ST. PHILIP AND ST. JAMES THE LESS, APOSTLES
The Liturgical Year – Ven. Dom Guéranger, O.S.B.
Two of the favoured witnesses of our beloved Jesus’ Resurrection come before us on this first day of May. Philip and James are here, bearing testimony to us, that their Master is truly risen from the dead, that they have seen him, that they have touched him, that they have conversed with him, during these forty days. And, that we may have no doubt as to the truth of their testimony, they hold in their hands the instruments of the martyrdom they underwent for asserting that Jesus, after having suffered death, came to life again and rose from the grave. Philip is leaning upon the cross to which he was fastened, as Jesus had been; James is holding the club where with he was struck dead.
Philip preached the Gospel in the two Phrygias, and his martyrdom took place at Hierapolis. He was married when he was called by our Savior; and we learn from writers of the second century, that he had three daughters, remarkable for their great piety, one of whom lived at Ephesus, where she was justly revered as one of the glories of that early Church.
James is better known than Philip. He is called, in the sacred Scripture, Brother of the Lord, on account of the close relationship that existed between his own mother and the Blessed Mother of Jesus. He claims our veneration, during Paschal Time, in as much as he was favoured with a special visit from our Risen Lord, as we learn from St. Paul. There can be no doubt, but what he had done something to deserve this mark of Jesus’ predilection. St. Jerome and St. Epiphanius tell us, that our Savior, when ascending into heaven, recommended to St. James’ care the Church of Jerusalem, and that he was accordingly appointed the first Bishop of that City. The Christians of Jerusalem, in the 4th Century, had possession of the Chair on which St. James used to sit, when he assisted at the assemblies of the Faithful. St. Epiphanius also tells us, that the holy Apostle used to wear a lamina of gold upon his fore head, as the badge of his dignity. His garment was a tunic made of linen.
He was held in such high repute for virtue, that the people of Jerusalem called him” The Just” and when the time of the Siege came, instead of attributing the frightful punishment, they then endured, to the deicide they or their fathers had committed, they would have it to be a consequence of the murder of James, who, when dying, prayed for his people. The admirable Epistle he has left us bears testimony to the gentleness and uprightness of his character. He there teaches us, with an eloquence of an inspired writer, that works must go along with our Faith, if we would be Just with that Justice, which makes us like our Risen Lord.
The bodies of Saints Philip and James repose in the Basilica of the Holy Apostles, at Rome. These Relics are counted as one of the richest treasures of the Holy City, and there is reason to believe that this first of May is the real anniversary of their Translation. For a long period, the Church of Rome kept special Feasts in honour of four only of the Apostles: Ss. Peter and Paul, St. John the Evangelist, and St. Andrew (Peter’s Brother): the rest were united in the solemnity of the 29th of June, and a vestige of this is still to be found in the Office of that Day, as we shall see later on. The reception of the Bodies of SS. Philip and James, which were brought from the East, somewhere about the 6th Century, gave rise to the institution of today’s Feast; and this led gradually to the insertion into the Calendar of the special Feasts for the other Apostles and Evangelists.
FIFTH SUNDAY AFTER EASTER
Yet four days, and our Risen Jesus, whose company has been so dear and precious to us, will have disappeared from the earth. This fifth Sunday after Easter seems to prepare us for the separation. In a week’s time, we shall begin the long series of Sundays which are to pass before he returns to judge the world. This is a grief to the Christian; for he knows that he will not see his Savior until after this life, and he feels something of the sorrow the Apostles had at the Last Supper, when Jesus said to them: Yet a little while, and ye shall not see me.
But, after his Resurrection, what must not these privileged men have felt, when they perceived, as we do, that this beloved Master was soon to leave them? They had, so to speak, been living with Jesus glorified; they had experienced the effects of his divine condescension and intimacy; they had received from his lips every instruction they needed for the fulfilling his will, that is, for the founding, on earth, the Church he had chosen as his Spouse. These happy forty days are fast drawing to a close. The Apostles will then be deprived of Jesus’ visible presence, even to the end of their lives.
We, too, shall feel something of their sadness, if we have kept ourselves united to our holy mother the Church. From the very first day, when she recommenced, for our sakes, the Ecclesiastical Year, during which all the Mysteries of our Redemption, from the Birth of our Emmanuel even to his triumphant Ascension into heaven, were to be celebrated, — have not we, also, been living in company with her Jesus, our Redeemer ? And now that he is about to close the sweet intercourse which these Seasons and Feasts have kept up between himself and us, are not our feelings very much like those of the Apostles?
