Tértio Kaléndas Septémbris. Luna


Tértio Kaléndas Septémbris. Luna . The Thirtieth Day of August. The Night of the Moon.

Sanctæ Rosæ a Sancta María, e tértio Ordine sancti Domínici, Vírginis; cujus dies natális nono Kaléndas Septémbris recensétur.
The feast of St. Rose of St. Mary, virgin of the Third Order of St. Dominic, whose birthday is recalled on the 24th of August.

Romæ, via Ostiénsi, pássio beáti Felícis Presbyteri, sub Diocletiáno et Maximiáno Imperatóribus.  Hic, post equúlei vexatiónem, data senténtia, cum ducerétur ad decollándum, óbvius ei fuit quidam Christiánus, qui, dum se Christiánum esse sponte profiterétur, mox cum eódem páriter decollátus est; cujus nomen ignorántes, Christiáni Adáuctum eum appellavérunt, eo quod sancto Felíci auctus sit ad corónam.
At Rome, on the Ostian Way, the martyrdom of the blessed priest Felix, under Emperors Diocletian and Maximian.  After being racked he was sentenced to death, and as they led him to execution, he met a man who spontaneously declared himself a Christian, and was forthwith beheaded with him.  The Christians, not knowing his name, called him Adauctus, because he was added to St. Felix and shared his crown.

Item Romæ sanctæ Gaudéntiæ, Vírginis et Mártyris, cum áliis tribus.
Also at Rome, St. Gaudentia, virgin and martyr, with three others.
Colóniæ Suffetulánæ, in Africa, beatórum sexagínta Mártyrum, qui furóre Gentílium cæsi sunt.
At Colonia Suffetulana in Africa, sixty blessed martyrs, who were murdered by the furious heathen.

Bonóniæ sancti Bonónii Abbátis.
At Bologna, St. Bononius, abbot.
Romæ sancti Pammáchii Presbyteri, qui fuit doctrína et sanctitáte conspícuus.
At Rome, St Pammachius, priest, who was noteworthy for learning and sanctity.
Adruméti, in Africa, sanctórum Bonifátii et Theclæ, qui beatórum duódecim filiórum Mártyrum paréntes fuérunt.
At Adrumetum, also in Africa, the Saints Boniface and Thecla, who were the parents of twelve blessed sons, all martyrs.

Thessalonícæ sancti Fantíni Confessóris, qui, multa a Saracénis perpéssus, atque e monastério, in quo abstinéntia víxerat admirábili, expúlsus, demum, cum plúrimos ad viam salútis perduxísset, in senectúte bona quiévit.
At Thessalonica, St. Fantinus, confessor, who suffered much from the Saracens, and was driven from his monastery, in which he had lived in great abstinence.  After having brought many to the way of salvation, he rested at last at an advanced age.

In território Meldénsi sancti Fiácrii Confessóris.
In the diocese of Meaux, St. Fiacre, confessor.

Trebis, in Látio, sancti Petri Confessóris, qui, multis clarus virtútibus et miráculis, ibídem migrávit ad Dóminum, et honorífice cólitur.
At Trevi in Lazio, St. Peter, confessor, who was distinguished for many virtues and miracles.  He is honoured in that place from which he departed for heaven.

Et álibi aliórum plurimórum sanctórum Mártyrum et Confessórum, atque sanctárum Vírginum.
R.  Deo grátias.
And elsewhere in divers places, many other holy martyrs, confessors, and holy virgins.
R.  Thanks be to God.

August XXX.
St. Rose of Lima, Virgin
SS. Felix and Adauctus, Martyrs
St. Fiaker of Ireland, Anchoret and Confessor
St. Pammachius, Confessor
St. Agilus, or Aile, Abbot

Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East – providing humanitarian relief in Iraq through St George’s Church and Clinic.

Open Doors – The world’s largest outreach to persecuted Christians in the most high-risk places.

Voice of the Persecuted – Informing the world of Christian persecution, one of the worst humanitarian crises on the planet, today.

Quarto Kaléndas Septémbris. Luna


Quarto Kaléndas Septémbris. Luna . The Twenty-Ninth Day of August. The Night of the Moon.

Decollátio sancti Joánnis Baptístæ, quem Heródes circa festum Paschæ decollári præcépit.  Ipsíus tamen memória solémniter hac die cólitur, qua venerándum ejus caput secúndo invéntum fuit; quod, póstea Romam translátum, in Ecclésia sancti Silvéstri, ad Campum Mártium, summa pópuli devotióne asservátur.
The beheading of St. John Baptist, who was put to death by Herod about the feast of Easter.  However, his solemn commemoration takes place today, when his venerable head was found for the second time.  It was afterwards solemnly carried to Rome, where it is kept in the church of St. Sylvester, near the Campus Martius, and honoured by the people with the greatest devotion.

