Traditional Benedictine Office - Ordo for the week after the Ascension (May 28 - June 3)

This week we are in Ascensiontide, and you can find notes on the Office in this period here.  For those saying Matins, you can find more detailed notes on where to find the texts and chants here.  And you can find the Matins readings each day (including those for the old Octave of the Ascension) over at Lectio Divina Notes

As usual, all page references are to the Farnborough edition of the Monastic Diurnal - if you are using an older edition or a different book, you will need to check the page headings!

Sunday 28 May – Sunday after the Ascension, Class II

Matins: Invitatory antiphon, hymn, antiphons, Gospel and readings for the Sunday

Lauds: Festal psalms with three antiphons (alleluia - canticle - alleluia); chapter etc from MD 389* ff

Prime to None: Antiphons, chapter etc from MD 391* ff

Vespers: Psalms of Sunday under one antiphon; chapter and hymn of Lauds; responsory and Magnificat antiphon, MD 393*

Monday 29 May - Class IV [EF: St Mary Magdalen of Pazzi]

Ordinary of the Ascension, MD 386* ff

Tuesday 30 May – Class IV [EF: Commemoration of St Felix]

Ordinary of the Ascension, MD 386* ff

Wednesday 31 May – Class IV [EF: The Queenship of the BVM]

Ordinary of the Ascension, MD 386* ff

Thursday 1 June – Class IV [EF: St Angela Merici]

Ordinary of the Ascension, MD 386* ff

Friday 2 June – Class IV; SS Marcellinus and Peter, memorial [EF: and St Erasmus]

Ordinary of the Ascension, MD 386* ff; for the commemoration at Lauds, MD [151]

Saturday 3 June - Whitsun Eve (Vigil of the Pentecost), Class I

Matins: Ordinary of Ascensiontide but with three readings and responsories of the day

Lauds to None: Ordinary of the Ascension, MD 386*


I Vespers of Pentecost, MD 393* ff (including psalms of the feast)

St Bede the Venerable, OSB

Image result for ezra restoring the bible
Codex Amiatinus depiction of Ezra,
 produced at Wearmouth-Jarrow in Bede's time

St Bede, I have to say, is currently my favourite saint.

Back in the day, Blessed Cardinal Newman wrote that 'Bede is truly the pattern of a Benedictine as is St Thomas of a Dominican'.   Today's Matins reading nicely sets out just why this is:
Bede the priest was born at Jarrow, on the borders of England and Scotland. When a monk, he so arranged his life as to devote himself completely to the study of the liberal arts and sacred doctrine, without in any way relaxing the discipline of the Rule. There was no kind of learning in which he was not thoroughly versed; but his special interest was the study of the Scriptures; and when he was made a priest, he undertook the task of explaining the holy books. In doing so, he adhered to the teaching of the holy Fathers so closely that he would say nothing not already approved by their judgment, and he even made use of their very words. Abhorring laziness, he would go straight from reading to prayer and from prayer to reading. To raise the level of morality among Christians and to defend and spread the faith, he wrote many books, which gained him such a reputation with everyone that his writings were publicly read in churches during his own lifetime. At length, worn out with age and labours, he fell asleep peacefully in the Lord. Leo XIII declared him a Doctor of the universal Church.
Although Bede's history of the English Church has long been available and appreciated, along with some of his lives of the saints, his output was actually much broader than this, including scientific works, guides to the holy lands, and a number of exegetical works.  English translations of his exegetical works are still only gradually becoming available, and this is leading to a new appreciation of Bede's originality: though he certainly drew heavily on the Fathers in his work, he was very much concerned with the politics of both church and state of his time, and his exegetical works in particular reflect this.

But for me at least, the most startling aspect of his work, though one not always acknowledged in modern translations of and commentary on his works (the exemplary work and valiant efforts of Scott DeGregorio aside) due to some typical 1970s revisionism, is the degree to which the Rule shaped his mindset.

Allusions to the Rule are scattered throughout his writings to the point where one can pretty much construct a commentary on the Rule from them (the Homilies alone for example include references to 50/73 tools of good works and 33 chapters of the Rule), and indeed even his use of Scriptural quotes frequently reflect's St Benedict use of the relevant text.  And while I've seen several theories advanced for the selection of the books of the Bible that he focused on, I haven't seen anyone as yet note what seem to me to be the obvious links between many of the texts he chose and his key themes (such as the Temple and Tabernacle) and the Rule...

Regardless, St Bede is an important saint well worth learning more about: a saint who lived a good life; provided us with a great legacy of his learning; and who also died a particularly holy death, which you can read about in this great post from A Clerk of Oxford.

St Augustine of Canterbury OSB (May 26) - Apostle to the English

Illuminated manuscript with a forward-facing man in the middle of the large H. Man is carrying a crozier and his head is surrounded by a halo.

St Augustine of Canterbury was a Benedictine monk who became the first Archbishop of Canterbury in the year 597.

The Matins reading for the feast is as follows:
Augustine, a monk of the Lateran monastery in Rome, was sent by Gregory the Great in 597 to England with about forty monks as his companions. They were invited by King Ethelbert to Canterbury, the chief city of the kingdom, and they built an oratory nearby. Through preaching the doctrine of heaven, Augustine brought many of the islanders and the king himself to the Christian faith, to the great joy of the king's wife, Bertha, who was a Christian. By order of Pope Gregory, Augustine was ordained bishop and founded the see of Canterbury; by the same Pontiff he was granted the use of the pallium and the right to organize the hierarchy of England. At length, after suffering great hardships for Christ, having set Mellitus over the Church of London, Justus over that of Rochester, and Lawrence over his own Church, he made his journey to heaven on the 26th day of May. He was buried in the monastery of St. Peter, which then became the burial place of bishops of Canterbury and of several kings.
He has traditionally been considered the "Apostle to the English" and a founder of the English Church.  St Bede records in his history of the English Church that the monks converted the locals by their preaching and example:
"…they began to emulate the life of the apostles and the primitive Church. They were constantly at prayer; they fasted and kept vigils; they preached the word of life to whomsoever they could….Before long a number of heathen, admiring the simplicity of their holy lives and the comfort of their heavenly message, believed and were baptized..."
St Augustine established schools and monasteries, and set about organising the missionary effort more broadly in England. His life was marked by miracles, and he was quickly acclaimed as a saint on his death.

