Sunday, 26 July 2020

The Steward's account.

“Give an account of thy stewardship” - these words stand out as perhaps the most noteworthy in today’s gospel for the eighth Sunday after Pentecost. It is with these words that the rich man both questions, rebukes and admonishes his unfaithful steward who had squandered the gifts which he had been given. Shaken and thrown into confusion, the unfaithful steward was brought sharply to a realisation of the evil manner in which he had lived.

It does not take a great master of Scripture to be able to discern that this same question can and will be made to each of us at the seat of judgement. In that awful hour there will be no escaping the question or seeking to avoid it through distractions and other pursuits, by which one might seek to avoid the murmurings of conscience whilst on earth. The years spent in this life, be they many or few, will result in this single question, which is the swift assessment of an entire life. Indeed, there needs be no lengthy examination, because the answer is black or white, clear and precise - either our stewardship has been used well or it has not.

Yet since, as examined a few Sundays ago, death is certain and its arrival time is not. This question of stewardship is not something which we have only to be concerned with at judgement day, but at the start and close of every day. It truly becomes the voice of conscience, whereby we hold our actions to account before the sight of God and can ask if they constitute a worthy service for Him. So states St. Paul in the epistle for today, when he writes “for if you live according to the flesh, you shall die; but if by the Spirit you mortify the deeds of the flesh, you shall live”. (Romans 8:13) If one wishes to be able to offer a worthy stewardship to God, then he must take the second of these options, mortifying the flesh and thus attaining life.

Yet why then does such a life attract so much derision from those around? Or why also must it be that those who wish to be true followers of Christ must take this route of dying to self, whilst one’s friends and neighbours live heartily according to the flesh and seem to reap no ill rewards?  One of the great struggles of the Catholic life is foregoing worldly enjoyments yet seeing the children of the world thrive on them. It seems to be a contradiction of the Gospels, since those around who do not mortify the flesh in any way are enjoying life to the full and reaping all kinds of earthly rewards.

The answer to this conundrum lies in God’s justice and love. In His infinite justice He rewards each according to his kind. Thus, for those who have chosen not to be worthy stewards and prefer to spend their time seeking after the things of this world, He rewards them with precisely that. They have turned their back on suffering, the pursuit of virtue and the life of grace and opted instead for something far more tangible and immediate. But such happiness is of course short lived, for this life is only measured in tens of years yet we have an eternity before us. The earthly life of an unfaithful steward is perhaps spent in relative comfort in worldly pleasures, yet no more is given to such a soul. Through God’s justice such souls are rewarded with pleasure in this life because there shall be none in the next.

But for a faithful steward, one who seeks to be a faithful son of God, living the virtues and seeking after perfection, then the life of this world is but a short time in which to perfect oneself. St. Paul’s epistle states “whoseover are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God”.(Romans 8:14) To be a worthy steward in the manner of the Gospels necessarily involves sacrificing the pleasures which are the lot of the un-worthy stewards. It means forgoing the pleasures of the temporal world in favour the promised delights of the celestial paradise. It means suffering for and with Christ: “heirs indeed of God, and joint heirs with Christ: yet so, if we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified with him”. (Rom 8:17). To be a faithful steward, indeed a true son and heir of God, requires a great desire for God and a surrender to His holy will. It necessitates a certain amount of suffering in order that one might merit the crown of glory.

This is perhaps the point upon which non-believers and unfaithful stewards struggle with, for the aspect of suffering can, for them, never become a good or a blessing. Without the eye of faith, suffering is a great evil which must be avoided at all costs. Beliefs and ideologies might be firmly held and yet abandoned in order to avoid suffering. But for the adopted child of God, suffering is an imitation of Christ, a way to unite ourselves to Him and to become worthy of following Him. In time, suffering becomes a joy which the faithful soul eagerly accepts, since it will bring him closer to God.

In a world centred upon self-gratification, instant satisfaction and personal pleasure, any remnant of suffering as a good is fast disappearing, even within the Church. For Catholic teaching on suffering is not compatible with modern society, and yet due to the lack of catechesis, sound preaching and an active public life of the Church, it is modern thought and not Catholic teaching which is proving to be the prevalent characteristic in the world. Yet those in the Church have been given a great gift which is theirs to protect, preserve and promote - namely the faith. One cannot account oneself as a faithful steward if one does not seek to defend the faith or accept the suffering that comes with this. Suffering is not an evil to be avoided at all costs, or something to be stoically accepted with no greater understanding. It is a gift whereby one might purify himself, grow in virtue and imitate Christ. In fact, it is the path to life: “For if you live according to the flesh, you shall die: but if by the Spirit you mortify the deeds of the flesh, you shall live”. (Rom 8:13)

The children of the world, the unfaithful stewards, see no greater pleasures than those which are before them and strive to avoid all suffering. Their reward and pleasure is indeed that which they can see, because there is none to come hereafter. But for the good stewards and the children of God, whilst there is hardship and trial in this life, the promise of heavenly glory and union with God far outweigh the sorrows of life, which are but fleeting in comparison to eternity. 

Thursday, 23 July 2020

Role of Mary in the spiritual life.

In the benevolence of the will of God, we have been given a multitude of mediators with Him, in order that we might have every aid in attaining eternal life. Of course the foremost of these intercessors is the Blessed Virgin Mary, which is most fitting since it is she how suffered alongside Christ at the foot of the cross. The honour which we render to any creatures of God but particularly Mary is not some form of idolatry, but rather a faithful worship of God. We attribute no power to their intercession in itself, but acknowledge that in praying to Mary or any particular saint, we are ultimately adoring and glorifying God through His exalted and saintly creation. Additionally, the saints are in Heaven through the very practice of the perfection of the spiritual life, and hence we should seek to imitate those who have gone before, who are now rewarded with the prize of eternal glory. It is logical therefore that she who is closest to Christ should be the one to whom we can turn most of all and who will be our greatest aid in spiritual trials.

