WEDNESDAY OF SEPTUAGESIMA WEEK: O, Merciful God! Have Mercy On Me The Fallen One!

Adam and Eve - Domenichino (1623-25) Oil on canvas Musée des Beaux-Arts, Grenoble

Adam blaming Eve – Adam and Eve – Domenichino (1623-25)


O, Merciful God! Have Mercy On Me The Fallen One!

The guilty pair appear before the great God, whom they have offended; and instead of acknowledging their guilt, they seek to palliate and excuse it. But divine justice pronounces their condemnation, and the sentence will be felt by their posterity, even to the last generation.

The two beings, that had committed the heinous crime, had been enriched with every gift of nature and grace. It was not with them, as it is with us. Concupiscence which gives us an inclination for what is wrong; ignorance and forgetfulness which cloud the intellect of fallen man, these miseries had nothing whatever to do with the fall of our first parents. They sinned through sheer ingratitude. They began by weighing the proposal of revolt, when they ought to have spurned it with indignation and conquered by flight. Then, by degrees, the proposed crime seemed no great harm, because, though God would lose their obedience, they would gain by the disobedience! And at length, the love of God was made to give place to the love of self, and they declared their independence! Yet God had mercy on them, because of their posterity. The angels were all created at one and the same instant, and each of them was subjected to the trial, which was to decide his eternal future. Each angel depended on his own act, on his own choice between fidelity to his Creator and rebellion against Him; so that they who rebelled drew on themselves the eternity of God’s chastisement. The human race, on the contrary, existed not save as represented in its two first parents, and was plunged by and with them into the abyss of God’s reprobation: therefore, God, who spared not the angels, mercifully spared the human race.

I will put enmities between thee and the woman; she shall crush thy head.

I will put enmities between thee and the Woman; She shall crush thy head.

But let us listen to the three sentences pronounced by God after the fall of man. The first is against the serpent, and is the severest. The curse, which is already upon him, is deepened, and the pardon, which is about to be promised to the human race, is to be given in the form of an anathema against that wicked spirit, that has dared to war with God in the work of His hands. I will put enmities between thee and the woman; she shall crush thy head.’  Thus does God avenge Himself on His enemy. The victory won over the woman is made to turn against the proud conqueror, and become his humiliation and his defeat. In his fiendish craft, he had directed his first attack, not against the man, but against the woman. She, by nature, was weaker and more credulous; and if he conquered her, he hoped-too well, alas! that Adam would be led to turn against his Creator, in order not to displease the creature. All happened as he willed it: but now, see how God uses the woman to foil and punish him. He enkindles in her heart an implacable hatred against His and our enemy. This cruel serpent may raise his proud head, and, here and there, find men that will adore him: the day will come, when a woman’s foot shall crush this head, which refused to bend before God. This daughter of Eve, whom all generations are to call blessed, shall be prefigured by other women: by Debbora, Judith, Esther, and others, all celebrated for their victories over the serpent. She shall be followed, until the end of time, by an uninterrupted succession of Christian virgins and matrons, who, with all their weakness, shall be powerful in co-operating with God’s designs, and, as the apostle says, ‘the unbelieving husband shall be sanctified by the believing wife.’ Thus will God punish the serpent’s pride. Before pronouncing upon our first parents the sentence they have deserved, He promises to bless their posterity, and pours into their own hearts a ray of hope.


Adam - O merciful God! Have mercy on me the fallen one!

Then did Adam look back, on the Eden of delights, and sitting wept; he hid his face in his hands, and said: O merciful God! Have mercy on me the fallen one! He saw the angel that drove him from the garden of God; and as he beheld him shutting its gates against him, he heaved a deep sigh, and said: O merciful God! Have mercy on me the fallen one! Weep, Eden, over thy master thus made poor! Let the rustling of thy leaves become a prayer, asking our Creator that he close thee not. O merciful God! Have mercy on me the fallen one!

The Liturgical Year – Ven. Dom Gueranger O.S.B. Vol. IV- Septuagesima



Office of the Dead, with a putto playing with ermines. 1517-1520



             Lessons 1 – 6

As early as the ninth century, Amalarius remarked the similarity between the dirge and the Office which commemorates the death of our Lord. There is the same lack of hymns, doxologies, absolutions, and blessings; the same suppression of the customary introduction Domine labia men aperies, Dens in adjutorium meum intende. There is this difference however: that the Office of Holy Week has no Invitatory; while that of the Dead has either always kept it, or long ago taken it up again. This Invitatory, like the first Psalm of Vespers, is a song of love and hope: Come, let us adore the King, to whom all things live. Beyond the tomb, as well as on this side of it, all men are living in the sight of him who is one day to raise them up again. In the language of the Church, the grave-yard is the cemetery, that is the dormitory where her children sleep; And they themselves are defuncti, labourers who have finished their task and are awaiting their recompense. Rome has been better inspired than some other churches, where the Antiphon chosen as refrain to the joyous Venite exmltemus was: Circumdederunt me gemitua mortis; dolores inferni circumdederunt me. Were we to make an historical study of the Office of the Dead, which however is beyond the limits of the present work, we should find innumerable instances of such variations, always to the advantage of the mother-church.


Ant. Come, let us adore the King, to whom all things live.

Come let us rejoice in the Lord, let us make a joyful noise to God our Saviour: let us approach his presence in praise, and let us sing joyfully in psalms to him. Come, let us adore the King, to whom all things live. Because the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods: because the Lord repels not his people, for in his hands are all the bounds of the earth: and he beholds the heights of the mountains.

Ant. Come, let us adore.

Because the sea is his, and he made it, and his hands formed the dry land: come, let us adore, and fall down before God: let us lament before the Lord that made us: because he is the Lord our God: and we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Ant. Come let us adore the King, to whom all things live*

To-day, if you shall hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, according to the day of temptation in the wilderness: where your fathers tempted me, they proved, and saw my works.

Come, let us adore. Forty years was I nigh to this generation, and said, they always err in their hearts: and have not known my ways, to whom I swore in my wrath, that they should not enter into my rest.

Ant. Come, let us adore the King, to whom all things live.

Grant them eternal rest, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine on them.

Ant. Come, let us adore.

Ant. Come, let us adore the King, to whom all things live.

This opening of the Office shows us what prominence the Church gives to thanksgiving and praise in her prayers for the dead.


The first Psalm expresses the overflowing gratitude and praise of the soul escaped from the snares of sinners, at that first dawn of her eternally secured salvation, when she took her place among the holy ones in Purgatory. With what confidence she entrusts to our Lord the care of directing her along the painful and purifying way, which is to lead her to the very entrance of God’s house!

Ant. Direct, O Lord, my God, my way in thy sight.

    Psalm 5 – Verba mea

Give ear, O Lord, to my words: hearken to my cry. Attend to the voice of my prayer: my King and my God.

Because I will pray to thee: O Lord, in the morning thou wilt hear my voice. In the morning I will stand by thee and will see: for thou art not a God that wiliest iniquity. Neither shall the wicked dwell near thee: nor the unjust abide before thy eyes. Thou hatest all that work iniquity: thou wilt destroy all that speak lies.

The bloody and deceitful man the Lord will abhor: but I, in the multitude of thy mercies, Will enter into thy house:

I will adore at thy holy temple in thy fear. Conduct me, O Lord, in thy justice: because of my enemies, direct my way in thy sight. Because there is no truth in their mouth: their heart is vain. Their throat is a gaping sepulchre, they dealt deceitfully with their tongues: judge them, O God. Let them fail in their designs: according to the multitude of their impieties expel them, for they have provoked thee, O Lord. And let all be glad that hope in thee, they shall rejoice for ever: and thou wilt dwell in them. And all that love thy name shall glory in thee, because thou wilt bless the just.

Lord, as with a shield of thy good-will thou hast crowned us.

Grant them eternal rest, O Lord: And let perpetual light shine on them.

Ant. Direct, O Lord, my God, my way in thy sight.

The soul has been heard: the time of mercy being at an end, justice has laid hold of her. Under the terrible grasp of this her new guide, and placed in the irresistible light of God’s infinite purity, which lays open her most secret recesses, the flaws in her virtues and every remaining trace of ancient stains, the poor soul feels all her strength fail her. Trembling, she beseeches God not to confound her, in his wrath, with those cursed for ever, whose proximity increases her torment. But her supplication and her fear are still full of love: Lord, save me; for there is none in that death who will be mindful of praising thee.

This Psalm is the first of the seven Penitentials.

Ant. Turn, O Lord, and deliver my soul: for there is none in death who will be mindful of thee.

             Psalm 6

Lord, rebuke me not in thy fury, nor ohastise me in thy wrath. Have mercy on me, O Lord, because I am infirm: heal me, O Lord, because my bones are disordered. And my soul is very much troubled: but thou, 0 Lord, how long P Turn, O Lord, and deliver my soul: save me for thy mercy’s sake.

