Saint John Gualbert, Abbot

July 12

Today is the feast day of Saint John Gualbert .  Ora pro nobis.

Saint John Gualbert was born in Florence in the year 999. He was the son of the noble Florentine Gualbert Visdomini.  He was raised with care in piety and the study of the humanities.   No sooner had he entered adult life than he acquired a taste for pleasures.  He followed the profession of arms at that troubled period. 

by Fr. Francis Xavier Weninger, 1877

The great holiness of John Gualbert began with one single act of self-denial. He was born at Florence, of noble parents, and although brought up in the Christian faith, he was but little instructed in the way of living a Christian life. When, in riper years, he entered the army, he learned still less of Christian virtue. When Hugh, his only brother, was assassinated by a young nobleman for unknown reasons, his father vowed to search everywhere for the murderer, and to kill him without mercy; commanding his son, Gualbert, to do the same if an opportunity should be offered to avenge the death of his brother. John showed himself as willing to obey the command, as his father had been willing to give it. On Good Friday, when John was returning from the country to Florence, he met the one on whom he was so eager to take revenge. The road where they met was so narrow, that the murderer saw no chance of escape; and as he had no weapons to defend himself, he fell on his knees and cried: “For the love of our Lord Jesus Christ, who died today, have pity and spare my life.”

John, who had immediately drawn his sword on seeing him, was about to rush on him; but when he heard these words spoken by the murderer, he suddenly stopped. Pondering how Christ had not only forgiven His enemies for greater crimes, but had also prayed for them to His heavenly Father, his heart softened, and all desire for revenge fled in one moment.Casting aside his sword, he raised the assassin from the ground, embraced him and said: “What you ask for the love of our Lord, I cannot refuse. I will spare your life and forgive your crime.” After having so heroically conquered himself, and reconciled himself with his bitterest enemy, John went into the first church to which he came, and kneeling down before the image of the crucified Saviour, prayed that Christ might, in mercy and grace, release him also from his offences. The image upon the cross bowed its head towards him as a sign that his prayer had been graciously received. This unexpected miracle made so deep an impression upon John, and the divine grace operated so strongly upon him, that he instantly resolved henceforth to serve God alone. Repairing to the monastery of St. Minias, he begged to be admitted among the number of the religious.

His father was at first violently opposed to it, but when he saw that John had cut off his hair, to indicate that he was in earnest, he not only relented, but praised his perseverance, and admonished him to remain firm in his resolution. John, however, needed not this admonition; he remained firm, and aspired with such zeal to spiritual perfection, that, after a very short time, he deserved to be placed as a model for all religious, in true devotion, humility and obedience. The zeal he manifested in the service of God at the beginning of his conversion, never decreased, but continued unaltered until his end. After the death of the Abbot, he was unanimously chosen as his successor. But nothing could induce him to accept the dignity offered to him, and to escape further persuasion, and to serve God more perfectly, he went, with several virtuous ecclesiastics to St. Romuald, at the hermitage of Camaldoli, where he remained for some time. As, however, this holy man informed him that he was chosen by God to become the founder of a new order, he repaired to a place, a few miles from Florence, which, on account of the many trees that shaded it, was called Vallis Umbrosa, or the shaded valley. There he met two hermits with whom he and his companions resolved to remain. The life he led while there was very holy, his occupation consisting of praying, fasting, watching and pious contemplations.

When this became known in the surrounding country, several men and youths came to him, desiring to lead a pious life under his direction. As the number of these daily increased, he erected a monastery and founded an order, which soon became famous in all Italy. He became its first Abbot, but governed those under him more by his example than by precept and admonitions. It was a commen saying, that if any one wished to know who was the Abbot of the monastery, he had only to observe who was the most humble, zealous, devout and patient among the brotherhood. Before he died, he had the comfort to count twelve monasteries founded by him, all filled with zealous servants of the Almighty. Towards others he was compassionate and kind, but towards himself, extremely austere.

The poor he assisted in every possible manner, not even sparing the sacred vessels of the Church, if he had no other means to aid them. He fasted most rigorously, and although he was a great sufferer, he refused to be exempted from the obligation of fasting. He prepared himself most devoutly for his end when he felt it approaching; and after having received the Holy Sacrament, he called all the religious to him and gave them his last exhortation to live in love and unity: to maintain strictly the regulations of the order, and to meditate frequently on death and the last judgment. His fervent desire to see God he expressed in the often repeated words of the Psalmist: “My soul thirsteth after God. When shall I go and appear before the Lord!”

At last, God granted the desire of his holy servant, and called him to eternal life, in the year of our Lord 1073, and the 74th of his life. The inscription on his tomb, which he himself composed, was as follows: “I, John, believe and confess the faith which the Apostles preached, and the holy Fathers professed in the four councils of the Church.” St. John was honored during his life with the gifts of reading the innermost thoughts of the heart, curing the sick and the possessed by making the sign of the holy cross over them. After his death his tomb became an universal refuge for the oppressed and forsaken, on account of the graces which were there bestowed upon them, through his intercession. (3)

Image: Crop of Santa Trinita, Neri_di_bicci, San Giovanni Gualberto and saints, inside, Florence, Italy (5)

Research by REGINA Staff

  1. http://sanctoral.com/en/saints/saint_john_gualbert.html
  2. http://www.catholictradition.org/Saints/saints7-6.htm
  3. http://catholicharboroffaithandmorals.com/St.%20John%20Gualbert.html
  4. http://nobility.org/2014/07/10/st-john-gualbert/
  5. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Santa_Trinita,_Neri_di_bicci,_San_giovanni_gualberto_(dettaglio)2.jpg
  6. https://365rosaries.blogspot.com/2011/07/july-12-saint-john-gualbert.html

Saint Olga of Kiev, Widow

July 11

Today is the feast day of Saint Olga of Kiev.  Ora pro nobis.

Saint Olga of Kiev was born 879 at Pskov, Russia into a family of Varyag origin according to tradition.  Varyags were also known as Vikings or Norsemen, who came to the territory of current Russia, Ukraine and Belarus during the 8th and 9th centuries. This theory about Olga’s birth also explains the origin of her name, which is derived from the Scandinavian “Helga.” Other historical versions state that Olga was either a daughter of Oleg Veshchy, the founder of the state of Kievan Rus, or had Bulgarian roots.

Oleg Veshchy initiated Olga’s marriage with Prince Igor, who was the son of the Novgorod Prince Rurik, a founder of the Rurik Dynasty of Russian tsars. After the death of Oleg in 912, Igor became the ruler of Kievan Rus. In 945 Prince Igor went to the Slavic tribe of the Drevlyans to gather tributes. After he demanded a much higher payment, the Drevlyans killed him.

