Feast of Our Lady of Victory (/of the Most Holy Rosary): Missa “Gaudeamus omnes“
October 7th is the anniversary of the glorious victory won in 1571 by the Christian forces over the Turkish fleet at Lepanto. This triumph of the Cross over the Crescent was universally attributed to the powerful intercession of the Mother of God, whom Pope St. Pius V fervently invoked with her Rosary in his hand, and to whom the prayers of all Christendom were addressed. Two years after this great favor had been obtained, Pope Gregory XIII instituted an annual feast of thanksgiving to be celebrated on the First Sunday of October in all churches where an altar in honor of the Blessed Virgin of the Rosary had been erected. From being a local festival this celebration gradually spread and became general, until Pope Leo XIII raised it to the rank of a double of the second class for the whole Church.
The devotion of the Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary dates at least from the Twelfth Century. The glory of having read this form of prayer with such extraordinary success is certainly due to the Dominican Order, and, owing to their zeal, the Rosary soon became the most popular devotion throughout the Christian world.
The Holy Rosary as it is now recited, and enriched with great indulgences, represents, after the Divine Office, what may be described as a popular Breviary of the Gospel. By meditating on the appropriate mysteries it may be adapted to the Liturgical Cycle, and because it unites vocal with mental prayer the Rosary is regarded as the most beautiful and approved devotion of the Latin Church. In its present form the Rosary was revealed by St. Dominic, the founder of the Order of Friars Preachers, in order to stem the flood of the Albigensian heresy, then spreading far and wide throughout Europe. He propagated this form of prayer in obedience to a revelation received from the Blessed Virgin, to whom he had recourse for this purpose, about the year 1206, and to him was due the spread of a devotion which for many centuries has produced the most marvelous results in the Christian world.
The decisive defeat of the Turks at the famous battle of Lepanto (A. D. 1571) and at Belgrade (A. D. 1716) gave occasion both to the institution of this Feast and to its extension to the Universal Church.
Today is the feast of Pope Saint Mark, a Roman priest who was the right hand of Pope St. Sylvester, during the latter’s pontificate, and finally succeeded him. St. Mark’s term as Pope lasted only eight months, for he was called to his eternal reward in the year 336. Pope Damasus records of him that his life was blameless and full of love of God. He cared little for honors and despised earthly things, for his inmost heart was attached to virtue alone. He was the champion of justice and a perfect lover of Christ.
Today is also the feast with a commemoration of the holy martyrs Saints Sergius, Bacchus, Marcellus, and Apuleius. Sergius and Bacchus were at one time officers in the imperial army. After many tortures they were put to death for being Christians. The date of their martyrdom, which took place in the Third Century, is uncertain. Together with them are honored two Roman martyrs, Marcellus and Apuleius, probably their contemporaries.
Let us all rejoice in the Lord, celebrating a feast in honor of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary: at whose solemnity the angels rejoice and join in praising the Son of God . (Ps. 44: 2) My heart hath uttered a good word; I speak my works to the King. 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. Repeat Let us all rejoice…
O God, Whose only-begotten Son, by His life, death and resurrection, has merited for us the grace of eternal salvation, grant, we beseech You, that, meditating on those mysteries in the most holy rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we may imitate what they contain and obtain what they promise. Through the same Jesus Christ, thy Son, Our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end.
Commemoratio Dominica XX Post Pentecosten II. Octobris
O Lord, we beseech You, graciously grant Your faithful forgiveness and peace, that they may be cleansed of all sin and serve You with minds free from care.
For ST. MARK
Look forgivingly on thy flock, Eternal Shepherd, and keep it in thy constant protection, by the intercession of blessed Mark thy Sovereign Pontiff, whom thou didst constitute Shepherd of the whole Church.
For S. Sergius and Companions martyrs
May the blessed merits of Your holy Martyrs, Sergius, Bacchus, Marcellus and Apuleius, continually benefit us, O Lord, and make us ever fervent in Your love. 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.
EPISTLE Proverbs 8:22-24, 32-35.
Lesson from the book of Proverbs. The Lord begot me, the firstborn of His ways, the forerunner of His prodigies of long ago; from of old I was poured forth, at the first, before the earth. When there were no depths I was brought forth. So now, O children, listen to me; happy those who keep my ways. Hear instruction, and be wise, and refuse it not. Happy the man who obeys me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at my doorposts; for he who finds me finds life, and wins favor from the Lord.
Because of truth, and meekness, and justice: and thy right hand shall conduct thee wonderfully. V. Hear, O daughter, and see, and incline thine ear; for the King hath desired thy beauty. Alleluia, alleluia. V. The solemnity of the glorious Virgin Mary, of the seed of Abraham, sprung from the tribe of Juda, of the noble line of David. Alleluia.