Because there is none in death that is mindful of thee, and in hell who will praise thee? I have laboured in my sighing, every night I will wash my bed: I will water my couch with my tears. My eye is troubled with fury; I am grown old among all my enemies. Depart from me, all ye that work iniquity: because the Lord has heard the voice of my weeping. The Lord has heard my petition: the Lord has received my prayer.

Let all my enemies blush, and be troubled exceedingly: let them be turned back and ashamed very speedily.

Grant them eternal rest, O Lord: And let perpetual light shine on them.

Ant. Turn, O Lord, and deliver my soul: for there is none in death who will be mindful of thee.

In the following Psalm, David accused by his enemies cries to the Lord against their calumnies. The fear, which causes the soul in Purgatory to prostrate with a holy trembling before God’s justice, has no more shaken her hope than her love; nay, she trusts to the very sentence of her Judge and to the help sought from him, that she may be able to cope with the infernal lion, who pursues her with his roaring in the midst of her poverty and desolation.

Ant. Lest at any time the enemy snatch my soul as a lion, whilst there is none to redeem, nor to save it.

              Psalm 7 – Domine, Deus meus.

O Lord my God, I have hoped in thee: save me from all that persecute me, and deliver me. Lest at any time he snatch away my soul as a lion: whilst there is none to redeem, nor to save it. O Lord my God, if I have done this: if there be iniquity in my hands: If I have repaid to them that returned me evils: let me deservedly fall empty before mine enemies. Let the enemy persecute my soul, and seize it, and tread down my life on the earth; and bring down my glory into dust. Arise, O Lord, in thy wrath; and be exalted in the borders of my enemies. A d arise, O Lord my God, in the precept which thou hast commanded: and an assembly of people shall encompass thee. And for this return on high: the Lord judges the people. Judge me, O Lord, according to my justice: and according to my innocence upon me. The wickedness of sinners shall be consumed, and thou wilt direct the just: who searohest the hearts and reins, O God. My just help is from the Lord: who saves the right of heart. God is a just judge, strong and patient: is he angry every day? Except ye be converted, he will shake his sword: he has bent his bow, and prepared It: And in it he has prepared weapons of death: he has made his arrows with fiery points. Behold he has bred injustice: he has conceived sorrow, and brought forth iniquity. He has opened a pit and digged it up: and he is fallen into the ditch which he made. His sorrow shall be turned upon his head: and his iniquity shall descend upon his crown. I will praise our Lord according to his justice: and will sing to the name of the most high Lord.

Grant them eternal rest, O Lord: And let perpetual light shine on them.

Ant. Lest at any time the enemy snatch my soul as a lion, whilst there is none to redeem, nor to save it.

From the gates of hell. Deliver their souls, O Lord.

After this cry has escaped from the maternal heart of the Church, the whole assembly prays in silence, offering to God the Lord’s Prayer for the departed, who are struggling with the powers of hell. And now, from the midst of this recollected silence rises the single voice of the lector. He receives no benediction, for he is speaking in the name of the holy souls, who have no longer the same right as we have to ask a blessing from the Church. He borrows the accents of the afflicted Job, in order to relate their overwhelming sufferings, their invincible faith, their sublime prayer.

As in the ancient tragedy, the choir intervenes after each Lesson with a Responsory, whose melody is marvellously in keeping with these echoes from beyond the tomb. At one time it is man taking up the words of the dead and making them for his own, or supporting their prayers with his own supplications; at another, terrified at God’s rigour towards souls that are so dear to him, and that are sure of loving him eternally, he trembles for himself a sinner, whose judgment is still uncertain. According to St. Antoninus and Demochares quoted by Gavanti, some of these admirable Responsories were composed by Maurice de Sully, the Bishop of Paris who began to build the Cathedral of Notre-Dame; the greater number, however, were already to be found in earlier Gregorian manuscripts. Other Books of Holy Scripture, besides that of Job, and also the works of St. Augustine, were long used in various places to furnish the Lessons of the Dirge; and it was customary in divers churches to conclude them with the formula: Beati mortui qui in Domino moriuntur. Blessed are the dead, who die in the Lord.

Lesson one – Job 7

Spare me, O Lord, for my days are nothing. What is man, that thou magnifiest him? or why settest thou thy heart towards him? Thou dost visit him early, and suddenly thou provest him: how long dost thou not spare me, nor suffer me to swallow my spittle? I have sinned: what shall I do to thee, O keeper of men? Why hast thou set me contrary to thee, and I am become burdensome to myself? Why dost thou not take away my sin, and why dost thou not take away my iniquity? Behold now I shall sleep in the dust, and if thou seek me in the morning, I shall not be. I believe my Redeemer liveth, and that in the last day I shall rise from the earth, and in my flesh I shall see my Saviour.

I believe my Redeemer liveth, and that in the last day I shall rise from the earth, and in my flesh I shall see my Saviour.

Whom I myself shall see, and not another, and my eyes shall behold. And in my flesh.


Lesson Two – Job 10

My soul is weary of life, I will let my speech loose against myself, I will speak in the bitterness of my soul. I will say to God, Condemn me not; show me why thou judgest me so. Does it seem good to thee, if thou calumniate me, and oppress me, the work of thy hands, and help the design of the impious? Hast thou eyes of flesh; or as a man sees, shalt thou also see? Are thy days as the days of man; and are thy years as the times of men, that thou shouldst seek my iniquity, and search my sin? And thou mayst know that I have done no impious thing; whereas there is no man that can escape out of thy hand.

Thou who didst raise Lazarus fetid from the grave. Thou, O Lord, give them rest, and a place of pardon.

Who art to come to judge the living and the dead, and the world by fire.  Thou, O Lord.

Lesson Three – Job 10

Thy hands have made me, and framed me, wholly round about; and dost thou thus suddenly cast me down headlong? Remember, I beseech thee, that as clay thou didst make me, and into dust thou wilt bring me again. Hast thou not milked me like milk, and curdled me like cheese? With skin and flesh hast thou clothed me: with bones and sinews hast thou bound me. Life and mercy thou hast given me, and thy visitation has kept my spirit.

O Lord, when thou shalt come to judge the earth, where shall I hide myself from the face of thy wrath? * For I have sinned exceedingly in my life.

I dread my misdeeds, and blush before thee: do not condemn me, when thou shalt come to judge. For I have sinned exceedingly in my life.

Grant them eternal rest, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine on them.

For I have sinned exceedingly in my life.

            SECOND NOCTURN

Our astonishment at finding the following Antiphon in the Office of the Dead might elicit from the dear souls the reply: “I have meat to eat which you know not.” And, being just and holy, they might add with our Lord: “My meat is to do the will of my Father.” Seen from such a height in the light of our Antiphon, what a place of pasture is Purgatory! O Lord, who guidest me, who by thy grace deignest to be with me in the midst of this shadow of death; thy rod, by striking me, comforts me; my resignation to thy justice is the oil which flows from my head, and, anointing all my members, strengthens them for battle; my heart, thirsting for submission, has found its inebriating cup. St. John Chrysostom informs us that in his time this Psalm was chanted at Christian funerals, together with the Dilexi our first Psalm of Vespers.

Ant. In a place of pasture, he has put me there.

Commemoration for all the faithful departed - R.I. P.

Psalm 22 – Dominus regit me. 

The Lord rules me, and I shall want nothing: in a place of pasture, he has put me there. Near the refreshing waters, he has brought me up: and has converted my soul. He has conducted me in the paths of justice, for his name’s sake. For though I shall walk in the midst of the shadow of death, I will not fear evils: because thou art with me. Thy rod and thy staff: they have comforted me.

Thou hast prepared in my sight a table: against them that afflict me. Thou hast anointed my head with oil: and my inebriating cup, how excellent is it! And thy mercy shall follow me: all the days of my life.

And that I may dwell in the house of the Lord: for length of days.

Grant them eternal rest, 0 Lord: And let perpetual light shine on them.

Ant. In a place of pasture, he has put me there.

The sins of my youth and my ignorances remember not, O Lord. Would to God that we now examined our conscience as seriously as we shall be forced to do in the place of expiation, in order to repair our present negligence in that respect! Ignorance, which is now considered so excusable, will be a sad thing for those, whose neglect to seek instruction has darkened their faith, lulled their hope to sleep, cooled their love, and falsified on a thousand points their Christian life. Then too must be paid, to the last farthing, the debts of penance accumulated by so many sins, which have been forgiven, it is true, as to the guilt, perhaps long ago, and as long ago entirely forgotten. O God, see my humiliation and my labour!

Ant. The offenses of my youth, and my ignorances remember not, O Lord.

         Psalm 24 – Ad te, Domine.

