The Liturgical Year
Abbot Dom Guéranger
Today, the Church honors the memory of one of those men, who were expressly chosen by God to represent the sublime detachment from all things, which was taught to the world by the example of the Son of God, born in a Cave, at Bethlehem. Paul the Hermit so prized the poverty of his Divine Master, that he fled to the desert, where he could find nothing to possess and nothing to covet. He had a mere cavern for his dwelling; a palm-tree provided him with food and clothing; a fountain gave him wherewith to quench his thirst; and heaven sent him his only luxury, a loaf of bread brought to him daily by a crow. For sixty years did Paul thus serve, in poverty, and in solitude, that God, who was denied a dwelling on the earth he came to redeem, and could have but a poor Stable wherein to be born. But God dwelt with Paul in his cavern ; and in him began the Anchorites, that sublime race of men, who, the better to enjoy the company of their God, denied themselves, not only the society, but the very light, of men. They were the Angels of earth, in whom God showed forth, for the instruction of the rest of men, that he is powerful enough, and rich enough, to supply the wants of his creatures, who, indeed, have nothing but what they have from Him. The Hermit, or Anchoret, is a prodigy in the Church, and it behoves us to glorify the God who has produced it. We ought to be filled with astonishment and gratitude, at seeing how the Mystery of a God made Flesh has so elevated our human nature, as to inspire a contempt and abandonment of those earthly goods, which heretofore had been so eagerly sought after.
The two names, Paul and Antony, are not to be separated; they are the two Apostles of the Desert; both are Fathers—Paul of Anchorites, and Antony of Cenobites; the two families are sisters, and both have the same source, the Mystery of Bethlehem. The sacred Cycle of the Church’s year unites, with only a day between their two Feasts, these two faithful disciples of Jesus in his Crib.
The Church reads in her Office, the following abridgment of St. Paul’s wonderful Life.
Paul, the institutor and master of Hermits, was born in Lower Thebais. He lost his parents when he was fifteen years of age. Not long after that, in order to escape the persecution of Decius and Valerian, and to serve God the more freely, he withdrew into the desert, where he made a cave his dwelling. A palm tree afforded him food and raiment, and there he lived to the age of a hundred and thirteen. About that time, he received a visit from Antony, who was ninety-years old. God bade him visit Paul. The two Saints, though they had not previously known each other, saluted each other by their names. Whilst holding a long conversation on the kingdom of God, a crow, which every day brought half a loaf of bread, carried them a whole one. When the crow had left them, Paul said: See! our truly good and truly merciful Lord has sent us our repast. For sixty years, I have daily received a half loaf; now, because thou art come to see me, Christ has doubled the portion for his soldiers. Wherefore, they sat near the fountain, and, giving thanks, they eat the bread; and when they were refreshed, they again returned the accustomed thanks to God, and spent the night in the divine praises. At daybreak, Paul tells Antony of his approaching death, and begs him, go and bring the cloak, which Athanasius had given him, and wrap his corpse in it. As Antony was returning from his cell, he saw Paul’s soul going up into heaven, amidst choirs of Angels, and a throng of Prophets and Apostles.
When he had reached the hermit’s cell, he found the lifeless body: the knees were bent, the head erect, and the hands stretched out and raised towards heaven. He wrapped it in the cloak, and sang hymns and psalms over it, according to the custom prescribed by Christian tradition. Not having a hoe wherewith to make a grave, two lions came at a rapid pace from the interior of the desert, and stood over the body of the venerable Saint, showing how, in their own way, they lamented his death. They began to tear up the earth with their feet, and seemed to strive to outdo each other in the work, until they had made a hole large enough to receive the body of a man. When they had gone, Antony carried the holy corpse to the place, and covering it with the soil, he arranged the grave after the manner of the Christians. As to the tunic, which Paul had woven for himself out of palm-leaves, as baskets are usually made, Antony took it away with him, and, as long as he lived, wore it on the great days of Easter and Pentecost.
