‘When Andrew had found Jesus, he called his brother Simon to be a partaker of his joys, which (as it happens in accidents of greatest pleasure) cannot be contained within the limits of the possessor’s thoughts. But this calling of Peter was not to a beholding, but to a participation of his felicities; for he is strangely covetous, who would enjoy the sun, or the air, or the sea, alone; here was treasure for him and all the world; and by lighting on his brother Simon’s taper he made his own light the greater and more glorious. And this is the nature of grace, to be diffusive of its own excellencies; for here no envy can inhabit; the proper and personal ends of holy persons in the contact, and transmissions of grace, are increased by the participation and communion of others. For our prayers are more effectual, our aids increased, our encouragement and examples more prevalent, God more honoured, and the rewards of glory have accidental advantages by the superaddition of every new saint and beatified person; the members of the mystical body, when they have received nutriment of God, and his holy son, supplying to each other the same which themselves received and live on, in the communion of saints. Every new star gilds the firmament and increases its first glories: and those, who are instruments of the conversion of others, shall not only introduce new beauties, but when themselves shine like the stars in glory, they shall have some reflections from the light of others, to whose fixing in the orb of heaven themselves have been instrumental’.
Jeremy Taylor, 1613-1667 (Anglican Bishop of Down and Connor, 1661-1667)
Almighty God, who didst give such grace unto thy holy Apostle Saint Andrew, that he readily obeyed the calling of thy Son Jesus Christ, and followed him without delay: grant unto us all; that we, being called by thy holy Word, may forthwith give up ourselves obediently to fulfil thy holy commandments; through the same Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Divine Worship: The Missal.
Lastly, let us remember before the Lord that multitude of which no man can number,
who in the hope of the resurrection have passed through the valley of the shadow of death;
and let us pray that the Lord may grant unto them his eternal light.
V. Rest eternal grant unto them, O Lord,
R. And may light perpetual shine upon them.
Into thy hands, O Lord, we commend the souls of the all the faithful departed,
as into the hands of a faithful Creator and most loving Saviour,
beseeching thee to grant unto them forgiveness and peace; Jesu, mercy.
Grant that all stain of sin may be done away,
and that in thy light they may see light; Jesu, mercy.
Grant unto them the renewing and enriching of thy gifts to them,
that with all their powers they may serve thee and thy kingdom; Jesu, mercy.
Grant to us, Lord, in our pilgrimage the help of their prayers; Jesu, mercy.
Grant to thy Church, Lord, the assurance of the communion of saints
and the joy of their fellowship: that they and we may be for ever one in thee; Jesu, mercy.
Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Our Father...
Now unto him that is able to keep us from falling and to present us faultless before
the presence of his glory with exceeding joy; to the only wise God our Saviour
be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.
from Cambridge Offices and Orisons, 1949
arranged by Eric Milner-White and BTD Smith
O day of life, of light, of love!
The only day dealt from above!
A day so fresh, so bright, so brave,
’Twill show us each forgotten grace,
And make the dead, like flowers, arise
Youthful and fair to see new skies.
All other days, compared to thee,
Are but Light’s weak minority;
They are but veils, and cypress drawn
Like clouds, before thy glorious dawn.
O come! arise! shine! do not stay,
Dearly lov’d day!
The fields are long since white, and I
With earnest groans for freedom cry;
My fellow-creatures too say “Come!”
And stones, though speechless, are not dumb.
When shall we hear that glorious voice
Of life and joys?
That voice, which to each secret bed
Of my Lord’s dead,
Shall being true day, and make dust see
The way to immortality?
When shall those first white pilgrims rise,
Whose holy, happy histories
– Because they sleep so long – some men
Count but the blots of a vain pen?
Dear Lord! make haste!
Sin every day commits more waste;
And Thy old enemy, which knows
His time is short, more raging grows.
Nor moan I only – though profuse –
Thy creature’s bondage and abuse;
But what is highest sin and shame,
The vile despite done to Thy name;
The forgeries, which impious wit
And power force on Holy Writ,
With all detestable designs,
That may dishonour those pure lines.
