Saturday, December 11, 2021

Saint Damasus, Pope and Martyr


This great Pontiff comes before us in the Liturgical Year not to bring us tidings of Peace, as St. Melchiades did, but as one of the most illustrious defenders of the great Mystery of the Incarnation. He defends the faith of the Universal Church in the divinity of the Word, by condemning, as his predecessor Liberius had done, the acts and the authors of the celebrated Council of Rimini. With his sovereign authority, he bears witness to the teaching of the Church regarding the Humanity of Jesus Christ, and condemned the heretic Apollinaris, who taught that Jesus Christ had only assumed the flesh and not the soul of man. He commissioned St. Jerome to make a new translation of the New Testament from the Greek, for the use of the Church of Rome; here, again, giving a further proof of the faith and love which he bore to the Incarnate Word. Let us honor this great Pontiff, whom the Council of Chalcedon calls the ornament and support of Rome by his piety. St. Jerome, too, who looked upon St. Damasus as his friend and patron, calls him a man of the greatest worth; a man whose equal could not be found, well versed in the holy Scriptures, and a virgin Doctor of the virgin Church. The Legend of the Breviary gives us a brief account of his life.

Damasus Hispanus, vir egregius et eruditus in Scripturis, indicto primo Constantinopolitano Concilio, neferiam Eunomii et Macedonii hæresim exstinxit. Idem Ariminensem conventum a Liberio jam ante rejectum, iterum condemnavit: in quo, ut scribut sanctus Hieronymus, Valentis potissimum et Ursascii fraudibus damnatio Nicenæ fideo conclamata fuit, et ingemiscens orbis terrarum, se Arianum esse miratus est. Damasus was a Spaniard, a man of highest worth, and learned in the Scriptures. He called the first Council of Constantinople, in which he condemned the impious heresy of Eunomius and Macedonius. He also condemned the Council of Rimini, which had already been rejected by Liberius, inasmuch as it was in this assembly of Rimini, as St. Jerome tells us, that mainly by the craft of Valens and Ursascius, was published a condemnation of the faith which had been taught by the Nicene Council, and thus the whole world grieved to find itself made Arian.
Basilicas duas ædificavit; alteram sancti Laurentii nomine ad theatrum Pompeii, quam maximis nuneribus auxit, eique domos, et prædia attribuit: alteram via Ardeatina ad Catacumbas. Platoniam etiam, ubi corpora sanctorum Petri et Pauli aliquandiu jacuerunt, dedicavit, et exornavit elegantibus versibus. Idemque prosa, et versu scripsit de Virginitate, multaque alia metro edidit. He built two Basilicas; one dedicated to St. Laurence, near Pompey’s theater, and this he endowed with magnificent presents, with houses and with lands: the other, on the Ardeatine Way, at the Catacombs. The bodies of SS. Peter and Paul lay for some time in a place richly adorned with marbles; this place he dedicated and composed for it several inscriptions in beautiful verses. He also wrote on Virginity, both in prose and verse, and several other poems.
Pœ talionis constituit iis, qui alterum falsi criminis accusassent. Statuit, ut quod pluribus jam locis erat in usu, Psalmi per omnes Ecclesias die noctuque ab alternis canerentur; et in fine cujusque Psalmi diceretur Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto. Ejus jussu sanctus Hieronimus novum Testamentum Græcæ fidei reddidit. Quum Ecclesiam rexisset annos decem et septem, menses duos, dies viginti, et habuisset Ordinationes quinque mense Decembri, quibus cravit Presbyteros triginta unu, Diaconos undecim, Episcopos per diversa lex sexaginta duos; virtute, doctrina, ac prudentia clarus, prope octogenarius, Theodosio seniore imperante, obdormivit in Domino, et via Ardeatina una cum matre et sorore sepultus est in Basilica, quam ipse ædificaverat. Illius reliquiæ postea translatæ sunt in ecclesiam sancti Laurentii, eb ejus nomine in Damaso vocatam. He established the law of retaliation for cases of false accusation. He decreed that, as was the custom in many places, the Psalms should be sung in all churches in alternate choirs, day and night; and that at the end of each Psalm, there should be added: Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. It was by his order that St. Jerome translated the New Testament from the Greek text. He governed the Church seventeen years, two months, and twenty days; and five times during this period, he gave Ordinations, in the month of December, to thirty-one Priests, eleven Deacons, and sixty-two Bishops, for divers places. Conspicuous for his virtue, learning, and prudence, and having lived little short of eighty years, he slept in the Lord, during the reign of Theodosius the Great. He was buried in the Basilica which he had built on the Ardeatine Way, where also lay his mother and sister. His relics were afterwards translated to the Church of St. Laurence, called after him, St. Laurence’s in Damaso.

