THE OLD ROMAN 15/iii/20

news, views & info


… to this twenty-eighth edition of “The Old Roman” a weekly dissemination of news, views and information for and from around the world reflecting the experience and life of 21C “Old Romans” i.e. western Orthodox Catholics across the globe.
CONTRIBUTIONS… news items, magazine, devotional or theological articles, prayer requests, features about apostolates and parish mission life are ALL welcome and may be submitted via email. Submissions should be sent by Friday for publication the following Sunday.

The Old Roman View…

This week the World Health Organisation officially declared the Coronavirus contagion to be a “pandemic”, meaning that COVID-19 is now present in every continent. There are Old Romans on every continent and so the Church is present there too.
Various countries have declared “states of emergency” and national borders are being closed, flights cancelled and large sporting events and similar other kinds of large events. In some places, other denominations have responded by ceasing public worship, restricting access to the Sacraments and closing church buildings. Some have stopped the distribution of holy Communion altogether.
There has always existed within the Christian community throughout the centuries, a dichotomy between those who believe and those who have faith. Many people assume the two go together, belief and faith, even holding that they are synonymous; but the sad reality is, that rarely are both held and manifested simultaneously. Most of the time individual Christians will vacillate between the two, at once stating their intellectual assent to the propositions of our Faith, i.e. belief and another moment betraying those convictions by “not putting God to the test” i.e., not relying nor putting all their trust i.e. faith in God’s Word.
While a certain pragmatism, or rationalism, has always held a place in the Church’s mind, yet it is always the extraordinary yet tangible experiential realities proving the truth of the Faith that have generally seized the hearts and imagination of Christian people. Most of the “Eucharistic miracles” around the world have occurred when intellectual and philosophical doubts have been held questioning the truth of the doctrine of the Eucharist, i.e. that the bread and the wine actually do become the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ despite no perceptible change in the appearance of the Eucharistic species. While many hold to the pronounced dogmas of the Church about the Eucharist, it is clear that “what they say with their mouths they don’t believe in their hearts.” One may believe something to be true, but it requires faith to behave as though it is true!
With regard then to the present crisis concerning Coronavirus, it is obvious, regrettably, that the vast majority of Christians are still struggling with this dichotomy between belief and faith; why else would Christian pastors seemingly willingly and with alacrity, withhold the comfort of and access to the Sacraments? Surely, if they had faith in their apparent belief about the Eucharist, they would not bar people from Holy Communion at this critical time? When the Orthodox bishops of Greece issued a statement to the effect that withdrawing Holy Communion would be tantamount to denying the efficacy of the Eucharist to heal and protect those who in good faith receive it, incredulous voices ridiculed and denounced them for being medievalists! As if their manifest faith in their belief betrayed a distrust of science! In fact their Excellencies weighed their declaration of faith with pragmatism, suggesting that those who are vulnerable and unwell should stay away from public worship and receiving Holy Communion.
A healthy wariness and appreciation for the dangers of spreading COVID-19 should indeed be encouraged, but these considerations should in no way be weighted greater than the supernatural assistance offered to us in the Sacraments and fellowship of the Church enough to suspend manifesting faith regarding our beliefs. While COVID-19 is certainly more contagious and life-threatening than other forms of flu and others ways of dying prevalent today, humanity and indeed the Church have survived worse plagues and contagions in our time.
Different countries are affected by and dealing with the contagion in different ways, a vaccine is likely months away, a year at the earliest has been suggested. It may be that some of our communities and countries will be affected by this outbreak for sometime, several months or even longer. Containing the spread of the virus is clearly a priority, but so too is maintaining a sense of community and fellowship to counteract the negative impact the contagion will have. As Old Romans, we are called to be “salt of the earth”, “lights to the world” and even “leaven in dough” to manifest and grow the Kingdom of God… let us never lose sight of that, however badly things become, let us demonstrate God’s love and presence in the lives of all around us and look out for and care for the weak and the vulnerable. While we are able to safely, let us continue to gather together in worship and avail ourselves of the comfort of God’s Grace in the Sacraments and in the company of each other.
Remember that we exist as Old Romans deliberately to perpetuate and continue that which we in our turn received from the generations of faithful Catholic Christians that went before us. Let us help Old Romans and others, everywhere, experience a truly awe-inspiring and life-changing Lent this year for nos credidimus caritati*… et Caritas Christi urget nos! [2Cor5:14]

*St Thomas Aquinas

Why not offer your Lenten discipline for the gift of Faith and conversion for a loved or dear one… Offer your fasting, abstinence, alms or prayers for the salvation of a relative, friend, colleague or acquaintance…

ORDO w/c Sunday 15th March 2020 Vol. I Issue No. xxviii

Click on the underlined hyperlinked text to information about the Saint/stational church or the Mass Propers for any given day…

S15.03DOMINICA Quadragesima III
Statio San Lorenzo fuori le Mura
(V) Missa “Oculi mei
s.d2a) of Saints
3a) of living&dead
M16.03Feria II Quadragesima III
Station at San Marcum
(V) Missa “In Deo laudabo”  
s.d2a) of Saints
3a) of living&dead
noGl.Pref.of Lent
T17.03Feria III Quadragesima III
Com. St Patrick of Ireland
Station at Santa Pudenziana
(V) Missa “Ego clamavi”  
St Patrick of Ireland
Com. Feria III of Lent III
(W) Missa “Státuit ei Dóminus 

2a) of St Patrick
3a) of Saints
noGl.Pref.of Lent

2a) of Lent Feria
Gl.Pref.of Lent
PLG of Lent Feria
W18.03Feria IV Quadragesima III
Station at San Sisto
(V) Missa “Ego autem  
s.d2a) of Saints
3a) of living&dead

noGl.Pref.of Lent
T19.03St Joseph, Spouse of the BVM
Com. Feria V Quadragesima III
Station Santi Cosma e Damiano
(W) Missa “Justus ut palma    
d.i2a) of Lent Feria
Gl.Cr.Pref.of Lent

