September 27: SS Cosmas and Damian, Memorial


According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, Cosmas and Damian, familiar to us from the litany, were:

"Early Christian physicians and martyrs whose feast is celebrated on 27 September.

They were twins, born in Arabia, and practised the art of healing in the seaport Ægea, now Ayash (Ajass), on the Gulf of Iskanderun in Cilicia, Asia Minor, and attained a great reputation.

They accepted no pay for their services and were, therefore, called anargyroi, "the silverless". In this way they brought many to the Catholic Faith.

When the Diocletian persecution began, the Prefect Lysias had Cosmas and Damian arrested, and ordered them to recant. They remained constant under torture, in a miraculous manner suffered no injury from water, fire, air, nor on the cross, and were finally beheaded with the sword."

Ordo for Nineteenth Week after Pentecost

Sunday 25 September – Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Class II

Matins: Sunday 4 of September

Lauds: Psalm schema 1 (50, 117, 62); canticle antiphon, MD 478*

Prime to None: All as for Sunday in the psalter, with collect MD 478*

Vespers: Canticle antiphon and collect, MD 478*

Monday 26 September  – Class IV [EF: Commemoration of SS Cyprian and Justina]

All as in the psalter; collect, MD 478*

Tuesday 27 September - Class IV, SS Cosmas and Damian, Memorial [EF: Class III]

All as in the psalter; collect, MD 478*; for the commemoration, MD [281]

Wednesday 28 September – Class IV [EF: St Wenceslaus]

Matins to None: All as in the psalter, collect, MD 478*

I Vespers of St Michael: MD [282]

Thursday 29 September - Dedication of St Michael the Archangel, Class I

Lauds: Antiphons and proper texts of the feast, MD [284] ff with festal psalms

Prime: Antiphon 1 of Lauds

Terce to None: Antiphons of Lauds, chapter versicles and collect, MD [287] ff

Vespers: All as for I Vespers except the fourth psalm and Magnificat antiphon, see MD [289] ff

Friday 30 September – St Jerome, Class III

Lauds and Vespers: Antiphons and psalms of the day; chapter etc from Common of a Confessor not a bishop, MD (78), at Vespers, canticle antiphon of a doctor; collect, MD [290]

Terce to None: Chapter and versicle from the Common; collect, MD [290]

Saturday 1 October - Saturday of Our Lady [EF: Commemoration of St Remigius]

Matins to None: At Matins, reading of Saturday 1 of October; Lauds to None, MD (129) ff

I Vespers of First Sunday of October, MD 457*/Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost, collect MD 479*

Pope St Linus I, Memorial: September 23


2-St.Linus.jpg

Pope Saint Linus I (d. ca. 76) was the second Bishop of Rome following St Peter.  St Irenaeus wrote:

"The blessed apostles, then, having founded and built up the Church, committed into the hands of Linus the office of the episcopate."

Not much is definitively known of his life (from the Wikipedia):

"According to the Liber Pontificalis, Linus was an Italian from Tuscany (though his name is Greek), and his father's name was Herculanus. The Apostolic Constitutions names his mother as Claudia (immediately after the name "Linus" in 2 Timothy 4:21 a Claudia is mentioned, but the Apostolic Constitutions does not explicitly identify that Claudia as Linus's mother). The Liber Pontificalis also says that he issued a decree that women should cover their heads in church, and that he died a martyr and was buried on the Vatican Hill next to Peter. It gives the date of his death as 23 September, the date on which his feast is still celebrated. His name is included in the Roman Canon of the Mass.

On the statement about a decree requiring women to cover their heads, J.P. Kirsch comments in the Catholic Encyclopedia: "Without doubt this decree is apocryphal, and copied by the author of the Liber Pontificalis from the first Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians (11:5) and arbitrarily attributed to the first successor of the Apostle in Rome. The statement made in the same source, that Linus suffered martyrdom, cannot be proved and is improbable. For between Nero and Domitian there is no mention of any persecution of the Roman Church; and Irenaeus (1. c., III, iv, 3) from among the early Roman bishops designates only Telesphorus as a glorious martyr."

The Roman Martyrology does not call Linus a martyr. The entry about him is as follows: "At Rome, commemoration of Saint Linus, Pope, who, according to Irenaeus, was the person to whom the blessed Apostles entrusted the episcopal care of the Church founded in the City, and whom blessed Paul the Apostle mentions as associated with him."

Brush up your rubrics - what changes and what doesn't on major feasts

One of the things that can trip people up when saying the office is which parts of the Office do and don't change on feast days.

Levels of days

The first thing you need to know is that in the 1963 calendar used in the Ordo on this blog there are basically four levels of days - Class I (class one), Class II (class two), Class III (class three) and Class IV (class four).

