St. Peter Canisius, Confessor and Doctor – Mass Propers

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St. Peter Canisius, Confessor and Doctor

Peter Canisius was a renowned Dutch Jesuit Catholic priest. He became known for his strong support for the Catholic faith during the Protestant Reformation in Germany, Austria, Bohemia, Moravia, and Switzerland. The restoration of the Catholic Church in Germany after the Protestant Reformation is largely attributed to the work there of the Society of Jesus, which he led.

He was born in 1521 in Nijmegen in the Duchy of Guelders, which, until 1549, was part of the Habsburg Netherlands within the Holy Roman Empire and is now the Netherlands. His father was the wealthy burgermeister, Jacob Kanis; his mother, Ægidia van Houweningen, who died shortly after Peter’s birth. He was sent to study at the University of Cologne, where he earned a Master’s degree in 1540, at the age of 19. While there, he met Peter Faber, one of the founders of the Society of Jesus. Through him, Canisius became the first Dutchman to join the newly founded Society of Jesus in 1543.

Through his preaching and writings, Peter Canisius became one of the most influential Catholics of his time. He supervised the founding and maintenance of the first German-speaking Jesuit colleges, often with little resources at hand. At the same time he preached in the city and vicinity, and debated and taught in the university. Because of his frequent travels between the colleges, a tedious and dangerous occupation at the time, he became known as the Second Apostle of Germany.

Canisius also exerted a strong influence on the Emperor Ferdinand I. The king’s eldest son (later Maximilian II) appointed to the office of court preacher, Phauser, a married priest, who preached the Lutheran doctrine. Canisius warned Ferdinand I, verbally and in writing, and opposed Phauser in public disputations. Maximilian was obliged to dismiss Phauser and, on this account, the rest of his life he harboured a grudge against Canisius.

April 27 St. Petrus Canisius

In 1547 he attended several sessions of the Council of Trent. Canisius was an influential teacher and preacher, especially through his “German Catechism”, a book which defined the basic principles of Catholicism in the German language and made them more accessible to readers in German-speaking countries. He was offered the post of Bishop of Vienna in 1554, but declined in order to continue his traveling and teachings. He did, however, serve as administrator of the Diocese of Vienna for one year, until a new bishop was appointed for it.

He moved to Germany, where he was one of the main Catholic theologians at the Colloquy of Worms in 1557, and later served as the main preacher in the Cathedral of Augsburg from 1559 to 1568, where he strongly witnessed to his faith on three or four occasions each week. Canisius was renowned as a popular preacher.

By the time he left Germany, the Society of Jesus in Germany had evolved from a small band of priests into a powerful tool of the Counter Reformation. Canisius spent the last twenty years of his life in Fribourg, Switzerland, where he founded the Jesuit preparatory school, the College of Saint Michael, which trained generations of young men for careers and future university studies.

In 1591, at the age of 70, Canisius suffered a stroke which left him partially paralyzed, but he continued to preach and write with the aid of a secretary until his death in Fribourg. He was initially buried at the Church of St. Nicholas. His remains were later transferred to the church of the Jesuit College, which he had founded and where he had spent the last year of his life, and interred in front of the main altar of the church; the room he occupied during those last months is now a chapel open for the veneration of the faithful.

St. Petrus Canisius

Canisius lived during the height of the Protestant Reformation and dedicated much of his work to the clarification of the Catholic faith in light of the emergence of the new Protestant doctrines. His lasting contribution is his three catechisms, which he published in Latin and German, which became widespread and popular in Catholic regions. In his fight with German Protestantism, he requested much more flexibility from Rome, arguing:

If you treat them right, the Germans will give you everything. Many err in matters of faith, but without arrogance. They err the German way, mostly honest, a bit simple-minded, but very open for everything Lutheran. An honest explanation of the faith would be much more effective than a polemical attack against reformers.

He rejected attacks against John Calvin and Melanchton: With words like these, we don’t cure patients, we make them incurable.

Mariology of Canisius

Canisius taught that, while there are many roads leading to Jesus Christ, for him the veneration of the Blessed Virgin Mary is the best. His sermons and letters document a clear preoccupation with Marian veneration. Under the heading “prayer” he explains the Ave Maria (Hail Mary), as the basis for Catholic Marian piety. Less known are his Marian books, in which he published prayers and contemplative texts. He is credited with adding to the Hail Mary the sentence Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners. Eleven years later it was included in the Catechism of the Council of Trent of 1566.

Canisius published an applied Mariology for preachers, in which Mary is described in tender and warm words. He actively promoted the sodalities of our Lady and the rosary associations. Theologically, Canisius defended Catholic Mariology, in his 1577 book, De Maria Virgine Incomparabili et Dei Genitrice Sacrosancta Libri Quinque. The book was ordered by Pope Pius V to present a factual presentation of the Catholic Marian teachings in the Bible, the early Christians, the Church Fathers and contemporary theology. Canisius explains and documents Church teachings through the ages regarding the person and character of Mary, her virtues and youth. He traces historical documents about the perpetual virginity of Mary, and her freedom from sin. He explains the dogma of “Mother of God” with numerous quotations from the fathers after the Council of Ephesus. He shows that Church teaching has not changed. He answers the sola Scriptura arguments of Protestants by analyzing the biblical basis for Mariology.

holy sacrifice of the mass after pentecost

            ST. PETER CANISIUS

Confessor and Doctor of the Church

         Double – White vestments

           Missa ‘In Medio Ecclesiae’

INTROITUS – Ecclesiasticus 15: 5

In medio ecclesiæ aperuit os ejus: et implevit eum Dominus spiritu sapientiæ, et intellectus: stolam gloriæ induit eum. Ps. 91: 2. Bonum est confiteri Domino: et psallere nomini tuo, Altissime. Gloria Patri.

INTROIT

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.

COLLECT

O God, Who for the defence of the Catholic Faith didst strengthen blessed Peter, Thy confessor, with virtue and learning: vouchsafe in Thy loving kindness, that by his example and precepts the erring may be restored to salvation, and the faithful may persevere in the confession of the truth. Through our Lord.

Having itching ears, and will indeed turn away from the truth.

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, out of 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 from the truth, but will be turned into fables. But be thou vigilant, labour in all things, do the work of an evangelist, fulfil 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 the 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.

PASCHAL ALLELUIA

Alleluia. The just man shall spring as the lily: and shall flourish forever before the Lord. Alleluia.

ALLELUIA

Alleluia, alleluia. V. 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 fulfill. 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. Alleluia.

SECRET

May the holy prayer of Peter, Thy Doctor, fail us not, O Lord: may it render our offerings acceptable, and ever obtain for us Thy pardon. Through our Lord.

EASTER PREFACE

It is truly meet and just, right and availing unto salvation that at all times, but more especially at this season, we should extol Thy glory, O Lord, when Christ our Pasch was sacrificed. For He is the true Lamb that hath taken away the sins of the world. Who by dying hath overcome our death, and by rising again hath restored our life. And therefore with Angels and Archangels, with Thrones and Dominations, and with all the heavenly hosts, we sing a hymn to Thy glory, saying without ceasing:

SANCTUS SANCTUS SANCTUS Dóminus Deus Sábaoth. Pleni sunt cæli et terra glória tua.

THE SANCTUS

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

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. Alleluia.

POSTCOMMUNION

We beseech Thee, O Lord, that blessed Peter, Thy illustrious Doctor may join his prayers to ours that this sacrifice may bring us salvation. Through our Lord.