O God! though mercy be in Thee
The greatest attribute we see,
And the most needful for our sins;
Yet, when Thy mercy nothing wins
But mere disdain, let not man say
“Thy arm doth sleep”, but write this day
Thy judging one: descend, descend!
Make all things news, and without end!
Henry Vaughan, 1621-1695
‘Now the work of the Church is one. Through all the diversities of operations of the Divine Spirit, He is ever tending to the fulfilment of one purpose, the perfecting of the revelation of Christ in His new creation. And that work is in the unseen and spiritual world. The departed are withdrawn entirely from this world of sense, and are in that world only. We are in both worlds. Outwardly in the visible world, by the sacraments of Christ we are brought within the veil, where Christ is, and are called to share in the one life-work of His mystical Body. Those who are wholly within the veil have no sacraments, but the same Holy Spirit energises in them Who works in us through sacraments. And as in the natural body it is during repose that the processes of nutrition are most active, repairing and strengthening the wasted and worn tissues; and as for the fulld development of the human frame there are needed both the periods of outward activity in which there is wear and tear, and trial and strain and fatigue, and the periods of rest in which there is renewing and building up; so may it be in the spiritual life. We have the period of struggle and trial in this life, and of silent working—the secret fashioning and building up by the Spirit of God – in the unseen world. But there is this great difference between the natural and the spiritual life. The former is isolated in each individual bound up in his own personality; the latter is one in all he whole Catholic Church, and it is bound up with the Being of God and with the Person of Christ. “God hath given unto us eternal life, and this life is in His Son”. The life, we repeat, is one in the one Body of Christ. No supernatural actions of members of that Body can be isolated, for they are actions of the one Life which is by the one Spirit of God. The souls of the departed are still His temples. His working in them and in us is not two separate things, but one. It is true the method and the condition of His working in us and in them are not the same. We are tempted, they are not. In us He works through sacraments, in them, since they are not in the flesh, without sacraments. But the powers of the spiritual life, which was begun in them through sacraments, are being developed and going on to perfection. And we, in offering the Holy Sacrifice, plead for them. The Church Militant, by drinking of the precious Blood of the Saviour, and thus renewing her strength, causes the pulses of that Life-blood to beat with increased force throughout the whole Mystical Body. We members of the Church on earth, by our prayers, are putting forth the spiritual force which is destined to do its part in accomplishing the eternal purpose of God: the Holy Spirit in us working both to will and to do of His good pleasure, guiding our wills to work in perfect accord with the will of God. For the one real force in the whole universe of God is will. This is the highest product of life. In the natural world we see the will of God creating, directing, upholding; and also the angelic wills co-operating with Him in part of that His work. In the spiritual world He calls us also, His human creatures, to take our part, to use our wills. There are two supreme actions of the spiritual world – worship and prayer, the one directed to God alone, without reference to the creatures; the other directed to God, but also having regard to the creatures. It is the Divine purpose that by prayer – i.e., the action of our wills in accord with the will of God – the purpose of God in the new creation should be accomplished. In this we all have our part: the souls of the Martyrs pleading beneath the heavenly Altar, each little Christian child learning to utter its first prayer, each band of devout worshippers at the Holy Sacrifice – all are putting forth spiritual energy, the power of their wills, for one end – “Thy Kingdom come.” And so each is working for all. When we say “Our Father,” we pray for all, for the faithful living and departed, that he would send His grace upon them to enable them to worship and serve and obey Him; we pray that He would give them all things needful for them, that they may obtain remission of all their sins, and find mercy of the Lord in that day. And the prayers of all are directed and inspired by the one Spirit, “Who helpeth our infirmities, for we know not what we should pray for as we ought; but the Spirit Himself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered… because He maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God”’.
