Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Feast of St. Andrew the Apostle

Image of St. Andrew from the apse painting at Sant'Andrea della Valle, Rome, Italy.

Today is the feast of the great St. Andrew the Apostle -- first called by Our Divine Lord, brother of St. Peter, one-time disciple of St. John the Baptist, and patron of Scotland and Russia.  Of course, we can't neglect to note that the Patriarch of Constantinople is the successor of St. Andrew the Apostle.

St. Andrew was born at Bethsaida, was, like his brother a fisherman.  He also followed St. John the Baptist, which led him to Christ -- Whom St. Andrew brought his brother, St. Peter to see.  When the Apostles went forth to preach the Gospel, St. Andrew is thought to have preached in Cappadocia, Bithynia, Byzantium (where he appoint the first Bishop, St. Stachys), finally being martyred during the reign of Nero in Achaia.  Tradition has him crucified on a cross shaped like an "X," hence the flag of Scotland -- the St. Andrew's Cross.

Flag of Scotland.svg
The Flag of Scotland -- the St. Andrew's Cross.

His relics have ended up, by various twists of history, in several major locations: Patras, Greece; the Cathedral of Amalfi, Italy; the Cathedral of St. Mary's in Edinburgh, Scotland.

You can read a bit about the life of St. Andrew at these sites:

Old Catholic Encyclopedia: St. Andrew the Apostle

Catholic Saints Info: St. Andrew the Apostle

File:Sant Andrea della Valle Roma adjusted.JPG
The Facade of Sant'Andrea della Valle in Rome.

One of this blogger's favorite Churches in Rome, Italy, is that of Sant'Andrea della Valle on the Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, a Theatine Church where Pope Pius II (1458-1464AD) and Pope Pius III (1503AD), both of the family Piccolomini, are buried.  It is also the burial place of St. Giuseppe Maria Tomasi (+1713AD), a Theatine Cardinal (Catholic Saints Info: St. Joseph Mary Tomasi)  The Church was constructed in its current form from 1590-1650.  Here is the website of the Church: Sant'Andrea della Valle

File:Lazio Roma SAndreaValle1 tango7174.jpg
The interior of the Church of Sant'Andrea della Valle in Rome.
["Lazio Roma SAndreaValle1 tango7174" by Tango7174 - Own work. Licensed under GFDL via Commons]

Today is also the traditional day to begin the St. Andrew's Novena, reciting the following prayer fifteen times a day until Christmas:

Hail, and blessed be the hour and moment at which the Son of God was born of a most pure Virgin at a stable at midnight in Bethlehem in the piercing cold. At that hour vouchsafe, I beseech Thee, to hear my prayers and grant my desires. (Mention your intentions here) Through Jesus Christ and His most Blessed Mother.

Live well!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

The Season of Advent

The Annunciation by Paolo de Matteis, 1712AD.

Ad te levavi animam meam.  To Thee have I lifted up my soul.  (Introit of the First Sunday in Advent, Ps. 24:1)

Much could be said of the season of preparation for the high feast of Christmas, when we celebrate the birth of our Divine Lord, Jesus Christ.  One might note, initially, that it is not the Christmas season, which begins on 25 December, but a season of preparation, and, dare I suggest it, a modicum of penance.

The introduction to the season of Advent in my hand missal admirably describes this time:
"The liturgical texts used during the four weeks of the season of Advent remind the faithful of the ‘absence of Christ.’ The Collects of Advent do not end with, ‘through our Lord Jesus Christ,’ as during the rest of the year. In a spirit of penance and prayer we await the Mediator, the God-Man, preparing for His coming in the flesh, and also for His second coming as our Judge. The Masses for Advent strike a note of preparation and repentance mingled with joy and hope; hence, although the penitential purple is worn and the Gloria is omitted, the joyous Alleluia is retained. The readings from the Old Testament contained in the Introit, Gradual, offertory, and Communion of the Masses, taken mostly from the prophecies of Isaias and from the Psalms, give eloquent expression to the longing of all nations for a Redeemer. We are impressed by repeated and urgent appeals to the Messias: ‘Come, delay no longer.’ The Lessons from St. Paul urge us to dispose ourselves fittingly for His coming. The Gospels describe the terrors of the last Judgment, the Second Coming, and tell of the preaching of St. John the Baptist ‘to prepare the way of the Lord.’

In Advent, the Greek Church celebrates particularly the ancestors of Our Lord – all the Patriarchs and Prophets of the Old Testament, but especially Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The Latin Church also mentions them often in this period. In the Breviary, many texts are taken from Isaias (Introit of the second Sunday, Communion of the Third Sunday).

The idea of Advent is ‘Prepare you for the coming of Christ.’ Therefore the very appeals of the Patriarchs and the Prophets are put in our mouths in Advent. Prepare for the coming of Christ the Redeemer, who comes to prepare us for His Second Coming as Judge.

When the oracles of the Prophets were fulfilled and the Jews awaited the Messias, John the Baptist left the desert and came to the vicinity of the Jordan, bringing a baptism of penance to prepare the souls for the coming of Christ. The world took him to be the Messias, but he replied with the words of Isaias: ‘I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: prepare ye the way of the Lord.’

During Advent we make straight for Christ the way to our souls – and behold, our Lord will come at Christmas.”

