Monday, July 23, 2012

Monday, July 23, 2012 Litany Lane Blog: catechize, Matthew 12:38-42, St Bridget of Sweden, Hagiography

Monday, July 23, 2012
catechize, Matthew 12:38-42, St Bridget of Sweden, Hagiography

Good Day Bloggers! 
Wishing everyone a Blessed Week! 

P.U.S.H. (Pray Until Something Happens). It has a remarkable way of producing solace, peace, patience and tranquility and of course resolution...God's always available 24/7..

We are all human. We all experience birth, life and death. We all have flaws but we also all have the gift knowledge and free will as well, make the most of it. Life on earth is a stepping to our eternal home in Heaven. Its your choice whether to rise towards eternal light or lost to eternal darkness. Material items, though needed for sustenance and survival on earth are of earthly value only. The only thing that passes from this earth to Heaven is our Soul, our's God's perpetual gift to us...Embrace it, treasure it, nurture it, protect it...

"Raise not a hand to another unless it is to offer in peace and goodwill." ~ Zarya Parx 2012

Today's Word:  catechize  cat·e·chize  [v. kat-i-kahyz]

Origin:  1375–1425; late Middle English  < Late Latin catēchizāre  < Greek katēchízein  to make (someone) learn by teaching orally, equivalent to katēch ( eîn ) to teach orally ( see catechist) + -izein -ize

verb (used with object),  
1. to instruct orally by means of questions and answers, especially in Christian doctrine.

2. to question with reference to belief.
3. to question closelyy.

Today's Gospel Reading - Matthew 12: 38-42

Gospel - Matthew 12,38-42

Some of the scribes and Pharisees spoke up. 'Master,' they said, 'we should like to see a sign from you.' He replied, 'It is an evil and unfaithful generation that asks for a sign! The only sign it will be given is the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah remained in the belly of the sea-monster for three days and three nights, so will the Son of man be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights. On Judgement Day the men of Nineveh will appear against this generation and they will be its condemnation, because when Jonah preached they repented; and look, there is something greater than Jonah here. On Judgement Day the Queen of the South will appear against this generation and be its condemnation, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and look, there is something greater than Solomon here.

• Today’s Gospel presents to us a discussion between Jesus and the religious authority of the time. This time, the doctors of the law and the Pharisees are those who ask Jesus for a sign. Jesus had made many signs: he had cured the leper (Mt 8,1-4), the servant of the centurion (Mt 8,5-13), Peter’s mother-in-law (Mt 8,14-15), the sick and the possessed of the city (Mt 8,16), he had calmed down the storm (Mt 8,23-27), had cast out the devils (Mt 8,28-34) and had worked many other miracles. The people seeing all these signs recognize in Jesus the Servant of Yahweh (Mt 8,17; 12,17-21). But the doctors and the Pharisees were not capable to perceive the significance of so many signs which Jesus had made. They wanted something different.
• Matthew 12,38: The request for a sign made by the Pharisees and the doctors. The Pharisees arrived and said to Jesus: Master, we should like to see a sign from you". They want Jesus to make a sign for them, a miracle, and thus they will be able to verify and examine if Jesus is or not the one who is sent by God according to what they imagined and expected. They wanted to ascertain it, to be sure. They wanted to submit Jesus to their own criteria, in such a way as to be able to place him into their own Messianic frame. There is no openness in them for a possible conversation. They had understood nothing of all that Jesus had done.
• Mathew 12,39: The response of Jesus: the sign of Jonah. Jesus does not submit himself to the request of the religious authority, because it is not sincere: “An evil and unfaithful generation that asks for a sign! The only sign that will be given them is the sign of the prophet Jonah”. These words constitute a very strong judgment regarding the doctors and the Pharisees. They evoke the oracle of Hosea who denounced the people, accusing it of being an unfaithful and adulterous spouse (Ho 2,4). The Gospel of Mark says that Jesus before the request of the Pharisees sighed profoundly (Mk 8,12), probably out of indignation and of sadness before such a great blindness: because it is not worthwhile to place a beautiful picture before someone who does not want to open the eyes. Anyone who closes the eyes cannot see! The only sign which will be given to them is the sign of Jonah.
• Matthew 12,41: There is something greater than Jonah here. Jesus looks toward the future: “For as Jonah remained in the belly of the sea monster for three days and three nights, so will the son of man be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights”. Therefore, the only sign will be the resurrection of Jesus which will be prolonged in the resurrection of his followers. This is the sign which will be given to the doctors and the Pharisees in the future. They will be placed before the fact that Jesus, condemned to death by them and to the death of the cross, God will raise him from the dead and he will continue, in many ways to raise those who believe in him., for example, he will raise them in the witness of the apostles, “persons without instruction” who will have had the courage to face authority announcing the resurrection of Jesus (Ac 4,13). What converts is witness, not miracles: “On Judgment day the men of Nineveh will appear against this generation and they will be its condemnation, because when Jonah preached they repented”. The people of Nineveh converted because of the witness of the preaching of Jonah and they denounced the unbelief of the doctors and the Pharisees: because “Look, there is something greater than Jonah here”.
• Matthew 12,42: There is something greater than Solomon here. The reference to the conversion of the people of Nineveh is associated and makes one recall the episode of the Queen of the South. “On Judgment Day the Queen of the South will appear against this generation and be its condemnation, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon and look, there is something greater than Solomon here!” This reminder of the episode of the Queen of the South who recognizes the wisdom of Solomon, indicates how the Bible was used at that time. By association: the principal rule of interpretation was the following: “The Bible is explained through the Bible”. Up until now this is one of the more important norms for the interpretation of the Bible, especially for the prayerful reading of the Word of God.