GOSPEL Luke 1: 26-38
At that time, the angel Gabriel was sent from God into a city of Galilee, called Nazareth, to virgin espoused to man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David: and the virgin’s name was Mary. And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. Who having heard, was troubled at his saying and thought with herself what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said to her: Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found grace with God. Behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb and shalt bring forth a Son; and thou shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great and shall be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of David His father: and He shall reign in the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there shall be no end. And Mary said to the angel, How shall this be done, because I know not man? And the angel answering said to her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee. And therefore also the Holy which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. And behold thy cousin Elizabeth, she also hath conceived a son in her old age; and this is the sixth month with her that is called barren; because no word shall be impossible with God. And Mary said: Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done to me according to thy word.
OFFERTORY ANTIPHON Ecclus. 24: 25, 39, 17
In me is all grace of the way and of the truth; in me is all hope of life and of virtue. Like a rose planted on the rivers I have borne fruit.
Grant us, we beseech You, O Lord, to be properly prepared to offer these gifts, and, through the mysteries of the most holy Rosary, so to keep in mind the life, passion and glory of Your only-begotten Son, that we may be made worthy of His promises. Who livest and reignest with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. R. Amen
Commemoratio Dominica XX Post Pentecosten II. Octobris
May these sacramental rites, O Lord, we beseech You, be our heavenly medicine and expel evil from our hearts.
For St. Mark, Pope
By the offered gifts we beseech thee, O Lord, that thou kindly enlighten thy Church, so that thy flock may everywhere progress and prosper, and thy shepherds, under thy guidance may be pleasing to thy name.
For St. Sergius and Companions
By the worthy prayer of Your Saints, we beseech You, O Lord, may this victim, fitting for sacrifice, cause Your Majesty to be appeased in us. 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.
PREFACE of the Blessed Virgin Mary
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: and that we should praise and bless, and proclaim Thee, in the Festivitate of the Blessed Mary, ever-Virgin: Who also conceived Thine only-begotten Son by the overshadowing of the Holy Ghost, and the glory of her virginity still abiding, gave forth to the world the everlasting Light, Jesus Christ our Lord. Through whom the Angels praise Thy Majesty, the Dominations worship it, and the Powers stand in awe. The Heavens and the heavenly hosts together with the blessed Seraphim in triumphant chorus unite to celebrate it. Together with these we entreat Thee that Thou mayest bid our voices also to be admitted while we say with lowly praise: Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Sabaoth!
COMMUNION ANTIPHON Ecclus. 39: 19
Send forth flowers, as the lily, and yield a smell, and bring forth leaves in grace, and praise with canticles, and bless the Lord in His works.
May the prayers of Your most holy Mother, whose Rosary we are honoring, help us, we beseech You, O Lord, that we may derive strength from the mysteries we celebrate and obtain benefit from the sacrament we have received. Who livest and reignest with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end.
Commemoratio Dominica XX Post Pentecosten II. Octobris
That we may be made worthy, O Lord, of Your sacred gifts, make us, we beseech You, ever obedient to Your commandments.
For St. Mark, Pope
Being appeased, O Lord, guide thy Church, which has been nourished by holy refreshment, that under thy direction and powerful rule it may receive increase of liberty and may continue in religious integrity.
For St. Sergius and Companions
May we be strengthened, O Lord, by the sacrament we have received, and protected through the intercession of Your holy Martyrs, Sergius, Bacchus, Marcellus and Apuleius, by heavenly armor against all the wickedness besetting us. 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.
PROPER LAST GOSPEL John 4:46-53
At that time, there was a certain royal official whose son was lying sick at Capharnaum. When he heard that Jesus had come from Judea into Galilee, he went to Him and besought Him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death. Jesus therefore said to him, Unless you see signs and wonders, you do not believe. The royal official said to Him, Sir, come down before my child dies. Jesus said to him, Go your way, your son lives. The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him, and departed. But even as he was now going down, his servants met him and brought word saying that his son lived. He asked of them therefore the hour in which he had got better. And they told him, Yesterday, at the seventh hour, the fever left him. The father knew then that it was at that very hour in which Jesus had said to him, Your son lives. And he himself believed, and his whole household.
