St. John of the Cross
Religious founder, priest and Doctor of the Church
In 1542, was born at Fontiveros, a hamlet of old Castile, St. John of the Cross, renowned through the entire Christian world, as the restorer of the Carmelite Order. His mother, after his father’s early death, went to Medina del Campo, where John commenced his studies, and continued them until he entered the order of the Blessed Virgin of Mount Carmel. From his early youth he had entertained a child-like devotion to the Blessed Virgin, who more than once saved him most miraculously from death. One day, when playing with some other lads around a deep pond, he fell into it. In this danger, the Divine Mother appeared to him in a most beautiful form, and offered him her hand, to draw him out of the water. But as his hands were much soiled, he hesitated to take those of so brilliant a lady; whereupon his Guardian Angel, or some other inhabitant of heaven, held out to him from the edge of the pond, a long pole, by the aid of which he was happily saved. At another time he fell into a well, and when all feared that he was drowned, they saw him sitting quietly upon the water. When they drew him out, he said that the Queen of Heaven had caught him in her cloak, and thus prevented his sinking. Before he was nine years old, he showed a wonderful zeal in mortifying his body, chastising himself by taking only a short rest on a hard bed, and by voluntary fasts. While yet a student, he nursed, with great solicitude and charity, the sick in the hospitals. After he had taken the Carmelite habit, he was not satisfied with the penances then practiced in the convent, but endeavored to regulate his life in accordance with the first rules and ancient austerity of the Order. When he prepared himself to say his first holy Mass, he searched his conscience very carefully, but found no grievous fault. He then gave humble thanks to the Almighty, and during his Mass, begged for the grace to be kept in future free from all mortal sin. His prayer was accepted, and he heard the words: “I grant thee thy wish.” From that time St. John never offended the Lord by a mortal sin, nor voluntarily by a venial one. St. Teresa, who lived at that period, said of him that he was a Saint, and had been one all his life. This renowned and holy virgin met St. John at Medina, and conferred with him about her desire to found houses for religious, who would live according to the original strict regulations of the Carmelites. John, who, in his eagerness to live in greater austerity, had thought of joining the Carthusian monks, asked St. Teresa’s advice. She told him that it would be more agreeable to God, if he remained in his Order, and restored among the men the same primitive rigor which she was endeavoring to restore among the women. She added, that God had called him to this work. John took counsel with God and his confessor, and then resolved to follow St. Teresa’s advice. He erected his first monastery on a farm which had been presented to him for this purpose; and God so visibly blest his undertaking, that he not only filled his house, in a short time, with zealous men, but was enabled also to found several other convents. In these religious houses, all the inmates lived so holy and so austere a life, that many thought it was more to be admired than imitated. The Saint was an example to all, and one could hardly imagine a penance which he did not practise. He gave no ear to those who told him to moderate his severities, but said: “The narrow path leading to heaven cannot be travelled by me in a manner less austere.” The hardships he endured in founding his monasteries, and in restoring the severe regulations of the Order; the persecutions and wrongs he suffered, cannot be described in the short space allotted to us; yet in all these trials he was never despondent. The love of God possessed his heart so entirely, that he desired nothing but to labor and to suffer for His honor.
The Lord asked him one day what recompense he desired for all his trouble and labor. “Nothing else, O Lord, but to suffer and to be despised for Thy sake,” was his answer. Three things he used to ask of the Almighty: — first, much work and much suffering; secondly, not to depart this life as a superior; thirdly, that he might live and die despised. So unusual a’ desire to suffer and to be despised, was the result of his meditation on the Passion of Jesus Christ, and of his great love to God. This love was so intense, that his countenance was frequently seen radiant with a heavenly light, especially when he spoke of divine things. At the time of prayer, as well as during holy Mass, he often fell into ecstasy and was dissolved in tears. Our Lord once appeared to him in the same form as when He died for us on the Cross.
