Proper of the Saints and Feasts

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Proper of the Saints and Feasts


Friday, October 11:
Traditional Feast of

THE DIVINE MATERNITY OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY
    Double of the Second Class. White Vestments

   When Mary of Nazareth conceived in Her womb the Word of God, that conception was the effect of the fullness of Her grace, and of an action of the Holy Spirit which occurred in Her soul first of all, thereby making of Her flesh a tabernacle and a sanctuary. The dignity of the Mother of God is Her great sanctity, it is the incomparable grace which raises Her above all the Angels, the grace in which She was predestined and created for this glorious purpose. By the acts of Her blessed Maternity, She bordered on divinity while remaining entirely human. In this way She seems to exhaust, as it were, the power of God — the fullness of the grace accorded Her cannot be surpassed. It is easier for us to conceive of the greatness of Mary, however, when we consider Her maternity of the Mystical Body, the Church, which like Herself is entirely human, and composed of persons who are very far indeed from being what our Savior Jesus Christ was, a Divine Person incarnate.

   We understand better what Mary is for the Church by listening to Saint Louis Mary de Montfort, Apostle of the Cross and of the Rosary of Our Lady. As Mary was necessary for God in the Incarnation of the Word, so She is necessary for Him to sanctify souls and bring about their likeness to Christ, and She is much needed by us, in our great infirmity:

       “The Holy Ghost gives no heavenly gift to men which He does not have pass through Her virginal hands...; such is the sentiment of the Church and its holy Fathers. Mary, being altogether transformed into God by grace and by the glory which transforms all the Saints into Him, asks nothing, wishes nothing, does nothing contrary to the eternal and immutable Will of God. When we read then in the writings of Saints Bernard, Bernardine, Bonaventure and others, that in heaven and on earth everything, even God Himself, is subject to the Blessed Virgin, they mean that the authority which God has been well pleased to give Her is so great that it seems as if She had the same power as God; and that Her prayers and petitions are so powerful with God that they always pass for commandments with His Majesty, who never resists the prayer of His dear Mother, because She is always humble and conformed to His Will. If Moses, by the force of his prayer, stayed the anger of God against the Israelites in a manner so powerful that the most high and infinitely merciful Lord, being unable to resist him, told him to let Him alone that He might be angry with and punish that rebellious people, what must we not, with much greater reason, think of the prayer of the humble Mary, the worthy Mother of God, which is more powerful with His Majesty than the prayers and intercessions of all the Angels and Saints both in heaven and on earth?”

       “The sin of our first father has spoiled us all, soured us, puffed us up and corrupted us... The actual sins which we have committed, whether mortal or venial, pardoned though they may be, have nevertheless increased our concupiscence, our weakness, our inconstancy and our corruption, and have left evil remains in our souls... We have nothing for our portion but pride and blindness of spirit, hardness of heart, weakness and inconstancy of soul, revolted passions, and sicknesses in the body... Let us say boldly with Saint Bernard that we have need of a mediator with the Mediator Himself, and that it is the divine Mary who is most capable of filling that charitable office. It was through Her that Jesus Christ came to us, and it is through Her that we must go to Him. If we fear to go directly to Jesus Christ, our God, whether because of His infinite greatness or because of our vileness, or because of our sins, let us boldly implore the aid and intercession of Mary, our Mother. She is good, She is tender, She has nothing in Her that is austere and forbidding, nothing too sublime and too brilliant... She is so charitable that She repels none of those who ask Her intercession, no matter how great sinners they have been; for, as the Saints say, never has it been heard, since the world was the world, that anyone has confidently and perseveringly had recourse to our Blessed Lady and yet been repelled.” (True Devotion to Mary).

Sources: True Devotion to Mary, by Saint Louis Mary de Montfort(Montfort Publications: Bay Shore, 1960); Les Petits Bollandistes: Vies des Saints, by Msgr. Paul Guérin (Bloud et Barral: Paris, 1882), Vol. 12.


Saturday, October 11:

    Traditional Feast of Saint Wilfrid, Bishop of York, and observance of Our Lady's Saturday, and the traditional feast of Our Lady of Pillar
      Simple Feast. White Vestments.

Saint Wilfrid

   It was the glory of the great Saint Wilfrid to fasten securely the happy links which bound England to Rome. He was born about the year 634 of an excellent Christian family; at that time a brightly burning torch was seen over the house of his father, shedding light all along the street where the house was, without doing any damage. This was regarded as a presage that the newborn babe would one day be a brilliant light in the Church.

