Feast of St. Jude

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Prayer to St. Jude

St. Jude, apostle and epistler
Blood of the line of David,
Of the nuptial wine Christ created,
Of the claret of that paschal vintner
That washed the Shroud thou didst deliver

Martyr of that very vintage,
If I drink of Christ’s same chalice
Tinctured by His merry Image
Pray mercy let me envisage
Feasts eternal in heaven’s palace.

Commentary

St. Jude, apostle and epistler

St. Jude, or St. Judas Thaddaeus, is one of the twelve apostles of our Lord, and his Epistle is part of the canon of Scripture. Judas, from Judah, in Hebrew means “praised.” Etymologically, “apostle” is derived from the Greek apostolos meaning “messenger, envoy,” literally “person sent forth,” whereas “epistle” from the Greek epistole means “message, letter, command, commission.” St. Jude is indeed a messenger worthy of praise whose commission it is to preach the Gospel.

Blood of the line of David

St. Jude, as the son of Mary of Cleophas (the sister-in-law of St. Joseph), is a cousin of Jesus, and like Jesus is a descendant of King David.

Of the nuptial wine Christ created

This verse, along with the two subsequent verses, is read in continuity with the immediately preceding verse. Thus, this verse is read: “Blood…of the nuptial wine Christ created.” The blood of man is identified with the blood of the grape in biblical simile, and here St. Jude is associated with the wine Christ miraculously created at the wedding of Cana, a wedding for which St. Jude was in attendance, some even identifying him as the bridegroom. As the wine at this wedding feast is a type of the Eucharist, i.e., the blood of Christ, St. Jude partaking of this wine at the wedding feast can be seen as a precursor to St. Jude’s participation in the passion of Christ through St. Jude’s martyrdom. A participation also contemplated by the petitioner in the below verse: “If I drink of Christ’s same chalice.”

Of the claret of that paschal vintner

Again, this verse should be read, “Blood…of the claret of that paschal vintner.” Of all types of wine, claret is that most identified with blood. While the previous verse associates St. Jude with the wedding of Cana, this verse more deeply links him, again by virtue of St. Jude’s martyrdom, with Christ’s passion, which itself is being described metaphorically as claret. This verse is also consonant with the scriptural and traditional representation of Christ as both wine and wine-press.

That washed the Shroud thou didst deliver

This verse is read in continuity with the immediately preceding verse, as “Blood…of the claret of that paschal vintner that washed the Shroud thou didst deliver.” The focus of the previous verse on Christ as the vintner is important, as the imagery in the present verse is of the blood-stained cloth. Taken together, these verses recall the fulfillment of the prophecy, “He shall wash his robe in wine, and his garment in the blood of the grape.” Genesis 49:11. They also recall the reply to the question, “why then is thy apparel red, and thy garments like theirs that tread in the wine-press?” Isaiah 63:2.

The garments that are washed or stained are the burial garments in which Christ was buried, i.e., the Shroud of Turin. St. Jude’s connection with the Shroud is through what is known as the “Image of Edessa,” which is likely the same item as the Shroud. A tradition holds that St. Jude delivered this image of Jesus to the ailing king of Edessa, who was healed of his illness and converted.

Martyr of that very vintage

St. Jude was martyred in Syria, being killed by either a club or an ax. While all Christians partake in the passion of Christ by virtue of their own sufferings, martyrs certainly to the fullest extent are pressed in the same vintage as Christ’s own passion by virtue of their martyrdom.

If I drink of Christ’s same chalice

The mother of the Sons of Zebedee’s inquired of Christ whether her sons could sit on his right and on his left in heaven. After Jesus responded, he asked whether the sons “could drink the cup that [he] would drink,” in reference to his passion. Then he said that they may have to do so. Here, the petitioner begins an inquiry of St. Jude with a hypothetical, namely, “if the petitioner should indeed have to drink of the chalice from which Christ drank, i.e., martyrdom or a spiritual martyrdom.”

Tinctured by His merry Image

In this verse, the petitioner reemphasizes the specific type of death to which he refers, namely, martyrdom, by adding onto “Christ’s same chalice” the description “tincture by His merry Image.” The Eucharistic imagery is resonant. Intinction is the dipping of the consecrated bread in the Precious Blood. “His merry image” recalls the true presence of Christ in the Eucharist. The use of “merry” adds one more element to the mix, the paradox of joy amidst suffering.

Pray mercy let me envisage

The petitioner prays to St. Jude for that which is not yet seen by him. As the saint for the hopeless and despaired, the plea for a vision or a reason for hope is particularly appropriate.

Feasts eternal in heaven’s palace

The vision for which the petitioner asks is the heavenly banquet. Such a feast couples well with the wine of martyrdom, by which the petitioner’s palate is whet. The petitioner asks for hope that his suffering will be rewarded in heaven.

