Sunday, February 5, 2023

Septuagesima Sunday

"Upon the waters of Babylon, there we sat and wept, as we remembered Zion." ~Psalm 136 (Vulgate)
It is Septuagesima Sunday, according to the traditional calendar. The season of Septuagesima is a time to start thinking about Lent; the "seventy" days until Easter are symbolic, among other things, of the seventy years of the Israelites' Babylonian captivity. We have all made mistakes; it is not too late to make amends while there is still time. We are being given a second chance. Redemption is at hand.

According to Dom Gueranger in The Liturgical Year, Vol. IV: "We are sojourners upon this earth: we are exiles and captives in Babylon, that city which plots our ruin. If we love our country, we long to return to it...." To quote from the "Mystery of Septuagesima":

The Church, the interpreter of the Sacred Scriptures, often speaks to us of two places, which correspond with these two times of St. Augustine. These two places are Babylon and Jerusalem. Babylon is the image of this world of sin, in the midst whereof the Christian has to spend his years of probation; Jerusalem is the heavenly country, where he is to repose after all his trials. The people of Israel, whose whole history is but one great type of the human race, was banished from Jerusalem and kept in bondage in Babylon.

Now, this captivity, which kept the Israelites exiles from Sion, lasted seventy years; and it is to express this mystery, as Alcuin, Amalarius, Ivo of Chartres, and all the great Liturgists tell us, that the Church fixed the number of Seventy for the days of expiation. It is true, there are but sixty-three days between Septuagesima and Easter; but the Church, according to the style so continually used in the Sacred Scriptures, uses the round number instead of the literal and precise one.

The duration of the world itself, according to the ancient Christian tradition, is divided into seven ages. The human race must pass through seven Ages before the dawning of the Day of eternal life. The first Age included the time from the creation of Adam to Noah; the second begins with Noah and the renovation of the earth by the Deluge, and ends with the vocation of Abraham; the third opens with this first formation of God’s chosen people, and continues as far as Moses, through whom God gave the Law; the fourth consists of the period between Moses and David, in whom the house of Juda received the kingly power; the fifth is formed of the years, which passed between David’s reign and the captivity of Babylon, inclusively; the sixth dates from the return of the Jews to Jerusalem, and takes us on as far as the Birth of our Saviour. Then, finally, comes the seventh Age; it starts with the rising of this merciful Redeemer, the Sun of Justice, and is to continue till the dread coming of the Judge of the living and the dead. These are the Seven great divisions of Time; after which, Eternity.

In order to console us in the midst of the combats, which so thickly beset our path, the Church, — like a beacon shining amidst the darkness of this our earthly abode, — shows us another Seven, which is to succeed the one we are now preparing to pass through. After the Septuagesima of mourning, we shall have the bright Easter with its Seven weeks of gladness, foreshadowing the happiness and bliss of Heaven. After having fasted with our Jesus, and suffered with him, the day will come when we shall rise together with him, and our hearts shall follow him to the highest heavens, and then after a brief interval, we shall feel descending upon us the Holy Ghost, with his Seven Gifts. The celebration of all these wondrous joys will take us Seven weeks, as the great Liturgists observe in their interpretation of the Rites of the Church: — the seven joyous weeks from Easter to Pentecost will not be too long for the future glad Mysteries, which, after all, will be but figures of a still gladder future, the future of eternity.

Having heard these sweet whisperings of hope, let us now bravely face the realities brought before us by our dear Mother the Church. We are sojourners upon this earth; we are exiles and captives in Babylon, that city which plots our ruin. If we love our country, — if we long to return to it, — we must be proof against the lying allurements of this strange land, and refuse the cup she proffers us, and with which she maddens so many of our fellow captives. She invites us to join in her feasts and her songs; but we must unstring our harps, and hang them on the willows that grow on her river’s bank, till the signal be given for our return to Jerusalem. (Psalm 115) She will ask us to sing’ to her the melodies of our dear Sion: but, how shall we, who are so far from home, have heart to sing the Song of the Lord in a strange Land ? (Psalm 136) No, — there must be no sign that we are content to be in bondage, or we shall deserve to be slaves for ever. (Read more.)

More on Septuagesima Sunday, HERE.