Feast of the Ascension (May 25)

Bamburger Apocalypse

Today is the feast of the Ascension, and in a few days time we celebrate the feast of a Benedictine saint who died on the day of the feast, St Bede.  Accordingly, I thought it might be appropriate to share a poem of the saint written for the feast, often sung to the tune 'All creatures of our God and king':

A hymn of glory let us sing:
New songs throughout the world shall ring:
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Christ, by a road before untrod,
Ascendeth to the throne of God.
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

The holy apostolic band
Upon the Mount of Olives stand;
Alleluia! Alleluia!
And with his followers they see
Jesus' resplendent majesty.
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

To whom the angels, drawing nigh,
"Why stand and gaze upon the sky?
Alleluia! Alleluia!
This is the Saviour!" thus they say;
"This is his noble triumph-day."
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

"Again shall ye behold him so
As ye today have seen him go
Alleluia! Alleluia!
In glorious pomp ascending high,
Up to the portals of the sky."
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Oh, grant us thitherward to tend
And with unwearied hearts ascend
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Unto thy kingdom's throne, where thou,
As is our faith, art seated now.
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Be thou our Joy and strong Defence
Who art our future Recompense:
Alleluia! Alleluia!
So shall the light that springs from thee
Be ours through all eternity.
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

O risen Christ, ascended Lord,
All praise to thee let earth accord,
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Who art, while endless ages run,
With Father and with Spirit One.
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

(Trans: Benjamin Webb)

Our Lady Help of Christians (May 24)

In Australia and a number of other countries, May 24 is the solemnity of Our Lady Help of Christians.  In Australia and those countries where it is a first class feast, we will naturally pray first and foremost for the conversion of our own countries.  Pope Benedict XVI, however, asked that this day be especially a day of prayer for China, so please do say the collect of the day as part of your devotions for this intention:
O Almighty and merciful God, Who didst wondrously appoint the most Blessed Virgin perpetual help for Christians in need of protection: grant in Thy mercy that after battling in life under such a protectress, we may be able to conquer our enemy at death. Through our Lord.
For those saying the Office of the feast, the Monastic Diurnal has the texts for the day hours, starting at MD  25** - for the psalms and antiphons, use the Common of feasts of Our Lady, but with the hymns, responsories, Magnificat antiphon and collect of the feast.

The 1962-3 breviary does include a specific set of texts for all of the hours (in the supplement at the back of Volume II for the Ottilien Congregation), but of course without chants.  If you don't have access to that, the Common of feasts of Our Lady would work for Matins.

St Romanus (May 22)

Today the martyrology remembers St Romanus, who clothed St Benedict in the holy habit, and aided him in his early years as a hermit:
But Benedict, desiring rather the miseries of the world than the praises of men: rather to be wearied with labour for God's sake, than to be exalted with transitory commendation: fled privily from his nurse, and went into a desert place called Sublacum, distant almost forty miles from Rome: in which there was a fountain springing forth cool and clear water; the abundance whereof doth first in a broad place make a lake, and afterward running forward, cometh to be a river.  
As he was travelling to this place, a certain monk called Romanus met him, and demanded whither he went, and understanding his purpose, he both kept it close, furthered him what he might, vested him with the habit of holy conversation, and as he could, did minister and serve him. 
The man of God, Benedict, coming to this foresaid place, lived there in a strait cave, where he continued three years unknown to all men, except to Romanus, who lived not far off, under the rule of Abbot Theodacus, and very virtuously did steal certain hours, and likewise sometime a loaf given for his own provision, which he did carry to Benedict....(St Gregory, Dialogues 2:1)
The tradition holds that St Romanus later went to Gaul and founded a small monastery at Dryes-Fontrouge, where he died about 550 and was venerated as a saint. 

Rogation days

Rogation days are traditionally days of prayer (with the litany of the saints being sung) and fasting.

The three 'minor' rogation days before Ascension date back to the sixth century, and were instituted to appease God's anger at man's transgressions, to ask protection in calamities, and to obtain a good and bountiful harvest.

You can find the litany and prayers in the Diurnal at pg (200) and the full chants in the Processionale Monasticum.  If said privately, it is usually done after Lauds.

In earlier versions of the Office, there were readings at Matins and a collect specific to the rogation day.  In the 1962 monastic version for some reason these have been stripped out of the Office, but I have put up the readings over at the lectio divina notes blog, and here is the collect in case you want to use it devotionally.

Praesta quaesumus omnipotens Deus: ut qui in afflictione nostra de tua pietate confidimus; contra adversa omnia tua semper protectione muniamur.
Per Dóminum nostrum Jesum Christum, Fílium tuum: qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitáte Spíritus Sancti Deus, per ómnia sǽcula sæculórum.
R. Amen.
Let us pray.
Grant, we beseech thee, O Almighty God, that we who in our tribulation are yet of good cheer because of thy loving-kindness, may find thee mighty to save from all dangers.
Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end.

Traditional Benedictine Office - Ordo for the fifth week after Easter including the Ascension (May 21 - 27)

Herewith notes on the Benedictine Office according to the 1962-3 rubrics for this week.

This week marks the end of the main Easter season, with the feast of the Ascension, and the start of its final sub-component, 'Ascensiontide'.

Monday to Wednesday are Rogation Days which don't affect the Office (at least in its 1962 incarnation), but are worth noting.

The 'ordinary' texts for the Office do change after the feast, so do take a look at my notes on the Office in Ascensiontide.

Readings and responsories for the assorted days and feasts of the week will be found on the Lectio Divina Notes blog the afternoon before the feast (Australian time).  In an earlier version of the Office,m the Office during the Octave of Ascension had Patristic readings each day, however they are omitted in the modern version and I'm afraid I can't find an online version (though they are in Liturgical Readings).

For those saying Matins, more detailed notes on where to find the various texts for the week can be found here.

Sunday 21 May – Fifth Sunday after Easter, Class II

Matins: Invitatory (Surrexit Dominus), hymn (Rex sempiterne), Gospel, twelve readings and responsories of the Sunday

Lauds: (Three) Antiphons for Eastertide with festal psalms for Eastertide, rest from MD 373* ff

Prime: Antiphon of Eastertide, rest as in the psalter for Sunday

Terce to None: Antiphons of Eastertide, Sunday psalms; chapter verse, versicle and collect, MD 373* ff

Vespers: Psalms of Sunday under one antiphon; chapter of Lauds; responsory and hymn, MD 354*; Magnificat antiphon, MD 375*

Monday 22 May – Rogation Day, Class IV

Ordinary of Eastertide, MD 346*ff; canticle antiphons for Lauds and Vespers, MD 375*; collect, MD 373*

Tuesday 23 May – Rogation Day, Class IV

Ordinary of Eastertide, MD 346*ff; canticle antiphons for Lauds and Vespers, MD 375-6*; collect, MD 373*

Australia: I Vespers of Our Lady Help of Christians, MD 25**

Wednesday 24 May – Vigil of the Ascension, Class II [Australia: Our Lady Help of Christians, Class I]

Matins: All as for the Ordinary of Eastertide except for the three readings and responsories of the day

Lauds to None: all as for ordinary of Paschaltide; collect, MD 372-3*; at Lauds, versicle and Benedictus antiphon MD 376*

Australia: All of Our Lady Help of Christians, MD 28**, with a commemoration of Ascension at Vespers (for Matins, Common of the BVM)


