MEDITATIONS FOR LENT – FIRST SUNDAY OF LENT

Ductus est Jesus in desértum a Spíritu, ut tentarétur a diábolo.

Ductus est Jesus in desértum a Spíritu, ut tentarétur a diábolo.

            Quadragesima Sunday

                      EVANGELIUM

Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Matthaeum.

                            Cap. iv.

In illo témpore: Ductus est Jesus in desértum a Spíritu, ut tentarétur a diábolo. Et cum jejunásset quadragínta diébus et quadragínta nóctibus, póstea esúriit. Et accédens tentátor, dixit ei: Si Fílius Dei es, dic ut lápides isti panes fiant. Qui respóndens dixit: Scriptum est: Non in solo pane vivit homo, sed in omni verbo, quod procédit de ore Dei Tunc assúmpsit eum diábolus in sanctam civitátem, et státuit eum super pinnáculum templi, et dixit ei: Si Fílius Dei es, mitte te deórsum. Scriptum est enim: Quia Angelis suis mandávit de te, et in mánibus tollent te, ne forte offéndas ad lápidem pedem tuum. Ait illi Jesus: Rursum scriptum est: Non tentábis Dóminum Deum tuum. Iterum assúmpsit eum diábolus in montem excélsum valde: et osténdit ei ómnia regna mundi et glóriam eórum, et dixit ei: Hæc ómnia tibi dabo si cadens adoráberis me. Tunc dicit ei Jesus: Vade, Sátana: scriptum est enim: Dóminum Deum tuum adorábis, et illi soli sérvies. Tunc relíquit eum diábolus: et ecce Angeli accessérunt et ministrábant ei.

                          GOSPEL

Sequel of the holy Gospel according to Matthew.

                           Ch. iv.

At that time Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert, to be tempted by the devil. And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterwards He was hungry. And the tempter coming said to Him: If Thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. Who answered and said: It is written: Not in bread alone doth man live, but in every word that proceedeth from the mouth of God. Then the devil took Him up into the holy city and set Him upon the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him: If Thou be the Son of God, cast Thyself down. For it is written: That He hath given His angels charge over Thee, and in their hands shall they bear Thee up, lest perhaps Thou dash Thy foot against a stone. Jesus said to him: It is written again: Thou shalt not tempt the Lord Thy God. Again the devil took Him up into a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them, and said to Him: All these will I give Thee, if falling down Thou wilt adore me. Then Jesus saith to him: Begone, Satan! for it is written: The Lord thy God shalt thou adore, and Him only shalt thou serve. Then the devil left Him: and behold angels came, and ministered to Him.

                                         ________

          MEDITATIONS FOR LENT

         BY ST. THOMAS AQUINAS

             First Sunday of Lent

IT WAS FITTING THAT CHRIST SHOULD BE TEMPTED

Jesus was led by the spirit into the desert, to be tempted by the devil. Matthew 4:1

        Christ willed to be tempted:

  1. That he might assist us against our own temptations. St. Gregory says, “That our Redeemer, who had come on earth to be killed, should will to be tempted was not unworthy of him. It was indeed but just that he should overcome our temptations by his own, in the same way that he had come to overcome our death by his death.”
  1. To warn us that no man, however holy he be, should think himself safe and free from temptation. Whence again His choosing to be tempted after His baptism, about which St. Hilary says, “The devil’s wiles are especially directed to trap us at times when we have recently been made holy, because the devil desires no victory so much as a victory over the world of grace.” Whence too, the scripture warns us, Son, when thou comest to the service of God, stand in justice and in fear, and prepare thy soul for temptation.  (Ecclus. ii. i)
  1. To give us an example how we should overcome the temptations of the devil, St. Augustine says, “Christ gave himself to the devil to be tempted, that in the matter of our overcoming those same temptations He might be of service not only by his help but by his example too.”
  1. To fill and saturate our minds with confidence in His mercy. For we have not a high-priest who cannot have compassion on our infirmities, but one tempted in all things, like as we are, without sin. (Heb. iv. 15)

HOLY FACE OF OUR LORD – PRAYERS AND DEVOTIONS

negative-of-our-lords-image-on-the-shroud-of-turin 

            Prayers and Devotions in honor of  the Holy                             Face of our Lord Jesus Christ          

                       Feast Day – Shrove Tuesday

                                         Novena Prayer

O Lord Jesus Christ, in presenting ourselves before Thine adorable Face, to ask of Thee the graces of which we stand in most need, we beseech Thee above all, to grant us that interior disposition of never refusing at any time to what Thou requirest of us by Thy holy commandments and divine inspirations. Amen. O Good Jesus, who hadst said, “Ask and you shall receive, seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened to you,” grant us O Lord, that faith which obtains all, or supply in us what may be deficient; grant us, by the pure effect of Thy charity, and for Thine eternal glory, the graces which we need and which we look from Thine infinite mercy. Amen.