PLG Lent Feria
F20.03Feria VI Quadragesima III
Station San Lorenzo in Lucina
(V) Missa “Fac mecum Domine  
s.d2a) of Saints
3a) of living&dead

noGl.Pref.of Lent
S21.03Sabbato Quadragesima III
Com. St Benedict of Nursia
Station at Santa Susanna
(V) Missa “Verba mea auribus  
OR (in Europe/CDC)
St Benedict of Nursia
Com. Sabbato Quadragesima III
(W) Missa “Os justi

2a) of St Benedict
3a) of Saints
noGl.Pref.of Lent

2a) of Lent Feria

PLG of Lent Feria
S22.03DOMINICA Quadragesima IV
Station Santa Croce in Gerusalemme
(Rc/V) Missa “Laetare
s.d2a) of Saints
3a) of living&dead

KEY: A=Abbot A cunctis=of the Saints B=Bishop BD=Benedicamus Domino BVM=Blessed Virgin Mary C=Confessor Com=Commemoration Cr=Creed D=Doctor d=double d.i/ii=double of the 1st/2nd Class E=Evangelist F=Feria Gl=Gloria gr.d=greater-double (G)=Green H=Holy K=King M=Martyr mpal=missae pro aliquibus locis Mm=Martyrs Pent=Pentecost P=Priest PP/PostPent=Post Pentecost PLG=Proper Last Gospel Pref=Preface ProEccl=for the Church (R)=Red (Rc)=Rose-coloured s=simple s-d=semi-double Co=Companions V1=1st Vespers V=Virgin v=votive (V)=violet W=Widow (W)=white *Ob.=Obligation 2a=second oration 3a=third oration

Ritual Notes

From Ceremonies of the Roman Rite described by Fr Adrian Fortesque

  • The time from Septuagesima Sunday to Ash Wednesday partakes in many ways, but not in all, in the character of Lent. The colour of the season is purple from Septuagesima to Easter.
  • The Te Deum is not said at matins, nor the Gloria in excelsis at Mass, except on feasts.
  • At the end of Mass the deacon (or celebrant) says Benedicamus Domino instead of Ite missa est.
  • In no case is the word Alleluia used at all from Septuagesima till it returns at the first Easter Mass on Holy Saturday. On all days, even feasts, a tract (tractus) takes the place of the Alleluia and its verse after the gradual.
  • In the office, at the end of the response to Deus in adiutorium, Laus tibi Domine, rex aeternae gloriae is said instead of Alleluia.
  • But from Septuagesima to Ash Wednesday, although purple is the colour, the ministers use dalmatic and tunicle. The organ may be played then, as during the rest of the year.
  • From Ash Wednesday to Easter the ministers wear folded chasubles; the organ is silent till the Mass of Holy Saturday (except on mid-Lent).
  • On Ash Wednesday and the three following days the office is said as on other ferias of the year, though they have special collects, antiphons at the Magnificat and Benedictus, and ferial “preces.” The Lenten order of the office does not begin till the first Sunday of Lent.
  • On mid-Lent Sunday, the fourth of Lent (Laetare) rosy-coloured vestments are used, the altar is decorated as for feasts, the organ is played.

The liturgy in Lent itself reflects the season in various ways aside from the penitential colour of violet and the absence of the Gloria etc. Tradition assigns a particular Mass for every day of Lent i.e. an individually tailored Mass with its own readings and prayers. Each Mass is also assigned a “stational church” in Rome where the faithful and the Bishop of Rome gathered for the Mass – the history of these stational churches will be posted every day on this website. Additionally every Mass concludes with an extra prayer of blessing for the faithful to remain constant in their observance. Most feasts of Saints become commemorated only to keep our focus on the season and even when they are celebrated, it is muted and the Lenten Feria commemorated with it’s prayers and Gospel.

The Third Sunday of Lent

This Third Sunday of Lent we are reminded of the importance of purity, both of mind and body, by referencing the words of St. Paul.
The Station today is made at St. Laurence-without-the-Walls, one of the five patriarchal basilicas of Rome, where are buried the bodies of the two deacons Laurence and Stephen. In the Collect for St. Laurence’s feast (August 10), we pray that the flame of our sins may be quenched within us as the saint overcame the fire of his torments; while in that for St. Stephen’s Day, we undertake to love our enemies like this saint who prayed for his persecutors.
Jesus, the blessed Virgin’s Son, is in the highest degree the model of virginal purity; and in today’s Gospel we see Him contending in a special way with the unclean spirit; for so do St. Matthew and St. Luke describe the devil whom our Lord cast out of the dumb man by the finger of God, that is by the Holy Ghost. So does the Church drive out the same unclean spirit from the souls of the newly baptized. Lent was a time of preparation for Baptism and in administering this sacrament the priest breathes three times on the person to be baptized with the words: “Go out of the child, unclean spirit, and give place to the Holy Ghost.” St. Bede in his commentary on this Gospel says; “What then took place visibly is every day accomplished invisibly, in the conversion of those who become believers. First the devil is driven out of their soul, then they perceive the light of faith; and finally their mouth, until then dumb, opens to praise God” (Matins).
In the same sense in today’s Epistle St. Paul says; “No fornicator or unclean or covetous person … hath inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Fornication and all uncleanness, let it not so much as be named among you.” And it is especially at this season of combat against Satan that we must imitate Christ […] .
Source: Dom Gaspar Lefebvre, OSB, 1945, adapted and abridged

A Sermon for the Third Sunday of Lent

Today marks the Third Sunday in Lent and the Gospel refers to Jesus’s response to those who, when confronted by His exorcisms said that it was by the prince of demons that He cast out demons. Jesus responded that a house divided against itself cannot stand. Satan cannot drive out Satan. Rather, “If I by the finger of God cast out demons, then the Kingdom of God is come upon you (Luke 11: 20).”

