Posted in FEASTS and SOLEMNITIES, QUOTES on the CROSS of CHRIST, The HOLY CROSS, The MOST HOLY REDEEMER, The REDEMPTION

The Feast of the Finding of the Holy Cross – 3 May

The Feast of the Finding of the Holy Cross

The Liturgical Year
by Abbot Prosper Guéranger OSB (1805-1875)

“It was most just that our Divine King should show Himself to us with the sceptre of His power, to the end, that nothing might be wanting to the majesty of His empire. This sceptre is the Cross; and Paschal Time was to be the Season, for its being offered to Him in glad homage. A few weeks back and the Cross was shown to us, as the instrument of our Emmanuel’s humiliation and as the bed of suffering, whereon He died but, has He not, since then, conquered Death? and what is His Cross now but a trophy of His victory? Let it then be brought forth to our gaze and let every knee bend before this Sacred Wood, whereby our Jesus won the honour and praise we now give Him!

On the day of His Birth at Bethlehem, we sang these words of the Prophet Isaias: A Child is born unto us and a Son is given unto us and His government is upon His Shoulder (Is. ix. 6. The Introit of the Third Mass for Christmas Day). We have seen Him carrying this Cross upon His Shoulder, as Isaac carried the wood for his own immolation but now, it is no longer a heavy burthen. It is shining with a brightness that ravishes the eyes of the Angels and, after having received the veneration of man, as long as the world lasts, it will suddenly appear in the clouds of heaven, near the Judge of the living and the dead, a consolation to them that have loved it but a reproach to such as have treated it with contempt or forgetfulness.

St Helena and St Macarius and the discovery of the True Cross

Our Saviour did not think the time between His Resurrection and Ascensio,n a fitting one for glorifying the Instrument of His Victory. The Cross was not to be brought into notice, until it had subjected the world to Him, Whose glory it so eloquently proclaimed. Jesus was three days in the tomb; His Cross is to lie buried unknown to men, for three centuries but it is to have its Resurrection and the Church celebrates this Resurrection today. Jesus would, in His own good time, add to the joy of Easter by miraculously revealing to us, this Sacred Monument of His love for mankind. He entrusts it to our keeping, it is to be our consolation, as long as this world lasts – is it not just, that we should love and venerate it?

Never had Satan’s pride met with a humiliation like that of his seeing the instrument of our perdition, made the instrument of our salvation. As the Church expresses it in her Preface for Passiontide: “he that overcame mankind by a Tree, was overcome by a Tree.” Thus foiled, he vented his fury upon this saving Wood, which so bitterly reminded him, both of the irresistible power of his Conqueror and of the dignity of man, who had been redeemed at so great a price. He would fain have annihilated the Cross but knowing that this was beyond his power, he endeavoured to profane it and hide it from view. He, therefore, instigated the Jews to bury it. At the foot of Calvary, not far from the Sepulchre, was a deep hole. Into this was the Cross thrown, together with those of the two Thieves, the Nails, the Crown of Thorns and the Inscription, or Title, written by Pilate . The hole was then filled up with rubbish and earth and the Sanhedrim exulted in the thought of its having effaced the memory of the Nazarene, Who could not save Himself from the ignominious death of the Cross.

Forty years after this, Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans, the instruments of God’s vengeance. The Holy Places were desecrated by the idolaters. A small temple to Venus was erected on Calvary and another to Jupiter over the Holy Sepulchre. By this, the pagans intended derision; whereas, they were perpetuating the knowledge of two spots of most sacred interest. When peace was restored under Constantine, the Christians had but to remove these pagan monuments and their eyes beheld the holy ground that had been bedewed with the Blood of Jesus and the glorious Sepulchre.

As to the Cross, it was not so easily found. The sceptre of our Divine King was to be raised up from its tomb by a royal hand. The saintly Empress Helena, Constantine’s Mother, was chosen by heaven to pay to Jesu, and that, too, on the very spot where He had received His greatest humiliations, the honours which are due to Him as the King of the world. Before laying the foundations of the Basilica of the Resurrection, this worthy follower of Magdalene and the other holy women of the Sepulchre, was anxious to discover the Instrument of our Salvation. The Jews had kept up the tradition of the site where it had been buried, the Empress had the excavations made accordingly. With what holy impatience must she not have watched the works! and with what ecstasy of joy did she not behold the Redeeming Wood, which, though not, at first, distinguishable, was certainly one of the three Crosses that were found! She addressed a fervent prayer to the Saviour, Who alone could reveal to her which was the trophy of His Victory – the Bishop, St Macarius, united his prayers with hers and their faith was rewarded by a miracle, that left them no doubt as to which was the true Cross.