 

 

*A note on the rhyme scheme: The prayer’s rhyme scheme changes from ABBAA in the first stanza to ABAAB in the second stanza to reflect the shift from praise of the saint to the petition proper.

St. Jude’s Day Blessing

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St. Jude Oil is a sacramental. We received this oil from a friend, Fr. James Moore, from the Dominican Shrine of St. Jude Thaddeus in San Francisco. The oil is blessed with a relic of St. Jude by a priest using the following formula according to the Church’s Book of Blessings:

God of compassion, mercy, and love, in the midst of the pain and suffering of the world, your Son came among us to heal our infirmites and soothe our wounds. Bless this oil in honor of St. Jude, in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and may all who use it be blessed with health of mind and body.

On St. Jude’s Day, we of course give Jude a blessing with this holy oil.  Drawing on the tradition of St. Jude delivering a cloth with the image of Christ on it, we also bless a cloth with this oil and have Jude choose a lucky recipient.

St. Jude, pray for us.

Baptism of the Bells

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The Angelus, by Jean-Francois Millet

Reminiscent of those medieval European villages, my home village, Mission Hills, in Omaha, Nebraska has as its center a Catholic Church, St. Stephen the Martyr, and bell towers guarding each of the “village gates.”

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Mission Hills monuments at every entrance of the neighborhood.

While these bell towers do have bells, they have no clappers. Nevertheless, following the early winter morning when Cecily and I were engaged, on that snowy night driving to dinner, our first stop was at those bells to give them a good ring . No greater contrast has there been between the sonorous spirit and the sonorous sound of the ringing of a bell.

Months later, the hour before our wedding during our blind exchange of gifts, Cecily gave me a crucifix and I gave her a poem I wrote and a bell engraved with our names. The crucifix hangs in our bedroom now, and the bell, which we ring every night for its blessing, rests on our family altar.

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Technically a dinner bell, but we use it at our family altar.

Here are the verses I delivered to Cecily with the bell on that day:

Wedding Bells

Bells are rung when battles won,
And you and I may boast
That we are victors, one and one,
By grace of God we toast!

Home is made our palisade,
Love, our loaves and fish.
We are bade each other’s aid,
To want each other’s wish.

Bells do ring when angels sing,
For us the choir’s chorus
Offers rings that angels bring
Brought from Heaven’s fortress.

Hearts in harmony are set,
The rings do wear well,
Woven round our fingers blest,
As sound rims on two bells.

Bells resound when kings are crowned
With queens at coronation.
And we, my dear, now here avowed
Bare chimes of consecration.

The bells stay well tuned with other poems as well, for example, this one written on St. Valentine’s Day during the first year of our marriage:

From the beginning,
Bells would ring
Whenever two did kiss.

And when bells did ring
Angels would sing
To resound the earthly bliss.

The sacred use of bells in the liturgy and life of the church naturally follows from the logic of romance. The wedding bells and dinner bells of the domestic church become the church bells and altar bells of the parish church, the diverse uses of which were once inscribed on such bells with a verse or two:

Laudo Deum verum plebem voco congrego clerum
Defunctos ploro, nimbum fugo, festa decoro.

[I praise the true God, I call the people, I assemble the clergy;
I bewail the dead, I dispense storm clouds, I do honor to feasts.]

These bells distribute grace and proclaim God’s love to all who hear them by virtue of their sacramental nature and their emulation of the voice of God. Every creature, even Christ’s garment (Luke 8:44), St. Paul’s handkerchief (Acts 19:12), St. Peter’s shadow (Acts 5:15), water, spit, dirt, fire, breath, oil, and the ringing sound of a bell may disseminate God’s grace, since Christ’s incarnation permeates all of creation.

This Trinity Sunday was the Solemn Blessing and Consecration of the St. Barnabas Bell at St. Barnabas Church (A Roman Catholic, Anglican Use Community of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter) in Omaha. The bell, given the name Leo after St. Leo the Great, was blessed by The Most Rev’d Elden F. Curtiss, Archbishop Emeritus of Omaha (who incidentally, Confirmed me in the faith, making Leo and I practically brothers).

Leo
Adorned with pomegranates, an ancient symbol of eternity, and reminiscent of the bells and pomegranates adorning the high priest’s vestments in Exodus 39:24

Following the chanting of Psalms, the Archbishop exorcised and blessed the salt and water and blessed the bell therewith in a ritual reminiscent of baptism. Then more Psalms were chanted. He then signed the bell, first with the Oil of the Sick, then with the Sacred Chrism, saying:

May this bell, O Lord, be sanctified and consecrated.
In the Name of the Father, and of the son, and of the Holy Spirit.
In honor of St. Leo, peace be with thee.