But what does it mean to say the “Kingdom of God has come upon you”? What does it mean to speak of the Kingdom of God? The Kingdom of God is the fulfilment of the hope of Israel for a new heaven and a new earth. God had chosen Israel to be His people and in so far as they obeyed His commandments in the Law given to Moses they could be said to be submitting themselves to the reign of God over His people. However, there remains much in the world that is contrary to God’s purposes. In this present age there is a contrast between what is and what ought to be. His people therefore prayed that He would finally establish His kingdom and create a perfect world in which heaven and earth would be joined together, the wolf would dwell with the lamb and sin and death would be no more.

Jesus taught His disciples to pray for this final consummation of the Kingdom, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven”. However, He not only looked forward to the final coming of the kingdom at the end of history, He proclaimed that it was actually in the process of being inaugurated in His person and ministry, in His words and mighty works, especially His exorcisms. God was already at work driving out the forces of evil, a foretaste of the final victory over the forces of evil at the end of the age. In Jesus the powers of the world to come were already at work. Any Jewish teacher might have said, “if you repent and obey God’s commandments you are taking upon yourself the yoke of the kingdom of God”. But Jesus went further and said, “If I by the finger of God cast out demons, then is the Kingdom of God come upon you.” It is not simply a matter of accepting the kingship of God by obeying His commandments. It is actually being confronted by God Himself in the person of Jesus Christ driving out the forces of evil that disfigure the world.

Jesus’ exorcisms were a sign of the binding of the strong man by one even more powerful than he (Luke 11:21-22). In other words the forces of darkness that so often seem triumphant in this world were now being bound by a power greater than themselves. Perhaps in speaking of the binding of the strong man Jesus refers back to His temptations in the wilderness. His triumph over Satan in the wilderness was a prelude to His own mighty works in His ministry. It was because He had Himself triumphed over Satan that He could deliver from bondage to Satan. In another context Jesus said that He beheld Satan fall like lightning from heaven (Luke 10: 18). In other words He has a vision of the heavenly world that parallels what was happening on earth in His mighty works in His own ministry. In other words, the victory of the forces of evil was being won and their final defeat was assured.

But is it really necessary to see the world as under the dominion of dark forces from which human beings need to be delivered or exorcised? It is certainly true that what was then described as deliverance from bondage to Satan would now be usually described in terms of psychology and sociology. People tend to speak of social forces and economic forces, and focus on the therapeutic aspect of the Christian faith. Such an analysis explains everything at one level, yet at a deeper level it explains nothing. The assumption is often that if the social circumstances were changed the problems themselves would disappear. Doubtless this is sometimes the case and Christians should always be seeking to address the social problems that confront us in the world around us. But there is also a danger when people are transformed from being responsible agents to passive victims of circumstances. The fundamental problem lies not simply in man’s environment but within man himself and that is better understood in the terms of exorcising a demon than a type of therapy. The bad habits that all of us tend to acquire have to be cast out or exorcised, so that good habits are put in their place. Otherwise, as in the parable in today’s Gospel, the demons will return and the last state will be worse than the first.

This is what the Christian life, and in particular the season of Lent is all about, the casting out of the bad habits of the old self and the putting on a new self. Originally this applied especially to the catechumen who were preparing for baptism at Easter. But it also applies to all of us who have been baptised. We are called to become by grace what Christ is by nature.

This is a battle and a struggle, for all of us have bad habits that need to be exorcised and replaced by good habits. But the good news is that it is a battle that has already been won on our behalf by Christ Himself. Jesus’ victory over the forces of darkness in His ministry are but a prelude to His victory over them in His death and resurrection. “Now is the judgement of this world. Now shall the prince of this world be cast out” (John 12:31). God in Christ has delivered us from the dominion of darkness and translated us into the kingdom of His love, in whom we have redemption by His blood, the forgiveness of sins (Colossians 1:13-14). He has triumphed over the principalities and powers through the cross (Colossians 2:15). We now live in the time between His fighting and winning the battle over the forces of darkness in His death and resurrection and the final victory when God will be all in all, in that new heaven and new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.

Revd Dr Robert Wilson PhD, Lector, The Bristol Oratory

La liturgie d’hier n’était plus guère qu’un cadavre embaumé. Ce qu’on appelle liturgie aujourd’hui n’est plus guère que ce cadavre décomposé.

Louis Bouyer (1913-2004)

Yesterday’s liturgy was little more than an embalmed corpse. What we call liturgy today is little more than the same corpse in a decomposed state.

