‘Raymond was a noted canonist; he rendered great service to the Church through his redaction and codification of Pope Gregory the IX’s Decretals, a collection of juridical documents. At the age of forty-five, he entered the Dominican Order. He assisted in founding the Order of Our Lady of Mercy for the ransom of captives, by drawing up a rule. He also had the gift of miracles, the most remarkable of which occurred on a return from the Balearic Isles to Barcelona. On that occasion he stretched his cloak on the sea and sailed the distance of 160 miles in six hours; arriving at his monastery, he entered through closed doors. He died in 1275, almost one hundred years old. Raymond was an excellent confessor, for which reason he is honoured as the patron saint of those who hear confessions’.
from The Church’s Year of Grace, 1953, by Pius Parsch, 1884-1954
O God, who didst appoint blessed Raymond excellently to minister the Sacrament of Penance, and didst wondrously make for him a passage upon the waves of the sea: grant, we pray thee; that, at his intercession, we may bring forth fruits worthy of repentance, and be found meet to attain to the harbour of everlasting salvation; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Divine Worship: The Missal
‘How laboriously you came, taking sights and calculating, where the shepherds had run barefoot! How odd you looked on the road, attended by what outlandish liveries, laden with such preposterous gifts!
‘You came at length to the final stage of your pilgrimage and the great star stood still above you. What did you do? You stopped to call on King Herod. Deadly exchange of compliments in which began that unended war of mobs and magistrates against the innocent!
‘Yet you came, and were not turned away. You too found room before the manger. Your gifts were not needed, but they were accepted and put carefully by, for they were brought with love. In that new order of charity that had just come to life, there was room for you, too. You were not lower in the eyes of the holy family than the ox or the ass.
‘You are my especial patrons, and patrons of all latecomers, of all who have a tedious journey to make to the truth, of all who are confused with knowledge and speculation, of all who through politeness make themselves partners in guilt, of all who stand in danger by reason of their talents.
…‘For his sake who did not reject your curious gifts, pray always for all the learned, the oblique, the delicate. Let them not be forgotten at the throne of God when the simple come into their kingdom’.
Saint Helena reflecting on the Magi in the novel ‘Helena’, 1950, by Evelyn Waugh, 1903-1966
O God, who by the leading of a star didst manifest thy Only Begotten Son to the Gentiles: mercifully grant that we, who know thee now by faith, may be led onward through this earthly life, until we see the vision of thy heavenly glory; through the same Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Divine Worship: The Missal
‘Come along, shepherds’, the Angels cried,
‘Come along, every one!
For great things happen on earth to-night,
And you shall see a wondrous sight –
In bed of straw, on napkin white,
Come down to earth from heaven’s height
God’s own Eternal Son’.
‘Come along, comrades’, the Shepherds cried,
And quick those men did run,
And in they pressed through the humble door,
And low they knelt on the stable floor,
Where Mary and Joseph, as poor as poor,
In rich contentment did adore
God’s own Eternal Son.
‘Come along, Christians’, the bells ring out,
‘Ding-a-dong, come along, come along!’
For round the Altar tapers shine,
Where waits our Saviour, yours and mine,
Veiled ’neath the mystic Bread and Wine,
And every soul should be a shrine
For God’s Eternal Son.
Father Andrew SDC, 1869-1946
‘Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton is a Saint! She is the first daughter of the United States of America to be glorified with this incomparable attribute! But what do we mean when we say: “She is a Saint?’ We all have some idea of the meaning of this highest title; but it is still difficult for us to make an exact analysis of it. Being a Saint means being perfect, with a perfection that attains the highest level that a human being can reach. A Saint is a human creature fully conformed to the will of God. A Saint is a person in whom all sin - the principle of death - is cancelled out and replaced by the living splendour of divine grace. The analysis of the concept of sanctity brings us to recognise in a soul the mingling of two elements that are entirely different but which come together to produce a single effect: sanctity. One of these elements is the human and moral element, raised to the degree of heroism: heroic virtues are always required by the Church for the recognition of a person’s sanctity. The second element is the mystical element, which express the measure and form of divine action in the person chosen by God to realise in herself - always in an original way - the image of Christ (Cf. Rom. 8:29).
The science of sanctity is therefore the most interesting, the most varied, the most surprising and the most fascinating of all the studies of that ever mysterious being which is man. The Church has made this study of the life, that is, the interior and exterior history, of Elizabeth Ann Seton. And the Church has exulted with admiration and joy, and has today heard her own charism of truth poured out in the exclamation that we send up to God and announce to the world: She is a Saint!’
from the homily given at the Mass of Canonisation of St Elizabeth Ann Seton, 14 September 1975
by Pope St Paul VI, 1897-1978
O God, who didst crown with the gift of true faith Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton’s burning zeal to find thee: grant by her intercession and example; that we may always seek thee with diligent love and find thee in daily service with sincere faith; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Divine Worship: The Missal
On this memorial of the Most Holy Name of Jesus, one of my favourite hymns, so loved by my wife and I that we chose it for our wedding day (16 years ago tomorrow). The hymn was written in 1870 by Caroline Noel, the daughter of an Anglican priest. My preferred tune is that of Evelyns, composed by William Henry Monk (1823-1893).
