St. Leonard the Hermit of Noblac, Confessor: Missa “Justus ut palma florebit”
Saint Leonard was born towards the end of the fifth century of illustrious parents, residing in the part of the province of Gaul which was then beginning to be called France. Several historians believe that with his brother Saint Lifard, his origins can be traced to the castle of Vendome in the region of Orleans. He belonged to the nation of the Franks, and at the court of Clovis his relatives were dignitaries, baptized at the same time as the king by Saint Remi. That monarch himself stood as sponsor in Baptism for this child of predilection.
As Leonard grew he was so moved by the holy examples of the bishop of Rheims that he renounced the world in order to lead a more perfect life. When Saint Remi had trained Leonard in virtue and conferred on him the tonsure, he began to exercise his charity on behalf of prisoners. Clovis, in response to a prayer of Saint Remi, had already issued an edict that prisoners in Rheims might be freed whenever his royal highness would pass through that city. Leonard asked the kind monarch to grant him personally the right to liberate prisoners whom he would find worthy of it, any time at all.
The reputation of Saint Leonard’s goodness and sanctity soon spread, and the sick came to him for healing and alms. He did not fail to teach them also the value of Christian patience and to console them by the divine doctrine. The king desired to attach him permanently to his court, but Saint Leonard, in a discourse brilliant by its humility, replied that he preferred to live in the obscurity Christ had chosen for Himself for so many years, and he retired to a monastery. Saint Maximin, its abbot, saw to it that he was ordained a deacon, which office he accepted out of obedience, but he did not aspire to any additional ecclesiastical dignities. He recognized that his role was not to remain always in the monastery, and departed to preach to the pagans of the province of Limoges. He found on a nearby mountain a forested solitude where he decided to remain, and there he built a cell of branches and considered himself rich in the possession of God, joyous in his freedom to devote himself to meditation, prayer and mortification.
He continued to obtain miracles when solicited by the suffering members of Jesus Christ. The spouse of a king living nearby had a successful delivery of a child by his prayers, when her very life was despaired of; and the king in gratitude gave him a part of the forest to dispose of as he wished. He then built an oratory to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Two disciples joined him in this sanctuary, continuing to pray without interruption when their master went on pilgrimage to the tombs of the Saints.
Soon the sick came to Saint Leonard here also, and prisoners who invoked him from their cells saw their chains break before their eyes. Many came to him afterwards, bringing their heavy chains and irons to offer them in homage. A considerable number wished to remain with him, and he often gave them part of his vast forest to clear and make ready for the labours of the fields, that they might have the means to live an honest life. He continued to be their guardian and father and preached the religion of our Saviour to them; and those who had once been malefactors were transformed by prayer and labour.
Seven families of persons who were his relatives in the north heard of his reputation and decided to come to him and remain with him. He was surprised but encouraged their good resolutions, saying: A fare of dry bread, eaten in the joy of a pure conscience, is of more worth than a house abundantly furnished, where quarrels and divisions prevail. After increasing in holiness until his last days, he died on the 6th of November in the oratory he had dedicated to Our Lady, after having himself transported there, sometime during the second half of the sixth century. Miracles on behalf of prisoners and the sick followed, as they had preceded, his death. The cult of Saint Leonard has remained extremely popular in France ever since; and throughout all of Europe churches and monasteries have been placed under his invocation.
Les Petits Bollandistes: Vies des Saints, by Msgr. Paul Guérin (Bloud et Barral: Paris, 1882), Vol. 13
INTROIT Psalm 91: 13, 14
The just shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow up like the cedar of Lebanon: planted in the house of the Lord, in the courts of the house of our God. (Ps. 91: 2) It is good to give praise to the Lod: 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 The just shall flourish like the palm tree…
O God, who doest gladden us by the annual solemnity of blessed Leonard, Thy confessor, mercifully grant that we who celebrate his heavenly birthday, may also imitate his example. 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.
EPISTLE Philippians 3: 7-12
Lesson from the Epistle of blessed Paul the Apostle to the Philippians. Brethren, the things that were gain to me, the same I have counted loss for Christ. Furthermore, I count all things to be but loss, for the excellent knowledge of Jesus Christ my Lord; for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but as dung, that I may win Christ; and may be found in Him, not having my justice, which is of the law, but that which is of the faith of Christ Jesus, which is God, justice in faith; that I may attain to the resurrection which is from the dead; not as though I already attained, or were already perfect; but I follow after, if I may be any means apprehend wherein I am also apprehended by Christ Jesus.
GRADUAL/ALLELUIA Psalm 91: 13, 14
The just man shall flourish like the palm tree, like a cedar of Lebanon shall he grow in the house of the Lord. V. To proclaim Your kindness at dawn and Your faithfulness throughout the night. Alleluia, alleluia. Osee 14:6 V. The just man shall blossom like the lily, and flourish forever before the Lord. Alleluia.
GOSPEL Matthew 11: 25-30
At that time, Jesus answered, and said: ‘I praise Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them to little ones. yea, Father: for so it hath seemed good in Thy sight. all things are delivered to Me by my Father; and no one knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither doth anyone know the Father, but the Son, and he to whom it shall please he Son to reveal Him. Come to Me, all you that labour, and ae burdened; and I will refresh you. Take up My yoke upon you, and learn of Me, because I am meek, and humble of heart, and you shall find rest to your souls: for My yoke is sweet and My burden light.’
OFFERTORY ANTIPHON Psalms 20: 2, 3
In Thy Strength, O Lord, the just shall joy, and in Thy salvation he shall rejoice exceedingly: Thou hast given him his heart’s desire.
We offer unto Thee, O Lord, the sacrifice of praise, in remembrance of Thy saints; through whose intercession we trust to be delivered both from present and future ills. 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, 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 Psalm 63: 11
The just shall rejoice in the Lod, and shall hope in Him; and all the upright in heart shall be praised.
Strengthened with heavenly meat and drink, we humbly pray Thee, O Lord our God, that the prayers of the Saint in memory of whom we have received Thy sacrament, may be to us a sure defense. 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.