Remarks are abstracted from The Daily Missal and Liturgical Manual, from Editio Typica of the Roman Missal and Breviary, 1962
(Baronius Press Limited, London, 2004, in conjunction with the Fraternal Society of St. Peter,

So, this is a season of longing, and preparing for, the coming of the Saviour -- both more immediately at Christmas, at the end of our own lives, and more remotely, at the end of the world with His second coming.

This link gives you some contemporary directives on the observance of the season of Advent: USCCB: Liturgical Notes for Advent

This article gives some more of the history and context of this great season: Old Catholic Encyclopedia: Advent

This link will take you to a delightful page featuring some customs and observances traditional to the Advent season: Fisheaters: Advent

Here, at the same site, is a bit more about the custom of Advent wreathes: Fisheaters: Advent Wreath & Candles

I close with one of the great hymns of this season, Creator alme siderum, Creator of the Stars of Night, which I present here; first its text, then a recording:

1Creátor álme síderum,
Aetérna lux credéntium,
Jésu, Redémptor ómnium,
Inténde vótis súpplicum.
Creator of the starry skies! / Eternal Light of all who live! / Jesus, Redeemer of mankind! / An ear to Thy poor suppliants give.
2Qui daémonis ne fráudibus
Períret órbis, ímpetu
Amóris áctus, lánguidi
Múndi medéla fáctus es.
When man was sunk in sin and death, / Lost in the depth of Satan's snare, / Love brought Thee down to cure our ills, / By taking of those ills a share.
3Commúne qui múndi néfas
Ut expiáres, ad crúcem
E Vírginis sacrário
Intácta pródis víctima.
Thou, for the sake of guilty men, / Causing Thine own pure blood to flow, / Didst issue from Thy virgin shrine / And to the corss a Victim go.
4Cújus potéstas glóriæ,
Noménque cum prímum sónat,
Et caélites et ínferi
Treménte curvántur génu.
So great the glory of Thy might, / If we but chance Thy name to sound / At once all heaven and hell unite / In bending low with awe profound.
5Te deprecámur, últimæ
Mágnum diéi Júdicem,
Armis supérnæ grátiæ
Defénde nos ab hóstibus.
Great Judge of all! in that last day / When friends shall fail and foes combine, / Be present then with us, we pray, / To guard us with Thine arm divine.
6Vírtus, hónor, laus, glória,
Déo Pátri cum Fílio,
Sáncto simul Paráclito,
In sæculórum saécula.
To God the Father, and the Son, / All praise and power and glory be: / With Thee, O holy Comforter! / Henceforth through all eternity.

Here is the plainchant version of that hymn:

Live well!

Friday, November 25, 2016

GA State Holiday: Lee's Birthday Observed

File:Robert E Lee in 1863.png
Lee in 1863, while Commanding the Army of Northern Virginia

One of the greatest military leaders in the history of the United States is General Robert E. Lee (+1870AD) of Virginia.  On 19 January 1807, Lee was born at Stratford Hall, in Westmoreland County, Virginia.

In the state of Georgia, today, the Friday after Thanksgiving, is a state holiday: the observance of 19 January.  For the first time, this year it is listed without specific reference to Robert E. Lee, whose birthday is was to commemorate.

In the state code of Georgia discussing those days to be designated state holidays, it notes in O.C.G.A. § 1-4-1, "the Governor shall include at least one of the following dates: January 19, April 26, or June 3."  Currently, 19 January, Lee's Birthday, and 26 April, Confederate Memorial Day, are both on the calendar, though under the title "state holiday" without explanation of the significance of the date, and 3 June, the Birthday of Confederate President Jefferson Davis, is not.

The governor's proclamation of state holidays for 2016 can be found here:
Georgia State Holidays: 2016

For the sake of comparison, here is the same document from 2015, which reflects how the day has been noted each year prior:
Georgia State Holidays: 2015

Who, then, was Confederate General Robert E. Lee?

His father a leader in the American Revolution, "Light Horse" Harry Lee, and his mother a member of the distinguished Carter family of Virginia, Lee certainly had notable bloodlines.

More than this, however, was his own talent and character.  Lee's remarkable military career is well known, with his great victories in command of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, such as that at Second Manassas and Chancellorsville, renowned.  He was loved by his men, feared and respected by his foes, gracious in victory and humble in defeat.

This speaks to his character.  Lee was a devout Episcopalian, who took his faith, and, in particular, his duties, very seriously.  Indeed, just as duty might be said to partly define what a gentleman is, so it defined Robert E. Lee.  There are any number of stories that attest to his great sense of duty and honor.

It was this sense of duty that caused him to remain loyal to his home state of Virginia with the coming of the war, despite the fact that he was no zealot for secession.  When offered command of the armed forces of the Commonwealth of Virginia, his speech to the Convention at Richmond on 23 April 1861 was brief, but very much in character:
"Mr. President and Gentlemen of the Convention: Deeply impressed with the solemnity of the occasion on which I appear before you, and profoundly grateful for the honour conferred upon me, I accept the position your partiality has assigned me, though I would greatly have preferred your choice should have fallen on one more capable.  Trusting to Almighty God, an approving conscience, and the aid of my fellow citizens, I will devote myself to the defense and service of my native State, in whose behalf alone would I have ever drawn my sword."

