Saturday, April 25, 2009

St Mark and St Fidelis

Martyrdom and Eastertide go together: the Victory of Christ is the Triumph of the Martyrs.

Apostles and Evangelists in Eastertide, and Martyrs, too, have a special Common in the Breviary; for this reason, yesterday St Fidelis and to-day St Mark share the same versicle and Benedictus antiphon at Lauds; firstly, "Precious in the sight of the Lord, alleluia, is the death of His saints, alleluia" (Ps 115:6), then:

Filiæ Jerusalem, venite et videte Martyres cum coronis, quibus coronavit eos Dominus in die solemnitatis et lætitiæ, alleluia, alleluia.

(Ye daughters of Jerusalem, come and behold the Martyrs with the crowns with which the Lord crowned them on the day of solemnity and joy, alleluia, alleluia.)

- an exhortation to the Church militant and triumphant to rejoice in the endless victory the Martyrs have won by the grace of Christ, Who in crowning the Saints, does but crown His own gifts; an exhortation which mirrors and alludes to this text (Cant. iii, 11):

Egredimini et videte, filiæ Sion, regem Salomonem in diademate quo coronavit illum mater sua in die desponsationis illius, et in die lætitiæ cordis ejus.

(Go forth, ye daughters of Sion, and see king Solomon in the diadem, wherewith his mother crowned him in the day of his espousals, and in the day of the joy of his heart.)

- which is held prophetically to refer to Christ, the true Solomon, that is, the King of Peace, and calls upon the Church to behold Him incarnate to save us, and risen again in victory on Easter morn.


While this day we pray in his Collect that St Mark's erudition may profit us - for his Gospel teaches us the doctrine of Christ our God - and his prayer ever defend us, yesterday's Collect is if anything more urgent and striking in its Counter-reformation stedfastness against Protestant evils, begging that, by the merits and intercession of so blessed a son of the Seraphic St Francis, having been graced with the beauteous palm of martyrdom and with the working of great wonders in the service of the propagation of the Faith, we too may by grace be strengthened in faith, yes, and in charity too, that we may merit to be found faithful servants of the Lord unto death:

O God, Who didst deign to beautify blessed Fidelis, his spirit on fire with ardor Seraphic, in the propagation of the true Faith with the palm of martyrdom and glorious miracles, we beg, by his merits and intercession so to be confirmed in faith and charity by Thy grace, that in Thy service we may deserve to be found faithful unto death.  Through...

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