Mary’s dignity rests upon her Divine Motherhood and from this dogma stem all other truths about her. At the Annunciation Mary uttered her fiat, ‘let it be so’, her joyful acceptance of the uniting of her will to God’s will. It is upon this moment that the entire history of redemption rests, for at this instant Mary lovingly united her will to God’s and consequently a number of effects are brought to happy fruition. She becomes the Mother of God; the co-operator in the act of redemption and mediatrix of all graces; the mother of the Church and as such the model and most precious member of the Church; she becomes the surest way to draw close to the Sacred Heart and the Divine Godhead. Due to her plenitude of grace and role as the Mother of God, she was “especially predisposed to cooperation with Christ, the one Mediator of human salvation. And such cooperation is precisely this mediation subordinated to the mediation of Christ”. (1)

John the Evangelist describes Calvary thus: “There stood by the cross of Jesus, his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalen. When Jesus therefore had seen his mother and the disciple standing whom he loved, he saith to his mother: ‘Woman, behold thy son. After that, he saith to the disciple: Behold thy mother”. (John 19:25-27) 

Her position beside the cross is one of suffering and offering. Christ styles her as ‘woman’, evoking the words of Genesis 3:15; here Mary is crushing the devil’s head and her seed is performing the salvific and redemptive death promised to Adam and Eve. From the agony of the cross, Christ gives His mother to us and to the Church, in order that we might have the most sure means of reaching sanctity and eternal beatitude with God. Indeed it is due to Mary’s joint suffering with Christ throughout her whole life, but especially on Calvary, that she is able to merit graces for mankind, whilst remaining completely subject and dependant upon Christ. St. Louis de Montfort reminds us of this in his famous work of devotion to Mary, when he writes that she is the “means which we must make use of to go to Him”.(2) His Marian theology is based on the truth of the intimate union between Christ and His mother, as well as on the boundless love which they have for each other and for mankind. Mary is the Queen Mother, whose requests cannot go unheeded at the Divine throne and thus she is not only the perfect mother but the surest guide to heaven. 

    Pope Leo XIII also taught the faithful the importance of devotion to Mary, as well as the magnitude of the gift that she is to us; “To thee we lift our prayers, for thou art the Mediatrix, powerful at once and pitiful, of our salvation”.(3) Her lifelong act of co-redemption means that she becomes a meritorious cause of grace for us and the bestower of graces. 

Not only does she subordinately merit grace, but she is the channel of all graces. In the above passage of St. John’s Gospel, we read that Christ gives Himself to us through His mother, and wishes for us to return to Him through her. The great doctor of the Church, St. Alphonsus Ligouri, expresses the teaching of the Church succinctly in these few lines: 

Mary, then, having by the merit of her sorrows, and by sacrificing her Son, become the Mother of all the redeemed, it is right to believe that through her hands Divine graces, and the means to obtain eternal life, which are the fruits of the merits of Jesus Christ, are given to men.(4)

So also teaches Pope Leo XIII, who stated in his encyclical on the rosary, Octobri Mensi, that “absolutely nothing from this immense treasury of all the graces brought forth by the Lord…is imparted to us, by the will of God, except through Mary. Thus, just as no one can go to the supreme Father except through the Son, so, as a rule, no one can go to Christ except through the Mother”.(5) 

Such a teaching is inherently present in prayers like the Litany of Loreto and the Hail Mary, where we beseech Mary to pray for us now and at our death. These familiar prayers can oft be glossed over without dwelling on the great import in the words. But St. Louis de Montfort was so keenly aware of the importance of devotion to Mary that his great Marian treatise proposes slavery to her. Not the form of slavery which is conjured up in our minds when such a term is used, but rather a state whereby one gives himself to Mary in such a manner that she can direct all to God's glory. It is a slavery not of domination or cruelty but of love. Through such a consecration of self, one entrusts his life, activities and powers to Mary in order that she might direct them to the greater glory of God and the attainment of heaven. Indeed St. Louis-Marie declared that such consecration was the greatest means of obtaining and preserving Divine wisdom.

    The role of Mary in the spiritual life is of utmost importance. Whilst some seek to ignore her, claiming that Marian devotion is idolatry, Catholic teaching clearly shows that she properly guides and directs the spiritual life, without diverting attention to herself. The spiritual life is the life of Christ, living in and through Him. But this cannot be done without living so as to do all things for and through Our Lady. Not content with giving of Himself, Christ gives us the precious gift of His mother, who is to be the mother of all and the Mediatrix of graces. To be able to faithfully follow Him, we thus need to draw close to her.

1: Pope John Paul II, Redemptoris Mater (1987), §39.

2: St. Louis-Marie de Montfort, True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, (London, Burns, Oates & Washbourne, 1904), 51.

3: Pope Leo XIII, Jucunda Semper (1894), §8.

4: St. Alphonsus Liguori, The Glories of Mary, (London, Burns, Oates & Washbourne Ltd, 1868), 366.

5: Pope Leo XIII, Octobri Mensi (1891).

Thursday, 16 July 2020

Our Lady of Mount Carmel

    Dom Gueranger points us to these words from the liturgy regarding the great feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel: 
When on the holy day of Pentecost the Apostles, through heavenly inspiration, spoke divers tongues and worked many miracles by the invocation of the most holy name of Jesus, it is said that many men who were walking in the footsteps of the holy prophets Elias and Eliseus, and had been prepared for the coming of Christ by the preaching of John the Baptist, saw and acknowledged the truth, and at once embraced the faith of the Gospel. These new Christians were so happy as to be able to enjoy familiar intercourse with the Blessed Virgin, and venerated her with so special an affection, that they, before all others, built a chapel to the purest of Virgins on that very spot of Mount Carmel where Elias of old had seen the cloud, a remarkable type of the Virgin ascending.

Many times each day they came together to the new oratory, and with pious ceremonies, prayers, and praises honoured the most Blessed Virgin as the special protectress of their Order. For this reason, people from all parts began to call them the Brethren of the Blessed Mary of Mount Carmel; and the Sovereign Pontiffs not only confirmed this title, but also granted special indulgences to whoever called either the whole Order or individual Brothers by that name. But the most noble Virgin not only gave them her name and protection, she also bestowed upon Blessed Simon the Englishman the holy Scapular as a token, wishing the holy Order to be distinguished by that heavenly garment and to be protected by it from the evils that were assailing it. Moreover, as formerly the Order was unknown in Europe, and on this account many were importuning Honorius III for its abolition, the loving Virgin Mary appeared by night to Honorius and clearly bade him receive both the Order and its members with kindness.

The Blessed Virgin has enriched the Order so dear to her with many privileges, not only in this world, but also in the next (for everywhere she is most powerful and merciful). For it is piously believed that those of her children, who, having been enrolled in the Confraternity of the Scapular, have fulfilled the small abstinence and said the few prayers prescribed, and have observed chastity as far as their state of life demands, will be consoled by our Lady while they are being purified in the fire of Purgatory, and will through her intercession be taken thence as soon as possible to the heavenly country. The Order, thus laden with so many graces, has ordained that this solemn commemoration of the Blessed Virgin should be yearly observed forever, to her greater glory.

