Monday, 14 January 2013

From Gueranger's Liturgical Year



From
The Liturgical Year
by Dom Guéranger, O.S.B.

After having consecrated the joyous Octave of the Epiphany to the glory of the Emmanuel who was manifested to the earth, the Church--incessantly occupied with the Divine Child and his august Mother, during the whole time from Christmas Day to that whereon Mary will bring Jesus to the Temple, there to be offered to God, as the law prescribes--the Church, we say, has on her Calendar of this portion of the year the names of many glorious Saints, who shine like so many stars on the path which leads us, from the joys of the Nativity of our Lord, to the sacred mystery of our Lady's Purification.

And firstly there comes before us, on the very morrow of the day consecrated to the Baptism of Jesus, the faithful and courageous Hilary--the pride of the Churches of Gaul, and the worthy associate of Athanasius and Eusebius of Vercelli in the battle fought for the Divinity of our Emmanuel. Scarcely were the cruel persecutions of paganism over, when there commenced the fierce contest with Arianism, which had sworn to deprive of the glory and honours of his divinity that Jesus who had conquered, by his Martyrs, the violence and craft of the Roman Emperors. The Church had won her liberty by shedding her blood, and it was not likely that she would be less courageous on the new battlefield into which she was driven. Many were the Martyrs that were put to death by her new enemies--Christian, though heretical, Princes: it was for the Divinity of that Lord, who had mercifully appeared on the earth in the weakness of human flesh, that they shed their blood. Side by side with these stood those holy and illustrious Doctors, who, with the martyr-spirit within them, defended by their learning and eloquence the Nicene Faith, which was the Faith of the Apostles. In the foremost rank of these latter we behold the Saint of today, covered with the rich laurels of his brave confessorship, Hilary: who, as St. Jerome says of him, was brought up in the pompous school of Gaul, yet had culled the flowers of Grecian science, and became the Rhone of Latin eloquence. St. Augustine calls him the illustrious Doctor of the Churches.

Though gifted with the most extraordinary talents, and one of the most learned men of the age, yet St. Hilary's greatest glory is his intense love for the Incarnate Word, and his zeal for the liberty of the Church. His great soul thirsted after martyrdom, and, by the unflinching love of truth which such a spirit gave him, he was the brave champion of the Church in that trying period when Faith, that had stood the brunt of persecution, seemed to be on the point of being betrayed by the craft of Princes, and the cowardice of temporizing and unorthodox Pastors.

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