After the war, he would serve as President of Washington College, now Washington & Lee University, in Lexington, Virginia, where he is buried.

Here is a short biography of Lee:
Civil War Home: Lee

Lee in 1869, while President of Washington College (now Washington & Lee University) in Lexington, Virginia.

On this anniversary of his birth, you might be interested in "virtually" visiting a few of the sites associated with General Lee.

He was born at Stratford Hall, Westmoreland County, Virginia:
Stratford Hall Official Site

He lived for many years with his wife, Mary Anna Randolph Custis, (great-granddaughter of Martha Custis Washington by the first lady's first husband) at the Arlington House, in the county now named for it.  This home is on a magnificent bluff overlooking Washington, DC, and was, of course, seized by the federal government to be used as a cemetery, now Arlington National Cemetery.  The Lee family was later reimbursed for what was determined to be wrongful seizure.  The house itself is now designated as the Robert E. Lee Memorial:
Arlington House: Robert E. Lee Memorial

In Georgia, Fort Pulaski in Chatham County near Savannah, was actually partially designed by a young army engineer, Robert E. Lee:
Robert E. Lee at Fort Pulaski

Finally, Robert E. Lee is buried in the chapel of Washington & Lee University in Lexington, Virginia:
Lee Chapel

May each of us have the character to act with honor and devotion, even in the face of crisis and hardship.

Deo vindice!

Live well!

Feast of St. Catherine of Alexandria

Today is the feast of the great virgin and martyr, St. Catherine of Alexandria!  This great saint of the early 4th century was long an object of great veneration and devotion, is one of the "Fourteen Holy Helpers" and is patron saint of philosophers, maidens, apologists, those that work with wheels, and students, among others.

'Saint Catherine of Alexandria' by Caravaggio, c.1598
St. Catherine of Alexandria by Caravaggio

Tradition has it that St. Catherine was a young lady during the persecution of Diocletian, as it was carried out under the psycho Maximinus II Daia, in Egypt.  Her martyrdom account highlights her brilliant debate with her pagan persecutors, the attempt to break her on a wheel, and finally her beheading in around 305AD in Alexandria, Egypt.

As on of the Fourteen Holy Helpers, St. Catherine was immensely popular in the Medieval period, especially, and a great number of chapels and sites were named in her honor.  Indeed, she was on of the saints that appeared to St. Joan of Arc in 15th century France.

For more details, you might consult:
Catholic Saints Info: St. Catherine of Alexandria

Old Catholic Encyclopedia: St. Catherine of Alexandria

This site also includes an account of many of the charming customs of the day:
Fisheaters: St. Catherine of Alexandria

For more on the Fourteen Holy Helpers as a group, you might note
Catholic Saints Info: Fourteen Holy Helpers

Here is a simple list of those fourteen saints:
Fisheaters: Fourteen Holy Helpers List

Worthy of note, finally, is the great monastery bearing the name of St. Catherine on the Sinai peninsula of Egypt, pictured below:

["Katharinenkloster Sinai BW 2" by Berthold Werner - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons]

Founded during the reign of Byzantine Emperor Justinian I in the 6th century, the monastery is one of the oldest working monastic houses in the world, and houses the second largest library of codices and manuscripts in the world.

Perhaps you might visit the website of this Orthodox monastery?  Official Website of St. Catherine's Monastery

Live well!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Feast of Pope St. Clement I

The Martyrdom of Pope St. Clement I

23 November is the Feast of the great Successor of St. Peter, Pope St. Clement I (Bishop of Rome around the years 92-99AD).  He was the third successor of St. Peter, and he is often pictured with an anchor, a reminder of his manner of death.

You can read more about St. Clement at these sites:
Old Catholic Encyclopedia: Pope St. Clement I

Catholic Saints Info: Pope St. Clement I

Interior of the Basilica of San Clemente, Roma.
["Interior of San Clemente, Rome" by Sixtus - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons]

St. Clement is buried in the Romanesque Basilica named for his in Rome -- sitting between the Coloseum and St. John Lateran.  The Basilica is remarkable for its multiple layers: the Basilica built around 1100AD on top of a 4th century Church which sits on first century structure.  San Clemente's official website is here: Basilica of San Clemente

Finally, the letter of Pope St. Clement to the Corinthians is worthy of note.  This authentic letter, one of the oldest extant Christian writings aside from the New Testament, is a remarkable witness to the Apostolic origin of the structure of the Catholic Church and her hierarchy.  St. Clement I addressed the Corinthians, with authority, while St. John the Apostle was yet alive, and makes direct mention of the different Orders.  I present the letter here part, with those aspects, authority, and succession, as highlights.  For the full text, follow the link at the end:

Letter to the Corinthians (Clement)

Chapter 1. The Salutation. Praise of the Corinthians Before the Breaking Forth of Schism Among Them.

