Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Feria Tertia infra Hebdomadam III post Octavam Paschae ~ IV. classis Commemoratio ad Laudes tantum: S. Georgii Martyris Happy St George's Day!

From divinumofficium:

V. Dóminus vobíscum.
R. Et cum spiritu tuo.
Deus, qui errántibus, ut in viam possint redíre iustítiæ, veritátis tuæ lumen osténdis: da cunctis, qui christiána professióne censéntur, et illa respúere, quæ huic inimíca sunt nómini; et ea, quæ sunt apta, sectári.
Per Dominum nostrum Iesum Christum, Filium tuum: qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum.
R. Amen.

Commemoratio S. Georgii Martyris
Deus, qui nos beáti Georgii Martyris tui méritis et intercessióne lætíficas: concéde propítius; ut, qui tua per eum benefícia póscimus, dono tuæ grátiæ consequámur.
Per Dominum nostrum Iesum Christum, Filium tuum: qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum.
R. Amen.

V. The Lord be with you.
R. And with thy spirit.
Let us pray.
Almighty God, Who showest to them that be in error the light of thy truth, to the intent that they may return into the way of righteousness grant unto all them that are admitted into the fellowship of Christ's Religion, that they may eschew those things that are contrary to their profession, and follow all such things as are agreeable to the same.
Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end.
R. Amen.

Let us pray.
Commemoratio S. Georgii Martyris
O God, Who dost gladden us through the worthy deeds and prayers of thy blessed martyr George, mercifully grant that all they which seek thy mercy through him may effectually obtain the gift of thy grace.
Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end.
R. Amen.

Thanks to arsorandi:

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

Clad in his bright coat of mail, mounted on his war-steed, and spearing the dragon with his lance, George, the intrepid champion of our Risen Jesus, comes to gladden us today with his feast. From the East, where he is known as the great martyr, devotion to St. George soon spread in the Western Church, and our Christian armies have always loved and honoured him as one of their dearest patrons. His martyrdom took place in Paschal Time; and thus he stands before us as the guardian of the glorious sepulcher, just as Stephen, the Protomartyr, watches near the crib of the Infant God.

The Roman Liturgy gives no lessons on the life of St. George; but, in their stead, reads to us a passage from St. Cyprian on the sufferings of the martyrs. This derogation from the general rule dates from the fifth century. At a celebrated Council held in Rome in the year 496, Pope St. Gelasius drew up, for the guidance of the faithful, a list of books which might or might not be read without danger. Among the number of those that were to be avoided, he mentioned the “Acts of St. George,” as having been compiled by one who, besides being an ignorant man, was also a heretic. In the East, however, there were other “Acts” of the holy martyr, totally different from those current in Rome; but they were not known in that city. The cultus of St. George lost nothing, in the holy city, by this absence of a true legend. From a very early period, a church was built in his honour; it was one of those that were selected as Stations, and gave a Title to a Cardinal; it exists to this day, and it is called Saint George in Velabro (the Veil of God).

The Bollandists were in possession of several copies of the forbidden “Acts”; they found them replete with absurd stories, and, of course, they rejected them. Father Papebroch has given us other and genuine “Acts” written in Greek, and quoted by St. Andrew of Crete. They bring out the admirable character of our martyr, who held an important post in the Roman army during the reign of the Emperor Diocletian. He was one of the first victims of the great persecution and suffered death at Nicomedia. Alexandra, the Emperor’s wife, was so impressed at witnessing the Saint’s courage, that she professed herself a Christian, and shared the crown of martyrdom with the brave soldier of Christ.

As we have already said, devotion to St. George dates from a very early period. St. Gregory of Tours gives us several proofs of its having taken root in Gaul. St. Clotilde had a singular confidence in the holy martyr, and dedicated to him the Church of her dear Abbey of Chelles. But this devotion became more general and more fervent during the Crusades, when the Christian armies witnessed the veneration in which St. George was held by the Eastern Church, and herd the wonderful things that were told of his protection on the field of battle. The Byzantine historians have recorded several remarkable instances of the kind; and the Crusaders returned to their respective countries publishing their own experience of the victories gained through the Saint’s intercession. The Republic of Genoa chose him for its patron; and Venice honoured him as its special protector, after St. Mark. But nowhere was St. George so enthusiastically loved as in England. Not only was it decreed in a Council held at Oxford, in the year 1222, that the feast of the Great Martyr should be observed as one of obligation; not only was devotion to the valiant soldier of Christ encouraged, throughout Great Britain, by the first Norman Kings; but there are documents anterior to the invasion of William the Conqueror, which prove that St. George was invoked as the special patron of England even so far back as the ninth century. Edward III did but express the sentiment of the country when he put the Order of the Garter, which he instituted in 1330, under the patronage of the warrior Saint. In Germany, King Frederic III founded the Order of St. George in the year 1468.

St. George is usually represented as killing a dragon; and where the representation is complete, there is also given the figure of a princess, whom the Saint thus saves from being devoured by the monster. This favourite subject of both sacred and profane art is purely symbolical, and is of Byzantine origin. It signifies the victory won over the devil, by the martyr’s courageous profession of faith; the princess represents Alexandria, who was converted by witnessing the Saint’s heroic patience under his sufferings. Neither the “Acts” of St. George nor the hymns of the Greek Liturgy allude to the martyr’s having slain a dragon and rescued a princess. It was not till after the fourteenth century that this fable was known in the West; and it arose from a material interpretation of the emblems with which the Greeks honoured St. George, and which were introduced among us by the crusaders.