MYSTERY OF PASCHAL TIME

THE MYSTERY OF PASCHAL TIME

                 The Liturgical Year

      Abbot Dom Guéranger, O.S.B

Of all the Seasons of the Liturgical Year, Eastertide is, by far, the richest in mystery. We might even say, that Easter is the summit of the Mystery of the sacred. Liturgy. The Christian who is happy enough to enter, with his whole mind and heart, into the knowledge and the love of the Paschal Mystery, has reached the very centre of the supernatural life. Hence it is, that the Church uses every effort in order to effect this: what she has hitherto done, was all intended as a preparation for Easter. The holy longings of Advent, the sweet joys of Christmas, the severe truths of Septuagesima, the contrition and penance of Lent, the heart-rending sight of the Passion, all were given us as preliminaries, as paths, to the sublime and glorious Pasch, which is now ours. And that we might be convinced of the supreme importance of this solemnity, God willed that the Christian Easter and Pentecost should be prepared by those of the Jewish Law: a thousand five hundred years of typical beauty prefigured the reality: and that reality is ours!

During these days, then, we have brought before us the two great manifestations of God’s goodness towards mankind: the Pasch of Israel, and the Christian Pasch; the Pentecost of Sinai, and the Pentecost of the Church. We shall have occasion to show how the ancient figures were fulfilled in the realities of the new Easter and Pentecost, and how the twilight of the Mosaic Law made way for the full day of the Gospel: but we cannot resist the feeling of holy reverence, at the bare thought that the Solemnities we have now to celebrate are more than three thousand years old, and that they are to be renewed every year from this till the voice of the Angel shall be heard proclaiming: Time shall be no more! The gates of Eternity will then be thrown open.

Eternity in Heaven is the true Pasch: hence, our Pasch, here on earth, is the Feast of feasts, the solemnity of solemnities. The human race was dead; it was the victim of that sentence, whereby it was condemned to lie mere dust in the tomb; the gates of Life were shut against it. But see! the Son of God rises from his grave, and takes possession of eternal Life. Nor is he the only one that is to die no more, for, as the Apostle teaches us, he is the first born from the dead. The Church would, therefore, have us consider ourselves as having already risen with our Jesus, and as having already got possession of eternal Life. The holy Fathers bid us look on these fifty days of Easter, as the image of our eternal happiness. They are days that are devoted exclusively to joy; every sort of sadness is forbidden; and the Church cannot speak to her Divine Spouse without joining to her words that glorious cry of heaven, the Alleluia, wherewith, as the holy Liturgy says, the streets and squares of the heavenly Jerusalem resound without ceasing. We have been forbidden the use of this joyous word during the past nine weeks; it behoved us to die with Christ: but now that we have risen, together with him from the Tomb, and that we are resolved to die no more that death, which kills the soul, and caused our Redeemer to die on the Cross, we have a right to our Alleluia.

The Providence of God, who has established harmony between the visible world and the supernatural work of grace, willed that the Resurrection of our Lord should take place at that particular season of the Year, when even nature herself seems to rise from the grave. The meadows give forth their verdure, the trees resume their foliage, the birds fill the air with their songs, and the sun, the type of our Triumphant Jesus, pours out his floods of light on our earth made Dew by lovely Spring. At Christmas, the sun had little power, and his stay with us was short; it harmonized with the humble birth of our Emmanuel, who came among us in the midst of night, and shrouded in swaddling. clothes: but now, he is as a giant that runs his way, and there is no one that can hide himself from his heat. Speaking, in the Canticle, to the faithful soul, and inviting her to take her part in this new life, which he is now imparting to every creature, our Lord himself says: Arise, my dove, and come! winter is now past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers have appeared in our land. The voice of the turtle is heard. The fig-tree hath put forth her green figs. The vines, in flower, yield their sweet smell. Arise thou, and come!

In the preceding chapter, we explained why our Saviour chose the Sunday for his Resurrection, whereby he conquered death and proclaimed Life to the world. It was on this favoured Day of the week, that he had, four thousand years previously, created the Light; by selecting it now for the commencement of the New Life be graciously imparts to man, he would show us that Easter is the renewal of the entire creation. Not only is the anniversary of his glorious Resurrection to be, henceforward, the greatest of days, but every Sunday throughout the year is to be a sort of Easter, a holy and sacred day. The Synagogue, by God’s command, kept holy the Saturday, or the Sabbath, and this in honour of God’s resting after the six days of the creation; but the Church, the Spouse, is commanded to honour the Work of her Lord. She allows the Saturday to pass, it is the day of her Jesus’ rest in the Sepulchre: but, now that she is illumined with the brightness of the Resurrection, she devotes to the contemplation of his Work the first day of the week; it is the day of Light, for on it he called forth material Light, (which was the first manifestation of life upon chaos,) and on the same, He that is the Brightness of the Father, and the Light of the World, rose from the darkness of the Tomb.

Let, then, the Week, with its Sabbath, pass by; what we Christians want, is the Eighth Day, the Day that is beyond the measure of time, the Day of eternity, the Day whose Light is not intermittent or partial, but endless and unlimited. Thus speak the holy Fathers, when explaining the substitution of the Sunday for the Saturday. It was, indeed, right that man should keep, as the Day of his weekly and spiritual repose, that on which the Creator of the visible world had taken his divine Rest; but it was a commemoration of the material Creation only. The Eternal Word comes down in the world that he had created; he comes with the rays of his divinity clouded beneath the humble veil of our flesh; he comes to fulfill the figures of the first Covenant. Before abrogating the Sabbath, he would observe it, as he did every tittle of the Law; he would spend it as the Day of Rest, after the work of his Passion, in the silence of the Sepulchre: but, early on the Eighth Day, he rises to life, and the life is one of Glory. Let us, says the learned and pious Abbot Rupert, leave the Jews to enjoy the ancient Sabbath, which is a memorial of the visible Creation. They know not how to love or desire or merit aught  but earthly things. They would not recognize this world’s Creator as their King, because he said Blessed are the Poor! and, Woe to the Rich! But our Sabbath has been transferred from the Seventh to the Eighth Day, and the Eighth is the first. And rightly was the Seventh changed into the Eighth, because we Christians put our joy in a better work than the Creation of the world. Let the lovers of the world keep a Sabbath for its Creation: but our joy is in the Salvation of the world, for our life, yea and our Rest, is hidden with Christ in God.

The mystery of the Seventh followed by an Eighth Day, as the holy one, is again brought before us by the number of weeks, which form Eastertide. These weeks are seven; they form a week of weeks, and their morrow is again a Sunday, the Feast of the glorious Pentecost. These mysterious numbers, which God himself fixed, when he instituted the first Pentecost after the first Pasch, were followed by the Apostles, when they regulated the Christian Easter, as we learn from St. Hilary of Poitiers, St. Isidore, Amalarius, Rabanus Maurus, and from all the ancient interpreters of the mysteries of the holy Liturgy. If we multiply seven by seven, says St. Hilary, we shall find that this holy Season is truly the Sabbath of Sabbaths; but what completes it, and raises it to the plenitude of the Gospel, is the Eighth day which follows, Eighth and First both together in itself. The Apostles have given so sacred an institution to these seven weeks, that, during them, no one should kneel, or mar by fasting the spiritual joy of this long Feast. The same institution has been extended to each Sunday; for this day which follows the Saturday has become, by the application of the progress of the Gospel, the completion of the Saturday, and the day of feast and joy.