Romæ, in monte Aventíno, natális sanctæ Sabínæ Mártyris, quæ sub Hadriáno Imperatóre, gládio percússa, martyrii palmam adépta est.
At Rome, on Mount Aventine, the birthday of St. Sabina, martyr.  Under Emperor Hadrian, she was struck with the sword, and thus obtained the palm of martyrdom.
Veliniáni, in confínibus Apúliæ, pássio sanctórum Vitális, Satóris, et Repósiti; qui, sanctórum Bonifátii et Theclæ fílii, a Valeriáno Júdice, sub Maximiáno Imperatóre, capitálem senténtiam pertulérunt.  Eórum tamen ac ceterórum ex duódecim frátribus memória Kaléndis Septémbris recólitur.
At Valiniano in Apulia, the passion of Saints Vitalis, Sator, and Repositus.  They were the sons of Saints Boniface and Thecla, and were condemned to death by the judge Valerian in the reign of Emperor Maximian.  Their feast along with that of the other Twelve Holy Brethren is observed on the first of September.

Romæ sanctæ Cándidæ, Vírginis et Mártyris; cujus corpus beátus Paschális Primus Papa in Ecclésiam sanctæ Praxédis tránstulit.
At Rome, St. Candida, virgin and martyr, whose body was transferred to the Church of St. Praxedes by Pope Paschal I.

Constantinópoli sanctórum Mártyrum Hypátii, Asiáni Epíscopi, et Andréæ Presbyteri; qui ambo, ob cultum sanctárum Imáginum, sub Leóne Isáurico, barba pice íllita atque incénsa, et cute cápitis extrácta, juguláti sunt.
At Constantinople, the holy martyrs Hypatius, an Asiatic bishop, and Andrew, a priest, who for the veneration of holy images, under Leo the Isaurian had their beards besmirched with pitch and set on fire, the skin of the heads torn off, and were beheaded.
Antiochíæ natális sanctórum Mártyrum Nicǽæ et Pauli.
At Antioch, the birthday of the holy martyrs Nicaeas and Paul.

Metis, in Gállia, sancti Adélphi, Epíscopi et Confessóris.
At Metz in France, St. Adelphus, bishop and confessor.

Lutétiæ Parisiórum deposítio sancti Mederíci Presbyteri.
At Paris, the death of St. Merry, priest.

Perúsiæ sancti Euthymii Románi, qui, cum uxóre et Crescéntio fílio persecutiónem Diocletiáni fúgiens, ad eam urbem secéssit, et ibi póstmodum quiévit in Dómino.
At Perugia, St. Euthymius, a Roman, who fled from the persecution of Diocletian with this wife and his son Crescentius, and there rested in the Lord.

In Anglia sancti Sebbi Regis.
In England, St. Sebbe, king.

Apud Sírmium natális sanctæ Basíllæ Vírginis.
At Smyrna, the birthday of St. Basilla, virgin.

In pago Tricassíno sanctæ Sabínæ Vírginis, virtútibus et miráculis gloriósæ.
In the vicinity of Troyes, St. Sabina, a virgin, celebrated for virtues and miracles.

Et álibi aliórum plurimórum sanctórum Mártyrum et Confessórum, atque sanctárum Vírginum.
R.  Deo grátias.
And elsewhere in divers places, many other holy martyrs, confessors, and holy virgins.
R.  Thanks be to God.

August XXIX.
The Decollation of St. John the Baptist
St. Sabina, Martyr
St. Sebbi, or Sebba, King and Confessor
St. Merri, or Medericus, Abbot

Open Doors – The world’s largest outreach to persecuted Christians in the most high-risk places.

Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East – providing humanitarian relief in Iraq through St George’s Church and Clinic.

Voice of the Persecuted – Informing the world of Christian persecution, one of the worst humanitarian crises on the planet, today.

Quinto Kaléndas Septémbris. Luna


Quinto Kaléndas Septémbris. Luna . The Twenty-Eighth Day of August. The Night of the Moon.

Hippóne Régio, in Africa, natális sancti Augustíni Epíscopi, Confessóris et Ecclésiæ Doctóris exímii, qui, beáti Ambrósii Epíscopi ópera ad cathólicam fidem convérsus et baptizátus, eam advérsus Manichæos aliósque hæréticos acérrimus propugnátor deféndit, multísque áliis pro Ecclésia Dei perfúnctus labóribus, ad præmia migrávit in cælum.  Ejus relíquiæ, primo de sua civitáte propter bárbaros in Sardíniam advéctæ, et póstea a Rege Longobardórum Luitprándo Papíam translátæ, ibi honorífice cónditæ sunt.
At Hippo in Africa, the birthday of St. Augustine, bishop and famous doctor of the Church.  Converted and baptized by the blessed bishop Ambrose, he defended the Catholic faith with the greatest zeal against the Manicheans and other heretics, and after having sustained many other labours for the Church of God, he went to his reward in heaven.  His relics, owing to the invasion of barbarians, were first brought from his own city into Sardinia, and afterwards taken by Luitprand, king of the Lombards, to Pavia, where they were deposited with due honours.