This picture remained so indelibly imprinted on the Saint’s memory, that it almost daily drew tears from his eyes. Into all those over whom he had the slightest influence he endeavored to instill a tender devotion to our crucified Lord, as well as to the Most Holy Trinity and to the Blessed Eucharist. His language to sinners was so forcible, that he converted even the most hardened. He was much aided in this by the gift which the Almighty had bestowed upon him, of reading the thoughts of the heart. Many who came to him were reproached with their secret sins, and admonished to reform their lives. He possessed also the gifts of prophecy, of driving out devils, and curing all kinds of diseases. Besides this, he had many visions of the Blessed Virgin, St. Joseph, St. John, and Christ the Lord. Especially remarkable were the heavenly favors with which this great servant of the Almighty was comforted during an imprisonment of nine months, to which he was unjustly condemned. Christ appeared to him and said: “Behold! John, I am here! Fear not. I will rescue thee!” The Blessed Virgin, accompanied by a great many Saints, appeared to him, and said: “My son, be patient and endure; for your trials will soon give way to joy.” In another vision, she admonished him to escape from the prison, promising him her assistance; a promise which she also kept. St. Teresa, who, during her life, had been closely united with” him, appeared also to him after her death, speaking to him most kindly. In his adversity she comforted him, and encouraged him to new labors for the honor of God. The reward of all the work which the holy man had accomplished, as also of the trials and tribulations he had suffered, was at length bestowed upon him, in the year 1591, when he was in the forty-ninth year of his age. He was seized with fever, in the hermitage of Pegnuela, and was brought from there to Ubeda, according to his wish. He had an ulcer on that part of his right foot where the holy feet of our Lord were pierced with nails. To open it, the surgeon was obliged to make a deep incision. The pain thus caused was very great; but greater still was the patience of the Saint, who even rejoiced at bearing, in some manner, the image of the sufferings of Christ, and at having five wounds on one foot. God had already, some time previously, revealed to him the hour of his death; and the Blessed Virgin, whom the Saint had always especially honored, appeared to him on the eve of the Immaculate Conception, saying that she would come for him on the Sunday after the festival. When the physicians told him that his end was not far distant, he said, in the words of the Psalmist: “I was glad when they said unto me, We shall go up into the house of the Lord.” Half an hour before his death, he called all his religious to him, exhorted them to persevere in their zeal, and said: “My parting hour draws near.” After the usual prayers of the Church, he heard the bells ring for the midnight Matins. “I shall sing the Matins in Heaven,” said he; after which, taking the Crucifix, he kissed it most devoutly, and calmly ended his holy life, saying: “Into Thy hands, O Lord, I commend my soul.” A large ball, as of fire, was seen above the dying Saint. After his death, his countenance beamed with a heavenly brightness, and was so beautiful that none grew weary of looking at him; while at the same time such delicious odor emanated from him, that the whole monastery was filled with it. The Almighty has carefully preserved his body incorrupt until this hour.
St. Chrysogonus, Martyr
Chrysogonus was martyred at Aquileia, probably during the Persecution of Diocletian, was buried there, and publicly venerated by the faithful of that region. He is the patron saint of Zadar. His name is found in the Martyrologium Hieronymianum on two different days, 31 May and 24 November.
About the 6th century arose a legend of the martyr that made him a Roman and brought him into relation with Saint Anastasia, evidently to explain the veneration of Chrysogonus in the Roman church that bears his name. According to this legend, Chrysogonus, at first a functionary of the vicarius Urbis, was the Christian teacher of Anastasia, the daughter of the noble Roman Praetextatus. Being thrown into prison during the persecution of Diocletian, he comforted by his letters the severely afflicted Anastasia. By order of Diocletian, Chrysogonus was brought before the emperor at Aquileia, condemned to death, and beheaded. His corpse, thrown into the sea, was washed ashore and buried by the aged priest Zoilus who is also the patron saint of Zadar.
