Saturday, July 12, 2008

Feast of St Oliver Plunket: Domine, Adauge nobis fidem!

In the traditional calendar for Australia, the 11th of July is the 3rd class feast of St Oliver Plunket(t), Bishop and Martyr (1629-1681). An Irishman, he was brought up by his relative Dom Patrick Plunket, Abbot of St Mary's, Dublin, and went to Rome to study for the priesthood, where he excelled in his studies and exercised a fruitful and holy ministry in the service of Holy Church. In 1669 he was made Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, and likewise did great things back in his native land, then sore oppressed by the Protestant English. On trumped-up charges he was deported to London and barbarously executed at Tyburn on the 1st of July 1681, as a holy martyr, a victorious athlete of Christ, enduring all to witness to our Holy Faith. His Mass and Office is from the Common, apart from the third Lesson and the orations, as follows:

Deus, qui pro tuenda Catholica fide beatum Oliverium Martyrem tuum atque Pontificem, admirabili spiritus fortitudine imbuere dignatus es: concede nobis, ejus intercessione et exemplo, ut ipsius in fide constantiam imitemur, et in periculis patrocinia sentiamus. Per...

Clementissime Deus, munera hæc tua benedictione perfunde, et nos in fide confirma: quam beatus Oliverius Martyr et Pontifex tuus immani supplicii genere adseruit. Per... *

Spiritum, Domine, fortitudinis hæc nobis tribuat mensa caelestis: quae beati Oliverii Martyris tui atque Pontificis vitam pro Ecclesiæ honore jugiter aluit ad victoriam. Per... *

(* Note that the secret prayer is almost the same as that of that other Counter-reformation martyr for Catholic unity, St Josaphat, Bishop of Polotsk (d. 1623): Clementissime Deus, munera hæc tua benedictione perfunde, et nos in fide confirma: quam _sanctus_Josaphat_ Martyr et Pontifex tuus, _effuso_sanguine,_ asseruit. Per...; likewise, their postcommunion is identical (but for the substitution of sancti Josaphat for beati Oliverii.)

The central crisis of modern Catholicism is precisely a lack of faith, a lack of belief in or adherence to the truth and the truths of our Catholic Faith: that is why so many are so lukewarm, why Catholicism appears tired, boring, timorous and repellent, fit to be vomited forth (cf. Apoc. iii, 16). St Oliver Plunket ought, I believe, be invoked to obtain that necessary increase in faith, without which it is impossible to please God (cf. Heb. xi, 6): only by being strengthened in faith, God's supernatural gift of infused intellectual virtue, can we "run with patience to the fight set before us, looking towards the author and finisher of faith, Jesus" Christ our Lord, "having a great cloud of witnesses over us," the saints perfected in the kingdom of Christ in heaven (Heb. xii, 1-2).

Some Byzantine-style compositions of mine addressed to St Oliver Plunket:

The ravening evil of heretics thou didst trample down by thy Christlike passion, O high priest of God, thou true Martyr; as Shepherd of our Lord's flock attacked by wolves, Oliver, thou wert an angel of peace, preaching Truth against lies and unjust warmongers: as God's grace didst save thee, obtain from us from the Trinity great mercy.

Great Martyr Oliver, as thou didst triumph over the insane malice of thy devil-duped foes, confounding their false religion by thy constancy in torment, obtain from us from Christ-God that faith that shall overcome the world, and save our souls!

Domine, Adauge nobis fidem!

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