    The holy abbot then gives his own beautiful insights regarding the feast: 

Towering over the waves on the shore of the Holy Land, Mount Carmel, together with the short range of the same name, forms a connecting link to two other chains, abounding with glorious memories, namely: the mountains of Galilee on the north, and those of Judea on the south. (See beneath the references for some of Dom Gueranger's observations from Scripture regarding Carmel.)

When Eternal Wisdom was playing in the world, forming the hills and establishing the mountains, she destined Carmel to be the special inheritance of Eve’s victorious Daughter. And when the last thousand years of expectation were opening, and the desire of all nations was developing into the spirit of prophecy, the father of prophets ascended the privileged mount, thence to scan the horizon. The triumphs of David and the glories of Solomon were at an end; the scepter of Juda, broken by the schism of the ten tribes, threatened to fall from his hand; the worship of Baal prevailed in Israel. A long-continued drought, figure of the aridity of men’s souls, had parched up every spring, and men and beasts were dying beside the empty cisterns, when Elias the Thesbite gathered the people, representing the whole human race, on Mount Carmel, and slew the lying prophets of Baal. Then, as the Scripture relates, prostrating with his face to the earth, he said to his servant: Go up, look towards the sea. And he went up, and looked and said: There is nothing. And again he said to him: Return seven times. And at the seventh time: Behold, a little cloud arose out of the sea like a man’s foot. (1 Kings l8)

Blessed cloud! unlike the bitter waves from which it sprang, it was all sweetness. Docile to the least breath of heaven, it rose light and humble, above the immense heavy ocean; and, screening the sun, it tempered the heat that was scorching the earth, and restored to the stricken world life and grace and fruitfulness. The promised Messias, the Son of Man, set his impress upon it, showing to the wicked serpent the form of the heel that was to crush him. The prophet, personifying the human race, felt his youth renewed; and while the welcome rain was already refreshing the valleys, he ran before the chariot of the king of Israel. Thus did he traverse the great plain of Esdrelon, even to the mysteriously-named town of Jezrahel, where, according to Osee, the children of Juda and Israel were again to have but one head, in the great day of Jezrahel (i.e., of the seed of God), when the Lord would seal his eternal nuptials with a new people. (Hosea 1:11, 2:14-24) Later on, from Sunam, near Jezrahel, the mother, whose son was dead, crossed the same plain of Esdrelon, in the opposite direction, and ascended Mount Carmel, to obtain from Eliseus the resurrection of her child, who was a type of us all. (2 Kings 4:8-37) Elias had already departed in the chariot of fire, to await the end of the world, when he is to give testimony, together with Henoch, to the son of her that was signified by the cloud; (Apocalypse 11:3, 7) and the disciple, clothed with the mantle and the spirit of his father, had taken possession, in the name of the sons of the prophets, of the august mountain honored by the manifestation of the Queen of prophets. Henceforward Carmel was sacred in the eyes of all who looked beyond this world. Gentiles as well as Jews, philosophers and princes, came here on pilgrimage to adore the true God; while the chosen souls of the Church of the expectation, many of whom were already wandering in deserts and in mountains, (Hebrews 11:38) loved to take up their abode in its thousand grottoes; for the ancient traditions seemed to linger more lovingly in its silent forests, and the perfume of its flowers foretokened the Virgin Mother. The cultus of the Queen of heaven was already established; and to the family of her devout clients, the ascetics of Carmel, might be applied the words spoken later by God to the pious descendants of Rechab: There shall not be wanting a man of this race, standing before me forever. (Jeremiah 35:19)

At length figures gave place to the reality: the heavens dropped down their dew, and the Just One came forth from the cloud. When his work was done and he returned to his Father, leaving his blessed Mother in the world, and sending his Holy Spirit to the Church, not the least triumph of that Spirit of love was the making known of Mary to the new-born Christians of Pentecost. “What a happiness,” we then remarked, “for those neophytes who were privileged above the rest in being brought to the Queen of heaven, the Virgin-Mother of him who was the hope of Israel! They saw this second Eve, they conversed with her, they felt for her that filial affection wherewith she inspired all the disciples of Jesus. The Liturgy will speak to us at another season of these favored ones.” The promise is fulfilled today. In the lessons of the feast the Church tells us how the disciples of Elias and Eliseus became Christians at the first preaching of the Apostles, and being permitted to hear the sweet words of the Blessed Virgin and enjoy an unspeakable intimacy with her, they felt their veneration for her immensely increased. Returning to the loved mountain, where their less fortunate fathers had lived but in hope, they built, on the very spot where Elias had seed the little cloud rise up out of the sea, an oratory to the purest of virgins; hence they obtained the name of Brothers of Blessed Mary of Mount Carmel. (Lessons and Nocturn)

In the twelfth century, in consequence of the establishment of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem, many pilgrims from Europe came to swell the ranks of the solitaries on the holy mountain; it therefore became expedient to give to their hitherto eremitical life a form more in accordance with the habits of western nations. The legate Aimeric Malafaida, patriarch of Antioch, gathered them into a community under the authority of St. Berthold, who was thus the first to receive the title of Prior General. At the commencement of the next century, Blessed Albert, patriarch of Jerusalem and also Apostolic legate, completed the work of Aimeric by giving a fixed Rule to the Order, which was now, through the influence of princes and knights returned from the Holy Land, beginning to spread into Cyprus, Sicily, and the countries beyond the sea. Soon indeed, the Christians of the East, being abandoned by God to the just punishment of their sins, the vindictiveness of the conquering Saracens reached such a height in this age of trial for Palestine, that a full assembly held on Mount Carmel under Alanus the Breton, resolved upon a complete migration, leaving only a few friars eager for martyrdom to guard the cradle of the Order. The very year in which this took place (1245), Simon Stock was elected General in the first Chapter of the West held at Aylesford in England.

