Today ia the Second Sunday of Lent and the Commmoration of the Feast of Pope Saint Gregory the Great, a doctor of Holy Mother Church, who was most prolific in his writing in the fourteen years of his pontificate, 590 to 604 A.D. Pope Saint Gregory the Great was also zealous for the missionary work necessary to Catholicize the world, sending the benedictine monk Augustine to convert King Ethelbert on the island of Great Britain. Although England had given Holy Mother Church saints in the past (Saint Alban and his fellow protomartyrs, Julius and Aaron), it was the work of Saint Augustine of Canterbury that made possible the Catholicization of all of England. And it was the Catholicization of England that made it possible for there to be missionaries, such as Saint Boniface (Winfred), to sent to evangelize the Germans and the Dutch.
Pope Saint Gregory the Great took seriously these words that Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ spoke to the Eleven before He Ascended to God the Father’s right hand in glory on Ascension Thursday:
And the eleven disciples went into Galilee, unto the mountain where Jesus had appointed them. And seeing him they adored: but some doubted. And Jesus coming, spoke to them, saying: All power is given to me in heaven and in earth. Going therefore, teach ye all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world. (Matthew 28: 16-20.)
True to the completely Catholic spirit of Pope Saint Gregory the Great, Pope Saint Pius X, writing in Notre Charge Apostolique one hundred years ago this year, that is, on August 15, 1910, desired to do what his saintly predecessor had done fourteen hundred years before: to re-establish all things in Christ the King, to build the Catholic City, outside of which it is impossible for there to be true social order:
This, nevertheless, is what they want to do with human society; they dream of changing its natural and traditional foundations; they dream of a Future City built on different principles, and they dare to proclaim these more fruitful and more beneficial than the principles upon which the present Christian City rests.
No, Venerable Brethren, We must repeat with the utmost energy in these times of social and intellectual anarchy when everyone takes it upon himself to teach as a teacher and lawmaker – the City cannot be built otherwise than as God has built it; society cannot be setup unless the Church lays the foundations and supervises the work; no, civilization is not something yet to be found, nor is the New City to be built on hazy notions; it has been in existence and still is: it is Christian civilization, it is the Catholic City. It has only to be set up and restored continually against the unremitting attacks of insane dreamers, rebels and miscreants. omnia instaurare in Christo. (Pope Saint Pius X, Notre Charge Apostolique, August 15, 1910.)
Pope Saint Gregory the Great understood that Catholicism and Catholicism alone is the one and only foundation of personal and social order. He was tireless in his efforts to restore a firm sense of discipline to the papacy and to remind the bishops of the world that they are answerable to Successor of Saint Peter, the Bishop of Rome, the Sovereign Pontiff, the Vicar of Our Lord Jesus Christ on earth. Many revisionist historians from the false sects of Protestantism contend that Pope Saint Gregory the Great “established” the papacy. Au contraire. Pope Saint Gregory the Great merely reasserted the royal prerogatives of the papacy that the effects of the barbaric invasions had weakened for a time.
The son of a noble Roman who preferred solicitude in prayer as a monk to all else, Pope Saint Gregory the Great was unstinting in his efforts to rebuke the clergy for their lives of sloth and neglect of prayer, which is why he wrote A Rule of Pastoral Life, also known as The Pastoral Guide, to exhort bishops and priests to be courageous in the face of evil, never afraid to proclaim the truth, never to shrink from defending the innocent and, above all else, never to be silent when the honor and glory and majesty of God and His Deposit of Faith are under attack by heretics, unbelievers or Judases from within the ranks of the Church:
The Lord reproaches them through the prophet: They are dumb dogs that cannot bark. On another occasion he complains: You did not advance against the foe or set up a wall in front of the house of Israel, so that you might stand fast in battle on the day of the Lord. To advance against the foe involves a bold resistance to the powers of this world in defense of the flock. To stand fast in battle on the day of the Lord means to oppose the wicked enemy out of love for what is right.
When a pastor has been afraid to assert what is right, has he not turned his back and fled by remaining silent? Whereas if he intervenes on behalf of the flock, he sets up a wall against the enemy in front of the house of Israel. Therefore, the Lord again says to his unfaithful people: Your prophets saw false and foolish visions and did not point out your wickedness, that you might repent of your sins. The name of the prophet is sometimes given in the sacred writings to teachers who both declare the present to be fleeting and reveal what is to come. The word of God accuses them of seeing false visions because they are afraid to reproach men for their faults and thereby lull the evildoer with an empty promise of safety. Because they fear reproach, they keep silent and fail to point out the sinner’s wrongdoing.
