Carissimi: Sunday’s Mass; IX Post Pentecost

alexiusSunday IX Post Pentecost; Commemoration of St Alexius, Confessor: Missa “Ecce Deus ádjuvat me

God is our Helper, and He will always come to our aid He will open the ears of His mercy to our prayers, and will not allow us to be tempted beyond our strength. Let us obey therefore with joy the precepts of the Lord; let us worthily attend In the temple the mysteries of the holy Mass, and partake of the Body of the Lord, the manna of our souls.

This day’s liturgy puts before us in the Epistle and Gospel, the terrible punishments incurred by the Israelites on account of their immorality and irreligion. Twenty-three thousand Hebrews perished in one day on account of their lust; several were killed by serpents for having tempted God by complaining that they had no other food but manna; many were killed by the destroying angel on account of their murmuring (Epistle), and over a million Jews perished when Jerusalem was destroyed for having rejected the Messiah. They were thrown out of the Kingdom of God as the sellers were driven from the temple which is its figure, for having transformed the house of prayer into a den of thieves (Gospel).

The Gentiles, called in their stead, must therefore be faithful to their vocation and take care not to fall in their turn (Epistle). Let them obey therefore with holy joy the commandments of the Lord (Offertory), let them worthily attend in the temple the Eucharistic mysteries in which the work of our redemption is daily enacted (Secret) and eat the flesh of Jesus which is the true manna of our souls (Communion).

Then will God always come to their help (Introit), He will open the ears of His Mercy to their prayers (Collect), and will not allow them to be tempted beyond their strength (Epistle).

INTROIT Psalm 53: 6-7

Behold God is my helper, and the Lord is the protector of my soul: turn back the evils upon my enemies, and cut them off in Thy truth, O Lord my protector. (Ps. 53: 3) Save me, 0 God, by Thy Name, and deliver me in Thy strength. v. Glory be…etc

COLLECT

Let Thy merciful ears, O Lord, be open to the prayers of Thy suppliant people: and that Thou mayest grant their desire to those that seek, make them to ask such things as shall please Thee. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, Forever and ever.

Commemoration S. Alexius confessor
O God, Who gladden us with the annual feast of blessed Alexius , Your Confessor, mercifully grant that, while honoring the anniversary of his death, we may also imitate his deeds.

Collect for the Intercession of the Saints
Defend us, we beseech Thee, O Lord, from all dangers of mind and body: and through the intercession of the blessed and glorious Mary, ever Virgin, mother of God, of St Joseph, of Thy holy apostles, Peter and Paul, and of all the saints, in Thy loving-kindness grant us safety and peace; that, all adversities and errors being overcome, Thy Church may serve Thee in security and freedom. Through our Lord.

Collect for God’s Holy Church
Graciously hear, O Lord, the prayers of Thy Church that, having overcome all adversity and every error, she may serve Thee in security and freedom. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, Forever and ever.

EPISTLE I Corinthians 10. 6-13

Lesson from the Epistle of Blessed Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians. Brethren, let us not covet evil things, as they also coveted: Neither become ye idolaters, as some of them: as it is written “The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed fornication, and there fell in one day three and twenty thousand. Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them tempted, and perished by the serpents. Neither do you murmur, as some of them murmured, and were destroyed by the destroyer. Now all these things happened to them in figure, and they are written for our correction, upon whom the ends of the world are to come. Wherefore he that thinketh himself to stand, let him take heed lest he fall. Let no temptation take hold on you, but such as is human: and God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that which you are able but will make also with temptation issue, that you may be able to bear it.

GRADUAL/ALLELUIA Psalm 8: 2

O Lord, our Lord, how admirable is Thy Name in the whole earth. V. For Thy magnificence is elevated above the Heavens. Alleluia, alleluia. V. (Ps. 58: 3) Deliver me from my enemies, O my God: and defend me from them that rise up against me. Alleluia.

GOSPEL Luke 16: 41-47

At that time, when Jesus drew near to Jerusalem, seeing the city, He wept over it, saying: If thou also hadst known, and that in this thy day, the things that are to thy peace: but now they are hidden from thy eyes. For the days shall come upon thee, and thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee on every side and beat thee flat to the ground, and thy children who are in thee; and they shall not leave in thee a stone upon a stone, because thou hast not known the time of thy visitation.” And entering into the temple, He began to cast out them that sold therein, and them, that bought, saying to them: “It is written, ‘My house is the house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves’.” And He was teaching daily in the temple.

OFFERTORY ANTIPHON Psalm 18: 9-12

The justices of the Lord are right, rejoicing hearts, and His judgments sweeter than honey and the honeycomb: for Thy servant keepeth them.

SECRET

Grant to us, we beseech Thee, O Lord, that we may worthily frequent these Mysteries: for as often as the memorial of this Victim is celebrated, the work of our redemption is wrought. Through our Lord Jesus Christ Thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God Forever and ever.

Commemoration S. Alexius confessor
We offer You sacrifices of praise, O Lord, in memory of Your Saints; trusting that by them we may be delivered from both present and future evils.

Secret for the Intercession of the Saints
Graciously hear us, O God our Saviour, and, by virtue of this Sacrament, defend us from all enemies of soul and body, bestowing upon us Thy grace here and Thy glory hereafter. Through our Lord.

Secret for God’s Holy Church
Protect us, O Lord, who assist at Thy mysteries, that, cleaving to things divine, we may serve Thee both in body and in mind. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God Forever and ever.