from a sermon preached in 1888 by John Wale Hicks, Vicar of St Mary the Less, Cambridge
‘If We ordain that the whole Catholic world shall revere Christ as King, We shall minister to the need of the present day, and at the same time provide an excellent remedy for the plague which now infects society. We refer to the plague of anti-clericalism, its errors and impious activities. This evil spirit, as you are well aware, Venerable Brethren, has not come into being in one day; it has long lurked beneath the surface. The empire of Christ over all nations was rejected. The right which the Church has from Christ himself, to teach mankind, to make laws, to govern peoples in all that pertains to their eternal salvation, that right was denied. Then gradually the religion of Christ came to be likened to false religions and to be placed ignominiously on the same level with them. It was then put under the power of the state and tolerated more or less at the whim of princes and rulers. Some men went even further, and wished to set up in the place of God’s religion a natural religion consisting in some instinctive affection of the heart. There were even some nations who thought they could dispense with God, and that their religion should consist in impiety and the neglect of God. The rebellion of individuals and states against the authority of Christ has produced deplorable consequences. We lamented these in the Encyclical Ubi arcano; we lament them today: the seeds of discord sown far and wide; those bitter enmities and rivalries between nations, which still hinder so much the cause of peace; that insatiable greed which is so often hidden under a pretense of public spirit and patriotism, and gives rise to so many private quarrels; a blind and immoderate selfishness, making men seek nothing but their own comfort and advantage, and measure everything by these; no peace in the home, because men have forgotten or neglect their duty; the unity and stability of the family undermined; society in a word, shaken to its foundations and on the way to ruin. We firmly hope, however, that the feast of the Kingship of Christ, which in future will be yearly observed, may hasten the return of society to our loving Saviour. It would be the duty of Catholics to do all they can to bring about this happy result. Many of these, however, have neither the station in society nor the authority which should belong to those who bear the torch of truth. This state of things may perhaps be attributed to a certain slowness and timidity in good people, who are reluctant to engage in conflict or oppose but a weak resistance; thus the enemies of the Church become bolder in their attacks. But if the faithful were generally to understand that it behooves them ever to fight courageously under the banner of Christ their King, then, fired with apostolic zeal, they would strive to win over to their Lord those hearts that are bitter and estranged from him, and would valiantly defend his rights’.
from the encyclical Quas Primas: On the Feast of Christ the King, 11 December 1925
by Pope Pius XI, 1857-1939
Almighty and everlasting God, whose will it is to restore all things in thy well-beloved Son, the King of kings and Lord of lords: mercifully grant that the peoples of the earth, divided and enslaved by sin, may be freed and brought together under his most gracious rule; who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Divine Worship: The Missal.
‘Clement revealed his ideal Church. She was assembled by “the one Spirit of grace poured out upon us” which breathes on the various members of the Body of Christ, where all, united without any divisions, are “members of one another”.
The clear distinction between the “lay person” and the hierarchy in no way signifies opposition, but only this organic connection of a body, an organism with its different functions. The Church, in fact, is not a place of confusion and anarchy where one can do what one likes all the time: each one in this organism, with an articulated structure, exercises his ministry in accordance with the vocation he has received.
With regard to community leaders, Clement clearly explains the doctrine of Apostolic Succession. The norms that regulate it derive ultimately from God himself. The Father sent Jesus Christ, who in turn sent the Apostles. They then sent the first heads of communities and established that they would be succeeded by other worthy men.
Everything, therefore, was made “in an orderly way, according to the will of God”. With these words, these sentences, St Clement underlined that the Church’s structure was sacramental and not political.
The action of God who comes to meet us in the liturgy precedes our decisions and our ideas. The Church is above all a gift of God and not something we ourselves created; consequently, this sacramental structure does not only guarantee the common order but also this precedence of God’s gift which we all need’.
Pope Benedict XVI
O everlasting Shepherd, favourably look upon thy flock: and keep it with perpetual protection, through the intercession of blessed Clement, thy Pope and Martyr, whom thou didst appoint to be shepherd of the whole Church; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Divine Worship: The Missal.
This is that blessed Mary, pre-elect
God’s virgin. Gone is a great while, and she
Dwelt young in Nazareth of Galilee.
Unto God’s will she brought devout respect,
Profound simplicity of intellect,
And supreme patience. From her mother’s knee
Faifthul and hopeful; wise in charity;
Strong in grave peace; in pity circumspect.
So held she through her girlhood, as it were
An angel-watered lily, that near God
Grows and is quiet. Till, one dawn at home,
She woke in her white bed, and had no fear
At all – yet wept ’til sunshine, and felt awed:
Because the fulness of the time was come.
Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1828-1882
Almighty and everlasting God, who by the overshadowing of the Holy Ghost didst prepare the body and soul
of the glorious Virgin Mother Mary to be a dwelling-place for thy Son: grant that we who rejoice in her Presentation
may at her tender intercession be kept unspotted, and made a pure temple for his dwelling;
who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.
Divine Worship: The Missal
Today is the memorial of Saint Edmund, King and Martyr. The photographs above were taken during a 2015 pilgrimage stop at St Edmundsbury Cathedral in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk. Adjacent to the Anglican cathedral (which the former parish church of St James became in 1914 with the creation of the Anglican Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich) lie the ruins of Bury St Edmunds Abbey. The abbey, destroyed in 1539, was home to St Edmund’s shrine, and was one of the major pilgrimage sites in mediaeval England. Thanks to the kindness of the cathedral authorities I was fortunate enough to be able to able to offer Mass according to Divine Worship: The Missal in the Lady Chapel.
‘Edmund the blessed, king of the East Angles, was wise and honourable and by his excellent conduct, ever glorified almighty God. He was humble and devout, and continued so steadfast that he would not yield to shameful sins, nor bend aside his practices in any direction, always mindful of the counsel that if you are made a chief, do not exalt yourself but be amongst men as one of them. He was bountiful to the poor and to widows, even like a father, benignly guiding his people towards righteousness, controlling the violent, and living happily in the true faith. At last the Danes came with a fleet, harrying and slaying widely over the land. They landed in Northumbria, wasted the land and slew the people. Hingwar, one of their leaders, sent a threatening message to King Edmund, who undismayed turned to their messenger and said, “Truly you deserve to die, but I will not defile my clean hands with your foul blood, because I follow Christ who has given us an example. Depart now quickly, and say to your cruel lord: Edmund the king will never bow in life to Hingwar the heathen leader, unless he will in faith first bow, in this land, to Jesus Christ”. The messenger, leaving quickly, met the bloodthirsty Hingwar on the way with all his army hurrying to Edmund, and told that wicked man how he was answered. Hingwar then arrogantly commanded his troops that they should take the king who had despised his command and instantly bind him.
Edmund stood within his hall, mindful of the Saviour, and threw away his weapons, desiring to imitate the example of Christ who forbade Peter to fight with weapons against the bloodthirsty Jews. Then those wicked men bound Edmund, shamefully insulted him and beat him with clubs, and afterward they led the faithful king to a tree, tied him to it with hard bonds, and scourged him, while with true faith he called between the blows on Jesus Christ. The heathen were madly angry, because he called on Christ to help him. They shot at him with javelins as if for their amusement, until he was covered with their shots, as with a porcupine’s bristles, just as Sebastian was. When Hingwar, the wicked seaman, saw that the noble king would not deny Christ but with steadfast faith called upon him, he commanded men to behead him, and while he was still calling upon Christ, the heathen drew away the saint and with one blow struck off his head; and his soul departed joyfully to Christ’.
from the Lives of the Saints by Aelfric of Eynsham, c.955-c.1010
O God of unspeakable mercy, who didst give thy blessed Saint Edmund grace to overcome the enemy by dying for thy Name: mercifully grant to us thy servants; that by his intercession we may be found worthy to conquer and subdue the temptations of our ancient adversary; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Divine Worship: The Missal.
‘[S]uch commemorations of the Faithful Departed, was the Church’s way of giving Glory to God, for His work of Grace, for His redeeming Love. For what are chants that rise up from noblest choirs, from exulting throngs of worshippers, that are even Eucharistic offerings of praise, compared with the bearing home to God of souls tried in the fire, disciplined in the battle, faithful found among the faithless - bearing them home to be witnesses throughout Eternity of the power of the Spirit, Who has sanctified them? And what offering of sweeter savour, could be given to God than the constant recalling of the names, the records of those, who having endured to the end have overcome, as He overcame in Whom they have borne bravely the conflict with evil?