The church of God which sojourns at Rome, to the church of God sojourning at Corinth, to them that are called and sanctified by the will of God, through our Lord Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, from Almighty God through Jesus Christ, be multiplied.
Owing, dear brethren, to the sudden and successive calamitous events which have happened to ourselves, we feel that we have been somewhat tardy in turning our attention to the points respecting which you consulted us; and especially to that shameful and detestable sedition, utterly abhorrent to the elect of God, which a few rash and self-confident persons have kindled to such a pitch of frenzy, that your venerable and illustrious name, worthy to be universally loved, has suffered grievous injury.  For who ever dwelt even for a short time among you, and did not find your faith to be as fruitful of virtue as it was firmly established? Who did not admire the sobriety and moderation of your godliness in Christ? Who did not proclaim the magnificence of your habitual hospitality? And who did not rejoice over your perfect and well-grounded knowledge? For you did all things without respect of persons, and walked in the commandments of God, being obedient to those who had the rule over you, and giving all fitting honour to the presbyters among you. You enjoined young men to be of a sober and serious mind, you instructed your wives to do all things with a blameless, becoming, and pure conscience, loving their husbands as in duty bound; and you taught them that, living in the rule of obedience, they should manage their household affairs becomingly, and be in every respect marked by discretion.

Chapter 2. Praise of the Corinthians Continued.

Moreover, you were all distinguished by humility, and were in no respect puffed up with pride, but yielded obedience rather than extorted it, and were more willing to give than to receive. Acts 20:35 Content with the provision which God had made for you, and carefully attending to His words, you were inwardly filled with His doctrine, and His sufferings were before your eyes. Thus a profound and abundant peace was given to you all, and you had an insatiable desire for doing good, while a full outpouring of the Holy Spirit was upon you all. Full of holy designs, you did, with true earnestness of mind and a godly confidence, stretch forth your hands to God Almighty, beseeching Him to be merciful unto you, if you had been guilty of any involuntary transgression. Day and night you were anxious for the whole brotherhood, 1 Peter 2:17 that the number of God's elect might be saved with mercy and a good conscience. You were sincere and uncorrupted, and forgetful of injuries between one another. Every kind of faction and schism was abominable in your sight. You mourned over the transgressions of your neighbours: their deficiencies you deemed your own. You never grudged any act of kindness, being ready to every good work. Titus 3:1 Adorned by a thoroughly virtuous and religious life, you did all things in the fear of God. The commandments and ordinances of the Lord were written upon the tablets of your hearts. Proverbs 7:3

Chapter 3. The Sad State of the Corinthian Church After Sedition Arose in It from Envy and Emulation.

Every kind of honour and happiness was bestowed upon you, and then was fulfilled that which is written, My beloved ate and drank, and was enlarged and became fat, and kicked. Deuteronomy 32:15 Hence flowed emulation and envy, strife and sedition, persecution and disorder, war and captivity. So the worthless rose up against the honoured, those of no reputation against such as were renowned, the foolish against the wise, the young against those advanced in years. For this reason righteousness and peace are now far departed from you, inasmuch as every one abandons the fear of God, and has become blind in His faith, neither walks in the ordinances of His appointment, nor acts a part becoming a Christian, but walks after his own wicked lusts, resuming the practice of an unrighteous and ungodly envy, by which death itself entered into the world. Wisdom 2:24

Chapter 4. Many Evils Have Already Flowed from This Source in Ancient Times.

For thus it is written: And it came to pass after certain days, that Cain brought of the fruits of the earth a sacrifice unto God; and Abel also brought of the firstlings of his sheep, and of the fat thereof. And God had respect to Abel and to his offerings, but Cain and his sacrifices He did not regard. And Cain was deeply grieved, and his countenance fell. And God said to Cain, Why are you grieved, and why is your countenance fallen? If you offer rightly, but do not divide rightly, have you not sinned? Be at peace: your offering returns to yourself, and you shall again possess it. And Cain said to Abel his brother, Let us go into the field. And it came to pass, while they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him. You see, brethren, how envy and jealousy led to the murder of a brother. Through envy, also, our father Jacob fled from the face of Esau his brother.Envy made Joseph be persecuted unto death, and to come into bondage. Genesis xxxvii Envy compelled Moses to flee from the face of Pharaoh king of Egypt, when he heard these words from his fellow-countryman, Who made you a judge or a ruler over us? Will you kill me, as you killed the Egyptian yesterday? Exodus 2:14 On account of envyAaron and Miriam had to make their abode without the camp. Numbers 12:14-15 Envy brought down Dathan and Abiram alive to Hades, through the sedition which they excited against God's servant MosesNumbers 16:33 Through envy, David not only underwent the hatred of foreigners, but was also persecuted by Saul king of Israel.

Chapter 5. No Less Evils Have Arisen from the Same Source in the Most Recent Times. The Martyrdom of Peter and Paul.

But not to dwell upon ancient examples, let us come to the most recent spiritual heroes. Let us take the noble examples furnished in our own generation. Through envy and jealousy the greatest and most righteous pillars [of the church] have been persecuted and put to death. Let us set before our eyes the illustrious apostles. Peter, through unrighteous envy, endured not one or two, but numerous labours; and when he had at length suffered martyrdom, departed to the place of glory due to him. Owing to envyPaul also obtained the reward of patient endurance, after being seven times thrown into captivity, compelled to flee, and stoned. After preaching both in the east and west, he gained the illustrious reputation due to his faith, having taught righteousness to the whole world, and come to the extreme limit of the west, and suffered martyrdom under the prefects. Thus was he removed from the world, and went into the holy place, having proved himself a striking example of patience.