Sunday XX Post Pentecost: Missa “Omnia, quæ fecisti nobis”
The lessons in the divine office during the whole month of October, are often taken from the books of Machabees. Thus, let us strive to make the following thoughts our own, acknowledging that our misfortunes have been brought about by our unfaithfulness in following the divine will (Introit). Let us pray God to cease chastising us, to pardon and heal us (Gospel), that His Church may serve Him in peace (Collect). Then full of hope in the help of the most High and of faith in Christ, let us “be filled with the Holy Spirit”, Who, in this time after Pentecost, should be constantly in our minds and, “in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, let us sing psalms in our churches to the glory of God, who has freed us from the bondage of death and who, in the evil days at the end of the world (Epistle), will deliver all those who have faith in Him.
After the Babylonian captivity God’s people returned to Jerusalem where they rebuilt the Temple. Incidentally, it was at this time that today’s Offertory psalm was composed. But soon they were once more punished because of renewed unfaithfulness. On this occasion Antiochus Epiphanes took Jerusalem and pillaged the Temple; afterwards publishing an edict everywhere forbidding the practice of the Jewish faith. Idolatrous altars were raised in every place, and the number of apostates became so great that it seemed as if the faith of Abraham, Israel and Moses must disappear.
Then God raised up some heroes. A priest named Mathathias rallied all who were still filled with zeal for the Law and the worship of the Covenant and named his son Judas Machabeus as leader of the force which he had raised to champion the rights of the true God; and with his tiny army Judas gladly fought the battles of Israel. In war he was “like a lion and like a lion’s welp roaring for his prey”. He wiped out “the wicked” and routed Antiochus’ great army and re-established the true worship at Jerusalem. Filled with the Spirit of God, the Machabees had reconquered their country and saved the soul of their people. “The sacrilegious superstitions of the Gentile world,” says St. Augustine, “had filled the temple with defilement; but is was cleansed from all these profanations of idolatry by that most valiant captain Judas Machabeus, the conqueror of the generals of Antiochus” (Second Sunday in October, second Nocturn). Again, St. Ambrose comments: “Some men have been captivated by the glory of arms, and rate courage in warfare above all else. But not of this kind was the valour of Josue, who, in a single battle, took six kings prisoners. With three hundred men Gedeon triumphed over a powerful army. Jonathas, while still a boy, distinguished himself by some fine feats of arms.
And what shall we say of the Machabees? With three thousand Jews they conquered forty-eight thousand Syrians! We can form some idea of the mettle of a captain like Judas Machabeus, from the action of one of his soldiers. This man, Eleazar, having noticed an elephant taller than the rest and covered with the royal body-cloth, concluding that it was being ridden by the king himself, ran with all his might into the midst of the hostile legion and throwing away his shield, slew right and left with both hands until he reached the elephant, underneath which he crept and pierced it with his sword. The animal fell and Eleazar perished under its weight. Smothered rather than crushed, he was buried in triumph” (First Sunday of October, second Nocturn).
With a view to tracing a parallel between the breviary and the missal in today’s liturgy we may observe that in the same way that the Machabees, who were soldiers, approached almighty God successfully to make sure that their race should not perish, but that it should keep its religion and faith in the Messias unimpaired, so in the Gospel an officer of the imperial army comes to Christ to save his son’s life, and when the miracle for which he asked takes place, he believes in our Lord with his whole house.
Next, we notice that the Machabees, in opposition to the foolish men around them sought light and strength from God Himself that they might know His will in difficult circumstances, and having their prayer answered in the name of Christ Who was to be born of their race, straightway gave thanks in the Temple, “blessing the Lord with hymns and praises”. In the same way in the Epistle, St. Paul speaks of wise “men who in” evil days “seek to know God’s will, and being risen from the dead (cf. V, 14 of the same chapter), by the mercy of the most High, give thanks in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, singing “hymns and spiritual canticles, making melody in their hearts to the Lord.”
Further, all the chants of the Mass express sentiments entirely similar to those of the Machabees. “Lord,” says the fifth response in the breviary, “our eyes are turned towards Thee, lest we perish.” In the Gradual we say: “The eyes of all hope in Thee, O Lord.” And the psalm adds: “He will do the will of them that fear Him… He will hear their prayer and save them… but all the wicked will He destroy.” ” O God,” declares the Alleluia, “I will sing and give praise to Thee my glory”, and the psalm ends with the words: “Through God we shall do mightily: and He will bring our enemies to nothing.”
The Offertory is a hymn of thanksgiving after the deliverance from the captivity of Babylon and the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the Temple, the same Temple that was restored under the Machabees. The Communion psalm, which also supplies the verse at the Introit, shows how God blesses those who serve Him and comes to their assistance in all their troubles. Finally, the Introit, after acknowledging that the chastisements which have weighed heavily on the Chosen People are due to their own unfaithfulness, prays God to glorify His name by dealing with His own people ” according to the multitude of His mercy.”