Be merciful to us, O my God, and reject not our prayers, when amid our afflictions, we call upon Thy Holy Name and seek with love and confidence Thine adorable Face. Amen.

O Almighty and Eternal God, look upon the Face of Thy Son Jesus. We present It to Thee with confidence to implore Thy pardon. The All-Merciful Advocate opens His mouth to plead our cause; hearken to His cries, behold His tears, O God, and through His infinite merits, hearken to Him when He intercedes for us poor miserable sinners. Amen.

Adorable Face of Jesus, my only love, my light, and my life, grant that I may know Thee, love Thee and serve Thee alone, that I may live with Thee, of Thee, by Thee and for Thee. Amen.

Eternal Father, I offer Thee the adorable Face of Thy Beloved Son for the honor and glory of Thy Name, for the conversion of sinners and the salvation of the dying. O Divine Jesus, through Thy Face and Name, save us. Our Hope is in the virtue of Thy Holy Name! Amen.

             Invocations of the Holy Face

                                       (Private Use)

                                       I

O Jesus, whose Adorable Face Mary and Joseph worshiped with profoundest reverence, Have mercy on us.

O Jesus, whose Adorable Face ravished with joy the angels, shepherds and Magi in the stable of Bethlehem, Have mercy on us.

O Jesus, whose Adorable Face wounded with a dart of love the aged Simeon and the Prophetess Anna in the temple, Have mercy on us.

O Jesus, whose Adorable Face was bathed in tears in Thy holy infancy, Have mercy on us.

O Jesus, whose Adorable Face at the age of twelve astonished the doctors in the temple, Have mercy on us.

O Jesus, whose Adorable Face is white with purity and ruddy with charity, Have mercy on us.

O Jesus, whose Adorable Face is more beautiful than the sun, brighter than the moon and more brilliant than the stars, Have mercy on us.

O Jesus, whose Adorable Face is lovelier than the roses of spring, Have mercy on us.

O Jesus, whose Adorable Face is more precious than gold, silver and gems, Have mercy on us.

O Jesus, the charms and grace of whose Adorable Face win all hearts, Have mercy on us.

O Jesus, whose Adorable Face is most noble in Its heavenly features, Have mercy on us.

O Jesus, whose Adorable Face is the admiration of angels, Have mercy on us.

O Jesus, whose Adorable Face is the sweet delight of the saints, Have mercy on us.

O Jesus, whose Adorable Face is the masterpiece of the Holy Ghost in which the Father is well pleased, Have mercy on us.

O Jesus, whose Adorable Face was the delight of Thy Virgin Mother and of Thy holy foster-father St. Joseph, Have mercy on us.

O Jesus, whose Adorable Face is the ineffable mirror of Divine perfections, Have mercy on us.

O Jesus, the beauty of whose Adorable Face is ever ancient and ever new, Have mercy on us.

O Jesus, whose Adorable Face appeases the Divine wrath, Have mercy on us.

O Jesus, whose Adorable Face is the terror of the evil spirits, Have mercy on us.

O Jesus, whose Adorable Face is the treasure of graces and blessings, Have mercy on us.

O Jesus, whose Adorable Face was exposed to the inclemency of the weather in the desert, Have mercy on us.

O Jesus, whose Adorable Face was scorched by the sun and bathed in sweat on Thy journeys, Have mercy on us.

O Jesus, the expression of whose Adorable Face is wholly Divine, Have mercy on us.

O Jesus, the modesty and mildness of whose Adorable Face attracted both just and sinners, Have mercy on us.

O Jesus, whose Adorable Face gave a holy kiss and blessing to the little children, Have mercy on us.

O Jesus, whose Adorable Face sorrowed and wept at the grave of Lazarus, Have mercy on us.

O Jesus, whose Adorable Face was brilliant as the sun and radiant with glory on Mount Thabor, Have mercy on us.