The Finding of the True Cross (Giandomenico Tiepolo), where Bishop Macarius blesses the sick with the True Cross

The glorious work was accomplished and the Church was put in possession of the instrument of the world’s Redemption. Both East and West were filled with joy at the news of this precious discovery, which Heaven had set on foot and which gave the last finish to the triumph of Christianity. Christ completed His Victory over the Pagan world, by raising thus His Standard, not a figurative one but His own real Standard, His Cross, which, up to that time, had been a stumbling-block to the Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles;but before which every Christian is, henceforth, to bend his knee.

Helena placed the Holy Cross in the Basilica that had been built by her orders and which the same St Macarius, Bishop of Jerusalem oversaw and which covered both the glorious Sepulchre and the hill of the Crucifixion. Another Church was erected on the site, where the Cross had lain concealed for three hundred years and the faithful are enabled, by long flights of steps, to go down into the deep grotto, which had been its tomb. Pilgrims came, from every part of the world, to visit the hallowed places, where our Redemption had been wrought and to venerate the Sacred Wood of the Cross. But God’s merciful providence willed, not that the precious pledge of Jesus’ love for mankind should be confined to one only Sanctuary, however venerable it might be. Immediately after its discovery, Helena had a very large piece cut from the Cross and this fragment she destined for Rome, the new Jerusalem. The precious gift was enshrined in the Basilica built by her son Constantine in the Sessorian garden,and which was afterwards called the Basilica of Holy Cross in Jerusalem.

By degrees, other places were honoured by the presence of the Wood of the Holy Cross. As far back as the 4th Century, we have St Cyril of Jerusalem attesting that many of the Pilgrims used to obtain small pieces of it, and thus carried the precious Treasure into their respective countries and St. Paulinus of Nola, who lived in the same century, assures us that these many gifts lessened not the size of the original Relic. In the 6th century, the holy Queen, St Radegonde, obtained from the Emperor Justin 2nd a large piece from the fragment that was in the imperial treasury of Constantinople . It was for the reception of this piece of the True Cross into France, that St Venantius Fortunatus composed the , that beautiful Hymn which the Church uses in her Liturgy, as often as she celebrates the praises of the Holy Cross.

After several times losing and regaining it, Jerusalem was, at length, forever deprived of the precious Relic. Constantinople was a gainer by Jerusalem’s loss. From Constantinople, especially during the Crusades, many Churches of the West procured large pieces. These again supplied other places; until, at length the Wood of the Cross was to be found in almost every town of any importance.

There is scarcely to be found a Catholic, who, some time or other in his life, has not had the happiness of seeing and venerating a portion of this sacred object. How many acts of love and gratitude have not been occasioned by this? And who could fail to recognise, in this successive profusion of our Jesus’s Cross, a plan of divine providence for exciting us to an appreciation of our Redemption, on which rest all our hopes of eternal happiness?

How dear, then, to us should not this day be, which blends together the recollection of the Holy Cross and the joys of the Resurrection of that Jesus, Who, by the Cross, has won the throne to which we shall soon see Him ascend|! Let us thank our Heavenly Father for His having restored to mankind a treasure so immensely precious as is the Cross. Until the day comes for its appearing, with Himself, in the clouds of heaven, Jesus has intrusted it to His Spouse, as a pledge of His Second Coming. On that day, He, by His divine power, will collect together all the fragments and the Tree of Life will, then, gladden the Elect with its dazzling beauty and invite them to eternal rest beneath its refreshing shade”. – Abbot Prosper Guéranger OSB (1805-1875)

On whose dear arms, so widely flung,
The weight of this world’s ransom hung,
The price of humankind to pay
And spoil the spoiler of his prey
All hail, O Cross, our only hope!

