Saint Jerome

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Saint Jerome

Doctor of the Church
(329-420)

Saint Jerome, born in Dalmatia in 329, was sent to school in Rome. His boyhood was not free from faults; his thirst for knowledge was excessive, and his love of books, a passion. He had studied under the best masters, visited foreign cities, and devoted himself to the pursuit of learning. But Christ had need of his strong will and active intellect for the service of His Church. He told him in a supernatural experience he never forgot that he was not a Christian, but a Ciceronian: Your heart is where your treasure is, said the Lord to him — that is, in the eloquent writings of antique times. Saint Jerome obeyed the divine call, making a vow never again to read profane works, and another of celibacy. In Rome he had already assisted a number of holy women to organize houses of retirement where they consecrated themselves to God by vow. Calumnies, arising from jealousy, made a certain headway against the scholar whose competence was beginning to attract honors.

He fled from Rome to the wild Syrian desert, and there for four years learned in solitude, intense sufferings and persecution from the demons, new lessons in humility, penance and prayer, and divine wisdom. I was very foolish to want to sing the hymns of the Lord on foreign soil, and to abandon the mountain of Sinai to beg help from Egypt, he declared.

Pope Damasus summoned him back to Rome, and there assigned to the famous scholar, already expert in Hebrew and other ancient languages, the task of revising the Latin Bible. Saint Jerome obeyed his earthly Head as he had obeyed his Lord. Retiring once more in 386 to Bethlehem, the eloquent hermit sent forth from his solitary cell not only a solidly accurate version of the Scriptures, but during thirty years’ time, a veritable stream of luminous writings for the Christian world. He combated with unfailing efficacy several heresies being subtly introduced by various personages in his own region and elsewhere.

For fourteen years the hand of the great scholar could no longer write; but Saint Jerome could still dictate to six secretaries at a time, to each on a different subject, in those final years. He died in his beloved Bethlehem in 420, when over 80 years old. His tomb is still in a subterranean chapel of its ancient basilica, but his relics were transported to Saint Mary Major Basilica of Rome, where the crib of Bethlehem is conserved.

Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butler’s Lives of the Saints and other sources by John Gilmary Shea (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894); Les Petits Bollandistes: Vies des Saints, by Msgr. Paul Guérin (Bloud et Barral: Paris, 1882), Vol. 11

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INSTRUCTION ON THE FEAST OF THE DEDICATION OF SAINT MICHAEL THE ARCHANGEL

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INSTRUCTION ON THE FEAST OF THE DEDICATION OF SAINT MICHAEL THE ARCHANGEL

Double of the First Class
White Vestments

Missa “Benedicite Dominum”

This is the original feast of the leader of the Heavenly armies, Saint Michael. The captain of the heavenly armies, the angel named in the Canon of the Mass, held from early times the first place in the Liturgy among the other angels; wherefore many churches dedicated to St. Michael in the Middle Ages were simply known as churches “of the holy angel.” St. Michael, whose name signifies “who is like unto God” cast the evil spirit out of Heaven, and overcame Satan in the struggle for possession of the body of Moses. God has entrusted our defense, in the combat with the devil, to the angels. The reason of this is easily understood. The devil is a spirit who has lost none of the powers inherent to his nature. In order, therefore, that the struggle should not be unequal, God has placed at our side defenders of the same nature as Lucifer, that is to say pure spirits, who are, however, greater and more powerful than he is.  There are several feasts of St. Michael in the Liturgy. Very ancient is the commemoration of the dedication of the celebrated Lombard sanctuary on Sant’ Angelo on Monte Gargano in Apulia, near the ancient Sipontum. There is a tradition that St. Michael appeared on this mountain and requested that a church be erected to him and all the angels. In the Old and the New Testament St. Michael, in the struggle against the Evil One, is always depicted as the invincible champion of God. The mystery of iniquity which, according to St. Paul, shall be boldly revealed in the last ages of the world and which has already begun its work of perversion, meets at present with an obstacle which hinders its full development. This obstacle is usually said to be the protection of St. Michael. St. Michael is appointed by God Himself to be the protector and defender of the Church.  After the protective duty conferred on St. Joseph, there is no work on earth of such great importance and sublimity as that entrusted to St. Michael.  The Epistle treats the charge to St. John by an Angel to write to the seven Churches in Asia. In the Gospel Christ teaches humility, to beware of scandal, and to flee the occasions of sin, for our Guardian Angels see the face of God. For the full prayer composed by Pope Leo XIII see Complete Prayer of Saint Michael the Archangel
Sources: Saint Andrew Daily Missal and the Marian Missal , 1945

Missa “Benedicite Dominum”

INTROIT: Psalm 102: 20

Benedícite Dóminum, omnes Angeli ejus: poténtes virtúte, qui fácitis verbum ejus, ad audiéndam vocem sermónem ejus. (Ps.102: 1) Bénedic, ánima mea, Dómino: et ómnia, quæ intra me sunt, nómini sancto ejus. v. Gloria Patri et Filio et Spiritui Sancti sicut erat in principio et nunc, et semper, et saecula saeculorum. Amen.
Repeat Benedicite Dominum…

Bless the Lord, all ye His angels: you that are mighty in strength, and execute His word, harkening to the voice of His orders. (Ps. 102: 1) Bless the Lord, O my soul: and let all that is within me bless His holy name. 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. Repeat Bless the Lord…
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Saint Michael the Archangel

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Saint Michael the Archangel

Protector of the People of God

MI-CA-EL, or Who is like unto God? was the cry of the great Archangel when he smote the rebel Lucifer in the conflict of the heavenly hosts. From that hour he has been known as Michael, Captain of the armies of God, the archetype of divine fortitude, the champion of every faithful soul in strife with the powers of evil. What is more, we see him in Holy Scripture as the special guardian of the children of Israel, their comfort and protector in times of sorrow or conflict. It is he who prepares their return from the Persian captivity, when the prophet Daniel prays for that favor (Daniel 10:12-13); who leads the valiant Maccabees to victory in battle, after the prayer of Judas Maccabeus (I Mac. 7:41-44).