But a yet deeper call, and quickened sense of intercommunion between the living and the Departed, yet has to be kept in mind. We cannot now fully understand how, or how far the dead in Christ know what passes on earth, whether it be that, as some suppose, they know by some direct means of intuition, or, as others think, by seeing what passes here being glassed in their vision of God - while yet whatever is thus seen must be tempered, so that what would trouble their peace must be hidden from their eyes - whatever would distract their loving gaze on God must be withheld - or there would not be really “rest from their labours”. But to suppose that change of state would change their interests, change their fellow-feeling - change their desires towards their fellows still struggling on earth - this would seem inconceivable. And if it be so, then in a world where worship and a sense of dependence on God, must possess every soul to a degree of which we can form no adequate conception, we cannot doubt that their intercessions ever rise for us in constant prayer - tender, and true, and fervent, - that they who know our needs, our weaknesses, by their own long experience of like trials, cannot but pray, however they may have failed on earth to pray for others’.
Canon TT Carter, 1808-1901
‘By despising the world for Christ, this saint became greater, even in the eyes of men, than royalty itself could have made her: but she was truly great only because the applause and veneration of this whole island was to her a most grievous persecution, the dangers of which alarmed her humble soul more than the threats of fire and sword could have done. Hilda was daughter of Hereric, nephew to St Edwin, king of the Northumbers; and she was baptised by St Paulinus, together with that prince, when she was but fourteen years old. The grace of this sacrament she always preserved without spot, and from the moment she became a member of the kingdom of God, the obligations and happiness of this great spiritual dignity took up all her thoughts, and engrossed her whole soul. The better to attend to them alone she left her friends and country, and went into the kingdom of the East Angles, where her cousin, the most religious king Annas, reigned. Her first design was to retire to Chelles, in France, where her sister, St Hereswide, served God: with her she passed one year, till, upon her death, St Aidan prevailed upon Hilda to return into Northumberland, where he settled her in a small nunnery upon the river Were, founded by the first Northumbrian nun, Heiu. After living there one year, she was made abbess of a numerous monastery at Heortea, or Heterslie, now Hartlepool, in the bishopric of Durham; and some years after called to found a great double monastery, the one of men and the other of women, at Streaneshalch, (that is, bay of the light-house,) afterwards called Prestby, from the number of priests that lived there, and at present Whitby, (or Whitebay,) in Yorkshire. All her monasteries were destroyed by the Danes, about two hundred and fifty years after her death; only this last was rebuilt in 1067, for Benedictine monks, and flourished till the suppression of religious houses. St Hilda, for her sanctity and her wisdom, in conducting souls to God, was most dear to St Aidan, and other holy prelates; and kings and princes frequently repaired to Streaneshalch to consult her in affairs of the greatest difficulty and importance. This holy abbess, who was eminent in all virtues, excelled particularly in prudence, and had a singular talent in reconciling differences, and in maintaining concord, being herself endowed with the spirit of charity, meekness, and peace’.
from The Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and Other Principal Saints by Fr Alban Butler, 1710-1773
Almighty and everlasting God, who didst endow thy Abbess Hilda with purity and strength: grant by her intercession; that we may subdue our souls and bodies to thy most holy will; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Divine Worship: The Missal.
‘We need not wonder that Queen Margaret governed herself and her household wisely when we know that she herself acted always under the wisest of masters, the guidance of the holy scriptures. I myself have had frequent opportunities of admiring in her how, even amidst the distractions of lawsuits, amidst the countless cares of state, she devoted herself with wonderful assiduity to the word of God. Journeying thus onwards towards the heavenly country in thought and word and deed, this devout and God-worthy Queen called on others to accompany her in the undefiled way, so that they with her might attain true happiness. Thus it came to pass that this venerable Queen, who (by God’s help) had been so desirous to cleanse his house from all filth and error, was found day by day worthier of becoming his temple, as the Holy Spirit, shone ever brighter in her heart. When she spoke with me about the salvation of the souls and the sweetness of the life which is eternal, every word she uttered was so filled with grace that the Holy Spirit, who truly dwelt within her breast, evidently spoke by her lips, so deep was her contrition that whilst she was talking she seemed as if she could melt away in tears, so that my soul, pierced like her own, wept also. Of all living persons whom I know or have known she was the most devoted to prayer and fasting, to works of mercy and almsgiving’.
from the Life of St Margaret, Queen of Scotland by Turgot, Bishop of St Andrews, c.1048-1115
O God, who didst call thy servant Margaret to an earthly throne that she might advance thy heavenly kingdom, and didst endue her with zeal for thy Church and charity towards thy people: mercifully grant that we who ask her prayers and commemorate her example may be fruitful in good works, and attain to the glorious fellowship of thy saints; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Divine Worship: The Missal.