The word of reproach is a key that unlocks a door, because reproach reveals a fault of which the evildoer is himself often unaware. That is why Paul says of the bishop: He must be able to encourage men in sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it. For the same reason God tells us through Malachi: The lips of the priest are to preserve knowledge, and men shall look to him for the law, for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts.Finally, that is also the reason why the Lord warns us through Isaiah: Cry out and be not still; raise your voice in a trumpet call.
Anyone ordained a priest undertakes the task of preaching, so that with a loud cry he may go on ahead of the terrible judge who follows. If, then, a priest does not know how to preach, what kind of cry can such a dumb herald utter? It was to bring this home that the Holy Ghost descended in the form of tongues on the first pastors, for he causes those whom he has filled, to speak out spontaneously. (For two different translations, see: The Book of Pastoral Rule and That the ruler should be discreet in keeping silence, profitable in speech .)
This is a salutary warning to any Catholic priest/presbyter has the duties of a shepherd, whether he is one in fact or not.
So many priests and presbyters in the counterfeit church of conciliarism assuage themselves with the canard that “it’s not my job” to oppose the apostasies and errors and blasphemies and sacrileges of the conciliar “pontiffs” and their ‘bishops.” They do not believe that it is their “job” to defend the honor and glory and majesty of God something that the current apostate emeritus, Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI, did as he praised false religions and esteems their symbols with his own priestly hands and dared to say that “Christians and Jews worship the same Lord.” These men, and they know who they are, are very badly mistaken as they prefer their own “good standing” in a false church rather than to speak up manfully in defense of the honor and glory and majesty of God. Career security, pensions, health-insurance and human respect are what matter to men who consider themselves to be shepherds but who choose not to raise their voice in defense of God’s honor and majesty and glory and to oppose openly the sacrileges committed by a so-called “pontiff,” choosing to remain “in communion” with a man whose words and actions demonstrate that he is possessed of the spirit of Modernism, not Catholicism.
Mind you, I am not speaking here of those priests or presbyters in the conciliar structures who are thoroughly immersed in conciliarism and believe that its tenets and pastoral practices are the work of God the Holy Ghost, oblivious to the truths of the Faith and to the simple truth that God cannot contradict Himself. I am speaking here of those priests and presbyters in the conciliar structures, including those in the Motu communities, who know what is right and who seek to protect themselves and their clerical careers rather than to oppose error and to defend the truth, thereby deceiving the flocks who look to them as shepherds that all must be well in Rome as the “pope” does and says things that reaffirm them in a spirit of practical religious indifferentism.
One of Pope Gregory the Great’s legitimate, true successors on the Throne of Saint of Peter, Pope Leo XIII, reiterated this theme in Sapientiae Christianae, January 10, 1890:
But in this same matter, touching Christian faith, there are other duties whose exact and religious observance, necessary at all times in the interests of eternal salvation, become more especially so in these our days. Amid such reckless and widespread folly of opinion, it is, as We have said, the office of the Church to undertake the defense of truth and uproot errors from the mind, and this charge has to be at all times sacredly observed by her, seeing that the honor of God and the salvation of men are confided to her keeping. But, when necessity compels, not those only who are invested with power of rule are bound to safeguard the integrity of faith, but, as St. Thomas maintains: “Each one is under obligation to show forth his faith, either to instruct and encourage others of the faithful, or to repel the attacks of unbelievers.” To recoil before an enemy, or to keep silence when from all sides such clamors are raised against truth, is the part of a man either devoid of character or who entertains doubt as to the truth of what he professes to believe. In both cases such mode of behaving is base and is insulting to God, and both are incompatible with the salvation of mankind. This kind of conduct is profitable only to the enemies of the faith, for nothing emboldens the wicked so greatly as the lack of courage on the part of the good.Moreover, want of vigor on the part of Christians is so much the more blameworthy, as not seldom little would be needed on their part to bring to naught false charges and refute erroneous opinions, and by always exerting themselves more strenuously they might reckon upon being successful. After all, no one can be prevented from putting forth that strength of soul which is the characteristic of true Christians, and very frequently by such display of courage our enemies lose heart and their designs are thwarted. Christians are, moreover, born for combat, whereof the greater the vehemence, the more assured, God aiding, the triumph: “Have confidence; I have overcome the world.” Nor is there any ground for alleging that Jesus Christ, the Guardian and Champion of the Church, needs not in any manner the help of men. Power certainly is not wanting to Him, but in His loving kindness He would assign to us a share in obtaining and applying the fruits of salvation procured through His grace.