To thee, 0 Lord, I have lifted up my soul: my God, in thee I put my trust, let me not be ashamed. Neither let my enemies insult over me: for all that hope in thee shall not be confounded. Let all be confounded: who vainly do unjust things. Show me thy ways, O Lord: and teach me thy paths.

Direct me in thy truth, and teach me: because thou art God my Saviour, and thee I have expected all the day. Remember thy compassions, O Lord: and thy mercies that are from the beginning of the world.

The sins of my youth: and my ignorances, remember not.

According to thy mercy do thou remember me: for thy goodness’ sake, 0 Lord.

The Lord is sweet and righteous: for this cause he will give a law to them that sin in the way. He will direct the mild in judgment: he will teach the meek his ways. All the ways of the Lord are mercy and truth: to them that seek his testament and his testimonies. For thy name, 0 Lord, thou wilt be propitious to my sin: for it is great. Who is the man that fears the Lord? He appoints him a law in the way he has chosen. His soul shall abide in good things: and his seed shall inherit the land. The Lord is a support to them that fear him: and that his testament may be manifested to them. My eyes are always towards the Lord: because he will deliver my feet out of the snare.

Look upon me: and have mercy on me: because I am alone and poor. The tribulations of my heart are multiplied: deliver me from my necessities. See my humiliation and my labour: and remit all my sins. Look upon my enemies, for they are multiplied: and with unjust hatred they hated me. Keep my soul, and deliver me: I shall not be ashamed, because I have hoped in thee, The innocent and righteous have adhered to me: because I have expected thee. Deliver Israel, O God, out of all his tribulations.

Grant them eternal rest, O Lord: And let perpetual light shine on them.

Ant. The offenses of my youth, and my ignorances, remember not, O Lord.

On Good Friday the 26th Psalm was sung, to express the unfailing confidence of the Messias throughout his Passion. It was repeated at the Matins of the morrow, to announce his approaching deliverance; and on this latter occasion it was accompanied by the very Antiphon we are now about to sing. As the dwellers in Limbo on the great Saturday when our Saviour was among them, so the souls in Purgatory unite themselves to their divine Head in his expectation of a return to light and life. Their prayer, which the Church also makes her own, is such as may well touch the Heart of our Lord.

Ant. I believe I shall see the good things of the Lord, in the land of the living.

Psalm 26 – Dominus illuminatio.

The Lord is my light and my salvation: whom shall I fear? The Lord is the protector of my life: who shall make me tremble? Whilst the wicked approach to me: to devour my flesh. My enemies that afflict me: themselves are weakened and are fallen. If camps stand against me: my heart shall not fear. If battle rise up against me: in this will I hope. One thing have I asked of the Lord, this will I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life. That I may see the delight of the Lord: and visit his temple. Because he has hid me in his tabernacle: in the day of evils he has protected me in the secret of his tabernacle. On a rock he has exalted me: and now he hath exalted my head above my enemies. I have gone round, and have immolated in his tabernacle a host of loud acclamation: I will sing and say a psalm to the Lord. Hear my voice, O Lord, wherewith I have cried to thee: have mercy on me, and hear me. My heart has spoken to thee, my face has sought thee out: thy face, O Lord, I will seek. Hide not thy face from me: turn not away in wrath from thy servant.

Be thou my helper: forsake me not, nor despise me, O God my Saviour.

Because my father and my mother have forsaken me: but the Lord has received me. Set me a law, O Lord, in thy way; and direct me in the right paths, because of my enemies. Deliver me not to the will of them that afflict me; because unjust witnesses have risen up against me, and iniquity has lied to itself. I believe I shall see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living. Expect the Lord, do manfully: and let thy heart take courage, and expect thou the Lord. Grant them eternal rest, O Lord: And let perpetual light shine on them.

Ant. I believe I shall see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living.

May the Lord place them with the princes. With the princes of his people.

The Choir having echoed in the Versicle the desire of the holy souls, the Pater noster is once more recited in secret. It was at the commencement of the following Lesson, that took place the terrifying scene immortalized by the pencil of Le Sueur in his Life of St. Bruno. According to a tradition preserved in his Order, St. Bruno, while yet a secular, was assisting in Notre Dame at Paris at the funeral service of a renowned Doctor, Raymund Diocres; when at the words:

Responde mihi, quantas habeo iniquitates et peccata, the dead man raised himself upon the bier and uttered the words: “I am accused by the just judgment of “God. So great was the universal consternation, that the Office was deferred to the following day; when in answer to the same question, the dead man again sat up and said: “I am judged by the just judgment “of God.” The interrupted service was begun again on the third day; when at the same juncture, the voice of the unhappy man was heard once more, petrifying the assembly with terror by the awful words: “l am condemned by the just judgment of God.”

Lesson Four – Job 8

Answer me; how many iniquities and sins I have: my crimes and my offenses show me. Why dost thou hide thy face, and esteem me thy enemy? Against the leaf that is carried away with the wind, thou showest thy power, and pursuest a dry straw. For thou writest bitter things against me, and hast a mind to consume me for the sins of my youth. Thou hast put my feet in the stocks, and hast observed all my paths, and hast considered the steps of my feet. Who as rottenness am to be consumed, and as a garment that is eaten by the moth.

Remember me, O God, because my life is but wind: nor may the sight of man behold me.From the depths I have cried to thee, O Lord: Lord, hear my voice. Nor may the sight of man behold me.

Lesson Five – Job 14

Chapters 1-12

Man born of a woman, living a short time, is filled with many miseries. Who as a flower comes forth, and is destroyed, and flies away as a shadow, and never abides in the same state. And dost thou count it a worthy thing, to open thy eyes on such a one, and to bring him with thee into judgment? Who can make him clean that is conceived of unclean seed? Is it not thou who only art? The days of man are short, the number of his months is with thee; thou hast appointed his limits, which cannot be passed. Depart a little from him, that he may rest, till his wished-for day comes, even as that of the hired man.

Woe is me, O Lord, because I have sinned exceedingly in my life: O wretch, what shall I do, whither shall I fly but to thee, my God? Have mercy on me when thou comest at the latter day.

Lesson Six – Job 14

Chapters 13 – 16

My soul is greatly troubled; but thou, O Lord, succour it. Have mercy on me. Who will grant me this, that in hell thou protect me, and hide me till thy fury pass away, and appoint me a time wherein thou wilt remember me? Shall a man that is dead, thinkest thou, live again? All the days, in which I am now in warfare, I expect till my change comes. Thou shalt call me, and I shall answer thee: to the work of thy hands thou shalt stretch out thy right hand. Thou indeed hast numbered my steps, but spare my sins.

Remember not my sins, O Lord, when thou shalt come to judge the world by fire.

V. Direct, O Lord my God, my way in thy sight. When thou shalt come to judge the world by fire.

Grant them eternal rest, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine on them: When.

Here the Lands are recited, when the second Nocturn only is said.

The Liturgical Year – Very Ven. Dom Prosper Gueranger, O.S.B.


all evils are due to lukewarm catholics

Eulogy of this Saintly Pope of modern times, from the Divine Office.

Pius was born at Bosco, a town in Lombardy, though his parents were the Ghisleri, a noble family at Bologna. He entered the Order of the Friars Preachers, when he was fourteen years of age. He was remarkable for his patience, deep humility, great mortifications, love of prayer and religious discipline, and most ardent zeal for God’s honour. He applied himself to the study of Philosophy and Theology, and with so much success, that, for many years, he taught them in a manner that gained him universal praise. He preached the word of God in many places, and produced much fruit. For a long period, he held with dauntless courage the office of Inquisitor; and, at the risk of his life, pre served many cities from the then prevalent heresy. Paul the Fourth, who esteemed and loved him on account of his great virtues, made him bishop of Nepi and Sutri, and, two years later, numbered him among the Cardinal Priests of the Roman Church. Having been translated by Pius the Fourth to the Church of Mendovi, in Piedmont, and finding that many abuses had crept in, he made a visitation of the whole diocese. Having put all things in order, he re turned to Rome, where he was entrusted with matters of the gravest importance; all of which he transacted with an apostolic impartiality and firmness. At the death of Pius the Fourth, he was, contrary to everyone’s expectation, chosen Pope. With the exception of his outward garb, he changed nothing of his manner of life. The following are the virtues in which he excelled: unremitting zeal for the propagation of the Faith, untiring efforts for the restoration of Ecclesiastical discipline, assiduous vigilance in extirpating error, unfailing charity in relieving the necessities of the poor, and invincible courage in vindicating the rights of the Apostolic See. A powerful fleet having been equipped, at Lepanto, against Selimus, the emperor of the Turks, who was flushed with the many victories he had gained, — the Pontiff won the battle, not so much by arms as by prayers. He, by a divine revelation, knew of the victory the moment it was won, and announced it to his household. Whilst engaged in preparing a new expedition against the Turks, he fell dangerously ill. He suffered the most excruciating pains with exceeding great patience. When his last hour approached, he received the Sacraments, according to the Christian practice, and most calmly breathed forth his soul into God’s hands in the year 1572, and in the sixty- eighth year of his age, after a pontificate of six years, three months, and twenty -four days. His body is honored by the devout veneration of the Faithful; it lies in the Church of Saint Mary Major. Through his intercession, many miracles have been wrought by God; which being authentically proved, he was canonized by Pope Clement the Eleventh.