The death of the Kievan Prince raised a question about the next ruler of the country. Igor’s son, Svyatoslav, was only three years old, and hence Olga took the power into her hands. Interestingly, she had the full support the Rus army, which attests to the great respect she held among the people.  After killing Igor, the Drevlyans sent their matchmakers to propose that Olga marry their Prince Mal. The Princess took revenge upon her husband’s death, killing all of the ambassadors.   There are stories of her being quite the warrior queen. 

She ruled Kievan Rus after Igor’s assassination in 945. Following her conversion and baptism in 957 in Constantinople, when she took the name Helena, she tried to introduce Christianity to the Ukraine on a wide scale, but failed. When her son Sviatoslav reached adulthood, she handed the throne to him, c.963. Apparently, she had a big influence on her grandson, Vladimir the Great, who in 988 made Christianity the official religion of Kievan Rus. 

She is grandmother of Saint Vladimir, great-grandmother of Saint Boris and Saint Gleb. Saint Olga died on 11 July 969 in Kiev of natural causes.

Image: crop of St. Olga, artist: unknown (3)

Research by REGINA Staff

  1. http://russiapedia.rt.com/prominent-russians/history-and-mythology/princess-olga-of-kiev/
  2. http://catholicsaints.info/saint-olga-of-kiev/
  3. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Princess_Olga_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg

Saint Pius I, Pope, Martyr

July 11

Today is the feast day of Saint Pius I.  Ora pro nobis.

Saint Pius I was born in the State of Venice probably Aquileia. The exact date of his birth is unknown.  He  succeeded Saint Hygin about the year 140 as the ninth successor to Saint Peter, during the reign of the emperor Antoninus the Pious.  He was pope from about 140 to about 154. He was a friend of Saint Polycarp.  Throughout his pontificate he took great care to make the religion of Christ flourish, and published many beautiful ordinances for the utility of the universal Church. (4)

His pontificate was marked by the efforts of various heretics in Rome, among them the gnostics Valentinian, Cerdon, and Marcion, who tried to sow their errors in the Church’s center. Marcion, when excluded from communion by Saint Pius, founded the heretical group which bears his name. Saint Justin and other Catholic teachers assisted the Pontiff in defending Christian doctrine and preserving it from corruption.

Several admirable decrees of his are still extant: in particular that which ordains that the Resurrection of Our Lord is always to be celebrated on a Sunday. He changed the house of Pudentiana into a church, and because it surpassed the other titles in dignity, the Roman Pontiffs made it their dwelling-place.   He dedicated it under the title of Pastor. Here he often celebrated the Holy Mysteries, baptized many who had been converted to the Faith, and enrolled them in the ranks of the faithful. While he was thus fulfilling the duties of a good shepherd, he shed his blood for his sheep and for Christ the Supreme Pastor, being crowned with martyrdom on the fifth of the Ides of July, 150 under Marcus Aurelius. (4)

Saint Pius I

From Champions of Catholic Orthodoxy

A holy Pope of the second century, the first of the twelve hitherto graced with the name of Pius, rejoices us today with his mild and gentle light. Although Christian society was in a precarious condition under the edicts of persecution, which even the best of the pagan emperors never abrogated, our Saint profited by the comparative peace enjoyed by the Church under Antoninus Pius to strengthen the foundations of the mysterious tower raised by the Divine Shepherd to the honor of the Lord God. He ordained by his supreme authority that, notwithstanding the contrary custom observed in certain places, the Feast of Easter should be celebrated on a Sunday throughout the entire Church. The importance of this measure and its effects upon the whole Church were emphasized during the reign of Pope St. Victor I, near the end of the same century; for it was he who enforced the decree of St. Pius.

The ancient Breviary lesson of St. Pius I made mention of the decree, attributed in the Corpus Juris to this holy Pope, concerning those who carelessly let fall any portion of the Precious Blood of Our Lord during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The prescriptions are such as give evidence of the profound reverence the Pope wished to be shown towards the Most Holy Mystery of the Altar. The penance enjoined is to be of forty days if the Precious Blood had fallen to the ground; and wheresoever it fell, it must, if possible, be taken up with the lips, the dust must be burned, and the ashes thereof put in a consecrated place.

In more recent times the Breviary Lesson runs thus:

St. Pius, the first of this name, a citizen of Aquileia (60 miles east of Venice, Italy), and son of Rufinus, was priest of the holy Roman Church. During the reign of Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius he was chosen Sovereign Pontiff. In five ordinations which he held in the month of December, he ordained twelve bishops and eighteen priests. Several admirable decrees of his are still extant: in particular that which ordains that the Resurrection of Our Lord is always to be celebrated on a Sunday. He changed the house of Pudens into a church, and because it surpassed the other titles in dignity, inasmuch as the Roman Pontiffs made it their dwelling-place, he dedicated it under the title of Pastor. Here he often celebrated the Holy Mysteries, baptized many who had been converted to the Faith, and enrolled them in the ranks of the faithful. While he was thus fulfilling the duties of a good shepherd, he shed his blood for his sheep and for Christ the Supreme Pastor, being crowned with martyrdom on the fifth of the Ides of July. He was buried in the Vatican.

We call to mind, O glorious Pontiff, those words written under thine eye, which seem to be a commentary on thy decree concerning the Sacred Mysteries: “We receive not,” cried St. Justin the Philosopher to the world of that second century, “we receive not as common bread, nor as common drink, the Food which we call the Eucharist; but just as Jesus Christ our Savior, being made flesh by the word of God, had both Flesh and Blood for our salvation, so have we been taught that the Food made Eucharist by the prayer formed of His own word, is both the Flesh and Blood of this Jesus, Who is made flesh” (Apolog. I 66). This doctrine and the measures it so fully justifies, found, towards the close of the same century, other authentic witnesses who, in their turn, would almost seem to be quoting from the prescriptions attributed to thee. “We are in the greatest distress,” said Tertullian, “if the least drop from our chalice, or the least crumb of our Bread fall to the ground” (De Corona, III). And Origen appealed to the initiated to bear witness to “the care and veneration with which the sacred gifts were surrounded, for fear the smallest particle should fall; which, if it happened through negligence, would be considered a crime” (In Ex. Homil., 13). And yet in our days heresy, as destitute of knowledge as of faith, pretends that the Church has departed from Her ancient traditions by paying exaggerated homage to the Divine Sacrament. Obtain for us, O St. Pius, the grace to return to the veneration and love with which that Faith inspired them for the Chalice of the Most Precious Blood of Jesus, that richest treasure of earth. May the Pasch of the Lamb (the Easter Liturgy) unite, as thou didst desire, in one uniform celebration, all who have the honor to truly bear the name of Christian! (1)

Image: Crop of This illustration is from The Lives and Times of the Popes by Chevalier Artaud de Montor, New York: The Catholic Publication Society of America, 1911. It was originally published in 1842. (5)

Research by REGINA Staff

  1. http://www.salvemariaregina.info/SalveMariaRegina/SMR-169/PiusI.htm
  2. http://sanctoral.com/en/saints/saint_pius_i.html
  3. http://traditionalcatholic.net/Tradition/Calendar/07-11.html
  4. http://www.traditioninaction.org/SOD/j029sdPiusI_7-11.htm
  5. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Pope_Pius_I_Illustration.jpg

Saint Bertha of Artois, Widow, Abbess

July 4

Today is the feast day of Saint Bertha of Artois.  Ora pro nobis.