The chief elements of this duty consist in professing openly and unflinchingly the Catholic doctrine, and in propagating it to the utmost of our power. For, as is often said, with the greatest truth, there is nothing so hurtful to Christian wisdom as that it should not be known, since it possesses, when loyally received, inherent power to drive away error. So soon as Catholic truth is apprehended by a simple and unprejudiced soul, reason yields assent. (Pope Leo XIII, Sapientiae Christianae, January 10, 1890.)
Pope Saint Gregory the Great did not recoil from the enemies of the Church from without, and he did recoil from the enemies of Christ the King who were in the midst of the household of the Faith. He stood up to them. He called evil by its proper name. He did not seek to exculpate or to indemnify malefactors. He never minimized the horror of personal sin. Indeed, some have rebuked him in his years before he became pope for being harsh and unforgiving with his monks. Our saint, however, knew the horror of sin and what it cost Our Lord in His Sacred Humanity during His Passion Death. He exhorted the clergy, therefore, to courage and boldness in defense of the truths of Faith, cautioning them also to ask God the Holy Ghost to help them to know the difference between a prudent silence and cowardice and the different between fortitude and rashness.
Understanding that the Sacred Liturgy is the principal means by which the glory and majesty and honor of God are communicated to the faithful in the splendor and magnificence of its reverent ceremonies and prayers, Pope Saint Gregory Great undertook several minor revisions of the Missal, including re-positioning thePater Noster and rearranging a few words in the Hanc Igitur of the Roman Canon, restoring also the Kyrie eleison in the form that is still use by true bishops and priests who offer the Immemorial Mass of Tradition today. Indeed, Pope Saint Gregory the Great would recognize the rites of the Missale Romanum of Pope Saint Pius V as it made only a few emendations and modifications of its own, meaning that the Mass offered today in our Catholic catacombs is essentially that, save for a few changes (including the mandatory the reading of the Last Gospel that had become a de facto practice throughout Europe beginning in the Twelfth Century), of Pope Saint Gregory the Great, a point made by the late Father Adrian Fortescue nearly a century ago now:
Essentially, the Missal of Pius V is the Gregorian Sacramentary; that again is formed from the Gelasian book, which depends upon the Leonine collection. We find prayers of our Canon in the treatise de Sacramentis and allusions to it in the [Fourth] Century. So the Mass goes back, without essential change, to the age when it first developed out of the oldest Liturgy of all. It is still redolent of that Liturgy, of the days when Caesar ruled the world, and thought he could stamp out the Faith of Christ, when our fathers met together before dawn and sang a hymn to Christ as God. The final result of our enquiry is that, in spite of some unresolved problems, in spite of later changes there is not in Christendom another rite so venerable as ours. (The Mass – A Study of the Roman Liturgy. Adrian Fortescue. Longmans, Green & Co. London. 1950. p. 213)
It is interesting to note that the sanctity of Pope Gregory the Great and his devotion to the Sacred Liturgy and the truths of Holy Faith inspired two of his fifteen successors, Pope Saints Gregory II and Gregory VII, who have taken the name Gregory to scale such heights of sanctity themselves that there were canonized by Holy Mother Church. One other Pope Gregory, Blessed Pope Gregory X, was beatified. And the last pope to be named Gregory, Pope Gregory XVI, was a firm defender of the truth against the forces of Protestantism and Judeo-Masonry, reminding us in Singulari Nos, May 25, 1834, that the Catholic Church is incapable of being tainted by even a slight tarnish of error:
As for the rest, We greatly deplore the fact that, where the ravings of human reason extend, there is somebody who studies new things and strives to know more than is necessary, against the advice of the apostle. There you will find someone who is overconfident in seeking the truth outside the Catholic Church, in which it can be found without even a light tarnish of error. Therefore, the Church is called, and is indeed, a pillar and foundation of truth. You correctly understand, venerable brothers, that We speak here also of that erroneous philosophical system which was recently brought in and is clearly to be condemned. This system, which comes from the contemptible and unrestrained desire for innovation, does not seek truth where it stands in the received and holy apostolic inheritance. Rather, other empty doctrines, futile and uncertain doctrines not approved by the Church, are adopted. Only the most conceited men wrongly think that these teachings can sustain and support that truth. (Pope Gregory XVI, Singulari Nos, May 25, 1834.)