Simon owed his election to the successful struggle he had maintained for the recognition of the Order, which certain prelates, alleging the recent decrees of the Council of Lateran, rejected as newly introduced into Europe. Our Lady had then taken the cause of the Friars into her own hands, and had obtained from Honorius III the decree of confirmation, which originated today’s feast. This was neither the first nor the last favor bestowed by the sweet Virgin upon the family that had lived so long under the shadow, as it were, of her mysterious cloud, and shrouded like her in humility, with no other bond, no other pretension than the imitation of her hidden works and the contemplation of her glory. She herself had wished them to go forth from the midst of a faithless people; just as, before the close of that same thirteenth century, she would command her angels to carry into a Catholic land her blessed house of Nazareth. Whether or not the men of those days, or the short-sighted historians of our own time, ever thought of it: the one translation called for the other, just as each completes and explains the other, and each was to be, for our own Europe, the signal for wonderful favours from heaven.

In the night between the 15th and the 16th of July, of the year 1251, the gracious Queen of Carmel confirmed to her sons by a mysterious sign the right of citizenship she had obtained for them in their newly adopted countries: as mistress and mother of the entire Religious state she conferred upon them with her queenly hands, the scapular, hitherto the distinctive garb of the greatest and most ancient religious family of the West. On giving St. Simon Stock this badge, ennobled by contact with her sacred fingers, the Mother of God said to him: “Whosoever shall die in this habit, shall not suffer eternal flames.” But not against hell fire alone was the all-powerful intercession of the Blessed Mother to be felt by those who should wear her scapular. In 1316, when every holy soul was imploring heaven to put a period to that long and disastrous widowhood of the Church, which followed on the death of Clement V, the Queen of Saints appeared to James d’Euse, whom the world was soon to hail as John XXII; she foretold to him his approaching elevation to the Sovereign Pontificate, and at the same time recommended him to publish the privilege she had obtained from her Divine Son for her children of Carmel, viz., a speedy deliverance from Purgatory. “I, their Mother, will graciously go down to them on the Saturday after their death, and all whom I find in Purgatory I will deliver and will bring to the mountain of life eternal.” These are the words of our Lady herself, quoted by John XXII in the Bull which he published for the purpose of making known the privilege, and which was called the Sabbatine Bull on account of the day chosen by the glorious benefactress for the exercise of her mercy.

Queen of Carmel, hear the voice of the Church as she sings to thee on this day. This feast, O Mother of our God, is the authentic attestation of the gratitude of the sons of the prophets, increased by the fresh benefits wherewith thy bounty accompanied the new exodus of the remnant of Israel. And we, the sons of ancient Europe, we too have a right to echo the expression of their loving joy; for since their tents have been pitched around the hills where the new Sion is built upon Peter, the cloud has shed all around showers of blessing more precious than ever, driving back into the abyss the flames of hell, and extinguishing the fire of purgatory.

1. Dom Gueranger, The Liturgical Year, July 16th Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

(In the day of my love, I brought thee out of Egypt into the land of Carmel,” (Jeremiah 2:2, 7) said the Lord to the daughter of Sion, taking the name of Carmel to represent all the blessings of the Promised Land; and when the crimes of the chosen people were about to bring Judæa to ruin, the prophet cried out: “I looked, and behold Carmel was a wilderness: and all its cities were destroyed at the presence of the Lord, and at the presence of the wrath of his indignation.” (Jeremiah 4:26) But from the midst of the Gentile world a new Sion arose, more loved than the first; eight centuries beforehand Isaias recognized her by the glory of Libanus, and the beauty of Carmel and Saron which were given her. In the sacred Canticle, also, the attendants of the Bride sing to the Spouse concerning his well-beloved, that her head is like Carmel, and her hair like the precious threads of royal purple carefully woven and dyed. (Song of Solomon 7:5)

There was, in fact, around Cape Carmel an abundant fishery of the little shell-fish which furnished the regal color. Not far from there, smoothing away the slopes of the noble mountain, flowed the torrent of Cison, that dragged the carcasses (Judges 5:21) of the Chanaanites, when Deborah won her famous victory. Here lies the plain where the Madianites were overthrown, and Sisara felt the power of her that was called Mother in Israel. (Judges 5:7) Here Gedeon, too, marched against Madian in the name of the Woman terrible as an army set in array, (Song of Solomon 6:3,9) whose sign he had received in the dew-covered fleece. Indeed, this glorious plain of Esdrelon, which stretches away from the foot of Carmel, seems to be surrounded with prophetic indications of her who was destined from the beginning to crush the serpent’s head: not far from Esdrelon, a few defiles lead to Bethulia, the city of Judith, type of Mary, who was the true joy of Israel and the honor of her people; (Judith 15:10) while nestling among the northern hills lies Nazareth, the white city, the flower of Galilee. (Hieron. Epist. xlvi. Paulæ et Eustochii ad Marcellam)

Sunday, 12 July 2020

The Benedictine Rule as the forming of society - Part 2

St. Benedict wrote his rule and bestowed it initially upon “the educated Roman”, yet as the order spread and many souls flocked to the monastery gates, the noviciate became full of those who had not the same standard of education.(1) The Roman tradition of receiving an education in the liberal arts was no longer de rigour, yet this was taken as a norm in the writing of the rule. Consequently, no explicit command is found, “that such elementary training be provided to the professed members of the community”.(2) However, the first third of the rule pertains to the recitation of the psalms and thus it was essential for the monastic life, especially with regard to the mastery and repetition of the RB and the psalms, that an education be provided. The monks are also commanded to divide their time and to concern themselves with holy reading when they are not performing manual labour.(3) The education offered at the monasteries “embraced not only grammar, but also the remaining arts of the trivium… and the quadrivium”.(4) With such a wealth of subjects being taught in the monastery walls, the monasteries naturally became known for their schools and masters. The arts practiced by the monks were gradually extended to the people and thus the monastery schools developed. Due to the emphasis on the official Ecclesiastical language of latin, the Benedictine monasteries rose above all others in the linguistic area. In fact, historians note that “no other social community, clerical or lay, maintained a multilingual compact over such a period”.(5)  The studious aspect of the monastery was not a development due to a need for occupation of idle monks. Rather it was an essential aspect of the RB which taught that “a proper understanding of language was not only of practical utility but also of profound spiritual importance in the performance of the opus Dei”.(6) In order to assist this culture of learning, the Benedictines became scriveners and book binders. This had its origins in the rule, as St. Benedict “expected each monastery to maintain a book collection”.(7) Through the centuries this system grew from the copying of individual books to being a “properly organised approach to book production [first] in place by c1100”.(8) The Benedictines served as an indispensable community in the area of book copying and production, developing the written word from the codex form to books. 

