S. John Eudes, Confessor, Founder of the Congregation of Jesus and Mary (Eudists) and the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity (1601-1680) : Missa “Os justi”
Saint John Eudes, forerunner of devotion both to the Sacred Heart and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, was born in 1601, some time after France had been torn apart by the revolt of the Huguenots. The rebels were calmed but relegated to western France by King Henry IV, after he himself returned to the Catholic faith. It was in that region that this young Saint spent his childhood, at Argentan in Normandy, and was educated with the Jesuits of Caen. The father of this firstborn of a family of solid and profound virtue, had himself desired the sacerdotal life, and he did not long oppose John’s desire to consecrate himself to God as a priest. At eighteen years of age Saint John had already composed a treatise on voluntary abnegation, which his confessor obliged him to publish. He was ordained in Paris as a member of the recently founded French Oratory of Saint Philip Neri; his teachers there were Fathers de Berulle and de Condren, two unsurpassed spiritual directors. The governing theme of his meditation, his preaching and his writings was the importance of the redemptive Incarnation of the Son of God, through the intermediary of His Immaculate Mother. Controversy was not lacking in those days, when the Mother of God had been relegated to a very secondary if not insignificant role by the reformers, and Saint John did not fear controversy. He chose to study both theology and what we would call debate, as essential preparations for his calling. In those days seminaries were scarce; aspiring future priests themselves sought out the instruction they needed.
At Caen a pestilence broke out and soon decimated the populace, often deprived of spiritual assistance. John Eudes offered to care for them in person, and while the scourge lasted slept outdoors in a field, in an old barrel, to protect his brothers in religion from contagion. In 1639 he was named Superior of the Oratory of Caen by Father de Condren, although the Superior General feared that office could interfere with his missions, from which they hoped for great renovation in western France. Nonetheless, from 1638 until 1642, Saint John, with his brethren in religion, was engaged in preaching missions in the dioceses of Bayeux and Lisieux, where the bishops encouraged him and soon were praising him highly. The fruits of these missions were rich and long-lived. Father Eudes was a follower of Saint Vincent de Paul in his ardent desire to evangelize the poor folk, so long neglected, and it was to the people that the preaching of the Oratorian missionaries was addressed. Their missions lasted for several weeks. Otherwise, said Saint John, we put a bandage on the wound, but do not heal it. Processions, hymns, little religious plays, special conferences for specific groups, organization of leagues against duels and blasphemy, and visits to the sick occupied the missionaries’ very full days.
Saint John Eudes left the Oratory, a Society of priests which he loved sincerely, like other founders who have been in a similar position, because he was called by God to break new ground in establishing a group of priests without religious vows, destined to occupy posts in the new seminaries of France. The Council of Trent had commanded these establishments everywhere, ordaining that priests be formed to head parishes and to establish in each of them a school. Already in 1658 Saint John himself had founded four seminaries in Normandy — at Caen, Coutances, Lisieux and Rouen. Before the Revolution in France, the Eudists had accepted the responsibility for sixteen seminaries or minor seminaries. This required a foundation in depth in theology and all pastoral duties. Some of his former brethren turned against him when he left them, and he met obstacles also when founding in Caen a Congregation of women to raise up poor girls led astray by ignorance or need. The Sisters of Our Lady of Charity founded by Saint John, parent body of the Good Shepherd nuns, have done an immense good in many countries. The Congregation of Jesus and Mary has sent missionary priests to several countries, all over the world. Saint John Eudes, who died in 1680, was beatified in 1909 by Saint Pius X, and canonized by Pope Pius XI in 1925.
INTROIT Ps 36: 30-31
The mouth of the just man tells of wisdom, and his tongue utters what is right. The law of his God is in his heart. Ps 36: 1 Be not vexed over evildoers, nor jealous of those who do wrong. V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. A. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen. T he mouth of the just man tells of wisdom, and his tongue utters what is right. The law of his God is in his heart.
O God, Who wondrously enkindled St. John, Your Confessor, to promote the religious veneration of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, and through him willed to found new religious families in the Church; grant, we beseech You, that we may honor his holy merits and may learn from the example of his virtues. 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. R. Amen.
Infra Octavam Assumptionis
O Lord, we beseech thee, forgive the transgressions of thy servants, and, forasmuch as by our own deeds we cannot please thee, may we find safety through the prayers of the Mother of thy Son and our Lord. W ho livest and reignest with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. R. Amen
EPISTLE Sir 31: 8-11
Lesson from the book of Ecclesiasticus. Happy the man found without fault, who turns not aside after gain, nor puts his trust in money nor in treasures! Who is he, that we may praise him? For he has done wonders in his life. He has been tested by gold and come off safe, and this remains his glory forever; he could have sinned but did not, could have done evil but would not, so that his possessions are secure in the Lord, and the assembly of the Saints shall recount his alms.
Ps 91:13; 91:14 The just man shall flourish like the palm tree, like a cedar of Lebanon shall he grow in the house of the Lord. Ps 91: 3 V. To proclaim Your kindness at dawn and Your faithfulness throughout the night. Hallelujah, hallelujah. Jas 1:12 V. Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been tried, he will receive the crown of life. Alleluia.
GOSPEL Luke 12: 35-40
At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, Let your loins be girt about and your lamps burning, and you yourselves like men waiting for their master’s return from the wedding; so that when he comes and knocks, they may straight-way open to him. Blessed are those servants whom the master, on his return, shall find watching. Amen I say to you, he will gird himself, and will make them recline at table, and will come and serve them. And if he comes in the second watch, and if in the third, and finds them so, blessed are those servants! But of this be assured, that if the householder had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would certainly have watched, and not have let his house be broken into. You also must be ready, because at an hour that you do not expect, the Son of Man is coming.
OFFERTORY ANTIPHON Psalm 88:25
My faithfulness and My kindness shall be with him, and through My name shall his horn be exalted.
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. 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.
Infra Octavam Assumptionis
May the prayer of the Mother of God aid Thy people, O Lord: and although we know, her, to have passed out of this life, fulfilling the lot of the flesh, may we experience her intercession for us with Thee in Heavenly glory. 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. 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, on the Feast of the Annunciation of the Blessed Mary, ever Virgin: Who also conceived Thine only-begotten Son by the over-shadowing 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 them we entreat Thee, that Thou mayest bid our voices also to be admitted, while we say with lowly praise: HOLY, HOLY, HOLY…
COMMUNION ANTIPHON Matt 24: 46-47
Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, shall find watching. Amen I say to you, he will set him over all his goods.
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. 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.
Infra Octavam Assumptionis
We who have been made partakers of Thy heavenly table, implore Thy mercy, O Lord our God, that as we celebrate the Assumption of the Mother of God, we may through her inyercesion, be delivered from all evils that beset us. 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.