Thus, then, the whole Season of Easter is marked with the mystery expressed by each Sunday of the Year. Sunday is to us the great Day of our week, because beautified with the splendour of our Lord’s Resurrection, of which the creation of material light was but a type. We have already said, that this institution was prefigured in the Old Law, although the Jewish people were not in any way aware of it. Their Pentecost fell on the fiftieth day after the Pasch; it was the morrow of the seven weeks. Another figure of our Eastertide was the year of Jubilee, which God bade Moses prescribe to his people. Each fiftieth year, the houses and lands that had been alienated during the preceding forty-nine, returned to their original owners, and those Israelites, who had been compelled, by poverty, to sell themselves as slaves, recovered their liberty. This year, which was properly called the Sabbatical year, was the sequel of the preceding seven weeks of years, and was thus the image of our Eighth Day, whereon the Son of Mary, by his Resurrection, redeemed us from the slavery of the tomb, and restored us to the inheritance of our immortality.

The Rites peculiar to Eastertide, in the present discipline of the Church, are two: the unceasing repetition of the Alleluia, of which we have already spoken, and the colour of the vestments used for its two great solemnities, white for the first, and red for the second. White is appropriate to the Resurrection; it is the mystery of eternal Light, which knows neither spot nor shadow; it is the mystery that produces in a faithful soul the sentiment of purity and joy. Pentecost,  which gives us the Holy Spirit, the consuming Fire is symbolized by the red vestments, which express the mystery of the Divine Paraclete coming down in the form of fiery tongues upon them that were assembled in the Cenacle. With regard to the ancient usage of not kneeling during Paschal Time, we have already said, that there is a mere vestige of it now left in the Latin Liturgy.

The Saint’s Feasts, which were interrupted during Holy Week, are likewise excluded from the first eight days of Eastertide; but these ended, we shall have them in rich abundance, as a bright constellation of stars round the divine Sun of Justice, our Jesus. They will accompany us in our celebration of his admirable Ascension; but such is the grandeur of the mystery of Pentecost, that, from the Eve of that Day, they will be again interrupted until the expiration of Paschal Time.

The Rites of the primitive Church with reference to the Neophytes, who were regenerated by Baptism on the Night of Easter, are extremely interesting and instructive. But as they are peculiar to the two Octaves of Easter and Pentecost, we will explain them as they are brought before us by the Liturgy of those days.

 

NOVENA TO ST. JOSEPH – THIRD DAY

               NOVENA IN PREPARATION 

   FOR THE SOLEMNITY OF ST. JOSEPH 

        THE PATRONAGE OF ST. JOSEPH 

  JOYS AND DOLORS OF SAINT JOSEPH

                               Day Three

                                   Prayer                                             

O Great Joseph, a man according to God’s own heart! by the grief thou didst feel at the circumcision of the tender infant Jesus, shedding his most precious blood, and by the joy thou hadst in giving him the most sweet name of Jesus, according to the revelation which the angel had made to thee; pray for us to thy blessed Son, that we may be washed and purified with his most precious blood, and always bear his name imprinted in our hearts. Amen.

                               Our Father

Our Father, Who art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy Name. Thy Kingdom come. Thy Will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.

                                Hail Mary

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of death. Amen.

                          Novena Prayer

O Glorious St. Joseph, faithful follower of Jesus Christ, to you do we raise our hearts and hands to implore your powerful intercession, obtaining from the benign Heart of Jesus all the helps and graces necessary for our spiritual and temporal welfare; particularly the grace of a happy death, and the special favour we now implore…

            [Here mention your request]

O guardian of the Word Incarnate, we feel animated with confidence that your prayers in our behalf will be graciously heard before the throne of God.

ST. MARK THE EVANGELIST

                SAINT MARK, EVANGELIST

                      The Liturgical Year  

                  Abbot Dom Guéranger

The Cycle of holy mother Church brings before us today, the Lion, who, together with the Man, the Ox and the Eagle, stands before the Throne of God. It was on this day, that Mark ascended from earth to heaven, radiant with his triple aureola of Evangelist, Apostle, and Martyr.

As the preaching made to Israel had its four great representatives, Isaias, Jeremias, Ezechiel, and Daniel; so, likewise, would God have the New Covenant to be embodied in the four Gospels, which were to make known to the world the Life and teachings of his divine Son. The Holy Fathers tell us, that the Gospels are like the four streams which watered the Garden of pleasure, and that this Garden was a figure of the future Church. The first of the Evangelists, the first to register the actions and words of our Redeemer, is Matthew, whose star will rise in September; the second is Mark, whose brightness gladdens us today; the third is Luke, whose rays will shine upon us in October; the fourth is John, whom we have already seen in Bethlehem, at the Crib of our Emmanuel. Mark was the beloved disciple of Peter; he was the brilliant satellite of the Sun of the Church. He wrote his Gospel at Rome, under the eyes of the Prince of the Apostles. The Church was already in possession of the history given by Matthew; but the Faithful of Rome wished their own Apostle to narrate what he had witnessed. Peter refused to write it himself, but he bade his disciple take up his pen, and the Holy Ghost guided the hand of the new Evangelist. Mark follows the account given by Matthew; he abridges it, and yet he occasionally adds a word, or an incident, which plainly prove to us that Peter, who had seen and heard all, was his living and venerated authority. One would have almost expected, that the new Evangelist would pass over in silence the history of his master’s fall, or, at least, have said as little as possible about it; but no, the Gospel written by Mark is more detailed on Peter’s denial than is that of Matthew; and as we read it, we cannot help feeling, that the tears, elicited by Jesus’ look, when in the house of Caiphas, were flowing down the Apostle’s cheeks, as he described the sad event. Mark’s work being finished, Peter examined it and gave it his sanction; the several Churches joyfully received this second account of the mysteries of the world’s redemption, and the name of Mark was made known throughout the whole earth.

Mark having written his Gospel, was next to labour as an Apostle. Peter sent him, first, to Aquileia, where he founded an important Church: but this was not enough for an Evangelist. When the time designed by God came, and Egypt, the source of countless errors, was to receive the truth, and the haughty and noisy Alexandria was to be raised to the dignity of the second Church of Christendom, the second See of Peter, Mark was sent by his master to effect this great work. By his preaching, the word of salvation took root, grew up, and produced fruit in that most infidel of nations; and the authority of Peter was thus marked, though in different degrees, in the three great Cities of the Empire: Rome, Alexandria and Antioch.

St. Mark may be called the first founder of the Monastic life, by his instituting, in Alexandria itself, what were called the Therapeutes. To him, also, may be justly attributed, the origin of that celebrated Christian school, of Alexandria, which was so flourishing, even in the 2nd Century.

But glorious as were these works of Peter’s disciple, the Evangelist and Apostle Mark was also to receive the dignity of Martyr. The success of his preaching excited against him the fury of the idolaters. They were keeping a feast in honour of Serapis; and this gave them an opportunity which they were not likely to lose. They seized Mark, treated him most cruelly, and cast him into prison. It was there that our Risen Lord appeared to him, during the night, and addressed him in these words, which afterwards formed the Arms of the Republic of Venice:  ‘Peace be to thee, Mark, my Evangelist!’ To which the disciple answered: “Lord”  for such were his feelings of delight and gratitude, that he could say but that one word, as it was with Magdalene, when she saw Jesus on the morning of the Resurrection. On the following day, Mark was put to death by the pagans. He had fulfilled his mission on earth, and heaven opened to receive the Lion, who was to occupy near the throne of the Ancient of days the place allotted to him, as shown to the Prophet of Patmos, in his sublime vision.