ST JOHN OF THE CROSS, CONFESSOR AND DOCTOR OF THE CHURCH
Missa – ‘In Medio’
INTROIT – Ecclesiasticus 15: 5; Psalm 91: 2
In medio Ecclesiae aperuit os ejus: et implevit eum Dominus spiritu sapientiæ, et intellectus: stolam gloriae induit eum. Ps. Bonum est confiteri Domino: et psallere nomini tuo, Altissime. Gloria Patri.
In the midst of the Church the Lord opened his mouth: and filled him with the spirit of wisdom and understanding: He clothed him with a robe of glory. Ps. It is good to give praise to the Lord: and to sing to Thy Name, O Most High. Glory be to the Father.
O God, Who didst make Thy holy Confessor and Doctor, John, a man of perfect self-denial and an eminent lover of the cross, grant that, continually applying ourselves to imitating him, we may attain unto everlasting glory. Through our Lord.
COMMEMORATION of St Chrysogonus, Martyr
Give ear, O Lord, to our supplications, that we, who know ourselves to be guilty by reason of our own iniquity, may be delivered by the intercession of blessed Chrysogonus, Thy Martyr. Through our Lord.
EPISTLE – II Timothy 4: 1-8
Dearly beloved, I charge thee before God and Jesus Christ, Who shall judge the living and the dead, by His coming, and His Kingdom. Preach the word: be instant in season: reprove, entreat, rebuke in all patience, and doctrine. For there shall be a time, when they will not endure sound doctrine; but according to their own desires they will heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears, and will indeed turn away their hearing from the truth, but will be turned unto fables. But be thou vigilant, labor in all things, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill thy ministry. Be sober. For I am even now ready to be sacrificed; and the time of my dissolution is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the Faith. As to the rest, there is laid up for me a crown of justice, which the Lord, the just Judge, will render to me in that day; and not only to me, but to them also that love His coming.
GRADUAL – Psalm 36: 30-31
The mouth of the just shall meditate wisdom, and his tongue shall speak judgment. The law of His God is in his heart: and his steps shall not be supplanted.
ALLELUIA – Ecclus. 45: 1, 9
Alleluia, alleluia. The Lord loved him and adorned him: He clothed him with a robe of glory. Alleluia.
GOSPEL – Matthew 5: 13-19
At that time, Jesus said to His disciples: You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt lose its savour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is good for nothing any more but to be cast out, and be trodden on by men. You are the light of the world. A city seated on a mountain cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel but upon a candlestick, that it may shine to all that are before men that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father, Who is in heaven. Do not think that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For amen I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall not pass of the law, till all be fulfilled. He therefore that shall break one of these least commandments, and so shall teach men, shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but he that shall do and teach, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
OFFERTORY – Psalm 91: 13
The just shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow up like the cedar of Libanus.
May the holy prayer of John, Thy Confessor and Doctor, fail us not, O Lord: may it render our offerings acceptable, and ever obtain for us Thy pardon. Through our Lord.
COMMEMORATION of St Chrysogonus
Be appeased, O Lord, with the gifts offered Thee, and, by the intercession of blessed Chrysogonus, Thy Martyr, defend us from all dangers. Through our Lord.
It is truly meet and just, right and for our salvation that we should at all times and in all places, give thanks unto Thee, O holy Lord, Father almighty, eternal God: through Christ our Lord. through Whom the Angels praise Thy Majesty, Dominations worship, Powers stand in awe. The Heavens and the Heavenly hosts together with the blessed Seraphim in triumphant chorus unite to celebrate it. Together with them we entreat Thee, that Thou mayest bid our voices also to be admitted, while we say in lowly praise…
COMMUNION – Luke 12: 42
The faithful and wise servant, whom his lord setteth over his family: to give them their measure of wheat in due season.
That Thy sacrifices may give us health, O Lord, may blessed John, Thy Confessor and illustrious Doctor, we beseech Thee, act as our intercessor. Through our Lord.
COMMEMORATION of St Chrysogonus
By the participation of Thy sacrament, O Lord, may we be cleansed from our hidden sins and delivered from the snares of our enemies. Through our Lord.