Saint Bertha was the daughter of Count Rigobert and Umana, related to one of the kings of Kent in England. In the twentieth year of her age she was married to Sigefroi.  She had five daughters, two of whom, Gertrude and Deotila, are Saints. After her husband’s death she put on the veil in the nunnery which she had built at Blangy in Artois, France, a little distance from Hesdin. Her daughters Gertrude and Deotila followed her. (1)

She was persecuted by Roger, or Rotgar, who endeavored to asperse her with King Thierri III., supposedly to revenge his being refused Gertrude in marriage. But this prince, convinced of the innocence of Bertha, then abbess over her nunnery, gave her a kind reception.  He took her under his protection.

On her return to Blangy, Bertha finished her nunnery and caused three churches to be built, one in honor of St. Omer, another she called after St. Vaast, and the third in honor of St. Martin of Tours. And then, after establishing a regular observance in her community, she left St. Deotila abbess in her stead, and shut herself in a cell, to pass the remainder of her days in prayer. Much of her history is legend. She died about the year 725. A great part of her relics are kept at Blangy. (4)

Image: Saint Bertha (7)

  1. http://sanctoral.com/en/saints/saint_bertha.html
  2. http://traditionalcatholic.net/Tradition/Calendar/07-04.html
  3. http://www.nobility.org/2017/07/03/st-bertha-blangy-2/
  4. http://gardenofmary.com/july-4-st-bertha-widow-abbess/
  5. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/02519a.htm
  6. http://www.bartleby.com/210/7/044.html
  7. https://picryl.com/media/saint-bertha-of-artois-from-histoire-dhesdin-4d27f4

Saint Leo II, Pope

July 3

Today is the feast day of Saint Leo II.  Ora pro nobis.

Saint Leo II date of birth is unknown. He was a Sicilian, and son of one Paul. Though elected pope a few days after the death of St. Agatho (10 June, 681), he was not consecrated till after the lapse of a year and seven months (17 Aug., 682). 

The pontificate of this great Pope was very brief but very fruitful, since in the ten months of his reign he accomplished good works which have caused his name to be blessed.  St Leo II had been a Canon Regular.  He was charged with recitation of the Office in the cathedral, and was relied upon to serve as the auxiliary of the Ordinary. Saint Leo was a devout student of Holy Scripture, and was well versed in the Greek as well as the Latin language.

In his day grave difficulties frequently arose between the Holy See and the emperors of Constantinople, whose representatives at Ravenna tried to control the bishops of that see; the latter had been striving to become autonomous. Saint Leo published a decree ordering that in the future no bishop of Ravenna could enter into function before being consecrated for that office at Rome, by the Roman Pontiff.

He built three churches in Rome, to honor Saint Paul the Apostle, Saint Sebastian, and Saint George. Saint Leo was highly gifted in the domain of music, and he renovated the Gregorian literature or library, then in a state of confusion; he also composed new hymns, still conserved by the Church. He took special care of widows and orphans and the poor in general, relieving their sufferings with a truly apostolic charity.

Saint Leo confirmed the Acts of the Sixth Ecumenical Council which his predecessor had convoked at Constantinople against the Monothelite heresy, and translated its acts into Latin for the benefit of the Occidentals. When he died in July of 683, his death was deeply regretted by all the faithful. He was interred according to established custom in the church of Saint Peter. He is ordinarily pictured embracing a beggar or holding a book of music.

Image: Portrait of Pope Leo II (6)

Research by REGINA Staff

  1. http://www.salvemariaregina.info/SalveMariaRegina/SMR-153/St.%20Leo%20II.htm
  2. http://sanctoral.com/en/saints/saint_leo_ii.html
  3. http://traditionalcatholic.net/Tradition/Calendar/07-03.html
  4. http://www.traditioninaction.org/SOD/j080sdLeoII_6-3.htm
  5. http://www.nobility.org/2014/07/03/pope-st-leo-ii/
  6. http://nobility.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Pope_Leo_II.jpg

 

Saint Otto, Confessor

July 2

Today is the feast day of Saint Otto of Bamberg.  Ora pro nobis.

Saint Otto, born into the noble though impoverished family of Mistelbach in Swabia.  He was ordained a priest while still young, but it is unknown where he was educated.  He entered the service of Emperor Henry IV and ultimately was appointed chancellor.

In the conflicts over investitures between Henry IV and Pope St. Gregory VII, which ended in excommunication for the Emperor, the noble cleric was caught between two masters.  However, Otto navigated the situation admirably upholding the sovereign in all he could, but refusing to approve his schism and his other crimes, laboring to bring him to repentance and submission.

When the Emperor nominated him Bishop of Bamberg in 1102, Otto refused to be consecrated by a schismatic bishop and traveled to Rome instead where he was consecrated by Pope Paschal II himself.

Under Henry V who began to follow in his rebellious father’s footsteps, Otto worked to heal the fresh breach with the Holy See and the consequent damages.

Enjoying the trust and respect of both parties, and amid his political activities, he managed his episcopal see admirably.  He increased the possessions of the Church by new acquisitions, recovered alienated dependencies, completed the cathedral, improved the cathedral school, built castles and churches. In particular he favoured the monks, and founded over twenty monasteries in the Dioceses of Bamberg, Würzburg, Ratisbon, Passau, Eichstatt, Halberstadt and Aquileia. He reformed other monasteries. Thus he merited the name of “Father of the Monks”.

For about a year he answered the call from Boleslaus III of Poland who conquered part of Pomerania, which region was still steeped in paganism. With a number of priests and catechists, Otto launched an evangelizing effort which initially garnered 20,000 converts for the Faith.  His greatest service was his missionary work among the Pomeranians. In the Peace with Poland in 1120 the latter had engaged to adopt Christianity.