Father and Prince of Hermits! thou art now contemplating in all his glory that God, whose weakness and lowliness thou didst study and imitate during the sixty years of thy desert-life: thou art now with him in the eternal union of the Vision. Instead of thy cavern, where thou didst spend thy life of unknown penance, thou hast the immensity of the heavens for thy dwelling; instead of thy tunic of palm-leaves, thou hast the robe of Light; instead of the pittance of material bread, thou hast the Bread of eternal life; instead of thy humble fountain, thou hast the waters which spring up to eternity, filling thy soul with infinite delights. Thou didst imitate the silence of the Babe of Bethlehem by thy holy life of seclusion; now, thy tongue is for ever singing the praises of this God, and the music of infinite bliss is for ever falling on thine ear. Thou didst not know this world of ours, save by its deserts; but now, thou must compassionate and pray for us who live in it; speak for us to our dear Jesus; remind him how he visited it in wonderful mercy and love; pray his sweet blessing upon us, and the graces of perfect detachment from transitory things, love of poverty, love of prayer, and love of our heavenly country.
St. Maurus, Abbot
St. Maurus, O.S.B. (or Maur), was the first disciple of St. Benedict of Nursia (512-584). He is mentioned in St. Gregory the Great’s biography of the latter as the first oblate; offered to the monastery by his noble Roman parents as a young boy to be brought up in the monastic life. Four stories involving Maurus recounted by Gregory formed a pattern for the ideal formation of a Benedictine monk. The most famous of these involved St. Maurus’s rescue of Saint Placidus, a younger boy offered to St. Benedict at the same time as St. Maurus. The incident has been reproduced in many medieval and Renaissance paintings.
Whatsoever He shall say to you, do ye.
SECOND SUNDAY AFTER EPIPHANY
Semi-double Green vestments
Commemoration of St. Paul, First Hermit and
St. Maurus, Abbot (Disciple of St. Benedict)
INTROIT – Psalm 65: 4
Omnis terra adóret te, Deus, et psallat tibi: psalmum dicat nómini tuo, Altíssime, Ps. 65. 1-2. Jubiláte Deo, omnis terra, psalmum dícite nómini ejus: date glóriam laudi ejus. V. Glória Patri.
Let all the earth adore Thee O God, and sing to Thee: let it sing a psalm to Thy name, O Most High. Ps. Shout with joy to God, all the earth, sing ye a psalm to His name: give glory to His praise V. Glory be to the Father.
Almighty and everlasting God who dost govern all things in heaven and earth, mercifully hear the prayers of Thy people, and grant us Thy peace all the days of our life. Through our Lord.
Com. St. Paul, First Hermit
O God, who dost gladden us by the annual feast of blessed Paul, Thy Confessor: mercifully grant, that we may follow the example of his life, whose heavenly birthday we celebrate. Through our Lord.
Commemoration for St. Maurus, Abbot
May the intercession of blessed Maurus, the Abbot, commend us unto Thee, we beseech Thee, O Lord: so that what we may not have by any merits of ours, we may obtain by his patronage. Through our Lord.
EPISTLE – Romans 12: 6-16
Brethren: Having different gifts, according to the grace that is given us: either prophecy, to be used according to the rule of faith; or ministry, in ministering; or he that teacheth, in doctrine; he that exhorteth, in exhorting; he that giveth, with simplicity; he that ruleth, with carefulness; he that showeth mercy, with cheerfulness. Let love be without dissimulation. Hating that which is evil, cleaving to that which is good: loving one another with the charity of brotherhood, with honour preventing one another: in carefulness not slothful: in spirit fervent: serving the Lord: rejoicing in hope: patient in tribulation: instant in prayer: communicating to the necessities of the saints: pursuing hospitality. Bless them that persecute you: bless, and curse not. Rejoice with them that rejoice, weep with them that weep: being of one mind one towards another; not minding high things, but consenting to the humble.
GRADUAL – Psalm 106: 20-21
The Lord sent His word, and healed them: and delivered them from their destruction. V. Let the mercies of the Lord give glory to Him: and His wonderful works to the children of men.
ALLELUIA – Psalm 148: 2
Alleluia, alleluia. V. Praise ye the Lord, all His Angels: praise ye Him, all His hosts. Alleluia.
