to the seven churches in Rome to petition God to end the deadly plague ravaging the city. Gregory's and the people's prayers were answered as the plague was diminished. Gregory knew this from the vision he received of an angel in a castle at the Vatican which, from that time on, became Castel Sant'Angelo near the river Tiber. During his fourteen year reign Gregory reaffirmed the civil authority of the pope, thus beginning the "temporal power." He was a pope who called for great reform within the Church unifying her with disciplinary measures necessary to expand the mission of the Church. That mission included England, France, Spain and Africa where he sent numerous missionaries to evangelize the true faith. Gregory was creative and original in his administration as Pope and his actions became the benchmark for how the Holy Father would rule from the Vatican to the entire world. He became an ideal role model for priests, bishops, religious and lay people throughout the world. Gregory also revised the Sacramentary and the liturgy of the Mass, introducing chants in the Mass which would become the celebrated Gregorian Chant. He was given the moniker "Great" seven hundred years later by Pope Boniface VIII and was proclaimed one of the great Doctors of the Church along with Saints Ambrose, Jerome, and Augustine...all from the same era of the early centuries. Like our Holy Father Pope John Paul II today, the Canticle of Mary responsory proclaims that "Gregory put into practice all that he preached so that he might be a living example of the spiritual message he proclaimed."

       O God, Who hast given to the soul of Thy servant Gregory the rewards of eternal happiness, mercifully grant that we, who are cast down by the burden of our sins, may be lifted up by the power of his prayers. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen.

Feast of Pope Saint Pius X, Traditional Pontiff of the Holy Eucharist

   Born Joseph Sarto in 1835 near Treviso, Italy at Riese, this young parish priest went on to become one of the greatest Popes ever - Pope Saint Pius X - the Pope of the Blessed Sacrament. Prior to his elevation to the papacy he was ordained Bishop of Mantua in 1884 and became Cardinal Sarto in 1893. Against his own wishes he was unanimously elected the 257th pontiff in the line of Peter at the conclave on August 9, 1903. His pontificate was one of great accomplishments from his liturgical reforms in the Breviary, Mass, and Gregorian Chant to his establishing that all children who had reached the age of reason could receive Holy Communion. He promulgated a new Catechism and the Code of Canon Law and established the Acta Apostolicae Sedis (A.A.S.) He decreed the elevation of the Holst and Chalice at the Consecration of the Mass and was known for his staunch defense of the conservative Church and opposed staunchly to liberalism. He deplored diplomacy in the face of all of the hypocrism and false dealings between nations and many believe the loss of so many lives at the outbreak of World War I contributed to his early death on August 21, 1914, 22 days after war had broken out. His last words were: "To restore all things in Christ, so that Christ may be all in all." That was his motto throughout his eleven year papacy. Today his body is still incorrupt, having been moved from St. Peter's Basilica in Rome in 1959 to his home diocese of Venice, thus bringing true his last words to the Venetians before Cardinal Sarto headed off to the conclave in 1903, "Living or dead, I shall return." Venice sent the Church a great pontiff, now Holy Mother Church was returning a great saint. In the Tridentine Mass his feast is celebrated on September 3rd whereas in the new liturgy it has been reassigned to be celebrated on the day of his death - August 21st.

       Saint Pius X, glory of the priesthood, light and honor of the Christian people, you in whom lowliness seemed blended with greatness, severity with mildness, simple piety with profound learning; you, Pope of the Holy Eucharist and of the catechism, of unsullied faith and fearless strength, turn your gaze on Holy Mother Church, which you so loved and to which you consecrated the choicest of those treasures with which the lavish hand of the Divine Bounty had enriched your soul. Obtain for her safety and steadfastness amid the difficulties and persecutions of our times; sustain this poor human race, whose sufferings at the end of your earthly pilgrimage stilled the beating of your great heart; bring it about that this troubled world may witness the triumph of that peace which should mean harmony among nations, brotherly accord and sincere collaboration among the different classes of society, love and charity among men, so that those ardent desires which consumed your apostolic life may become, by your intercession, a blessed reality, to the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who with the Father and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns forever and ever. Amen.

Feast of Saint Simeon Stylites the Younger, Confessor

Tuesday, September 4, 2001

    "But I say to you, that to every one that hath, shall be given, and he shall abound, and from him that hath not, even that which he has, shall be taken from him."
      Luke 19: 26
   Saint Simeon Stylites the Younger was born in Antioch around 517. He garnered his name from being tutored by Saint John Stylite who, like Simeon, lived on a pillar. Simeon lived on a wide, rock-hewn pillar as a hermit for 68 years. He sought this way of life for when he was only 20 his holiness attracted huge throngs of people. To escape this popularity which he assimilated with pride, he sought the inaccessible climes of the mountains. Try as he might the crowds still found him, deeming the small perch where he resided as the "Hill of Wonders." Blessed as a mystic, Simeon became a priest at the age of 33 on the very pillar as overwhelming crowds attended. As much as he wanted the life of a hermit, God deigned, through the gifts bestowed to this holy man that he minister to those who venerated him for his sanctity, miracles performed and the private revelation prophecies he received. He was known to fast for many days without any food and yet continue to feed the flocks, often times with no sleep. He died in 592 at the age of 75.

       O God, by Whose grace Blessed Simeon, Thy Confessor, wrought wonders in the redemption of Thy faithful people by submitting to Thy Holy Will despite his desire for a contemplative life, by his intercession, we may, with accept our crosses and be obedient to Thee in all things so we do always what is pleasing unto Thee. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen.

Feast of Saint Lawrence Justinian, Bishop and Confessor

Wednesday, September 5, 2001

    "Well done, good and faithful servant, because thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will place thee over many things; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord."
      Matthew 25: 23
  Born in Venice in 1381, Saint Lawrence Justinian or Giustiani was ordained in 1406. His fervor in preaching the Faith led to his becoming bishop and in 1451 Pope Nicholas V appointed him Archbishop of Venice. This man, born into nobility, thus became the first Patriarch of Venice. St. Lawrence was revered for his holiness, spiritual intelligence and the mystic gifts God granted him including performing miracles and giving prophecies. One of his great treatises is his work The Degree of Perfection. He passed on to his Heavenly reward at the age of 74 on January 8, 1455 and was canonized two centuries later by Pope Clement X.
        Grant, we beseech Thee, almighty God, that the sacred festival of Blessed Lawrence, Thy Confessor and Bishop, may increase our devotion and likewise set forward our salvation. Through our Lord, Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen.

September 3-5, 2001
volume 12, no. 148
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