Next Sunday – Laetare

The fourth, or middle, Sunday of Lent, so called from the first words of the Introit at Mass, “Laetare Jerusalem” — “Rejoice, O Jerusalem”. During the first six or seven centuries the season of Lent commenced on the Sunday following Quinquagesima, and thus comprised only thirty-six fasting days. To these were afterwards added the four days preceding the first Sunday, in order to make up the forty days’ fast, and one of the earliest liturgical notices of these extra days occurs in the special Gospels assigned to them in a Toulon manuscript of 714. Strictly speaking, the Thursday before Laetare Sunday is the middle day of Lent, and it was at one time observed as such, but afterwards the special signs of joy permitted on this day, intended to encourage the faithful in their course through the season of penance, were transferred to the Sunday following. They consist of (like those of Gaudete Sunday in Advent) in the use of flowers on the altar, and of the organ at Mass and Vespers; rose-coloured vestments also allowed instead of purple, and the deacon and subdeacon wear dalmatics, instead of folded chasubles as on the other Sundays of Lent. The contrast between Laetare and the other Sundays is thus emphasized, and is emblematical of the joys of this life, restrained rejoicing mingled with a certain amount of sadness. The station at Rome was on this day made at the church of S. Croce in Gerusalemme, one of the seven chief basilicas; the Golden Rose, sent by the popes to Catholic sovereigns, used to be blessed at this time, and for this reason the day was sometimes called “Dominica de Rosa”. Other names applied to it were Refreshment Sunday, or the Sunday of the Five Loaves, from a miracle recorded in the Gospel; Mid-Lent, mi-carême, or mediana; and Mothering Sunday, in allusion to the Epistle, which indicates our right to be called the sons of God as the source of all our joy, and also because formerly the faithful used to make their offerings in the cathedral or mother-church on this day. This latter name is still kept up in some remote parts of England, though the reason for it has ceased to exist.

THIS Week’s Saints

Legends about Patrick abound; but truth is best served by our seeing two solid qualities in him: He was humble and he was courageous. The determination to accept suffering and success with equal indifference guided the life of God’s instrument for winning most of Ireland for Christ.
Details of his life are uncertain. Current research places his dates of birth and death a little later than earlier accounts. Patrick may have been born in Dunbarton, Scotland, Cumberland, England, or in northern Wales. He called himself both a Roman and a Briton. At 16, he and a large number of his father’s slaves and vassals were captured by Irish raiders and sold as slaves in Ireland. Forced to work as a shepherd, he suffered greatly from hunger and cold.
After six years Patrick escaped, probably to France, and later returned to Britain at the age of 22. His captivity had meant spiritual conversion. He may have studied at Lerins, off the French coast; he spent years at Auxerre, France, and was consecrated bishop at the age of 43. His great desire was to proclaim the good news to the Irish.
In a dream vision it seemed “all the children of Ireland from their mothers’ wombs were stretching out their hands” to him. He understood the vision to be a call to do mission work in pagan Ireland. Despite opposition from those who felt his education had been defective, he was sent to carry out the task. He went to the west and north–where the faith had never been preached–obtained the protection of local kings, and made numerous converts.
Because of the island’s pagan background, Patrick was emphatic in encouraging widows to remain chaste and young women to consecrate their virginity to Christ. He ordained many priests, divided the country into dioceses, held Church councils, founded several monasteries and continually urged his people to greater holiness in Christ.
He suffered much opposition from pagan druids and was criticised in both England and Ireland for the way he conducted his mission. In a relatively short time, the island had experienced deeply the Christian spirit, and was prepared to send out missionaries whose efforts were greatly responsible for Christianizing Europe.
Patrick was a man of action, with little inclination toward learning. He had a rock-like belief in his vocation, in the cause he had espoused. One of the few certainly authentic writings is his Confessio, above all an act of homage to God for having called Patrick, unworthy sinner, to the apostolate.
There is hope rather than irony in the fact that his burial place is said to be in County Down in Northern Ireland, long the scene of strife and violence.

Joseph was “a just man”. This praise bestowed by the Holy Ghost, and the privilege of having been chosen by God to be the foster-father of Jesus and the Spouse of the Virgin Mother, are the foundations of the honour paid to St. Joseph by the Church. So well-grounded are these foundations that it is not a little surprising that the cult of St. Joseph was so slow in winning recognition. Foremost among the causes of this is the fact that “during the first centuries of the Church’s existence, it was only the martyrs who enjoyed veneration” (Kellner). Far from being ignored or passed over in silence during the early Christian ages, St. Joseph’s prerogatives were occasionally descanted upon by the Fathers; even such eulogies as cannot be attributed to the writers among whose works they found admittance bear witness that the ideas and devotion therein expressed were familiar, not only to the theologians and preachers, and must have been readily welcomed by the people. The earliest traces of public recognition of the sanctity of St. Joseph are to be found in the East. His feast, if we may trust the assertions of Papebroch, was kept by the Copts as early as the beginning of the fourth century. Nicephorus Callistus tells likewise — on what authority we do not know — that in the great basilica erected at Bethlehem by St. Helena, there was a gorgeous oratory dedicated to the honour of our saint. Certain it is, at all events, that the feast of “Joseph the Carpenter” is entered, on 20 July, in one of the old Coptic Calendars in our possession, as also in a Synazarium of the eighth and nineth century published by Cardinal Mai (Script. Vet. Nova Coll., IV, 15 sqq.). Greek menologies of a later date at least mention St. Joseph on 25 or 26 December, and a twofold commemoration of him along with other saints was made on the two Sundays next before and after Christmas.

In the West the name of the foster-father of Our Lord (Nutritor Domini) appears in local martyrologies of the ninth and tenth centuries, and we find in 1129, for the first time, a church dedicated to his honour at Bologna. The devotion, then merely private, as it seems, gained a great impetus owing to the influence and zeal of such saintly persons as St. Bernard, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Gertrude (d. 1310), and St. Bridget of Sweden (d. 1373). According to Benedict XIV (De Serv. Dei beatif., I, iv, n. 11; xx, n. 17), “the general opinion of the learned is that the Fathers of Carmel were the first to import from the East into the West the laudable practice of giving the fullest cultus to St. Joseph”. His feast, introduced towards the end shortly afterwards, into the Dominican Calendar, gradually gained a foothold in various dioceses of Western Europe. Among the most zealous promoters of the devotion at epoch, St. Vincent Ferrer (d. 1419), Peter d’Ailly (d. 1420), St. Bernadine of Siena (d. 1444), and Jehan Charlier Gerson (d. 1429) deserve an especial mention. Gerson, who had, in 1400, composed an Office of the Espousals of Joseph particularly at the Council of Constance (1414), in promoting the public recognition of the cult of St. Joseph. Only under the pontificate of Sixtus IV (1471-84), were the efforts of these holy men rewarded by Roman Calendar (19 March). From that time the devotion acquired greater and greater popularity, the dignity of the feast keeping pace with this steady growth. At first only a festum simplex, it was soon elevated to a double rite by Innocent VIII (1484-92), declared by Gregory XV, in 1621, a festival of obligation, at the instance of the Emperors Ferdinand III and Leopold I and of King Charles II of Spain, and raised to the rank of a double of the second class by Clement XI (1700-21). Further, Benedict XIII, in 1726, inserted the name into the Litany of the Saints.