But there is one creature on earth, whom Jesus is leaving, and whose feelings, at the approaching separation, we cannot attempt to describe. Never had there been a heart so submissive to the will of her Creator; but, at the same time, there never was any Creature so severely tried as she had been. Jesus would have his Mother’s love still increase; he therefore subjects her to the separation from himself. Moreover, he wishes her to co-operate in the formation of the Church, for he has decreed that the great work shall not be achieved without her. In all this, Jesus shows how tenderly he loves his Blessed Mother: he wishes her merit to be so great, that he may justly give her the brightest possible crown, when the day of her own Ascension into heaven comes.
The heart of this incomparable Queen is not, indeed, to be again transfixed with a sword of sorrow it is to be consumed by a love so intense that no language could describe it. Under the sweet, yet wearing, fire of this love, Mary is at length to give way, just as fruit falls from the tree, when its ripeness is complete, and the tree has nothing more to give it. But, during these last hours of Jesus’ presence, what must not such a Mother have felt, who has had but forty days to enjoy the sight and the caresses of her glorified and divine Son? It is Mary’s last trial and when her Jesus tells her of his wish that she should remain in exile, she is ready with her favorite answer: Behold the Handmaid of the Lord! Be it done to me according to thy Word! Her whole life has been spent in doing God’s will; it was this that made her so great in his eyes, and so dear to his heart. A holy servant of God, who lived in the 17th century, and was favored with the most sublime revelations, tells us, that it was left to Mary’s choice, either to accompany her divine Son to heaven, or to remain some years longer upon the earth to assist the infant Church; and that she chose to defer her entrance into eternal bliss, in order to labor, as long as it was God’s good pleasure, in the great work which was so closely connected with the glory of her Son, and so essential to the salvation of us her adopted children.
If this generous devotedness raised the co-operatrix of our salvation to the highest degree of sanctity, by giving completeness to her mission on earth,—we may be sure that Jesus’ love for his Mother was increased by the new proof she thus gave him of her uniformity with every wish of his sacred Heart. He repaid her, as he well knew how to do, for this heroic self-sacrifice, this prompt submission to his having designed her to be, here on earth, as the Church calls her, Queen of the Apostles, and a sharer in their labours of planting the Church.
During these, his last few hours on earth, our Lord’s affection for his Apostles and Disciples seemed to be redoubled. For several of them, the separation was to be a long one. The Beloved Disciple, John, was not to enjoy the company of his divine Master till more than fifty years had elapsed. It was to be thirty before the Cross would carry Peter to Him who had entrusted to his keeping the Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Magdalene, the fervent Magdalene, would have to wait the same length of time. But no one murmured at the divine appointment; they all felt how just it was, that Jesus, now that he had so fully established the faith of his Resurrection, should enter into his glory.
On the very day of his Resurrection, our Saviour bade the Disciples go into Galilee, for that there he would meet them. As we have already seen, they obeyed the order, and seven among them were favored by Jesus’ appearing to them on the banks of the Lake Genesareth: it is the eighth of the manifestations mentioned in the Gospel. The ninth, also, took place in Galilee. Our Lord loved Galilee: it gave him the greater number of his Disciples, it was Mary and Joseph’s country, and it was there that he himself passed so many years of his hidden life. Its people were simpler and better than those of Judea,—and this was another attraction. St. Matthew tells us, that the most public of all Jesus’ manifestations, after his Resurrection, — the tenth in reality, and the ninth mentioned by the Evangelists,—took place on a hill in this same district.
According to St. Bonaventure, and the learned and pious Denis the Carthusian, this hill was Mount Tabor,—the same that was honored by the mystery of the Transfiguration. Upwards of five hundred of Jesus’ Disciples were assembled there, as we learn from St. Paul: they were mostly inhabitants of Galilee, had believed in our Lord during his three years’ public life, and merited to be witnesses of this new triumph of the Nazarene. Jesus showed himself to them, and gave them such certitude with regard to his resurrection, that the Apostle appeals to their testimony in support of this fundamental mystery of our Faith.
Further than this, we know of no other manifestations made by our Saviour after his Resurrection. We know that he gave order to his Disciples to repair to Jerusalem, where they were to see him once more before his Ascension. Let us, during these few days, follow the Disciples to Jerusalem. Faithless city! how often has not Jesus sought to gather together her children, as the hen gathereth her chickens under her wings,—and she would not! He is about to re-enter her walls; but she is not to know it. He will not show himself to her, but only to those that love him; and after this he will depart in silence, never to return until he comes to judge them that have not known the time of their visitation.