Pius V depicted in an early printed missal

Pontiff of the living God! Thou wast, whilst on earth, the pillar of iron and wall of brass, spoken of by the Prophet. Thine unflinching firmness preserved the flock entrusted to thee from the violence and snares of its many enemies. Far from desponding at the sight of the dangers, thy courage redoubled, just as men raise the embankments higher, when they see the torrent swell. By thee was the spread of Heresy checked; by thee was the Mussulman invasion repelled, and the haughty Crescent humbled. God honored thee, by choosing thee as the avenger of his glory, and the deliverer of the Christian people: receive our thanks, and the homage of our humble praise! By thee were repaired the injuries done to the Church during a period of unusual trial. The true reform, — the reform that is wrought by authority, was vigorously applied by thy strong and holy hand. To thee is due the restoration of the Divine Service, by the publication of the Books of holy Liturgy. And all these glorious deeds were done in the six short years of thy laborious Pontificate! Hear, now, the prayers addressed to thee by the Church Militant, whose destinies were once in thy hands. When dying, thou didst beseech our Risen Jesus to grant her protection against the dangers which were then threatening her: oh!

See the state to which licentious error has now reduced almost the whole Christian world! The Church has nothing left to her, wherewith to make head against her countless enemies, save the promises of her Divine Founder; all visible support is withdrawn from her; she has been deprived of everything except the merit of suffering and the power of prayer. Unite, O holy Pontiff, thy prayers to hers, and show how unchanged is thy love of the Flock of Christ. Protect, in Rome, the Chair of thy Successor, attacked as it now is by open violence and astute hypocrisy. Princes and Peoples seem to have conspired against God and his Christ: — disconcert the schemes of sacrilegious ambition, and the plots of impiety which would fain give the lie to the word of God. Avert, by thine intercession, the scourges which are threatening Europe that has become ungrateful to the Church, and indifferent to the attempts made against her to whom they owe all they have. Pray that the blind may see, and the wicked be confounded. Pray that the True Faith may enlighten those numberless souls that call error truth, and darkness light.

francis pius v on homosexuality

In the midst of this dark and menacing night, thine eyes, O holy Pontiff, discern them that are the faithful sheep of Christ: bless them, aid them, and increase their number. Ingraft them to the venerable Tree which dieth not, that so they may not be drifted by the storm. Get them docility to the Faith and traditions of holy Church; it is their only stay amidst the tide of error, which is now threatening to deluge the whole world. Preserve to the Church the holy Order, in which thou wast trained for the high mission destined for thee; keep up within her that race of men, powerful in work and word, zealous for the Faith and sanctification of souls, of which we read in her Annals, and which has yielded Saints such as thyself. And lastly, O Pius, remember that thou wast once the Father of the Faithful: oh! Continue to be so, by thy powerful intercession, till the number of the elect be filled up!

Ven. Dom Gueranger – The Liturgical Year

holy mass altar of my youth


Tuesday Fourth Week After Easter

Double/White  – Missa ‘Si díligis me’

INTROIT – John 21:15-17

Si díligis me, Simon Petre, pasce agnos meos, pasce oves meas.

Ps.Exaltábo te, Dómine, quóniam suscepísti me, nec delectásti inimícos meos super me. Gloria Patri.

Si díligis me, Simon Petre…

If thou lovest Me, Simon Peter, feed My lambs; feed My sheep.

Ps. I will extol Thee, O Lord, for Thou hast upheld me: and hast not made my enemies to rejoice over me. Glory be to the Father.

If thou lovest Me, Simon Peter…


God, Who didst vouchsafe to choose blessed Pius Thy chief bishop for the crushing of the enemies of Thy Church and the restoration of divine worship, make us to be defended by his watchful care and so to adhere to Thy service that, all the contrivances of our enemies being overcome, we may rejoice in everlasting peace. Through our Lord.


Dearly beloved: The ancients therefore that are among you, I beseech, who am myself also an ancient and a witness of the sufferings of Christ: as also a partaker of that glory which is to be revealed in time to come: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking care of it not by constraint, but willingly according to God: not for filthy lucre’s sake, but voluntarily: neither as lording it over the clergy, but being made a pattern of the flock from the heart. And when the prince of pastors shall appear, you shall receive a never-fading crown of glory. But the God of all grace, Who hath called us unto His eternal glory in Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a little; will Himself perfect you, and confirm you and establish you. To Him be glory and empire for ever and ever.  Amen.


At that time, Jesus came into the quarters of Cæsarea Philippi, and He asked His disciples, saying: Whom do men say that the Son of man is? But they said: Some, John the Baptist, and other some, Elias, and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. Jesus saith to them: But whom do you say that I am? Simon Peter answered: Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answering, said to him: Blessed art thou, Simon BarJona, because flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but My Father Who is in Heaven: and I say to thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it; and to thee I will give the keys of the kingdom of Heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in Heaven; and whatsoever thou shall loose on earth, it shall be loosed also in Heaven.


Women bring spices - fra-angelico-resurrection-women

St. Monica – From the Liturgical Year

In the company of our Risen Lord there are two women, two mothers, of whom we have often had to speak during the last few weeks: they are Mary, mother of James the Less and Thaddeus, and Salome, mother of James the Greater and John the beloved disciple. They went, with Magdalene, to the Sepulchre, on the Resurrection morning; they carried spices to anoint the Body of Jesus; they were spoken to by Angels; and, as they returned to Jerusalem, our Lord appeared to them, greeted them, and allowed them to kiss his sacred feet. Since that Day, he has repaid their love by frequently appearing to them; and on the day of his Ascension from Mount Olivet, they will be there, together with our Blessed Lady and the Apostles, to receive his farewell blessing. Let us honor these faithful companions of Magdalene, these models of the love we should show to our Lord in his Resurrection; let us, also, venerate them as mothers who gave four Apostles to the Church. But lo! On this fourth morning of beautiful May, there rises, near to Mary and Salome, another woman, another mother. She, too, is fervent in her love of Jesus. She, too, gives to holy Church a treasure:  the child of her tears, a Doctor, a Bishop, and one of the grandest Saints of the New Law. This woman, this mother, is Monica, twice mother of Augustine.

This master-piece of God’s grace was produced on the desert soil of Africa. Her virtues would have been unknown till the day of Judgment, had not the pen of the great Bishop of Hippo, prompted by the holy affection of his filial heart, revealed to us the merits of this woman, whose life was humility and love, and who now, immortalized in men’s esteem, is venerated as the model and patroness of Christian Mothers. One of the great charms of the book of Confessions, is Augustine’s fervent praise of Monica’s virtues and devotedness. With what affectionate gratitude he speaks, throughout his whole history, of the untiring constancy of this mother, who, seeing the errors of her son, wept over him more than other mothers weep over the dead body of their children! Our Lord, — who, from time to time, consoles, with a ray of hope, the souls he tries, — had shown to Monica, in a vision, the future meeting of the son and mother; she had even heard a holy Bishop assuring her, that the child of so many tears could never be lost : still, the sad realities of the present weighed heavily on her heart; and both her maternal love and her Faith caused her to grieve over this son who kept away from her, yea, who kept away from her, because he was unfaithful to his God. The anguish of this devoted heart was an expiation, which would, at a future period, be applied to the guilty one; fervent and persevering prayer, joined with suffering, prepared Augustine’s second birth; — and, as he himself says, she went through more when she gave me my spiritual, than when she gave me my corporal, birth. At last, after long years of anxiety, the mother found, at Milan, this son of hers, who had so cruelly deceived her, when he fled from her roof to go and risk his fortune in Rome. She found him still doubting the truth of the Christian Religion, but tired of the errors that had misled him. Augustine was not aware of it, but he had really made an advance towards the true Faith. She found me,” says he, in extreme danger, for I despaired of ever finding the truth. But when I told her, that I was no ” longer a Manichean, and yet not a Catholic Christian, — the announcement did not take her by surprise. She leaped for joy, at being made sure that one half of my misery was gone. As to the other, she wept over me, as dead, indeed, but to rise again; she turned to thee, O my God, and wept,  and, in spirit, brought me, and laid the bier before thee, that thou mightest say to the widow’s son: Young man! I say to thee, arise! Then would he come to life again, and begin to speak, and thou couldst give him back to his mother! Seeing, then, that although I had not yet found the truth, I was delivered from error, she felt sure that thou wouldst give the other half of the whole thou hadst promised. She told me in a tone of gentlest calm, but with her heart full of hope, that she was confident, in Christ, that before leaving this world, she would see me a faithful Catholic.