We are far away but drawing ever nearer; let us encourage our fellow travelers, and keep on going. In a little while it will be eternity.
By the waters of Babylon by Arthur Hacker, 1888   

Upon the rivers of Babylon, there we sat and wept: when we remembered Sion: 2On the willows in the midst thereof we hung up our instruments. 3For there they that led us into captivity required of us the words of songs. And they that carried us away, said: Sing ye to us a hymn of the songs of Sion. 4How shall we sing the song of the Lord in a strange land? 5If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand be forgotten. 6Let my tongue cleave to my jaws, if I do not remember thee: If I make not Jerusalem the beginning of my joy. 7Remember, O Lord, the children of Edom, in the day of Jerusalem: Who say: Rase it, rase it, even to the foundation thereof. 8O daughter of Babylon, miserable: blessed shall he be who shall repay thee thy payment which thou hast paid us. 9Blessed be he that shall take and dash thy little ones against the rock. —Psalm 136 (Douai version) 

 A Meditation on Psalm 136: "Super flumina Babylonis." 

The leaves have fallen. 
The flowers have withered. 
 The rain comes down. 
The year dies In this garden of exile 
Where we have hung up our hearts. 
The clamor of Babylon roars 
 Beyond the wall; 
I listen For another sound. 
I wait For another song.
 I watch 
The horizon glow 
Beneath clouds of lead 
In a moment of yearning 
For Paradise. 
O Jerusalem unseen! 
 Our eyes are blind to your Glories 
 Which all around us shine. 
And yet The voices of the saints 
Seem to pierce 
The curtain of rain.
 I listen. I wait. 
I watch for dawn. 
For that morning of mornings 
 The morning 
Of going home. 
 O City of God! 
Compared to the possession of thee 
There is no happiness! 

 —Mary Magdalen of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, OCDS

Saint Agatha of Sicily

 


 From My Catholic Life:

It is shocking what people are capable of doing. Some are capable of the most hideous, diabolical, and self-serving acts. Others are capable of enduring those evils for the love of Christ with peace, strength, and joy. Regardless of the historical accuracy of the details of Saint Agatha’s life and death, her story, as it has been handed down, reveals the potential in every human heart. We have the potential to be great sinners, the potential to be great saints, or somewhere in-between. Allow the witness of Quintianus to fill your heart with a holy fear of sin and the witness of Saint Agatha to move you from that “in-between.” Her courage and unwavering fidelity to Christ have shone a light for countless people throughout the centuries. One day, in Heaven, we will meet the true Saint Agatha and rejoice as we gaze upon the beauty and purity of her soul. Seek to make your soul radiate with that same glory by the grace of God and your fidelity to His holy will. (Read more.)

Friday, February 3, 2023

St. Blase

"Through the intercession of Saint Blase, bishop and martyr, may God deliver you from ailments of the throat and from every other evil. In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."
(Blessing of Saint Blase)

St. Blase is one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers. From New Advent:
It can perhaps be assumed that St. Blasius was a bishop and that he suffered martyrdom at the beginning of the fourth century...According to the legend Blasius was a physician at Sebaste before he was raised to the episcopal see. At the time of the persecution under Licinius he was taken prisoner at the command of the governor, Agricolaus. The hunters of the governor found him in the wilderness in a cave to which he had retired and while in prison he performed a wonderful cure of a boy who had a fishbone in his throat and who was in danger of choking to death. After suffering various forms of torture St. Blasius was beheaded; the Acts relate also the martyrdom of seven women. (Read more.)

More HERE.

Thursday, February 2, 2023

Lourdes Novena


O ever Immaculate Virgin, Mother of Mercy, Health of the Sick, Refuge of Sinners, Comfort to the Afflicted, you know my wants, my troubles, my sufferings. Deign to cast upon me a look of mercy. By appearing in the Grotto of Lourdes, you were pleased to make it a privileged sanctuary, whence you dispense your favors; and already many sufferers have obtained the cure of their infirmities, both spiritual and corporal. I come, therefore, with the most unbounded confidence to implore your maternal intercession. Obtain, O loving Mother, the granting of my requests. Through gratitude for favors, I will endeavor to imitate your virtues that I may one day share your glory. (Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be.)
Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us!
Saint Bernadette, pray for us!
 Petitions can be sent directly to Lourdes.