One festival in the year, however, was not deemed enough to satisfy the piety of the people. The feast of the Espousals of the Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph, so strenuously advocated by Gerson, and permitted first by Paul III to the Franciscans, then to other religious orders and individual dioceses, was, in 1725, granted to all countries that solicited it, a proper Office, compiled by the Dominican Pierto Aurato, being assigned, and the day appointed being 23 January. Nor was this all, for the reformed Order of Carmelites, into which St. Teresa had infused her great devotion to the foster-father of Jesus, chose him, in 1621, for their patron, and in 1689, were allowed to celebrate the feast of his Patronage on the third Sunday after Easter. This feast, soon, adopted throughout the Spanish Kingdom, was later on extended to all states and dioceses which asked for the privilege. No devotion, perhaps, has grown so universal, none seems to have appealed so forcibly to the heart of the Christian people, and particularly of the labouring classes, during the nineteenth century, as that of St. Joseph.

This wonderful and unprecedented increase of popularity called for a new lustre to be added to the cult of the saint. Accordingly, one of the first acts of the pontificate of Pius IX, himself singularly devoted to St. Joseph, was to extend to the whole Church the feast of the Patronage (1847), and in December, 1870, according to the wishes of the bishops and of all the faithful, he solemnly declared the Holy Patriarch Joseph, patron of the Catholic Church, and enjoined that his feast (19 March) should henceforth be celebrated as a double of the first class (but without octave, on account of Lent). Following the footsteps of their predecessor, Leo XIII and Pius X have shown an equal desire to add their own jewel to the crown of St. Joseph: the former, by permitting on certain days the reading of the votive Office of the saint; and the latter by approving, on 18 March, 1909, a litany in honour of him whose name he had received in baptism.

Founder of western monasticism, born at Nursia, c. 480; died at Monte Cassino, 543. The only authentic life of Benedict of Nursia is that contained in the second book of St. Gregory’s “Dialogues”. It is rather a character sketch than a biography and consists, for the most part, of a number of miraculous incidents, which, although they illustrate the life of the saint, give little help towards a chronological account of his career. St. Gregory’s authorities for all that he relates were the saint’s own disciples, viz. Constantinus, who succeeded him as Abbot of Monte Cassino; and Honoratus, who was Abbot of Subiaco when St. Gregory wrote his “Dialogues”.
Benedict was the son of a Roman noble of Nursia, a small town near Spoleto, and a tradition, which St. Bede accepts, makes him a twin with his sister Scholastica. His boyhood was spent in Rome, where he lived with his parents and attended the schools until he had reached his higher studies. Then “giving over his books, and forsaking his father’s house and wealth, with a mind only to serve God, he sought for some place where he might attain to the desire of his holy purpose; and in this sort he departed [from Rome], instructed with learned ignorance and furnished with unlearned wisdom” (Dial. St. Greg., II, Introd. in Migne, P.L. LXVI). There is much difference of opinion as to Benedict’s age at the time. It has been very generally stated as fourteen, but a careful examination of St. Gregory’s narrative makes it impossible to suppose him younger than nineteen or twenty. He was old enough to be in the midst of his literary studies, to understand the real meaning and worth of the dissolute and licentious lives of his companions, and to have been deeply affected himself by the love of a woman (Ibid. II, 2). He was capable of weighing all these things in comparison with the life taught in the Gospels, and chose the latter, He was at the beginning of life, and he had at his disposal the means to a career as a Roman noble; clearly he was not a child, As St. Gregory expresses it, “he was in the world and was free to enjoy the advantages which the world offers, but drew back his foot which he had, as it were, already set forth in the world” (ibid., Introd.). If we accept the date 480 for his birth, we may fix the date of his abandoning the schools and quitting home at about A.D. 500.
Benedict does not seem to have left Rome for the purpose of becoming a hermit, but only to find some place away from the life of the great city; moreover, he took his old nurse with him as a servant and they settled down to live in Enfide, near a church dedicated to St. Peter, in some kind of association with “a company of virtuous men” who were in sympathy with his feelings and his views of life. Enfide, which the tradition of Subiaco identifies with the modern Affile, is in the Simbrucini mountains, about forty miles from Rome and two from Subiaco. It stands on the crest of a ridge which rises rapidly from the valley to the higher range of mountains, and seen from the lower ground the village has the appearance of a fortress. As St. Gregory’s account indicates, and as is confirmed by the remains of the old town and by the inscriptions found in the neighbourhood, Enfide was a place of greater importance than is the present town. At Enfide Benedict worked his first miracle by restoring to perfect condition an earthenware wheat-sifter (capisterium) which his old servant had accidentally broken. The notoriety which this miracle brought upon Benedict drove him to escape still farther from social life, and “he fled secretly from his nurse and sought the more retired district of Subiaco”. His purpose of life had also been modified. He had fled Rome to escape the evils of a great city; he now determined to be poor and to live by his own work. “For God’s sake he deliberately chose the hardships of life and the weariness of labour” (ibid., 1).
A short distance from Enfide is the entrance to a narrow, gloomy valley, penetrating the mountains and leading directly to Subiaco. Crossing the Anio and turning to the right, the path rises along the left face oft the ravine and soon reaches the site of Nero’s villa and of the huge mole which formed the lower end of the middle lake; across the valley were ruins of the Roman baths, of which a few great arches and detached masses of wall still stand. Rising from the mole upon twenty five low arches, the foundations of which can even yet be traced, was the bridge from the villa to the baths, under which the waters of the middle lake poured in a wide fall into the lake below. The ruins of these vast buildings and the wide sheet of falling water closed up the entrance of the valley to St. Benedict as he came from Enfide; to-day the narrow valley lies open before us, closed only by the far off mountains. The path continues to ascend, and the side of the ravine, on which it runs, becomes steeper, until we reach a cave above which the mountain now rises almost perpendicularly; while on the right hand it strikes in a rapid descent down to where, in St. Benedict’s day, five hundred feet below, lay the blue waters of the lake. The cave has a large triangular-shaped opening and is about ten feet deep. On his way from Enfide, Benedict met a monk, Romanus, whose monastery was on the mountain above the cliff overhanging the cave. Romanus had discussed with Benedict the purpose which had brought him to Subiaco, and had given him the monk’s habit. By his advice Benedict became a hermit and for three years, unknown to men, lived in this cave above the lake. St. Gregory tells us little of these years, He now speaks of Benedict no longer as a youth (puer), but as a man (vir) of God. Romanus, he twice tells us, served the saint in every way he could. The monk apparently visited him frequently, and on fixed days brought him food.
During these three years of solitude, broken only by occasional communications with the outer world and by the visits of Romanus, he matured both in mind and character, in knowledge of himself and of his fellow-man, and at the same time he became not merely known to, but secured the respect of, those about him; so much so that on the death of the abbot of a monastery in the neighbourhood (identified by some with Vicovaro), the community came to him and begged him to become its abbot. Benedict was acquainted with the life and discipline of the monastery, and knew that “their manners were diverse from his and therefore that they would never agree together: yet, at length, overcome with their entreaty, he gave his consent” (ibid., 3). The experiment failed; the monks tried to poison him, and he returned to his cave. From this time his miracles seen to have become frequent, and many people, attracted by his sanctity and character, came to Subiaco to be under his guidance. For them he built in the valley twelve monasteries, in each of which he placed a superior with twelve monks. In a thirteenth he lived with “a few, such as he thought would more profit and be better instructed by his own presence” (ibid., 3). He remained, however, the father or abbot of all. With the establishment of these monasteries began the schools for children; and amongst the first to be brought were Maurus and Placid.
The remainder of St. Benedict’s life was spent in realising the ideal of monasticism which he has left us drawn out in his Rule, and before we follow the slight chronological story given by St. Gregory, it will be better to examine the ideal, which, as St. Gregory says, is St. Benedict’s real biography (ibid., 36). We will deal here with the Rule only so far as it is an element in St. Benedict’s life.

