Third Day: The Gift of Piety
Thou, of all consolers best,
Visiting the troubled breast
Dost refreshing peace bestow
The gift of Piety begets in our hearts a filial affection for God as our most loving Father. It inspires us to love and respect for His sake persons and things consecrated to Him, as well as those who are vested with His authority, His Blessed Mother and the Saints, the Church and its visible Head, our parents and superiors, our country and its rulers. He who is filled with the gift of Piety finds the practice of his religion, not a burdensome duty, but a delightful service. Where there is love, there is no labor.
Second Day: The Gift of Fear
Come, Thou Father of the poor!
Come, with treasures which endure!
Come, Thou Light of all that live!
The gift of Fear fills us with a sovereign respect for God, and makes us dread nothing so much as to offend Him by sin. It is a fear that arises, not from the thought of hell, but from sentiments of reverence and filial submission to our heavenly Father. It is the fear that is the beginning of wisdom, detaching us from worldly pleasures that could in any way separate us from God. “They that fear the Lord will prepare their hearts, and in His sight will sanctify their souls.”
First Day: The Holy Ghost
Holy Spirit! Lord of light!
From Thy clear celestial height,
Thy pure beaming radiance give!
Only one thing is important — eternal salvation. Only one thing, therefore, is to be feared — sin. Sin is the result of ignorance, weakness, and indifference. The Holy Ghost is the Spirit of Light, of Strength, and of Love. With His sevenfold gifts, He enlightens the mind, strengthens the will, and inflames the heart with love of God. To ensure our salvation, we ought to invoke the Divine Spirit daily, for “The Spirit helpeth our infirmity. We know not what we should pray for as we ought. But the Spirit Himself asketh for us. Continue reading
ANTIPHON: That they all may be one, as Thou, Father, in me and I in Thee; that they also may be one in Us; that the world may believe that Thou hast sent me.
V. I say unto thee, thou art Peter;
R. And upon this rock I will build my Church.
[Here is brought to mind the intention for the day’s prayer.]
January 18: For the return of the “other sheep” to the One Fold of our Lord Jesus Christ.
January 19: For the return of the Eastern Orthodox Christians to communion with the Apostolic See.
January 20: For the return of the Anglicans to the authority of the Vicar of Christ.
January 21: For the return of all Protestants throughout the world to the unity of the Catholic Church.
January 22: That Christians in America (or, in my own country) may be one, in union with the Chair of Saint Peter.
January 23: That lapsed Catholics will return to the Sacraments of the Church.
January 24: That the Jewish people will be converted to the Catholic Faith.
January 25: That missionary zeal will conquer the world for Christ.
Let us pray. O Lord Jesus Christ, who saidst to thine Apostles, Peace I leave with you; my peace I give unto you: regard not our sins, but the faith of thy Church; and grant to her peace and unity according to thy will; who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.
We despise everything for the sake of Christ!
The Franciscan Protomartyrs, the first fruits of the Seraphic order to shed their blood for Christ, were martyred on this day in 1220 at the hands of the Sultan of Morocco. They had travelled to Morocco to preach the Gospel to the Muslims, with the blessing of St. Francis himself. They first went to Seville to evangelize but were apprehended. When they began to preach Jesus Christ to the king he was enraged, and ordered them to be beheaded, but after consultation with others he changed his mind and ordered them to be sent on to Morocco as they wished. In Marrakech they preached in the marketplace and were arrested, imprisoned for 20 days with no food or drink. When they were brought out of prison, still steadfast in the Faith, they were severely tortured and beaten. Then, still bloody and with hands bound, stripped and without shoes, they were brought before the Sultan. He presented them with women, promising to give them to the friars as wives, as well as much money, if they would embrace Islam. “Be converted to our faith and I will give you these women and much money besides. You will be held in honor in my realm.” The friars replied, “The women and your money we do not want; we despise everything for the sake of Christ.” At this, the Sultan became enraged, took up a sword, and fractured the skull of each friar in turn before finally beheading them.
After their martyrdom King Afonso ransomed their bodies, and they were brought back to Portugal on their way to Assisi. It was at the monastery of Santa Cruz, which belonged to the Augustinian Canons, that the young guest master, Friar Fernando welcomed the bodies of the Protomartyrs. His encounter with the relics of the five Franciscans lit within this Augustinian priest a zealous flame to shed his blood for Christ. He sought permission to leave the Canons Regular and enter the newly founded Friars Minor, which had begun eleven years before. Fernando had some acquaintance with the life of these mendicants, because some Franciscans had settled in Coimbra and were living in a hermitage dedicated to St. Anthony of the Desert (whose feast day is tomorrow). It was here that Fernando came when he was first moved by the martyred bodies of Friar Berard and companions, declaring, “Brother, I would gladly put on the habit of your Order if you would promise to send me as soon as possible to the land of the Saracens, that I may gain the crown of the holy martyrs.” After the permission was granted to leave the Augustinians, he joined the Franciscans at Coimbra, taking the name Anthony after the patron of the hermitage. He did travel to Morocco, but because of poor health had to board a ship back to Portugal, which was blown off course, landing in Sicily. Eventually he was assigned to a hermitage near Forli, living in a cave immersed in study and prayer. It was here that he was first recognized, seemingly by chance (when there was no one assigned to preach at an ordination of Franciscan and Dominican priests), as an incredibly skilled preacher. His Augustinian study and training combined with his simple Franciscan Gospel living made this mendicant’s preaching effective and powerful.
His first inspiration, to shed his blood in preaching the Gospel to the Muslims, was never fulfilled, but God wove that thread into a different tapestry, giving the Franciscans their first teacher, and the world an eloquent preacher, renowned for his knowledge of the scriptures and his miracles. Although the Franciscan Protomartyrs weren’t successful in converting the Muslims, in a sense they converted an Augustinian, now known to us as St. Anthony of Padua, who lit the world on fire with his prayer and preaching.
Friars Berard, Peter, Adjute, Accurs & Odo, pray for us!
As we do each and every New Year’s, tonight we chant the Te Deum in the chapel, thanking Him for the blessings of the past year and anticipating His Will and blessings in the coming new year.
Let’s begin 2018 under the patronage and protection of the Most Holy Virgin Mother of God. The Church is so wise in placing this central dogma of our faith at the beginning of each year, for we can rest secure when we rest safely in Her motherly arms, next to the Infant Jesus.
Here are the monks of Solemnes chanting the Te Deum. Enjoy!
May all the blessings and love of Our Lord and His Virgin Mother be yours in the coming year!
“For the Name of Jesus and the protection of the Church I am ready to embrace death.” These words, according to an eye-witness account, were spoken by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Becket, as he was hacked to death near the altar of his cathedral on December 29, 1170. His crime? He chose to support the rights of the Church, and thus the reign of Christ the King, over his earthly King, and former friend, Henry II.
Frustrated that Becket wouldn’t concede to his demands, which would have eroded the rights of the Church, King Henry is said to have uttered “What sluggards, what cowards have I brought up in my court, who care nothing for their allegiance to their lord. Who will rid me of this meddlesome priest.” Four knights who heard this traveled from France to Canterbury to carry out what they took to be the king’s command. They arrived and hid their swords under a tree outside the cathedral, then went inside and tried to get the bishop to come with them. When he refused, they retrieved their swords and hacked him to death, splitting off part of his skull, as he was walking to the choir for vespers, which was already underway.
Here is an eye-witness account from Edwin Grim, one of the monks, who was hiding near the altar during the murder: Continue reading