When the city of Rome had been devastated by fire in the year 64, the Emperor Nero launched a persecution against the Christians, who were thrown to the wild beasts in the arena or soaked in tar and used as living torches. Their deaths are documented in the writings of the Roman historian Tacitus and in Pope St Clement’s letter to the Corinthians. Their feast was celebrated the day after the feast of Saints Peter and Paul.
St Clement, third successor of St. Peter, writes: “It was through envy and jealousy that the greatest and most upright pillars of the Church were persecuted and struggled unto death.... First of all, Peter, who because of unreasonable jealousy suffered not merely once or twice but many times, and, having thus given his witness, went to the place of glory that he deserved. It was through jealousy and conflict that Paul showed the way to the prize for perseverance. He was put in chains seven times, sent into exile, and stoned; a herald both in the east and the west, he achieved a noble fame by his faith....” “Around these men with their holy lives there are gathered a great throng of the elect, who, though victims of jealousy, gave us the finest example of endurance in the midst of many indignities and tortures. Through jealousy women were tormented, like Dirce or the daughters of Danaus, suffering terrible and unholy acts of violence. But they courageously finished the course of faith and despite their bodily weakness won a noble prize.”
1000 MASS http://ustre.am/UCOl
“I do so love St Peter,” says a friend of mine. “Whenever he opens his mouth, he puts his foot in it”.
She is right, of course. Whatever else St Peter may be, he is not the model of a wise and noble hero. He walks on the water – but then panics and starts to sink. He makes the first profession of faith – and moments later blunders into error and is called Satan by the Lord. He refuses to be washed, and then, when the purpose is explained to him, demands to be washed all over. And, of course, he betrays his master soon after having been warned that he will and having sworn not to. If Peter is the rock on which the Church is built, what a fissured and friable rock it is! How much better, we think, to have chosen the Sons of Thunder, for their energy; or Judas Iscariot, for his financial acumen; or John, because he was loved the best.
The choosing of Peter teaches us a lesson. The Church’s foundation-stone and its first leader is not all-wise, all-knowing, good, heroic, and beautiful. He is a very ordinary man who makes about as many mistakes as we would in his place, and kicks himself for them just as thoroughly afterwards. If St Peter had been a hero, we could easily have despaired of ever becoming like him. If St Peter had been great, and noble, and good, we could have told ourselves that the Church is for the saints, despaired, sat down, and not bothered. But the Church is not just for saints: it is for confused, impetuous, cowardly people like us – or St Peter. The rock crumbles, the ropes are frayed, the wood is rotten – but, although that improbable building, the Church, is made of such inferior materials, it grows (on the whole) faster than it collapses, and it is grace that holds it together.
In the end, it was grace that gave the coward the courage to bear witness when it counted, grace that gave the fool the wisdom he needed to set the infant Church on her way, grace that taught the impetuous man patience and forbearance.
We none of us admire ourselves, however much we would like to; let us not try to admire St Peter either, but admire instead the grace he was given, and pray that, weak as we are, we may be given it too, and may use it.
St Paul is not an attractive figure today. We are still knee deep in the overripe fruit of late romanticism: we admire men who feel, not think; who enchant people into following them, not argue them into submission.
There is even, nowadays, a fashion for saying that Paul invented Christianity as we know it, that he set out with the cynical aim of fashioning an enduring institution; and that the real Christianity, the Christianity of Christ, is something quite different from and far nicer than the Christianity we know.
Yes, Paul’s mind did shape the early Church. Yes, without him things would have been different. And all the information that we have in the New Testament is entirely consistent with the whole thing being a Pauline conspiracy.
But so what? “Consistent with” is a treacherous phrase. The evidence of my eyes is entirely consistent with there being an invisible lion in my fireplace, because you can’t see invisible lions; but I still don’t believe there is one. I trust the world, I have faith in it, and invisible lions are not part of that faith. I trust God, I have faith in the Holy Spirit – I say so out loud on Sundays – and I believe that God called Saul because he needed him, and that the renamed Saul did and said what needed to be said and done.