   Wilfrid was brought up by the Celtic monks at Lindisfarne in the rites and usages of the British Church. Yet even as a boy Wilfrid longed for perfect conformity with the Holy See in discipline as well as in doctrine, and at the first opportunity he set out for Rome. When his devotion and his desire for instruction in the difficulties of the liturgy were satisfied, he was ready to return to England. On his way he visited the archbishop of Lyons, Saint Chamond, who had very kindly received him on his route to Rome. Before re-embarking for England, Wilfrid received the tonsure and remained with him for three years, until his death. At home once more, he built a monastery at Stamford, and made of another one at Ripon a strictly Roman monastery under the rule of Saint Benedict. There he was ordained a priest, and after having governed it as Abbot for five years, he was consecrated a bishop in France. He again remained for a time across the Channel, and then found, when he returned to England, that another had replaced him in his newly assigned see of York. That bishop, whose position was more than doubtful, was persuaded to retire when the Archbishop of Canterbury visited Northumbria; Wilfrid was thereby reinstated in 669. He enforced the Roman obedience in his see and founded many monasteries of the Benedictine Order.

   As Bishop of York he had to combat the passions of wicked kings, the cowardice of worldly prelates, the errors of holy men. He was twice exiled and once imprisoned; finally the difficulties were settled with the aid of Roman authority. In 686 he was called back to his diocese of York, where eventually he swept away the abuses of many years and a too national system, and substituted instead a vigorous Catholic discipline, modeled and dependent on Rome. When the large see of York was definitively divided and suffragan dioceses established, Saint Wilfrid was given two smaller sees but not York. He decided to accept the settlement reached with other British ecclesiastics, since the principle of Roman authority had been vindicated. He died October 12, 709, amid the monks of Ripon and was buried in this monastery. A monk of the monastery of Ripon who had worked with Saint Wilfrid for forty years wrote the first biography of the former Abbot and Archbishop. The greater part of his relics were transferred to the cathedral of Canterbury in the year 959.

    REFLECTION: Trust in the Vicar of Christ is an instinct planted in us for the preservation of the Faith. It follows necessarily upon the reign of our Saviour’s divine love in our hearts.

Sources: Les Petits Bollandistes: Vies des Saints, by Msgr. Paul Guérin (Bloud et Barral: Paris, 1882), Vol. 12; Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butler’s Lives of the Saints and other sources by John Gilmary Shea (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894); The Catholic Encyclopedia, edited by C. G. Herbermann with numerous collaborators (Appleton Company: New York, 1908).


Sunday, October 13:

    21st Sunday After Pentecost and the Traditional Feast of Saint Edward the Confessor, King of England. It is also the 85th Anniversary of the final apparition at Fatima.
      Semi-Double Feast. Green Vestments.

Saint Edward the Confessor

   Saint Edward, son of King Ethelred, whose kingdom of England fell to the Danish invaders, was unexpectedly raised to the throne of England in 1041, at the age of forty years. God had shown Edward to a pious bishop in a vision, as England’s King, anointed by Saint Peter: “Behold the one who will be King through My favor; he will be cherished by heaven, agreeable to men, terrible to his enemies, loving to his subjects, very useful to the Church of God.” The English people, tired of being governed by a foreign domination, decided in 1041 to reinstate the surviving son of their legitimate sovereign, and under the leadership of three noblemen, succeeded in crowning Edward on Easter Sunday of the year 1042. Edward had spent twenty-seven years of his forty in exile in Normandy, in the palace of his maternal uncle.

   When he was raised to the throne, the virtues of his earlier years, simplicity, gentleness, humility and a tender charity, but above all his angelic purity, shone with new brightness. By a rare inspiration of God, though he married to content his nobles and people, he preserved perfect chastity in the wedded state. So little did he set his heart on riches, that three times when he saw a servant robbing his treasury, he let him escape, saying the poor man needed the gold more than he. He loved to stand at his palace-gate, speaking kindly to the poor beggars and lepers who crowded about him, and many of whom he healed of their diseases. The people rejoiced in having a Saint for their king.