Appointing clergy to continue his work, he returned to Bamberg, but a few towns having reverted to paganism, Otto again traveled to Pomerania in 1128. With his inspiring speech, he won over all the nobles of the land, reaching remote regions with the message of the Gospel. He finally was able to establish an ecclesiastical see in the area. In his missionary travels he was said to have performed miracles.

In the papal schism of 1130-31 the pious, active, clever bishop tried to remain neutral, stayed out of political turmoil, and died greatly esteemed by Emperor Lothair and his princes.

Saint Otto died June 30 1139 in Pomerania (part of Modern Poland).  He was canonized in 1189 by Pope Clement III.

He was buried in the monastery of St. Michael in Bamberg. Bishop Embrice of Würzburg delivered the funeral oration and applied to Otto the words of Jeremias: “The Lord called thy name, a plentiful olive tree, fair, fruitful, and beautiful.” On his mission journey he is reported to have worked many miracles. Many happened also at his tomb.

 

  1. https://www.americaneedsfatima.org/Saints-Heroes/st-otto-of-bamberg.html
  2. http://catholicsaints.info/saint-otto-of-Bamberg/
  3. http://www.traditionalcatholic.net/Tradition/Calendar/07-02.html

Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

July 2

Today is the Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

This Feast of the Visitation of Our Lady was instituted by Urban IV, in the year 1385, and confirmed by Boniface IX, in the year 1389.

by Fr. Francis Xavier Weninger, 1877

The Archangel Gabriel, while announcing to the Blessed Virgin Mary the mystery of the Incarnation, informed her also of the fact that her cousin Elizabeth, who, advanced in years, had long been barren, was about to be blessed with a son. Mary rejoiced greatly at this news, and having given thanks to the Almighty for the priceless grace of the Incarnation of the Eternal Word, she hastened to visit her cousin. This, however, was not done, as some heretics maintain, because she doubted the words of the Angel; for, Elizabeth herself, when already filled with the Holy Ghost, proved the contrary by the words with which she received the Virgin: “Blessed art thou that hast believed.” Quite different were the reasons which led Mary to make this visit. I shall here give two of them, taken from the holy Fathers of the Church. The first is from St. Chrysostom, who says: “The Son of God, who came into the world to save mankind, desired, immediately on His entering the world, to prove His love for man, and fulfil the divine office of Redeemer. Hence He moved the heart of His holy mother, in whose virginal womb He was concealed, to visit her cousin Elizabeth, in order that by His presence He might cleanse His fore-runner, John, whom his mother still carried in her bosom, from original sin. He could have done this while absent, but He intended to give us a glorious example of humility, in visiting one who was so infinitely below Him. “The greater,” says St Ambrose, “went to the lesser: Jesus to John.”

The second reason is from St. Jerome, who thus writes: “As the Virgin greatly rejoiced at the favor the Almighty had bestowed on her pious cousin Elizabeth, she desired to manifest her joy to the latter, to congratulate her, and to give thanks and praise with her to the divine Mercy which had bestowed upon both of them such great benefits. Besides this it was her intention–which she also carried into effect–to wait on her cousin, who was already in the decline of life. Perhaps also, the great favor which our Lord would bestow upon Elizabeth and the yet unborn John by this visit, was revealed to her. Certain it is that her object was most holy, and that she left us a splendid example of humility and kindness, showing us that we must not only love our neighbors, but also assist and visit them, and, according to circumstances, serve them, regardless of their being much lower than we; as she, the Blessed Virgin, although raised to the highest dignity as the mother of the Lord, hesitated not to visit and assist her cousin, who was so much below her. Actuated by these motives, Mary set out, and went from Nazareth to the city of Hebron, which belongs to the tribe of Juda. According to some authors, this city is 38 or 40 miles from Nazareth, and could be reached only by travelling over a hilly country; hence this journey was very fatiguing for so delicate a maiden as Mary. But she undertook it rejoicingly.

The Gospel says: “She went into the hill country with haste.” Why with haste? Not only to show her joy and willingness, but also, as Origen writes: ” Because the Saviour, concealed in her bosom, desired to cleanse His precursor and to sanctify him; “or, as St. Ambrose says, “because Mary was filled with the Holy Ghost, who is never satisfied with hesitating and tarrying.” The love within her, the grace of the Holy Ghost, persuaded Mary to hasten. Mary went hastily over the mountains that she might the sooner return to her beloved solitude. She did not wish to be for a long time out of her house. This additional reason is given by the above cited St. Ambrose, who adds: “Learn from it, maidens, not to wander about in strange houses, nor to remain in the streets, nor to hold long conversations in public places.” Having arrived at Hebron and entered her cousin’s house, she joyfully greeted Elizabeth, and at the same moment a twofold miracle happened. John, still in his mother’s womb, leaped with joy, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost. This leaping is regarded by the Holy Fathers as a more than natural movement of the child, and at the same time as a sign that John, endowed, by especial grace of God, with the light of reason, recognized by revelation, in the virginal womb of Mary, the presence of his Saviour, and, full of joy, worshipped Him. “He recognized the Lord in the mother’s womb, and greeted Him with exultation,” says St. Irenaeus. It is the opinion of the Holy Fathers that John was at that time cleansed from original sin and filled with the Holy Ghost. For, the Angel who had announced his birth, had, at the same time, foretold that he should be filled with the Holy Ghost while still in his mother’s womb.

Elizabeth was also filled with the Holy Ghost when she heard Mary’s greeting, and recognized by divine revelation that Mary would become the mother of the Incarnate Word. Hence she cried: “Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.” With these words Elizabeth proclaimed that Mary was raised by God above all other women, and was more than all others blessed, because she had become the mother of Him who is the source of all graces and blessings. On account of the blessed, and more than blessed fruit of her womb, namely, on account of the only-begotten Son of God, whom she was carrying in her virginal womb, is she blessed, blessed far above all human kind. Thus spoke Elizabeth, full of the Holy Ghost; and it is to be remarked that those who deny this, like the heretics, do not speak filled with the Holy Ghost, with the Spirit of Truth, but prompted by the spirit of falsehood. Wherever the Holy Ghost has spoken out of the mouth of man, He has praised the Virgin. Whoever, therefore, speaks of her disparagingly, does not speak the words of the Holy Ghost, but those of the spirit of error.