Personal questions
• To be converted means to be completely changed morally, but also to change the ideas and the way of thinking. A moralist is one who changes behaviour but keeps unaltered his way of thinking. And I how am I?
• Before the renewal of the Church today, am I a Pharisee who asks for a sign or am I like the people who recognize that this is the way wanted by God?

Reference: Courtesy of Order of Carmelites,

Featured Item of the Day from Litany Lane

Saint of the Day:  St. Bridget of Sweden

Feast Day: July 23
Died: 1373
Patron Saint of : Failures, Widows, Europe, Sweden

St Brdiget of Sweden 1476
Bridget of Sweden (1303 – 23 July 1373; also Birgitta of Vadstena, Saint Birgitta (Swedish: den heliga Birgitta or Birgitta Birgersdotter), was a mystic and saint, and founder of the Bridgettines nuns and monks after the death of her husband of twenty years. She was also the mother of Catherine of Vadstena.
She is one of the six patron saints of Europe, together with Benedict of Nursia, Saints Cyril and Methodius, Catherine of Siena and Edith Stein.


The most celebrated saint of Sweden was the daughter of the knight, Birger Persson of the family of Finsta, governor and lawspeaker of Uppland, and one of the richest landowners of the country, and his wife, a member of the so-called Lawspeaker branch of the Folkunga family. Through her mother, Ingeborg, Birgitta was related to the Swedish kings of her era.

In 1316, when she was 14 she married Ulf Gudmarsson of the family of Ulvåsa, Lord of Närke, to whom she bore eight children, four daughters and four sons. All of them survived infancy, which was very rare at that time. One of them was afterwards honored as St. Catherine of Sweden. Birgitta’s saintly and charitable life soon made her known far and wide; she gained, too, great religious influence over her husband, with whom (1341–1343) she went on pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela.

In 1344, shortly after their return, Ulf died at the Cistercian Alvastra Abbey in Östergötland. After this loss, Birgitta became a member of the Third Order of St. Francis and devoted herself wholly to a life of prayer and caring for the poor and the sick.

It was about this time that she developed the idea of establishing the religious community which was to become the Order of the Most Holy Saviour, or the Brigittines, whose principal house at Vadstena was later richly endowed by King Magnus Eriksson of Sweden and his queen. One distinctive feature of the pre-Reformation houses of the Order was that they were double monasteries, with both men and women forming a joint community, though with separate cloisters.