In the 9th Century, the West was enriched with the Relics of St. Mark. They were taken to Venice; and, under the protection of the sacred Lion, there began for that City a long period of glory. Faith in so great a Patron achieved wonders; and from the midst of islets and lagoons there sprang into existence a City of beauty and power. Byzantine Art raised up the imposing and gorgeous Church, which was the palladium of the Queen of the Seas; and the new Republic stamped its coinage with the Lion of St. Mark. Happy would it have been for Venice, had she persevered in her loyalty to Rome, and in the ancient severity of her morals!

                SAINT MARK’S PROCESSION

This day is honoured in the Liturgy by what is called Saint Mark’s Procession. The term, however, is not a correct one, inasmuch as a Procession was a privilege peculiar to the 25th of April previously to the institution of our Evangelist’s feast, which, even so late as the 6th Century, had no fixed day in the Roman Church. The real name of this Procession is, The Greater Litanies. The word Litany means Supplication, and is applied to the religious rite of singing certain chants whilst proceeding from place to place, and this in order to propitiate heaven. The two Greek words Kyrie eleison (Lord have mercy on us) were also called Litany, as likewise were the invocations which were afterwards added to that cry for Mercy, and which now form a Liturgical prayer used by the Church on certain solemn occasions.

The Greater Litanies, (or Processions,) are so called to distinguish them from the Minor Litanies, that is, Processions of less importance as far as the solemnity and concourse of the Faithful were concerned. We gather from an expression of St. Gregory the Great, that it was an ancient custom in the Roman Church to celebrate, once each year, a Greater Litany, at which all the Clergy and people assisted. This holy Pontiff chose the 25th of April as the fixed day for this Procession, and appointed the Basilica of St. Peter as the Station.

Several writers on the Liturgy have erroneously confounded this institution with the Processions prescribed by St. Gregory for times of public calamity. It existed long before his time, and all that he had to do with it was the fixing it to the 25th of April. It is quite independent of the Feast of St. Mark, which was instituted at a much later period. If the 25th of April occur during Easter Week, the Procession takes place on that day, (unless it be Easter Sunday,) but the Feast of the Evangelist is not kept till after the Octave.

The question naturally presents itself, why did St. Gregory choose the 2oth of April for a Procession and Station, in which everything reminds us of compunction and penance, and which would seem so out of keeping with the joyous Season of Easter? The first to give a satisfactory answer to this difficulty, was Canon Moretti, a learned Liturgiologist of last century. In a dissertation of great erudition, he proves that in the 5th, and probably even in the 4th, century, the 25th of April was observed at Rome as a day of great solemnity. The Faithful went, on that day, to the Basilica of St. Peter, in order to celebrate the anniversary of the first entrance of the Prince of the Apostles into Rome, upon which he thus conferred the inalienable privilege of being the Capital of Christendom. It is from that day that we count the twenty-five years, two months and some days that St. Peter reigned as Bishop of Rome. The Sacramentary of St. Leo gives us the Mass of this Solemnity, which afterwards ceased to be kept. St. Gregory, to whom we are mainly indebted for the arrangement of the Roman Liturgy, was anxious to perpetuate the memory of a day, which gave to Rome her grandest glory. He, therefore, ordained that the Church of St. Peter should be the Station of the Great Litany, which was always to be celebrated on that auspicious day. The 25th of April comes so frequently during the Octave of Easter, that it could not be kept as a Feast, properly so called, in honour of St. Peter’s entrance into Rome; St. Gregory, therefore, adopted the only means left of commemorating the great event.

But there was a striking contrast resulting from this institution, of which the holy Pontiff was fully aware, but which he could not avoid:  it was the contrast between the joys of Paschal Time, and the penitential sentiments wherewith the Faithful should assist at the Procession and Station of the Great Litany. Laden as we are with the manifold graces of this holy Season, and elated with our Paschal joys, we must sober our gladness by reflecting on the motives which led the Church to cast this hour of shadow over our Easter sunshine. After all, we are sinners, with much to be sorry for, and much to fear; we have to avert those scourges which are due to the crimes of mankind; we have, by humbling ourselves and invoking the intercession of the Mother of God and the Saints, to obtain the health of our bodies, and the preservation of the fruits of the earth; we have to offer atonement to Divine justice for our own and the world’s pride, sinful indulgences, and insubordination. Let us enter into ourselves, and humbly confess that our own share in exciting God’s indignation is great; and our poor prayers, united with those of our holy Mother the Church, will obtain mercy for the guilty, and for ourselves who are of the number. A day, then, like this, of reparation to God’s offended Majesty, would naturally suggest the necessity of joining some exterior penance to the interior dispositions of contrition which filled the hearts of Christians. Abstinence from flesh meat has always been observed, on this day, at Rome; and when the Roman Liturgy was established in France, by Pepin and Charlemagne, the Great Litany of the 25th of April was, of course, celebrated, and the Abstinence kept, by the Faithful of that country. A Council of Aix-la-Chapelle, in 836, enjoined the additional obligation of resting from servile work on this day: the same enactment is found in the Capitularia of Charles the Bald. As regards Fasting, properly so called, being contrary to the spirit of Paschal Time, it would seem never to have been observed on this day, at least not generally. Amalarius, who lived in the 9th Century, asserts that it was not then practiced even in Rome.

 We take this opportunity of protesting against the negligence of Christians on this subject. Even persons who have the reputation of being spiritual, think nothing of being absent from the Litanies said on St. Mark’s and the Rogation Days. One would have thought, that when the Holy See took from these Days the obligation of Abstinence, the Faithful would be so much the more earnest to join in the duty still left,  the duty of Prayer. The people’s presence at the Litanies is taken for granted: and it is simply absurd, that a religious rite of public reparation should be one from which almost all should keep away. We suppose that these Christians will acknowledge the importance of the petitions made in the Litanies; but God is not obliged to hear them in favour of such as ought to make them and yet do not. This is one of the many instances which might be brought forward of the strange delusions into which private and isolated devotion are apt to degenerate. When St. Charles Borromeo first took possession of his See of Milan, he found this negligence among his people, and that they left the Clergy to go through the Litanies of the 25th of April by themselves. He assisted at them himself, and walked bare-footed in the Procession. The people soon followed the sainted Pastor’s example.

Kyrie eleison! Lord have mercy on us! Let us think, for a moment, of the countless sins that are being committed, day and night; and let us sue for mercy. In the days of Noe, all flesh had corrupted its way, but men thought not of asking for mercy. The flood came, and destroyed them all, says our Saviour. Had they prayed, had they begged God’s pardon, the hand of his justice would have been stayed, and the flood-gates of heaven would not have been opened. The day is to come, when, not water, as heretofore, but fire is suddenly to be enkindled by the Divine wrath, and is to burn the whole earth. It shall burn even the foundations of the mountains; it shall devour sinners, who will be resting then, as they were in the days of Noe, in a false security. Persecuted by her enemies, decimated by the martyrdom of her children, afflicted by numerous apostasies from the faith, and deprived of every human aid, the Church will know that the terrible chastisement is at hand, for Prayer will then be as rare as Faith. Let us, therefore, pray; that thus the day of wrath may be put off, the Christian life regain something of its ancient vigour, and the end of the world not be in our times. There are even yet Catholics in every part of the world; but their number has visibly decreased.

