Wednesday, November 30, 2016

O Bona Crux

On this day, Andrew the poor fisherman from Galilee, patron saint of Scotland, of Greece, and of Russia, passed into eternal glory after many ordeals. Here is an excerpt from the old Martyrology for November 30, Feast of St Andrew the Apostle, as quoted in Dom Gueranger's The Liturgical Year, Vol XV :
Andrew, having been brought to the place of execution, seeing the cross at some distance, began to cry out: O good cross, made beautiful by the body of my Lord! so long desired, so anxiously loved, so unceasingly sought after, and now at last ready for my soul to enjoy! take me from amidst men, and restore me to my Master; that by thee He may receive me, Who by thee redeemed me. He was therefore fastened to the cross, on which he hung alive two days, preaching without cessation the faith of Christ....

Hail and Blessed

Here is an old prayer which if meditated upon daily from the feast of St. Andrew until Christmas Eve is said to be instrumental in bringing many graces. (An old Italian nun once told me it was supposed to be pondered fifteen times a day, rather like the prayer of the rosary, so that the soul comes to taste the meaning of the words, and enter into the ineffable mystery.)
Hail and blessed be the hour and the moment when Jesus Christ was born of the pure Virgin Mary at midnight in Bethlehem in piercing cold. At that hour vouchsafe O my God to hear my prayer and grant my petition through the intercession of Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary His Mother. Amen.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

St. Cecilia


While in Rome, my mother bought me a small statue of Saint Cecilia, the Roman martyr from the turn of the early third century. It is based on the life-size one in her basilica, sculpted after her incorrupt body was exhumed in the sixteenth century. She is lying on her side in her dressing gown with her neck half-severed. Cecilia was killed in her bathroom, and the executioner who hacked at her neck was put off by her calm dignity. It took her three days to die. The prelude to her ordeal was an attempt to scald her, which was why she was found near the bath - one of those huge Roman baths. For Cecilia belonged to one of the ancient Roman families and possessed great wealth. She was young, beautiful, and desired, but she died because she refused to renounce her Savior.

While journeying through life it is easy to understand why so many of the martyrs were very young. When people are young they do not understand what it is to lose life. Sacrifices are easier when you do not fully grasp what is being renounced. There is a special valor, a reckless courage, possessed by young soldiers which old soldiers do not always have. And yet Christians of every age are called to be soldiers of Christ and martyrs in spirit if not in body. The fortitude that seemed so effortless in my grandparents in their old age I see now was no small thing.

As Abbot Gueranger wrote in The Liturgical Year, Vol XV :
The lesson will not be lost if we come to understand this much: had the first Christians feared, they would have betrayed us, and the word of life would never have come down to us; if we fear, we shall betray future generations, for we are expected to transmit to them the deposit we have received from our fathers.
Those who had faith and courage, whether it was Saint Cecilia in her agony, or my grandmothers in their nursing homes, where they spent many years before they died, have passed on to me a priceless gift.

Monday, November 7, 2016

A Prayer for America on Election Day

In thee, O Lord, have I hoped, let me never be confounded: deliver me in thy justice. Bow down thy ear to me: make haste to deliver me. Be thou unto me a God, a protector, and a house of refuge, to save me. For thou art my strength and my refuge; and for thy name's sake thou wilt lead me, and nourish me. Thou wilt bring me out of this snare, which they have hidden for me: for thou art my protector. Into thy hands I commend my spirit: thou hast redeemed me, O Lord, the God of truth. Psalm 30: 1-5 (Douai version)
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