Holy Pontiff Damasus! during thy life on earth, thou wast the Light, which guided the children of the Church; for thou didst teach them the mystery of the Incarnation, and didst guard them against those perfidious doctrines, wherewith hell ever strives to corrupt that glorious Symbol of our faith, which tells us of God’s infinite mercy towards us, and of the sublime dignity of man thus mercifully redeemed. Seated on the Chair of Peter, thou didst confirm thy brethren, and thy faith failed not; for Jesus had prayed to his Father for thee. We rejoice at the infinite recompense with which this divine Prince of Pastors has rewarded the unsullied purity of thy faith, O thou virgin Doctor of the virgin Church! O that we could have a ray of that light which now enables thee to see Jesus in his glory! Pray for us, that we may have light to see him, and know him, and love him under the humble guise in which he is so soon to appear to us. Obtain for us the science of the sacred Scriptures, in which thou wast so great a Master; and docility to the teachings of the Bishop of Rome, to who, in the person of St. Peter, Christ has said: Launch out into the deep!

Obtain also for all Christians, O thou the successor of this Prince of the Apostles, that they be animated with those sentiments, which St. Jerome thus describes in one of his letters addressed to thee: “It is the Chair of Peter that I will consult, for from it do I derive that faith, which is the food for my soul. I will search for this precious pearl, heeding not the vast expanse of sea and land which I must pass over. Where the body is, there shall the eagles be gathered together. It is now in the West that the Sun of justice rises. I ask the Victim of salvation from the Priest, and from the Shepherd the protection of the sheep. On that rock I know the Church is built. He that eats the Lamb in any house but this, is profane. He that is not in Noah’s Ark, shall perish in the waters of the deluge. I know not Vitalis, I reject Meletius, I pass by Paulinus. He that gathers not with thee, Damasus, scatters; for he that is not of Christ, is of Antichrist.”

Let us contemplate our divine Savior in the womb of his most holy Mother Mary. Let us, together with the holy Angels, adore him in this state of profound humiliation, to which his love for us has brought him. See him there offering himself to his Father for the redemption of mankind, and commencing at once to fulfill the office of our Mediator, which he has taken upon himself. What an excess of love is this of our Jesus, that he is not satisfied with having humbled himself in assuming our nature, and which alone would have sufficed to redeem a million worlds! The eternal Son of God wills to remain, as other children, nine months in his Mother’s womb: after that, to be born in poverty, to live a life of labor and suffering, and to be obedient to death even to the death of the Cross. O Jesus! mayest thou be praised and loved by all creatures for this thy immense love of us! Thou hast come down from heaven the Victim that art to take the place of all those which were hitherto offered, but which could not efface man’s sin. At length, the earth possesses its Savior, though as yet unseen. No, God will not curse the earth, which, though covered with crime, is rich in such a treasure as this. Still repose, O Jesus, in the chaste womb of Mary, that living Ark which contains the true Manna sent for the food of man. But the time is approaching for thee to leave this loved sanctuary. The tender love which thou hast received from Mary must be changed for the malice wherewith men will treat thee; yet it must needs be that thou be born on the day which thou thyself hast decreed: it is the will of thy eternal Father, it is the expectation of the world, it is the salvation of all who shall love thee.