St Ambrose Polyptych (detail) 1477. Tempera on wood

At Milan, Monica formed acquaintance with the great Saint Ambrose, who was the instrument chosen by God for the conversion of her son. She, says Augustine, had a very great affection for Ambrose, because of what he had done for my soul; and he equally loved her, because of her extraordinary piety, which led her to the performance of good works, and to fervent assiduity in frequenting the Church. Hence, when he saw me, he would frequently break out in her praise, and congratulate me on having such a mother. The hour of grace came at last. The light of Faith dawned upon Augustine, and he began to think of enrolling himself a member of the Christian Church; but the pleasures of the world, in which he had so long indulged, held him back from receiving the holy sacrament of Baptism.

Baptism of St Augustine,  GOZZOLI, Benozzo

Baptism of St Augustine –  Benozzo Gozzoli 

Monica’s prayers and tears won for him the grace to break this last tie. He yielded, and became a Christian. But God would have this work of his divine mercy a perfect one. Augustine, once converted, was not satisfied with professing the true Faith; he aspired to the sublime virtue of continency. A soul, favored as his then was, could find no further pleasure in any thing that this world could offer him. Monica, who was anxious to guard her son against the dangers of a relapse into sin, had been preparing an honorable marriage for him: but Augustine came to her, one day, accompanied by his friend Alypius, and told her that he was resolved to aim at what was most perfect.

Let us listen to the Saint’s account of this interview with his mother; it was immediately after he had been admonished by the voice from heaven: We (Augustine and Alypius,) go at once to my mother’s house. We tell her what had taken place she is full of joy. We tell her all the particulars; she is overpowered with feelings of delight and exultation. She blessed thee, O my God, who canst do beyond what we ask or understand. She saw that thou hadst done more for me, than she had asked of thee, with her many piteous and tearful sighs. Thou hadst changed her mourning into joy, even beyond her wishes, yea, into a joy far dearer and chaster than she could ever have had in seeing me a father of children. A few days after this, and, in the Church of Milan, a sub lime spectacle was witnessed by Angels and men:  Ambrose baptizing Augustine in Monica’s presence. The saintly mother had fulfilled her mission: her son was regenerated to truth and virtue, and she had given to the Church the greatest of her Doctors. The evening of her long and tried life was approaching, and she was soon to find eternal rest in the God, for whose love she had toiled and suffered so much. The son and mother were at Ostia, waiting for the vessel that was to take them back to Africa. I and she were alone, says Augustine, and were standing near a window of our lodging, which commanded a view of the garden.

Saint Augustine and his mother, Saint Monica

We were having a most charming conversation. Forgetting the past, and stretching forward to the things beyond, we were talking about the future life of the saints, which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor hath it ascended into man’s heart.  And whilst thus talking about it and longing for it, our hearts seemed to bound forward and reach it. We sighed, and left the first-fruits of our spirit there, and returned to the sound of our own voice. Then, my mother said to me: ‘My son! — As far as I am concerned, there is nothing now that can give me ‘ pleasure in this life. I know not what I can do, or why I should be here, now that I have nothing to hope for in this world. There was one thing, for which I desired to live somewhat longer, and it was to see thee a Catholic Christian before my death. My God has granted me this, and more; for I see that thou hast despised earthly pleasures and become his servant. What do I here?  She had not long to wait for the divine invitation.

Death of St Monica

She breathed forth her pure soul a few days after this interview, leaving an indelible impression upon the heart of her son, to the Church a name most dear and honored, and to Christian mothers a perfect example of the purest and holiest maternal affection.

O thou model of mothers! Christendom honors thee as one of the most perfect types of human nature regenerated by Christ. Previous to the Gospel, during those long ages when Woman was kept in a state of abjection, a Mother’s influence on her children was feeble and insignificant; her duties were generally limited to looking after their bodily well-being; and if some mothers of those times have handed their names down to posterity, it is only because they taught their sons to covet and win the passing glory of this world. But we have no instance, in pagan times, of a mother training her son to virtue, following him from city to city that she might help him in the struggle with error and the passions, and encourage him to rise after a fall; we do not meet with one who devoted herself to continual prayer and tears, with a view to obtain her son’s return to truth and Virtue. Christianity alone has revealed a Mother’s mission and power.

What forgetfulness of thyself, O Monica, in thine incessant endeavor to secure Augustine’s salvation! After God, it is for him thou livest; and to live for thy son in such a way as this, is it not living for God, who deigns to use thee as the instrument of his grace? What carest thou for Augustine’s glory and success in this world, when thou thinkest of the eternal dangers to which he is exposed, and of his being eternally separated from God and thee? There is no sacrifice or devotedness which thy maternal heart is not ready to make, in order to satisfy the Divine justice; it has its rights, and thou art too generous not to satisfy them. Thou waitest patiently, day and night, for God’s good time to come. The delay only makes thy prayer more earnest.

May 4 St Monica

Hoping against all hope, thou at length feelest, within thy heart, the humble but firm conviction, that the object of all these tears can never be lost. Moved with mercy towards thee, as he was for the sorrowing mother of Nairn, he speaks with that voice, which nothing can withstand: Young man! I say to thee, arise! And he gives him to his mother he gives thee the dear one whose death thou hadst so bitterly bewailed, but from whom thou couldst not tear thyself. What a recompense of thy maternal love is this! God is not satisfied with restoring thee Augustine full of life ; from the very depths of error and sin, this son of thine rises, and, at once, to the highest virtue. Thy prayers were that he might become a Catholic, and break certain ties which were both a disgrace and danger to him; when lo! One single stroke of grace has raised him to the sublime state of the Evangelical Counsels. Thy work is more than done, O happy mother! Speed thee to heaven; where, till thy Augustine joins thee, thou art to gaze on the saintly life and works of this son, whose salvation is due to thee, and whose bright glory, even while he sojourns here below, sheds the sweetest halo over thy venerated name. From the eternal home, where thou art now happy with this son of thine, who owes to thee his life both of earth and heaven, — cast a loving look, O Monica, on the many Christian mothers, who are now fulfilling on earth the hard but noble mission which was once thine. Their children are also dead with the death of sin; and they would restore them to true life, by the power of their maternal love. After the Mother of Jesus, it is to thee that they turn, O Monica, — thou whose prayers and tears were once so efficacious and so fruitful. Take their cause in hand; thy ten der and devoted heart cannot fail to compassionate them in the anguish, which was once thine own. Keep up their courage; teach them to hope. The conversion of these dear ones is to cost them many a sacrifice; get them the generosity and fortitude needed for their paying the price thus asked of them by God. Let them remember, that the conversion of a soul is a greater miracle than the raising a dead man to life; and that Divine Justice demands a compensation, which they, the mothers of these children, must be ready to make. This spirit of sacrifice will destroy that hidden egotism, which is but too frequently mingled with what seems to be affection of the purest kind. Let them ask themselves, if they would rejoice, as thou didst, O Monica, at finding that a vocation to the Religious Life were the result of the conversion they have so much at heart? If they are thus disinterested, let them not fear; their prayers and sufferings must be efficacious; sooner or later, the wished-for grace will descend upon the Prodigal, and he will return to God and his mother.

– Ven. Dom Gueranger – Liturgical Year


Monday Fourth Week After Easter – Double/White Vestments

St Monica, Widow –   Missa ‘Cognovi’

INTROIT Psalm 118: 75, 120

Cognovi, Domine, quia æquitas judicia tua, et in veritate tua humiliasti me: confige timore tuo carnes meas, a mandatis tuis timui. Ps 118. Beati immaculati in via: qui ambulant in lege Domini. Gloria Patri.

I know, O Lord that Thy judgments are equity, and in Thy truth Thou hast humbled me: pierce Thou my flesh with Thy fear, I am afraid of Thy judgments. Ps. Blessed are the undefiled in the way: who walk in the law of the Lord. Glory be to the Father.

May 4 Ss Monica and Augustine


O God, the consoler of them that mourn and the health of them that hope in Thee, Who didst show Thine acceptance of blessed Monica’s pious tears in the conversion of her son Augustine, grant us, by the intercession of them both, to deplore our sins and find the mercy of Thy grace. Through our Lord.