V. The light of Thy Face has been shed upon us, O Lord,

R. Thou hast given joy to our hearts.

                                LET US PRAY

I salute Thee, I adore Thee, I love Thee, O Adorable Face of Jesus, my Beloved, noble seal of the Divinity! With all the powers of my soul, I apply myself to Thee, and most humbly pray Thee imprint in us all the features of Thy Divine likeness. Amen.

Approved for private use by Pope Pius IX, Jan. 27, 1853. 

                    Praises of the Holy Face

Blessed be Jesus!

Blessed be the Holy Face of Jesus!

Blessed be the Holy Face in the majesty and beauty of Its heavenly features!

Blessed be the Holy Face through the words which issued from Its Divine mouth!

Blessed be the Holy Face through all the glances of Its Adorable eyes!

Blessed be the Holy Face in the transfiguration of Thabor!

Blessed be the Holy Face in the fatigues of Its apostolate!

Blessed be the Holy Face in the bloody sweat of the agony!

Blessed be the Holy Face in the humiliations of the Passion!

Blessed be the Holy Face in the sufferings of death!

Blessed be the Holy Face in the splendor of the resurrection!

Blessed be the Holy Face in the glory of light eternal!

 

FRIDAY OF SEXAGESIMA WEEK

Noah's Ark on Mount Ararat by Hieronymus Bosch

Noah’s Ark on Mount Ararat by Hieronymus Bosch

     FRIDAY OF SEXAGESIMA WEEK

God chastises the world by the deluge; but He is faithful to the promise made to our first parents, that the head of the serpent should be crushed. The human race has to be preserved, therefore, until the time shall come for the fulfillment of this promise. The Ark gives shelter to the just Noah, and to his family. The angry waters reach even to the tops of the highest mountains; but the frail yet safe vessel rides peacefully on the waves. When the day fixed by God shall come, they that dwell in this Ark shall once more tread the earth, purified as it then will be; and God will say to them, as heretofore to our first parents: ‘Increase, and multiply, and fill the earth.’

Mankind, then, owes its safety to the Ark. O saving Ark, that wast planned by God Himself, and didst sail unhurt amidst the universal wreck! But if we can thus bless this contemptible wood, how fervently should we love that other Ark, of which Noah’s was but the figure, and which, for now eighteen-hundred years, has been saving and bringing men to their God! How fervently should we bless that Church, the bride of our Jesus, out of which there is no salvation, and in which we find that truth which delivers us from error and doubt, that grace which purifies the heart, and that food which nourishes the soul and fits her for immortality!

O sacred Ark! thou art inhabited, not by one family alone, but by people of every nation under the sun. Ever since that glorious day, when our Lord launched thee in the sea of this world, thou hast been tossed by tempests, yet never wrecked.

Thou wilt reach the eternal shore, witnessing, by thy unworn vigor and beauty, to the divine guidance of the Pilot, who loves thee, both for thine own sake, and for the work thou art doing for His glory. It is by thee that He peoples the world with His elect, and it is for them that He created the world. When He is angry, He remembers mercy, because of thee, for it is through thee that He has made His covenant with mankind.

O venerable Ark! be thou our refuge in the deluge. When Rome’s great empire, that was drunk with the blood of the martyrs, sank beneath the invasion of the barbarians, the Christians were safe, because sheltered by thee; the waters slowly subsided, and the race of men that had fled to thee for protection, though conquered according to the flesh, was victorious by the spirit; Kings, who till then had been haughty despots and barbarians, kissed reverently the hand of the slave, who was now their pastor and baptized them. New peoples sprang up, and, with the Gospel as their law, began their glorious career in those very countries which the Caesars had degraded and forfeited.

When the Saracen invasion came sweeping into ruin the eastern world, and menacing the whole of Europe, which would have been lost had not the energy of thy sons repelled the infidel horde, was it not within thee, O Ark of salvation! that the few Christians took refuge, who had resisted schism and heresy, and who, whilst the rest of their brethren apostatized from the faith, still kept alive the holy flame? Under thy protection they are even now perpetuating, in their unfortunate countries, the traditions of faith, until the divine mercy shall bring happier times, and they be permitted to multiply, as did of old the sons of Sem, in that land once so glorious and holy.