Heresy is now in possession of whole countries, that were once faithful to the Church. In others, where heresy has not triumphed, religious indifference has left the majority of men with nothing of Catholicity but the name, seeing that they neglect even their most essential obligations without remorse. Among many of those who fulfill the precepts of the Church, truths are diminished.

PROCESSION PRAYERS

Litany of the Saints

Lord, have mercy on us. Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us. Christ, have mercy on us
Lord, have mercy on us. Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.
God the Father of Heaven, have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.
God the Holy Spirit, have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God, have mercy on us.
Holy Mary, pray for us.
Holy Mother of God, pray for us.
Holy Virgin of Virgins, pray for us.
St. Michael, pray for us.
All holy Angels and Archangels, pray for us.
All holy orders of blessed spirits, pray for us.
St. John the Baptist, pray for us.
St. Joseph, pray for us.
All holy Patriarchs and Prophets, pray for us.
St. Peter, pray for us.
St. Paul, pray for us.
St. Andrew, pray for us.
St. James, pray for us.
St. John, pray for us.
St. Thomas, pray for us.
St. James, pray for us.
St. Philip, pray for us.
St. Bartholomew, pray for us.
St. Matthew, pray for us.
St. Simon, pray for us.
St. Thaddeus, pray for us.
St. Matthias, pray for us.
St. Barnabas, pray for us.
St. Luke, pray for us.
St. Mark, pray for us.
All holy Apostles and Evangelists, pray for us.
All holy Disciples of the Lord, pray for us.
All Holy Innocents, pray for us.
St. Stephen, pray for us.
St. Lawrence, pray for us.
St. Vincent, pray for us.
Fabian and Sebastian, pray for us.
John and Paul, pray for us.
Cosmas and Damian, pray for us.
Gervase and Protase, pray for us.
All holy Martyrs, pray for us.
St. Sylvester, pray for us.
St. Gregory, pray for us.
St. Ambrose, pray for us.
St. Augustine, pray for us.
St. Jerome, pray for us.
St. Martin, pray for us.
St. Nicholas, pray for us.
All holy Bishops and Confessors, pray for us.
All holy Doctors, pray for us.
St. Anthony, pray for us.
St. Benedict, pray for us.
St. Bernard, pray for us.
St. Dominic, pray for us.
St. Francis, pray for us.
All holy Priests and Levites, pray for us.
All holy Monks and Hermits, pray for us.
St. Mary Magdalen, pray for us.
St. Agatha, pray for us.
St. Lucy, pray for us.
St. Agnes, pray for us.
St. Cecilia, pray for us.
St. Catherine, pray for us.
St. Anastasia, pray for us.
All holy Virgins and Widows, pray for us.
All holy Saints of God, intercede for us.
Be merciful, Spare us, O Lord.
Be merciful, Hear us, O Lord.
From all evil, Spare us, O Lord.
From all sin, Spare us, O Lord.
From thy anger, Spare us, O Lord
From a sudden and unprovided death, Spare us, O Lord.
From the snares of the devil, Spare us, O Lord.
From anger, and hatred, and every evil will, Spare us, O Lord.
From the spirit of fornication, Spare us, O Lord.
From lightning and storms, Spare us, O Lord.
From the scourge of earthquake, Spare us, O Lord.
From plague, famine, and war, Spare us, O Lord.
From everlasting death, Spare us, O Lord.
Through the mystery of thy holy Incarnation, Spare us, O Lord.
Through thy Coming, Spare us, O Lord.
Through thy Birth, Spare us, O Lord.
Through thy Baptism and holy Fasting, Spare us, O Lord.
Through thy Cross and Passion, Spare us, O Lord.
Through thy Death and Burial, Spare us, O Lord.
Through thy holy Resurrection, Spare us, O Lord.
Through thy admirable Ascension, Spare us, O Lord.
Through the coming of the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, Spare us, O Lord.
In the day of Judgment, Spare us, O Lord.
We sinners, We beg of thee, hear us.
That thou wouldst spare us, We beg of thee, hear us.
That thou wouldst pardon us, We beg of thee, hear us.
That thou wouldst kindly bring us to true penance, We beg of thee, hear us.
That thou wouldst kindly govern and preserve thy holy Church, We beg of thee, hear us.
That thou wouldst kindly preserve in holy religion the Pope and all clerics in holy orders, We beg of thee, hear us.
That thou wouldst kindly humble the enemies of holy Church, We beg of thee, hear us.
That thou wouldst kindly give peace and true concord to Christian kings and princes, We beg of thee, hear us.
That thou wouldst kindly grant peace and unity to the whole Christian world, We beg of thee, hear us.
That thou wouldst restore to the unity of the Church all who have strayed from the truth and lead all infidels to the light of the Gospel, We beg of thee, hear us.
That thou wouldst kindly confirm and preserve us in thy holy service, We beg of thee, hear us.
That thou wouldst kindly lift up our minds to heavenly desires, We beg of thee, hear us.
That thou wouldst kindly give eternal blessings to all our benefactors, We beg of thee, hear us.
That thou wouldst kindly deliver our souls, and the souls of our brethren, relations, and benefactors from eternal damnation, We beg of thee, hear us.
That thou wouldst kindly give and preserve the fruits of the earth, We beg of thee, hear us.
That thou wouldst kindly grant eternal rest to all the faithful departed, We beg of thee, hear us.
That thou wouldst be so kind as to answer our prayers Son of God, We beg of thee, hear us.
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.
Christ, hear us,
Christ, graciously hear us.
Lord, have mercy on us. Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us. Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us. Lord, have mercy on us.

Psalm 69

O God, come to my assistance; O Lord, make haste to help me. Let them be confounded and ashamed that seek my soul: Let them be turned backward, and blush for shame that desire evils to me: Let them be presently turned away blushing for shame that say to me: Tis well, tis well. Let all that seek thee rejoice and be glad in thee; and let such as love thy salvation say always: The Lord be magnified. But I am needy and poor; O God, help me. Thou art my helper and my deliverer: O Lord, make no delay.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

V. Save thy servants.
R. Who put their trust in thee, O God.
V. Be unto us, O Lord, a tower of strength.
R. From the face of the enemy.
V. Let not the enemy prevail against us.
R. Nor the Son of iniquity have power to hurt us.
V. O Lord, deal not with us according to our sins.
R. Nor reward us according to our iniquities.

Pope St. Gregory the Great saved Rome from the plague he ordered a procession around the city to beg the heavens to end their affliction and their prayers were answered!

A Dreadful plague having broken out at Rome, anno 589, which carried off a great number of the people, and among the rest Pope Pelagius, who then sat in St. Peter’s Chair, St. Gregory, his successor, appointed public prayers for appeasing the anger of God, the happy effects of which became so evident by the immediate cessation thereof, that the same pious custom has been ever since continued. Wherefore, since by our repeated transgressions we also have just reason to deprecate the scourges of divine vengeance, let us this day humble ourselves by prayer before the throne of mercy, beseeching God to preserve us from all pestilential distempers, forgive us our sins, and grant his blessing on the fruit of the earth.