Romæ item natális sancti Hermétis, viri illústris, qui (ut in Actis beáti Alexándri Papæ légitur), prius carceráli custódiæ mancipátus, deínde, cum áliis plúrimis, gládio cædénte, martyrium complévit, sub Aureliáno Júdice.
At Rome, the birthday of St. Hermes, an illustrious man, who, as we read in the Acts of blessed Pope Alexander, was first confined in prison, and afterwards fulfilled his martyrdom by the sword, at the time of the judge Aurelian.
Venúsiæ, in Apúlia, pássio sanctórum Septimíni, Januárii et Felícis, qui, sanctórum Bonifátii et Theclæ fílii, a Valeriáno Júdice, sub Maximiáno Imperatóre, jussi sunt decollári.  Ipsórum tamen ac reliquórum ex duódecim frátribus festívitas ágitur Kaléndis Septémbris.
At Venosa in Apulia, the passion of Saints Septiminus, Januarius, and Felix.  During the reign of Emperor Maximian, the judge Valerian ordered these sons of Saints Boniface and Thecla to be beheaded.  Their feast, however, is observed with that of the other Twelve Holy Brethren on the first of September.

Briváte, apud Arvérnos, item pássio sancti Juliáni Mártyris, qui, cum esset beáti Ferreóli Tribúni comes et in hábitu militári occúlte Christo servíret, in persecutióne Diocletiáni, a milítibus tentus est, et, desécto gútture, morte horríbili necátus.
At Prinde in Auvergne, St. Julian, martyr, during the persecution of Diocletian.  He was the companion of the blessed tribune Ferreol, and under a military garb he secretly served Christ until arrested by the soldiers, and killed in a barbarous manner by having his throat cut.

Constántiæ, in Germánia, sancti Pelágii Mártyris, qui sub Numeriáno Imperatóre et Evilásio Júdice, cápite amputátus, martyrii corónam accépit.
At Constance, in Germany, St. Pelagius, martyr, who was beheaded and received the crown of martyrdom under Emperor Numerian and the judge Evilasius.

Salérni sanctórum Mártyrum Fortunáti, Caji et Anthis; qui, sub Diocletiáno Imperatóre et Leóntio Procónsule, decolláti sunt.
At Salerno, the holy martyrs Fortunatus, Caius, and Anthes, beheaded under Emperor Diocletian and the proconsul Leontius.

Constantinópoli sancti Alexándri Epíscopi, gloriósi senis; ob cujus oratiónem Arius, divíno judício damnátus, crépuit médius, et effúsa sunt víscera ejus.
At Constantinople, the holy bishop Alexander, an aged and celebrated man, through whose efficacious prayers Arius, by the judgment of God, burst asunder and his bowels were poured out.

Apud Sántonas, in Gállia, sancti Viviáni, Epíscopi et Confessóris.
At Saintes, St. Vivian, bishop and confessor.

Item sancti Móysis Æthíopis, qui, ex insígni latróne insígnis Anachoréta, multos latrónes convértit et secum duxit ad monastérium.
Also, St. Moses the Ethiopian, who gave up a life of robbery and became a renowned anchoret.  He converted many robbers, and led them to a monastery.

Et álibi aliórum plurimórum sanctórum Mártyrum et Confessórum, atque sanctárum Vírginum.
R.  Deo grátias.
And elsewhere in divers places, many other holy martyrs, confessors, and holy virgins.
R.  Thanks be to God.

August XXVIII.
St. Augustine, Bishop and Confessor, Doctor of the Church
St. Hermes, Martyr
St. Julian, Martyr at Brioude

Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East – providing humanitarian relief in Iraq through St George’s Church and Clinic.

Open Doors – The world’s largest outreach to persecuted Christians in the most high-risk places.

Voice of the Persecuted – Informing the world of Christian persecution, one of the worst humanitarian crises on the planet, today.

Nono Kaléndas Septémbris. Luna


Nono Kaléndas Septémbris. Luna . The Twenty-Fourth Day of August. The .. Night of the Moon.