After Elizabeth had thus praised Mary and exalted her above all women, she said, full of deep surprise: “And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” She esteemed herself not worthy to be visited by the mother of her Lord, as in later years, her son esteemed himself not worthy to loose the latchets of His shoes. Hereupon, she related what had happened to her child, how it had leaped for joy and added: “Blessed art thou that hast believed, because those things shall be accomplished that were spoken to thee by the Lord.” This proves that she knew by revelation what had taken place in the Blessed Virgin and what the Angel had further prophesied. Mary, the Divine Mother, heard all this, but her deep humility allowed her not to elevate herself in the least on account of it. She recognized that all that was done to her was done by the grace of the Almighty, to whom she therefore owed praise and thanks. Hence she sang a hymn of praise which far surpassed all those sung by Moses and his sister, by Anna and Deborah, Ezechias and the three companions of Daniel. In this hymn of praise, she first exalts the Lord for the graces which He had bestowed upon her; secondly, for the favors which He had bestowed on His people before the arrival of Christ; and finally, for the fulfilment of the promises in regard to the Incarnation of His only-begotten Son. The beginning of this hymn is as follows: “My soul doth magnify the Lord and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.” Volumes are filled with commentaries on this mysterious hymn of praise, and the Christian Church uses it daily in the office, to thank and praise the Almighty for the immeasurable grace of the Incarnation.

This is what we know from Holy Writ of the history of today’s festival; and it is only to be added that the visitation of Mary conferred great blessings to the house of Elizabeth. These were without doubt augmented by the prolonged sojourn of Mary, who, as the Gospel relates, remained with her cousin almost three months. If the Almighty richly blessed the house of Obededom, because, as Holy Writ tells us, the Ark of the Covenant was kept there during three months, how great must have been the blessings He bestowed upon the house of Zacharias and Elizabeth, whilst the living Ark of the New Testament, the Blessed Virgin, remained there. St. Ambrose entertains no doubt that the purity and innocence of St. John’s life was the result of the grace which Mary’s presence poured into his soul. We must also consider how willing Mary is to come to our assistance. No sooner had she become Mother of the Lord, than she desired to show that she had become also the loving mother of mankind. She was not called, she was not entreated to come, but went to Elizabeth, prompted by her own kindness. She proved herself gracious to the sinner as well as to the just. Through her Son she purified St. John, stained with original sin, and bestowed on the pious Elizabeth many precious graces. What confidence towards the Blessed Virgin should this awaken in us, whether we be counted among the sinners or the just!

Finally, let us consider in what manner the Lord, having become man, bestowed His grace. He desired to purify His forerunner from original sin, and sanctify him even before his birth. This first spiritual gift He imparted through Mary; for, no sooner had she greeted her cousin, than John leaped for joy and was then cleansed from original sin. When, many years afterwards, at Cana in Galilee, He bestowed His first grace on man in temporal need, Mary was the mediator. The sanctification of John was the first miracle He wrought before His birth; the changing of water into wine, the first that He publicly wrought when He walked upon earth. Both were done through the intercession of Mary. The object of this was to teach us, as St. Bernard says, “that it is the will of God that we shall receive everything through Mary,” that is, through her intercession. Who, therefore, would hesitate to fly to her confidently for refuge in all temporal and spiritual troubles? (3)

Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

by Abbot Gueranger

Our Lady’s visit to Her cousin Elizabeth already engaged our attention whilst we were preparing for the Christmas festival. But it is only fitting to return again to an event so important in Our Lady’s life; the mere commemoration of this Mystery made on Ember Friday in Advent would be insufficient to bring forward all it contains of deep teaching and holy joy. Since in the course of centuries the holy liturgy has been gaining more and more completeness, it is but natural that this precious mine should come to be further opened in honor of the Virgin Mother. The Order of St. Francis, it would seem, as well as certain particular churches, such as Rheims and Paris for example – had already taken the initiative, when Pope Urban VI, in 1389, instituted today’s solemnity. The Pope counselled a fast on the vigil of the Feast, and ordered that it should be followed by an Octave; he granted for its celebration the same indulgences as Urban IV had, in the previous century, attached to the festival of Corpus Christi. The Bull of promulgation, stopped by the Pontiff’s death, was again taken up and published by Boniface IX, his successor on the Chair of Saint Peter.

We learn from the lessons of the Office formerly composed for this Feast, that the object of its institution was, as Urban conceived it, to obtain the cessation of the schism then desolating the Church. The Papacy, exiled from Rome for 70 years, had barely re-entered it, when Hell, infuriated at a return which crossed all its plans, had taken revenge by ranging under two leaders the flock of the one sheepfold. So deep was the obscurity wherewith miserable intrigues contrived to cover the authority of the legitimate Shepherd, that numbers of churches, in all good faith, began to hesitate, and ended at last in preferring the deceptive staff of a hireling. Thicker yet was the darkness to grow, till night should be so dense, that for a moment the conflicting mandates of three “popes” would simultaneously spread through the world; whilst the faithful, struck with stupor, would be at an utter loss to discern accurately which was the voice of Christ’s true Vicar. Never before had the Bride of the Son of God been in a more piteous situation. But Our Lady, to whom the true Pope had turned at the first rising of the storm, did not betray the Church’s confidence. During all those years whilst the unfathomable justice of the Most High let the powers of Hell hold sway, She stood for the defence of Holy Church, trampling the head of the old serpent so thoroughly under Her victorious foot, that in spite of the terrific confusion he had stirred up, he was unable to sully the faith of the people. Their attachment was steadfast to the unity of the Roman See, whosoever might be, in this uncertainty, its veritable occupant. Thus the West, divided in opinion, but in principle ever one and undivided, reunited herself spontaneously as soon as God’s moment came for the return of light. The hour having arrived for the Queen of Saints to assume the offensive, She would not content Herself with merely re-establishing at its former post the army of the elect; Satan now must expiate his audacity by being forced to yield back to Holy Church those conquests which for centuries had seemed his forever. The dragon still raged at Basel (the city where the schismatic faction had remained, while the loyal bishops continued the 17th General Council at Florence), when Florence already beheld the heads of the Greek schism, the Armenians and the Ethiopians, the cavillers of Jerusalem, of Syria and of Mesopotamia, all compensating by their unhoped-for adhesion to the Roman Pontiff for the anguish just suffered in the West.

It was now to be shown that such a return of nations, in the very midst even of the tempest, was indeed the work of Her who had been called upon by the Pope, half a century before, to assist the Bark of Peter. Even they of the factious assembly of Basel gave proof of this, in a way which has unfortunately been too much overlooked by historians who undervalue the high importance that liturgical facts hold in the history of Christendom. When about to separate, these last abettors of the schism devoted the forty-third session of their pretended council to the promulgation of this Feast of the Visitation, in the establishment of which Urban VI had, from the outset, placed all his hopes. Notwithstanding the resistance of some of the more obstinate, the schism may, from that hour, be said to have ended. The storm was subsiding; the Name of Mary, invoked thus by both sides, shone resplendent as the sign of peace amidst the clouds, even as the rainbow in its sweet radiance unites both extremities of the horizon.