Pope Saint Gregory XVI was condemning an approach to doctrinal truth that has been propagated by today’s false “pontiff,” Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict, a progenitor of novelty and innovation in his own Modernist right, throughout the course of his nearly fifty-nine years as a priest.
As Pope Saint Pius X taught us in Pascendi Dominci Gregis, September 8, 1907, Pope Gregory IX wrote as follows about those who seek to alter the Faith to “suit” the times:
The Modernists completely invert the parts, and of them may be applied the words which another of Our predecessors Gregory IX, addressed to some theologians of his time: “Some among you, puffed up like bladders with the spirit of vanity strive by profane novelties to cross the boundaries fixed by the Fathers, twisting the meaning of the sacred text…to the philosophical teaching of the rationalists, not for the profit of their hearer but to make a show of science…these men, led away by various and strange doctrines, turn the head into the tail and force the queen to serve the handmaid.” (Pope Saint Pius X, Pascendi Dominci Gregis, September 8, 1907.)
Each of these namesake successors of Pope Saint Gregory the Great acquitted his own manly courage in defense of the Faith so very well.
Indeed, Pope Saint Gregory the Great, while earnestly solicitous for the conversion of everyone to the true Faith, including the Jews, understood that no one could be forced to accept the truth, and thus rebuked a convert to the Faith from Judaism on Sardinia who attempted to turn his synagogue into a Catholic church against the wishes of the rest of the congregation. Saint Gregory the Great made sure the the Gospel was preached and that efforts were made to convert everyone. He simply knew that people could not be forced to accept the Faith, that Our Lord Himself had given the Jews of His day the option of accepting or rejecting Him. Pope Saint Gregory the Great knew that justice properly administered could be used by God to effect the conversion of those who are outside the Barque of Saint Peter.
Dom Prosper Gueranger, O.S.B., wrote the following in The Liturgical Year about our sainted pontiff:
Among all the pastors whom our Lord Jesus Christ has placed, as His vicegerents, over the universal Church, there is not one whose merits and renown have surpassed those of the holy Pope, whose feast we keep to-day. His name is Gregory, which signifies watchfulness; his surname is ‘the Great,’ and he was in possession of that title, when God sent the Seventh Gregory, the glorious Hildebrand, to govern His Church.
In recounting the glories of this illustrious Pontiff, it is but natural we should begin with his zeal for the services of the Church. The Roman liturgy, which owes to him some of its finest hymns, may be considered as his work, at least in he sense, that it is he who collected together and classified the prayers and rites dawn up by his predecessors, and reduced them ot the form in which we now have them. He collected also the ancient chants of the Church, and arranged them in accordance with the rules and requirements of the divine Service. Hence it is, that our sacred music, which gives such solemnity to the liturgy, and inspires the soul with respect and evotion during the celebration of the great mysteries of our faith, is known as the Gregorian chant.
He is, then, the apostle of the liturgy, and this alone would have immortalized his name; but we must look for far greater things from such a Pontiff as Gregory. His name was added to the three, who had hitherto been honoured as the great Doctors of the Latin Church. These three are Ambrose, Augustine, and Jerome; who else could be the fourth but Gregory? The Church found in his writings such evidence of his having been guided by the Holy Ghost, such a knowledge of the sacred Scriptures, such a clearer appreciation of the mysteries of faith, and such unction and authority in his teachings, that she gladly welcomed him as a new guide for her children.
Such was the respect wherewith everything he wrote was treated, that his very letters were preserved as so many precious treasures. This immense correspondence shows us that there was not a country, scarcely even a city of the Christian world, in which the Pontiff had not his watchful eye steadily fixed; that there was not a question, however local or personal, which, if it interested religion, did not excite his zeal and arbitration as the Bishop of the universal Church. If certain writers of modern times had but taken the pains to glance at these letters, written by a Pope of the sixth century, they would never have asserted, as they have, that the prerogatives of the Roman Pontiff are based on documents fabricated, as they say, two hundred years after the death of Gregory.