Class IV means an ordinary day, with no feasts on it, so the Office is said as set out in the psalter section of the Diurnal, using any texts appropriate for the day/season/time of year.

Days that are Class III or higher will displace some or all of the normal day of the week/season texts used.  Which texts are affected and used instead depends on the hour of the Office being said, and the level of the feast.

Days vs feasts

A key distinction to be aware of is between 'days' (ferias) and feasts.  This coming Friday and Saturday for example, are Ember Days and are Class II, however only the collect (at the day hours other than Prime and Compline) and NT canticle antiphons change.

By contrast, on a second class feast like that of St Matthew on Wednesday, many more of the texts will change at some of the hours.

Chant tones vs texts

The other thing to note is that if you are listening to a podcast of the Office, or attending it in person in a monastery, it might all sound different even when the texts are actually mostly not changed.

At Prime, for example, the only text that changes on a feast is the antiphon.  However, where it is sung using Gregorian chant (rather than just recto tono, or on one note), a different hymn tune will normally be used to reflect the level of the feast, and the psalm tone used will reflect the antiphon for the feast.

What changes and what doesn't on Class I&II feasts?

The table below summarises whether or not the relevant part of the Office changes on a Class I or II feast.  In general:

  • the opening and closing prayers (other than the collect) do not change (but the opening prayers might have a more elaborate chant tone);
  • Compline is not affected by feasts (except that the solemn tone for the Marian antiphon might be used);
  • at Prime, the only thing that changes is the antiphon for the psalms.

Affected by Class I&II feasts?

Matins
Lauds
Prime
Terce,
Sext &
None
Vespers
Compline
Opening prayers

                                                    No
Hymn

Yes
Yes
No
No
Yes
No
Antiphon(s)
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Not applicable
Psalms

Yes
Some
No
No
Yes
No
OT canticle(s)
Yes
Yes (optional festal)
na
na
na
na
Chapter

Yes
Yes
No
Yes
Yes
No
Versicle

Yes
Yes
No
Yes
Yes
No
Responsory

Yes
Yes
No
na
Yes
na
Antiphon for NT
canticle

na
Yes
na
na
Yes
na
NT canticle

Yes
No
na
na
No
na
Reading(s)

Yes
na
na
na
na
No
Collect

Yes
Yes
No
Yes
Yes
No
Closing prayers other than collect
                                                     
                                                          No



Hope this helps a bit, but do ask if you have any questions, or let me know if I've made a mistake!

September 22: St Maurice and Companions


Saint Maurice was the leader of the Roman Theban Legion in the 3rd century,  massacred at Agaunum, about 287, by order of Maximian Herculius.   The legion was composed entirely of Christians.  There are two versions of the legend:  according to one, the legion refused orders to harass innocent Christians.  According to the other, the soldiers refused orders to sacrifice to the pagan gods. Either way, every tenth was then killed. Another order to sacrifice and another refusal caused a second decimation and then a general massacre.

September 21: Feast of St Matthew, Apostle, Class II


From Pope Benedict XVI's August 30 2006 General Audience:
 
"Continuing the series of portraits of the Twelve Apostles that we began a few weeks ago, let us reflect today on Matthew. To tell the truth, it is almost impossible to paint a complete picture of him because the information we have of him is scarce and fragmentary. What we can do, however, is to outline not so much his biography as, rather, the profile of him that the Gospel conveys.

In the meantime, he always appears in the lists of the Twelve chosen by Jesus (cf. Mt 10: 3; Mk 3: 18; Lk 6: 15; Acts 1: 13).

His name in Hebrew means "gift of God". The first canonical Gospel, which goes under his name, presents him to us in the list of the Twelve, labelled very precisely: "the tax collector" (Mt 10: 3).

Thus, Matthew is identified with the man sitting at the tax office whom Jesus calls to follow him: "As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax office; and he said to him, "Follow me'. And he rose and followed him" (Mt 9: 9). Mark (cf. 2: 13-17) and Luke (cf. 5: 27-30), also tell of the calling of the man sitting at the tax office, but they call him "Levi".

To imagine the scene described in Mt 9: 9, it suffices to recall Caravaggio's magnificent canvas, kept here in Rome at the Church of St Louis of the French.

A further biographical detail emerges from the Gospels: in the passage that immediately precedes the account of the call, a miracle that Jesus worked at Capernaum is mentioned (cf. Mt 9: 1-8; Mk 2: 1-12) and the proximity to the Sea of Galilee, that is, the Lake of Tiberias (cf. Mk 2: 13-14).

It is possible to deduce from this that Matthew exercised the function of tax collector at Capernaum, which was exactly located "by the sea" (Mt 4: 13), where Jesus was a permanent guest at Peter's house.

On the basis of these simple observations that result from the Gospel, we can advance a pair of thoughts.

The first is that Jesus welcomes into the group of his close friends a man who, according to the concepts in vogue in Israel at that time, was regarded as a public sinner.