Paul is not some cold and remote intellectual – just read the Epistles, and see if that stands up. Paul is always reminding people of his weakness – look, I know what I ought to do, and I keep on doing the opposite – look, I have this thorn in my flesh and God absolutely refuses to take it away. Paul is not all mind – he does have his troubles too.
But yes, Paul does have a mind, and that raises problems in an age that doesn’t, that uses “clever” as a term of abuse. Remember, though, that we are commanded to love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind, and with all our strength. Perhaps we cannot love St Paul very much nowadays; but let us at least pray for the grace to love God with our minds, as he did.
With thanks to Universalis
1900 SUNG MASS http://ustre.am/UCOl
Keeping vigils before major feasts is an ancient institution in the church, which was highly recommended by the early Fathers, for example St. Augustine and St. Jerome. The faithful would assemble in the church in the preceding evening and prepare themselves by prayers and readings; this later became the offices of first vespers and matins.
Mass was celebrated in the evening before first vespers. Towards morning, people returned to their homes to await the solemnities of the morning.
These vigils sometimes gave occasion to abuses, with the people dancing and drinking in the streets around the church. St. Jerome speaks of these abuses. So in the course of time, the number of vigils was greatly reduced, and eventually the overnight vigils were suppressed. Instead, a fast day before the feast was introduced. The custom of fasting on the day before a major feast in fact goes back much further, being referred to by writers of the early fifth century.
In the Latin church, only the older feasts have vigils, and those feasts introduced in recent centuries do not. Even major feasts like Corpus Christi and the Sacred Heart do not have vigils, though the Immaculate Conception was singled out by Pope Leo XIII as an exception.
More recently the practice of vigils has been encouraged once more.
1900 1st Vespers of SS Peter & Paul
1930 VIGIL MASS http://ustre.am/UCOl
There is a sense of urgency about discipleship – almost like emergency services responding to a crisis, in the Gospel today there is no time to wait for any normal human moments, no reason to delay: the hand must be placed immediately on the plough, the work must begin NOW! It can feel as though Jesus is being a little abrupt in this passage – even a little too intense! But it is a question of priorities: for the Lord, the work of salvation, or proclaiming the Gospel, brooks no delay. Perhaps this intensity is a valuable reminder for us – we can tend to “tame” Jesus, and forget that he was passionately and totally dedicated to the Mission his heavenly Father had entrusted to him – even to the point that he left Nazareth to become a homeless preacher with nowhere to lay his head.
Apart from Mary and Joseph,(and Our Holy Father S Benedict - Fr A ) John the Baptist is the only saint in the calendar who has two feasts to himself. One, in August, celebrates his death, and one, in June, celebrates his birth. And this is as it should be, for as Christ himself said, John was the greatest of the sons of men.
The greatest, but also the most tragic. A prophet from before his birth, leaping in the womb to announce the coming of the incarnate God, his task was to proclaim the fulfilment of all prophecies – and thus his own obsolescence. And he did it: with unequalled courage he spread the news that he, the greatest of all men, was the least in the kingdom of heaven. His disciples, and the devil, would have preferred him to fight, to build his sect, to defeat this upstart whom he himself had baptized, to seize his place in history. But he did not – and so, rightly, he has his place, and he has glory in heaven.
We envy the great and the talented, and sometimes we think that they themselves are beyond envy. But when they come across someone with greater gifts, as one day most of them will, they will see for the first time what it means to feel like us. Let us pray that they, like John the Baptist, may pass that test.
1130 Midday Prayer
1200 MASS http://ustre.am/UCOl
ST ETHELDREDA, queen and abbess of Ely. She was the daughter of the king of East Anglia. She was married twice before becoming a nun at Coldingham under her aunt St Ebbe. She founded the double monastery at Ely in 673 and died there in 679.
ST MILDRED, abbess. She was the daughter of St Ermenburga, princess of Kent. She became a nun at Minster in the abbey founded by her mother. She became the abbess at Minster in Thanet sometime before 694. She died in about 700.