Sancti Bartholomǽi Apóstoli, qui Christi Evangélium in India prædicávit; inde in majórem Arméniam proféctus, ibi, cum plúrimos ad fidem convertísset, vivus a bárbaris decoriátus est, atque, Astyagis Regis jussu, cápitis decollatióne martyrium complévit.  Ipsíus sacrum corpus, primo ad Líparam ínsulam, deínde Benevéntum, postrémo Romam ad Tiberínam translátum ínsulam, ibi pia fidélium veneratióne honorátur.
The apostle St. Bartholomew, who preached the Gospel of Christ in India.  Passing thence into the Greater Armenia where, after converting many to the faith, he was flayed alive by the barbarians, and having his head cut off by order of King Astyages, he fulfilled his martyrdom.  His holy body was first carried to the island of Lipara, then to Benevento, and finally to Rome in the Island of the Tiber, where it is venerated by the pious faithful.

Limæ, in Perúvia, natális sanctæ Rosæ a sancta María, Vírginis, e tértio Ordine sancti Domínici.  Ejus vero festívitas tértio Kaléndas Septémbris celebrátur.
At Lima in Peru, the birthday of St. Rose of St. Mary, virgin of the Third Order of St. Dominic.  Her feast is observed on the 30th of August.

Népete sancti Ptolomǽi Epíscopi, qui fuit discípulus beáti Petri Apóstoli; atque, ab eo missus in Túsciam ad prædicándum Evangélium, in eádem civitáte gloriósus Christi Martyr occúbuit.
At Nepi, St. Ptolemy, bishop, disciple of the blessed apostle Peter.  Being sent by him to preach the Gospel in Tuscany, he died a glorious martyr of Christ in the city of Nepi.

Eódem die sancti Eutychii, qui fuit discípulus beáti Joánnis Evangelístæ; atque, ob Evangélii prædicatiónem in multis regiónibus cárceres, vérbera et ignes perpéssus, in pace tandem quiévit.
Also, St. Eutychius, disciple of the blessed evangelist John.  He preached the Gospel in many countries, and was subjected to imprisonment, to stripes and fire, but finally he rested in peace.

Népete sancti Románi, ejúsdem civitátis Epíscopi, qui, cum esset sancti Ptolomǽi discípulus, fuit étiam in passióne sócius.
Also at Nepi, St. Romanus, bishop of that city, who was the disciple of St. Ptolemy, and his companion in martyrdom.

Carthágine sanctórum trecentórum Mártyrum, témpore Valeriáni et Galliéni.  Hi Mártyres magnánimi, inter ália supplícia, cum Præses fornácem calcáriam accéndi jussísset, et, in præséntia ejus, prunas cum thure exhibéri, atque illis dixísset: « Elígite e duóbus unum, aut thura super his carbónibus offérte Jovi, aut in calcem demergímini », fide armáti, Christum Dei Fílium confiténtes, ictu rapidíssimo se injecérunt in ignem, et inter calcis vapóres in púlverem sunt redácti; ex quo candidátus ille beatórum exércitus appellári Massa cándida méruit.
At Carthage, three hundred holy martyrs, in the time of Valerian and Gallienus .  Among other torments inflicted on them, a pit filled with burning lime was prepared by order of the governor, who, live coals with incense being brought to him, said to the confessors: “Choose one of these two things: either offer incense to Jupiter upon these coals, or be thrown into the lime.”  Armed with faith, and confessing Christ to be the Son of God, they quickly threw themselves into the pit, and amid the vapours of the lime were reduced to dust.  From this circumstance, this white-robed company of the blessed earned for itself the name of the White Mass.

In Isáuria sancti Tatiónis Mártyris, qui, in persecutióne Diocletiáni, sub Urbáno Præside, gládio cæsus, martyrii corónam accépit.
In Isauria, St. Tation, martyr, who received the crown of martyrdom by being beheaded in the persecution of Diocletian, under the governor Urbanus.
Item sancti Geórgii Limniótæ Mónachi, qui, cum ímpium Leónem Imperatórem, quod sacras Imágines, frángeret Sanctorúmque relíquias combúreret, reprehendísset, hanc ob causam, ejus jussu mánibus abscíssis et cápite incénso, Martyr migrávit ad Dóminum.
Also, St. George Limniota, monk.  Because he reprehended the wicked emperor Leo for breaking holy images, and burning the relics of the saints, he had his hands cut off and his head burned by order of the tyrant, and went to our Lord to receive the recompence of a martyr.

Apud Ostia Tiberína sanctæ Aureæ, Vírginis et Mártyris; quæ saxo ad collum ligáto, in mare demérsa est.  Ipsíus autem corpus, ejéctum ad littus, beátus Nonnus sepelívit. At Ostia, on the Tiber, St. Aurea, virgin and martyr, who was plunged into the sea with a stone tied to her neck.  Her body being driven to the shore was buried by blessed Nonnus.

Rotómagi sancti Audoéni, Epíscopi et Confessóris. At Rouen, St. Owen, bishop and confessor.

Nivérnis, in Gállia, sancti Patrícii Abbátis. At Nevers in France, St. Patrick, abbot.