Oh! happy we, dear Church of God! that are sheltered within thee, and protected by thee against that wild sea of anarchy, which the sins of men have let loose on our earth! We beseech our Lord to check the tempest with that word of His omnipotence: ‘Thus far shalt thou come, and no further, and here shalt thou break thy swelling waves.’ But if His divine justice has decreed that it prevail for a time, we know that it cannot reach such as dwell in thee. Of this happy number are we. In thy peaceful bosom, dear mother, we find those true riches, the riches of the soul, of which no violence can deprive us. The life thou givest us is the only real life. Our true fatherland is the kingdom formed by thee. Keep us, O thou Ark of our God! Keep us, and all that are dear to us, and shelter us beneath thy roof, until the deluge of iniquity be passed away. When the earth, purified by its chastisements, shall once more receive the seed of the divine word which produces the children of God, those among us, whom thou shalt not have led to our eternal home, will then venture forth, and preach to the world the principles of authority and law, of family and social rights: those sacred principles, which came from heaven, and which thou, O holy Church, art commissioned to maintain and teach, even to the end of time.

We borrow from the Mozarabic missal the following eloquent appeal to divine mercy.

                                PRAYER

     (In Dominica V. post Epiphaniam.)

Graciously hear, O Lord our God, and forgetting man’s iniquity, remember only thine own mercy. Graciously hear us, we beseech thee, O thou that forbiddest us to sin, that commandest us to repent, that permittest us to pray! Thy patience awaits our return to the needed repentance; thy justice inspires us with a fear of the future judgment; thy mercy shows us how we may avoid death. May our sacrifices find favour in thine eyes; our sins, pardon; our wounds, cure; our sighs, pity; our chastisements, consolation; our tears, joy; our days, peace; our duties, honour; our prayers, reward. May our petition produce its effect; our contrition, forgiveness; our consecration, the sacred mystery. May our oblation be rich unto sanctification, our fear be cast out by security, and our blessing be fruitful unto salvation; that thus in all things, by the manifold and overflowing grace of thy mercy, thou mayst bless the people, whilst thou givest joy to the priest. Amen.

THURSDAY OF SEXAGESIMA WEEK

Divine Justice - God's wrath and judgement - justice and righteousness

         THURSDAY OF SEXAGESIMA WEEK

                          The Liturgical Year

                 Ven. Dom Guéranger, O.S.B. 

God promised Noah that He would never more punish the earth with a deluge. But, in His justice, He has many times visited the sins of men with a scourge which, in more senses than one, bears a resemblance to a deluge: the invasion of enemies. We meet with these invasions in every age; and each time we see the hand of God. We can trace the crimes that each of them was sent to punish, and in each we find a manifest proof of the infinite justice wherewith God governs the world.

     It is not requisite that we should here mention the long list of these revolutions, which we might almost say make up the history of mankind, for in its every page we read of conquests, extinction of races, destruction of nations, and violent amalgamations, which effaced the traditions and character of the several peoples that were thus forced into union. We will confine our considerations to the two great invasions, which the just anger of God has permitted to come upon the world since the commencement of the Christian era.

     The Roman Empire had made itself as preeminent in crime as it was in power. It conquered the world, and then corrupted it. Idolatry and immorality were the civilization it gave to the nations which had come under its sway. Christianity could save individuals in the great empire, but the empire itself could not be made Christian. God let loose upon it the deluge of barbarians. The stream of the wild invasion rose to the very dome of the Capitol; the empire was engulfed. The ruthless ministers of divine justice were conscious of their being chosen for this mission of vengeance, and they gave themselves the name of ‘God’s scourge.’

     When, later on, the Christian nations of the east had lost the faith which they themselves had transmitted to the western world; when they had disfigured the sacred symbol of faith by their, blasphemous heresies; the anger of God sent upon them, from Arabia, the deluge of Mahometanism. It swept away the Christian Churches, that had existed from the very times of the apostles. Jerusalem, the favoured Jerusalem, on which Jesus had lavished His tenderest love, even she became a victim to the infidel hordes. Antioch and Alexandria, with their patriarchates, were plunged into the vilest slavery; and at length Constantinople, that had so obstinately provoked the divine indignation, was made the very capital of the Turkish empire.

     And we, the western nations, if we return not to the Lord our God, shall we be spared ‘Shall the flood-gates of heaven’s vengeance, the torrent of fresh Vandals, ever be menacing to burst upon us, yet never come ‘Where is the country of our own Europe, that has not corrupted its way, as in the days of Noah? that has not made conventions against the Lord and against His Christ? that has not clamoured out that old cry of revolt: Let us break their bonds asunder, let us cast away their yoke from us. Well may we fear lest the time is at hand, when, despite our haughty confidence in our means of defense, Christ our Lord, to whom all nations have been given by the Father, shall rule us with a rod of iron, and break us in pieces like a potter’s vessel. Let us propitiate the anger of our offended God, and follow the inspired counsel of the royal prophet: Serve ye the Lord with fear; embrace the discipline of His Law; lest, at any time, the Lord be angry, and ye perish from the just way.