1. At the name of Jesus every knee shall bow,
Every tongue confess him King of glory now;
’Tis the Father’s pleasure we should call him Lord,
Who from the beginning was the mighty Word.
2. At his voice creation sprang at once to sight:
All the Angel faces, all the hosts of light,
Thrones and dominations, stars upon their way,
All the heavenly orders in their great array.
3. Humbled for a season, to receive a name
From the lips of sinners, unto whom he came;
Faithfully he bore it ,spotless to the last,
Brought it back victorious when from death he passed:
4. Bore it up triumphant, with its human light,
Through all ranks of creatures, to the central height,
To the throne of Godhead, to the Father’s breast,
Filled it with the glory of that perfect rest.
5. Name him, brothers, name him, with love as strong as death,
But with awe and wonder, and with bated breath;
He is God the Saviour, he is Christ the Lord,
Ever to be worshipped, trusted, and adored.
6. In your hearts enthrone him; there let him subdue
All that is not holy, all that is not true:
Crown him as your captain, in temptations’ hour;
Let his will enfold you in its light and power.
7. Brothers, this Lord Jesus shall return again,
With his Father’s glory, with his Angel train;
For all wreaths of empire meet upon his brow,
And our hearts confess him King of glory now.
Caroline Noel, 1817-1877
no.368 The English Hymnal (to the tune Evelyns)
‘With zeal and courage Basil opposed the heretics who denied that Jesus Christ was God as Father. Likewise, against those who would not accept the divinity of the Holy Spirit, he maintained that the Spirit is also God and “must be equated and glorified with the Father and with the Son”. For this reason Basil was one of the great Fathers who formulated the doctrine on the Trinity: the one God, precisely because he is love, is a God in three Persons who form the most profound unity that exists: divine unity.
In his love for Christ and for his Gospel, the great Cappadocian also strove to mend divisions within the Church, doing his utmost to bring all to convert to Christ and to his word, a unifying force which all believers were bound to obey.
To conclude, Basil spent himself without reserve in faithful service to the Church and in the multiform exercise of the episcopal ministry. In accordance with the programme that he himself drafted, he became an “apostle and minister of Christ, steward of God’s mysteries, herald of the Kingdom, a model and rule of piety, an eye of the Body of the Church, a Pastor of Christ's sheep, a loving doctor, father and nurse, a co-operator of God, a farmer of God, a builder of God's temple”.
This is the programme which the holy Bishop consigns to preachers of the Word - in the past as in the present –, a programme which he himself was generously committed to putting into practice. In 379 AD Basil, who was not yet 50, returned to God “in the hope of eternal life, through Jesus Christ Our Lord”.
He was a man who truly lived with his gaze fixed on Christ. He was a man of love for his neighbour. Full of the hope and joy of faith, Basil shows us how to be true Christians’.
from a general audience, 4 July 2007, by Pope Benedict XVI
Almighty God, whose servants Basil and Gregory proclaimed the mystery of thy Word made flesh, that thy Church might be built up in wisdom and strength: grant that we, through their prayers, and rejoicing in the Lord’s presence among us, may with them be brought to to know the power of thine unending love; through the same Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Divine Worship: The Missal.
‘Dear brothers and sisters, it is only by pondering in the heart, in other words, by piecing together and finding unity in all we experience, that, following Mary, we can penetrate the mystery of a God who was made man out of love and who calls us to follow him on the path of love; a love to be expressed daily by generous service to the brethren. May the new year which we are confidently beginning today be a time in which to advance in that knowledge of the heart, which is the wisdom of saints. Let us pray… that the Lord may “make his face to shine” upon us, “and be gracious” to us (cf. Numbers 6:24-7) and bless us. We may be certain of it: if we never tire of seeking his Face, if we never give in to the temptation of discouragement and doubt, if also among the many difficulties we encounter we always remain anchored to him, we will experience the power of his love and his mercy. May the fragile Child who today the Virgin shows to the world make us peacemakers, witnesses of him, the Prince of Peace. Amen!’
Pope Benedict XVI, 1 January 2008
O God, who by the fruitful virginity of Blessed Mary hast bestowed upon mankind the reward of eternal salvation: grant, we beseech thee, that we may know the help of her intercession, through whom we have been counted worthy to receive the Author of our life, Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord; who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Divine Worship: The Missal.
Fr Lee Kenyon