Prose in Honor of the Blessed Virgin
(Taken from the Cluny Missal of 1523)
Ave, mundi gloria,
Virgo Mater Maria,
Ave, benignissima.
Hail, thou glory of the world; hail, Virgin Mother; hail, most merciful Mary!
Ave, plena gratia,
Angelorum domina,
Ave, præclarissima.
Hail, full of grace; hail, Queen of the Angels; hail, most glorious Mary!
Ave, decus Virginum,
Ave, salus hominum,
Ave, potentissima.
Hail, Virgin of Virgins; hail, protectress of men; hail, most powerful Mary!
Ave, Mater Domini,
Genitrix Altissimi,
Ave, prudentissima.
Hail, Mother of the Lord; hail, parent of the Most High; hail, most prudent Mary!
Ave, mater gloriæ,
Mater indulgentiæ,
Ave, beatissima.
Hail, Mother of glory; hail, Mother of mercy; hail, most blessed Mary!
Ave, vena veniæ,
Fons misericordiæ,
Ave clementissima.
Hail, source of pardon; hail, fount of pity; hail, most clement Mary!
Ave, mater luminis,
Ave, honor ætheris,
Ave, porta cœlica,
Ave, serenissima!
Hail, mother of light; hail, honor of the firmament; hail, gate of heaven; hail, most gentle Mary!
Ave, candens lilium,
Ave, opobalsamum,
Ave, fumi virgula,
Ave, splendidissima.
Hail, fair lily; hail, precious fragrance; hail, sweet incense; hail, most resplendent Mary!
Ave, mitis,
Ave, dulcis,
Ave, pia,
Ave, læta,
Ave, lucidissima.
Hail, O meek; hail, O sweet; hail, O merciful; hail, O joyous; hail, O most beautiful Mary!
Ave, porta,
Ave, virga,
Ave, rubus,
Ave, vellus,
Ave, felicissima.
Hail, gate of heaven; hail, branch prophetic; hail, flaming bush; hail, mystic fleece; hail, most happy Mary!
Ave, clara cœ gemma,
Ave, alma Christi cella,
Ave, venustissima.
Hail, beautiful pearl of heaven; hail, fruitful abode of Christ; hail, most comely Mary!
Ave, virga Jesse data,
Ave, scala cœli facta,
Ave, nobilissima.
Hail, branch of Jesse; hail, mystic ladder that reaches to heaven; hail, most noble Mary!
Ave, stirpe generosa,
Ave, prole gloriosa,
Ave, fœtu gaudiosa,
Ave, excellentissima.
Hail, daughter of a kingly race; hail, Mother of a Son who is God; hail, full of joy at the birth of this Son; hail, most unrivalled Mary!
Ave, Virgo singularis,
Ave, dulce salutaris,
Ave, digna admirari,
Ave, admirandissima.
Hail, peerless Virgin; hail, lovely source of our happiness; hail, wonderful in thy graces; hail, most admirable Mary!
Ave, turtur, tu quæ munda
Castitate, sed fœcunda
Charitate, tu columba,
Ave, pudicissima.
Hail, spotless Dove, pure in thy chastity, yet fruitful in charity; hail, immaculate Mary!
Ave, mundi imperatrix,
Ave, nostra mediatrix,
Ave, mundi sublevatrix,
Ave, nostrum gaudium.
Hail, empress of the world; hail, mediatrix of men; hail, protectress of the world; hail, joy of our hearts!
Amen. Amen.
Prayer For the Time of Advent
(The Mozarabic Breviary, Monday of the First Week of Advent)
Oratio. Prayer.
Nunciatem ecce vocem jucunditatis et lætitiæ, quam de tua, Christi, Incarnatione audivimus, ut in nobis dulciori efficiamur charitate fruentiores, imploramus tuæ magnitudinis exspectantes potentiam; ut ita in nobis vocis hujus effectus usquequaque præpolleat, ut non confundamur in ea, quum manifestata nobis fuerit gloria tua. Amen. The tidings we have heard of thy Incarnation, O Jesus, have filled us with gladness and joy. We beseech thee, grant that we who are expecting the manifestation of thy power, may enjoy the abundant sweetness of charity; that thus corresponding to the grace of the mystery announced to us, we may not be confounded when thy glory shall appear to us. Amen.


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