I Vespers of the Ascension, see MD 376* ff

Thursday 25 May  The Ascension of Our Lord, Class I

Matins: Invitatory, hymn, antiphons, psalms, Gospel, twelve readings and responsories of the feast

Lauds: Festal psalms with proper antiphons and texts of the feast, MD 379* ff

Prime: Antiphon 1 of Lauds of the feast

Terce to None: Antiphons, chapter and versicle, MD 382-3*; collect, MD 381*

Vespers: as for I Vespers, with Magnificat antiphon, MD 383*

Friday 26 May – St Augustine OSB, Class III [EF: St Philip Neri, Class III]

Matins: Invitatory and hymn from Common of a confessor bishop; psalms of the day; antiphons, versicle and brief reading from the Ordinary of Ascensiontide; one reading of the feast

Lauds and Vespers: Psalms and antiphons of the day; rest from common of a confessor bishop except for collect, MD [150]  [NB The Clear Creek supplement to the Antiphonale contains a hymn specific to the feast]

Prime: Antiphon from the Common

Terce to None: chapter & versicle from the Common

If Class I, see MD 30**

Saturday 27 May – St Bede OSB, Class III

Matins: Invitatory antiphon and hymn from Common of a confessor bishop; psalms of the day; antiphons, versicle and brief reading from the Ordinary of Ascensiontide; one reading of the feast

Lauds: Psalms and antiphons of the day; rest from common of a confessor not a bishop, MD (78) except for collect, MD [150]  

Prime: Antiphon from the Common

Terce to None: Chapter & versicle from the Common, collect MD [150]  

If Class I, see MD 31** 

I Vespers of the Sunday after the Ascension, MD 388*

Vocational discernment weekend for women (Sydney, Australia)

Please keep in your prayers if you would, an emerging religious community in Australia, the Daughters of the Maternal Heart of Mary.

This is a new, semi-contemplative community based in Sydney, and living a life of prayer and work according to the spirit of St. Benedict, with Mass in the Extraordinary Form and the Monastic Office chanted in Latin.  The charism of the group involves interceding for all Priests and praying daily for the Holy Father, bishops, priests and seminarians.  They also assist priests in various works, including teaching catechism, visiting the sick and sewing liturgical attire.

A vocational discernment weekend for young women is being held on July 14 -16, and will:
  • enable participants to explore the life and charism of the Daughters of the Maternal Heart of Mary;
  • include conferences on the religious life, vocation discernment and the spirituality of the community; and 
  • provide opportunity for silent recollection, praying the Monastic Office and participating in some of the active apostolates of the community.
Those interested in attending can find further details here.

Tuesday of St Benedict: Matins readings

You may recall that my previous posts on the old votive Office of St Benedict, usually said on the first free Tuesday of each month.  This Tuesday being unencumbered, herewith the readings for May.

Reading 1: From the Third Book of Kings, chapter 17 - The son of the woman, the mistress of the house, fell sick, and the sickness was very grievous, so that there was no breath left in him. And she said to Elias: What have I to do with thee, thou man of God? art thou come to me that my iniquities should be remembered, and that thou shouldst kill my son? And Elias said to her: Give me thy son. And he took him out of her bosom, and carried him into the upper chamber where he abode, and laid him upon his own bed. And he cried to the Lord, and said: O Lord my God, hast thou afflicted also the widow, with whom I am after a sort maintained, so as to kill her son? And he stretched, and measured himself upon the child three times, and cried to the Lord, and said: O Lord my God, let the soul of this child, I beseech thee, return into his body. And the Lord heard the voice of Elias: and the soul of the child returned into him, and he revived. And Elias took the child, and brought him down from the upper chamber to the house below, and delivered him to his mother, and said to her: Behold thy son liveth. And the woman said to Elias: Now, by this I know that thou art a man of God, and the word of the Lord in thy mouth is true.

Reading 2: From Chapter 11 of the Dialogues of  St Gregory the Great - Again, as the monks were making of a certain wall somewhat higher, because that was requisite, the man of God in the meantime was in his cell at his prayers. To whom the old enemy appeared in an insulting manner, telling him, that he was now going to his monks, that were a-working: whereof the man of God, in all haste, gave them warning, wishing them to look unto themselves, because the devil was at that time coming amongst them. The message was scarce delivered, when as the wicked spirit overthrew the new wall which they were a building, and with the fall slew a little young child, a monk, who was the son of a certain courtier.  At which pitiful chance all were passing sorry and exceedingly grieved, not so much for the loss of the wall, as for the death of their brother: and in all haste they sent this heavy news to the venerable man Benedict;

Reading 3: Who commanded them to bring unto him the young boy, mangled and maimed as he was, which they did, but yet they could not carry him any otherwise than in a sack: for the stones of the wall had not only broken his limbs, but also his very bones. Being in that manner brought unto the man of God, he bad them to lay him in his cell, and in that place upon which he used to pray; and then, putting them all forth, he shut the door, and fell more instantly to his prayers than he used at other times. And O strange miracle! for the very same hour he made him sound, and as lively as ever he was before; and sent him again to his former work, that he also might help the monks to make an end of that wall, of whose death the old serpent thought he should have insulted over Benedict, and greatly triumphed.

St Pachomius (May 14/15)


 The feast of St Pachomius (circa 272-348) is celebrated in the modern Benedictine calendar today (May 15); in the 1962 calendar is memorial is May 14.  He is an important saint for monastics, as the author of the first known rule for coenibites (monks living in community).

Saint Pachomius was born in Egypt to pagan parents and was forced to become a soldier at age 21.  In this capacity he encountered a group of Christians ministering to the troops, and was so impressed by them that he decided to investigate the faith once he had left the army.  He was duly converted and baptised, and initially sought the guidance of a hermit named Palaemon.  After a few years he set out to live near St Antony, whose practices he imitated until Pachomius heard a voice in Tabennisi that told him to build a dwelling for the hermits to come to.  He established his first monastery 318 and 323, and the community grew rapidly, and made several new foundations.

You can read a life of the saint, translated from the Greek into Latin by one of St Benedict's contemporaries, Dionysius Exiguus, here.

Traditional Benedictine Office - Ordo for the fourth week after Easter (May 14 - 20)

Ordo notes keyed to the 1962-3 rubrics, with page references to the Monastic Diurnal (Farnborough edition) are set out below.

As usual more detailed notes on saying Matins are available on the Benedictine Matins blog and the readings and responsories at Matins can be found on the Lectio Divina Notes blog.

Those new to the Benedictine Office should consider starting with Prime and Compline, and should read the notes here.