The RB is very explicit in its instruction regarding the office, including the hymns and music to be used. St. Benedict outlines an innovation, namely that the singing of hymns should be commonplace in the recitation of the office, something that was by no means a custom beforehand.(RB: 11-14,17) The Benedictines took this musical command to heart, as the monasteries became centres of great musical innovation and composition; “cantors, and other brethren, were encouraged to compose new settings for psalms, verses, responses and hymns”.(9) Nor was their prowess confined to Gregorian Chant, but it extended to such innovation that it was actually the Benedictine monks who were the true pioneers and promoters of the new polyphonic form.(10) This led to the expansion of liturgical music from the unison of chant to the richness and variety of voices found in polyphony, which, in later centuries, was necessarily accompanied by the organ and gave rise to great liturgical composers.

The era of great monastic growth coincides with that period denoted by secular historians as the ‘dark ages’. To a certain minor extent this designation is true, since the cultural order which been extant in the world under the Roman empire, was no longer. The range and number of invasions from various barbarian tribes in Europe certainly grew. Yet it was a period of great Catholic evangelisation, spearheaded primarily by the monasteries. In the silence and contemplation found behind the cloister walls, the seeds of the glorious high Middle Ages were laid, courtesy of the Benedictine monks. Pope Pius XII describes the gift of the Benedictine community and the RB in his encyclical Fulgens Radiatur

“During a dark and turbulent age, when agriculture, honourable crafts, the study of the fine arts profane and divine were little esteemed and shamefully neglected by nearly all, there arose in Benedictine monasteries an almost countless multitude of farmers, craftsmen and learned people who did their utmost to conserve the memorials of ancient learning and brought back nations both old and new - often at war with each other - to peace, harmony and earnest work. From renascent barbarism, from destruction and ruin they happily led them back to benign influence human and Christian, to patient labor, to the light of truth, to a civilization renewed in wisdom and charity.”(11) 

The Benedictines were those who held firm to the Gospel and to the seeds of culture when all around them was in upheaval: “In the formative centuries of medieval Christendom it was principally Benedictine scholars that set the pattern not only for the exposition and transmission of Christian doctrine but also for the use of language, the practice of reading..and writing”.(12)

It is no surprise therefore, that communities rapidly sprang up around the monasteries, for where such spiritual and temporal goodness existed, people would be sure to draw near to such a life-spring. The monks, in acting out the RB, so greatly transformed their surroundings that it is due to them that Europe owes its early development. In the villages which established themselves next to the monasteries, “the populace…surrendered labour and livelihood to their monastery, and in the boroughs of the later Middle Ages, also their hope of economic and political independence, but also they looked to it for material succour, and for spiritual and perhaps cultural inspiration”.(13)  As the RB spread and gained its influence, the order was gradually bestowed grants of land and property and it was this property that “bound them forever to the emerging infrastructure”.(14) Even this social connection was based in the rule, for St. Benedict outlines first, the relations between the abbot and superiors and his monks (RB: 2,5,21); next the relation between the monks themselves (RB:22,30-55). The entirety of the RB is about forming the monastic community, for St. Benedict was keenly aware of the dangers involved in the solitary life. He thus organised the monastery accordingly: “At the head of this common life is the abbot who must rule the monastery as the representative of Christ, commanding nothing but what is conformable to the Divine precepts”.(15) The whole community is led by the abbot in the spiritual school, “in which is taught and practised the most sublime of all arts, how to serve God perfectly”.(16) With this ethos the Benedictines moved into society and built it based upon these principles. The zeal and attractive spirituality of the monks had such an effect that, “not only did they transform their immediate environs but also they carried an imprint of their mode of life, authority and business to outlying settlements”.(17) The process is very easy to understand - a monastery, full of men all striving to attain heaven, can only serve to be a beacon of light in the world. As the monks gradually subdued the land around them as part of their daily labours, families began to congregate around them, partaking in both the life of labour and the spiritual life offered in the church. The community outside the monastery grows, yet still the monastery, especially the church, remained the focus point of the emerging village. This is the origin of the community of people around the monastery, termed the ‘Precinct community’. The size of this community grew along with the size of the monastery. In order to assist these people, “the greater abbeys and priories of the high and later middle Ages provided workshops, offices, stable, kitchen, chambers and even self-contained cottages to meet their needs and those of their families”.(18) The precinct community and the monastery had strongly bound relations, with the monastery attracting and providing for them, yet itself being aided and sustained by the laity at its walls. In this manner the monastery is truly the basis of the mini-culture that emerges around it, and, since villages expand into towns, the European society owes its lofty culture to the humble monastery and the RB

The monasteries were not merely centres of spiritual and intellectual prowess however, they also became centres of “valuable and vigorous economic enterprises…by the twelfth century the largest of them…contributed as much to the regional economy, and in a number of cases on a national scale, as any city entrepôt”.(19) This development of economic stability, founded especially on agriculture, served to further entrench the monastery as the stable core of society and also to enable it to be the source of temporal aid for those who needed it. As the religious community grew more prosperous, certain roles and tasks previously performed by the members of the community were carried out by “a resident population of retainers, domestic servants, husbandmen, tradesmen and labourers”.(20)  The Benedictine monasteries became akin to other temporal lords, holding governance over the villagers to a certain degree. This strange situation for a monastery did nevertheless lead to certain benefits for the regions and the nations. In the more volatile and unstable areas of Europe during the twelfth century the monasteries served as “invaluable deputies for a succession of oppressed and under-mighty princes”.(21) In addition, the Benedictines continued their vocation of spiritual and temporal care for the people by being able to “secure regional communities during periods of economic and social disturbance”.(22)

In keeping with the spirit of the RB, instructing the brethren to see Christ in each other and especially in any guest, the monasteries became famous for their practical application of the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. In his seventy-two instruments of good works, St. Benedict commands the follower of the RB to love, “one’s neighbour as oneself…to relieve the poor. To visit the sick…To help in affliction” and “not to forsake charity”.(23) St. Benedict was truly building the RB from the words of the Gospel. Consequentially, it was not uncommon for the special rooms and buildings set aside for the guests to be “given a higher priority than the conventual buildings”.(24) Viewing the housing of guests as a religious duty and privilege ensured that, even as late as the sixteenth century, “there was scarcely any secular cathedral, church or college and only a handful of noble households that could rival either the commons…or the domestic comforts offered to [the monastery] residents”.(25) For those who did not reside at the monastery, the monks provided succour to the poor at the monastery gates. The RB explicitly states that the cellarer should have “especial care of the sick, of the children, of guests and of the poor”(26) and that the old tunics should be “put by in the wardrobe for the poor”(27). In addition, the Benedictines had a special patronage and care for the sick who came to the monastery door seeking aid. Not only did the monks provide care to those who were in need, but (when means permitted) “between 1050 and 1250 a number of abbeys initiated the foundation of secular hospitals, beyond the percent but within their jurisdiction”.(28) The Benedictines thus took the RB very seriously, as their divine vocation which was to be fulfilled every day.