NINE DAY NOVENA TO ST. JOSEPH – SECOND DAY

              NOVENA IN PREPARATION 

   FOR THE SOLEMNITY OF ST. JOSEPH 

        THE PATRONAGE OF ST. JOSEPH 

 JOYS AND DOLORS OF SAINT JOSEPH

                                 Day Two

                                   Prayer                                             

O Thrice happy Joseph, foster father to Jesus! by the great grief that pierced thy heart when thou didst contemplate this beloved infant lying in the manger, weeping and shivering with cold, and by the great joy thou receivedst in beholding the holy angels adoring and honouring him with their heavenly music, and in seeing the three kings prostrate before him, and offering him their precious gifts; pray for us, O great Saint, to the end that our souls may become a fit mansion to receive our Saviour, and that we may lodge and keep him always therein, even to the last moment of our lives; that then we may find and enjoy him in heaven, in the possession of his everlasting glory. Amen.

                               Our Father

Our Father, Who art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy Name. Thy Kingdom come. Thy Will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.

                                Hail Mary

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of death. Amen.

                           Novena Prayer

O Glorious St. Joseph, faithful follower of Jesus Christ, to you do we raise our hearts and hands to implore your powerful intercession, obtaining from the benign Heart of Jesus all the helps and graces necessary for our spiritual and temporal welfare; particularly the grace of a happy death, and the special favour we now implore…

            [Here mention your request]

O guardian of the Word Incarnate, we feel animated with confidence that your prayers in our behalf will be graciously heard before the throne of God.

Saint Joseph, foster father of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and true spouse of the Virgin Mary, pray for us.

NINE DAY NOVENA TO ST. JOSEPH

     

     NINE DAY NOVENA IN PREPARATION

     FOR  THE SOLEMNITY OF ST. JOSEPH

             PATRONAGE OF ST. JOSEPH 

    JOYS AND DOLORS OF SAINT JOSEPH

                                Prayer

Chaste Spouse of the most Immaculate Mother of Jesus! holy Joseph! how great was thy grief when, ignorant of the mystery and co-operation of the Holy Ghost in that sublime mystery, thou perceivest the pregnancy of thy beloved Spouse, and on that account had thoughts of leaving her. By this thy grief, and by the unspeakable joy thou hadst when the Angel of God opened to thee the mystery of the Incarnation of the Eternal Word, pray for us, that endeavouring to advance thy honour and worship through the whole world, we may, by God’s holy grace, overcome all affliction and dejection of mind in this life, and in the other become a fit mansion of the Holy Ghost for all eternity. Amen.

                          Our Father

Our Father, Who art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy Name. Thy Kingdom come. Thy Will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.

                         Hail Mary

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of death. Amen.

                    Novena Prayer

O Glorious St. Joseph, faithful follower of Jesus Christ, to you do we raise our hearts and hands to implore your powerful intercession, obtaining from the benign Heart of Jesus all the helps and graces necessary for our spiritual and temporal welfare; particularly the grace of a happy death, and the special favour we now implore…

        [Here mention your request]

O guardian of the Word Incarnate, we feel animated with confidence that your prayers in our behalf will be graciously heard before the throne of God.

THE HISTORY OF PASCHAL TIME

 

   THE HISTORY OF PASCHAL TIME

                    The Liturgical Year

       Abbot Dom Guéranger, O.S.B

We give the name of Paschal Time to the period between Easter Sunday and the Saturday following Whit Sunday. It is the most sacred portion of the Liturgical Year, and the one towards which the whole Cycle converges.

We shall easily understand how this is, if we reflect upon the greatness of the Easter Feast, which is called the Feast of feasts, and the Solemnity of solemnities, in the same manner, says St. Gregory, as the most sacred part of the Temple was called the Holy of holies; and the Book of Sacred Scripture, wherein are described the espousals between Christ and the Church, is called the Canticle of canticles. It is on this day, that the mission of the Word Incarnate attains the object towards which it has hitherto been unceasingly tending: mankind is raised up from his fall, and regains what he had lost by Adam’s sin.

Christmas gave us a Man-God; three days have scarcely passed, since we witnessed His infinitely precious Blood shed for our ransom; but now, on the day of Easter, our Jesus is no longer the Victim of death: He is a Conqueror, that destroys death, the child of sin, and proclaims life, that undying life which He has purchased for us. The humiliation of His swathing-bands, the sufferings of His Agony and Cross, these are passed; all is now glory, glory for Himself, and glory also for us. On the day of Easter, God regains, by the Resurrection of the Man-God, His creation such as He made it at the beginning; the only vestige now left of death, is that likeness to sin which the Lamb of God deigned to take upon Himself. Neither is it Jesus alone that returns to eternal life; the whole human race also has risen to immortality together with our Jesus. ‘By a man came death,’ says the Apostle; ‘and by a Man the Resurrection of the dead: and as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive.’

The anniversary of this Resurrection is, therefore, the great Day, the day of joy, the day by excellence; the day to which the whole year looks forward in expectation, and on which its whole economy is formed. But as it is the holiest of days, since it opens to us the gate of Heaven, into which we shall enter because we have risen together with Christ, the Church would have us come to it well prepared by bodily mortification and by compunction of heart. It was for this that she instituted the Fast of Lent, and that she bade us, during Septuagesima, look forward to the joy of her Easter, and be filled with sentiments suitable to the approach of so grand a solemnity. We obeyed; we have gone through the period of our preparation; and now the Easter sun has risen upon us!

But it was not enough to solemnize the great Day when Jesus, our Light, rose from the darkness of the tomb: there was another anniversary which claimed our grateful celebration. The Incarnate Word rose on the first day of the week, that same day, where on, four thousand years before, He, the Uncreated Word of the Father, had begun the work of the Creation, by calling forth light, and separating it from darkness. The first day was thus ennobled by the creation of light. It received a second consecration by the Resurrection of Jesus; and from that time forward Sunday, and not Saturday, was to be the Lord’s Day. Yes, our Resurrection in Jesus which took place on the Sunday, gave this first day a preeminence above the others of the week: the divine precept of the Sabbath was abrogated together with the other ordinances of the Mosaic Law, and the Apostles instructed the faithful to keep holy the first day of the week, which God had dignified with that twofold glory, the creation and the regeneration of the world. Sunday, then, being the day of Jesus’ Resurrection, the Church chose that day, in preference to every other, for its yearly commemoration. The Pasch of the Jews, in consequence of its being fixed on the fourteenth of the moon of March, (the anniversary of the going out of Egypt,) fell by turns on each day of the week. The Jewish Pasch was but a figure; ours is the reality, and puts an end to the figure. The Church, therefore, broke this her last tie with the Synagogue; and proclaimed her emancipation, by fixing the most solemn of her Feasts on a day, which should never agree with that on which the Jews keep their now unmeaning Pasch. The Apostles decreed, that the Christian Pasch should never be celebrated on the fourteenth of the moon of March, even were that day to be a Sunday; but that it should be everywhere kept on the Sunday following the day on which the obsolete calendar of the Synagogue still marks it.