Ever since its foundation by Jesus Christ, the Church has venerated Saint Michael as her special patron and protector. She invokes him by name in her Confiteor, when accusing her faults; she summons him to the side of her children in the agony of death, and chooses him as their escort from the chastening flames of purgatory to the realms of holy light. Lastly, when Antichrist shall have set up his kingdom on earth, it is Michael who will unfurl once more the standard of the Cross. This we know from a prophecy of Scripture which states clearly that in those days the great prince Michael will rise up to protect the children of God. (Daniel 12:1-4)

During the plague in Rome in the 6th century, Pope Gregory the Great saw Saint Michael in a vision sheathing his flaming sword to show that he would put an end to the scourge which was ravaging the city. In 608 a church was erected in thanksgiving to Saint Michael for the help he gave.

Reflection: Saint Bernard wrote: Whenever any grievous temptation or vehement sorrow oppresses you, invoke your Guardian, your Leader. Cry out to him and say, Lord, save us, lest we perish!

Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butler’s Lives of the Saints and other sources by John Gilmary Shea (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894).

Saint Wenceslas

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Saint Wenceslas

Martyr
(† 938)

Wenceslas, born towards the end of the ninth century, was the son of a Christian Duke of Bohemia, but his mother was a harsh and cruel pagan. His holy grandmother, Ludmilla, seeing the danger to the future king, asked to bring him up. Wenceslas was educated by her good offices in the true faith, and under her tutelage acquired an exceptional devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. At the death of his father, however, he was still a minor, and his mother assumed the government and passed a series of persecuting laws. In the interests of the Faith, Wenceslas, encouraged by his grandmother, claimed and obtained through the support of the people, a large portion of the country as his own kingdom. Soon afterwards his grandmother was martyred, out of hatred of her faith and services to her country, while making her thanksgiving after Holy Communion.

His mother secured the apostasy and alliance of her second son, Boleslas, who became henceforth her ally against the Christians. Wenceslas in the meantime ruled as the brave and pious king of Bohemia. When his kingdom was attacked, the prince of the invading army, which had been called in by certain seditious individuals, was approaching with a lance to slay him. This prince, named Radislas, saw two celestial spirits beside him; he had already seen him make the sign of the cross and then heard a voice saying not to strike him. These marvels so astonished him that he descended from his horse, knelt at the feet of Wenceslas and asked his pardon. Peace was then reestablished in the land.

In the service of God Saint Wenceslas was constant, planting with his own hands the wheat and pressing the grapes for Holy Mass, at which he never failed to assist each day. He provided for the poor and himself took what they needed to them at night, to spare them the shame they might incur if their poverty became public knowledge. He desired to introduce the Benedictine Order into his kingdom, but was struck down by a violent death before he could do so and himself enter a monastery, as he wished to do.

His piety provided the occasion for his death. After a banquet at his brother’s palace, to which he had been treacherously invited and where he manifested great gentleness towards his brother and mother, he went to pray at night before the tabernacle, as he was accustomed to do. There, at midnight on the feast of the Angels in the year 938, he received the crown of martyrdom by the sword, at the hand of his own brother.

Reflection: Saint Wenceslas teaches us that the safest retreat amid the trials of life, or to prepare for the stroke of death, is the sanctuary of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.

Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butler’s Lives of the Saints and other sources, by John Gilmary Shea (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894); Les Petits Bollandistes: Vies des Saints, by Msgr. Paul Guérin (Bloud et Barral: Paris, 1882), Vol. 11

Saint Cosmas and Saint Damian

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Saint Cosmas and Saint Damian

Martyrs
(† 286)

Saints Cosmas and Damian were brothers, born in Arabia in the third century, of noble and virtuous parents. Saint Gregory of Tours wrote that they were twins. They studied the sciences in Syria, and became eminent for their skill in medicine. Being Christians and filled with the charity which characterizes our holy religion, they practiced their profession with great application and wonderful success, but never accepted any fee. They were loved and respected by the people for their good offices and their zeal for the Christian faith, which they took every opportunity to propagate.

When the persecution of Diocletian began to rage, it was impossible for persons of such distinction to remain concealed. They were denounced to the governor of Cilicia, named Lysias, as Christians who cured various illnesses and delivered possessed persons in the name of the one called Christ; they do not permit others to go to the temple to honor the gods by sacrifices. The two brothers were apprehended by the order of the governor, and after various preliminary torments were sentenced to be bound hand and foot and thrown into the sea. Their prayer has been conserved: We rejoice, Lord, to follow the path of Your commandments, as in the midst of immense riches; and even though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we fear no evil. And they recited the 23rd Psalm. The sentence was accomplished, but an Angel untied their bonds and drew them out of the sea. The witnesses of this fact returned to announce to the governor what had happened. They were brought back to Lysias as magicians, and he decided to imprison them until he could decide upon their fate.

He condemned them to be burnt alive, but they prayed to God to manifest His power, lest His name be blasphemed, and an earthquake moved the fire into the midst of the pagans and spared the martyrs. When the rack also left them unharmed, the prefect swore by his gods he would continue to torture them until they became the food of birds of prey. They were crucified and stoned by the people, but this and still other tortures were ineffectual. They were finally beheaded with three Christian companions.

Les Petits Bollandistes: Vies des Saints, by Msgr. Paul Guérin (Bloud et Barral: Paris, 1882), Vol. 11