‘St Albert the Great reminds us that there is friendship between science and faith and that through their vocation to the study of nature, scientists can take an authentic and fascinating path of holiness.
His extraordinary openmindedness is also revealed in a cultural feat which he carried out successfully, that is, the acceptance and appreciation of Aristotle’s thought. In St Albert’s time, in fact, knowledge was spreading of numerous works by this great Greek philosopher, who lived a quarter of a century before Christ, especially in the sphere of ethics and metaphysics. They showed the power of reason, explained lucidly and clearly the meaning and structure of reality, its intelligibility and the value and purpose of human actions. St Albert the Great opened the door to the complete acceptance in medieval philosophy and theology of Aristotle’s philosophy, which was subsequently given a definitive form by St Thomas. This reception of a pagan pre-Christian philosophy, let us say, was an authentic cultural revolution in that epoch. Yet many Christian thinkers feared Aristotle’s philosophy, a non-Christian philosophy, especially because, presented by his Arab commentators, it had been interpreted in such a way, at least in certain points, as to appear completely irreconcilable with the Christian faith. Hence a dilemma arose: are faith and reason in conflict with each other or not?
This is one of the great merits of St Albert: with scientific rigour he studied Aristotle’s works, convinced that all that is truly rational is compatible with the faith revealed in the Sacred Scriptures. In other words, St Albert the Great thus contributed to the formation of an autonomous philosophy, distinct from theology and united with it only by the unity of the truth. So it was that in the 13th century a clear distinction came into being between these two branches of knowledge, philosophy and theology, which, in conversing with each other, co-operate harmoniously in the discovery of the authentic vocation of man, thirsting for truth and happiness: and it is above all theology, that St Albert defined as “emotional knowledge”, which points out to human beings their vocation to eternal joy, a joy that flows from full adherence to the truth.
St Albert the Great was capable of communicating these concepts in a simple and understandable way. An authentic son of St Dominic, he willingly preached to the People of God, who were won over by his words and by the example of his life’.
Pope Benedict XVI
O God, who gavest grace unto blessed Albert, thy Bishop and Doctor, to become truly great in the subjection of human wisdom to divine faith: grant us, we beseech thee, so to follow in the footsteps of his teaching; that we may enjoy the perfect light in heaven; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Divine Worship: The Missal.
‘The manner in which people regard death relates a great deal about how they evaluate life. To many today the elevation of humanity and its needs above the ancient notion that life exists for higher purposes than our welfare, has reached a point where death itself seems a kind of blasphemy. We exalt ourselves so thoroughly that we cannot conceive of an order of things in which our desires are not sovereign. Translated beyond the grave this means that those who believe in survival after death – probably a large majority – reject the idea that, in a future state, they will experience anything but uninterrupted bliss. When life is considered as the endless pursuit of happiness, and the indulgences of pleasure are imagined to be the greatest good, it is scarcely surprising that a serene eternal life should be claimed as a normal extension of worldly existence. Modern people are universalists. In their picture of the afterlife there is happiness all round, no judgement, and limitless continuation of familiar human relationships. Few see a connection between belief and survival; seemingly any religious opinions are acceptable to God. More, doubtlessly, see a connection between good moral behaviour and survival, but it is always other people’s behaviour, rather than their own, which merits eternal condemnation. Death is regarded as a potentially minor interruption to the pursuit of happiness, no longer linked to judgement. The moral culture which no longer allows discrimination between ethnic groups, different cultures, personal lifestyles, sexual habits, or even religious belief, does not, equally, discriminate between those who have attempted a disciplined spirituality and those who have not. After death, we seem to be saying, it is eternal happiness all round.
