SAINT SYLVESTER, ABBOT
From the Liturgical Year – By Dom Guéranger, Abbot
God often brings the world to those who flee from it, as Sylvester Gozzolini among others experienced. In the thirteenth century, the world, all in admiration at the sanctity and the eloquence of the new Orders, seemed to have forgotten the monks and the desert. God, who never forgets, led his elect silently into solitude, and the wilderness began again to rejoice and flourish like the lily; strength was restored to the weak hands and feeble knees of the sons of the cloister. The austerities of olden days and the fervour of prolonged prayer were revived at Monte Fano, and extended into sixty other monasteries; the new religious family of the Sylvestrians was approved by Innocent IV, in 1247. Though originated seven centuries after St. Benedict, and distinguished from the elder families by its blue habit, it claims the Patriarch of Cassino for its legislator and father.
Let us read the life of St. Sylvester which was inserted in the Breviary by Pope Leo XIII.
This Silvester was born of a noble family at Ossimo, in Picenum, and in his childhood was a wonderful example both in regard to letters and good living. When he grew older his father sent him to Bologna to study the law, but God warned him to give himself to divinity, and he thereby incurred the wrath of his father, which he bore with complacency for ten full years. On account of his eminent graces he was elected an honorary canon of the Cathedral of Ossimo, in the which dignity he ministered to the people by his prayers, his example, and his sermons.
At the funeral of a certain nobleman he perceived in an open grave the disfigured corpse of a kinsman of his own who had been very comely in his lifetime, and he said to himself, I am what he was, and what he is I shall be. Straightway after the funeral he read the words of the Lord, If any man will come after Me let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me (Matth. xvi. 24.) Thereupon he withdrew into the desert to seek after greater perfection, and then gave himself up to watching, praying, and fasting, very often taking no food but uncooked herbs. In order, however, to cut himself off the more from men, he moved from one place to another, and at length came to Mount Fano, which is hard by Fabriano, but was itself then absolutely uninhabited. Then he built a church in honour of the holy Father Benedict, and founded the congregation of Silvestrians, with a rule and dress which were revealed to him in a vision by the holy Patriarch himself.
Satan envied him, strove to trouble his monks by divers terrors, and made an hostile attack by night upon the gates of his monastery, but the man of God so overcame the assault of the enemy that his monks were the more confirmed in their Institute and recognized the holiness of their father. He shone with the spirit of prophecy and other gifts. These things he always preserved by the deepest lowliness, whereby he so stirred up against him the ill-will of the devil that that evil spirit cast him headlong down the stairs of his oratory, and went near to slay him, but he was restored to soundness by the helpful gift of the Virgin. This help he remembered with an unceasing and singular love toward her until the last breath of his life, the which breath he resigned to God, famous for holiness and miracles, aged almost ninety years, upon the 26th day of November, in the year of salvation 1267. The Supreme Pontiff Leo XIII. extended his Office and Mass to the whole Church.
Commemoration of St. Peter of Alexandria, Martyr
From The Roman Breviary
This Peter succeeded that eminent Saint, Theonas, as Pope of Alexandria, (in the year of our Lord 300,) and the glory of his holiness and teaching hath enlightened not Egypt only, but the whole Church of God. The wondrous patience wherewith he bore the roughness of the times in the persecution under Maximian Galerius caused many greatly to increase in Christian graces. He was the first who cut off Arius, then a Deacon of Alexandria, from the Communion of the faithful, on account of his leaning to the Meletian schism. He was condemned to death by Maximian, and was in prison when there came to him the two Priests Achilles and Alexander to plead for Arius, but Peter told them that Jesus had appeared to him in the night clad in a rent garment, and when he asked what was thereby signified, had said unto him Arius hath torn My vesture, which is the Church. Also, he foretold to them that they should be Popes of Alexandria after him, and strictly commanded them never to receive Arius into Communion, because he knew him to be dead in the sight of God. That this was a true prophecy the event did shortly prove. At length, in the twelfth year of his Popedom, upon the 26th day of November, in the year of salvation 311, his head was cut off, and he went hence to receive the crown of his testimony.
St Sylvester, Abbott
St. Peter of Alexandria, Bishop and Martyr.
Double / White
Missa ‘Os justi’
INTROIT: Psalm 36: 30-31
Os justi meditabitur sapientiam, et lingua ejus loquetur judicium: lex Dei ejus in corde ipsius.
Ps. Noli æmulari in malignantibus: neque zelaveris facientes iniquitatem.
The mouth of the just shall meditate wisdom, and his tongue shall speak judgment: the law of his God is in his heart.
Ps. Be not emulous of evildoers: nor envy them that work iniquity.
Glory be to the Father.
O most merciful God, Who, when the holy Abbot Sylvester was piously pondering over the vanity of earthly things whilst he stood by an open grave, didst vouchsafe to call him to the desert, we supplicate Thee that, despising earthly things, after his example, we may forever enjoy Thy presence. Through our Lord.
