Saturday, 28 May 2011

Calendar wars: an embarrassment of riches!

This week is one of those weeks when the liturgical calendar is particularly well filled with great saints all well worth reading about and asking for help from.  But unfortunately with competing feast dates!

In the Benedictine calendar 1962 calendar, which I normally follow for my Office at least, after Our Lady Help of Christians comes a run of Benedictine greats - Pope St Gregory VII (May 25), St Augustine of Canterbury (depicted above with Pope St Gregory the Great who dispatched with a group of monks to convert England, May 26), and St Bede the Venerable (May 27).

I have to admit this line up always poses a dilemma for me since I have a great devotion to St Philip Neri whose feast day is May 26 in the Roman (EF and OF) calendar, but who doesn't make it into the Benedictine at all!

But on the plus side of the ledger, if you don't mind your Masses and Office being out of alignment (or are willing to swap between different forms of it), you could have (depending on Mass availability and the Office you use), actually celebrated the feast of  St Augustine of Canterbury, Apostle to England, in one way or another three times in a row this week - Benedictine calendar on Thursday; Ordinary Form (where it is an optional feast) on Friday (although this does of course compete with that other great English monk-saint, St Bede!); and Roman 1962 on today!

St Augustine famously set out on his journey to England, but got cold feet part way.  St Gregory the Great instructed him to continue on however despite his fears as to the perils of the journey ahead. In the end, the holiness of the lives of he and his monks succeeded in converting many pagans.  He also laid the foundations of a network of monasteries that enabled the preservation of Christian culture through a period of collapse in mainland Europe, and its eventual re-evangelization from England.

St Augustine of Canterbury pray for us, for the conversion of this land, and especially for the return to unity of Anglicans and the success of the Ordinariates.

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