Throned on the apostolic See, our saint proved himself to be a rightful heir of the apostles, not only as the representative and depositary of their authority, but as a follow-sharer in their missio of calling nations to th true faith. To whom does England owe her having been, for so many ages, the ‘island of saints’? To Gregory, who, touched with compassion for those Angli, of whom, as he playfully said, he would fain Angeli,sent to their island the monk Augustine with forty companions, all of them, as was Gregory himself, children of St. Benedict. The faith had been sown in this land as early as the second century, but it had been trodden down by the invasion of an infidel race. This time the seed fructified, and so rapidly that Gregory lived to see a plentiful harvest. It is beautiful to hear the aged Pontiff speaking with enthusiasm about the results of his English mission. He thus speaks in the twenty-seventh Book of his Morals: ‘Lo! the language of Britain, which could once mutter naught save barbarous sounds, has long since begun to sing, in the divine praises, the Hebrew Alleluia! Lo! that swelling sea is now calm, and saints walk on its waves. The tide of barbarians, which the sword of earthly princes could not keep back, is now hemmed in at the simple bidding of God’s priests.’
During the fourteen years that this holy Pope held the place of Peter, he was the object of the admiration of the Christian world, both in the east and in the west. His profound learning, his talent for administration, his position, all tended to make him beloved and respected. But who could describe the virtue of his great soul? That contempt for the world and its riches, which led him to seek obscurity in the cloister; that humility, which made him flee the honours of the papacy, and hide himself in a cave, where, at length, he was miraculously discovered, and God Himself put into his hands the keys of heaven, which he was evidently worthy to hold, because he feared the responsibility; that zeal for the whole flock, of which he considered himself not the master, but the servant, so much so indeed that he assumed the title, which the Popes have ever since retained, of ‘servant of the servants of God’; that charity which took care of the poor throughout the whole world; that ceaseless solicitude, which provided for every calamity, whether public or private; that unruffled sweetness of manner, which he showed to all around him, in spite of the bodily sufferings which never left him during the whole period of his laborious pontificate; that firmness in defending the deposit of the faith, and crushing error wheresoever it showed itself; in a word, that vigilance with regard to discipline, which made itself felt for long ages after in the whole Church? All these services and glorious examples of virtue have endeared our saint to the whole world, and will cause his name to be blessed for all future generations, even to the end of time.
Let us now read the abridged life of our saint, as given us in the liturgy.
Gregory the Great, a Roman by birth. was son of the senator Gordian. He applied early to the study of philosophy, and was entrusted with the office of Pretor. After his father’s death he built six monasteries in Sicily, and a seventh. under the title of Saint Andrew, in his own house in Rome, near the basi· lica of Saints John and Paul, on the hill Scaurus. In this last named monastery, he embraced the monastic life under the guidance of Hilarion and Maximian, and was, later on, elected abbot. Shortly afterwards, he was created Cardinal-Deacon, and was by Pope Pelagius sent to Constantinople, as legate, to confer with the emperor Constantine. While there, he achieved that celebrated victory over the patriarch Eutychius, who had written against the resurrection of the flesh, maintaining that it would not be a real one. Gregory so convinced him of his error, that the emperor threw his book into the fire. Eutychius himself fell ill not long after, and when he perceived his last hour had come, he took between his fingers the skin of his hand, and said before the many who were there: ‘I believe that we shall all rise in this flesh.’
On his return to Rome, he was chosen Pope, by unanimous consent, for Pelagius had been carried off by the plague. He refused, as long as it was possible, the honour thus offered him. He disguised himself and hid himself in a cave; but he was discovered by a pillar of fire shining over the place, and was consecrated at Saint Peter’s. As Pontiff, he was an example to his successors by his learning and holiness of life. He every day admitted pilgrims to his table, among whom he received, on one occasion, an angel, and, on another, the Lord of angels, who wore the garb of a pilgrim. He charitably provided for the poor, both in and out of Rome, and kept a list of them. He re-established the Catholic faith in several places where it had fallen into decay. Thus, he put down the Donatists in Africa, and the Arians in Spain; and drove the Agnoites out of Alexandria. He refused to give the pallium to Syagrius, bishop of Autun, until he should have expelled the Neophyte heretics from Gaul. He induced the Goths to abandon the Arian heresy. He sent Augustine and other monks into Britain, and, by these learned and saintly men, converted that island to the faith of Christ Jesus; so that Bede truly calls him the Apostle of England. He checked the haughty pretensions of John, the patriarch of Constantinople, who had arrogated to himself the title of bishop of the universal Church. He obliged the emperor Mauritius to revoke the decree, whereby he had forbidden any soldier to become a monk.