The development of Western Christendom cannot be separated from St. Benedict and his holy rule. The Regula Benedicti has its origin in the sanctity of its author and is conveyed to the world by the Benedictine monks. In acting out the rule, the Benedictines furthered education, liturgy, development of sacred music, health care, centres of hospitality, farming and homesteading, to name but a few of their contributions to society. Above all, the monasteries were great centres of prayer and spirituality, which gave life to all other concerns. To quote Pope Pius XII, the RB “has proved and still proves a powerful means to encourage many to virtue and lead them to sanctity; in the Benedictine law the highest prudence and simplicity are united; Christian humility is joined to virile virtue; mildness tempers severity; and a healthy freedom ennobles due submission”.(29) The Benedictine rule is the true foundation stone on which Christian civilisation has been spread.

1Clark, The Benedictines in the Middle Ages, 83

2 Clark, The Benedictines in the Middle Ages, 203

Rule of St. Benedict, Chap 48, p62.

4 Clark, The Benedictines in the Middle Ages, 107

5 Clark, The Benedictines in the Middle Ages, 126.

6 Clark, The Benedictines in the Middle Ages, 204.

7 Clark, The Benedictines in the Middle Ages, 238.

 Clark, The Benedictines in the Middle Ages, 240.

9 Clark, The Benedictines in the Middle Ages, 104.

10 Ibid. 104.

11 Pope Pius XII, Fulgens Radiatur, xii_enc_21031947_fulgens-radiatur.html, 12 March 1947,18.

12Clark, The Benedictines in the Middle Ages, 189.

13 Clark, The Benedictines in the Middle Ages, 131. 

14 Clark, The Benedictines in the Middle Ages, 130. 

15 Lechrich, Life of St. Benedict, 79.

16 Lechrich, Life of St. Benedict, 78.

17 Clark, The Benedictines, 136.

18 Clark, The Benedictines, 163
19 Clark, The Benedictines, 139.
20 Clark, The Benedictines, 107.
21 Clark, The Benedictines, 161.
22 Clark, The Benedictines, 161-2.
23 Rule of St. Benedict, Chap 4: 2,14,16,18,26. P20-21. 

24 Clark, The Benedictines in the Middle Ages, 168.

25 Clark, The Benedictines in the Middle Ages, 167. 

26 Rule of St. Benedict, Chap 31. P48
27 Rule of St. Benedict, Chap 55. P69
28 Clark, The Benedictines in the Middle Ages, 184.

29 Pope Pius XII, Fulgens Radiatur,14.

Thursday, 9 July 2020

The Benedictine Rule as the forming of society - Part 1.

St. Benedict and his holy rule - the spiritual foundation of society.

In a few days, July 11th marks the feast of the translation of the relics of St. Benedict, a feast held in Benedictine monasteries but not widely kept elsewhere in the traditional calendar. The occasion is an excellent opportunity to take a brief look at the incredible manner in which the order which he founded formed the world. What follows is the first half of a brief examination of the great blessings which the Benedictines gave to the world.

     In establishing the Benedictine order and writing his holy rule of monastic life, St. Benedict became the channel of many graces for civilisation and for Christendom. The monasteries conveyed the saint’s spirituality to each successive generation, affecting everyone with whom they came into contact. Every action of the Benedictine monk has its roots in the Benedictine rule which is his guiding principle. Therefore, the development of Western Christendom can be traced back to the profound yet simple words and spirituality contained in the pages of the Benedictine rule. 

It was in the midst of a changing world, when the previous constructions of the Roman Empire in the west were in the process of breaking down under the spread of the barbarian armies throughout Europe, that Benedict of Nursia (Norcia) was born. He was born “in the district of Norcia of distinguished parents, who sent him to Rome for a liberal education”.(1) Once established in the former imperial city, he became acutely aware of the decadence that was present in his fellow students and society. Thus he abandoned the urban life, “turned his back on further studies, gave up home and inheritance and resolved to embrace the religious life”.(2) After spending some time in hermetical isolation, he was discovered by other monks seeking a life of holiness who elected him to join them as their abbot. However, due to their stubborn opposition to his strict rule, St. Benedict left the monastery and returned to his solitary lifestyle for a short time. Yet again his sanctity attracted many to him, “many of them had forsaken the world in order to bring their hearts under the light yoke of the Saviour” and so he established a monastery, first at Subiaco and then later at Monte Cassino where he wrote his famous rule.(3) He remained here governing his monastery in an exemplary manner, accompanied in the spiritual life by his sister Scholastica, who was living with her community of nuns not far from Monte Cassino. She died in 543, having spent a day and night in saintly conversation and prayer with her brother but three days prior to her death. It was shortly after this that St. Benedict himself died, having given the command for his tomb to be opened six days prior to his death. He died having just received Holy Communion and was buried in the same tomb as his holy sister. St. Benedict, by his holy life and saintly death gave an example not only to his monks but also to all those who study his life or even are in anyway connected to Benedictine spirituality. St. Bernard is quoted as saying that “Benedict’s glorious death is a pledge of the glory to be attained by the whole of his Order”, yet not just his order but all those who follow the holy abbot.(4) 

St. Benedict's life is marked by the key aspects of his spirituality. These aspects are found enumerated and expounded in his great Monastic Rule or Regula Benedicti (RB). In this rule the true St. Benedict can be discovered, for here are displayed the characteristics and sanctity of the man who is rightly invoked as patron of Europe. Indeed, to truly understand St. Benedict, one must look at his rule: to understand his rule one must thoroughly examine his saintly life. As Pope St. Gregory states about the holy abbot, “Anyone who wishes to know more about his life and character can discover in his Rule exactly what he was like as abbot, for his life could not have differed from his teaching”.(5)  The rule is strikingly simple upon a first glance, being very specific with regards to the instructions of the daily life of the monks. However, when one looks at the rule in the light of the spiritual life, one can see that St. Benedict’s rule is almost the blueprint for the development of Catholic Europe and a true manual for attaining personal sanctity. At the heart of the Monastic Rule is the intent of the saint to compose a system by which one might seek to draw ever closer to a more intimate union with and imitation of God. Since the Rule became the principle of government of every Benedictine community, the words of St. Benedict became the guiding light of successive generations of faithful monks and saints, who, each in turn, worked to spread the joy of the Gospel. Fr. Lechrich describes the Benedictine rule thus: 