About 1350 she went to Rome, accompanied by her daughter, Catherine, and a small party of priests and disciples. This was done partly to obtain from the Pope the authorization of the new Order and partly in pursuance of her self-imposed mission to elevate the moral tone of the age. This was during the period of the Great Schism within the Roman Catholic Church, however, and she had to wait for the return of the papacy to Rome from the French city of Avignon, a move for which she agitated for many years.

It was not until 1370 that Pope Urban V, during his brief attempt to re-establish the papacy in Rome, confirmed the Rule of the Order, but meanwhile Birgitta had made herself universally beloved in Rome by her kindness and good works. Save for occasional pilgrimages, including one to Jerusalem in 1373, she remained in Rome until her death on 23 July 1373. She was originally buried at San Lorenzo in Panisperna before her remains were returned to Sweden. She was canonized in the year 1391 by Pope Boniface IX, which was confirmed by the Council of Constance in 1415. Because of new discussions about her works, the Council of Basel confirmed the orthodoxy of the revelations in 1436.


As a child, she had already believed herself to have visions; these now became more frequent, and her records of these "Revelationes coelestes" ("Celestial revelations") which were translated into Latin by Matthias, canon of Linköping, and by her confessor, Peter, prior of Alvastra, obtained a great vogue during the Middle Ages. Her visions of the Nativity of Jesus had a great influence on depictions of the Nativity of Jesus in art. Shortly before her death, she described a vision which included the infant Jesus as lying on the ground, and emitting light himself, and describes the Virgin as blond-haired; many depictions followed this and reduced other light sources in the scene to emphasize this effect, and the Nativity remained very commonly treated with chiaroscuro through to the Baroque. Other details often seen such as a single candle "attached to the wall," and the presence of God the Father above, also come from Bridget's vision:
...the Virgin knelt down with great veneration in an attitude of prayer, and her back was turned to the manger.... And while she was standing thus in prayer, I saw the child in her womb move and suddenly in a moment she gave birth to her son, from whom radiated such an ineffable light and splendour, that the sun was not comparable to it, nor did the candle that St. Joseph had put there, give any light at all, the divine light totally annihilating the material light of the candle.... I saw the glorious infant lying on the ground naked and shining. His body was pure from any kind of soil and impurity. Then I heard also the singing of the angels, which was of miraculous sweetness and great beauty...
After this the Virgin kneels to pray to her child, to be joined by St. Joseph, and this (technically known as the Adoration of the Child) becomes one of the commonest depictions in the fifteenth century, largely replacing the reclining Virgin in the West. Versions of this depiction occur as early as 1300, well before Bridget's vision, and have a Franciscan origin, by which she may have been influenced, as she was a member of the Franciscan Order.  Her visions of Purgatory were also well known.

The Fifteen 'Our Father and Hail Mary prayers'

The Vision of St Bridget. The Risen Christ, displaying his wound from Longinus, inspires the writing of St Bridget. Detail of initial letter miniature, dated 1530, probably made at Syon Monastery, England, a Bridgettine House. (BL Harley MS 4640,f.15)
Saint Bridget prayed for a long time to know how many blows Jesus Christ suffered during His terrible Passion. Rewarding her patience, one day He appeared to her and said, "I received 5480 blows upon My Body. If you wish to honor them in some way, recite fifteen Our Fathers and fifteen Hail Marys with the following Prayers, which I Myself shall teach you, for an entire year. When the year is finished, you will have honored each of My Wounds." 

The prayers became known as the Fifteen O's, because in the original Latin, each prayer began with the words O Jesu, O Rex, or O Domine Jesu Christe.[4] Some have questioned whether Saint Bridget is in fact their author; Eamon Duffy reports that the prayers probably originated in England, in the devotional circles that surrounded Richard Rolle or the English Brigittines.

Whatever their origin, the prayers were quite widely circulated in the late Middle Ages, and became regular features in Books of Hours and other devotional literature. They were translated into various languages; an early English language version of them was printed in a primer by William Caxton. The prayers themselves reflect the late medieval tradition of meditation on the passion of Christ, and are structured around the seven last words of Christ. They borrow from patristic and Scriptural sources as well as the tradition of devotion to the wounds of Christ.