     We find the following beautiful words in the Ambrosian liturgy for Septuagesima. They occur in the missal.

                    TRANSITORIUM

     (Dominica in Quinquagesima.)

Come, be converted unto me, saith the Lord. Let us come weeping, and pour out our tears before God, for we have been negligent, and because of us is the earth suffering. We have committed iniquity, and because of us are the foundations of the world moved. Let us hasten to avert the wrath of God; let us weep, and say: O thou, that takest away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us!  

 

WEDNESDAY OF SEXAGESIMA WEEK

Sacrament of Penance II - Nicolas Poussin

     WEDNESDAY OF SEXAGESIMA WEEK

                      The Liturgical Year

           Ven. Dom Guéranger, O.S.B. 

O God of infinite justice! we have sinned; we have abused the life Thou hast given us: and when we read, in Thy Scriptures, how Thine anger chastised the sinners of former days, we are forced to acknowledge, that we have deserved to be treated in like manner. We have the happiness to be Christians and children of Thy Church; the light of faith, and the power of Thy grace, have brought us once more into Thy friendship; but how can we forget that we were once Thy enemies? And are we so deeply rooted in virtue, that we can promise ourselves perseverance in it to the end. Pierce, O Lord! pierce my flesh with Thy fear. Man’s heart is hard, and unless it fear Thy sovereign Majesty, it may again offend Thee.

     We are penetrated with fear, when we remember that Thou didst bury the world and destroy mankind by the waters of the deluge; for we learn by this, how Thy patience and long-suffering may be changed into inexorable anger. Thou art just, O Lord! and who shall presume to take scandal, or to murmur, when Thy wrath is enkindled against sinners?

     We have defied Thy justice, we have braved Thine anger; for, though Thou hast told us that Thou wilt never more destroy sinners by a deluge of water, yet we know that Thou hast created, in Thy hatred for sin, a fire, which shall eternally prey on them that depart this life without being first reconciled with Thy offended Majesty.

     O wonderful dignity of our human nature! We cannot be indifferent towards that infinite Being that created us: we must be His friends or His enemies! It could not have been otherwise. He gave us understanding and free-will: we know what is good and what is evil, and we must choose the one or the other: we cannot remain neutral. If we choose good, God turns towards us and loves us; if evil, we separate from Him, who is our sovereign Good. But, whereas He bears most tender mercy towards this frail creature whom He created out of pure love, and because He wills that all men should be saved, He waits with patience for the sinner to return to Him, and, in countless ways, draws his heart to repentance.

     But woe to him that obeys not the divine call, when that call is the last! Then justice takes the place of mercy, and revelation tells us how fearful a thing it is to fall into the hands of the living God. Let us, then, flee from the wrath to come, by making our peace with the God we have offended. If we be already restored to grace, let us walk in His fear, until love shall have grown strong enough in our hearts to make us run the way of the commandments.

 The following prayer is from the Mozarabic breviary of the Gothic Church of Spain.

                                    ORATIO

                         (In capite jejunii.)

Turn away thy face from our sins, O Lord, and blot out all our iniquities. Take from thine eyes the guilt of our sinful pleasures, and mercifully incline thine ear to our confession. Have mercy, we beseech thee, upon us thy suppliants, O thou that lookest with pity on them that are in affliction, and givest to the disconsolate a penitent heart, that so they may praise thy name. The publican who stood afar off and struck his breast, found forgiveness by this alone, that he confessed his sin; do thou, in like manner, mercifully hear us sinners: and as thou didst give to him the fruit his prayer deserved, so also vouchsafe to grant unto us, thy suppliant unworthy servants, the pardon of our sins. Amen.