Sunday 14 May – Fourth Sunday after Easter, Class II

Matins: Invitatory (Surrexit Dominus), hymn (Rex sempiterne), Gospel, twelve readings and responsories of the Sunday

Lauds: (Three) Antiphons for Eastertide with festal psalms for Eastertide, rest from MD 368* ff

Prime: Antiphon of Eastertide, rest as in the psalter 

Terce to None: Antiphons of Eastertide; chapter verse, versicle and collect from MD 368* ff

Vespers: Psalms of Sunday under one antiphon; chapter of Lauds; responsory and hymn from MD 354*; Magnificat antiphon, MD 370*
Monday 15 May – Class IV [EF: St John Baptist de la Salle]

Ordinary of Eastertide, MD 346*ff; canticle antiphons for Lauds and Vespers, MD 370*; collect, MD 368*

Tuesday 16 May – Class IV [EF: St Ubald]

Ordinary of Eastertide, MD 346*ff; canticle antiphons for Lauds and Vespers, MD 370*; collect, MD 368*

Wednesday 17 May – Class IV [EF: St Pascal Baylon, Class III]

Ordinary of Eastertide, MD 346*ff; canticle antiphons for Lauds and Vespers, MD 371*; collect, MD 368*

Thursday 18 May – Class IV [EF: St Venantius]

Ordinary of Eastertide, MD 346*ff; canticle antiphons for Lauds and Vespers, MD 371*; collect, MD 368*

Friday 19 May – Class IV; St Peter Celestine, Memorial [EF: Class III] **In Some Places St Dunstan, Class III

Ordinary of Eastertide, MD 346*ff; canticle antiphons for Lauds and Vespers, MD 371-2*; collect, MD 368*; for the commemoration at Lauds, MD [148-9]

For St Dunstan, see MD [25**]

Saturday 20 May – Saturday of Our Lady [EF: St Bernardine of Siena]

Matins: Office of our Lady in Eastertide with reading for Saturday 3 in May

Lauds to None: Office of Our Lady, MD (134) ff; note that the antiphons and versicles for Prime to None should have alleluias added to them.

I Vespers of Fifth Sunday after Easter, MD 372* ff

Feast of SS Philip and James

 Detail of reredos | Polytych by Maestà | Wikimedia
Duccio di Buoninsegna
Today is the feast of SS Philip and James.  Their feast was originally celebrated together on May 1, the anniversary of the dedication of the Church housing their relics in Rome, established in the mid sixth century.  The Church in question, however, was later renamed as the Church of the Twelve Apostles (though there are some suggests it was always officially called that), so I guess the change of date is not as unfortunate as it might seem...

You can find the readings and responsories for the feast here, and additional notes on saying and/or singing Matins of the feast here.

You can also find Pope Benedict XVI's General Audiences on these saints here:

St Gregory Nazianzus (May 9), Class III


The reading for the feast of St Gregory at Matins is as follows:
Gregory Nazianzus, a noble Cappadocian, earned the name of The Divine from his extraordinary knowledge of the sacred sciences. It was to these that he turned after being educated at Athens, together with St. Basil, in every branch of learning. He was first made Bishop of Sosima and then administered the Church of Nazianzus. Summoned to rule over the Church of Constantinople, he purged the city of heretical errors and brought it back to the Catholic faith. Although this deed should have won him the love of all, it earned him the hatred of many; so that, when a great quarrel had arisen among the bishops on his account, he resigned his See voluntarily, making his own the words of the prophet Jonah: If this storm hath arisen on my account, then throw me into the sea, that you may cease to be tossed about. He returned to Nazianzus, and having arranged that Eulalius should be its bishop, devoted himself wholly to prayer and the study of divine things. He wrote many famous works, both in prose and in verse, and was a most ardent defender of the doctrine of the consubstantiality of the Son with the Father. When Theodosius was emperor, Gregory, now grown old, departed to the life of heaven.
If you would like to know more about the saint and his teachings, Pope Benedict XVI gave two General Audiences which you find by following the links:

General Audience of 8 August 2007
General Audience of 22 August 2007

Traditional Benedictine Office - Ordo for third week after Easter (May 7-13)

For those interested in Matins, the texts of the readings and responsories can be found on the Lectio Divina blog; and notes on where to find the other texts needed to say Matins of the Sunday can be found here.

Sunday 7 May – Third Sunday after Easter, Class II

Matins: Invitatory (Surrexit Dominus), hymn (Rex sempiterne), Gospel, twelve readings and responsories of the Sunday

Lauds: (Three) Antiphons for Eastertide with festal psalms; rest from MD 363* ff

Prime: Antiphons of Eastertide, rest as in the psalter for Sunday

Terce to None: antiphons of Eastertide, Sunday psalms; chapter verse, versicle, MD 364* ff; collect, MD 363*

Vespers: Psalms of Sunday under one antiphon; chapter of Lauds; responsory and hymn from MD 354*; Magnificat antiphon, MD 365*

Monday 8 May – Class IV

Ordinary of Eastertide, MD 346*ff; canticle antiphons for Lauds and Vespers, MD 365*; collect, MD 362*

Tuesday 9 May – St Gregory Nazianzen, Class III

Matins: Invitatory and hymn of a confessor bishop, psalms of the day, antiphons of Eastertide; one reading of the feast

Lauds and Vespers: Psalms and antiphons of the day, rest from Common of a Confessor Bishop, MD (64) except collect, MD [141] and Magnificat antiphon (of a Doctor)

Prime: Antiphon from the Common

Terce to None: Chapter and versicle from the Common; collect, MD [141]

Wednesday 10 May – SS Gordian and Epimachis, memorial [EF: St Antonius]

Ordinary of Eastertide, MD 346*ff; canticle antiphons for Lauds and Vespers, MD 366*; collect, MD 362*; for the commemoration at Lauds, MD [141-2]

Thursday 11 May - SS Philip and James, Class II

Matins: All from the Common of Apostles during Eastertide, except for readings and responsories, of the feast.

Lauds to Vespers: Antiphons and canticle antiphons of the feast, MD [142] ff, rest from the Common of Apostles in Eastertide, MD (23) ff.  At Lauds and Vespers, festal psalms

Friday 12 May - Class IV; SS Nereus, Archilleus and Pancras, memorial [EF: Class III, and Domitilla]

Ordinary of Eastertide, MD 346*ff; canticle antiphons for Lauds and Vespers, MD 366-7*; collect, MD 362*; for the commemoration at Lauds MD [146]  

Saturday 13 May – Saturday of Our Lady; St Robert Bellarmine, memorial [EF: Class III]

Matins: Office of our Lady in Eastertide with reading for Saturday 2 in May

Lauds to None: Office of Our Lady, MD (134) ff; note that the antiphons and versicles for Prime to None should have alleluias added to them; for the commemoration at Lauds, MD [147]

I Vespers of Fourth Sunday in Eastertide: MD 367*ff

Sacra Liturgia Conference in Milan 2017

Just a note to let you know that the full programme for the Sacra Liturgia Conference being held this on 6-9 June, is now available, and part-time registrations are also now open.