"as one of labour and difficulty, by which man regains, through obedience, that which he had formerly lost through disobedience. He [Benedict] says that it is a military service under the standard of Christ, the monk to be clad in the strong armour of obedience. He compares it to a race in the the arena. He depicts it as a life of spotless purity and fidelity; and lastly as a school, in which is taught and practices the most sublime of all arts, how to serve God perfectly”.(6)

The rule is founded upon a few key virtues or pillars: obedience, silence, humility and prayer. The principle of obedience is placed first, since the saint was aware of the innate tendency of man to prefer his own will over another’s and the subsequent spiritual danger which this consequently placed man in. The obedience proffered to the abbot or superior is obedience given to God. All of the monks’ work should be performed in a holy silence, for the saint realised that “those who seek after perfection shall be rarely allowed to talk”.(7) The virtue of humility was considered such a great work, that St. Benedict outlined twelve chronological steps for attaining it. By the time the monk has reached the twelfth step of the journey to humility, he is able to live his day in such a prayerful manner that he can “imagine himself already present before the terrible judgment-seat of God”.(8) Due to this level of union with God, the monk will not find the practice of virtue hard, but rather pleasing and joyful. With this grounding then, St. Benedict moves onto the final pillar, that of prayer, and it is here that he prescribes the detailed life of the monk as being centred around daily and almost constant prayer. He takes all of thirteen chapters to set out the strict plan of life for the monks, knowing that the life of prayer is the spiritual food which nourishes each. The day is broken up by regular prayers in order that man might learn how to draw closer to God according to the order of the Psalm, “Seven times a day I have given praise to thee” (Psalm 118).  It is these four pillars which contain the entirety of the Benedictine monastic rule. In but a few words, his life and spirituality can be summarised in the phrase, Ora et Labora, prayer and work. This is essentially what his monastic rule is - a life of prayer, contemplation and sacrifice combined with physical labours, all offered to God as a humble gift, the life of a monk being completely orientated to union with the Divine Godhead. St. Benedict ensures that when built upon obedience, silence, humility and prayer, “the monks’ daily life in the monastery flows gently on in beautiful order and harmony”.(9)

The Regula Benedicti as practiced by the followers of St. Benedict, is the text which came to be the guiding text for medieval Europe. St. Benedict’s spirituality as found in the RB was first effected in his monasteries, and thence through the centuries came to form the villages and towns which developed. In every act of the Benedictines, whether it is their private life of daily prayer, or in the actions relating to others, such as teaching and singing, the RB is always found as the basis for action. The Benedictines organically grew into such an extensive and socially influential order that scholars recognise that, “in many regions of Europe it was the early monasteries that shaped the very patterns of settlement, land use and trade which determined the distribution of cites and towns, markets and places of worship”.(10) The RB had a slow dissemination into the monasteries of Europe, since it was not the first monastic rule to be proposed, nor was there a widespread practice of monasteries adhering to one rule only. However, the RB spread and became so dominantly popular, not due to any radical differences to what was extant, but “because it could be readily assimilated into existing monastic practice”.(11) The Rule became increasingly used in various monastic communities, its spirituality obviously appealing to many, since in 802, the first Holy Roman Emperor, Charlemagne, decreed that the RB should be the only religious rule used by all communities in his territories of the Frankish peoples.(12) During the tenth century, the monastic reform was underway, led by the great congregation at Cluny, which acted as a “catalyst for many of the new monastic settlements that carried the RB further into the eastern and northern territories of Europe”.(13) During this era, other rules of religious life were sidelined, whilst the RB was elevated “to become the principal monastic code in Europe”.(14) The effect that this was having upon Europe is vital: the RB was no longer a code for monastic life followed by a handful of monasteries but was blossoming with life, as it was practised throughout the length and breadth of Europe, meaning that the society that grew beside and because of the monasteries, was imbued and formed by the self-same Benedictine spirituality. 

The RB ensured that the Benedictine life was intensely prayerful, being structured around the seven hours of the office alongside the night office of Matins. Above all else, the spiritual life of the monk was crucial and the RB outlines that the other pursuits of man are ordered to assist the spiritual. From the very first day of the noviciate, the monks are accustomed to “forsaking their own will…so as it were at the same instant the bidding of the master and perfect fulfilment of the disciple are joined together in the swiftness of the fear of God”.(15) In his prologue to the RB, St. Benedict describes the monastic community as a school, whose only aim is the “amendment of vices or the preservation of charity” in order that “we may by patience share in the sufferings of Christ, that we may deserve to be partakers of His kingdom”.(16) In this spirit of genuine filial devotion to God, the monk attends to his daily routine content that his every action is an offering to God. Even between their duties of manual labour or whilst to and from the recitation of the Divine Office, the rule prescribed that the monks pray the psalms, in order that no time be wasted in idleness.(17) This manner of life was evident in everything: for example, when the monastery was to receive guests, a mini liturgical ceremony was performed. The RB prescribes that the guest should be received by the community and then the body en masse should “first pray together, and then associate with one another in peace”.(18) Afterwards, the guest is accompanied by the Superior or his delegate to another period of prayer followed by the reading of the “law of God”, then the Abbot washes the hands of the guest, recognising Christ in him.(19) The Benedictine hospitality, about which history teaches, is founded upon this chapter of the RB, instructing the monk to follow the principles of the Gospel and treat his neighbour as Christ. 

Pope Gregory I, Gregory the Great - Dialogues, translated by Odo John Zimmerman, (Fathers of the Church Inc, New York, 1959) P55

Pope Gregory I, Gregory the Great - Dialogues, 56.