During the Middle Ages, the prayers began to circulate with various promises of indulgence and other assurances of supernatural graces supposed to attend from their regular recitation over the course of a year. These indulgences were repeated in the manuscript tradition of the Books of Hours, and may constitute one major source of the prayers' popularity in the late Middle Ages. They promise, among other things, the release from Purgatory of fifteen of the devotee's family members, and that they would keep fifteen living family members in a state of grace.

The extravagance of the promises made in these rubrics — one widely circulated version promised that the devotee would receive "his heart's desire, if it be for the salvation of his soul"— attracted critics early and late. In 1538, William Marshall[disambiguation needed] enjoined his readers to "henseforth ... forget suche prayers as seynt Brigittes & other lyke, whyche greate promyses and perdons haue falsly auaunced." In 1954, the Acta Apostolicae Sedis found the alleged promises (though not the prayers themselves) unreliable, and directed local ordinaries not to permit the circulation of pamphlets containing the promises.

In memory

In 1651 the Brigitta Chapel was erected in Vienna, and in 1900 the new district Brigittenau was founded.
In 1999 Pope John Paul II named St Bridget as a patron saint of Europe. Her feast day is celebrated on 23 July, the day of her death. Her feast was not in the Tridentine Calendar, but was later inserted in the Roman Catholic calendar of saints in 1623 for celebration on 7 October, the day she was canonized by Pope Boniface IX in the year 1391. Five years later, her feast was moved to 8 October (although the Church in Sweden celebrates it on the 7th), where it remained until the revision of the Roman Catholic Calendar of Saints in 1969, when it was set on the date currently used. Some continue to use the pre-1970.

The Third Order of St. Francis includes her feast day on its Calendar of Saints on same day as the general Church, honoring her as a member of the Order.

References: Courtesy of the Catholic Online, and Courtesy of Wikipedia,

Featured Items Panel from Litany Lane



Today's Snippet:  Hagiography

Hagiography is the study of the biographiy of saints.

From the Greek (h)ağios (ἅγιος, "holy" or "saint") and graphēin (γράφειν, "to write"), it refers literally to writings on the subject of such holy people, and specifically to the biographies of saints and ecclesiastical leaders. The term hagiology, the study of hagiography, is also current in English, though less common. This latter term, in fact, follows original Greek practice, where ἁγιογραφία refers to visual images of the saints, while their written lives (βίοι or vitæ) or the study thereof are known as ἁγιολογία.

Christian hagiographies focus on the lives, and notably the miracles of men and women canonized by the Roman Catholic church, the Anglican Communion, the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Oriental Orthodox Church, and the Church of the East. Other religions such as Buddhism and Islam also create and maintain hagiographical texts concerning saints and other individuals believed to be imbued with the sacred.

The term "hagiographic" has also been used as a pejorative reference to the works of biographers and historians perceived to be uncritical or "reverential" to their subject. Nonetheless, hagiographic works, particularly those of the Middle Ages, can often incorporate a valuable record of institutional and local history, and evidence of popular cults, customs and traditions.


The legenda (literally, that which is for reading) included facts which were historically genuine, as well as narrative which Christians now class as unhistorical legend. The term is a creation of the Middle Ages, and has its source in the reading of the prayers used in religious services. Since the days of the martyrs, the Catholic Church recalled to mind her famous dead in the prayers of the Mass and in the Office, by commemorating the names noted in the martyrologies and making mention of incidents in their lives and martyrdom. When the lectio became a matter of precept, the reading matter in the office for the day became in a precise sense legenda (that which must be read).

After the 13th century, the word legenda was regarded as the equivalent of vita (Life) and passio (suffering), and, in the 15th century, the liber lectionarius is comprised under what is known as "legend". Thus, historically considered, legend is the received story of the saints