He enriched the Church with many most holy practices and laws. In a Council held at St. Peter’s he passed several decrees. Among these, the following may be mentioned: That in the Mass the Kyrie eleison should be said nine times; that the Alleluia should always be said, except during the interval between Septuagesima and Easter. That these words should be inserted in the Canon: Diesque nostros in tua pace disponas (And mayst thou dispose our days in thy peace). He increased the number of processions (litanies) and stations, and completed the Office of the Church. He would have the four Councils, of Nicaea, Constantinople, Ephesus, and Chalcedon, to be received with the same honour as the four Gospels. He allowed the bishop of Sicily, who, according to the ancient custom of their Churches, used to visit Rome every three years, to make that visit once every fifth year. He wrote several books; and Peter the deacon assures us, that he frequently saw the Holy Ghost in the form of a dove resting on the head of the Pontiff, while he was dictating. It is a matter of wonder that, with his incessant sickness and ill health, he could have said, done, written, and decreed, as he did. At length, after performing many miracles, he was called to his reward in heaven, after a pontificate of thirteen years, six months and ten days; it was on the fourth of the Ides of March (March 12), which the Greeks also observe as a great feast, on account of this Pontiff’s extraordinary learning and virtue. His body was buried in the basilica of Saint Peter near the secretarium. (Dom Prosper Gueranger, The Liturgical Year.)
We need to pray to Pope Saint Gregory the Great in this, our time of apostasy and betrayal, a time of so much confusion, a time when so many once formerly close friends and family members have been divided, sometimes bitterly so, by the conceits of Modernity and Modernism. The following prayer to Pope Saint Gregory the Great, composed by Dom Prosper Gueranger, O.S.B., is one that we ourselves can offer at some point today as we conclude our Miraculous Novena of Grace–the three hundred eighty-eighth anniversary of the canonizations by Pope Gregory XV of Saints Francis Xavier, Ignatius Loyola, Philip Neri, and Saint Teresa of Avila–and as we continue our Novena to Saint Joseph prior to his feast day a week from today:
Thy life, great saint, was spent in the arduous toils of an apostle; but how rich was the harvest thou didst reap! Every fatigue seemed to thee light, if only thou couldst give to men the precious gift of faith; and the people to whom thou didst leave it have kept it with a constancy which is one of thy greatest glories. Pray for us, that this faith, without which it is impossible to please God, may take possession of our hearts and minds. It is by faith that the just man liveth, says the prophet, and it is faith that, during this holy season of Lent, is showing us the justice and mercy of God, in order that we may be converted, and offer to our offended Lord the tribute of our penance. We are afraid of what the Church imposes on us, simply because our faith is weak. If our principles were those of faith, we should soon be mortified men. Thy life, though so innocent, and os rich in good works, was one of extraordinary penance: gain for us thy spirit, and help us to follow thee, at least at a humble distance. Pray for Erin, that dear country of thine, which loves and honours thee so fervently. She is threatened with danger even now, and many of her children have left the faith thou didst teach. An odious system of proselytism has disturbed thy flock; protect it, and suffer now the children of martyrs to be apostates. Let they fatherly care follow them that have been driven by suffering to emigrate from their native land: may they keep true to the faith, be witnesses of the true religion in the countries to which they have fled, and ever show themselves to be obedient children of the Church. May their misfortunes thus serve to advance the kingdom of God. Holy pontiff! intercede for England; pardon her the injustice she has shown to thy children; and, by thy powerful prayers, hasten the happy day of her return to Catholic unity. Pray, too, for the whole Church; thy prayer, being that of an apostle, easily finds access to Him that sent thee. (Dom Prosper Gueranger, O.S.B., The Liturgical Year.)