Commemoration of St Peter of Alexandria
Look upon our infirmity, O almighty God, and, because the weight of our own evil deeds beareth us down, may the glorious intercession of blessed Peter, Thy Martyr and Bishop, protect us. Through our Lord.
EPISTLE Ecclesiasticus 45: 1-6
Lesson from the Book of Wisdom
He was beloved of God and men, whose memory is in benediction; He made him like the saints in glory, and magnified him in the fear of his enemies; and with his words he made prodigies to cease; He glorified him in the sight of kings, and gave him commandments in the sight of his people, and showed him his glory; He sanctified him in his faith and meekness, and chose him out of all flesh; for He heard him and his voice, and brought him into a cloud; and He gave him commandments before his face, and a law of life and instruction.
GRADUAL: Psalm 20: 4-5
Domine, prævenísti eum in benedictiónibus dulcédinis: posuísti in cápite ejus corónam de lápide pretióso. Vitam pétiit a te, et tribuísti ei longitúdinem diérum in sæculum sæculi.
O Lord, Thou hast prevented him with blessings of sweetness; Thou hast set on his head a crown of precious stones. He asked life of Thee, and Thou hast given him length of days for ever and ever.
ALLELUIA: Psalm 91: 13
Justus ut palma florébit: sicut cedrus Líbani multiplicábitur. Allelúia.
The just shall flourish like the palm tree; he shall grow up like the cedar of Libanus. Alleluia.
GOSPEL: Matthew 19: 27-29
The continuation of the holy Gospel according to St. Matthew
At that time, Peter said to Jesus: Behold we have left all things, and have followed Thee: what therefore shall we have? And Jesus said to them: Amen I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration, when the Son of man shall sit on the seat of His majesty, you also shall sit on twelve seats judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And every one that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall possess life everlasting.
Homily by St Jerome, Priest at Bethlehem.
Bk. iii. on Matth xix.
Peter was a fisherman, he was not rich, he earned his bread by his hand and skill, and nevertheless he is thus bold, and saith confidently: We have forsaken all. And because it sufficeth not to forsake only, he addeth that which to do is to be perfect: and followed thee. We have done that which Thou hast commanded us, what reward therefore wilt Thou give us? And Jesus said unto them Amen I say unto you, that ye which have followed Me, in the regeneration, when the Son of Man shall sit in the throne of His glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. He said not, Ye which have forsaken all, for this did even Crates the philosopher, and they which have set nothing by riches are many, but, Ye which have followed Me. This did the Apostles, and this do believers do.
In the regeneration, when the Son of Man shall sit in the throne of His glory, and when the dead shall rise again from corruption incorruptible, i Cor. xv. 53, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones of judgment, condemning the twelve tribes of Israel, because, when ye believed in Me, they would not. John iii. 18. And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for My Name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life. This place agreeth well with that other where the Saviour saith I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. Matth. x. 34. Every one, therefore, that hath set no store by affection, and riches, and the pleasures of the world, for Christ’s faith’s sake, and the preaching of the Gospel, shall receive an hundred-fold, and shall inherit everlasting life.
OFFERTORY: Psalm 20: 3, 4
Desiderium animæ ejus tribuisti ei, Domine, et voluntate labiorum ejus, non fraudasti eum: posuisti in capite ejus coronam de lapide pretioso.
Thou hast given him his heart’s desire, O Lord, and hast not withholden from him the will of his lips: Thou hast set on his head a crown of precious stones.
We beseech Thee, O Lord, that, while we reverently offer these gifts to Thy divine majesty we may by pious preparation of soul and purity of heart, following the example of blessed Abbot Sylvester, become worthy to partake holily of the Body and Blood of Thy Son: Who with Thee livest and reignest.
Commemoration of St Peter of Alexandria
Graciously receive, O Lord, the sacrifice offered to Thee by the merits of blessed Peter, Thy Martyr and Bishop, and grant that it may be to us an unfailing help. 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:
SANCTUS, SANCTUS, SANCTUS Dominus Deus Sabaoth. Pleni sunt coeli et terra gloria Tua. Hosanna in excelsis. Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini. Hosanna in excelsis.
COMMUNION: Luke 12: 42
This is the faithful and wise steward, whom his lord setteth over his family: to give them their measure of wheat in due season.
We pray Thee, O Lord, that Thou grant unto us, refreshed with the divine banquet, to follow closely the footsteps of the holy Abbot Sylvester, that we may have an abundant reward with the saints in the kingdom of Thy glory. Through our Lord.
Commemoration of St Peter of Alexandria
Refreshed by participation in the sacred gift, we beseech Thee, O Lord, our God, that, through the intercession of blessed Peter, Thy Martyr and Bishop, we may ever experience the effect of the worship we offer. Through our Lord.