 

MONDAY OF SEXAGESIMA WEEK

The Deluge - Francis Danby (1793–1861) oil painting in the Tate Gallery, London

     MONDAY OF SEXAGESIMA WEEK

                      The Liturgical Year

             Abbot Dom Guéranger

All flesh had corrupted its way upon the earth. The terrible lesson, then, which men had received, by being driven out of paradise in the person of our first parents, had been without effect. Neither the certainty of death, when they would have to stand before the divine Judge, nor the humiliations which attend man’s first coming into this world, nor the pains and fatigues and trials which beset the whole path of life, had subdued men’s hearts, or brought them into submission to that sovereign Master whose hand lay thus heavy upon them. They had the divine promise that a Saviour should be given to them, and that this Redeemer (who was to be the Son of her that was to crush the serpent’s head), would not only bring them salvation, but would moreover reinstate them in all the happiness and honors they had lost. But even this was not enough to make them rise above the base passions of corrupt nature. The example of Adam’s nine hundred years’ penance, and the admonitions he could so feelingly give who had received such proofs of God’s love and anger, began to lose their influence upon his children; and when he at last descended into the grave, his posterity grew more and more heedless of what they owed to their Creator. The long life, which had been granted to man in this the first age of the world, was made but a fresh means of offending Him who gave it. When, finally, the sons of Seth took to themselves wives of the family of Cain, the human race reached the height of wickedness, rebelled against the Lord, and made their own passions their god.

Yet, all this while, they had had granted to them the power of resisting the evil propensities of their hearts. God had offered them His grace, whereby they were enabled to conquer pride and concupiscence. The merits of the Redeemer to come were even then present to divine justice, and the Lamb, slain, as St. John tells us, from the beginning of the world, applied the merits of His Blood to this as to every generation which existed before the great Sacrifice was really immolated. Each individual of the human family might have been just, as Noah was, and, like him, have found favour with the Most High; but the thought of their heart was bent upon evil, and not upon good, and the earth became peopled with enemies of God. Then it was that it repented God that He had made man, as the sacred Scripture forcibly expresses it. He decreed that man’s life on earth should be shortened, in order that the thought of death might be ever before us. He, moreover, resolved to destroy, by a universal deluge, the whole of this perverse generation, saving only one family. The world would thus be renewed, and man would learn from this awful chastisement to serve and love this his sovereign Lord and God.

We find the following liturgical formula in the Mozarabic missal. Nothing could be more appropriate to the season of Septuagesima.

                                       MISSA

       (Dominica ante carnes tollendas.)

Behold, now are close at hand those days of salvation, which the cycle of the year brings round to us, and in which we desire, by the exercise of salutary abstinence, to apply a remedy to our evil doings. For, as the apostle says: This is the acceptable time, and, these are the days of salvation, wherein a spiritual cure is given to the soul that seeks it, and the evil delights of sin are rooted from the mind. Hereby, we, whose evil habits are ever forcing us to a downward tendency, are by the uplifting mercy of God, encouraged to rise above this earth; that thus, by the devout observance of what these days require, we may not only be delivered from the guilt of our sins, but may moreover deserve to be companions with the elect in eternal bliss. Amen.

ST. POLYCARP – MASS PROPERS

st-polycarp-january-26

                            JANUARY 26

                      SAINT POLYCARP

                 BISHOP AND MARTYR

                     The Liturgical Year

            Ven. Abbot Dom Guéranger

Amidst the sweetness he is enjoying from the contemplation of the Word made Flesh, John, the Beloved Disciple, beholds coming towards him his dear Polycarp, the Angel of the Church of Smyrna, all resplendent with the glory of martyrdom. This venerable Saint has in his soul the fervent love that made him say in the amphitheatre, when asked by the Proconsul to curse his Divine Master: “Six-and-eighty years have I served Him, and he has never done me any wrong; nay, he has laden me with kindness. How could I blaspheme my king, who has saved me?” After having suffered fire and the sword, he was admitted into the presence of this King his Savior, in reward for the eighty-six years of his faithful service, for the labors he had gone through in order to maintain faith and charity among his flock, and for the cruel death he endured. He was a disciple of St John the Evangelist, whom he imitated by zealously opposing the heretics, who were then striving to corrupt the faith. In obedience to the command of his holy Master, he refused to hold intercourse with Marcion, the heresiarch, whom he called the first-born of Satan. This energetic adversary of the proud sect that denied the mystery of the Incarnation, wrote an admirable Epistle to the Philippians, in which we find these words: Whosoever confesses not that Jesus Christ came in the flesh, is an Antichrist. Polycarp, then, had a right to the honor of standing near the Crib, in which the Son of God shows himself to us in all his loveliness, and clothed in flesh like unto our own. Let us honor this disciple of John, this friend of Ignatius, this Bishop of the Apostolic Age, whose praise was pronounced by Jesus Christ himself in the Revelations of Patmos. Our Savior said to him by the mouth of Saint John: Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee the crown of life. Polycarp was faithful even unto death, and has received his crown; and whilst we are celebrating the coming of his King among us, he is one of the Saints who assist us to profit by the holy season.