Neápoli in Campánia, sanctæ Joánnæ Antidæ Thouret, Vírginis, Institúti Sorórum a Caritáte Fundatrícis, quam Pius Papa Undécimus in album sanctárum Vírginum rétulit. At Naples in Campania, St. Joan Antide Thouret, virgin, who founded the Daughters of Saint Vincent de Paul, and whom Pope Pius XI added to the catalogue of holy virgins.

Massíliæ, in Gállia, sanctæ Æmíliæ de Vialár, Vírginis, Fundatrícis Institúti Sorórum a sancto Joseph ab Apparitióne, fortitúdine, patiéntia et caritáte insígnis, quam Pius Duodécimus, Póntifex Máximus, in Sanctárum númerum rétulit. At Marseilles in France, St. Emily de Vialar, virgin, foundress of the Congregation of the Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Apparition.  A shining example of fortitude, patience and charity, the Sovereign Pontiff Pius XII added her to the number of the saints.

Valéntiæ, in Hispánia, natális sanctæ Maríæ Michaélæ, Vírginis, Fundatrícis Congregatiónis Ancillárum a Sanctíssimo Sacraménto et Caritátis, patiéndi stúdio ac desidério ánimas Deo lucrándi inflammátæ, quam Pius Papa Undécimus sanctis Virgínibus accénsuit. At Valencia in Spain, the birthday of St. Mary Micaela, virgin, who founded the Institute of Religious Adorer-Slaves of the Blessed Sacrament and of Charity.  Burning with the desire to suffer and draw souls to God, she was numbered among the holy virgins by Pope Pius XI.

Et álibi aliórum plurimórum sanctórum Mártyrum et Confessórum, atque sanctárum VírginumR.  Deo grátias. And elsewhere in divers places, many other holy martyrs, confessors, and holy virgins.

August XXIV.
St. Bartholomew, Apostle
SS. The Martyrs of Utica, Called the White Mass
St. Ouen, or Audoen, Archbishop of Rouen, Confessor
St. Irchard, or Erthad, Bishop and Confessor in Scotland

Open Doors – The world’s largest outreach to persecuted Christians in the most high-risk places.

Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East – providing humanitarian relief in Iraq through St George’s Church and Clinic.


stjohnvianneyiconContinuing with posts about priesthood towards the feast of St John Vianney, a reflection on today’s feast…

The feast of the Transfiguration of Our Lord contains the Gospel heard during the Vigil of Ember Saturday in Lent of which it is a kind of extension, instituted to draw our attention to the mystery commemorated on that Ember day. Ember Saturday of course was a traditional time for ordinations, particularly of Deacons and Priests. Like the Apostles selected to be present on Mount Thabor at the theophany of the divine significance and life of Jesus, the new Sacred Ministers will ascend the steps of the altar to enter into communication with God. It is they who in His name will exhort the faithful to prayer, to patience and to charity; like the chosen Apostles, it is they who will be in “the presence” and light of the Lord.

If we priests would only know what an awesome privilege it is to be a Catholic Priest. St John Vianney

I wonder how often, particularly the most seasoned of priests among us, perhaps take for granted the wonderful proximity, intimacy that our sacred office affords us as priests? Note that not all the Apostles were led by Jesus up Mount Thabor, only three; Peter who will lead the nascent Church, James the first Apostle who will be martyred and John, who will out live the other Apostles and leave such a legacy of insight and revelation for the Church that his contribution to the foundation of the Church should never be underestimated, both theologically and spiritually. Yet every man ordained to the priesthood has been granted the wonderful privilege of, by and through and in His hands, bringing about “the presence” of the Lord, standing before Him while all others “kneel and bend low”! What an awful responsibility we have then…

From the Catechism of St John Vianney…

“My children, we have come to the Sacrament of Orders. It is a Sacrament which seems to relate to no one among you, and which yet relates to everyone. This Sacrament raises man up to God. What is a priest! A man who holds the place of God — a man who is invested with all the powers of God. “Go, ” said Our Lord to the priest; “as My Father sent Me, I send you. All power has been given Me in Heaven and on earth. Go then, teach all nations. . . . He who listens to you, listens to Me; he who despises you despises Me. ” When the priest remits sins, he does not say, “God pardons you”; he says, “I absolve you. ” At the Consecration, he does not say, “This is the Body of Our Lord;” he says, “This is My Body. ”

Saint Bernard tells us that everything has come to us through Mary; and we may also say that everything has come to us through the priest; yes, all happiness, all graces, all heavenly gifts. If we had not the Sacrament of Orders, we should not have Our Lord. Who placed Him there, in that tabernacle? It was the priest. Who was it that received your soul, on its entrance into life? The priest. Who nourishes it, to give it strength to make its pilgrimage? The priest. Who will prepare it to appear before God, by washing that soul, for the last time, in the blood of Jesus Christ? The priest — always the priest. And if that soul comes to the point of death, who will raise it up, who will restore it to calmness and peace? Again the priest. You cannot recall one single blessing from God without finding, side by side with this recollection, the image of the priest.