After more Psalms were chanted, the Gospel account of Christ’s visit to Martha and Mary was read:

Now it came to pass as they went, that he entered into a certain town: and a certain woman named Martha, received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sitting also at the Lord’s feet, heard his word. But Martha was busy about much serving. Who stood and said: Lord, hast thou no care that my sister hath left me alone to serve? speak to her therefore, that she help me. And the Lord answering, said to her: Martha, Martha, thou art careful, and art troubled about many things: But one thing is necessary. Mary hath chosen the best part, which shall not be taken away from her. (Luke 10:38-42)

This Gospel reveals, inter alia, the purpose of the Angelus bell, rung at 6:00 a.m., noon, and 6:00 p.m. As the painting, “The Angelus,” depicts, a husband and wife stop in the field to pray upon hearing the Angelus bell of the church in the background. While the Marthian duties of marriage and family life, although filled with the rich tonalities of domestic bells, necessitate tending to things of ordinary life (1 Corinthians 7:33-35), church bells invite all to “hear his word,” to stop for a moment and experience the Marian life of those clergy and religious who have chosen the best part (Matthew 19:10-12).

Feast of Sts. Perpetua and Felicitas

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“But respecting Felicitas (for to her also the Lord’s favour approached in the same way), when she had already gone eight months with child (for she had been pregnant when she was apprehended), as the day of the exhibition was drawing near, she was in great grief lest on account of her pregnancy she should be delayed — because pregnant women are not allowed to be publicly punished — and lest she should shed her sacred and guiltless blood among some who had been wicked subsequently. Moreover, also, her fellow martyrs were painfully saddened lest they should leave so excellent a friend, and as it were companion, alone in the path of the same hope. Therefore, joining together their united cry, they poured forth their prayer to the Lord three days before the exhibition. Immediately after their prayer her pains came upon her, and when, with the difficulty natural to an eight months’ delivery, in the labour of bringing forth she was sorrowing, some one of the servants of the Cataractarii said to her, You who are in such suffering now, what will you do when you are thrown to the beasts, which you despised when you refused to sacrifice? And she replied, Now it is I that suffer what I suffer; but then there will be another in me, who will suffer for me, because I also am about to suffer for Him. Thus she brought forth a little girl, which a certain sister brought up as her daughter.”

“Moreover, Felicitas, rejoicing that she had safely brought forth, so that she might fight with the wild beasts; from the blood and from the midwife to the gladiator, to wash after childbirth with a second baptism.”

(From the diary of St. Perpetua, augmented by an eye witness of her martyrdom and edited by Tertullian)

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St. Felicity –O happy martyr!
Twice blessed with baptismal grace,
Offer praises with heavenly psalter
To the Holy Spirit, Son, and Father,
And kisses of perpetual peace.

And in the garden of humility
Pray God grants thy spiritual daughter,
If I suffer for His divinity,
The fortitude in femininity
To meet thee at the sacred altar.

 

Continuing the tradition: http://cloudysymbolsofhighromance.blogspot.com/2015/03/felicitys-first-feast-day.html

The Romance of Mortality

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That St. Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday fall on the same day this year deepens the realities contemplated by both, for the former presupposes the latter.

In this dreary February is recognized Ash Wednesday, that preeminent solemnity of fasting and reflecting on mortality. All days of fasting and mortification, from Good Friday, to the ember days and rogations days, to Ash Wednesday are designed to subordinate man’s passions to his will, in order to allow his whole person all the more perfectly to express his love for God and neighbor. Fasting and all suffering and self-denial bring man out of himself and give him an acute awareness of the world around him. Just as God brings good out of evil in all ages, even as he brought the salvation of the world out of the passion of His Son, man can bring good out of his suffering by ordering it toward his beloved’s good. Such is also the nature of the romantic love celebrated on St. Valentine’s Day.

St. Valentine, that saint known for performing secret marriages between Christians during a time when the same was punishable by death, that saint who was martyred for that very act, and that saint whose ashes are still venerated on the Via Flaminia to the north of Rome, is celebrated with a feast for both lovers and martyrs.

St. Valentine’s Day celebrates romance, which is usually characterized extraneously by friendship love and erotic love, by strong emotions, desires, and predilections, i.e., the passions. The term “passions” refers to those movements of the soul inclining man to possess a perceived good. They connect the life of the senses and the life of the mind. The passions react to the senses, but as our Lord says, man’s heart is the source from which the passions spring. CCC 1764. Mark 7:21. In other words, where your heart is, there will your passions be also.

But romance encompasses more than mere friendship or eros, more than mere passions. For the real measure of romance is not the heart, but the will. Man’s inclinations are not acts of love, but merely the affections of the sensitive appetite. Love is willing the good of another even and especially when doing so requires control of the passions, i.e., when willing requires suffering.