EPISTLE I Timothy 5: 3-10

Lesson from First Epistle of Saint Paul To Timothy

Dearly beloved: Honor widows that are widows indeed. But if any widow have children, or grandchildren, let her learn first to govern her own house, and to make a return of duty to her parents: for this is acceptable before God. But she that is a widow indeed and desolate, let her trust in God, and continue in prayers and supplications night and day. For she that liveth in pleasures, is dead while she is living. And this give in charge, that they may be blameless. But if any man have not care of his own, and especially of those of his house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel. Let a widow be chosen of no less than threescore years of age, who hath been the wife of one husband, having testimony for her good works, if she have brought up children, if she have received to harbor, if she have washed the saints’ feet, if she have ministered to them that suffer tribulation, if she have diligently followed every good work.


Allelúia, allelúia. Spécie tua, et pulchritúdine tua inténde, próspere procéde, et regna.

Alleluia. Própter veritátem et mansuetúdinem, et justítiam: et dedúcet te mirabíliter déxtera tua. Alleluia.

Polyptych of St Augustine, St Monica -  PIERO DELLA FRANCESCA

Alleluia, alleluia. With thy comeliness, and thy beauty, set out, proceed prosperously, and reign.

Alleluia. Because of truth, and meekness, and justice: and thy right hand shall conduct thee wonderfully. Alleluia.


Continuation of the holy Gospel according to Saint Luke

Luke 7: 11-16

At that time, Jesus went into a city called Naim: and there went with Him His disciples, and a great multitude. And when He came nigh to the gate of the city, behold a dead man was carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow, and many people of the city were with her. And when the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her, and said to her: Weep not. And He came near and touched the bier. And they that carried it stood still. And He said: Young man, I say to thee, Arise. And he that was dead, sat up, and began to speak. And He delivered him to his mother. And there came a fear on them all: and they glorified God, saying: A great Prophet is risen up amongst us, and God has visited His people.

OFFERTORY Psalm 44: 3

Diffusa est gratia in labiis tuis: propterea benedixit te Deus in æternum, et in sæculum sæculi.

Grace is poured abroad in thy lips: therefore God hath blessed thee for ever and for ages of ages.


May the offerings of thy holy people be accepted by Thee, O Lord, in honour of Thy saints, through whose merits they know that they have received aid in time of trouble. Through our Lord.


It is truly meet and just, right and for our salvation that we should at all times and in all places, give thanks unto Thee, O holy Lord, Father almighty, everlasting God: through Christ our Lord. Through Whom the Angels praise Thy Majesty, the Dominations worship it, the Powers stand in awe. The Heavens and the Heavenly hosts together with the blessed Seraphim in triumphant chorus unite to celebrate it. Together with them we entreat Thee, that Thou mayest bid our voices also to be admitted, while we say in lowly praise:

holy trinity


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 Psalm 44: 8

Dilexisti  justitiam, et odisti iniquitatem: propterea unxit te Deus, Deus tuus, oleo lætitiæ præ consortibus tuis, alleluia.

Thou hast loved justice and hated iniquity: therefore God thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. Alleluia.


Having fed Thy family, O Lord, with holy gifts, we beseech Thee, ever to comfort us by the intercession of her whose festival we celebrate. Through our Lord.

Feast of St. Agnes, Virgin and Martyr – Mass Propers

St. Agnes, V. M.

ST AGNES OF ROME – Virgin and Martyr

St. Agnes was but thirteen years old when she was led to the altar of Minerva at Rome and commanded to obey the persecuting laws of Diocletian by offering incense. In the midst of the idolatrous rites she raised her hands to Christ, her Spouse, and made the sign of the life-giving cross. She did not shrink when she was bound hand and foot, though the gyves slipped from her young hands, and the heathens who stood around were moved to tears. The bonds were not needed for her, and she hastened gladly to the place of her torture. Next, when the judge saw that pain had no terrors for her, he inflicted an insult worse than death: her clothes were stripped off, and she had to stand in the street before a pagan crowd; yet even this did not daunt her. “Christ,” she said, “will guard His own.” So it was. Christ showed, by a miracle, the value which He sets upon the custody of the eyes. Whilst the crowd turned away their eyes from the spouse of Christ, as she stood exposed to view in the street, there was one young man who dared to gaze at the innocent child with immodest eyes. A flash of light struck him blind, and his companions bore him away half dead with pain and terror.

Lastly, her fidelity to Christ was proved by flattery and offers of marriage. But she answered, “Christ is my Spouse: He chose me first, and His I will be.” At length the sentence of death was passed. For a moment she stood erect in prayer, and then bowed her neck to the sword. At one stroke her head was severed from her body, and the angels bore her pure soul to Paradise.

Reflection: Her innocence endeared St. Agnes to Christ, as it has endeared her to His Church ever since. Even as penitents we may imitate this innocence of hers in our own degree. Let us strictly guard our eyes, and Christ, when He sees that we keep our hearts pure for love of Him, will renew our youth and give us back the years which the canker-worm has wasted.

Martyrdom of St Agnes

Martyrdom of St Agnes

The Martyrdom of St. Agnes

The earliest source for her life is from the writing of Saint Ambrose of Milan in the late fourth century, who gives few details except for Agnes’ age and the fact that she was executed by the sword. The version provided by Pope Damasus I (reigned 366 to 383) contradicts this, however, saying she suffered martyrdom by fire. Damasus adds that she voluntarily declared herself a believer immediately after the promulgation of Diocletian’s imperial edict against the Christians. He further describes her courage and modesty. Thus, Agnes thought nothing of her own pain or even her death, but was particularly concerned at the moment of her martyrdom to conceal her chaste body, which had been exposed to the gaze of the pagan multitude. She succeeded in covering her nakedness by means of her long, flowing hair.

Patronage – Betrothed couples; chastity; crops; gardeners; Girl Scouts; rape victims; virgins

Of all the virgin martyrs of Rome none was held in such high honor by the primitive church, since the fourth century, as St. Agnes.

GRECO, El The Virgin and Child with St Martina and St Agnes (detail) 1597-99 Oil on canvas National Gallery of Art, Washington Web Gallery of Art

The Virgin and Child with St Martina and St Agnes (detail)
Oil on canvas – 

 St. Agnes  – The Liturgical Year

How rich is the constellation of Martyrs, which shines in this portion of the sacred cycle! Yesterday we had St Sebastian; tomorrow we shall be singing the name which means Victory, for it is the Feast of Vincent; and now today, between these two stalwart palm-branches, we find the gentle Agnes decked with the roses and lilies of her virginity. It is to a girl of thirteen that our Emmanuel gave this stern courage of martyrdom which made her meet the enemy with as bold a front as either the valiant captain of the pretorian band or the dauntless deacon of Saragossa. If they are the soldiers of Jesus, she is his tender and devoted Spouse. These are the triumphs of the Son of Mary! Scarcely has he shown himself to the world, and lo! Every noble heart flies towards him, according to that word of his: Wheresoever the body shall be, there ‘shall the eagles also be gathered together. It is the admirable result of the Virginity of his Blessed Mother, who has brought honor to the fecundity of the soul, and set it far above that of the body. It was Mary that first opened the way whereby certain chosen souls mount up even to the Divine Son, and fix their gaze in a cloudless vision on his beauty; for he himself said: Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God.

St Agnes (Meekness) 1592 - Bronze

What a glory it is for the Catholic Church, that she alone has the gift of this holy state of virginity, which is the source of every other sacrifice, because nothing but the love of God could inspire a human heart to vow virginity! And what a grand honor for Christian Rome that she should have produced a Saint Agnes, that angel of earth, in comparison with whom the Vestals of paganism are mere pretenses of devotedness, for their Virginity was never punished by fire and sword, nay, rather, was flattered by the recompense of earthly honors and riches! Not that our Saint is without her recompense; only her recompense is not marred with the flaw of all human rewards. The name of this child, who lived but thirteen short years, will be echoed, to the end of time, in the sacred Canon of the universal Sacrifice. The path trod by the innocent maiden, on the way to her trial, is still marked out in the Holy City.

St. Agnes, the Roman Virgin Martyr

It is the feast of a martyr; let us offer up our Sacrifice. It is the feast of St Agnes; let men admire, and children not despair; let the married wonder, and the unmarried imitate. But what can we speak worthy of this Saint, whose very name is not void of praise? As her devotedness is beyond her years, and her virtue superhuman-so, as it seems to me, her name is not an appellation, but a prophecy, presaging that she was to be a martyr.’ The holy Doctor is here alluding to the word Agnus, from which some have derived the name Agnes and he says that the young Saint had immolation in her very name, for it called her victim. Agnes, from the Greek word Agnes, which means pure and he thus continues his discourse: The maiden’s name is an expression of purity. Martyr then, and Virgin! Is not that praise enough? There is no praise so eloquent as merit that is too great to need seeking.

