Sunday, July 13, 2008

St John Gualbert, Abbot; SS Nabor & Felix, Martyrs

One Good Friday in the early 11th Century, John Gualbert, accompanied by armed retainers, met his brother's murderer unarmed and alone in the streets of Florence. He was about to slay him, when the homicide threw himself down, begging forgiveness for love of Christ Crucified - and, touched by grace, John was converted from hatred to love. In due course he cast aside the world and became a monk, founding monasteries and preaching against simony and other immorality and faithlessness, to great success.

St Ambrose tells us that SS Nabor and Felix were slain for Christ at Milan by the wicked Diocletian, who, as it is said, appears on every page of the Martyrology, but was no saint. Pretiosa in conspectu Domini mors peccatorum ejus: "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints" - but mors peccatorum pessima: "the death of sinners is the worst". Let us fear Hell, the eternal place of punishment for the unrepentant wicked, such as tyrants and murderers, and let us rather die than lose Heaven, where God is seen and loved forever.

This is the proper Gospel, St Matthew v, 43-48, for today's Mass (otherwise taken from the Common of Abbots), teaching forgiveness of enemies, intercession for them, love and compassion for them - and the superadded duty for all Christians of striving for holiness and perfection, as St John did by embracing the monastic vocation:

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples:
You have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thy enemy. But I say to you, Love your enemies: do good to them that hate you: and pray for them that persecute and calumniate you: That you may be the children of your Father who is in heaven, who maketh his sun to rise upon the good, and bad, and raineth upon the just and the unjust. For if you love them that love you, what reward shall you have? do not even the publicans this? And if you salute your brethren only, what do you more? do not also the heathens this? Be you therefore perfect, as also your heavenly Father is perfect.

The holy martyrs of today have their proper orations; by 'birthday' is meant their day of death to this world and therefore of their birth into the next, their dies natalis, the beginning of their true and everlasting life with Christ:

Præsta, quæsumus, Domine: ut, sicut nos sanctorum Martyrum tuorum Náboris et Felicis natalitia celebranda non deserunt; ita jugiter suffragiis comitentur. Per...

(Grant, we beseech Thee, Lord, that, as the birthdays of Thy holy Martyrs Nabor and Felix have not ceased to be celebrated, so by their suffrages they may ever accompany us. Through...)

Munera plebis tuæ, quæsumus, Domine, sanctorum Martyrum tuorum Náboris et Felicis fiant grata suffragiis: et quorum triumphis tuo nomini offeruntur, ipsorum digna perficiantur et meritis. Per...

(We beseech Thee, Lord, may the suffrages of Thy holy Martyrs Nabor and Felix render acceptable the gifts of Thy people offered to Thy name: may they be found worthy by both their triumphs and merits. Through... )

Natalitiis Sanctorum tuorum, quæsumus, Domine: ut, sacramenti munere vegetati, bonis, quibus per tuam gratiam nunc fovemur, perfruamur æternis. Per...

(On the birthdays of Thy Saints, we beseech Thee, Lord: that, restored by the gift of the Sacrament, we may enjoy those eternal goods, with which by Thy grace we are now refreshed. Through...)

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