Chapter 6. Continuation. Several Other Martyrs.

To these men who spent their lives in the practice of holiness, there is to be added a great multitude of the elect, who, having through envy endured many indignities and tortures, furnished us with a most excellent example. Through envy, those women, the Danaids and Dircæ, being persecuted, after they had suffered terrible and unspeakable torments, finished the course of their faith with steadfastness, and though weak in body, received a noble reward. Envy has alienated wives from their husbands, and changed that saying of our father Adam, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh. Genesis 2:23 Envy and strife have overthrown great cities, and rooted up mighty nations.

Chapter 7. An Exhortation to Repentance.

These things, beloved, we write unto you, not merely to admonish you of your duty, but also to remind ourselves. For we are struggling on the same arena, and the same conflict is assigned to both of us. Wherefore let us give up vain and fruitless cares, and approach to the glorious and venerable rule of our holy calling. Let us attend to what is good, pleasing, and acceptable in the sight of Him who formed us. Let us look steadfastly to the blood of Christ, and see how precious that blood is to God which, having been shed for our salvation, has set the grace of repentance before the whole world. Let us turn to every age that has passed, and learn that, from generation to generation, the Lord has granted a place of repentance to all such as would be converted unto Him. Noah preached repentance, and as many as listened to him were saved. Jonah proclaimed destruction to the Ninevites; Jonah iii but they, repenting of their sins, propitiated God by prayer, and obtained salvation, although they were aliens [to the covenant] of God.

Chapter 8. Continuation Respecting Repentance.

The ministers of the grace of God have, by the Holy Spirit, spoken of repentance; and the Lord of all things has himself declared with an oath regarding it, As I live, says the Lord, I desire not the death of the sinner, but rather his repentance; Ezekiel 33:11 adding, moreover, this gracious declaration, Repent, O house of Israel, of your iniquity. Ezekiel 18:30 Say to the children of my people, Though your sins reach from earth to heaven, and though they be redder Isaiah 1:18 than scarlet, and blacker than sack-cloth, yet if you turn to me with your whole heart, and say, Father! I will listen to you, as to a holy people. And in another place He speaks thus: Wash you and become clean; put away the wickedness of your souls from before my eyes; cease from your evil ways, and learn to do well; seek out judgment, deliver the oppressed, judge the fatherless, and see that justice is done to the widow; and come, and let us reason together. He declares, Though your sins be like crimson, I will make them white as snow; though they be like scarlet, I will whiten them like wool. And if you be willing and obey me, you shall eat the good of the land; but if you refuse, and will not hearken unto me, the sword shall devour you, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken these things. Isaiah 1:16-20 Desiring, therefore, that all His beloved should be partakers of repentance, He has, by His almighty will, established [these declarations].

Chapter 9. Examples of the Saints.

Wherefore, let us yield obedience to His excellent and glorious will; and imploring His mercy and loving-kindness, while we forsake all fruitless labours and strife, and envy, which leads to death, let us turn and have recourse to His compassions. Let us steadfastly contemplate those who have perfectly ministered to his excellent glory. Let us take (for instance) Enoch, who, being found righteous in obedience, was translated, and death was never known to happen to him. Noah, being found faithful, preached regeneration to the world through his ministry; and the Lord saved by him the animals which, with one accord, entered into the ark.

Chapter 40. Let Us Preserve in the Church the Order Appointed by God.

These things therefore being manifest to us, and since we look into the depths of the divine knowledge, it behooves us to do all things in [their proper] order, which the Lord has commanded us to perform at stated times. He has enjoined offerings [to be presented] and service to be performed [to Him], and that not thoughtlessly or irregularly, but at the appointed times and hours. Where and by whom He desires these things to be done, He Himself has fixed by His own supreme will, in order that all things, being piously done according to His good pleasure, may be acceptable unto Him.Those, therefore, who present their offerings at the appointed times, are accepted and blessed; for inasmuch as they follow the laws of the Lord, they sin not. For his own peculiar services are assigned to the high priest, and their own proper place is prescribed to the priests, and their own special ministrations devolve on the Levites. The layman is bound by the laws that pertain to laymen.

Chapter 41. Continuation of the Same Subject.

Let every one of you, brethren, give thanks to God in his own order, living in all good conscience, with becoming gravity, and not going beyond the rule of the ministry prescribed to him. Not in every place, brethren, are the daily sacrifices offered, or the peace-offerings, or the sin-offerings and the trespass-offerings, but in Jerusalem only. And even there they are not offered in any place, but only at the altar before the temple, that which is offered being first carefully examined by the high priest and the ministers already mentioned. Those, therefore, who do anything beyond that which is agreeable to His will, are punished with death. You see, brethren, that the greater the knowledge that has been vouchsafed to us, the greater also is the danger to which we are exposed.

Chapter 42. The Order of Ministers in the Church.

The apostles have preached the gospel to us from the Lord Jesus Christ; Jesus Christ [has done so] from God. Christ therefore was sent forth by God, and the apostles by Christ. Both these appointments, then, were made in an orderly way, according to the will of God. Having therefore received their orders, and being fully assured by the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, and established in the word of God, with full assurance of the Holy Ghost, they went forth proclaiming that the kingdom of God was at hand. And thus preaching through countries and cities, they appointed the first fruits [of their labours], having first proved them by the Spirit, to be bishops and deacons of those who should afterwards believe. Nor was this any new thing, since indeed many ages before it was written concerning bishops and deacons. For thus says the Scripture in a certain place, I will appoint their bishops in righteousness, and their deacons in faith.