Candlemas Day

Adorn thy bridal chamber, O Sion, and receive Christ the King. Salute Mary, the gate of Heaven; for she beareth the King of Glory, Who is the new Light.... —Antiphon for feast of the Presentation of the Lord
On the fortieth day after Christmas we celebrate the Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple, where He is offered by His Mother and St Joseph to the Eternal Father for the sins of the world. Many prophecies were fulfilled that day, unknown at the time except to Mary and Joseph, Simeon and Anna, all persons of prayer and of special consecration to God. In a time of great darkness there was suddenly and quite publicly a great light, to be received only by those whose hearts were open. A small Child is the ultimate sacrifice for the redemption of humanity, but He is not alone; He is with His family. The Holy Family stand between us and utter chaos and despair. Like the Child Jesus, we do not make our offering alone, we make it with Mary and Joseph, we make it in the context of our own families.
Behold this child is set for the fall, and for the resurrection of many in Israel, and for a sign which shall be contradicted; and thy own soul a sword shall pierce, that, out of many hearts, thoughts may be revealed. --St. Luke 2:34-35
 The "Purification of Our Lady" as the feast is traditionally called, is a feast of the Virgin as well as the Virgin's Son. We marvel at the humility of Immaculate Mary who submits to the ritual of purification for all Jewish mothers, although she herself had no need to be purified. It is also known as Candlemas Day because since early times, candles have been blessed and carried in procession in honor of Christ, the Light of the World.

At Christmas, we adored Him with the shepherds at dawn; at Epiphany, we rejoiced in the brightness of His manifestations to the nations; at Candlemas, with the aged Simeon, we take Him into our arms. With the prophetic words of Simeon, the day also becomes a preparation for Lent and the Passion of Our Lord. We must offer ourselves with Jesus to the Father; we must embrace our own purification.
 

This feast day links Christmas with Lent, the joyful mysteries with the sorrowful mysteries. Mary's Heart is pierced as Simeon's prophecy is uttered, for a mother suffers for her child, especially when that Child is God. Fr Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C.D. wrote so magnificently of this feast in his book Divine Intimacy:
O Jesus, through the hands of Mary, I wish to offer myself today with You to the eternal Father. But You are a pure, holy, and Immaculate Host, while I am defiled with misery, and sin....O Virgin Most pure, lead me along the way of a serious and thorough purification; accompany me yourself, so that my weakness will not make me faint because of the roughness of the road.

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

St. Brigid of Kildare

It is the feast of the great Irish abbess, St. Brigid of Kildare. During the fall of Rome and before the rise of Islam, as Europe descended into chaos, Brigid built a center of learning, contemplation, art, and scholarship that would last a thousand years. To quote:
Born in 451 or 452 of princely ancestors at Faughart, near Dundalk, County Louth; d. 1 February, 525, at Kildare. Refusing many good offers of marriage, she became a nun and received the veil from St. Macaille. With seven other virgins she settled for a time at the foot of Croghan Hill, but removed thence to Druin Criadh, in the plains of Magh Life, where under a large oak tree she erected her subsequently famous Convent of Cill-Dara, that is, "the church of the oak" (now Kildare), in the present county of that name. It is exceedingly difficult to reconcile the statements of St. Brigid's biographers, but the Third, Fourth, and Fifth Lives of the saint are at one in assigning her a slave mother in the court of her father Dubhthach, and Irish chieftain of Leinster. Probably the most ancient life of St. Brigid is that by St. Broccan Cloen, who is said to have died 17 September, 650. It is metrical, as may be seen from the following specimen:
Ni bu Sanct Brigid suanach
Ni bu huarach im sheire Dé,
Sech ni chiuir ni cossens
Ind nóeb dibad bethath che. (Saint Brigid was not given to sleep,
Nor was she intermittent about God's love;
Not merely that she did not buy, she did not seek for
The wealth of this world below, the holy one.)

More on the abbey she founded here and here.

St. Brigid is the patroness of two characters in my novel The Paradise Tree


 

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

St. John Bosco’s Prophetic Vision of the Church During Times of Trial

From Aleteia:
 Very grave trials await the Church. What we have suffered so far is almost nothing compared to what is going to happen. The enemies of the Church are symbolised by the ships which strive their utmost to sink the flagship. Only two things can save us in such a grave hour: devotion to Mary and frequent Communion. Let us do our very best to use these two means and have others use them everywhere. (Read more.)


Related Posts with Thumbnails