Nevertheless, out of consideration for the many Jews who had received Baptism, and who formed the nucleus of the early Christian Church, it was resolved that the law regarding the day for keeping the new Pasch, should be applied prudently and gradually. Jerusalem was soon to be destroyed by the Romans; according to our Saviour’s prediction; and the new City, which was to rise up from its ruins and receive the Christian colony, would also have its Church, but a Church totally free from the Jewish element, which God had so visibly rejected. In preaching the Gospel and founding Churches, even far beyond the limits of the Roman Empire, the majority of the Apostles had not to contend with Jewish customs; most of their converts were from among the Gentiles. Saint Peter, who in the Council of Jerusalem had proclaimed the cessation of the Jewish Law, set up the standard of emancipation in the City of Rome; so that the Church, which through him was made the Mother and Mistress of all Churches, never had any other discipline regarding the observance of Easter, than that laid down by the Apostles, namely, that it should be kept on a Sunday.

There was, however, one province of the Church, which for a long time stood out against the universal practice: it was Asia Minor. The Apostle St. John, who lived for many years at Ephesus, where indeed he died, had thought it prudent to tolerate, in those parts, the Jewish custom of celebrating the Pasch; for many of the converts had been members of the Synagogue. But the Gentiles themselves, who, later’ on, formed the mass of the faithful, were strenuous upholders of this custom, which dated from the very foundation of the Church of Asia Minor. In the course of time, however, this anomaly became a source of scandal: it savoured of Judaism, and it prevented unity of religious observance, which is always desirable, but particularly so in what regards Lent and Easter.

Pope St. Victor, who governed the Church from the year 193, endeavoured to put a stop to this abuse; he thought the time had come for establishing unity in so essential a point of Christian worship. Already, that is in the year 160, under Pope St. Anicetus, the Apostolic See had sought, by friendly negotiations, to induce the Churches of Asia Minor to conform to the universal practice; but it was difficult to triumph over a prejudice, which rested on a tradition held sacred in that country. St. Victor, however, resolved to make another attempt. He ‘would put before them the unanimous agreement which reigned throughout the rest of the Church. Accordingly, he gave orders, that Councils should be convened in the several countries where the Gospel had been preached, and that the question of aster should be examined. Everywhere there was perfect uniformity of practice; and the historian Eusebius, who lived a hundred and fifty years later, assures us, that the people of his day used to quote the decisions of the Councils of Rome, of Gaul, of Achaia, of Pontus, of Palestine, and of Osrhoena in Mesopotamia. The Council of Ephesus, at which Polycrates, the Bishop of that city, presided, was the only one that opposed the Pontiff, and disregarded the practice of the universal Church.

Deeming it unwise to give further toleration to the opposition, Victor separated from communion with the Holy See the refractory Churches of Asia Minor. This severe penalty, which was not inflicted until Rome had exhausted every other means of removing the evil, excited the commiseration of several Bishops. St. Ireneus, who was then governing the See of Lyons, pleaded for these Churches, which, so it seemed to him, had sinned only through a want of light; and he obtained from the Pope the revocation of a measure which seemed too severe. This indulgence produced the desired effect. In the following century, St. Anatolius, Bishop of Laodicea, in his Book on the Pasch, written in 276, tells us that the Churches of Asia Minor had then, for some time past, conformed to the Roman practice.

About the same time, and by a strange coincidence, the Churches of Syria, Cilicia, and Mesopotamia, gave scandal by again leaving the Christian and Apostolic observance of Easter, and returning to the Jewish rite of the fourteenth of the March moon. This Schism in the Liturgy grieved the Church; and one of the points to which the Council of Nicaea directed its first attention, was the promulgation of the universal obligation to celebrate Easter on the Sunday. The Decree was unanimously passed, and the Fathers of the Council ordained, that all controversy being laid aside, the Brethren in the East should solemnize the Pasch on the same day as the Romans, the Alexandrians, and the rest of the faithful. So important seemed this question, inasmuch as it affected the very essence of the Christian Liturgy, that St. Athanasius, assigning the reasons which had led to the calling of the Council of Nicaea, mentions these two: the condemnation of the Arian heresy, and the establishment of uniformity in the observance of Easter.

The Bishop of Alexandria was commissioned by the Council to see to the drawing up of astronomical tables, whereby the precise day of Easter might be fixed for each future year. The reason of this choice was, that the astronomers of Alexandria were looked upon as the most exact in their calculations. These tables were to be sent to the Pope, and he would address letters to the several Churches, instructing them as to the uniform celebration of the great Festival of Christendom. Thus was the unity of the Church made manifest by the unity of the holy Liturgy; and the Apostolic See, which is the foundation of the first, was likewise the source of the second. But, even previous to the Council of Nicaea, the Roman Pontiff had addressed to all the Churches, every year, a Paschal Encyclical, instructing them as to the day on which the solemnity of the Resurrection was to be kept. This we learn from the synodical Letter of the Fathers of the great Council held at Arles, in 314. The Letter is addressed to Pope St. Sylvester, and contains the following passage: ‘In the first place, we beg that the observance of the Pasch of the Lord may be uniform, both as to time and day, in the whole world, and that You would, according to the custom, address Letters to all concerning this matter.’

This custom, however, was not kept up for any length of time, after the Council of  Nicaea. The want of precision in astronomical calculations occasioned confusion in the method of fixing the day of Easter. It is true, this great Festival was always kept on a Sunday; nor did any Church think of celebrating it on the same day as the Jews; but, since there was no uniform understanding as to the exact time of the Vernal Equinox, it happened some years, that the Feast of Easter was not kept, in all places, on the same day. By degrees, there crept in a deviation from the rule laid down by the Council, of taking the 21st of March as the day of the Equinox. There was needed a reform in the Calendar, and no one seemed competent to bring it about. Cycles were drawn up contradictory to one another; Rome and Alexandria had each its own system of calculation; so that, some years, Easter was not kept with that perfect uniformity which the Nicene Fathers had so strenuously laboured for: and yet, this variation was not the result of anything like party-spirit.

The West followed Rome. The Churches of Ireland and Scotland, which had been misled by faulty Cycles, were, at length, brought into uniformity. Finally, science was sufficiently advanced in the 16th century, for Pope Gregory XIII. to undertake a reform of the Calendar. The Equinox had to be restored to the 21st of March, as the Council of Nicaea had prescribed. The Pope effected this by publishing a Bull, dated February 24, 1581, in which he ordered that ten days of the following year, namely from the 4th to the 15th of October, should be suppressed. He thus restored the work of Julius Caesar, who had, in his day, turned his attention to the rectification of the Year. Easter was the great object of the reform, or, as it is called, the New Style, achieved by Gregory XIII. The principles and regulations of the Nicene Council were again brought to bear on this the capital question of the Liturgical Year; and the Roman Pontiff thus gave to the whole world the intimation of Easter, not for one year only, but for centuries. Heretical nations were forced to acknowledge the divine power of the Church in this solemn act, which interested both religion and society. They protested against the Calendar, as they had protested against the Rule of Faith. England and the Lutheran States of Germany preferred following, for many years, a Calendar which was evidently at fault, rather than accept the New Style, which they acknowledged to be indispensable; but it was the work of a Pope! The only nation in Europe that keeps up the Old Style is Russia, whose antipathy to Rome obliges her to be thus ten or twelve days behind the rest of the civilized world.