Go to confession to the Blessed Virgin, or to an angel; will they absolve you? No. Will they give you the Body and Blood of Our Lord? No. The Holy Virgin cannot make her Divine Son descend into the Host. You might have two hundred angels there, but they could not absolve you. A priest, however simple he may be, can do it; he can say to you, “Go in peace; I pardon you. ” Oh, how great is a priest! The priest will not understand the greatness of his office till he is in Heaven. If he understood it on earth, he would die, not of fear, but of love. The other benefits of God would be of no avail to us without the priest. What would be the use of a house full of gold, if you had nobody to open you the door! The priest has the key of the heavenly treasures; it is he who opens the door; he is the steward of the good God, the distributor of His wealth. Without the priest, the Death and Passion of Our Lord would be of no avail. Look at the heathens: what has it availed them that Our Lord has died? Alas! they can have no share in the blessings of Redemption, while they have no priests to apply His Blood to their souls!

The priest is not a priest for himself; he does not give himself absolution; he does not administer the Sacraments to himself. He is not for himself, he is for you. After God, the priest is everything. Leave a parish twenty years without priests; they will worship beasts. If the missionary Father and I were to go away, you would say, “What can we do in this church? there is no Mass; Our Lord is no longer there: we may as well pray at home. ” When people wish to destroy religion, they begin by attacking the priest, because where there is no longer any priest there is no sacrifice, and where there is no longer any sacrifice there is no religion.

When the bell calls you to church, if you were asked, “Where are you going?” you might answer, “I am going to feed my soul. ” If someone were to ask you, pointing to the tabernacle, “What is that golden door?” “That is our storehouse, where the true Food of our souls is kept. ” “Who has the key? Who lays in the provisions? Who makes ready the feast, and who serves the table?” “The priest. ” “And what is the Food?” “The precious Body and Blood of Our Lord. ” O God! O God! how Thou hast loved us! See the power of the priest; out of a piece of bread the word of a priest makes a God. It is more than creating the world. . . . Someone said, “Does St. Philomena, then, obey the Cure of Ars?” Indeed, she may well obey him, since God obeys him.

If I were to meet a priest and an angel, I should salute the priest before I saluted the angel. The latter is the friend of God; but the priest holds His place. St. Teresa kissed the ground where a priest had passed. When you see a priest, you should say, “There is he who made me a child of God, and opened Heaven to me by holy Baptism; he who purified me after I had sinned; who gives nourishment to my soul. ” At the sight of a church tower, you may say, “What is there in that place?” “The Body of Our Lord. ” “Why is He there?” “Because a priest has been there, and has said holy Mass. ”

What joy did the Apostles feel after the Resurrection of Our Lord, at seeing the Master whom they had loved so much! The priest must feel the same joy, at seeing Our Lord whom he holds in his hands. Great value is attached to objects which have been laid in the drinking cup of the Blessed Virgin and of the Child Jesus, at Loretto. But the fingers of the priest, that have touched the adorable Flesh of Jesus Christ, that have been plunged into the chalice which contained His Blood, into the pyx where His Body has lain, are they not still more precious? The priesthood is the love of the Heart of Jesus. When you see the priest, think of Our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Let us pray for each other, brothers in the priesthood, that we may be “transfigured” into living icons of Our Lord, that we may be worthy of the privilege He has given us to serve Him and His people! Let us not miss the significance of the presence of Moses and Elijah on Mt Thabor – the “law” and the “prophets” of whom Our Lord is the fulfillment. Let us be diligent in our own transformation towards holiness and humble ourselves to observe the law and explain the fulfillment of the prophecies to the faithful and indeed ourselves, fulfill our prophetic calling akin to St John the Baptist, heralding the coming of the Lord by urging ourselves and our people towards holiness in preparation for our reception into that “transfigured” life promised those who believe in His Name!

On the priesthood… from the archive

sjvMany today (August 4th) will celebrate St John Vianney, the “Curé d’Ars” and patron saint of Parish Priests whose heavenly nativity occurred on this date in 1859, although his feast is traditionally kept on August 9th. Below is a letter I wrote in 2010 on the 150th anniversary of the Curé’s birthday and which I proffer again to my brethren in the Oratory of St John Vianney as we begin to prepare to celebrate our spiritual father’s feast next Sunday.