Hagiography constituted an important literary genre in the early Christian church, providing some informational history along with the more inspirational stories and legend. A hagiographic account of an individual saint can constitute a vita or biography, a description of the saint's deeds and/or miracles, or an account of the saint's martyrdom (a passio) - or be a combination of these.
The genre of lives of the saints first came into being in the Roman Empire as legends about Christian martyrs were recorded. The dates of their deaths formed the basis of martyrologies. In the 4th century, there were three main types of catalogs of lives of the saints:
  • annual calendar catalogue, or menaion (in Greek, menaios means "month") (biographies of the saints to be read at sermons);
  • synaxarion, or a short version of lives of the saints, arranged by dates;
  • paterikon (in Latin, pater means "father"), or biography of the specific saints, chosen by the catalog compiler.
In Western Europe hagiography was one of the more important vehicles for the study of inspirational history during the Middle Ages. The Golden Legend of Jacob de Voragine compiled a great deal of mediæval hagiographic material, with a strong emphasis on miracle tales. Lives were often written to promote the cult of local or national states, and in particular to develop pilgrimages to visit relics. The bronze Gniezno Doors of Gniezno Cathedral in Poland are the only Romanesque doors in Europe to feature the life of a saint. The life of Saint Adalbert of Prague, who is buried in the cathedral, is shown in 18 scenes, probably based on a lost illuminated copy of one of his Lives.

The Bollandist Society continues the study, academic assembly, appraisal and publication of materials relating to the lives of Christian saints. (See Acta Sanctorum.)

Early medieval embellishment

Gregory of Tours (d. 594) was acquainted with the apocryphal lives of the Apostles. At the beginning of the 7th century we already find related in Gaul (in the "Passio Tergeminorum" of Warnahar of Langres), as an incident in the local history of Langres, a story of martyrdom originating in Cappadocia.

The 7th century sees the literary form of legend domiciled in the West. Bede's "Martyrology" and Aldhelm of Malmesbury (d. 709) indicate a wide knowledge of this foreign literature.The legends of the "saviour" make their appearance in the Merovingian 7th century up to the middle of the 8th;.

Medieval England

With the introduction of Latin literature into England in the 7th and 8th centuries the genre of the life of the saint grew increasingly popular. It is not surprising that such a genre would become popular in England. When one contrasts it to the popular heroic poem, such as Beowulf, one finds that they share certain common features. In Beowulf, the titular character battles against Grendel and his mother, while the saint, such as Athanasius’ Anthony (one of the original sources for the hagiographic motif) or the character of Guthlac, battles against figures no less substantial in a spiritual sense. Both genres then focus on the hero-warrior figure, but with the distinction that the saint is of a spiritual sort.

In Anglo-Saxon and mediæval England, Hagiography became a literary genre par excellence for the teaching of a largely illiterate audience. Hagiography provided priests and theologians with the classical handbooks in a form that allowed them the rhetorical tools necessary to defend the truth of their scriptures. Many of the important hagiographical texts composed in medieval England were written in the dialect of Anglo-Norman.

Of all the English hagiographers no one was more prolific nor so aware of the importance of the genre as Abbot Ælfric of Eynsham. His work The Lives of the Saints (MS Cotton Julius E.7) comprises a set of sermons on saints' days, formerly observed by the English Church. The text comprises two prefaces, one in Latin and one in Old English, and 39 lives beginning on December 25 with the nativity of Christ and ending with three texts to which no saints' days are attached. The text spans the entire year and describes the lives of many saints, both English and continental, and hearkens back to some of the earliest saints of the early church.

Imitation of the life of Christ then was the benchmark against which saints were measured, and imitation of the lives of saints was the benchmark against which the general population measured itself.

There are two known instances where saint's lives were adapted into vernacular plays in Britain. These are the Cornish-language works Beunans Meriasek and Beunans Ke, about the lives of Saints Meriasek and Kea, respectively.

Medieval Ireland

Ireland is notable in its rich hagiographical tradition, and for the large amount of material which was produced during the mediæval period. Irish hagiographers wrote primarily in Latin while some of the later saint's lives were written in the hagiographer's native vernacular Irish. Of particular note are the lives of St. Patrick, St. Columba and St. Brigit—Ireland's three patron saints

St Symeon the Metaphrastes, Byzantine
In the 10th century, a Byzantine monk Simeon the Metaphrastes was the first one to change the genre of lives of the saints into something different, giving it a moralizing and panegyrical character. His catalog of lives of the saints became the standard for all of the Western and Eastern hagiographers, who would create relative biographies and images of the ideal saints by gradually departing from the real facts of their lives. Over the years, the genre of lives of the saints had absorbed a number of narrative plots and poetic images (often, of pre-Christian origin, such as dragon fighting etc.), mediaeval parables, short stories and anecdotes.

