Benedictine saints & blesseds: September 2010 Archives
When I think of Saint Gregory I think that without him we'd know little of the person of Saint Benedict, Saint Augustine of Canterbury (& others) and without Gregory we'd know little of what the worship of God was like and how faith was developed. Others will latch on to the fact that Gregory increased the ministry of the papal office but his lasting legacy for us is his efforts in showing us the reality of holiness, the desire in understanding the other person and how Christ sees him or her. This is fact true, the papacy under his guidance was expansive for the sake of the Gospel: the salvation of souls was most important to Gregory, as it ought to be for us.
His skill in preaching, teaching, governing and listening was stunning; his plan for missionary work stellar, his trust in Providence beyond compare. Gregory worked hard to lead the Church to Christ in the unity of the Church especially with Christians in the East, and those who needed to know Christ in Britain. He was true to himself: servus sevorum Dei.
We hold in prayer today Pope Benedict, abbots and abbesses, bishops and pastors of souls, musicians, the people of Britain, diplomats, and those engaged in the work of evangelization.
Servant of the Lord's own servants,
Faith-filled shepherd of the sheep,
Gregory, as bishop, nurtured
All the Church, Christ's ways to keep.
Writing, preaching, leading, loving,
Saint Peter's steps he trod,
Raising singers up and training
Them to praise and worship God.
In his writings still he shows us
How to love and serve the Lord,
Counting not the cost and leaving
Al, so God might be adored.
To the Father, Son, and Spirit,
God the holy Three-in-One,
With Saint Gregory in glory
Let our work of praise be done!
J. Michael Thompson
Copyright © 2009, WLP
87 87 Stuttgart, Merton or
87 87 D Hyfrydol, Abbot's Leigh
You received divine grace from heaven, O blessed Gregory, and strength from His divine power. You sought to follow the way of the Gospel, and your journey's end brought you Christ's reward. O blessed saint, beg Him to save us! (Troparion)
You became very much like shepherds of Christ. You led the flocks of monks into the heavenly sheepfold. There you taught your flock the law of Christ, O blessed father and now you sing in the heavenly abode, and you rejoice, happy in their company. (Kontakion)
The Benedictines and Carmelites in some places in the USA, and of course in England and France, liturgically remember the September Martyrs, also called the Paris Martyrs; you will also see the memorial listed as "Blessed John du Lau and companions" after the Archbishop of Arles, the highest ranking prelate among the 191 martyrs. The Benedictine nuns of Stanbrook Abbey are connected with the Carmelite nuns and retain some of the relics. Historians tells us that about 1500 clergy and religious were killed in 1792. And this act of martyrdom inspired the writing of Georeges Bernanos's "Dialogues of the Carmelites" and the famous opera of Francis Poulenc, by the same name.
The French "virtue" of liberty was not applied to the Church. In fact, quite the opposite. Just a few years after the French Revolution there was a purge of high and low clergy, religious and laity. The killing of the clerics happened because the republican government seized control of the Church, a matter that was (and, remains so today) unacceptable to Catholic ecclesiology. As the state has its duty and responsibility for civic order and leadership, the Church's mandate is found in sacred Scripture, Tradition and the Magisterium and not in positive law; in short all things pertaining to the salvation of souls. Matters of state are not the same for the Church and vice versa unless these matters concern the moral law. This, however, was not the reigning ideology. The Republicans passed legislation that rejected the authority of the Church and it wanted the bishops and priests to uphold the new laws giving the state control over the Church. Something similar had with the Oath of Supremacy in England. Clergyman and religious weren't the only one to offer their lives as a gift to the Lord. the laity lost their lives too, aristocrats and peasant alike. Refusing to take the oath got you the label: "non-jurors."
Some of the 191 were killed in cold blood, others were asked a question and depending on how they answered determined if they lived or died. No mental reservation was kept when it came to following the wisdom of the Church or the wisdom of man.
One observer noted that common among those put to death was that all faced death in a happy manner as one who would've gone to a wedding. Indeed, the wedding feast the martyrs were going to was the Wedding Feast of the Lamb (see the Book of Revelation).
The names beatified by Pope Pius XI in 1926 are listed here.