Addressed to the Brethren of the Oratory
The Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, 19/vi/09
Annus Sacerdotalis 2009-2010
From the Provost General, The Oratory of St John Vianney

My dear brother Oratorians

I write to you today on this great Feast of Our Lord’s Divine Charity for mankind and at the start of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI’s “Annus Sacerdotalis” or “Year of the Priest” celebrating the 150th anniversary of the death of our holy patron St John Vianney, to share with you some thoughts about our vocation as both Priests and as Brothers to Priests.

Those of you who have shared in my learning as Postulants for Ordination, will remember my instruction that the first duty of every Christian and therefore Priest, is to pray. The second is to offer the holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the Sacraments of the Church for God’s people. The first rule therefore aims at our interior life, our personal spirituality; the second at the nature of our vocation and its expression both as instruments of religion and as ministers of salvation.

The Holy Father in his own letter to brother Priests around the world, reminds us too of the importance of the interior life, it is how our own spirituality is developed; if we are not men of prayer ourselves, if we do not have that interior relationship and dialogue with God, how are we to bring others to pray? His Holiness reminds us that, like our holy Father St John Vianney, we must be exemplars of Christian discipleship to those we minister to and to the whole world – we must be seen to be Priests, men of prayer, for by our witness will others be drawn to receive our ministry.

“Alter Christus”

Offering the holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the Sacraments of the Church is how the Lord desires us and His people to be nourished and sustained; indeed, the Mass is the only direct and tangible way that we commune with the Divine, it is no coincidence that the Lord instructed us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread” [Mtt 6:11] and when He said “…My flesh is real food, my blood is real drink…” [Jn 6:55] when He tells us that He gives us a “heavenly manna” better than that which was given to our forefathers in the desert [Jn 6:47-51]. It is how we receive eternal life [Jn 6:40-55].

As Priests we are “instruments of religion” because we are “set apart”, as “alter Christus” another Christ, we stand at the Altar of Sacrifice, not in the stead of Him but He through us continues to offer that same propiatory sacrifice of His death on the Cross, that atonement for the sins of the world for all time; for we do not say “This is His body” but “This is My Body”. For this reason St Paul, that holy Apostle whose memory and teaching we have reflected on this past year, says “…when you eat this bread and drink this cup you proclaim His death until He comes again…” [I Cor 11:26] the mystery of the Mass is that we witness that same Crucifixion, that same Sacrifice of the Divine to the Divine in atonement for our sins. For this reason we are truly Priests in the same way the sons of Levi were in the Temple [Lev16:1-34; Heb 7:11-23], we are Sacred Ministers for we celebrate and offer sacrifice to the Divine, but as Christ was the “fulfillment of the Law” [Mtt 5: 17-18; Lk 24:44] of the old religion, we are able too to sanctify, to make holy, for He through us [Heb 7:16], by the power of the Holy Spirit given to the Apostles [Acts 2:4] and to us in their succession, He operates through us to His people; it is He through us who sanctifies, quickens and blesses for He is that “…great High Priest who has passed into the heavens…” [Heb 4:14] but who promised “I will be with you always, even to the end of the world…” [Mtt 28:20]

The power of the Holy Spirit given to the Apostles, which we receive in Ordinaton as Priests to share in the ministry both sacramental and evangelical of the Bishop, makes us “ministers of salvation” because Our Lord wills the life of grace for His people to be effected through us. Which is to say that His Divine Will is effected by His gift of the Holy Spirit, that His promises and graces are made available to His people – through the Sacraments Our Lord remains with His Church, the Head is connected to the Body, the life blood, the waters of eternal life, flow from Him through and to us. Thus when we celebrate the Sacraments it is He through us who imparts His grace to His people; in Baptism it is He who exorcises and receives, in Confirmation it is He who imparts and seals, in Marriage it is He who binds and blesses, in Ordination it is He who sets apart and commissions, in Holy Unction it is He who comforts and heals, in Confession it is He who forgives and absolves; all these things He does through us as living icons, windows through which the Lord is able to touch His people. So it is then that we are “ministers of salvation” because all that is necessary for salvation is made tangible by Him through us, the Sacraments are the means by which the promise of salvation is made continually present and effectual to God’s people, it is how they are touched by their God, how He comforts and consoles, how He nourishes and sustains, how He assures them of His presence in their lives.

