Monday, May 18, 2009

Novena to St Philip Neri: 2nd Day

Philip Neri ever counselled his disciples to read saint's lives, to be attent to sermons, to be assiduous in prayer, to be habitues of the confessional. He lived in close communion with the saints of primitive times, and so would have gladly celebrated the Mass and Office of to-day's saint, Venantius, a martyr at Camerino under Decius - just as he hailed the students of the English College with the words Salvete flores martyrum, recognizing them as worthy heirs of the faithful of old, who would stand fast for Christ unto death.

One of Philip's devotees used to say,

"When I consider my sins I feel myself a lost man; but through the prayers of Father Philip I hope to be saved."

With such thoughts in mind, pray Newman's Litany of St Philip; and consult Fr Faber's meditation on St Philip, which I published here last year...
This is the Collect of St Venantius:

Deus, qui hunc diem beati Venantii Martyris tui triumpho consecrasti: exaudi preces populi tui, et praesta; ut qui ejus merita veneramur, fidei constantiam imitemur. Per...

(God, Who hast consecrated this day to the triumph of blessed Venantius Thy Martyr: hear the prayers of Thy people, and grant, that we who revere his merits, may imitate the constancy of his faith. Through...)

The Martyr's triumph is the irruption in his life of the Paschal Victory of Christ: it ought be for us not merely a cause of passing joy, but a serious call to imitation of such faith, a stedfast witness to Our Lord usque ad mortem - as the Apostle said, "Imitate me, as I imitate Christ." (I Cor. xi, 1.)
Apparently Pope Clement X was previously bishop of Camerino (a small town in the Marches of the Papal States), and he it was who composed the proper Office hymns for the feast of St Venantius, the patron of his former see:

Matins Hymn

Athleta Christi nobilis
Idola damnat gentium,
Deique amore saucius
Vitae pericla despicit.

Loris revinctus asperis,
E rupe praeceps volvitur:
Spineta vultum lancinant:
Per saxa corpus scinditur.

Dum membra raptant martyris,
Languent siti satellites:
Signo crucis Venantius
E rupe fontes elicit.

Bellator o fortissime,
Qui perfidis tortoribus
E caute praebes poculum,
Nos rore gratiae irriga.

Sit laus Patri, sit Filio,
Tibique sancte Spiritus:
Da per preces Venantii
Beata nobis gaudia. Amen.

Noble champion of the Lord!
Armed against idolatry!
In thy fervent zeal for God
Death had naught of fear for thee.

Bound with thongs, thy youthful form
Down the rugged steep they tear,
Jagged rock and rending thorn
All thy tender flesh lay bare.

Spent with toil, the savage crew,
Fainting, sinks with deadly thirst;
Thou the cross dost sign; and lo!
From the rock the waters burst.

Saintly warrior-prince! who thus
thy tormentors couldst forgive;
Pour the dew of grace on us,
Bid our fainting spirits live.

To thee, O Father, with the Son
And Holy Spirit, glory be;
Oh, grant us through thy martyr's prayer
The joys of immortality. Amen.

Lauds Hymn

Dum nocte pulsa lucifer
Diem propinquam nuntiat,
Nobis refert Venantius
Lucis beatae munera.

Nam criminum caliginem,
Stygisque noctem depulit,
Veroque cives lumine
Divinitatis imbuit.

Aquis sacri baptismatis
Lustravit ille patriam:
Quos tinxit unda milites,
In astra misit martyres.

Nunc angelorum particeps,
Adesto votis supplicum:
Procul repelle crimina,
Tuumque lumen ingere.

Sit laus Patri, sit Filio,
Tibique sancte Spiritus:
Da per preces Venantii
Beata nobis gaudia. Amen.

The golden star of morn
Is climbing in the sky;
The birthday of Venantius
Awakes the Church to joy.

His native land in depths
Of pagan darkness lay;
He o'er her guilty regions poured
The light of heavenly day.

Her in baptismal streams
Of grace he purified;
E'en those who came to take his life,
With him as martyrs died.

With the angels now he shares
Those joys which never cease;
Look down on us, O Spirit blest,
And send us gifts of peace.

Praise to the Father, Son,
And, Holy Ghost, to thee,
Oh, grant us through thy martyr's prayer
A blest eternity. Amen.

Vespers Hymn

Martyr Dei Venantius,
Lux et decus Camertium,
Tortore victo et judice,
Laetus truimphum concinit.

Annis puer, post vincula,
Post carceres, post verbera,
Longa fame frementibus
Cibus datur leonibus.

Sed ejus innocentiae
Parcit leonum immanitas,
Pedesque lambunt martyris,
Irae famisque immemores.

Verso deorsum vertice
Haurire fumum cogitur:
Costas utrimque et viscera
Succensa lampas ustulat.

Sit laus Patri, sit Filio,
Tibique sancte Spiritus:
Da per preces Venantii
Beata nobis gaudia. Amen.

Venantius, hail! God's martyr bright,
thy country's honour and her light;
Who didst with joy thy triumph sing,
thy judge and tortures conquering.

A child in years, he heeds no pain,
Nor dungeon damp, nor galling chain;
The tender youth for food is thrown
To lions, mad with hunger grown.

O wondrous sight! the beasts of prey
Their food reject, and turn away;
Then tamely lick the martyr's feet,
A tribute to his virtue meet.

Then downwards hung, his mouth exposed
To clouds of smoke beneath disposed,
Whilst with slow torches, burning clear,
His naked breasts and sides they sear.

Praise to the Father, and the Son,
And Holy Spirit, Three in One;
Oh! grant that through this martyr's prayer,
Your blissful joy we all may share. Amen.

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