C. S. Lewis on Coronavirus

It’s now clear that COVID-19 is a deadly serious global pandemic, and all necessary precautions should be taken. Still, C. S. Lewis’s words – written 72 years ago – ring with some relevance for us today. Just replace “atomic bomb” with “coronavirus.”

In one way we think a great deal too much of the atomic bomb. “How are we to live in an atomic age?” I am tempted to reply: “Why, as you would have lived in the sixteenth century when the plague visited London almost every year, or as you would have lived in a Viking age when raiders from Scandinavia might land and cut your throat any night; or indeed, as you are already living in an age of cancer, an age of syphilis, an age of paralysis, an age of air raids, an age of railway accidents, an age of motor accidents.”

In other words, do not let us begin by exaggerating the novelty of our situation. Believe me, dear sir or madam, you and all whom you love were already sentenced to death before the atomic bomb was invented: and quite a high percentage of us were going to die in unpleasant ways. We had, indeed, one very great advantage over our ancestors – anaesthetics; but we have that still. It is perfectly ridiculous to go about whimpering and drawing long faces because the scientists have added one more chance of painful and premature death to a world which already bristled with such chances and in which death itself was not a chance at all, but a certainty.

This is the first point to be made: and the first action to be taken is to pull ourselves together. If we are all going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb, let that bomb when it comes find us doing sensible and human things—praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts—not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs. They may break our bodies (a microbe can do that) but they need not dominate our minds.

“On Living in an Atomic Age” (1948) in Present Concerns: Journalistic Essays


Links to Government websites; remember these are being updated regularly as new information and changes in statuses develop:

Defending the Sanctity of Life

One of the ways in which we might keep a good Lent is by defending the voiceless, those unable to defend themselves. Its not always easy to find the words to say however and this may be one of the reasons why, despite the number of Orthodox and faithful Catholics as well as conservative Christians in the world, so few speak up whether in the private or public sphere against abortion.
CBR UK a registered charity in the UK exists to re-educate people about abortion and provide the information abortuaries do not give to women experiencing hopelessness and desperation. Their Clarkson Academy, a weekend conference of lectures and seminars provides training for Christians to defend the unborn. Now they have produced an excellent series of videos providing answers to the most common arguments in defence of abortion.
Please watch the episode below to get a taster of the series and if you watch more of the videos, please consider making a donation. The series is offered for free in the hope that more people will access the videos, but of course the production costs! Visit here for the series and donation button.