This year's conference is being held in Milan, and includes a number of (EF) Ambrosian rite liturgies for Mass and Vespers.  There are presentations from leading figures such as Cardinals Sarah and Burke, and some wonderful sounding talks on subjects such as the Ambrosian Rite, music in the liturgy and much more.

Note that you will probably need to get in quickly if you want to attend!

Finding of Holy Cross (May 3)

Unless you are on oblate of Le Barroux (or another monastery that retains this feast), today is not the feast of the Finding of Holy Cross.

But it should be.

The Finding of Holy Cross is one of those feasts that fell victim to the calendar reforms of the 1950s and early 1960s, when it was combined with the Feast of the Exaltation of Holy Cross (which celebrates the dedication of the Church of the Holy Sepulcre).

It celebrated St Helena's (mother of Constantine the Great) discovery of the Holy Sepulcre in Jerusalem, and subsequent discovery of the Cross at the site.

Here are the readings on the subject from the former Roman version of the feast:
After that famous victory which the Emperor Constantine gained over Maxentius, in the year 312, on the eve of which the banner of the Cross of the Lord had been given to him from heaven, Helen, the mother of Constantine, being warned in a dream, came to Jerusalem, in 326, to seek for the Cross. There it was her care to cause to be overthrown the marble statue of Venus, which had stood on Calvary for about one hundred and eighty years, and which had originally been put there to desecrate and destroy the memorial of the sufferings of the Lord Christ. The like work Helen did at Bethlehem, by cleansing from an image of Adonis the stable where the Saviour was born, and from an idol of Jupiter, the place where He had arisen from the dead. 
Then she had thus cleansed the place where the Cross had stood, Helen caused deep excavations to be made, which resulted in the discovery of three crosses, and, apart from them, the writing which had been nailed on that of the Lord. But which of the crosses had been His was unknown, and was only manifested by a miracle. Macarius, Bishop of Jerusalem, after offering solemn prayers to God, touched with each of the three a woman who was afflicted with a grievous disease. The two first had no effect, but at the touch of the third she was immediately healed. 
Helen, after she had found the life-giving Cross, built over the site of the Passion a Church of extraordinary splendour, wherein she deposited part of the Cross, shut up in a silver case. Another part which she gave to her son, Constantine, was laid up in the Church of the Holy Cross of Jerusalem, which he built at Rome on the site of the Sessorian Palace. She also gave to her son the nails with which the Most Holy Body of Jesus Christ had been pierced. Constantine established a law abolishing the punishment of crucifixion for all time coming and thenceforth what had hitherto been a hissing and a curse among men, began to be esteemed worshipful and glorious.

St Athanasius, May 2

Ikone Athanasius von Alexandria.jpg

St Athanasius is extremely important not just as a Father of the Church, but also from a monastic point of view, for his Life of St Antony.  The reading for his feast at Matins is as follows:
Athanasius was Bishop of Alexandria, and a most vigorous defender of the Catholic religion. When he was still a deacon, he refuted the impiety of Arius at the Council of Nicaea, and earned such hatred from the Arians that, from that time on, they never ceased to lay snares for him. Driven into exile, he went to Treves in Gaul. He endured unbelievable hardships and wandered over a great part of the world, being often driven from his Church, and often restored by the authority of Pope Julius and the decrees of the Councils of Sardica and Jerusalem. All this while, he was persecuted by the Arians. Finally, rescued, by the help of God, from so many great dangers, he died at Alexandria during the reign of Emperor Valens. His life and death are marked by great miracles. He wrote many works, both of devotion and of catechetics, and, with great holiness, he ruled the Church of Alexandria, in those most troubled times, for forty-six years.

Traditional Benedictine Office - Ordo for second week after Easter (April 30 - May 6)

For those who say Matins, just a reminder that you can find more detailed notes on the feasts of the week (including where to find the chants for the responsories and other texts) over at my Benedictine Matins Blog.

Sunday April 30 – Second Sunday after Easter, Class II

Matins: Invitatory (Surrexit Dominus), hymn (Rex sempiterne), Gospel, twelve readings and responsories of the Sunday

Lauds: (Three) Antiphons for Eastertide with festal psalms for Eastertide, rest from MD 356* ff

Prime: Antiphons of Eastertide, rest as in the psalter for Sunday

Terce to None: Antiphons of Eastertide, Sunday psalms; chapter verse, versicle and collect from MD 358* ff

VespersI Vespers of St Joseph the Worker, MD [123] ff with a commemoration of the Sunday, MD 358-60*

Monday 1 May – St Joseph the Worker, Class I

Note choice of Offices: MD [126] ff or [133] ff

Matins: All of the feast with twelve readings and responsories

Lauds: Festal psalms, antiphons and other texts for the feast

Prime to None: Antiphons etc of the feast

Vespers: Psalms from the Common of Apostles, rest of the feast

Tuesday 2 May – St Athanasius, Class III

Matins: Invitatory and hymn of a confessor bishop; one reading of the feast

Lauds and Vespers: Psalms and antiphon of the day, rest from Common of a Confessor Bishop, MD (84), except collect, MD [138] and Magnificat antiphon (of a Doctor)

Prime: Antiphon from the Common

Terce to None: Antiphons, Chapter and versicle from the Common; collect, MD [138]

Wednesday 3 May – SS Alexander, Eventius and Theodolus, memorial [in some places: Finding of Holy Cross]

Ordinary of Eastertide, MD 346*ff; canticle antiphons for Lauds and Vespers, MD 360-1*; collect, MD 358*; for the commemoration at Lauds, MD [138-9]

Thursday 4 May – Class IV; St Monica, memorial [EF: Class III]

Ordinary of Eastertide, MD 346*ff; canticle antiphons for Lauds and Vespers, MD 361*; collect, MD 358*; for the commemoration at Lauds, MD [139-40]

Friday 5 May – Class IVSt Pius V, memorial [EF: Class III]

Ordinary of Eastertide, MD 346*ff; canticle antiphons for Lauds and Vespers, MD 361*; collect, MD 358*; for the commemoration at Lauds, MD [140]  

Saturday 6 May – Saturday of Our Lady

Matins: Office of our Lady in Eastertide with reading for Saturday 1 in May

Lauds to None: Office of Our Lady, MD (134) ff; note that the antiphons and versicles for Prime to None should have alleluias added to them

I Vespers of Third Sunday after Easter, MD 362* ff

St Catherine of Siena (April 30)

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The feast of St Catherine is displaced this year by the Sunday, but I wanted to include something for this important doctor of the Church, not least because it is my name day, so please say a prayer for me if you would.