GOSPEL – John 2: 1-11
At that time there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee: and the mother of Jesus was there. And Jesus also was invited, and His disciples, to the marriage. And the wine failing, the mother of Jesus saith to Him: They have no wine. And Jesus saith to her: Woman, what is that to Me and to thee? My hour is not yet come. His mother saith to the waiters: Whatsoever He shall say to you, do ye. Now there were set there six water-pots of stone, according to the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three measures apiece. Jesus saith to them: Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. And Jesus said to them: Draw out now, and carry to the chief steward of the feast. And they carried it. And when the chief steward had tasted the water made wine, and knew not whence it was, but the waiters knew who had drawn the water: the chief steward calleth the bridegroom, and saith to him: Every man at first setteth forth good wine: and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now. This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee; and manifested His glory, and His disciples believed in Him.
Homily by St Augustine
(9th Tract on John.)
Even setting aside any mystical interpretation, the fact that the Lord was pleased to be asked, and to go to a marriage, showeth plainly enough that He is the Author and Blesser of marriage. There were yet to be those of whom the Apostle hath warned us as forbidding to marry; who say that marriage is a bad thing in itself, and a work of the devil. Yet we read in the Gospel that when the Lord was asked, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? He answered that it was not lawful, except it were for fornication. In which answer ye will remember that He used these words: What God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.
They who are well instructed in the Catholic religion know that God is the Author and Blesser of marriage; and that, whereas joining together in marriage is of God, divorce is of the devil. But it is lawful for a man to put away his wife in case of fornication, For by not keeping a wife’s faith to her husband she herself hath first willed not to be wife. They also who have made a vow of their virginity to God and have thereby attained to an higher degree of honour and holiness in the Church, are not unmarried, for they are a special part of the marriage of the whole Church, which is the Bride of Christ.
Lord, being asked, went to the marriage, to strengthen the marriage tie, and to shed light on the hidden meaning of matrimony. In that marriage feast the Bridegroom to whom it was said, “Thou hast kept the good wine until now,” was a figure of the Lord Christ, Who hath kept until now the good wine, namely the Gospel.
OFFERTORY – Psalm 65: 1-2, 16
Shout with joy to God, all the earth: sing ye a psalm to His name: come and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will tell you what great things the Lord hath done for my soul. Alleluia.
Sanctify, O Lord, the gifts which we offer, and cleanse us from the stains of our sins. Through our Lord.
St. Paul, Hermit
In memory of Thy Saints, O Lord, we offer Thee the sacrifice of praise, by which we trust to be freed from both present and future evils. Through our Lord.
St. Maurus, Abbot
May the holy Abbot Maurus, we beseech Thee, O Lord, obtain for us by his prayers, that the Sacrifice laid on Thy holy altar may profit us unto salvation. Through our Lord.
PREFACE OF THE MOST HOLY TRINITY
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, everlasting God: Who, together with Thine only-begotten Son, and the Holy Ghost, are one God, one Lord: not in the oneness of a single Person, but in the Trinity of one substance. For what we believe by Thy revelation of Thy glory, the same do we believe of Thy Son, the same of the Holy Ghost, without difference or separation. So that in confessing the true and everlasting Godhead, distinction in persons, unity in essence, and equality in majesty may be adored. Which the Angels and Archangels, the Cherubim also and Seraphim do praise: who cease not daily to cry out with one voice saying:
Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus. Dominus Deus Sabaoth. Pleni sunt cæli et terra gloria tua. Hosanna in excelsis. Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini. Hosanna in excelsis.
COMMUNION – John 2: 7, 8, 9, 10-11
The Lord saith: Fill the waterpots with water, and carry to the chief steward. When the chief steward had tasted the water made wine, he saith to the bridegroom: Thou hast kept the good wine until now. This first miracle did Jesus in the presence of His disciples.
May the operation of Thy power be increased within us; we beseech Thee, O Lord, that being quickened by Thy divine sacraments, we may by Thy bounty, be prepared to receive that which they promise. Through our Lord.
St. Paul, Hermit
We who are refreshed by heavenly meat and drink, humbly entreat Thee, O our God, that we may be defended by the prayers of him in whose memory we have received them. Through our Lord.
St. Maurus, Abbot
May the pleading of blessed Maurus, the Abbot, for us, as well as the reception of Thy Sacrament, protect us, O Lord, that we may both share in the glory of his works, and receive the help of his intercession. Through our Lord.