All this shows us how important it was to fix the precise Day of Easter; and God has several times shown, by miracles, that the date of so sacred a Feast was not a matter of indifference. During the ages, when the confusion of the Cycles and the want of correct astronomical computations occasioned great uncertainty as to the Vernal Equinox, miraculous events more than once supplied the deficiencies of science and authority. In a Letter to St. Leo the Great, in the year 444, Paschasinus, Bishop of Lilybea in Sicily, relates that under the Pontificate of St. Zozimus, Honorius being Consul for the eleventh, and Constantius for the second time, the real day of Easter was miraculously revealed to the people of one of the Churches there. In the midst of a mountainous and thickly wooded district of the Island was a village called Meltinas. Its Church was of the poorest, but it was dear to God. Every year, on the Night preceding Easter Sunday, as the Priest went to the Baptistery to bless the Font, it was found to be miraculously filled with Water, for there were no human means wherewith it could be supplied. As soon as Baptism was administered, the Water disappeared of itself, and left the Font perfectly dry. In the year just mentioned, the people, misled by a wrong calculation, assembled for the ceremonies of Easter Eve. The Prophecies having been read, the Priest and his flock repaired to the Baptistery, but the Font was empty. They waited, expecting the miraculous flowing of the Water, where with the Catechumens were to receive the grace of regeneration: but they waited in vain, and no Baptism was administered. On the following 22nd of April, (the tenth of the Kalends of May,) the Font was found to be filled to the brim, and thereby the people understood that that was the true Easter for that Year.

Cassiodorus writing, in the name of king Athalaric, to a certain Severus, relates a similar miracle, which happened every year on Easter Eve, in Lucania, near the small island of Leucothea, at a place called Marcilianum. There was a large fountain there, whose water was so clear, that the air itself was not more transparent. It was used as the Font for the administration of Baptism on Easter Night. As soon as the Priest, standing under the rock where with nature had canopied the fountain, began the prayers of the Blessing, the Water, as though taking part in the transports of the Easter joy, arose in the Font; so that, if previously it was to the level of the fifth step, it was seen to rise up to the seventh, impatient, as it were, to effect those wonders of grace whereof it was the chosen instrument. God would show by this, that even inanimate creatures can share, when he so wills it, in the holy gladness of the greatest of all Days.

St. Gregory of Tours tells us of a Font, which existed even then, in a Church of Andalusia, in a place called Osen, and whereby God miraculously certified to his people the true Day of Easter. On the Maundy Thursday of each year, the Bishop, accompanied by the Faithful, repaired to this Church. The bed of the Font was built in the form of a cross, and was paved with mosaics. It was carefully examined, to see that it was perfectly dry; and after several prayers had been recited, every one left the Church, and the Bishop sealed the door with his seal. On Holy Saturday, the Pontiff returned, accompanied by his flock; the seal was examined, and the door was opened. The Font was found to be filled, even above the level of the floor, and yet the water did not overflow. The Bishop pronounced the exorcisms over the miraculous Water, and poured the Chrism into it. The Catechumens were then baptized; and as soon as the sacrament had been administered, the Water immediately disappeared, and no one could tell what became of it. Similar miracles were witnessed in several Churches in the East. John Moschus, a writer of the 7th century, speaks of a Baptismal Font in Lycia, which was thus filled every Easter Eve; but the Water remained in the Font during the whole fifty days, and suddenly disappeared after the Festival of Pentecost.

We alluded, in our History of Passiontide, to the decrees passed by the Christian Emperors, which forbade all Law proceedings during the fortnight of Easter, that is, from Palm Sunday to the Octave Day of the Resurrection. St. Augustine, in a Sermon he preached on this Octave, exhorts the Faithful to extend to the whole year this suspension of law-suits, disputes, and enmities, which the Civil Law interdicted during these fifteen days.

The Church puts upon all her children the obligation of receiving Holy Communion at Easter. This precept is based upon the words of our Redeemer, who left it to his Church to determine the time of the Year, when Christians should receive the Blessed Sacrament. In the early Ages, Communion was frequent, and, in some places, even daily. By degrees, the fervour of the Faithful grew cold towards this august Mystery, as we gather from a decree of the Council of Agatha, (Agde,) held in 506, where it is defined, that those of the laity who shall not approach Communion at Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost, are to be considered as having ceased to be Catholics. This Decree of the Council of Agatha was accepted as the law of almost the entire Western Church. We find it quoted among the regulations drawn up by Egbert, Archbishop of York, as also in the third Council of Tours. In many places, however, Communion was obligatory for the Sundays of Lent, and for the last three Days of Holy Week, independently of that which was to be made on the Easter Festival.

It was in the year 1215, in the 4th General Council of Lateran, that the Church, seeing the ever growing indifference of her children, decreed with regret that Christians should be strictly bound to Communion only once in the Year, and that that Communion of obligation should be made at Easter. In order to show the Faithful that this is the uttermost limit of her condescension to lukewarmness, she declares, in the same Council, that he that shall presume to break this Law, may be forbidden to enter a church during life, and be deprived of Christian burial after death, as he would be if he had, of his own accord, separated himself from the exterior link of Catholic unity. These regulations of a General Council show how important is the duty of the Easter Communion; but, at the same time, they make us shudder at the thought of the millions, throughout the Catholic world, who brave each year the threats of the Church, by refusing to comply with a duty, which would both bring life to their souls, and serve as a profession of their faith. And when we again reflect upon how many even of those who make their Easter Communion, have paid no more attention to the Lenten Penance than if there were no such obligation in existence, we cannot help feeling sad, and we wonder within ourselves, how long God will bear with such infringements of the Christian Law?

The fifty days between Easter and Pentecost have ever been considered by the Church as most holy. The first week, which is more expressly devoted to celebrating our Lord’s Resurrection, is kept up as one continued Feast; but the remainder of the fifty days is also marked with special honours. To say nothing of the joy, which is the characteristic of this period of the year, and of which the Alleluia is the expression, Christian tradition has assigned to Eastertide two practices, which distinguish it from every other Season. The first is, that Fasting is not permitted during the entire interval: it is an extension of the ancient precept of never fasting on a Sunday, and the whole of Eastertide is considered as one long Sunday. This practice, which would seem to have come down from the time of the Apostles, was accepted by the Religious Rules of both East and West, even by the severest. The second consists in not kneeling at the Divine Office, from Easter to Pentecost. The Eastern Churches have faithfully kept up the practice, even to this day. It was observed for many ages by the Western Churches also; but now, it is little more than a remnant. The Latin Church has long since admitted genuflexions in the Mass during Easter time. The few vestiges of the ancient discipline in this regard, which still exist, are not noticed by the Faithful, inasmuch as they seldom assist at the Canonical Hours.

Eastertide, then, is like one continued Feast. It is the remark made by Tertullian, in the 3rd Century. He is reproaching those Christians who regretted having renounced, by their Baptism, the festivities of the Pagan Year; and he thus addresses them: If you love Feasts, you will find plenty among us Christians; not merely Feasts, that last only for a day, but such as continue for several days together.  The Pagans keep each of their Feasts once in the year; but you have to keep each of yours many times over, for you have the eight days of its celebration. Put all the Feasts of the Gentiles together, and they do not amount to our fifty days of Pentecost. St. Ambrose speaking on the same subject, says: If the Jews are not satisfied with the Sabbath of each week, but keep also one which lasts a whole month, and another which lasts a whole year; how much more ought not we to honour our Lord’s Resurrection? Hence, our ancestors have taught us to celebrate the fifty days of Pentecost as a continuation of Easter. They are seven weeks, and the Feast of Pentecost commences the eighth. During these fifty days, the Church observes no fast, as neither does she on any Sunday, for it is the Day, on which our Lord rose: and all these fifty days are like so many Sundays.