Although, as has been said, the Office of St. George in the Roman Breviary has been taken from the Common Martyrs in Paschal Time, the following historical lesson has recently been approved for the Dioceses of England:

The martyr George beareth among the Easterns the title of the holy and glorious Archmartyr, He suffered a glorious death, for Christ's sake, in the persecution under Diocletian. When peace was given to the Church soon after, under Constantine, the memory of the martyr began to be celebrated, and churches were built under his invocation at Lydda in Palestine and at Constantinople. For thenceforth an extraordinary enthusiasm with regard to him grew up among the faithful, first in all parts of the East, and afterwards in the West. Of old time, when Christian armies had been about to fight, they have been used to call as patrons upon holy George, Maurice, and Sebastian. There had been already special honour paid in England to the holy martyr George, and the supreme Pontiff Benedict XIV. declared him the protector of the whole kingdom.

Thou, O George, art the glorious type of a Christian soldier. Whilst serving under an earthly monarch, thou didst not forget thy duty to the King of heaven. Thou didst shed thy blood for the faith of Christ; and he, in return, appointed thee protector of Christian armies. Be their defender in battle, and bless with victory them that fight in the just cause. Protect them under the shadow of thy standard; cover them with thy shield; make them the terror of their enemies. Our Lord is the God of Hosts; and he frequently uses war as the instrument of his designs, both of justice and mercy. They alone win the true victory who have heaven on their side; and such soldiers, when on the battle-field, seem to the world to be doing the work of man, whereas it is the work of God they are furthering. Hence are they more generous, because more religious, than other men. The sacrifices they have to make, and the dangers they have to face, teach them unselfishness. What wonder, then, that soldiers have given so many martyrs to the Church!

But there is another warfare, in which we Christians are all enlisted, and of which St. Paul speaks, when he says: Labour as a good soldier of Christ; for no man is crowned, save he that striveth lawfully. That we have thus to strive and fight during our life, the same Apostle assures us in these words: “Take unto you the armour of God, that ye may be able to resist in the evil day, and to stand in all things perfect. Stand, therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of justice, and your feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace. In all things taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye may be able to extinguish all the fiery darts of the most wicked one. And take unto you the helmet of the hope of salvation, and the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God.” We, then, are soldiers, as thou wast, O holy martyr! Before ascending into heaven, our divine leader wishes to review his troops; do thou present us to him. He has loaded us with honours, notwithstanding our past disloyalties; we must, henceforth, prove ourselves worthy of our position. In the Paschal Communion which we have received, we have a pledge of victory; how can we ever be so base as to permit ourselves to be conquered! Watch over us, O sainted warrior! Let thy prayers and example encourage us to fight against the dragon of hell. He dreads the armour we wear; for it is Jesus himself that prepared it for us, and tempered it in his own precious Blood: may we, like thee, present it to him whole and entire, when he calls us to our eternal rest!

There was a time when the whole Christian world loved and honoured thy memory with enthusiastic joy: but now, alas! This devotion has grown cold, and thy feast passes unnoticed by thousands. O holy martyr! Avenge this ingratitude by imitating thy divine King, who maketh his sun to rise upon both good and bad; take pity on this world, perverted as it is by false doctrines, and tormented at this very time by the most terrible scourges. Have compassion on thy dear England, which has been seduced by the dragon of hell, and by him made the instrument for effecting his plots against the Lord and his Christ. Take up thy spear as of old; give the monster battle, and emancipate the isle of Satins from his slavish yoke. Heaven and earth join in this great prayer! In the name of our Risen Jesus, aid thine own and once devoted people to a glorious resurrection!

St. George Slaying the Dragon by Bernt Notke, 1487

April 23.—ST. GEORGE, Martyr.

ST. GEORGE was born in Cappadocia, at the close of the third century, of Christian parents. In early youth he chose a soldier's life, and soon obtained the favor of Diocletian, who advanced him to the grade of tribune. When, however, the emperor began to persecute the Christians, George rebuked him at once sternly and openly for his cruelty, and threw up his commission. He was in consequence subjected to a lengthened series of torments, and finally beheaded. There was something so inspiriting in the defiant cheerfulness of the young soldier, that every Christian felt a personal share in this triumph of Christian fortitude; and as years rolled on St. George became a type of successful combat against evil, the slayer of the dragon, the darling theme of camp song and story, until "so thick a shade his very glory round him made" that his real lineaments became hard to trace. Even beyond the circle of Christendom he was held in honor, and invading Saracens taught themselves to except from desecration the image of him they hailed as the "White-horsed Knight." The devotion to St. George is one of the most ancient and widely spread in the Church. In the East, a church of St. George is ascribed to Constantine, and his name is invoked in the most ancient liturgies; whilst in the West, Malta, Barcelona, Valencia, Arragon, Genoa, and England have chosen him as their patron.

Reflection.—"What shall I say of fortitude, without which neither wisdom nor justice is of any worth? Fortitude is not of the body, but is a constancy of soul; wherewith we are conquerors in righteousness, patiently bear all adversities, and in prosperity are not puffed up. This fortitude he lacks who is overcome by pride, anger, greed, drunkenness, and the like. Neither have they fortitude who when in adversity make shift to escape at their souls’ expense; wherefore the Lord saith, 'Fear not those who kill the body, but cannot kill the soul.' In like manner those who are puffed up in prosperity and abandon themselves to excessive joviality cannot be called strong. For how can they be called strong who cannot hide and repress the heart's emotion? Fortitude is never conquered, or if conquered, is not fortitude."—St. Bruno.

Lives of the Saints, by Alban Butler, Benziger Bros. ed. (1894)

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