St Chad, Bishop & Confessor, Apostle to Mercia; Commemoration of the Thursday after Ash Wednesday: Missa “Sacerdotes tui“
St Chad was the first bishop of Mercia and Lindsey at Lichfield. He was the brother of Cedd, whom he succeeded as Abbot of Lastingham, North Yorkshire, and a disciple of Aidan who sent him to Ireland as part of his education. Chad was chosen by Oswi, king of Northumbria, as bishop of the Northumbrian see, while Wilfrid, who had been chosen for Deira by the sub-king Alcfrith, was absent in Gaul seeking consecration shortly after the Synod of Whitby (663/4). Faced with a dearth of bishops in England, Chad was unwise enough to be consecrated by the simoniacal Wine of Dorchester, assisted by two dubious British bishops. Wilfrid on his return to England in 666, found that Alcfrith was dead or exiled and retired to Ripon, leaving Chad in occupation. But in 669 Theodore, Archbishop of Canterbury, restored Wilfrid to York and deposed Chad (who retired to Lastingham), but soon reconsecrated him to be bishop of the Mercians. This unusual step was due both to the new opening for Christianity in Mercia and to the excellent character of Chad himself, whom both Eddius and Bede recognised as being unusually humble, devout, zealous and apostolic. Chad’s episcopate of three years laid the foundations of the see of Lichfield according to the decrees of Theodore’s council at Hertford, which established diocesan organisation. Wulfhere, king of Mercia, gave him fifty hides of land for a monastery at Barow (Lincolnshire); he also established a monastery close to Lichfield Cathedral.
Chad died on March 2nd 672 and was buried in the Church of St Mary. At once, according to Bede, he was venerated as a saint and his relics were translated to the Cathedral Church of St Peter. Cures were claimed in both churches. Bede described his first shrine as ‘a wooden coffin in the shape of a little house with an aperture in the side through which the devout can…take out some of the dust, which they put into water and give to sick cattle or men to drink, upon which they are presently eased of their infirmity and restored to health’.
His relics were translated in 1148 and moved to the Lady Chapel in 1296. An even more splendid shrine was built by Robert Stretton, bishop of Lichfield (1360-85) of marble substructure with feretory adorned with gold and precious stones. Rowland Lee, bishop of Lichfield (1534-43), pleaded with Henry VIII to spare the shrine: this was done, but only for a time. At some unknown date the head and some other bones had been separated from the main shrine. Some of these, it was claimed, were preserved by recusants, and four large bones, believed to be Chad’s are in the Roman Catholic cathedral of Birmingham. A fine Mercian illuminated Gospel Book of the 8th century called the Gospels of St Chad was probably associated with his shrine, as the Lindisfarne Gospels were associated with the shrine of St Cuthbert; it is now in Lichfield Cathedral Library. The 11th century shrine list mentions the relics of Cedd and Hedda resting at Lichfield with Chad. Thirty-three ancient churches and several wells were dedicated to St Chad, mainly in the Midlands. There are also several modern dedications.
Commemoration of the Thursday after Ash Wednesday: The Mass is a call to penance. The Lesson from Isaiah recalls the warning given to Ezechias of his approaching death; the thought of death is a powerful inducement to us to change our mode of life. If we would only realize that the moment of our passing from this world to eternity may come unawares, we would implore earnestly a space of time in which to do penance, and resolve to lead a good life. More notes below about the Mass commemorated today.
INTROIT Psalm 131: 9-10
Let Thy priests, O Lord, be clothed with justice, and let Thy saints rejoice: for Thy servant David’s sake, turn not away the face of Thy anointed. V. O Lord, remember David, and all his meekness. v. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
Almighty, everlasting God, who givest us joy by today’s feast of thy blessed confessor bishop Chad, we humbly entreat thy gracious kindness that we who with devout service keep his festival may through his loving intercession gain the healing that brings everlasting life. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. R. Amen.
Commemoration of the Thursday after Ash Wednesday
God, Who art offended by sin, and appeased by penance, graciously regard the prayers of Thy people making supplication to Thee, and turn aside the scourge of Thy anger, which we deserve for our sins. Through Jesus Christ our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God Forever and ever. R.Amen.
EPISTLE Hebrews 7: 23-27
Lesson from the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Hebrews: Brethren, there were made many priests, because by reason of death they were not suffered to continue: but Jesus, for that He continueth forever, hath an everlasting priesthood. Whereby He is able also to save forever them that come to God by Him; always living to make intercession for us. For it was fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, and undefiled, separated from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; Who needeth not daily, as the other priests, to offer sacrifice first for His own sins, and then for the people’s; for this Jesus Christ our Lord did once, in offering Himself.
