I have a little prayer book entituled My God, My Mercy (quoting Psalm 68:18b - Deus meus, misericordia mea); this line one strikes each Wednesday at None in the Breviary, and to-day (being sick at home) I had the sudden inspiration (after a very spiritually dismal time) of reading the full Office again, which has at least restored my spirits while being insufficient penance for my sins, double-mindedness and backslidings.
(By special grant of the Holy See,
St Stephen and all his successors down to
Bl Charles, last Emperor of Austria and King of Hungary,
had the right to have the Cross carried before them.)
St Stephen the Confessor, King and Apostle of Hungary! What a figure, the flower of Magyar piety and chivalry, the Duke who led his nation to Christ, promoted the Church everywhere for the salvation of his people, received the crown of Hungary from the Pope himself, and, ever-devoted to the Holy Mother of God, whom he had declared Patroness of Hungary, was taken up to heaven at her intercession on the very day of her Assumption, called in Hungary the Day of the Great Lady. As his collect prays, may the Almighty grant St Stephen to be a potent fighter for the Church from heaven, who on earth was her zealous propagator.
(Note that his feast is kept some days earlier, on the 20th of August, in the new Calendar, and is a public holiday in Hungary - it is the anniversay of the translation of his relics to Buda.)
(The Holy Right Hand, principal relic of St Stephen:
with this hand he ministered to the sick and poor,
and it was preserved as a signal sign of his charity
while the rest of his body crumbled into dust.)
I liked, too, reading and praying the Wednesday psalms, some of them especially familiar to me nowadays by their continual reappearance in the Little Office, but some of them old friends not seen for some time: Pss 44, 45, 47, 48, 49 and 50 at Matins (a very happy sequence on which I've blogged before); Pss 96, 64, 100, 145 and the Canticle of Judith (xvi, 15-21) at Lauds; at Prime and the Little Hours, Pss 25, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59. (Vespers will be from the second half of the Gradual Psalms, including the beautiful Ps 131, Memento Domine David, and Compline uses Pss 33 and 60.) There's nothing quite like a Psalm.
I took the time also to read the Martyrology: such saints! What am I in comparison; what am I called to be...
As always, one reads the Martyrology for the next day, as a kind of holy advance notification: to-morrow brings (for Traddies) Pope St Pius X (may he pray for the Church, to drive away all Modernism, to redouble worthy reception of the Eucharist, and to restore peace and good order between the Society of his name and the Holy See, for the salvation of souls - to the glory of God).
But also commemorated are St Phœbe, known to St Paul; many holy martyrs and virgin-martyrs (many tortured and put to the sword, one plunged into molten lead, another cast into a fiery furnace, many monks of Lerins and their Abbot St Aigulf who were slain by the Saracens, and one, St Basilissa, a nine year old girl, who by her stedfast witness converted the Roman magistrate who ordered her put to torment and death); holy bishops and confessors; a hermit (St Simeon Stylites the younger); and the ordination of St Gregory the Great to the Supreme Pontificate, that his rays of sanctity might the more surely irradiate the Globe from the City - in the Novus Ordo, this is his feast day.