PREFACE of the Blessed Trinity

It is truly meet and just, right and for our salvation, that we should at all times, and in all places, give thanks unto Thee, O holy Lord, Father almighty, everlasting God. Who, together with Thine only-begotten Son, and the Holy Ghost, art one God, one Lord: not in the oneness of a single Person, but in the Trinity of one Substance. For what we believe by Thy revelation of Thy glory, the same do we believe of Thy Son, the same of the Holy Ghost, without difference or separation. So that in confessing the true and everlasting Godhead, distinction in persons, unity in essence, and equality in majesty may be adored. Which the angels and archangels, the cherubim also and seraphim do praise: who cease not daily to cry out, with one voice saying:

COMMUNION ANTIPHON  John 6: 57

He that eateth My Flesh, and drinketh My Blood, abideth in Me, and I in him, saith the Lord.

POSTCOMMUNION

May the communion of Thy Sacrament, we beseech Thee, O Lord, bring to us cleansing and grant us unity. Through the Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God For ever and ever.

Commemoratio S. Alexius confessor
Refreshed with heavenly food and drink, we humbly pray You, our God, that we also may be helped by his prayers in memory of whom we have partaken.

Postcommunion for the Intercession of the Saints
May the gift of this Divine Sacrament which we have offered, cleanse us and defend us, we beseech Thee, O Lord; and through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, mother of God, of St. Joseph, of Thy holy apostles Peter and Paul, and of all the saints, free us from all iniquity and deliver us from all adversity.  Through the same Lord.

Postcommunion for God’s Holy Church
O Lord our God, we pray Thee that Thou suffer not to succumb to human hazards those whom Thou hast been pleased to make sharers of divine mysteries. Through the same Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God, For ever and ever.

July 17 is traditionally the feast of the holy, humble confessor Saint Alexius. According to the most recent researches he was an Eastern saint whose veneration was transplanted from the Byzantine empire to Rome, whence it spread rapidly throughout western Christendom. Together with the name and veneration of the Saint, his legend was made known to Rome and the West by means of Latin versions and recensions based on the form current in the Byzantine Orient. This process was facilitated by the fact that according to the earlier Syriac legend of the Saint, the “Man of God,” of Edessa (identical with St. Alexius) was a native of Rome. The Greek legend, which antedates the ninth century and is the basis of all later versions, makes Alexius the son of a distinguished Roman named Euphemianus.

The night of his marriage he secretly left his father’s house and journeyed to Edessa in the Syrian Orient where, for seventeen years, he led the life of a pious ascetic. As the fame of his sanctity grew, he left Edessa and returned to Rome, where, for seventeen years, he dwelt as a beggar under the stairs of his father’s palace, unknown to his father or wife. After his death, assigned to the year 417, a document was found on his body, in which he revealed his identity. He was forthwith honored as a saint and his father’s house was converted into a church placed under the patronage of Alexius.

In this expanded form the legend is first found in a hymn (canon) of the Greek hymnographer Josephus (d. 883). It also occurs in a Syrian biography of Alexius, written not later than the ninth century, and which presupposes the existence of a Greek life of the Saint. The latter is in turn based on an earlier Syriac legend (referred to above), composed at Edessa between 450 and 475. Although in this latter document the name of Alexius is not mentioned, he is manifestly the same as the “Man of God” of whom this earlier Syriac legend relates that he lived in Edessa during the episcopate of Bishop Rabula (412-435) as a poor beggar, and solicited alms at the church door. These he divided among the rest of the poor, after reserving barely enough for the absolute necessities of life.

He died in the hospital and was buried in the common grave of the poor. Before his death, however, he revealed to one of the church servants that he was the only son of distinguished Roman parents. After the Saint’s death, the servant told this to the Bishop. Thereupon the grave was opened, but only his pauper’s rags were now found therein. How far this account is based on historical tradition is hard to determine. Perhaps the only basis for the story is the fact that a certain pious ascetic at Edessa lived the life of a beggar and was later venerated as a saint.

In addition to this earlier Syriac legend, the Greek author of the later biography of St. Alexius, which we have mentioned above as having been written before the ninth century, probably had in mind also the events related in the life of St. John Calybata, a young Roman patrician, concerning whom a similar story is told. In the West we find no trace of the name Alexius in any martyrology or other liturgical book previous to the end of the tenth century; he seems to have been completely unknown. He first appears in connection with St. Boniface as titular saint of a church on the Aventine at Rome. On the site now occupied by the church of Sant’ Alessio there was at one time a diaconia, i.e. an establishment for the care of the poor of the Roman Church. Connected with this was a church which by the eighth century had been in existence for some time and was dedicated to St. Boniface.

In 972 Pope Benedict VII transferred the almost abandoned church to the exiled Greek metropolitan, Sergius of Damascus. The latter erected beside the church a monastery for Greek and Latin monks, soon made famous for the austere life of its inmates. To the name of St. Boniface was now added that of St. Alexius as titular saint of the church and monastery. It is evidently Sergius and his monks who brought to Rome the veneration of St. Alexius. The Oriental Saint, according to his legend a native of Rome, was soon very popular with the folk of that city. Among the frescoes executed towards the end of the eleventh century in the Roman basilica of St. Clement (now the lower church of San Clemente) are very interesting representations of events in the life of St. Alexius.

His feast is observed on the 17th of July, in the West; in the East, on the 17th of March. The church of Sts. Alexius and Boniface on the Aventine has been renovated in modern times but several medieval monuments are still preserved there. Among them the visitor is shown the alleged stairs of the house of Euphemianus under which Alexius is said to have lived.

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