FEAST OF ST. PHILIP AND ST. JAMES
Fifth Sunday after Easter
Double of the II Class
Missa ‘Missa ‘Clamaverunt Ad Te’
INTROIT – II Esdras 9: 27
Clamaverunt ad te, Dómine, in témpore afflictiónis suæ, et tu de cœlo exaudísti eos. Allelúia, allelúia. Ps. 32: 1 Exsultá te, justi, in Dómino: rectos decet collaudátio. Gloria Patri.
In the time of their tribulation they cried to Thee O Lord, and Thou heardest them from heaven. Alleluia, alleluia. Ps. Rejoice in the Lord, ye just: praise becometh the upright. Glory be to the Father.
O God, Who dost gladden us with the annual solemnity of Thine apostles, Philip and James, grant, we beseech Thee, that we may learn from the examples of those in whose merits we rejoice. Through the same Lord.
Fifth Sunday after Easter
O God, from whom all good things do proceed, grant unto Thy humble servants, that by Thy holy inspiration, we may think those things that are right, and under Thy guidance may perform the same. Through our Lord.
Lesson from the Book of Wisdom
Wisdom 5: 1-5
Then shall the just stand with great constancy against those that have afflicted them and taken away their labors. These seeing it, shall be troubled with terrible fear, and shall be amazed at the suddenness of their unexpected salvation, saying within themselves, repenting, and groaning for anguish of spirit: These are they whom we had some time in derision and for a parable of reproach. We fools esteemed their life madness and their end without honor; behold how they are numbered among the children of God, and their lot is among the Saints.
PASCHAL ALLELUIA – Psalm 88:6
Alleluia, alleluia. The heavens shall confess Thy wonders, O Lord; and Thy truth in the Church of the saints.
ALLELUIA – John 14: 9
Alleluia. So long a time have I been with you, and have you not known Me? Philip, he that seeth me, seeth My Father also. Alleluia.
Continuation of the holy Gospel according to St. John
At that time Jesus said to His disciples: Let not your heart be troubled: you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house there are many mansions. If not, I would have told you, that I go to prepare a place for you. And if I shall go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to Myself, that where I am you also may be. And whither I go you know, and the way you know. Thomas saith to Him, Lord, we know not whither Thou goest; and how can we know the way? Jesus saith to him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No man cometh to the Father, but by Me. If you had known Me, you would without doubt have known My Father also: and from henceforth you shall know Him; and you have seen Him. Philip saith to Him: Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us. Jesus saith to him: So long a time have I been with you, and have you not known Me? Philip, he that seeth Me, seeth the Father also. How sayest thou, show us the Father? Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you, I speak not of Myself. But the Father Who abideth in Me, He doeth the works. Believe you not that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? Otherwise, believe for the very works’ sake. Amen, amen, I say to you, he that believeth in Me, the works that I do, he also shall do; and greater than these shall he do. Because I go to the Father: and whatsoever you shall ask the Father in My name, that will I do.
OFFERTORY – Psalm 88: 6
The Heavens shall confess Thy wonders, O Lord, and Thy truth in the church of the saints. Alleluia, alleluia.
Graciously receive O Lord, the offerings which we bring for the feast of Thine Apostles Philip and James, and turn aside all the evils which we deserve. Through our Lord.
Secret prayer for Fifth Sunday after Easter
Receive, O Lord, the prayers and sacrifices of the faithful, that by these offices of loving devotion we may attain to heavenly glory. Through our Lord.
PREFACE OF THE APOSTLES
It is truly meet and just, right and for our salvation, to entreat Thee humbly, O Lord, that Thou wouldst not desert Thy flock, O everlasting Shepherd; but through Thy blessed Apostles, wouldst keep it under Thy constant protection; that it may be governed by those same rulers, whom as vicars of Thy work, Thou didst set over it to be its pastors. And therefore with Angels and Archangels, with Thrones and Dominations, and with all the hosts of the heavenly army, we sing the hymn of Thy glory, evermore saying.
Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus, Dóminus Deus Sábaoth. Pleni sunt cæli et terra glória tua. Hosánna in excélsis. Benedíctus qui venit in nómine Dómini. Hosánna in excélsis.
COMMUNION – John 14: 9-10
So long a time have I been with you, and have you not known Me? Philip, he that seeth Me; seeth My Father also, alleluia. Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? Alleluia, alleluia.
Filled with the mysteries of salvation, we beseech Thee, O Lord, that we may be assisted by the prayers of those whose feast we celebrate. Through the Lord.
Fifth Sunday after Easter
Grant us, O Lord, who have been nourished and strengthened at the heavenly table, both to desire that which is right, and to gain that which we desire. Through our Lord.