From a General Audience of Pope Benedict XVI, given on 24 November 2010:

Today I would like to talk to you about a woman who played an eminent role in the history of the Church: St Catherine of Siena. The century in which she lived — the 14th — was a troubled period in the life of the Church and throughout the social context of Italy and Europe. Yet, even in the most difficult times, the Lord does not cease to bless his People, bringing forth Saints who give a jolt to minds and hearts, provoking conversion and renewal.

Catherine is one of these and still today speaks to us and impels us to walk courageously toward holiness to be ever more fully disciples of the Lord.

Born in Siena in 1347, into a very large family, she died in Rome in 1380. When Catherine was 16 years old, motivated by a vision of St Dominic, she entered the Third Order of the Dominicans, the female branch known as the Mantellate. While living at home, she confirmed her vow of virginity made privately when she was still an adolescent and dedicated herself to prayer, penance and works of charity, especially for the benefit of the sick.

When the fame of her holiness spread, she became the protagonist of an intense activity of spiritual guidance for people from every walk of life: nobles and politicians, artists and ordinary people, consecrated men and women and religious, including Pope Gregory xi who was living at Avignon in that period and whom she energetically and effectively urged to return to Rome.

She travelled widely to press for the internal reform of the Church and to foster peace among the States. It was also for this reason that Venerable Pope John Paul ii chose to declare her Co-Patroness of Europe: may the Old Continent never forget the Christian roots that are at the origin of its progress and continue to draw from the Gospel the fundamental values that assure justice and harmony.

Like many of the Saints, Catherine knew great suffering. Some even thought that they should not trust her, to the point that in 1374, six years before her death, the General Chapter of the Dominicans summoned her to Florence to interrogate her. They appointed Raymund of Capua, a learned and humble Friar and a future Master General of the Order, as her spiritual guide. Having become her confessor and also her “spiritual son”, he wrote a first complete biography of the Saint. She was canonized in 1461.

The teaching of Catherine, who learned to read with difficulty and learned to write in adulthood, is contained in the Dialogue of Divine Providence or Libro della Divina Dottrina, a masterpiece of spiritual literature, in her Epistolario and in the collection of her Prayers.

Her teaching is endowed with such excellence that in 1970 the Servant of God Paul VI declared her a Doctor of the Church, a title that was added to those of Co-Patroness of the City of Rome — at the wish of Bl. Pius ix — and of Patroness of Italy — in accordance with the decision of Venerable Pius XII.

In a vision that was ever present in Catherine's heart and mind Our Lady presented her to Jesus who gave her a splendid ring, saying to her: “I, your Creator and Saviour, espouse you in the faith, that you will keep ever pure until you celebrate your eternal nuptials with me in Heaven” (Bl. Raimondo da Capua, S. Caterina da Siena, Legenda maior, n. 115, Siena 1998). This ring was visible to her alone. In this extraordinary episode we see the vital centre of Catherine’s religious sense, and of all authentic spirituality: Christocentrism. For her Christ was like the spouse with whom a relationship of intimacy, communion and faithfulness exists; he was the best beloved whom she loved above any other good. This profound union with the Lord is illustrated by another episode in the life of this outstanding mystic: the exchange of hearts. According to Raymond of Capua who passed on the confidences Catherine received, the Lord Jesus appeared to her “holding in his holy hands a human heart, bright red and shining”. He opened her side and put the heart within her saying: “Dearest daughter, as I took your heart away from you the other day, now, you see, I am giving you mine, so that you can go on living with it for ever” (ibid.). Catherine truly lived St. Paul’s words, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Gal 2:20).

Like the Sienese Saint, every believer feels the need to be conformed with the sentiments of the heart of Christ to love God and his neighbour as Christ himself loves. And we can all let our hearts be transformed and learn to love like Christ in a familiarity with him that is nourished by prayer, by meditation on the Word of God and by the sacraments, above all by receiving Holy Communion frequently and with devotion. Catherine also belongs to the throng of Saints devoted to the Eucharist with which I concluded my Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis (cf. n. 94). Dear brothers and sisters, the Eucharist is an extraordinary gift of love that God continually renews to nourish our journey of faith, to strengthen our hope and to inflame our charity, to make us more and more like him.

A true and authentic spiritual family was built up around such a strong and genuine personality; people fascinated by the moral authority of this young woman with a most exalted lifestyle were at times also impressed by the mystical phenomena they witnessed, such as her frequent ecstasies. Many put themselves at Catherine’s service and above all considered it a privilege to receive spiritual guidance from her. They called her “mother” because, as her spiritual children, they drew spiritual nourishment from her. Today too the Church receives great benefit from the exercise of spiritual motherhood by so many women, lay and consecrated, who nourish souls with thoughts of God, who strengthen the people’s faith and direct Christian life towards ever loftier peaks. “Son, I say to you and call you”, Catherine wrote to one of her spiritual sons, Giovanni Sabbatini, a Carthusian, “inasmuch as I give birth to you in continuous prayers and desire in the presence of God, just as a mother gives birth to a son” (Epistolario, Lettera n. 141: To Fr Giovanni de’ Sabbatini). She would usually address the Dominican Fr Bartolomeo de Dominici with these words: “Most beloved and very dear brother and son in Christ sweet Jesus”.

Another trait of Catherine’s spirituality is linked to the gift of tears. They express an exquisite, profound sensitivity, a capacity for being moved and for tenderness. Many Saints have had the gift of tears, renewing the emotion of Jesus himself who did not hold back or hide his tears at the tomb of his friend Lazarus and at the grief of Mary and Martha or at the sight of Jerusalem during his last days on this earth. According to Catherine, the tears of Saints are mingled with the blood of Christ, of which she spoke in vibrant tones and with symbolic images that were very effective: “Remember Christ crucified, God and man….. Make your aim the Crucified Christ, hide in the wounds of the Crucified Christ and drown in the blood of the Crucified Christ” (Epistolario, Lettera n. 21: Ad uno il cui nome si tace [to one who remains anonymous]). Here we can understand why, despite her awareness of the human shortcomings of priests, Catherine always felt very great reverence for them: through the sacraments and the word they dispense the saving power of Christ’s Blood. The Sienese Saint always invited the sacred ministers, including the Pope whom she called “sweet Christ on earth”, to be faithful to their responsibilities, motivated always and only by her profound and constant love of the Church. She said before she died: “in leaving my body, truly I have consumed and given my life in the Church and for the Holy Church, which is for me a most unique grace” (Raimondo da Capua, S. Caterina da Siena, Legenda maior, n. 363). Hence we learn from St Catherine the most sublime science: to know and love Jesus Christ and his Church. In the Dialogue of Divine Providence, she describes Christ, with an unusual image, as a bridge flung between Heaven and earth. This bridge consists of three great stairways constituted by the feet, the side and the mouth of Jesus. Rising by these stairways the soul passes through the three stages of every path to sanctification: detachment from sin, the practice of the virtues and of love, sweet and loving union with God.