St Agnes, St Bartholomew and St Cecilia (detail)

At such an age as this, a girl trembles if she but see her mother angry, and cries as though it were a grievous thing if but pricked with a needle’s point. And Agnes, who stands amidst blood-stained murderers, is fearless! She is stunned with the rattle of the heavy chains, and yet not a flutter in that heart! She offers her whole body to the sword of the furious soldier, for though she knows not what death is, yet she is quite ready to endure it. Perchance they will take her by force to the altars of their gods! If they do, she will stretch out her hands to Jesus, and amidst those sacrilegious fires she will sign herself with that blessed sign, the trophy of our divine Conqueror; and then, if they will, and they can find shackles small enough to fit such tender limbs, they may fasten her hands and neck in their iron fetters! “How strange a martyrdom. She is too young to be punished, yet she is old enough to win a victory. She cannot fight, yet she easily gains a crown. She has but the age of a scholar, yet has she mastered every virtue. Bride never went to nuptials with so glad a heart, nor so light a step, as this young virgin marches to the place of execution.

‘Her executioner does all he can to frighten her; he speaks fair words to coax her; he tells her of all the suitors who have sought her as their bride; but she replies: ” The Spouse insults her Beloved if she hesitate. I belong to him who first betrothed me: why, executioner, dost thou not strike? Kill this body, which might be loved by eyes I would not wish to please.” , She stood, she prayed, she bowed down her head. The executioner trembles, as though himself were going to be beheaded. His hand shakes, and his cheek grows pale, to strike this girl, who loves the danger and the blow. Here, then, have we a twofold martyrdom in a single victim, one for her chastity, the other for her faith. She was a Virgin before; and now she is a Martyr.

The Liturgical Year – Very Ven. Dom Guéranger

holy sacrifice of the mass 4

ST AGNES, Virgin and Martyr

Double / Red Vestments

Missa ‘Me exspectaverunt’

INTROIT Ps. 118. 95, 96, 1

Me exspectaverunt peccatores, ut perderent me: testimonia tua, Domine, intellexi: omnis

consummationis vidi finem: latum mandatum tuum nimis.

Ps. Beati immaculati in via: qui ambulant in lege Domini.

Gloria Patri.

The wicked have waited for me to destroy me: but I have understood Thy testimonies, O Lord: I have seen an end of all perfection; Thy command is exceeding broad.

Ps. Blessed are the undefiled in the way: who walk in the law of the Lord.

Glory be to the Father.


O Almighty and everlasting God, who dost choose the weak things of the world to confound the strong: mercifully grant that we who keep the solemn feast of blessed Agnes, Thy Virgin and Martyr, may experience the benefit of her pleading with Thee. Through our Lord.

St. John the Baptist and St Agnes

St. John the Baptist and St Agnes

EPISTLE – Ecclesiasticus 51: 1-8, 12

The Lesson is taken from the Book of Wisdom

I will give glory to Thee, O Lord, O King, and I will praise Thee, O God my Savior. I will give glory to Thy name: for Thou hast been a helper and protector to me, and hast preserved my body from destruction, from the snare of an unjust tongue, and from the lips of them that forge lies: and in the sight of them that stood by Thou hast been my helper. And Thou has delivered me, according to the multitude of the mercy of Thy name, from them that did roar prepared to devour; out of the hands of them that sought my life, and from the gates of afflictions which com- passed me about: from the oppression of the flame which surrounded me, and in the midst of the fire I was not burnt: from the depth of the belly of hell, and from an unclean tongue, and from lying words, from an unjust king, and from a slanderous tongue. My soul shall praise the Lord even to death: because Thou, O Lord our God, deliverest them that wait for Thee, and savest the out of the hands of the nations.

GRADUAL Psalm 44: 3, 5

Grace is poured abroad in thy lips: therefore hath God blessed thee for ever. Because of truth, and meekness, and justice: and thy right hand shall conduct thee wonderfully.

ALLELUIA Matthew 25: 4, 6

Alleluia, alleluia. The five wise virgins took oil in their vessels with the lamps: and at midnight there was a cry made: Behold the bridegroom cometh, go ye forth to meet Christ our Lord. Alleluia.

Watch ye therefore, because you know not the day nor the hour.

Watch ye therefore, because you know not the day nor the hour.

GOSPEL Matthew 25: 1-13

The continuation of the Holy Gospel according to St. Matthew

At that time, Jesus spoke to His disciples this parable: The kingdom of Heaven shall be like to ten virgins, who taking their lamps went out to meet the bridegroom and the bride. And five of them were foolish, and five wise; but the five foolish having taken their lamps, did not take oil with them: but the wise took oil in their vessels with the lamps. And the bridegroom tarrying, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made: Behold the bridegroom cometh, go ye forth to meet him. Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise: Give us of your oil, for our lamps are gone out. The wise answered, saying: Lest perhaps there be not enough for us and for you, go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. Now, whilst they went to buy, the bridegroom came: and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage, and the door was shut. But at last came also the other virgins, saying: Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answering said: Amen I say to you, I know you not. Watch ye therefore, because you know not the day nor the hour.

OFFERTORY Psalm 44: 15-16

After her shall virgins be brought to the King: her neighbors shall be brought to Thee with gladness and rejoicing: they shall be brought into the temple of the King, the Lord.


O Lord, graciously receive the oblations which we offer up to Thee; and by the intercession of blessed Agnes, Thy Virgin and Martyr, loose the bonds of our sins. Through our Lord.


It is truly meet and just, right and for our salvation that we should at all times and in all places, give thanks unto Thee, O holy Lord, Father almighty, eternal God: through Christ our Lord, through Whom the Angels praise Thy Majesty, Dominations worship, Powers stand in awe. The Heavens and the Heavenly hosts together with the blessed Seraphim in triumphant chorus unite to celebrate it. Together with them we entreat Thee, that Thou mayest bid our voices also to be admitted, while we say in lowly praise:

Holy Sacrifice of the Mass - after Epiphany

The Sanctus

SANCTUS, SANCTUS, SANCTUS Dominus Deus Sabaoth. Pleni sunt coeli et terra gloria Tua. Hosanna in excelsis.  Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini. Hosanna in excelsis.

COMMUNION Matthew 25: 4, 6

The five wise virgins took oil in their vessels with the lamps; but at midnight there was a cry made: Behold the bridegroom cometh, go ye forth to meet Christ our Lord.


We who have been refreshed with heavenly food and drink, humbly entreat Thee, O our God, that we may be defended by the prayers of her in whose memory we have partaken of these mysteries. Through our Lord…

THIRD SUNDAY IN ADVENT – Prayers and Devotions / Mass Propers

The Visitation of the Virgin to Saint Elizabeth



Let us consider how our Blessed Lady, having arrived at the house of her holy cousin Elizabeth, rendered her every possible service with the greatest love, favored her with her sweet and holy conversations, assisted at the glorious Birth of St. John the Baptist, and at length returned home to her humble dwelling at Nazareth. But, that we may the better enter into these divine mysteries, let us again listen to the Seraphic St. Bonaventure : ” When, therefore, her time was expired, Elizabeth gave birth to a son, whom our Lady took up, and with all diligence did what was required. The babe looked into Mary’s face like one that knew her; and as she gave him unto his mother, he turned his head towards Mary, for he fain would be in her arms again. Mary, on her part, delighted in nursing this holy babe, and fondled him, and kissed him with great joy. Consider the honour that is here given unto John. Never had child such arms as these to carry him. Many other privileges are related as being granted unto him; but for this present, I must needs pass them by. “Now, on the eighth day, the child was circumcised, and was called John. Then was the mouth Blessed be the Lord God of Israel! Thus were made, in that house, the two most beautiful Canticles, namely, the Magnificat and the Benedictus. Meanwhile, our Lady going aside, lest she should be seen by those that had come together for the ceremony, listened attentively to the Canticle of Zachary, which prophesied of her Son, and most prudently pondered in her heart upon all these things. At length, when the time came for her to return home, she bade Elizabeth and Zachary farewell, and giving John her blessing, she returned unto Nazareth. Recall to thy mind, in this her second journey, all that was told thee of her poverty. She returned to her house, neither bread, nor wine, nor those things which were needed. She had no property, nor money. She had been, now these three months, living with persons who were very rich; but now she returns unto her poor cottage, and has to procure her livelihood by the labour of her hands. “Do thou sympathize with her, and learn to love poverty.”


Taken from the ancient Roman-French Missal

Hail, O glorious Virgin! Brightness of the heavens!