[From the Hymn Vexilla Regis by St Venantius Fortunatus (c 530 – c 609)]

If you would like to read St Macarius life:
https://anastpaul.com/2022/03/10/saint-of-the-day-10-march-saint-macarius-died-c-335/

For the Life of St Venantius go here:
https://anastpaul.com/2019/12/14/saint-of-the-day-14-december-saint-venantius-fortunatus-c-530-c-609/

For the Life of St Radegunde here:
https://anastpaul.com/2021/08/13/saint-of-the-day-13-august-saint-radegunde-c-518-587/

And her life by St Venantius Fortunatus go here:
https://sites.uwm.edu/carlin/venantius-fortunatus-life-of-st-radegund/

Posted in FEASTS and SOLEMNITIES, MARIAN REFLECTIONS, MARIAN TITLES, MARTYRS, SAINT of the DAY, The 1st Joyful Mystery - the ANNUNCIATION, The ANNUNCIATION, YouTube VIDEOS

The Annunciation of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, Our Lady of Betania and Memorials of the Saints – 25 March

The Annunciation of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God:
HERE:
https://anastpaul.com/2019/03/25/the-solemnity-of-the-annunciation-of-the-lord-25-march/

Abbot Prosper Guéranger OSB (1805-1875) narrates:

A tradition, which has come down from the apostolic ages, tells us that the great mystery of the Incarnation, was achieved on the twenty-fifth day of March. It was at the hour of midnight, when the most holy Virgin was alone and absorbed in prayer, that the Archangel Gabriel appeared before her and asked her, in the name of the Blessed Trinity, to consent to become the Mother of God. Let us assist, in spirit, at this wonderful interview between the angel and the Virgin: and, at the same time, let us think of that other interview which took place between Eve and the serpent. A holy Bishop and Martyr of the second century, Saint Irenaeus, who had received the tradition from the very disciples of the Apostles, shows us that Nazareth, is the counterpart of Eden.

In the garden of delights there is a virgin and an angel and a conversation takes place-between them. At Nazareth a virgin is also addressed by an angel and she answers him but the angel of the earthly paradise, is a spirit of darkness and he of Nazareth, is a spirit of light. In both instances, it is the angel that has the first word. ‘Why,’ said the serpent to Eve, ‘hath God commanded you, that you should not eat of every tree of paradise?’ His question implies impatience and a solicitation to evil, he has contempt for the frail creature to whom he addresses it but he hates the image of God, which is upon her.

See, on the other hand, the angel of light; see with what composure and peacefulness he approaches the Virgin of Nazareth, the new Eve and how respectfully he bows himself down before her: ‘Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with thee! Blessed art thou among women!’ Such language is evidently of heaven, none but an angel could speak thus to Mary.

Scarcely has the wicked spirit finished speaking than Eve casts a longing look at the forbidden fruit, she is impatient to enjoy the independence it is to bring her. She rashly stretches forth her hand, she plucks the fruit, she eats it and death takes possession of her: death of the soul, for sin extinguishes the light of life; and death of the body, which being separated from the source of immortality, becomes an object of shame and horror and finally, crumbles into dust.

But let us turn away our eyes from this sad spectacle and fix them on Nazareth. Mary has heard the angel’s explanation of the mystery, the will of heaven is made known to her and how grand an honour it is to bring upon her! She, the humble maid of Nazareth, is to have the ineffable happiness of becoming the Mother of God and yet, the treasure of her virginity is to be left to her! Mary bows down before this sovereign will and says to the heavenly messenger: ‘Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done unto me, according to thy word.’

Thus, as the great St Irenaeus and so many of the holy fathers remark, the obedience of the second Eve, repaired the disobedience of the first, for no sooner does the Virgin of Nazareth speak her fiat, ‘be it done,’ than the eternal Son of God (who, according to the divine decree, awaited this word) is present, by the operation of the Holy Ghost, in the chaste womb of Mary and there, He begins His human life. A Virgin is a Mother and Mother of God and it is this Virgin’s consenting to the divine will, that has made her conceive by the power of the Holy Ghost. This sublime mystery puts between the eternal Word and a mere woman, the relations of Son and Mother, it gives to the almighty God, a means whereby He may, in a manner worthy of His majesty, triumph over satan, who hitherto seemed to have prevailed against the divine plan.