   Long wars had brought the kingdom to a sad state, but Edward’s zeal and sanctity soon wrought a great change. His reign of twenty-four years was one of almost unbroken peace. He undertook only one war, which was victorious, to reinstate Malcolm, legitimate king of Scotland. The country grew prosperous, the ruined churches rose again under his hand, the weak lived secure, and for ages afterwards men spoke with affection of the “laws of good Saint Edward.” The holy king delighted in building and enriching churches; Westminster Abbey was his last and noblest work.

   He had a particular devotion to the holy Apostles Saint Peter and Saint John the Evangelist, and had made a promise never to refuse an alms asked in the name of the latter. One day when he had no money with him, a poor man reached out his hand in the name of the Apostle, and the king gave him a valuable ring he was wearing. Some time later, Saint John appeared to two pilgrims returning from the Holy Land. He gave them a ring and said: “Take it to the king; he gave it to me one day when I asked for an alms in the habit of a pilgrim. Tell him that in six months I will visit him and take him with me, to follow the unblemished Lamb.” The King received it from them after hearing their relation of this incident, and broke into tears. And Edward did indeed die six months later, on January 5, 1066. Many miracles occurred at his tomb. In 1102 his body was exhumed and found intact and flexible, with its habits perfectly preserved also, appearing to be new. He was canonized in 1161 by Pope Alexander III.

Sources: Les Petits Bollandistes: Vies des Saints, by Msgr. Paul Guérin (Bloud et Barral: Paris, 1882), Vol. 12; Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butler’s Lives of the Saints and other sources by John Gilmary Shea (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894).


Monday, October 14:

    Feast of Saint Callistus I, Pope and Martyr
      Double Feast. Red Vestments.

Pope Saint Callistus I

   Early in the third century, it was to Callistus, then a deacon, that Pope Saint Zephyrinus confided the government of the clergy, as well as the creation and maintenance of the Christian cemeteries, which at that time were the catacombs of Rome. At the death of the Sovereign Pontiff, Callistus succeeded him as Head of the Church.

   It is he who made obligatory for the entire Church, the fast of the Ember Days which the Apostles had instituted, to bring down blessings on each season of the year. During his time, the Christians began to build churches, which though destroyed during the various persecutions, were eventually rebuilt. Among the catacombs owed to his government, is the one on the Appian Way which bears his name. Many precious memories are conserved there; in it are found the tomb of Saint Cecilia, the crypts of several popes, and paintings which attest the perfect conformity of the primitive Faith with that of the present-day Church.

   During the pontificate of Saint Callistus, several very striking conversions occurred among the very officers of the persecuting emperor Alexander Severus. At one time an officer, his family and household, forty-two persons in all, were baptized by the Pope on the same day. Many others asked him for Baptism; among them a Senator and sixty-eight persons of his household, and a guardian of the saintly Pope, whose name was Privatus, after the prayers of the Holy Father had cured him of an ulcer. All these new Christians were martyred, and their heads were exposed at the various gates of Rome to discourage any who would propagate the Faith of Christ in that city. Despite the continuing pursuits and his constant solicitude for all the churches, Saint Callistus found the means to have a diligent search made by fishermen for the body of a priest of his clergy, which had been cast into the Tiber after his martyrdom. When it was found he was filled with joy, and buried it with hymns of praise.

   During the persecution Saint Callistus was obliged to take shelter in the poor and populous quarters of the city. The martyred priest, Calipodius, appeared to him soon afterwards, saying: “Father, take courage; the hour of the reward is approaching; your crown will be proportionate to your sufferings.” Soon afterwards he was discovered there, and the house was guarded by soldiers who received the order to allow no food to enter it for several days. And Saint Callistus was martyred in his turn. With a rock suspended from his neck, he was thrown from a window into a well on October 14, 223. The priest Asterius recovered and buried his body in the catacomb named for Calipodius. A week later Asterius too was arrested and thrown into the Tiber. The Christians interred this martyr also.

    REFLECTION: In the mortal remains of a Christian, we see what has been the temple of the Holy Ghost, and which still is precious in the sight of God, who will watch over it and one day raise it up in glory to shine forever in His kingdom. May our actions bear witness to our belief in these truths.

Sources: Les Petits Bollandistes: Vies des Saints, by Msgr. Paul Guérin (Bloud et Barral: Paris, 1882), Vol. 12; Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butler’s Lives of the Saints and other sources by John Gilmary Shea (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894).


PROPER OF THE SAINTS & FEASTS
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