Matthew, in fact, not only handled money deemed impure because of its provenance from people foreign to the People of God, but he also collaborated with an alien and despicably greedy authority whose tributes moreover, could be arbitrarily determined.

This is why the Gospels several times link "tax collectors and sinners" (Mt 9: 10; Lk 15: 1), as well as "tax collectors and prostitutes" (Mt 21: 31).

Furthermore, they see publicans as an example of miserliness (cf. Mt 5: 46: they only like those who like them), and mention one of them, Zacchaeus, as "a chief tax collector, and rich" (Lk 19: 2), whereas popular opinion associated them with "extortioners, the unjust, adulterers" (Lk 18: 11).

A first fact strikes one based on these references: Jesus does not exclude anyone from his friendship. Indeed, precisely while he is at table in the home of Matthew-Levi, in response to those who expressed shock at the fact that he associated with people who had so little to recommend them, he made the important statement: "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I came not to call the righteous, but sinners" (Mk 2: 17).

The good news of the Gospel consists precisely in this: offering God's grace to the sinner!

Elsewhere, with the famous words of the Pharisee and the publican who went up to the Temple to pray, Jesus actually indicates an anonymous tax collector as an appreciated example of humble trust in divine mercy: while the Pharisee is boasting of his own moral perfection, the "tax collector... would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, "God, be merciful to me a sinner!'".

And Jesus comments: "I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for every one who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted" (Lk 18: 13-14).

Thus, in the figure of Matthew, the Gospels present to us a true and proper paradox: those who seem to be the farthest from holiness can even become a model of the acceptance of God's mercy and offer a glimpse of its marvellous effects in their own lives.

St John Chrysostom makes an important point in this regard: he notes that only in the account of certain calls is the work of those concerned mentioned. Peter, Andrew, James and John are called while they are fishing, while Matthew, while he is collecting tithes.

These are unimportant jobs, Chrysostom comments, "because there is nothing more despicable than the tax collector, and nothing more common than fishing" (In Matth. Hom.: PL 57, 363). Jesus' call, therefore, also reaches people of a low social class while they go about their ordinary work.

Another reflection prompted by the Gospel narrative is that Matthew responds instantly to Jesus' call: "he rose and followed him". The brevity of the sentence clearly highlights Matthew's readiness in responding to the call. For him it meant leaving everything, especially what guaranteed him a reliable source of income, even if it was often unfair and dishonourable. Evidently, Matthew understood that familiarity with Jesus did not permit him to pursue activities of which God disapproved.

The application to the present day is easy to see: it is not permissible today either to be attached to things that are incompatible with the following of Jesus, as is the case with riches dishonestly achieved.

Jesus once said, mincing no words: "If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me" (Mt 19: 21).

This is exactly what Matthew did: he rose and followed him! In this "he rose", it is legitimate to read detachment from a sinful situation and at the same time, a conscious attachment to a new, upright life in communion with Jesus.

Lastly, let us remember that the tradition of the ancient Church agrees in attributing to Matthew the paternity of the First Gospel. This had already begun with Bishop Papias of Hierapolis in Frisia, in about the year 130.

He writes: "Matthew set down the words (of the Lord) in the Hebrew tongue and everyone interpreted them as best he could" (in Eusebius of Cesarea, Hist. Eccl. III, 39, 16).

Eusebius, the historian, adds this piece of information: "When Matthew, who had first preached among the Jews, decided also to reach out to other peoples, he wrote down the Gospel he preached in his mother tongue; thus, he sought to put in writing, for those whom he was leaving, what they would be losing with his departure" (ibid., III, 24, 6).

The Gospel of Matthew written in Hebrew or Aramaic is no longer extant, but in the Greek Gospel that we possess we still continue to hear, in a certain way, the persuasive voice of the publican Matthew, who, having become an Apostle, continues to proclaim God's saving mercy to us. And let us listen to St Matthew's message, meditating upon it ever anew also to learn to stand up and follow Jesus with determination."

Rebuilding at Norcia: deep roots


ad_216905138
Picture: EPA from Metro 

The latest update from the monastery of Norcia in Italy, devastated by the recent earthquakes, includes a video called deep roots, which the monastery's Sub-prior, Fr Benedict, explains as follows:
The title "Deep Roots" comes from the beloved Catholic author J. R. R. Tolkien. We include his poem in full here that it might inspire each of you to watch the video, read the document and to give whatever you can, help in any way you can, so that the monastic presence in Norcia may grow stronger, the roots deeper.
Here is the poem:

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king."

- J. R. R. Tolkien -

Do have a listen, and do what you can to help them materially and through your prayers.  And please keep all the residents there in your prayers as the region continues to experience strong aftershocks.





You can also find more information about their campaign and plans here.