Lent Study Course

Broadcasting LIVE via The Brighton Oratory on Facebook every Wednesday in Lent from this week, Metropolitan Jerome of Selsey explores and explains from the Scriptures the Messianic prophecies and their fulfilment in Christ. Continuing in a similar vein to that of last year’s Lent Study, “Turn to the Lord” which explained the Old Testament Temple theology in relation to the Crucifixion and our salvation; this year’s conferences will remind Christians of the need for a Messiah, how He was prophesied, what/who the Jews expected and who/what some rejected and others received. The conferences will air from 7pm GMT and will be recorded and available to watch again on Youtube via
A Facebook LIVE broadcast 7pm GMT; 8pm CET; 12pm PST; 1pm CST; 2pm EST; 4pm CLST; 3am PHT
Interactive Q&A online at the end of the lecture.

A Lenten Catechism Episode iii

In this third episode, Metropolitan Jerome of Selsey discusses the nature of Sin and the Devil. Lent is about the redressing of our relationship with God which is damaged and impeded by Sin, yet so few really understand Sin i.e. the mechanics of Sin. From the threefold concupiscence of Adam and Eve through to our own conception and culpability for our Sin, Metropolitan Jerome explains how Sin originates and how we may check it. His Grace also discusses the nature of evil and the Devil, addressing the common misconceptions and perceptions of what evil is and who and what the Devil is.

How to make a good Confession

Sacramental confession is no formality. It is a decisive stage in the long process of our moral conversion. It is the key to peace of mind and improvement. But, in order to obtain these benefits, we must be clear about some fundamental truths and apply them to our personal situation.

  1. God loves us immensely and wants our eternal happiness.
  2. We can enjoy this eternal happiness only if we use our freedom to live according to His will.
  3. Any refusal to behave according to God’s will is a SIN, the gravity of which depends on:
    1. The action that we do or omit,
    2. Our degree of awareness, our intention and degree of freedom, and
    3. The circumstances.
  4. As a refusal to respond to God’s love, sin is an act of ingratitude, pride and rebellion against Him.
  5. Whenever we sin we turn away from God, and we give ourselves or other creatures the attention and love that should be directed to Him alone.
  6. In so doing we cause a damage to our selves and to others because we upset the order established by the Creator.
  7. In His divine love, God is always willing to forgive us. He actually never ceases to call us back to Him and to proper behaviour.
  8. If we want to enjoy God’s forgiveness, we must respond to His invitation to:
    1. stop sinning,
    2. abandon situations of sin, and
    3. return to Him with a contrite heart.
  9. We must also seek His forgiveness through the ministry of the Church, according to Jesus’ mind when he gave the Apostles the power to forgive sins (see John 20:22f).
  10. The reception of God’s forgiveness through the sacrament of Penance brings about in us a real spiritual resurrection: we rise again to a new life of grace. Through this sacrament we are reconciled with God, with the Church with our neighbour and with ourselves.

The most important thing is not to “go to confession,” but “to make a good confession,” i.e.,

  1. to approach this sacrament sincerely sorry for our sins;
  2. to confess them in all humility and honesty;
  3. to be ready to make amends for them;
  4. to be determined to avoid committing sin in the future, and to live according to God’s will.

In order to do all this, an essential step is to make a thorough examination of conscience. This includes:

  1. becoming aware of the gravity and number of one’s sins, either in thoughts, words or deeds, whether they consist in something wrong that we have committed, or in something good that we should have done and which we failed to do (sins of omission);
  2. realising that, by our sins, we have offended God, have renewed the cause of Jesus Christ’s suffering and death, and caused harm to our neighbour and ourselves.

Valuable helps in making a good examination of conscience are:

  1. prayer to the Holy Spirit for enlightenment and sincerity;
  2. reading of some pertinent Scripture passage which helps us rediscover the gravity of our sinfulness, the greatness of God’s love for us and his readiness to forgive us;
  3. going over sets of questions concerning our duties to God, our neighbour and ourselves.

Old Roman Culture

A weekly look at the cultural heritage of Western Christendom…

Stations of the Cross

1000 GMTThe Brighton Oratory East Sussex, UK
1200 CSTSanta Cruz Mission, Houston TX, USA
1330 PHTSt Isidro Labrador, Santa Rosa, Laguna PH
1800 CSTSt Felix Friary Chicago, IL. USA
1900 PHTDivine Mercy Bacoor, Cavite, Philippines
1930 GMT-3Child Jesus Chapel La Florida. Santiago de Chile

See Mass Directory below for full addresses

Of your charity…

For health & well-being…

Christopher, Lyn B, Simon G, Dagmar B, Karen, Debbie G, Fr Graham F, Fr Stephen D, Heather & Susanna L-D, Finley G, Diane C, Pat, Paul, +Rommel B, Penny E, Colin R, John, Ronald, Fr Gerard H, Lilian & family, Ruth L, David G, David P, Patrick H, Debbie G, Karen K, Fr Graham F, S&A, Dave G, +Charles of Wisconsin, +Tissier, Fr Terrence M, +Guo Xijin, +John P, Karl R-W, Fr Antonio Benedetto OSB, Fr Kristopher M & family, Mark Coggan, Fr Nicholas P, Ounissa, Ronald Buczek, Rik C, Adrian & Joan Kelly, Juanita Alaniz & family, Fr A Cekada, Shirley & Selwyn V, Trayanka K, Amanda A, Evelyn B, Nicolas+ P, Matt & Bethan, Karen, Ros R, Ralph S, Brenda M,

For those vocationally discerning…

James, Breandán, Manuel, Vincent, Darren, Akos, Roger, Criostoir, James, Adrian, Carlos, Thomas, Yordanis, Nicholas, Tyler, Micha, Michael, Pierre