But, it may be asked, why was the Feast of the Visitation specially chosen, more than any other, as the monument of restored peace? The answer seems to be suggested in the very nature of the mystery itself and in the manner of its accomplishment.

Here, more particularly, does Mary appear as the Ark of the Covenant, bearing within Her the Emmanuel, the living testimony of a more true reconciliation, of an alliance more sublime between Earth and Heaven, than that limited compact of servitude entered into between Jehovah and the Jews, amidst the roar of thunder. By Her means, far better than through Adam, all men are now brethren; for He Whom She hides within Her is to be the Firstborn of the great family of the sons of God. Scarcely is He conceived than there begins for Him the mighty work of universal propitiation. Arise, then, O Lord, Thou and the Ark which Thou hast sanctified, whence Thine own sanctity will pour down upon the Earth! During the whole of Her rapid passage from Nazareth to the mountains of Judea, She shall be protected by wings of Cherubim jealously eager to contemplate Her glory.

Favored with benediction was that Levite’s house, while for three months it sheltered the Most High hidden in the Ark of the Covenant; more favored still the home of the priest Zachary, harboring, for the same lapse of time, Eternal Wisdom enshrined in Mary’s virginal womb. Yet beneath Zachary’s roof, blessed as it was, the enemy of God and man was still holding one captive: the angelic embassy that had announced John’s miraculous conception and birth could not exempt him from the shameful tribute that every son of Adam must pay to the prince of death, on entering into this life. As formerly Azotus, so now Dagon may not remain standing erect in face of the Ark (1 Kings 5). Mary appears, and Satan, at once overturned, is subjected to utter defeat in John’s soul (which was cleansed from original sin and sanctified at the sound of Mary’s greeting to Elizabeth), a defeat that is not to be his last; for this new Ark of the Covenant will not stay its victories till the reconciliation of the last of the elect be effected.

Let us, then, hail this day with songs of gladness: for this mystery contains the germ of every victory gained by the Church and Her sons: henceforth the sacred Ark is borne at the head of every combat waged by the new Israel. Division between man and his God is at an end, between the Christian and his brethren! The ancient Ark was powerless to prevent the division of the tribes; henceforth if schism and heresy do hold out for some years against Mary, it shall be but to evince more fully Her glorious triumph at last. Let us join the tribute of our songs to John’s exulting gladness, to Elizabeth’s sudden exclamations, to Zachary’s canticle; therewith let earth re-echo! (4)

Image: Crop of Visitation, from Altarpiece of the Virgin (St Vaast Altarpiece) by Jacques Daret c. 1434 – 1435. (8)

Research by REGINA Staff

  1. https://www.fisheaters.com/visitation.html
  2. http://www.catholictradition.org/Saints/saints-special13.htm
  3. http://catholicharboroffaithandmorals.com/Visitation%20of%20the%20Blessed%20Virgin%20Mary.html
  4. http://www.salvemariaregina.info/SalveMariaRegina/SMR-153/Feast%20of%20the%20Visitation.htm
  5. http://www.roman-catholic-saints.com/feast-of-the-visitation.html
  6. http://sanctoral.com/en/saints/visitation_mary.html
  7. http://www.traditioninaction.org/SOD/j135sdVisitation_7-02.htm
  8. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:DARET_Jacques_Visitation.jpg

 

 

Saint Oliver Plunkett, Archbishop, Martyr

July 1

Today is the feast day of Saint Oliver Plunkett. Ora pro nobis.

Saint Oliver Plunkett was born September 30, 1629 at Loughcrew, Oldcastle, Co Meath, Ireland.  The first great formative influence on him was his uncle Patrick, a Cistercian monk, who was Abbot of St Mary’s in Dublin and then became bishop of Ardagh and later still of Meath. Oliver was sent to his uncle for his education.

In 1646, along with John Brennan from Kilkenny (a life-long friend and later archbishop of Cashel), Oliver accompanied Father Peter Scarampi.  Due to delays and robbery, this proved a difficult journey that took almost a year. When he eventually arrived in Rome Oliver grew to love the city. By the time he was ordained priest in 1654, the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland was well under way. As it was difficult for him to return home, he requested and was granted permission to remain in Rome. He becaming professor of theology at Propaganda Fide College (1657) and was also the agent representating the Irish bishops in Rome. When in 1669 he was appointed archbishop of Armagh, his uncle Patrick Plunkett was the only active Catholic bishop remaining in Ireland.

Oliver’s return was difficult. The people had faith, but lacked instruction and organisation. The priests of Armagh diocese resented the imposition on them of an “outsider” from Meath. In the absence of bishops, the priests had lost their discipline, and there were rivalries among religious and between them and the secular clergy. There were divisions among Catholics – between native Irish and Anglo-Irish. And his flamboyant and touchy colleague archbishop of Dublin, Peter Talbot, contested Oliver’s precedence and the primacy of the see of Armagh over Dublin.

In the first three years Oliver worked diligently to restore discipline. He established a school staffed by Jesuits in Drogheda for the education of young men and clergy. He pleaded for places in Rome for others, and travelled widely – often in disguise – confirming and instructing the people and promoting peace.
But in 1673 the revelation that the Duke of York, the King’s brother and heir to the throne, had been a Catholic for years caused a storm in the English parliament and forced the tightening of the penal laws against Catholics both in England and Ireland. This led to the closing down of the school at Drogheda. By law Oliver should have registered with the authorities and waited for a ship to deport him, but he took a decision not to desert his flock and went into hiding. He weathered this crisis and continued his pastoral work as best he could, continually keeping in touch with Rome through letters to the Internuncio in Brussels.

But in England in 1678 an ex-Jesuit student Titus Oates fabricated his infamous “plot”. According to this there was an arrangement that the King (Charles II) was to be murdered and his Catholic brother James put on the throne.  In Ireland a Catholic army supported by the Pope and France was alleged to be ready to rise in rebellion. Oliver again had to go into hiding. In December 1679 he was arrested and imprisoned in Dublin Castle – in the next cell to Archbishop Peter Talbot of Dublin who had also been implicated in the plot. Talbot was quite ill and distressed and Plunkett forced his way in to him to console him and give him absolution before he died.

Only gradually did Oliver realise that he was being framed as the prime mover of a supposed Irish branch of the Popish plot .  He was charged falsely with conspiring with foreign kingdoms to import troops through Irish ports. Brought to Dundalk for trial, the prosecution witnesses failed to attend: no jury in Ireland could have convicted him on such trumped-up charges. He was then taken to London for trial, but was not allowed time to bring his own witnesses and documents. Here, with four renegade priests testifying against him, he was convicted.