Never was there a more entire or humiliating defeat than that which this day befell satan. The frail creature, over whom he had so easily triumphed at the beginning of the world, now rises and crushes his proud head. Eve conquers in Mary. God would not choose man for the instrument of His vengeance, the humiliation of satan would not have been great enough and, therefore, she who was the first prey of hell, the first victim of the tempter, is selected to give battle to the enemy. The result of so glorious a triumph is, that Mary is to be superior not only to the rebel angels but to the whole human race, yea, to all the angels of heaven. Seated on her exalted throne, she, the Mother of God, is to be the Queen of all creation. Satan, in the depths of the abyss, will eternally bewail his having dared to direct his first attack against the woman, for God has now so gloriously avenged her and, in heaven, the very Cherubim and Seraphim reverently look up to Mary and deem themselves honoured, when she smiles upon them, or employs them in the execution of any of her wishes, for she is the Mother of their God.

Therefore is it that we, the children of Adam, who have been snatched by Mary’s obedience from the power of hell, solemnise this day of the Annunciation. Well may we say of Mary, those words of Debbora, when she sang her song of victory over the enemies of God’s people: ‘The valiant men ceased and rested in Israel, until Debbora arose, a mother arose in Israel. The Lord chose new wars and He Himself, overthrew the gates of the enemies.’ Let us also refer to the holy Mother of Jesus, these words of Judith, who by her victory over the enemy was another type of Mary: ‘Praise ye the Lord our God, who hath not forsaken them that hope in Him. And by me, His handmaid, He hath fulfilled His mercy, which He promised to the house of Israel and He hath killed the enemy of His people, by my hand this night. . . . The almighty Lord hath struck him and hath delivered him into the hands of a woman and hath slain him.’

Our Lady of Betania:
The name Betania means Bethany in Spanish. It was originally given this name by Maria Esperanza and was the site of their farm, in Venezuela. Apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary were reported and eventually a small Chapel was built there and the faithful began to gather, especially on Feast Days but throughout the year.

St Alfwold of Sherborne
St Barontius of Pistoia
St Desiderius of Pistoia
St Dismas (Crucified with Jesus) “The Good Thief”

St Dula the Slave
Blessed Emilian Kovch (1884-1944) Priest, Martyr
About Bl Emilian:

https://anastpaul.wordpress.com/2018/03/25/saint-of-the-day-25-march-blessed-emilian-kovch-1884-1944-martyr/

Bl Everard of Nellenburg
Bl Herman of Zahringen
St Hermenland
St Humbert of Pelagius
Bl James Bird
Bl Josaphata Mykhailyna Hordashevska
St Kennocha of Fife
St Lucia Filippini
St Marie-Alphonsine/Mariam Sultaneh Danil Ghattas (1843-1927)
About St Marie-Alphonusine:

https://anastpaul.com/2020/03/25/saint-of-the-day-25-march-st-marie-alphonsine-danil-ghattas-1843-1927/
St Matrona of Barcelona
St Matrona of Thessaloniki
St Mona of Milan
St Ndre Zadeja
Bl Pawel Januszewski
St Pelagius of Laodicea
Bl Placido Riccardi
St Procopius
St Quirinus of Rome
Bl Tommaso of Costacciaro

262 Martyrs of Rome: A group 262 Christians martyred together in Rome. We know nothing else about them, not even their names.

Posted in FEASTS and SOLEMNITIES, MORNING Prayers, QUOTES of the SAINTS, SAINT of the DAY, The APOSTLES & EVANGELISTS

One Minute Reflection – 3 May

One Minute Reflection – 3 May

What was from the beginning, what we have heard,
what we have seen with our eyes, what we looked upon
and touched with our hands concerns the Word of life
for the life was made visible;  we have seen it and testify to it……….1 John 1:1-2

REFLECTION – “Two of the favoured witnesses of our beloved Jesus’ Resurrection come before us today.    Sts. Philip and James are here, bearing testimony to us that their Master is truly risen from the dead, that they have seen Him, that they have touched Him, that they have conversed with Him during these forty days.   And, that we may have no doubt as to the truth of their testimony, they hold in their hands the instruments of the martyrdom they underwent for asserting that Jesus, after having suffered death, came to life again and rose from the grave.”………………..Abbot/Dom Prosper Guéranger

TWO OF THE FAVOURED - Dom Prosper Guéranger

PRAYER – O God, who gladden us each year with the feast day of the Apostles Philip and James, grant us, through their prayers, a share in the Passion and Resurrection of your Only Begotten Son, so that we may merit to behold You for eternity. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

STS PHILIP AND JAMES PRAY FOR US