After having persecuted the Church during the first centuries, the Christian, but at the same time heretical emperors, continued their attacks by supporting Arianism which denied the divinity of Christ. In the season after Epiphany, when Jesus affirms His divinity by His teaching and miracles, the first saint whom the Church presents to us is one of the more intrepid defenders of this fundamental dogma of Christianity. St. Hilary, Bishop of Poitiers in 352 (Communion) endowed with great spiritual and supernatural talent, for, “the Lord has filled him with the spirit of wisdom and intelligence” (Introit), fought with his pen and his eloquence against those “who closed their ears to truth and opened them to fables” (Epistle).
This salt of the earth, this light of God’s house, would not suffer, under the false excuse of favouring peace and unity, the salt of true doctrine to be corrupted or the light of truth to be hidden under a bushel. “Having thus taught the practice of the commandments even to the last title, he is great in the kingdom of Heaven” (Gospel), and the Church which is the earthly portion of this kingdom, has, by the voice of Pius IX, awarded him the title Doctor (Collect). He died in 368.
Let us have recourse to the intercession of St. Hilary in order always to be the intrepid defenders of the divinity of Christ.
Also commemorated today is Saint Felix of Nola (d. ca. 250) who was a Christian presbyter at Nola near Naples in Italy. He sold off his possessions in order to give to the poor, but was arrested and tortured for his Christian faith during the persecution of the Roman emperor Decius (r. 249-51). He was believed to have died a martyr’s death during the persecution of Decius or Valentinian (ca. 253).
INTROIT Ecclesiasticus 15: 5
In the midst of the Church the Lord opened his mouth: and filled him with the spirit of wisdom and understanding: He clothed him with a robe of glory.. (Ps. 91: 2) It is good to give praise to the Lord: and to sing to Thy Name, O Most High. 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 In the midst of the Church…
O God, Who didst give unto Thy people blessed Hilary to be a minister of eternal salvation: grant, we beseech Thee, that we may be worthy to have as an intercessor in Heaven him, whom we have had as teacher of life on earth. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.
Commemoration of ST. FELIX
Grant, we beseech You, almighty God, that the example of Your saints may urge us on to a better life, so that we may imitate the deeds of those whose feasts we celebrate. 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.
EPISTLE 2 Timothy 4: 1-8
Lesson from the Epistle of blessed Paul the Apostle to Timothy. Dearly beloved, I charge thee, before God and Jesus Christ, who shall judge the living and the dead, by His coming and His kingdom: preach the word: be instant in season, out of season: reprove, entreat, rebuke in all patience and doctrine For there shall be a time when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires they will heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears, and will indeed turn away their hearing from the truth, but will be turned unto fables But be thou vigilant, labour in all things, do the work of an evangelist, fulfil thy ministry. Be sober. For I am even now ready to be sacrificed, and the time of my dissolution is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course. I have kept the faith. As to the rest, there is laid up for me a crown of justice, which the Lord, the just Judge, will render to me in that day: and not only to me, but to them also that love His coming.
GRADUAL/ALLELUIA Psalm 36: 30, 31
The mouth of the just shall meditate wisdom, and his tongue shall speak judgment. V. The law of his God is in his heart: and his steps shall not be supplanted. Alleluia, alleluia. V. (Eccl. 45: 9) The Lord loved him and adorned him: He clothed him with a robe of glory. Alleluia.
GOSPEL Matthew 5: 13-19
At that time, Jesus said to His disciples: You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt lose its savour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is good for nothing any more but to e cast out, and to e trodden on by men. You are the light of the world. A city seated on a mountain cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel but upon a candlestick, that it may shine to all that are in the house. So let your light shine before men that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father, who is in heaven. Do not thik that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For amen I say unto yu, till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one title shall not pass of the law, till all be fulfilled. He therefore that shall break one of these least commandments, and shall so teach men, shall be called the least in the kingdom of Heaven: but he that shall do and teach, he shall be called great in the kingdom of Heaven.
OFFERTORY ANTIPHON Psalms 91: 13
The just shall flourish like the palm-tree: he shall grow up like the cedar of Libanus.
May the holy prayer of blessed Hilary, Thy bishop and doctor never fail us, O Lord; may it render our offerings acceptable, and ever obtain for us thy pardon. 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.
For ST. FELIX
Graciously accept, O Lord, the sacrifices we offer You in honor of Your blessed Martyr Felix, and grant that they may bring us everlasting help. 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 Common
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: through Christ our Lord. Through Whom the Angels praise Thy Majesty, the Dominations worship it, 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 them we entreat Thee, that Thou mayest bid our voices also to be admitted, while we say in lowly praise:
HOLY, HOLY, HOLY…
COMMUNION ANTIPHON Luke 12: 42
The faithful and wise servant whom his Lord setteth over his family: to give them their measure of wheat in due season.
May blessed Hilary Thy bishop and illustrious doctor intercede for us, we beseech Thee, O Lord, that these Thy sacrifices may obtain for us 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.
For ST. FELIX
Refreshed by the sacrament of salvation, we beseech You, O Lord, that we may be helped by the prayers of blessed Felix, Your Martyr, whose feast we are celebrating. 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.