This actually raises fearful problems for the priest attending a death. His traditional duty was to remind the dying person of the need for repentance, to assist an act of contrition, and to warn about the certainty of God’s judgement. Such a duty, performed today, would be considered enormously insensitive by the relatives. Death has to be sanitised; everyone has to be assured that they will receive everlasting blessedness. Do modern people really think that? Do they really think so highly of themselves that they believe they deserve to exist forever? Apparently so; it is no longer acceptable for a priest to remind the dying that they stand in urgent need of God’s mercy, but only, instead, to utter bland words of reassurance. The terrors of death remain, however, and the sugared attempts to disguise the horrific fact of universal judgement sound unconvincing even as they are being made. For life has a purpose. That purpose is the service of God. We all do it badly, but to think that we are entitled to exemption from judgement, however we have used our time in the world, is simple folly’.
Dr Edward Norman
Canon Chancellor of York Minster, 1999-2004
now a layman in the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham
‘Josaphat Kuncewitcz was born about the year 1580 at Vladimir, Volhynia, and given the name John at baptism. While being instructed as a child on the sufferings of our Saviour, his heart is said to have been wounded by an arrow from the sacred side of the Crucified. In 1604 he joined the Ukrainian Order of Saint Basil (Basilians), lived as a monk in a very mortified life, went barefoot even in winter, refrained from the use of wine and flesh-meat, and always wore a penitential garb. In 1614 he was appointed archimandrite of Vilna, Russia and four years later archbishop of Polotzk; in this position he worked untiringly for Church reunion. He was a great friend of the poor, once even pledged his archepiscopal omophorion (pallium) to support a poor widow. The foes of union decided to assassinate him. In a sermon, he himself spoke of his death as imminent. When he visited Vitebsk, his enemies attacked his lodging and murdered a number of his companions. Meekly the man of God hastened toward the mob and, full of love, cried, “My children, what are you doing? If you have something against me, see, here I am.” With furious cries of “Kill the papist!”, they rushed upon him with gun and sword. Josaphat’s body was thrown into the river but emerged, surrounded by rays of light, and was recovered. His murderers, when sentenced to death, repented their crime and became Catholics’.
from The Church’s Year of Grace, 1953, by Pius Parsch, 1884-1954
Stir up in thy Church, we pray, O Lord, the Spirit that filled Saint Josaphat: that, as he laid down his life for the sheep; so through his intercession we, too, may be strengthened by the same Spirit and not fear to lay down our life for the brethren; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Divine Worship: The Missal.
Remembrance Sunday this year marks the centenary of the Armistice on 11 November 1918, which brought to an end the Great War. The following photographs were taken at the war memorial in the village of Hollingworth, Cheshire, on the edge of the Peak District, in the week leading up to today's commemoration. We give thanks to Almighty God for all those who, in war and conflict, fought for their nation, their monarch, for freedom and liberty, and for a better tomorrow for their sons and daughters. May their memory not fade, nor their example be lost on us in the midst of the comfort and complacency of our time. And we pray, too, especially, for the repose of the souls of all the Faithful Departed who fell in battle. Rest eternal grant unto them, O Lord, and let light perpetual shine upon them. May they rest in peace.
With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.
Solemn the drums thrill: Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres.
There is music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.
They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England's foam.
But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the Night;
As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain,
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.
Laurence Binyon CH, 1869-1943
‘Or because the signs of His Godhead were undoubted, shall the proof of his having a human body be assumed false, and thus the indications of both natures be accepted to prove Him Creator, but not be accepted for the salvation of the creature? No, for the flesh did not lessen what belongs to His Godhead, nor the Godhead destroy what belongs to His flesh. For He is at once both eternal from His Father and temporal from His mother, inviolable in His strength, passible in our weakness: in the Triune Godhead, of one and the same substance with the Father and the Holy Spirit, but in taking Manhood on Himself, not of one substance but of one and the same person (so that He was at once rich in poverty, almighty in submission, impassible in punishment, immortal in death). For the Word was not in any part of It turned either into flesh or into soul, seeing that the absolute and unchangeable nature of the Godhead is ever entire in its Essence, receiving no loss nor increase, and so beatifying the nature that It had assumed that that nature remained for ever glorified in the person of the Glorifier. (But why should it seem unsuitable or impossible that the Word and flesh and soul should be one Jesus Christ, and that the Son of God and the Son of Man should be one, if flesh and soul which are of different natures make one person even without the Incarnation of the Word: since it is much easier for the power of the Godhead to produce this union of Himself and man than for the weakness of manhood by itself to effect it in its own substance.) Therefore neither was the Word changed into flesh nor flesh into the Word: but both remains in one and one is in both, not divided by the diversity and not confounded by intermixture: He is not one by His Father and another by His mother, but the same, in one way by His Father before every beginning, and in another by His mother at the end of the ages: so that He was mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 2:5), in whom dwelt the fulness of the Godhead bodily (Colossians 2:9): because it was the assumed (nature) not the Assuming (nature) which was raised, because God exalted Him and gave Him the Name which is above every name: that in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven and things on earth and things under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ the Lord is in the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:9)’.