The Church gives us a passage from St Jerome’s book, On Ecclesiastical Writers, in which there is contained the following short notice of our holy Martyr.

Polycarp, a disciple of the Apostle John, who ordained him Bishop of Smyrna, was looked up to by all the Churches of Asia, inasmuch as he had not only known some of the Apostles, and those who had seen our Lord, but had been trained by them. He went to Rome, during the reign of the Emperor Antoninus Pius, and under the Pontificate of Anicetus, in order to have an answer to certain questions regarding Easter-day. Whilst there, he brought back to the faith several Christians who had been misled by the teaching of Marcion and Valentine. Having, on a certain occasion, casually met Marcion, who said to him: ‘Dost thou know us?’ Polycarp replied:  Yes, I know thee as the first­ born of Satan.’ Some time after, under the reign of Marcus Antoninus and Lucius Aurelius Commodus, in the fourth persecution after that under Nero, he was cited before the Proconsul of Smyrna, who condemned him to be burnt alive; which sentence was carried into effect in the amphitheatre, amidst the clamors of the whole people. He wrote an important Letter to the Philippians, which is still read in the Churches of Asia.

Holy Sacrifice of the Mass - Christmastide

                             St. Polycarp

                Double    Red vestments

                       Missa ‘Sacerdotes’

         INTROIT – Daniel 3: 84, 87, 57

Sacerdotes Dei, benedicite Dominum: sancti et humiles corde, laudate Deum. Ps. Benedicite, omnia opera Domini Domino: laudate et superexaltate eum in sæcula. Gloria Patri.

O ye priests of the Lord, bless the Lord: O ye holy and humble of heart, praise God. Ps. All ye works of the Lord, bless the Lord: praise and exalt Him above all for ever. Glory be to the Father.

                             COLLECT

O God, who dost gladden us by the annual feast of blessed Polycarp, Thy Martyr and Bishop: mercifully grant that we who celebrate his heavenly birthday, may also rejoice in his protection. Through our Lord.

           EPISTLE – I John 3: 10-16

Most dearly beloved: Whosoever is not just, is not of God, nor he that loveth not his brother. For this is the declaration, which you have heard from the beginning, that you should love one another. Not as Cain, who was of the wicked one, and killed his brother. And wherefore did he kill him? Because his own works were wicked: and his brother’s just. Wonder not, brethren, if the world hate you. We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not, abideth in death. Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer. And you know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in himself. In this we have known the charity of God, because he hath laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

              GRADUAL – Psalm 8: 6-7

Thou hast crowned him with glory and honour. And hast set him over the works of Thy hands, O Lord.

st-polycarp-of-smyrna

          GOSPEL – Matthew 10: 26-32

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples: Nothing is covered that shall not be revealed: nor hid, that shall not be known. That which I tell you in the dark, speak ye in the light: and that which you hear in the ear, preach ye upon the housetops. And fear ye not them that kill the body, and are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him that can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and not one of them shall fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: better are you than many sparrows. Every one therefore that shall confess me before men, I will also confess him before my Father who is in heaven.

           OFFERTORY – Psalm 88: 21-22

I have found David My servant, with My holy oil I have anointed him; for My hand shall help him, and My arm shall strengthen him.

                                    SECRET

Sanctify, O Lord, the gifts dedicated to Thee, and through them, by the intercession of blessed Polycarp, Thy Martyr and Bishop, graciously regard us. Through our Lord.

                         COMMON PREFACE

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.

eighteenth-sunday-after-pentecost-at-the-communion

                                SANCTUS

Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus, Dóminus Deus Sábaoth. Pleni sunt cæli et terra glória tua. Hosánna in excélsis. Benedíctus qui venit in nómine Dómini. Hosánna in excélsis.

                 COMMUNION – Psalm 20: 4

Thou hast set on his head, O Lord, a crown of precious stones.

                          POSTCOMMUNION

Refreshed by the participation in the holy gift, we beseech Thee, O Lord our God, that by the intercession of blessed Polycarp Thy Martyr and Bishop, we may experience the effect of that which we celebrate. Through the Lord.