The popular characterizations of St. Valentine’s Day are not lost in this understanding, but enriched. In addition to any other meaning they might have, flowers, music… “etc.”… can be seen almost as metaphors of the philosophy of romance. For instance, it could be said that the soul’s passions are those flowers of romance presentable to another only if arranged by the will; or that a lady loves not only a knight’s shining armor, but the fact that his passions are reined by his will; or that the dance of romance is governed by that certain musica humana that before rendering two persons in harmony with one another, must first render the components of man’s soul, man’s body, and the relation of man’s soul to his body in one accord. All these show the shared language of popular romance with romantic love.

St. Valentine’s Day also celebrates the romance of martyrdom, for St. Valentine was truly a martyr for love. Any romantic would affirm that at the heart of romance is sacrificial love, which is the greatest form of love. John 15:13. And just as no one can be a true lover without denying himself, so too no one can be a martyr without laying down his life. The fittingness of these two days then, is also that the martyr celebrated on St. Valentine’s Day is only able to lay down his life because of the very mortality recognized on Ash Wednesday. In this can be recognized the paradox of romance that embraces both lovers and martyrs, namely, that the inevitabilities of Ash Wednesday create the romance of St. Valentine’s Day. Put in another way and in another season, it must not be forgotten that beneath the confetti strewn streets of Rome are the catacombs of Christ’s saints, just as underlying the spirit of Carnevale is that of Septuagesima, the whole exuberance of the former being the knowledge of the latter: to eat, drink, be merry, and love, for tomorrow is Ash Wednesday. Ecclesiastes 8:15. But the romance of mortality is that polyphiloprogenitive quality of lovers and martyrs, that quality that produces many children, that quality that creates a new end for man, for while man will die, he will also be resurrected into new life, together with all those who benefited from his suffering and sacrifice.

Poem/prayer:

Saint Valentine, patron of valiant love
who, elevating husbands and wives
to Cana’s sacramental wines,
set the romance of martyrdom above
pomegranates and chocolate troves,

pray for us, that the light of Christ
illumine this house in such wise
that its dwellers may in their lives
know Him to be very God and not miss
the path that leads to heavenly bliss.

Commentary to poem/prayer:

Saint Valentine, patron of valiant love St. Valentine is patron of valiant love, that particular love the pursuit of which is difficult but worthwhile.
Who, elevating husbands and wives The marriages St. Valentine performed in secret were not natural marriages merely, but were elevated to the dignity of a sacrament by virtue of the couples’ baptisms.
To Cana’s sacramental wines, Christian marriage is here referred to as Cana’s sacramental wines, wine being the quintessential sacramental element, and the new wine of Cana signifying the grace which Christ effects in the lives of those who experience the sacrament of holy matrimony.
Set the romance of martyrdom above True romance is characterized by suffering, which any romantic would affirm, and yet is not suffering only, but a suffering that has as its end the love of another. Hence, both valiant love and martyrdom may easily be seen to be romantic. It is no wonder the word has as its namesake Rome, the place of both lovers and martyrs.
Pomegranates and chocolate troves These gifts from God are also archtypes of erotic love, and are set below romance, for though such may be included, they are not of the essence of romance.
Pray for us, that the light of Christ This is a paraphrase from St. Valentine’s own prayer from the Golden Legend.
Illumine this house in such wise In his prayer, St. Valentine prays for God not only to illumine the blind daughter of the judge in whose custody he finds himself, but also for the whole house to be made illumined spiritually.
That its dwellers may in their lives
Know Him to be God and not miss In the Parliament of Foules (the poem containing the earliest references to the idea that St. Valentine’s Day is a special day for lovers), Scipio asks the way to heaven of his grandfather, who replies in essence, first know your eternal end, who is God, then work busily in light of that end in order not to miss the path (St. Valentine’s Via Flaminia) to the gate Christ opened and which leads to heavenly bliss.
 The path that leads to heavenly bliss

[Calendary day] [Date]

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Lauds (6:00 a.m.): Calendary

TemporaleScripture
SanctoraleSaint of the Day

Terce (9:00 a.m.): Scholae

Years 0-2: Schola CantorumLesson
Years 2-4: LanguageLesson
Years 5-6: 
Literature: Lesson
Years 7-8: 
Logic: Lesson
Years 9-10: 
Art: Lesson
Years 11-12: 
Science: Lesson
Years 13-14: 
Aristology: Lesson
Years 15-16: 
Historia: Lesson
Years 17-18: Philosophy: Lesson

Sext (12:00 p.m.): Angelus

None (3:00 p.m.): Estate

OratoryDevotion
GardensTask
Gymnasium: Workout
Music RoomPractice

Vespers (6:00 p.m.): Dinner

Compline (9:00 p.m.): Family Prayers

Matins (12:00 a.m.): Sleep

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