Hail, O glorious Virgin! Brightness of the heavens, Rose of the world, lily of purity Hail, precious gem! More beauteous than the sun, and Joy of pure souls. Thou art the sinner’s hope, O Mary! Thou art the holy Mother of our Redeemer, and The consolation of us whom He redeemed. Thou didst stay the reign of death, thou didst commence the reign of life. To thee, O Mary, the triple Hierarchy sing their praises. Hail! Flowery stem of Jesse, bright Star of the Sea, source that broughtest to us Him that is our true light. Thou bearest the Fruit of life, and he whom thou leadest will not miss the port of salvation. O flowery garden, so sweet to the sick! O sealed fount of purity, that gavest us Jesus the author of grace. Thou throne of the true Solomon, enriched by the King of glory with the best of heaven’s gifts. O merciful Queen! Thou art the rich unfailing stream of all sanctity. Have pity on us who trust in thee, and refresh our thirsty souls with thy efficacious prayers. Hear our sighs, O Mary! And suffer not us, poor children of Eve, to go astray. Look with thy eye of love on our many wants: compassionate our poverty. Vessel of every fragrance, and Mother and treasury of divine grace. Breathe thy fragrance into our souls, and obtain for us the riches of grace. Beautiful Mother of our sweet Jesus! The world received its Saviour through thee, and the heavenly citizens call thee Queen. Obtain for us that peace which has no end, and after this our exile, that light which is divine. Amen.

PRAYER FOR THE TIME OF ADVENT Friday of the Second Week of Advent (The Mozarabic Breviary)

O King, whom our hearts desire, Lord Jesus Christ, come, we beseech thee, cleanse us as a furnace of fire from the dross of our sins, and make us like gold that is pure, and like silver that is without alloy. Inflame our hearts, by thy inspiration, that they seek thee unceasingly: so may our desires long with all ardor after thee, and pant with all eagerness to be united with thee. Amen.

Dom Prosper Guéranger, O.S.B. – The Liturgical Year

Third Sunday in Advent - Holy Sacrifice of the Mass

Third Sunday of Advent – Gaudete Sunday / Rose Sunday

II Class / Semidouble / Rose or Violet Vestments

Missa – ‘ Gaudate’

INTROIT Philippians 4. 4-6

Gaudate in Dómino semper: íterum dico, gaudéte. Modéstia vestra nota sit ómnibus homínibus: Dóminus enim prope est. Nihil sollíciti sitis: sed in omni oratióne petitiónes vestræ innotéscant apud Deum.

Ps. 84: 2 Benedixísti, Dómine, terram tuam: avertísti captivitátem Jacob. Gloria Patri.

Gaudate in Dómino semper…

Rejoice in the Lord always: again I say, rejoice. Let your modesty be known to all men: for the Lord is nigh. Be nothing solicitous: but in everything by prayer let your petitions be made known to God.

Ps. Lord, Thou hast blessed Thy land: Thou hast turned away the captivity of Jacob. V. Glory be to the Father.

Rejoice in the Lord always…


Aurem tuam, quǽsumus, Dómine, précibus nostris accómmoda: et mentis nostræ ténebras grátia tuæ visitatiónis illústra: Qui vivis.


Incline Thine ear to our prayers we beseech Thee, O Lord; and enlighten the darkness of our minds by the grace of Thy visitation: Who livest.

EPISTLE Philippians 4. 4-7 

Fratres: Gaudéte in Dómino semper: íterum dico, gaudéte. Modéstia vestra nota sit ómnibus homínibus: Dóminus prope est. Nihil sollíciti sitis: sed in omni oratióne et obsecratióne, cum gratiárum actióne, petitiónes vestræ innotéscant apud Deum. Et pax Dei, quæ exsúperat omnem sensum, custó- diat corda vestra et intelligéntias vestras, in Christo Jesu Dómino nostro.

Brethren, Rejoice in the Lord always: again, I say, rejoice. Let your modesty be known to all men. The Lord is nigh. Be nothing solicitous: but in everything, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your petitions be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasseth all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord.

GRADUAL: Psalm 79. 2-3, 2

Qui sedes, Dómine, super Chérubim, éxcita poténtiam tuam et veni. Qui regis Israël, inténde: qui dedúcis velut ovem Joseph. Thou, O Lord, That sittest upon the Cherubim, stir up Thy might and come. Give ear, O Thou that rulest Israel: that leadest Joseph like a sheep.


Alleluia, allelúia. Excita, Dómine, poténtiam tuam et veni, ut salvos fácias nos.  Allelúia. Stir up, O Lord, Thy might, and come to save us. Alleluia.

GOSPEL John 1:19-28

In illo témpore: Misérunt Judǽi ab Jerosólymis sacerdótes et levítas ad Joánnem, ut interrogárent eum: Tu quis es? Et conféssus est, et non negávit: et conféssus est:  Quia non sum ego Christus. Et interroga- vérunt eum: Quid ergo? Elías es tu? Et dixit: Non sum. Prophéta es tu? Et respóndit: Non. Dixérunt ergo ei: Quis es, ut respónsum demus his, qui misérunt nos? quid dicis de teípso? Ait: Ego vox clamántis in desérto: Dirígite viam Dómini, sicut dixit Isaías prophéta. Et qui missi fúerant, erant ex Pharisǽis. Et interrogavérunt eum, et dixérunt ei: Quid ergo baptízas, si tu non es Christus, neque Elías, neque Prophéta? Respóndit eis Joánnes, dicens: Ego baptízo in aqua: médius autem vestrum stetit quem vos nescítis. Ipse est, qui post me ventúrus est, qui ante me factus est: cujus ego non sum dignus ut solvam ejus corrígiam calceaménti. Hæc in Bethánia facta sunt trans Jordánem, ubi erat Joánnes baptízans.

st john the baptist

At that time the Jews sent from Jerusalem priests and Levites to John, to ask him: Who art thou? And he confessed, and did not deny; and he confessed: I am not the Christ. And they asked him: What then? Art thou Elias? And he said: I am not. Art thou the Prophet? And he answered: No. They said therefore unto him: Who art thou, that we may give an answer to them that sent us? What sayest thou of thyself? He said: I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the Prophet Isaias. And they that were sent were of the Pharisees. And they asked him, and said to him: Why then dost thou baptize; if thou be not Christ, nor Elias, nor the Prophet? John answered them, saying: I baptize with water: but there hath stood one in the midst of you, whom you know not. The same is He that shall come after me, who is preferred before me: the latchet of whose shoe I am not worthy to loose. These things were done in Bethania, beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing.

Gaudate Sunday – Sermon: The Peace of God – Fr Isaac Mary Relyea

OFFERTORY Psalm 84: 2-3

Benedixisti, Dómine, terram tuam: avertísti captivitátem Jacob: remisísti iniquitátem plebis tuæ.

Lord, Thou hast blessed Thy land: Thou hast turned away the captivity of Jacob: Thou hast forgiven the iniquity of Thy people.

December 8 Feast of the Immaculate Conception BVM


Devotionisnostræ tibi, quǽsumus, Dómine, hóstia júgiter immolétur: quæ et sacri péragat institiúta mystérii, et salutáre tuum in nobis mirabíliter operétur. Per Dóminum.

May the sacrifice of our devotion, we beseech Thee, O Lord, be always offered unto Thee: that it may both fulfil the end for which Thou didst institute this sacred mystery, and wonderfully work in us Thy salvation. Through our Lord.


Vere dignum et justum est, aequum et salutare, nos tibi semper, et ubique gratias agere: Domine sancta, Pater omnipotens, aeterne Deus. Qui cum unigenito Filio: tuo et Spiritu Sancto, unus es Deus, unus es Dominus: non in uninus singularitate personae, sed in unius Trinitae substantiae. Quo denim de tua Gloria, revelante te, credimus, hoc de Filio tuo, hod de Spiritu Sancto, sine differentia discretionis sentimus. Ut in confessione verare, sempitiernaeque Deitatis, et in personis proprietas, et in essential unitas, et in majestate adoretur aequalitas. Quam laudant Angeli atque Archangeli, Cherubim, quoque ac Seraphim: qui non cessant clamare quotodie, una voce dicentes:

It is truly meet and just, right and for our salvation, that we should at all times and in all places, give thanks unto Thee, O holy Lord, Father almighty, ever-lasting God: Who, together with Thine only-begotten Son, and the Holy Ghost, are one God, one Lord: not in the oneness of a single Person, but in the Trinity of one substance. For what we believe by Thy revelation of Thy glory, the same do we believe of Thy Son, the same of the Holy Ghost, without difference or separation. So that in con- fessing the true and everlasting Godhead, distinction in persons, unity in essence, and equality in majesty may be adored. Which the Angels and Archangels, the Cherubim also and Seraphim do praise: who cease not daily to cry out with one voice 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  Isaiah 35. 4

Dicite: Pusillánimes confortámini, et nolíte timére: ecce Deus noster véniet, et salvábit nos.

Say to the fainthearted, take courage and fear not: behold our God will come and will save us.

holy trinity


Imploramus, Dómine, cleméntiam tuam: ut hæc divína subsídia, a vítiis expiátos, ad festa ventára nos prǽparent. Per Dóminum nostrum.

We implore Thy mercy, O Lord, that these divine mysteries, by atoning for our sins, may prepare us for the coming festival. Through our Lord.