GRADUAL Psalm 131: 16-17
I will clothe her priests with salvation: and her saints shall rejoice with exceeding great joy. There will I bring forth a horn to David; I have prepared a lamp for my anointed.
TRACT Psalm 111:1-3
A blessed man is he who fears the Lord, bearing all love to his commandments. V. Children of his shall win renown in their own country: ever the sons of the just shall find a blessing. V. Esteem dwells with such a man and great prosperity: fame shall record his gracious deeds eternally.
GOSPEL Matthew 24: 42-47
At that time, Jesus said to His disciples: Watch, because you know not what hour your Lord will come. But this know ye, that, if the goodman of the house knew at what hour the thief would come, he would certainly watch, and would not suffer his house to be broken open. Wherefore be you also ready: because at what hour you know not the Son of man will come. Who, thinkest thou, is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath appointed over his family, to give them meat in season? Blessed is that servant, whom when his lord shall come he shall find so doing. Amen I say to you, he shall place him over all his goods.
OFFERTORY ANTIPHON Psalm 88: 25
My truth and My mercy shall be with him: and in My name shall his horn be exalted.
Be moved by our entreaties, Lord, we pray thee, and with thy blessed confessor bishop Chad pleading for us, grant that we ministers of thy heavenly sacraments may be free from every fault. Let thy purifying grace cleanse us through the very mysteries we serve. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. R. Amen.
Commemoration of the Thursday after Ash Wednesday
Be appeased, O Lord, We beseech Thee, and look upon the sacrifices here before Thee, that they may profit both our devotion and our salvation. 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. R.Amen.
PREFACE of the Common
It is truly meet and just, and profitable unto salvation, that we should at all times, and in all places, give thanks to thee, O Holy Lord, Father Almighty, eternal God, through Christ, our Lord. Though whom the angels praise thy majesty, the dominions adore it, the powers are in awe. Which the heavens and the hosts of heaven together with the blessed seraphim joyfully do magnify. And do thou command that it be permitted to us join with them in confessing thee, while we say with lowly praise:
COMMUNION ANTIPHON Matthew 24: 46-47
Blessed is that servant, whom when his lord cometh he shall find watching: Amen I say to you, he shall place him over all his goods.
Grant, we pray thee, Lord our God, that we who have been purified by the divine eucharist may, at the intercession of thy blessed confessor bishop Chad, move on to the fulfilment in heaven of this sacrament in which we have taken part. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. R. Amen.
Commemoration of the Thursday after Ash Wednesday
Having received the blessing of the heavenly gift, we beseech and supplicate Thee, O almighty God, that the same may be the cause both of the sacrament and of salvation. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Who livest and reignest, with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God For ever and ever. R. Amen.
PROPER LAST GOSPEL Matthew 8: 5-13
At that time, when Jesus had entered into Capharnaum, there came to Him a centurion, beseeching Him, and saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, and is grievously tormented. And Jesus said to him: “I will come and heal him.” And the centurion making answer said: Lord, I am not worthy that Thou shouldst enter under my roof: but only say the word, and my servant shall be healed.For I also am a man subject to authority, having under me soldiers; and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth, and to another, Come, and he cometh, and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. And Jesus hearing this marvelled; and said to them that followed Him: “Amen I say to you, I have not found so great faith in Israel. And I say to you that many shall come from the east and from the west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven: but the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into exterior darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” And Jesus said to the centurion: “Go, and as thou hast believed, so be it done to thee.” And the servant was healed at the same hour.
Today’s station – Surrounded by the ruins of the empire that put its patron to death, the humble church of St. George in the Velabrum is a continuing reminder of the faith and sacrifice of that great saint..
The station at St. George’s was instituted by St. Gregory II (715-31), when the cultus of the great Cappadocian martyr had become exceedingly popular in Rome. A titular church already existed here in 482, as an inscription of that date mentions an Augustus lector de Belabru, but the dedication to St. George was certainly of later date.
Today’s Gospel, telling of the centurion of Capharnaum, alludes to the military character ascribed by tradition to St. George, which caused him to be specially invoked during the Middle Ages as the armed champion of the Christian family.
The Mass is a call to penance. The Lesson from Isaiah recalls the warning given to Ezechias of his approaching death; the thought of death is a powerful inducement to us to change our mode of life. If we would only realize that the moment of our passing from this world to eternity may come unawares, we would implore earnestly a space of time in which to do penance, and resolve to lead a good life.