“In persona Christi”

So it is then that our personal holiness, our personal sanctity is vitally important to the success of the proclamation of the Gospel; we being set apart must bear witness not just by words but by actions, by the ordinary living of our daily lives we must extol all that is necessary for salvation – submitting ourselves to the Will of God, offering ourselves to Him to be used as instruments of His will. If we, who are educated, trained in holy things, bound to pray the “Prayer of the Church”, commissioned and empowered to effect and demonstrate the promises of Christ through us for His people, if we are ourselves not holy, then we endanger not just our own salvation but that of all those souls committed to our care and many others who by virtue of our office, see us as representatives of the whole body of the Church. This too the Holy Father touches upon in his letter, we perhaps more than most, are like unto “…ambassadors for Christ…” [II Cor 5:20] for we are seen publicly to represent His Church. For this then we have His yoke upon our shoulders, we embody His wounds – the scourges and insults, the mocking and scorn – we share in His burden. Just as all Christians in bearing His name must expect insult and injury – how much more then must we who are identifiable and set apart publicly and purposefully? It is for this reason that our brotherhood exists, it is for this very reason that the Oratory exists…

“The priesthood is the love of the Heart of Jesus. When you see the priest, think of Our Lord Jesus Christ.” St. John Vianney

The Oratory of St John Vianney was originally called the Society of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, in the earliest days of it’s conception. We adopted and changed our title to express the charism of the Curé D’Ars because of his saintly teaching regarding the “heart of Jesus” and the Priest. Our holy Father the Curé means by his words that the love of Christ is made manifest in the Priesthood because of all that Our Lord does through His Priests – the Sacraments that give salvific life to His Church, to His people. Recognising this, our saintly patron remembers too the limitations of our human condition, an understanding he had of himself as well as others. The Oratory is a brotherhood for Priests where we can encourage and console one another by sharing the great burden and joy which we share in our Office and in our condition. Fraternal charity – itself an expression of the Divine Charity – that Our Lord wills His people live-in together, is that which binds the brotherhood together. We are a brotherhood because by our common vocation and heritage we are like the sons of Levi, a tribe set apart within the people of God for the people of God; like that ancient title of the Patriarch of the West, “servum servorum Dei” we are the servants of the servants of God.

We also too, being uniquely bound to His most Sacred Heart by virtue of our Office must also too share in His pain as well as His love; for His Body which may be seen as one yet suffers fractures and we must share in His prayer “ut unum sint” (“…that they may be one…” [Jn 17:6-19]). For this reason then our brotherhood is an Oratory – for we share in the first duty of our Priesthood together, to pray, and we share in that prayer of Our Lord for His Church, for that unity which yet evades us. For this reason our fraternity has always been about prayer and the pursuit for unity, by virtue of the love of Christ manifest in our vocation and as an expression of that closeness we have to that Divine Heart by virtue of our Ordination. So too His people must be our concern also, for we are Ordained for Him to love them and thus what hurts Him so hurts us, and what hurts them too, must hurt us; for His love and concern are always for them, and so it should be for us. In this way our fraternity seeks to emulate the examples of our holy patrons, St John Vianney who so loved His people that he worked tirelessly day and night for their salvation and St Phillip Neri whose heart, so touched one Pentecost, could do no other than love His brothers and love His people; His brothers, His people. For so we Sacred Ministers are Our Lord’s brothers, united to Him as we are for Him to touch His people.

So then my brothers, how can we serve one another and serve His people? Firstly by encouraging each other in the sanctification and pursuit of salvation for our own souls in our own lives, by praying for each other, by supporting each other and seeking out our brother Priests everywhere seeking to offer them the same service, one for another. Then by serving His people by offering His Sacraments and most particularly the offering of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass – the “source and summit” of the life of His Body the Church, the means by which He is seen to save and we are able to commune with Him, the whole Godhead, the whole of His Body – the communion of Saints. I urge you brothers to offer the Holy Sacrifice as often as you can, to make available to His people the Sacrament of His Love, to offer their pleas and petitions through Him to Our Father, to make available to them His daily bread, to assure them of His abiding presence in their midst. In these two ways, prayer and offering the Holy Sacrifice – we make our own sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving by the subjugation of our lives to His Will. Whether alone or with company, whether in consecrated building or with the best you are able to muster, however humble, offer the Holy Sacrifice both for your own soul and all souls. Commune with the Divine daily if at all possible, for it is at the Altar that we all, the whole Priesthood, the whole brotherhood, the whole Oratory comes together through the ages, across the continents in service of each other, His people and Him. Make time, make sacrifice to offer The Sacrifice, give yourselves completely to His service that you may be used as an instrument of His salvation for His people, that you may be consoled by the knowledge of your own unworthiness by the presence of Himself in your company at the Altar. See Him before you as you are before Him, touch Him and He touches you and heals, forgives, makes whole both you, broken vessel that you are and His people. Take His yoke upon you that He may share in your burden as much as you share in His. Realise your Priesthood for yourself as well as others. Follow the example of our holy Fathers, the Curé and St Phillip and you too will receive all that they did that you too may receive that eternal reward which all seek; you too can be made worthy, with a “humble and contrite heart” [Ps 51:17].

Be assured my brother Oratorians of my prayers for you all most especially for this year of grace afforded us by the suggestion of the Holy Father to reflect and consolidate our vocations.

Most fraternally in Christ