St John Fisher (1469 - 1535)
He was born in Beverley, in Yorkshire, in 1469. He studied theology at the University of Cambridge, and had a successful career there, finally becoming chancellor of the University and bishop of Rochester: unusually for the time, he paid a great deal of attention to the welfare of his diocese.
He wrote much against the errors and corruption into which the Church had fallen, and was a friend and supporter of great humanists such as Erasmus of Rotterdam; but he was greatly opposed to Lutheranism, both in its doctrine and in its ideas of reform.
He supported the validity of King Henry VIII’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon, and for this he was briefly imprisoned. When the King had divorced Catherine, married Anne Boleyn, and constituted himself the supreme Head of the Church in England, John Fisher refused to assent. He was imprisoned in the Tower of London on a charge of treason, and on 22 June 1535, a month after having been made a Cardinal by the Pope, he was executed. He was so ill and weak that he had to be carried in a chair to the place of execution.
He was the only bishop to oppose Henry VIII’s actions, on the grounds that they were a repudiation of papal authority, but even so he avoided direct confrontation with the other bishops, not holding himself up as a hero or boasting of his coming martyrdom: I condemn no other man’s conscience: their conscience may save them, and mine must save me. We should remember, in all the controversies in which we engage, to treat our opponents as if they were acting in good faith, even if they seem to us to be acting out of spite or self-interest.
St Thomas More (1477 - 1535)
He was born in London, the son of a judge, and himself became an eminent lawyer. He married twice, and had four children. He was a humanist and a reformer, and his book, Utopia, depicting a society regulated by the natural virtues, is still read today.
Thomas More was a close friend of King Henry VIII. As a judge, he was famous for his incorruptibility and impartiality, and he was made Lord Chancellor – the highest legal position in England – in 1529.
When Henry VIII demanded a divorce from Catherine of Aragon, Thomas More opposed him. He resigned the chancellorship in 1532 and retired from public life; but he could not retire from his reputation, and so it was demanded that he take an oath to support the Act of Succession, which effectively repudiated papal religious authority. He refused, and was imprisoned in the Tower of London. After the execution of John Fisher, he was tried on the charge of high treason for denying the King’s supreme headship of the Church, found guilty, and sentenced to death. He went to his execution, on 6 July 1535, with a clear conscience and a light heart; he told the spectators that he was still “the king’s good servant – but God’s first,” and carefully adjusted his beard before he was beheaded.
He wrote a number of devotional works, some of the best of them while in prison awaiting trial. He fought his fight without acrimony, telling his judges that he wished that “we may yet hereafter in Heaven merrily all meet together to everlasting salvation.”
1900 MASS http://ustre.am/UCOl
Out of a seemingly innocent question comes the dark shadow of the cross: Jesus must teach his disciples that to be the “Anointed One”, “the Christ”, means to follow the path of sacrifice to the very end. He is not a King who comes with armies, but a King who comes with truth and humility, prepared to die for that truth about God’s Kingdom. But the mourning is always to be seen in the light of Easter - “being raised on the third day”, when “a fountain will be opened”, the fountain of Baptism and eternal life in the death and resurrection of the Lord.
I am hoping now that the problems with the website and the Blog are sorted!
WELCOME TO THE NEW BLOG
Something strange happened to the old blog page and it was posting in a very peculiar way, so I am hoping that this will sort it out.
It also reflects a slight change in the way I hope to use this blog. Rather than just details of the live stream I am hoping that it may reflect some of my Journey as a Benedictine in the House of Initia Nova. *
Ut In Omnibus Glorificetur Deus
"That in all things God may be glorified" - this is one of the Mottos of the Benedictines. Found in Chapter 57 of the Holy Rule and taken from 1Peter 4:11 that the labour of every monk and nun should be undertaken in obedience, faith, penance, and prayer so that God might be glorified in all things.
The Liturgy - Wednesday 8th June
0930 MASS http://ustre.am/UCOl
* Fore more information about teh House of Initia Nova OSB, do go to the website
ALL SAINTS CHURCH
Whats going on, liturgy, live streaming details, the ramblings of the Parish Priest.