In the process of facing these false allegations and then death by being hanged, drawn and quartered, Oliver prayed and fasted. His servant and friend James McKenna and a fellow prisoner Fr Maurus Corker were the companions of his last days and he celebrated the Eucharist daily for the last week of his life. When his moment came, he was calm and at peace.

In his speech from the gallows at Tyburn, he detailed the charges brought against him and declared himself innocent. He forgave those who brought him from Ireland to London for trial, his judges who did not allow him time to bring his records and witnesses from Ireland, and all who concurred directly and indirectly in taking away his life. Finally, he asked forgiveness of all whom he ever offended. He was the last person to be martyred for the Catholic faith in England in 1681.

Saint Oliver Plunkett was beatified on May 21, 1920 by Pope Benedict XV, and was canonized on October 12, 1975 by Pope Paul VI at Rome Italy.

The name of Archbishop Plunket appears on the list of the 264 heroic servants of God who shed their blood for the Catholic Faith in England in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, which was officially submitted for approval to the Holy See, and for which the Decree was signed by Leo XIII 9 Dec., 1886, authorizing their Cause of Beatification to be submitted to the Congregation of Rites. The Blessed Oliver Plunket’s martyrdom closed the long series of deaths for the faith, at Tyburn. The very next day after his execution, the bubble of conspiracy burst. Lord Shaftesbury, the chief instigator of the persecution, was consigned to the Tower, and his chief perjured witness Titus Oates was thrown into gaol. For a few years the blessings of comparative peace were restored to the Church of Ireland. (4)

Image: Oliver Plunket, by Edward Luttrell (3)

Research by REGINA Staff

  1. http://www.catholicireland.net/saintoftheday/st-oliver-plunkett-1625-81-martyred-at-tyburn-London/
  2. http://catholicsaints.info/saint-oliver-plunkett/
  3. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Oliver_Plunket_by_Edward_Luttrell.jpg
  4. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/12169b.htm

Saint Junipero Serra, Confessor

July 1

Today is the feast day of Saint Junipero Serra. Ora pro nobis.

Junípero Serra was born Miguel Serra y Abram on November 24, 1713 in Petra, a farming village in Mallorca’s central plain. At the age of sixteen, Miguel entered the Franciscan friary and took the name Junípero, after St. Francis’ close friend.

Years of formation and study followed, and in 1744 he was named Professor of Philosophy at the monastery of San Francisco and at Lullian University. Serra was known as a bright, articulate scholar and a moving speaker as well as a clear, precise writer. In 1749 he responded to the call for Franciscan missionaries to the New World.

Father Serra’s first assignment was to the rugged, mountainous region of Sierra Gorda in Mexico. Here he remained for nine years, preaching to the Indians and strengthening the two missions already established in the area. Father Serra’s second assignment was to journey out from Mexico City into coastal villages and mining camps. In those eight years, despite a leg chronically infected and ulcerated after an insect bite, he walked over 6,000 miles on foot, preaching retreats and administering the sacraments.

In 1767 when the King of Spain banished the Jesuit Society from his dominions, the thirteen Jesuit missions in Baja California were suddenly left unstaffed. Father Junipero Serra was assigned the new Superior of Baja California.   Within several years he was given orders to move into Alta California, or what today is known as the state of California. In 1769 Father Serra was appointed padre president of California.

Father Serra joined the expedition of Don Gaspar de Pórtola, ordered by the Spanish king to explore and occupy new territory. He reached San Diego on June 27, 1769 and founded there the first mission. From San Diego the party journeyed northward and in April, 1770 Father Serra founded San Carlos Borromeo at Carmel, the second mission. In his fifteen years as padre president, he established nine of his 21 missions, (among them Santa Barbara, San Luis Rey and San Francisco de Asis, popularly known as Dolores) each a one-day walk apart (about 30 miles), and linked by a dirt road called “El Camino Real.”

Father Junípero Serra personally oversaw the planning, construction, and staffing of each mission from his headquarters at Carmel. From Carmel he travelled on foot to the other missions along the California coast, to supervise mission work and to confer the sacrament of Confirmation. Biographers estimate that, still bothered by the infected leg, Father Serra walked more than 24,000 miles in California alone—–more than the journeys of Marco Polo and Lewis and Clark combined. He kept with determination to his watchword, “Always to go forward and never to turn back.”

The missions Father Serra founded had two purposes: to convert Indians to Catholicism, and to civilize these Indians by teaching them to farm and build. It was this two-fold purpose which caused Father Serra’s impact to be felt both religiously and historically. And it was his unusual ability to accomplish these purposes peacefully, that set him apart from others.

Saint Junipero Serra died 28 August 1784 of tuberculosis at Mission San Carlos, California of natural causes.  Saint  Serra was buried at Carmel, Monterey, California.  He was beautified on 25 September 1988 by Pope John Paul II. He was canonized on 23 September 2015 by Pope Francis at the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, Washington, DC.

Junipero Serra is the namesake of the Serra Club, an international Catholic organization dedicated to the promotion of vocations, and the support of seminarians and religious novices. Many of his letters and other writings have survived, and the diary of his travels to the west was published in the early 20th century.

Image: Crop of Oil painting of Father Junípero Serra. He was painted about 1700’s. (3)

 

  1. http://www.catholictradition.org/Saints/saints7-1.htm
  2. http://catholicsaints.info/saint-junipero-serra/
  3. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Jun%C3%ADpero_Serra.jpg

The Feast of the Most Precious Blood

July 1

Today is the feast of the Most Precious Blood.

The month of July is dedicated to the Most Precious Blood of the Redeemer. Supreme homage is given to the Sacred Blood. As we adore the Sacred Heart, because it is the Heart of Jesus, so we adore the Most Precious Blood.

Adapted from The Liturgical Year by Abbot Gueranger

St. John the Baptist (June 24) has pointed out the Lamb, St. Peter (June 29) has firmly established his throne, St. Paul (June 30) has prepared the Bride (the Church); their joint work, admirable in its unity, at once suggests the reasons for their feasts occurring almost simultaneously in the liturgical cycle. The alliance being now secured, all three fall into the shade; whilst the Bride Herself, raised up by them to such lofty heights, appears alone before us, holding in Her hands the sacred chalice of the nuptial feast.