For the recently departed…

Lauretta (21.01.19), Clive Reed (23.01.19), Fr John Wright (24.01.19), Shelley Luben (11.12.18), Mick Howells (13.12.18), Daniel Callaghan (13.02.19), Alfie (Hub guest), Père Pierre Fournier (08.02.19), Jill Lewis (24.02.19), Cynthia Sharpe Conger (28.02.19), Richard (Ricky) Belmonte (10/03/19), Fr Leo Cameron OSA (29.03.19), Fr John Corbett (30.03.19), Deacon Richard Mulholland (Easter Day), Peter, Bernard Brown (27.06.19), Peter Ellis (01.08.19), Petronila Antonio (10.09.19), Fr Mark Spring (13.09.19), Jean Marchant (15.09.19), Mary Kelly (15.10.19), John Pender (23.10.19), Fr David Cole (17/12/20), Fr Graham Francis (03.01.20), Pauline Sheila White (06/01/20), Wendy Lamb (04/03/20)

For those who mourn…

Barbara R & family, Brenda W & family, Joseph S, Catherine L & family, Rev George C & family, Jean C, Margaret & Bonita C, Debbie M & family, Phil E & Family, Adrian Kelly & family, Fr Nicholas Pnematicatos & family, Fr Andrew White & family, Richard Cole & family, the Francis Family, the White family,

For those defending the Faith…

Aid to the Church in Need (supporting persecuted Christians)
Association of Christian Teachers (Christians who work in – or care about – education)
Centre for Bio-ethical Research (pro-life) UK / USA
Christian Hacking (pro-life)
Christian Legal Centre (safeguarding the legal freedom of Christians)
Barnabus Fund (supporting persecuted Christians)
Jerusalem Merit (supporting the Iraqi refugee community in Jordan)
40 Days for Life (pro-life)

Daily Missal

To accompany your worship why not invest in a St Andrew’s Daily Missal that contains ALL the Propers for ALL the Masses offered throughout the year?
The St Andrew’s Daily Missal also contains historical commentary and footnotes on the Feast days, devotions, prayers of preparation for before and after Mass as well as the Ordinary of the Mass and Propers for Vespers for Sundays and major Feast days throughout the year in Latin and in English. It also contains forms for Morning and Evening Prayer, Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament and Compline. It really is a treasury of devotion!

To order directly from the publishers, visit here $68 = £52.50 approx


If you would like your mission’s Mass times and other activities included here just submit details via email.


PHILIPPINESBacoor Parish of Jesus the Divine Mercy, Copper St. Platinum Ville, San Nicolas III, Bacoor, Province of Cavite

1030Mass & Children’s Catechesis
Wednesdays1800Mass (1st Weds’ Our Lady of Perpetual Succour Devotions)
Fridays1800Mass (1st Fri’ Sacred Heart Devotions)
Saturdays1800Holy Hour
Divine Mercy, Bacoor, Cavite, Philippines

PHILIPPINES, Lagunas Parish of San Isidro Labrador, Dita, Sta. Rosa

1st Wednesday1800Mass & O.L. Perpetual Succour Devotions
1st Friday1800Mass & Sacred Heart Devotions
San Isidro, Labrador, Philippines


UK, Brighton The Brighton Oratory of SS Cuthman & Wilfrid, 1-6 Park Crescent Terrace, Brighton BN2 3HD Telephone +44 7423 074517

Sundays0830Mass & homily
Mass & homily
Compline & Benediction
Wednesdays1730Holy Hour & Benediction
Saturdays0830Mass & homily
1000Catechism Conference

Full schedule of services for Lent & Easter at

UK, Bristol The Little Oratory of Our Lady of Walsingham with Saint Francis, 11 The Primroses, Hartcliffe, Bristol, BS13 0BG

Sundays1030Sermon & Holy Communion


USA, Brooklyn, NY Blessed Sacrament Catholic Community, Mustard Residence 440 Lenox Road, Apt 3H Brooklyn, New York 11226

USA, Chicago IL Parish Mission of St Anne, Church of the Atonement, 5749 North Kenmore Avenue, Chicago, IL 60660 Telephone: (773) 817 – 5818

Sundays1800Mass & homily (2nd of the month)
Wednesdays1930Catechism & Reception Class

USA, Chicago IL Missionary Franciscans of Christ the King, The Friary

St Felix Friary, Chicago

USA, Glendale AZ St. Joseph’s Mission Contact address: 7800 N 55th Ave Unit 102162 Glendale AZ 85301 Telephone +1 310 995 3126


USA, Houston, TX Santa Cruz Mission address: 13747 Eastex FRWY, Houston, TX 77039

Confessions 1015-1045
1st Sunday, Adoration 0945-1045
Fridays1200Via Crucis devotions

USA, Las Vegas, NV Christ the King 4775 Happy Valley Ave, Las Vegas, NV 89121 Telephone 702 379 4320 or 702-215-3930

Sundays0800Mass (Spanish)
0945First Communion and Confirmation Catechesis / English and Spanish
1100Mass (Bilingual)
1300Mass (English)
1700Mass (Spanish)
Thursdays1900Holy Hour

USA, Phoenix, AZ Santo Niño Catholic Community address: 3206 W. Melvin St., Phoenix, AZ 85009 Telephone +1 623 332 3999

Sundays1000Mass (English)
1100Escuela para Primera Comunion y Confirmaccion
1130Misa en Espanol
1700Misa en Espanol

Child Jesus Chapel, La Florida. Santiago de Chile

CHILE, Santiago Child Jesus Chapel Tegualda #321, La Florida. Santiago de Chile

Fridays1930Stations of the Cross & Mass

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NOTA BENE Please be aware that orthodox and authentic Old Roman Catholic jurisdictions, bishops and clergy are usually listed with the Old Roman Catholic Clerical Directory, which the faithful and enquirers are strongly invited to contact if unsure as to the credentials of a cleric presenting himself as “Old Roman Catholic”.

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