from Letter 35, to Julian, Bishop of Cos, by Pope St Leo I, c.400-461
O Lord Jesu Christ, who didst strengthen thy holy Bishop and Doctor Pope Leo to maintain both by word and deed the verity of thy sacred Humanity: grant, we beseech thee; that guided by the light of his doctrine, we may earnestly defend the faith of thy holy Incarnation; who livest and reignest with the Father, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Divine Worship: The Missal.
‘The Chair of Peter obliges all who hold it to say, as Peter said during a crisis time among the disciples when so many wanted to leave him: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe; we are convinced that you are God's holy one” (Jn 6: 68 ff.).
The One who sits on the Chair of Peter must remember the Lord’s words to Simon Peter at the Last Supper: “...You in turn must strengthen your brothers” (Lk 22: 32). The one who holds the office of the Petrine ministry must be aware that he is a frail and weak human being - just as his own powers are frail and weak - and is constantly in need of purification and conversion.
But he can also be aware that the power to strengthen his brethren in the faith and keep them united in the confession of the Crucified and Risen Christ comes from the Lord. In St Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians, we find the oldest account we have of the Resurrection. Paul faithfully received it from the witnesses. This account first speaks of Christ's death for our sins, of his burial and of his Resurrection which took place the third day, and then says: “[Christ] was seen by Cephas, then by the Twelve...” (I Cor 15: 4). Thus, the importance of the mandate conferred upon Peter to the end of time is summed up: being a witness of the Risen Christ.
The Bishop of Rome sits upon the Chair to bear witness to Christ. Thus, the Chair is the symbol of the potestas docendi, the power to teach that is an essential part of the mandate of binding and loosing which the Lord conferred on Peter, and after him, on the Twelve’.
From the homily of Pope Benedict XVI
on the occasion of the Mass of Possession of the Chair of the Bishop of Rome
Archbasilica of St John Lateran, 7 May 2005
O most blessed Saviour, who didst vouchsafe thy gracious presence at the Feast of Dedication: be present with us at this time by thy Holy Spirit, and so possess our souls by thy grace; that we may be living temples, holy and acceptable unto thee; who livest and reignest with the Father, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Divine Worship: The Missal.
Canon T.A. Lacey, 1853-1931
Grant, we beseech thee, Almighty God: that we may in all things be comforted by the intercession of holy Mary, Mother of God, of all the Apostles, Martyrs, Confessors and Virgins, and all the Saints of England: and that like as we do call to mind their godliness of life; so we may be effectually defended by their help; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Divine Worship: The Missal.
‘Egbert attempted to send other holy and zealous men for the work of preaching, among whom was an outstanding priest of radiant virtue name Willibrord. When he and his companions arrived, they made a detour to visit Peppin, Duke of the Franks, by whom they were graciously received. And since the latter had recently conquered Nearer Frisia and drove out King Rathbed, he dispatched them to preach there, supporting them with his imperial authority so that no-one should interfere with their preaching, and granting many favours to those who wished to embrace the faith. Consequently, aided by God’s grace, they converted many folk in a short while from idolatry to belief in Christ’.
St Bede the Venerable, 672-735
O God, who didst vouchsafe to send thy blessed Saint Willibrord to preach thy glory to the nations: we humbly beseech thee; that by his merits and intercession we may both see and know the things which we ought to do, and by thy mercy be enabled to perform the same; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Divine Worship: The Missal.
Fr Lee Kenyon
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