As mentioned at the beginning of this reflection, today is the Second Sunday of Lent, one of three days that the Gospel of the Transfiguration is read. The other two days were yesterday, Ember Saturday in Lent, and, of course, the Feast of the Transfiguration of Our Lord Jesus Christ on August 6. The readings in today's Divine Office contain Pope Saint Leo the Great's explanation as to what Our Lord desired to accomplish by permitting Saints Peter, James and John to see a glipse of His radiant glory atop Mount Thabor in the presence of Moses and Elias:
Dearly beloved brethren, the Lesson from the Holy Gospel which, entering in by our bodily ears, hath knocked at the door of our inner mind, calleth us to understand a great mystery. This, by the grace of God, we shall the more readily do, if we return to consider what hath been told us just before. The Saviour of mankind, even Jesus Christ, laying the foundations of that faith whereby the ungodly are called to righteousness and the dead to life, instilled into the minds of His disciples, both by the voice of His teaching and the wonder of His works, that they should believe Him, the one Christ, to be both the Only-begotten Son of God and the Son of man. Had they believed Him one of these and not the other, it had availed them nothing to salvation; and the danger was equally great, of holding the Lord Jesus Christ to be God without the Manhood, or Man only without the Godhead, since we are constrained to acknowledge that He is perfect God and perfect Man, and that as there is in the Godhead perfect Manhood, so there is in the Manhood perfect Godhead.
To strengthen, therefore, the saving knowledge of this faith, the Lord had asked His disciples what, among the differing opinions of men, it was their own belief and judgment as to Who He was. Then did the Apostle Peter, by the revelation of That Father Who is above all, rising above fleshly things, yea, outstripping the thoughts of men, then did he fix the eyes of his mind upon the Son of the living God, and confess the glory of the Godhead, for he looked not on the substance of the flesh and blood only. And in all the exaltation of this faith so well did he please God, that he was gifted with that joyous blessing, the hallowed establishment of that impregnable rock, whereon the Church being founded, should prevail against the gates of hell and the laws of death; neither, when anything is to be bound or loosed, is any bound or loosed in heaven, otherwise than as the judgment of Peter hath bound or loosed it upon earth.
But, dearly beloved brethren, it behoved that the height of this understanding, which the Lord praised, should rest upon a foundation, and that foundation, the mystery of the lower nature, lest the faith of the Apostle, carried away by the glorious acknowledgment of the Godhead in Christ, should deem it unworthy and unnatural for the impassible God to take into Himself the frailty of our nature; and should thus believe that in Christ the Manhood had been so glorified as to be no longer able to suffer pain, or be dissolved in death. And therefore it was that, when the Lord said how that He must go up unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and rise again the third day, and the blessed Peter, bright with heavenly illumination, and still glowing from the passionate acknowledgment of the Divine Sonship, by a natural, and, as seemed to him, a godly shrinking, could not bear the mention of mockery and insult and a cruel death, he was corrected by the merciful rebuke of Jesus, and moved rather to desire to be a partaker in the sufferings of his Master. (As found in Matins, The Divine Office, Second Sunday of Lent. The New English Edition of The Mystical City of God explains Our Lady's account of the Transfiguration of her Divine Son atop Mount Thabor. See The Transfixion, Chapter Six: Book Six.)
As she has been throughout the history of the Church, including during the pontificate of Pope Saint Gregory the Great, Our Lady is our sure refuge in our own times of apostasy and betrayal. She wants to lead us to the glories of Heaven that were foreshadowed to our first pope and the sons of Zebedee atop Mount Thabor.
Our Lady has told us that we are in the crossing of her arms and in the folds of her mantle. Shouldn’t this be enough to us as we run to her every day, protected by her Brown Scapular and showing our heart’s oblation to her by praying as many Rosaries each day as our states-in-life permit?
We have Our Lady. She will shower us with the graces won for us by her Divine Son on the wood of the Holy Cross. She has told us that her Immaculate Heart will triumph in the end. May we keep close to her and to her Most Chaste Spouse, Saint Joseph, who is the patron of departing souls, so that we can have a blessed eternity in Heaven, where we can praise the Most Blessed Trinity with all of the angels and the saints, including Pope Saint Gregory the Great and all of those canonized on his feast day, this day, in 1622.
Immaculate Heart of Mary, triumph soon.
Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us!
Saint Joseph, Patron of Departing Souls, pray for us.
Saints Peter and Paul, pray for us.
Saint John the Baptist, pray for us.
Saint John the Evangelist, pray for us.
Saint Michael the Archangel, pray for us.
Saint Gabriel the Archangel, pray for us.
Saint Raphael the Archangel, pray for us.
Saints Joachim and Anne, pray for us.
Saints Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar, pray for us.
Pope Saint Gregory the Great, pray for us.
Saints Cosmas and Damian, pray for us.
Saint Francis Xavier, pray for us.
Saint Ignatius of Loyola, pray for us.
Saint Philip Neri, pray for us.
Saint Teresa of Avila, pray for us.
Pope Saint Gregory II, pray for us.
Pope Saint Gregory VII, pray for us.