Chapter 43. Moses of Old Stilled the Contention Which Arose Concerning the Priestly Dignity.

And what wonder is it if those in Christ who were entrusted with such a duty by God, appointed those [ministers] before mentioned, when the blessed Moses also, a faithful servant in all his house, noted down in the sacred books all the injunctions which were given him, and when the other prophets also followed him, bearing witness with one consent to the ordinances which he had appointed? For, when rivalry arose concerning the priesthood, and the tribes were contending among themselves as to which of them should be adorned with that glorious title, he commanded the twelve princes of the tribes to bring him their rods, each one being inscribed with the name of the tribe. And he took them and bound them [together], and sealed them with the rings of the princes of the tribes, and laid them up in the tabernacle of witness on the table of God. And having shut the doors of the tabernacle, he sealed the keys, as he had done the rods, and said to them, Men and brethren, the tribe whose rod shall blossom has God chosen to fulfil the office of the priesthood, and to minister unto Him. And when the morning had come, he assembled all Israel, six hundred thousand men, and showed the seals to the princes of the tribes, and opened the tabernacle of witness, and brought forth the rods. And the rod of Aaron was found not only to have blossomed, but to bear fruit upon it. What think ye, beloved? Did not Moses know beforehand that this would happen? Undoubtedly he knew; but he acted thus, that there might be no sedition in Israel, and that the name of the true and only God might be glorified; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Chapter 44. The Ordinances of the Apostles, that There Might Be No Contention Respecting the Priestly Office.

Our apostles also knew, through our Lord Jesus Christ, that there would be strife on account of the office of the episcopate. For this reason, therefore, inasmuch as they had obtained a perfect fore-knowledge of this, they appointed those [ministers] already mentioned, and afterwards gave instructions, that when these should fall asleep, other approved men should succeed them in their ministry. We are of opinion, therefore, that those appointed by them, or afterwards by other eminent men, with the consent of the whole church, and who have blamelessly served the flock of Christ, in a humble, peaceable, and disinterested spirit, and have for a long time possessed the good opinion of all, cannot be justly dismissed from the ministry. For our sin will not be small, if we eject from the episcopate those who have blamelessly and holily fulfilled its duties. Blessed are those presbyters who, having finished their course before now, have obtained a fruitful and perfect departure [from this world]; for they have no fear lest any one deprive them of the place now appointed them. But we see that you have removed some men of excellent behaviour from the ministry, which they fulfilled blamelessly and with honour.

Chapter 62. Summary and Conclusory— Concerning Godliness.

Concerning the things pertaining to our religious observance which are most profitable for a life of goodness to those who would pursue a godly and righteous course, we have written to you, men and brethren, at sufficient length. For concerning faith and repentance and true love and continence and soberness and patience, we have touched upon every passage, putting you in mind that you ought in righteousness and truth and long-suffering to be well-pleasing to Almighty God with holiness, being of one mind— not remembering evil— in love and peace with instant gentleness, even as also our fathers forementioned found favour by the humility of their thoughts towards the Father and God and Creator and all mankind. And of these things we put you in mind with the greater pleasure, since we were well assured that we were writing to men who were faithful and of highest repute and had peered into the oracles of the instruction of God.

Chapter 63. Hortatory, Letter Sent by Special Messengers.

Right is it, therefore, to approach examples so good and so many, and submit the neck and fulfil the part of obedience, in order that, undisturbed by vain sedition, we may attain unto the goal set before us in truth wholly free from blame. Joy and gladness will you afford us, if you become obedient to the words written by us and through the Holy Spirit root out the lawless wrath of your jealousy according to the intercession which we have made for peace and unity in this letter. We have sent men faithful and discreet, whose conversation from youth to old age has been blameless among us—the same shall be witnesses between you and us. This we have done, that you may know that our whole concern has been and is that you may be speedily at peace.

Chapter 64. Blessings Sought for All that Call Upon God.

May God, who sees all things, and who is the Ruler of all spirits and the Lord of all flesh— who chose our Lord Jesus Christ and us through Him to be a peculiar Titus 2:14 people— grant to every soul that calls upon His glorious and holy name, faithfear, peace, patience, long-suffering, self-control, purity, and sobriety, to the well-pleasing of His name, through our High Priest and Protector, Jesus Christ, by whom be to Him glory, and majesty, and power, and honour, both now and for evermore. Amen.

Chapter 65. The Corinthians are Exhorted Speedily to Send Back Word that Peace Has Been Restored. The Benediction.

Send back speedily to us in peace and with joy these our messengers to you: Claudius Ephebus and Valerius Bito, with Fortunatus; that they may the sooner announce to us the peace and harmony we so earnestly desire and long for [among you], and that we may the more quickly rejoice over the good order re-established among you. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you, and with all everywhere that are the called of God through Him, by whom be to Him gloryhonour, power, majesty, and eternal dominion, from everlasting to everlasting. Amen.