This gives the key of today’s solemnity, revealing how its appearance in the heavens of the holy liturgy at this particular season is replete with mystery. The Church, it is true, has already made known to the sons of the New Covenant, in a much more solemn manner, the price of the Blood that redeemed them, its nutritive strength and the adoring homage which is Its due. On Good Friday, Earth, Heaven and Hell beheld all sin drowned in the saving stream, whose eternal flood-gates at last gave way beneath the combined effort of man’s violence and of the love of the Divine Heart. The festival of Corpus Christi witnessed our prostrate worship before the altars whereon is perpetuated the Sacrifice of Calvary, and where the outpouring of the Precious Blood affords drink to the humblest little ones, as well as to the mightiest potentates of Earth, lowly bowed in adoration before It. How is it then, that Holy Mother Church is now inviting all Christians to hail, in a particular manner, the stream of Life ever gushing from the Sacred Fount? What else can this mean, but that the preceding solemnities have by no means exhausted the mystery? The peace which this Blood has made to reign in the high places as well as in the low; the impetus of its wave bearing back the sons of Adam from the yawning gulf, purified, renewed and dazzling white in the radiance of their heavenly apparel; the sacred Table outspread before them on the waters’ brink, and the Chalice brimful of inebriation – all this preparation and display would be objectless, all these splendors would be incomprehensible, if man were not brought to see therein the wooings of a love that could never endure its advances to be outdone by the pretensions of any other. Therefore, the Most Precious Blood of Jesus is set before our eyes at this moment as the Blood of the Testament; the pledge of the alliance proposed to us by God (Heb. 9:20); the dower stipulated by eternal Wisdom for this divine union to which He is inviting all men, and its consummation in our soul which is being urged forward with such vehemence by the Holy Ghost.

“Since then, brethren, we are free to enter the Holies in virtue of the Blood of Christ,” says the Apostle, “a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil (that is, His Flesh), and since we have a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in fullness of faith, having our hearts cleansed from an evil conscience by sprinkling, and the body washed with clean water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He Who has given the promise is faithful. And let us consider how to arouse one another to charity and good works… Now may the God of peace, Who brought forth from the dead the great Pastor of the sheep, Our Lord Jesus, in virtue of the Blood of an everlasting Covenant, fit you with every good thing to do His will; working in you that which is well-pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to Whom is glory forever and ever. Amen!” (Heb. 10:19-24; 13:20-21)

Nor must we omit to mention here, that this feast is a monument of one of the most brilliant victories of holy Church. Pope Pius IX had been driven from Rome in 1848 by the diabolically triumphant revolution; but the following year, his power was re-established. Under the aegis of the Apostles on June 28 and the two following days, the eldest daughter of the Church (France), faithful to her past glories, swept the ramparts of the eternal city; and on July 2, Mary’s festival, the victory was complete. Not long after this, a twofold decree notified to the city and to the world, the Pontiff’s gratitude and the way in which he intended to perpetuate, in the sacred liturgy, the memory of these events. On August 10, from Gaeta itself, the place of his exile in the evil days, Pope Pius IX, before returning to reassume the government of his States, addressing himself to the invisible Head of the Church, confided Her in a special manner to His Divine care, by the institution of this day’s festival; reminding Him that it was for His Church that He had vouchsafed to shed all His Precious Blood. Then, when the Pontiff re-entered His capital, turning to Mary, just as Pope St. Pius V and Pope Pius VII had done under other circumstances, the Vicar of Christ solemnly attributed the honor of the recent victory to Her who is ever the Help of Christians; for on the Feast of Her Visitation it had been gained; and he now decreed that this said Feast of July 2 should be raised to the rite of a double second class throughout the whole world. This was a prelude to the definition of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, which the immortal Pontiff had already projected, whereby the crushing of the serpent’s head would be completed.

Though this Feast passes away like all else here below, the object it celebrates remains, and is the treasure of the world. Let, then this Feast be for each one of us, as it indeed is for the Church Herself, a monument of Heaven’s sublimest favors. Each year, as it recurs in the liturgical cycle, may our hearts be found bearing new fruits of love, that have budded forth, watered by the fructifying dew of the Precious Blood. (7)

Homily of St. Augustine, Bishop
Treatise 120 on John

 

A suggestive word was made use of by the Evangelist, in not saying: he pierced His side; or: he wounded; or anything like that, but: he opened; that therein might, as it were, be thrown open the door of life, from which have flowed forth the sacraments of the Church, without which there is no entrance into life that is truly life. The blood that was shed, was shed for the remission of sins. That water makes up the health-giving cup; and gives at the same time a bath and a draught. This was announced beforehand, when Noe was commanded to make a door in the side of the ark, through which the animals, not destined to perish in the flood, might enter, and by which the Church was prefigured. Because of this, the first woman was made from the side of the man while he slept, and she was called Life and Mother of the living. For the name signified a great good, before the great evil of her sin. This second Adam bowed His heads fell asleep on the cross, in order that from there a spouse might be formed for Him from that which He shed from His side as He slept. O death whereby the dead are raised anew to life! What is purer than this blood? What more health-giving this wound?

Men who were held in slavery under the devil served the devil and served the demons; but they have been redeemed from captivity. For they could sell themselves, but they could not redeem themselves. The Redeemer came, and paid the price; He shed His blood, and bought the world. Do you ask what He bought? See what He gave, and you will find out what He bought. The blood of Christ is the price. What is it worth? What, but the whole world? What, but all nations. Very ungrateful for their price or very proud, are they who say that the price is of such small worth as to buy only the Africans; or that they are so great, that it was given for them alone. Therefore let them not rejoice or be proud. What He gave, He gave for the whole world.

He had His blood, by which He redeemed us; and to this end He took blood, that He might shed it in order to redeem us. If you wish it, the blood of your Lord was given for you; if you do not wish it, it was not given for you. For perhaps you will say: My God had blood, with which He redeemed me, but now since He has suffered, He has given it all; what has remained to Him, that He may also give for me? This is a great thing, because He gave once, and He gave for all. The blood of Christ is salvation to him who wishes it, punishment to him who does not wish it. Why, therefore, do you hesitate to be set free from the second death, you who do not wish to die? By this you are set free, if you are willing to take up your cross, and follow the Lord; for He took up His cross and looked for His servant. (3)

 

Research by REGINA Staff
  1. http://www.catholictradition.org/Saints/saints-special12.htm
  2. http://catholictradition.org/Christ/precious-blood.htm
  3. http://catholicharboroffaithandmorals.com/Most%20Precious%20Blood%20popup.html
  4. http://catholicharboroffaithandmorals.com/Most%20Precious%20Blood%20Importance%20of%20Salvation.html
  5. http://catholicharboroffaithandmorals.com/Novena%20of%20the%20Most%20Precious%20Blood.html
  6. http://catholicharboroffaithandmorals.com/July%201st.html
  7. http://www.salvemariaregina.info/SalveMariaRegina/SMR-153/Feast%20of%20the%20Precious%20Blood.htm
  8. http://sanctoral.com/en/saints/most_precious_blood_of_jesus.html
  9. http://vultus.stblogs.org/precious-blood-of-christ/