Dear brothers and sisters, let us learn from St Catherine to love Christ and the Church with courage, intensely and sincerely. Therefore let us make our own St Catherine’s words that we read in the Dialogue of Divine Providence at the end of the chapter that speaks of Christ as a bridge: “out of mercy you have washed us in his Blood, out of mercy you have wished to converse with creatures. O crazed with love! It did not suffice for you to take flesh, but you also wished to die!... O mercy! My heart drowns in thinking of you: for no matter where I turn to think, I find only mercy” (chapter 30, pp. 79-80). Thank you.

Feast of the Holy Abbots of Cluny (April 29)**

The history of the feast

In most pre-twentieth century Benedictine breviaries, this day is marked as the feast of St Robert of Molesmes, one of the founders of the Cistercian Order.
**Some of the French Congregations, however, seem to have celebrated the feast of St Hugh on this date either instead of St Robert (Cluniacs) or as well as that feast (Solesmes).  The 1897 Liber Antiphonarius lists the feast of St Robert in the main calendar, but also adds St Hugh to that day, while preserving separate feasts for St Odilo (Jan 19), Maiolus (May11) and Odo (Nov 27) for their own congregation.
In (I think) the early twentieth century clean out of the Benedictine calendar though, the ongoing war between the Black and White monks presumably heated up once more, because the feast of St Robert of Molesmes was replaced by one celebrating several of the Cluniac abbots instead (combining several separate feasts celebrated by some Congregations only), against whom the Cistercian reform was rather directed.

Curiously, though, one of the most important Cluniac abbots, who successfully defended his congregation from the attacks of the Cistercians, Blessed Peter the Venerable, didn't actually make the list for the celebration of today's feast at all in the 1963 calendar.  This may be because he was never officially canonised.

The deficiency was, however, rectified in the 1975 revision of the calendar.

The Solesmes Congregation, however, continue to observe the feasts of the various abbots on separate dates, while Le Barroux celebrates the feast of the Cluny abbots, but retains St Robert as a commemoration.

Matins texts and readings for the feast

At Matins in the 1963 breviary, the invitatory antiphon is Exsultent in Domino, and the chant for it can be found in the Liber Responsorialis, page 162.  The hymn, Rex gloriose Praesulum, is the same as for Vespers so can be found in the Antiphonale Monasticum.

The one reading is from Letter 4 of St Peter Damian to St Hugh, but I'm afraid I have been unable to find it online in either Latin or English.  Pope Benedict XVI's comments on the Cluniac reform, however, might be a good substitute, so I have reproduced it below.  Pope Benedict also provided a couple of other General Audiences on the saints in question which are well worth a read, so herewith some links to them, viz:
From a General Audience of Pope Benedict XVI given on 11 November 2009:

This morning I would like to speak to you about a monastic movement that was very important in the Middle Ages and which I have already mentioned in previous Catecheses. It is the Order of Cluny which at the beginning of the 12th century, at the height of its expansion, had almost 1,200 monasteries: a truly impressive figure! A monastery was founded at Cluny in 910, precisely 1,100 years ago, and subsequent to the donation of William the Pious, Duke of Aquitaine, was placed under the guidance of Abbot Berno. At that time Western monasticism, which had flourished several centuries earlier with St Benedict, was experiencing a severe decline for various reasons: unstable political and social conditions due to the continuous invasions and sacking by peoples who were not integrated into the fabric of Europe, widespread poverty and, especially, the dependence of abbeys on the local nobles who controlled all that belonged to the territories under their jurisdiction. In this context, Cluny was the heart and soul of a profound renewal of monastic life that led it back to its original inspiration.

At Cluny the Rule of St Benedict was restored with several adaptations which had already been introduced by other reformers. The main objective was to guarantee the central role that the Liturgy must have in Christian life. The Cluniac monks devoted themselves with love and great care to the celebration of the Liturgical Hours, to the singing of the Psalms, to processions as devout as they were solemn, and above all, to the celebration of Holy Mass. They promoted sacred music, they wanted architecture and art to contribute to the beauty and solemnity of the rites; they enriched the liturgical calendar with special celebrations such as, for example, at the beginning of November, the Commemoration of All Souls, which we too have just celebrated; and they intensified the devotion to the Virgin Mary. Great importance was given to the Liturgy because the monks of Cluny were convinced that it was participation in the liturgy of Heaven. And the monks felt responsible for interceding at the altar of God for the living and the dead, given large numbers of the faithful were insistently asking them to be remembered in prayer. Moreover, it was with this same aim that William the Pious had desired the foundation of the Abbey of Cluny. In the ancient document that testifies to the foundation we read: "With this gift I establish that a monastery of regulars be built at Cluny in honour of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, where monks who live according to the Rule of St Benedict shall gather... so that a venerable sanctuary of prayer with vows and supplications may be visited there, and the heavenly life be sought after and yearned for with every desire and with deep ardour, and that assiduous prayers, invocations and supplications be addressed to the Lord". To preserve and foster this atmosphere of prayer, the Cluniac Rule emphasized the importance of silence, to which discipline the monks willingly submitted, convinced that the purity of the virtues to which they aspired demanded deep and constant recollection. It is not surprising that before long the Monastery of Cluny gained a reputation for holiness and that many other monastic communities decided to follow its discipline. Numerous princes and Popes asked the abbots of Cluny to extend their reform so that in a short time a dense network of monasteries developed that were linked to Cluny, either by true and proper juridical bonds or by a sort of charismatic affiliation. Thus a spiritual Europe gradually took shape in the various regions of France and in Italy, Spain, Germany and Hungary.

Cluny's success was assured primarily not only by the lofty spirituality cultivated there but also by several other conditions that ensured its development. In comparison with what had happened until then, the Monastery of Cluny and the communities dependent upon it were recognized as exempt from the jurisdiction of the local Bishops and were directly subject to that of the Roman Pontiff. This meant that Cluny had a special bond with the See of Peter and, precisely because of the protection and encouragement of the Pontiffs the ideals of purity and fidelity proposed by the Cluniac Reform spread rapidly. Furthermore, the abbots were elected without any interference from the civil authorities, unlike what happened in other places. Truly worthy people succeeded one another at the helm of Cluny and of the numerous monastic communities dependent upon it: Abbot Odo of Cluny, of whom I spoke in a Catechesis two months ago, and other great figures such as Eymard, Majolus, Odilo and especially Hugh the Great, who served for long periods, thereby assuring stability and the spread of the reform embarked upon. As well as Odo, Majolus, Odilo and Hugh are venerated as Saints.

Not only did the Cluniac Reform have positive effects in the purification and reawakening of monastic life but also in the life of the universal Church. In fact, the aspiration to evangelical perfection was an incentive to fight two great abuses that afflicted the Church in that period: simony, that is the acquisition of pastoral offices for money, and immorality among the secular clergy. The abbots of Cluny with their spiritual authority, the Cluniac monks who became Bishops and some of them even Popes, took the lead in this impressive action of spiritual renewal. And it yielded abundant fruit: celibacy was once again esteemed and practised by priests and more transparent procedures were introduced in the designation of ecclesiastical offices.