Source. Translated by John Keith. From Ante-Nicene FathersVol. 9. Edited by Allan Menzies. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1896.Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight.

For the full text, follow this link: New Advent: Letter of St. Clement to the Corinthians

Live well!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Feast of St. Cecilia of Rome

St. Cecilia by Domenichino (+1641AD).

St. Cecilia of Rome, martyred during the pontificate of Pope St. Urban I (Bishop of Rome, 222-230AD), is justly famous as the patroness of Music, for her remains found incorrupt over a thousand years after her death, and for the wonderful basilica dedicated to her in Rome.

St. Cecilia was a member of a noble Roman family, who managed to convert her husband, Valerianus, and brother-in-law, Tiburtius, who had been pagans.  She would be condemned to death all the same.  Tragically, when she was being executed, the executioner failed to sever her head in three strikes, leaving her to linger for three days.  She is reputed to have sung, as she could, in those days before she died, and hence her patronage of musicians.

Here are a couple of links to accounts of the life of St. Cecilia:
Catholic Saints Info: St. Cecilia

Old Catholic Encyclopedia: St. Cecilia

Butler's Lives of the Saints: St. Cecilia

File:St Cecilia's Martyrdom.jpg
The Statue the Martyrdom of St. Cecilia by Stefano Maderno (+1636AD).  It is located under the main altar of the Basilica of Santa Cecilia in Rome.
["St Cecilia's Martyrdom" by Sébastien Bertrand from Paris, France - Flickr. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Commons]

When the tomb of St. Cecilia was opened in 1599AD, around the time of a massive renovation of the Basilica in Trastevere bearing her name, her remains were found to be incorrupt.  The scupltor, Stefano Maderno, carved what it was that they saw upon finding the incorrupt saints relics.  Notice her hands held in such that there are three fingers extended on one hand, and but one on the other -- an affirmation of her belief in the Holy Trinity.

The facade of the Basilica of St. Cecilia.  The facade itself dates to the 18th century.

The interior of the Basilica of St. Cecilia in Rome.
["Santa-Maria-In-Trastevere-Interior" by Dreamword at English Wikipedia. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons]

The Basilica in Rome that houses the relics of St. Cecilia and bears her name is located in the Roman neighborhood of Trastevere ("across the Tiber").  Santa Cecilia in Trastevere is a Romanesque-style Basilica that was first constructed in the 5th century, on the site of an earlier Church, and, according to a tradition, the home of St. Cecilia.  The church has since undergone a series of renovations and improvements.

Here is a link to the website of the Church: Basilica di Santa Cecilia

Live well!

Friday, November 18, 2016

Feast of the Dedication of the Basilicas of Peter & Paul

Today, 18 November, is the feast of the Dedication of the Basilicas of St. Peter and St. Paul in Rome.

These two great Archbasilicas house the relics of the great Saints and Apostles, St. Peter and St. Paul, the patron saints of Rome.  They sit at the Vatican hill just west of the Tiber and on the Ostian Way just south of the city walls, respectively.

File:Vatican City at Large.jpg
St. Peter's Basilica with the Tiber River and Ponte Sant'Angelo in the foreground.
["Vatican City at Large" by Sébastien Bertrand from Paris, France - Flickr. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Commonsg]

St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican is perhaps the most famous church in the world.  It was constructed on the site of the tomb of St. Peter -- the first Basilica constructed during the reign of the Emperor Constantine.  Indeed, the November feast commemorates the dedication of the structure in 325AD by Pope St. Sylvester I.  Beginning in 1506 under Pope Julius II, and concluding in 1626, the current structure was constructed.

File:Vatican Altar 2.jpg
An interior view of St. Peter's with the confessio and main altar in the center.
["Vatican Altar 2" by Patrick Landy known as FSU Guy at en.wikipedia. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons]

Here is an article on St. Peter's Basilica: Old Catholic Encyclopedia: St. Peter's Basilica

Follow this to the official webpage of the Basilica: Basilica of San Pietro in Vaticano

File:Roma San Paolo fuori le mura BW 1.JPG
The facade of St. Paul's Outside the Walls -- San Paulo fuori le mura.

St. Paul's Basilica -- St. Paul's Outside the Walls -- is the burial place of St. Paul the Apostle, and home to a Benedictine Abbey.  This Basilica, located on the Ostian Way, was, like St. Peter's first constructed during the time of the Emperor Constantine.  A fire in the 19th century, however, meant that the majority of the structure was rebuilt and rededicated in 1823.  When it was reconstructed, however, it was done in much the same style of its original construction.  The Basilica of St. Paul's is famous for its medallions of all of the Popes.

The interior of St. Paul's.  Notice the circular medallions right above the arches -- those picture the various successors of St. Peter.
["Rom, Sankt Paul vor den Mauern (San Paolo fuori le mura), Innenansicht 1" by Dnalor 01 - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons]

Here is an article on the Basilica of St. Paul's: Old Catholic Encyclopedia: St. Paul's

Follow this link to the official website of the Basilica: Basilica of San Paolo fuori le mura

Live well!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Feast of St. Albertus Magnus, OP

St. Albert the Great in a Fresco at Treviso, Italy dating to 1352 by Tommaso da Modena.

Today, while Sunday, is also the feast of St. Albert the Great (+1280), Dominican and Doctor of the Church.

