Tag Archives: Roman Martyrology

Saint Joshua

St Joshua.jpgThe Roman Martyrology notes Saint Joshua’s feast day today. You remember him, Joshua, son of Nun, servant of the Lord, who became inspired by the Holy Spirit after Moses laid hands on him and who led the Israelites into the Promised Land. The Righteous Joshua is said to have lived for a 110 years reposing c. 1440 BC.

Prophet Malachi, saint


sancti Malachiae, prophetae, qui, post transmigrationem Babylone diem magnum
Domini eiusque adventum in templum nuntiavit semperque et ubique mundam
oblationem nomini eius offerendam. (Roman Martyrology)

The commemoration of
Saint Malachi, the prophet, who, after the Babylonian Exile, announced the
great Day of the Lord, his coming into the Temple, and that an immaculate
offering be made to His Name, always and everywhere.

Exaltation of the Holy Cross

The Son of Man must be lifted up…
“The Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, which, the day after the dedication of the Basilica of the Resurrection raised over the tomb of Christ, is exalted and honored, in the manner of a memorial of His paschal victory and the sign which is to appear in the sky, already announcing in advance His second coming” (Roman Martyrology)

Thumbnail image for cross tree.jpg

Today is a most glorious feast, one in which no Christian can ignore and claim to be a faithful follower of the Word made Flesh, the Savior of the world. It is only by and through the cross is life given and death killed. Nevertheless, this way of following was difficult for the Twelve, the Apostles, the disciples, indeed, all peoples who were attracted to Jesus and his call Life: the cross is a non-negotiable in following the path Christ has set for us. In time Christians would accept the cross as the Tree of Life, a triumph over death.
Sometime between AD 148-155 Saint Justin Martyr speaks of the cross as the standard symbol of Christians (First Apology 55-60) and by AD 211 we know that Tertullian told his students that Christians rarely do anything of substance without making the sign of the cross (De Corona 3:2) thus making the sign of the cross is a ancient symbol of blessing and one which grasps our hearts and minds and clearly identifies to Whom we belong.
We adore you O Christ, and praise you. Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Let us lift up our voices high;

With radiant faces let us cry:
Christ, through your cross you made death die!
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!
Joy to you, Cross of Christ the Lord,
Throne of our God be all adored:
Endless the songs your saints afford.
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!
O holy Cross, life-giving Tree
Through which the Church has victory:
By you, our Lord has set us free.
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!
Praise to the Father, Christ the Son,
And Holy Spirit, Three-in-One
From ransomed souls Christ’s blood has won.
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!
J. Michael Thompson
Copyright © 2009, WLP
888 with Alleluias; GELOBT SEI GOTT

Melchizedek, the righteous King of Salem

Abraham & Melchizadek.jpeg

The Roman Martyrology lists one of the saints for today as Melchizedek, the righteous King of Salem who offered bread and wine to God in worship. Melchizedek means the King of Justice or King of Peace; “Salem” is the root word for Jerusalem. Melchizedek is also remembered in the Roman Canon of the Mass when the priest prays, “…according to the order of Melchizedek.” The Church’s commemoration of this mysterious King of Salem reminds us that Melchizedek is a bridge between the Old and New Testaments; he is the first priest of the Old Testament mentioned in sacred Scripture and St. John Chrysostom even speaks of the King as “the perfect image of the Savior,” that is, he’s an Old Testament type, a foreshadowing of Jesus Christ as priest and king.

In a homily Bishop Photius of Lyons in part says of Melchizedek:

St. John Chrysostom says:
“Melchizedek was righteous and the faithful image of Christ.  Moved
by a prophetic spirit, he discerned the oblation which must one day be offered
for the Gentiles, and, in the example of the future Christ, he offered bread
and wine as sacrifice to God.  But, the Judaic synagogue, which honored
God according to the order of Aaron, offered Him a sacrifice, not of bread and
wine, but of bulls and lambs and glorified the Lord by bloody sacrifices. 
That is why God, addressing Himself to the One Who was to be born of the Virgin
Mary, Jesus Christ, His Son, says to Him, `You are Priest forever according to
the order of Melchizedek’ and not according to the order of Aaron, who honors
his God while offering Him bulls and heifers” (Op.  cit.,
p.482-483).  St. Ambrose draws the conclusion that the Christian worship
is more ancient than that of the Law since it is Melchizedek, the image of
Christ, who brings the bread and the wine, not Abraham (Cf “Dictionnaire
de Spiritualite”, col. 971.  St. Ambrose, “De Sacramentis”,
IV, 8, 10-11; “De Mysteriis”, 8, 44-45).