Also significant were the benefits that monasteries inspired by the Cluniac Reform contributed to society. At a time when Church institutions alone provided for the poor, charity was practised with dedication. In all the houses, the almoner was bound to offer hospitality to needy wayfarers and pilgrims, travelling priests and religious and especially the poor, who came asking for food and a roof over their heads for a few days. Equally important were two other institutions promoted by Cluny that were characteristic of medieval civilization: the "Truce of God" and the "Peace of God". In an epoch heavily marked by violence and the spirit of revenge, with the "Truces of God" long periods of non-belligerence were guaranteed, especially on the occasion of specific religious feasts and certain days of the week. With "the Peace of God", on pain of a canonical reprimand, respect was requested for defenceless people and for sacred places.

In this way, in the conscience of the peoples of Europe during that long process of gestation, which was to lead to their ever clearer recognition two fundamental elements for the construction of society matured, namely, the value of the human person and the primary good of peace. Furthermore, as happened for other monastic foundations, the Cluniac monasteries had likewise at their disposal extensive properties which, diligently put to good use, helped to develop the economy. Alongside the manual work there was no lack of the typical cultural activities of medieval monasticism such as schools for children, the foundation of libraries and scriptoria for the transcription of books.

In this way, 1,000 years ago when the development of the European identity had gathered momentum, the experience of Cluny, which had spread across vast regions of the European continent, made its important and precious contribution. It recalled the primacy of spiritual benefits; it kept alive the aspiration to the things of God; it inspired and encouraged initiatives and institutions for the promotion of human values; it taught a spirit of peace. Dear brothers and sisters let us pray that all those who have at heart an authentic humanism and the future of Europe may be able to rediscover, appreciate and defend the rich cultural and religious heritage of these centuries.

April 26: SS Cletus and Marcellinus

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In the 1963 monastic breviary, today is a memorial for St Cletus only.

Older breviaries, though, mark it as a semiduplex feast of both Popes SS Cletus and Marcellinus. Divinum Officium supplies the following reading for the saints:
Cletus was a Roman, the son of Emilian, of the Fifth Region of the city, and the street called Noble. He ruled the Church in the time of the Emperors Vespasian and Titus. In accordance with the precept of the Prince of the Apostles He ordained twenty-five Priests for the city. He was the first Pope who made use in his letters of the phrase "Health and Apostolic Benediction." When he had ruled the Church for twelve years, seven months, and two days, and brought it into an excellent state of order, in the reign of the Emperor Domitian, and the second persecution since the time of Nero, he was crowned with martyrdom, and buried on the Vatican mount, hard by the body of blessed Peter.
Marcellinus was a Roman; he ruled the Church from the year 296 to the year 304, during the savage persecution which was ordered by the Emperor Diocletian. He suffered through the false severity of those who blamed him as being too indulgent toward them who had fallen into idolatry, and for this reason also hath been slandered to the effect that he himself burnt incense to idols but this blessed Pope, on account of his confession of the faith, was put to death along with three other Christians, whose names are Claudius, Cyrinus, and Antoninus. At the command of the Emperor their bodies were cast out unburied, and lay so for thirty- six days. At the end of that time St Peter appeared in a dream to Blessed Marcellus, and in obedience to his command the said Marcellus went with certain Priests and Deacons, singing hymns, and carrying lights, and buried these four bodies honourably in the Cemetery of Priscilla upon the Salarian Way. Marcellinus ruled the Church for seven years, eleven months, and twenty-three days. During this time he held two Advent ordinations, and ordained at them four Priests, and five Bishops for divers Sees.


Feast of St Mark/ANZAC Day

St Mark

Today is the feast of St Mark, the writer of the shortest of the four Gospels, and you can find the readings for the feast at Matins here.  St Mark was, according to the martyrology, the 'disciple and interpreter of the apostle St. Peter'.

The entry for today goes on to say that:
he wrote his gospel at the request of the faithful at Rome, and taking it with him, proceeded to Egypt and founded a church at Alexandria, where he was the first to preach Christ. Afterwards, being arrested for the faith, he was bound, dragged over stones, and endured great afflictions. Finally he was confined to prison, where, being comforted by the visit of an angel, and even by an apparition of our Lord himself, he was called to the heavenly kingdom in the eighth year of the reign of Nero.
The Greater Litanies 

This is also the day on which the Litany of the saints is traditionally sung as part of a procession at Mass.  It can also be said privately after Lauds, and those who are bound to say the office (ie clergy and religious) are required either to participate in a procession or say the Litany privately.


In Australia and New Zealand, it is however, ANZAC Day, the anniversary of one of the most horrendous defeats of World War I, at Gallipoli in 2015, but a defeat that bought forth a new sense of nationhood in those countries.  In the older calendar, there is a special indult allowing the Mass of the day to be replaced with a requiem for the souls of those killed in war; in the newer calendar, the day actually has its own propers, and St Mark is transferred to tomorrow.

So if you would, please remember to say a prayer for the repose of  the souls of those who served in war.

St Mellitus (April 24)

A page divided into 12 sections, each section displaying a scene from the bible
St Augustine Gospels

In the English Congregation, today is traditionally the feast of St Mellitus, the first Bishop of London in the Saxon period and the third Archbishop of Canterbury.

St Mellitus was a member of the Gregorian mission sent to England to convert the Anglo-Saxons from their native paganism to Christianity, arriving around 601 AD with a group of clergy sent by St Gregory the Great to augment S Augustine's group.

St Mellitus was the recipient of a letter from Pope Gregory I known as the Epistola ad Mellitum, preserved by St Bede, which suggested the conversion of the Anglo-Saxons be undertaken gradually, integrating pagan rituals and customs. In 610, Mellitus returned to Italy to attend a council of bishops, and returned to England bearing papal letters to some of the missionaries.

St Mellitus was exiled from London by the pagan successors to his patron, King Sæberht of Essex, following the latter's death around 616. King Æthelberht of Kent, Mellitus' other patron, died at about the same time, forcing him to take refuge in Gaul. Mellitus returned to England the following year, after Æthelberht's successor had been converted to Christianity, but he was unable to return to London, whose inhabitants remained pagan. Mellitus was appointed Archbishop of Canterbury in 619. During his tenure, he miraculously saved the cathedral, and much of the town of Canterbury, from a fire. After his death in 624, Mellitus was revered as a saint.

Two books are associated with St Mellitus and may have been bought with him to England: the St Augustine Gospels (pictured above), and a copy of the Rule of St Benedict (MS Oxford Bodleian Hatton 48), though of course the latter claim is disputed by many modern historians, who assign the manuscript a later date.