St. Albert was a rather notable philosopher, scientist, and professor in his day, famously teaching St. Thomas Aquinas (+1274).  Born in Swabia, Albert began his studies at the University of Padua in Italy, where he came across the new Order of Preachers, the Dominicans.  In 1245, he was sent to the University of Paris to receive his doctorate.  It was there that he first came into contact with St. Thomas Aquinas, the two proceeding to the University of Cologne in 1248 where St. Albert became Studium Generale.  From 1254-1257 Albert served as Provincial of the Dominican Order in Germany.  He would end up coming to Rome during those years to defend the new mendicant orders.  St. Albert ended up as Bishop of Ratisbon, appointed to that see in 1260.  St. Albert remained a friend and ally of St. Thomas Aquinas, and after the younger man's death in 1274, St. Albert defended his memory from attacks of those suspicious of the Angelic Doctor.

Here is a link to the Church of Saint Andreas in Cologne, where the Universal Doctor is buried: Church of St. Andreas, Cologne

Although now overshadowed by his pupil, St. Thomas, St. Albert was a great scholar in his own right, penning treatises on a host of subjects.  His scientific experimentation is worthy of note.  He noted: "The aim of natural science is not simply to accept the statements [narrata] of others, but to investigate the causes that are at work in nature." (De Miner., lib. II, tr. ii, i).  Of St. Albert, it is written: "he was an authority on physics, geography, astronomy, mineralogy, chemistry (alchimia), zoölogy, physiology, and even phrenology. On all these subjects his erudition was vast, and many of his observations are of permanent value."  It is for this reason that he remain the patron saint of scientists.

Here are a couple of accounts of the rather remarkable life of Albertus Magnus:

Old Catholic Encyclopedia: Albertus Magnus

Catholic Saint Info: St. Albert the Great

Live well!

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Pope St. Martin I & the Monothelite heresy

Today is traditionally the Feast of Pope St. Martin I, a great pontiff of the 7th century, and opponent of the Monothelite heresy.  His new calendar feast falls on 13 April, for reference.  So, what follows is an account I wrote of his rather interesting times:

Patriarch Sergius of Constantinople (610-638), trying to reconcile the Monophysites (an earlier heresy, centered in Egypt, that claimed Christ had one nature), came up with a new heresy that appears on the scene in 630.  He argued that Christ has only “one will,” and two natures: this is the Monothelite heresy.  The Armenians liked the idea, but the Patriarch of Alexandria objected.  Rome, under Pope Honorius I (625-638) responded with a vague letter that was taken as consent.  The Emperor Heraclius (610-641) threw his weight behind this idea in 638, and signed a Monothelite statement [Ecthesis] proposed by the Patriarch Sergius.

Here is an article with more detail on the Monothelite heresy: Old Catholic Encyclopedia: Monothelites

The next Emperor, Constans II (641-668) did, however, initially withdraw the Monothelite statement.  In 648, though, Constans II actually ended up sided with the Monothelite Patriarch of Constantinople, Paul II (641-654), by forbidding discussion of the issue [the document was called the “Type”].

Pope St. Martin I (649-655)

In 649 a new Pope took the Chair of Peter: St. Martin I (649-655).  He convened a synod in 649 at the Lateran, condemned the heresy, and excommunicated the Patriarch of Constantinople – for which he was arrested in that same Church in 653 by Byzantine troops (Pope St. Martin I would die in exile in the Crimea in 655).  This was a real persecution.

Here is a link with more information on Pope St. Martin I: Old Catholic Encyclopedia: Pope St. Martin I

Here is a second: Catholic Saints Info: Pope St. Martin I

Finally, a third: Butler's Lives of the Saints: Pope St. Martin I

In 663, Byzantine Emperor Constans II actually came to Rome; the first time an Emperor had been in the city in 200 years.  Constans II settled in Sicily, but was murdered in his bath in 668 -- beaten to death with a silver bath bucket -- and followed on the throne by his son, Constantine IV (668-685).  Constantine suggested to the Supreme Pontiff that the Monothelite matter be laid to rest.

Pope St. Agatho (678-681) responded with a letter that reaffirmed the teaching of the Popes, and a council – the 6th Ecumenical Council, the Third Council of Constantinople, was opened in November 680.  It would meet until September 681.  The Emperor presided, and Papal legates led the theological discussions.  The Council not only condemned the heresy, but made a list of condemned heretics – a list that included Pope Honorius I!  Before he could approve the Council’s acts, though, Pope Agatho died.  The new pope elected in his place was Pope St. Leo II (681-683).  He was versed in Greek and looked through the documents.  He reworded the condemnation of Honorius, to merely condemn his lack of vigor in fighting the heresy, and then approved the council.  Indeed, the case of Pope Honorius is a good reminder of how popes may not officially promulgate heresy, but they can be negligent in teaching the truth with clarity.  If a pope fails to uphold and teach the truth of the Faith, and this clearly, he has much to answer for!

Remember, of course, that this is happening in the context of the lightening strikes of the Islamic Conquest, which began against the Byzantine Empire during the reign of the Emperor Heraclius and threatened Constantinople itself by the late 600s, having overwhelmed the Holy Land, Syria, Egypt, and much of North Africa.

Live well!