That the figure of
Melchizedek is fulfilled in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Fathers all hold to the
fact that He alone is truly `without genealogy’: “The Son of God,”
says St. John Chrysostom, “is without father and without mother; without father
as to His earthly genesis; without mother as to His heavenly genesis”
(“Homelie sur Melchizedek”, op. cit., p.479.  Cf. also
“Expication des Psaumes”, Ps. CIX, ibid., p.332).  If then the
Scriptures say of Melchizedek that he was `without genealogy’, it is not at all
that in reality he did not have parents, “because”, says St. John
Chrysostom, “we maintain that Melchizedek is not only a man like us . .
.  but as Melchizedek was the type of Christ, Whose image he bore, in the
same way was Jonas.  The Scriptures had not spoken of his father, so that
he might offer us a perfect image of the Saviour Who alone, in truth, has
neither father nor genealogy” (Ibid., p.482).  Likewise, in his
homily on the Psalm of David, he says: “That which Melchizedek was in figure,
Jesus Christ was in reality, and the name of Melchizedek was like the names of
Jesus and of Christ, which long in advance announced and prefigured the mission
of the Saviour.  When we read that Melchizedek had neither beginning nor
end of his life, it is not that in reality he had had neither beginning nor
end, but because no trace is found of his genealogy.  Jesus, on the
contrary, had in truth no beginning of His days, nor end of His life.  His
existence had no time, no beginning, no end.  One was the figure, the other
the truth” (Id.,”Oeuvres Completes”, t.IX, p.332).

Blessed John Henry Newman was enchanted by the mysteriousness of the priest and king Melchizedek who composed a poem, “Melchizedek”:

Without father, without mother, without descent; having neither beginning of days, nor end of life.

Thrice bless’d are they, who fell their lonliness;

To whom nor voice of friends nor pleasant scene

Brings that on which the sadden’d heart can lean;

Yea, the rich earth, garb’d in her daintiest dress

Of light and joy, doth but the more oppress,

Claiming responsive smiles and rapture high;

Till, sick at heart, beyond the veil they fly,

Seeking His Presence, who alone can bless.

Such, in strange days, the weapons of Heaven’s grace;

When, passing o’er the high-born Hebrew line,

He forms the vessel of His vast design;

Fatherless, homeless, reft of age and place,

Sever’d from earth, and careless of its wreck,

Born through long woe His rare Melchizedek.

Nicholson & Lee, eds. The Oxford Book of English Mystical Verse, 1917.

O Cross, our one reliance

The Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, which, the day after the dedication of the Basilica of the Resurrection raised over the tomb of Christ, is exalted and honored, in the manner of a memorial of His paschal victory and the sign which is to appear in the sky, already announcing in advance His second coming. (Roman Martyrology)


The Church presents to us today a feast which commemorates the discovery of the Holy

Relics.jpgCross by Emperor Saint Constantine’s mother Saint Helena in Jerusalem (AD 325).  The Tradition says that Saint Helena found the Cross and the relics of the holy Passion and then brought them to Rome where they are venerated at the Basilica of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem. On the spot of the discovery, she built the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher keeping a portion of the Cross at there.


The sacred Liturgy gives us the image of the Holy Cross because it brings together the historical reality of the Cross with its theological import:  mystery of the life and death of Christ. This is not a feast celebrating a “terrific find” at an archaeological dig; it is a feast of our faith as the Cross is a central symbol of our faith.


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Hymnus in Honore Sanctae Crucis


Vexilla regis prodeunt,
fulget crucis mysterium,
quo carne carnis conditor
suspensus est patibulo.


Confixa clavis viscera
tendens manus, vestigia
redemptionis gratia
hic inmolata est hostia.


Quo vulneratus insuper
mucrone diro lanceae,
ut nos lavaret crimine,
manavit unda et sanguine.


Inpleta sunt quae concinit
David fideli carmine,
dicendo nationibus:
regnavit a ligno deus.


Arbor decora et fulgida,
ornata regis purpura,
electa, digno stipite
tam sancta membra tangere!


Beata cuius brachiis
pretium pependit saeculi!
statera facta est corporis
praedam tulitque Tartari.


Fundis aroma cortice,
vincis sapore nectare,
iucunda fructu fertili
plaudis triumpho nobili.


Salve ara, salve victima
de passionis gloria,
qua vita mortem pertulit
et morte vitam reddidit.


In Festo Exaltationis Sanctae Crucis:

in hac triumphi gloria!


(“Vexilla Regis” was written by Venantius Fortunatus (530-609) and is considered one of the greatest hymns of the sacred Liturgy. This is the full hymn but when used liturgically at Vespers verses 2, 4, 7 are omitted.)

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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