Pope Gregory I, Gregory the Great - Dialogues, 70

Fr Lechrich, Life of St. Benedict, (Burns and Oates, London, 1900) P237

Pope Gregory I, Gregory the Great - Dialogues, translated by Odo John Zimmerman, (Fathers of the Church Inc, New York, 1959) P107

Fr Lechrich, Life of St. Benedict, (Burns and Oates, London, 1900) P78

Lechrich, Life of St. Benedict, 80-81

Rule of St. Benedict, translated by D. Oswald Hunter Blair, (Icthus Publications, Middletown, 2018) 30

Lechrich, Life of St. Benedict, 83.

10 James G. Clark, The Benedictines in the Middle Ages, (The Boydell press, Woodbridge, 2014) Page 131

11 Clark, The Benedictines in the Middle Ages, 27.

12 Clark, The Benedictines in the Middle Ages, 36.

13 Clark, The Benedictines in the Middle Ages, 52.

14 Clark, The Benedictines in the Middle Ages, 50.

15 Rule of St. Benedict, 23.

16 Rule of St. Benedict, xiii

17 Clark, Benedictines in the Middle Ages, 94.

18 Rule of St. Benedict, Chap 53, p67

19 Ibid, 67.

Sunday, 5 July 2020

The Precious Blood

July is given to the devotion to the Most Precious Blood of Christ, a most fitting way to follow the month long devotion to the Sacred Heart. First through nurturing a devotion to the Sacred Heart, we can know the great love which God has for us, then through a devotion to the Precious Blood we can dwell on that blood which was sent for our salvation. The time of Lent and Passion-tide is perhaps a distant memory, but the Church provides this month, beginning with the feast of the Precious Blood, as an opportunity to recall the great sacrifice that Christ made of Himself. On Good Friday, Corpus Christ, the Sacred Heart feast and the Precious Blood feast, we have had occasion to dwell and meditate upon the mystery of Christ’s incarnation and redemptive death. Not satisfied with these feasts, we have now a month long period in which to renew our thoughts and meditations which are centred upon Christ crucified. Perhaps with the periods of Lent and Easter being now finished, it is easy to fall into old habits or lazy routines without great times of penance of feasting to focus the mind. Even the month of June is over, one with many beautiful feasts, and the year seems to be settling into a state of normality, with the focus predominantly on the secular holidays as the pinnacle of the year.

This is where the month of the Precious Blood is such a timely devotion to have for this month of July, for it is a chance to re-invigorate the spiritual life at a time when it is in all likelihood suffering from a lack of motivation. Fostering a devotion to the Precious Blood is a wonderful way in which to deepen our love of the Mass and the Holy Eucharist, particularly at a time when more widespread access to Mass is more possible. As we approach the altar rails once more, a question arises as to how this cruel deprivation of the Holy Eucharist has affected us. Has it made us more lukewarm of has it been the cause of a renewed zeal and love of Christ? There are few better devotions which can serve to spur us on in our pious return to the sacraments than that of the Precious Blood. When faced with the thought of the bruised and torn body of Christ, from which blood poured out for our salvation, then it is hard not to be moved in a returning motion of love.

A devotion to the Precious Blood is a devotion to the wounds of Christ and a love of the suffering Saviour. The same shedding of blood which His executioners intended to be but a part of the cruel torments and death, became the blood which washes over the members of His Church. “The executioners, after having lacerated the whole body, continue without mercy to lash the wounds already inflicted, and add pain to pain”.(1) The blood shed in each of the lashes of the scourge, when the crown of thorns was placed upon His head, in every fall, and in the nailing to the cross: all this was for each of us. This complete emptying of self to the point of death, was in order that there might be no hold of sin over man, nor slavery to the devil. It is this blood which washes and renews us, the blood of the Innocent being for man the water of life and salvation: “Go my soul, and wash thyself in the precious blood with which that fortunate floor is bathed”.(2)

A single drop of that Precious Blood would have been a more generous ransom than was needed for the entire world, yet this was not that which was given. Christ did not shed His blood whilst retaining some part for Himself: He shed it entirely, freely and without reserve. The saints constantly teach that such a selfless gift of the Almighty and Innocent Saviour, requires a similiar response from man. Take, for example, the daily occurrence of receiving an act of generosity. The charitable soul wishes to repay such an action in like manner. Yet this is no simple act of daily charity, but the immolation of God who desires to give of Himself in such a manner that He suffers death. This calls for a sacrifice of self in return; indeed, for the spiritual life, one might say that it requires such a self-sacrifice. “A single drop of Thy blood was sufficient to save me; but Thou dost wish to give me the entire of it without reserve, that I might give myself to Thee entirely and without reserve. Yes, my Jesus, I give my whole being to Thee without any reserve”.(3)

In forming a devotion to the Precious Blood, it is beneficial to avail of texts or meditations on the passion. Only by learning more of what Christ suffered can one truly come to gain an understanding of the proper response of love which is required. The Catholic faith is not built upon niceties or warm feelings, but upon the very real bloody torments and death of Christ. 

“It is true that this blood was first poured forth in the garden, and was also poured forth in the crowing with thorns, and by the driving in of the nails; but the largest portion was shed in the scourging, which was also a cause of great shame and insult to Jesus Christ, because this was a punishment inflicted only on slaves…It was revealed to St. Bridget that one of the executioners first commanded Jesus Christ to strip himself of his garments…The revelation stated that the stripes not only struck him, but ploughed into his most holy flesh. He was so torn open that, as the same revelation declares, his ribs appeared cut bare”.(4) Such are the words with which St. Alphonsus depicts the shedding of blood.

Nurturing a devotion to the Precious Blood is thus one of the surest ways to deepen a real and lively love of God. When we come face to face with such graphic depictions of the torments which He endured, it is nigh impossible not to be moved and to seek to console Him in the reciprocal offering of ourselves. In the month of July, we have such an opportunity to do so, through the private and public devotion to His Precious Blood. In gazing at a crucifix, particularly at a more graphic depiction of the image, one can note well the blood which is the price of our redemption. The tender love of God, which moved Him so to suffer and die, can only be honoured with a return of the same love. 

  1. St. Alphonsus Liguori, The Passion and Death of Jesus Christ, Simple Expositions on the Circumstances of the Passion: Chapter 9.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Ibid. 
  4. Liguori, The Passion and Death of Jesus Christ, Consideration on the Passion: Chapter 3.

Twenty-second Sunday after Pentecost: Imitate St Paul to effect the reign of Christ the King

  Dom Gueranger writes in his commentary for the twenty-second Sunday after Pentecost, that the Mass has references to the “days of the anti...