The genre of lives of the saints was brought to Kievan Rus' by the South Slavs together with writing and also in translations from the Greek language. In the 11th century, the Rus' began to compile the original life stories of the first Rus'ian saints, e.g. Boris and Gleb, Theodosius Pechersky etc. In the 16th century, Metropolitan Macarius expanded the list of the Rus'ian saints and supervised the compiling process of their life stories. They would all be compiled in the so called Velikiye chet’yi-minei catalog (Великие Четьи-Минеи, or Great Menaion Reader), consisting of 12 volumes in accordance with each month of the year. They were revised and expanded by St. Dimitry of Rostov in 1684-1705.

High Middle Ages

During the millenarian 10th century, the era of the Cluniacs and mysticism make the biographies of the saints subjective. The 12th century brings with the new religious orders the contemplative legends of Mary. The thirteenth sees the development of the cities and the citizens, hand in hand with which goes the popularization of the legend by means of collections compiled for the purposes of sermons, vit sanctorum, exempla, or merely to give entertainment (Vincent of Beauvais, Cæsarius of Heisterbach, James of Vitry, Thomas of Chantimpré, "Legenda Aurea"); in this century also arise the legends of Mary and, in connexion with the new feast of Corpus Christi (1264), a strong interest in tales of miracles relating to the Host.

There are only variations of the old concepts of transformation and apparitions, as in the innumerable stories which now circulated of visible incarnation of the Divine Child or of the Crucified One, or of the monstrance being suspended in the air. But the continuity of the concepts is quite evident in the case of the legend of Mary. If Mary considers herself as betrothed to the priest who serves her, the meaning of this is not far to seek; but nevertheless Callimachus (3rd century BC) had also treated this idea in a legend of Artemis, and Antoninus Liberalis and the Talmud have variations of it. And if, in this legend of Mary, the Blessed Virgin put a ring on the hand of her betrothed under quite characteristic circumstances, that is nothing else than the Roman local legend of the betrothal of Venus, as it has been preserved by William of Malmesbury and the "Deutsche Kaiserchronik" of the 12th century.

Eastern Orthodoxy

This literary genre was often used as ecclesiastic and political propaganda. Today, the works in the genre of lives of the saints represent a valuable historical source and reflection of different social ideas, world outlook and aesthetic concepts of the past.

Catholic continuities

In the usage of the Catholic Church, the legend plays the same part to-day as in the Middle Ages, but it was felt that not all the legends we possess were of equal value, and especially that the editions of the lives of the saints were entirely unsatisfactory. It was the Jesuit Heribert Rosweyde of Utrecht who, at the beginning of the 17th century, undertook to remedy matters by referring to the most ancient texts, and by pointing out how the tales developed.

Rosweyde wished merely to correct the old collections; his idea was to treat the martyrologies, beginning with the most ancient, from the philological standpoint. But his scheme was taken up by other Jesuits, and after his death (1629) was carried out on a large scale. This was with an eye also to sectarian opponents, and in defense of the continuity of Catholic teaching and Catholic life. The Acta Sanctorum of the Bollandists became foundational for investigation in hagiography and legend.

Contemporary attitudes

The Roman Breviary officially designates the lesson for the day as lectio, and the Catholic Church now may recognize the legend rather as a popular story or a fictitious religious tale. Hagiography is to-day the province of the historian, who must test the value of the sources of the reports.

The belief in miracles, considered as such, does not affect the historian, who has only to gather the original authorities together and to say: This is what happened, so far as historical science can determine. If this presentation of the facts be correct, then no objection can be raised against the results

References:  Courtesy of Wikipedia,

  • Davies, S. (2008). Archive and manuscripts: contents and use: using the sources (3rd ed.). Aberystwyth, UK: Department of Information Studies, Aberystwyth University. p. 5.20. ISBN 978-1-906214-15-9
  • ^ Koch, John T. (2006). Celtic Culture: A Historical Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. pp. 203–205. ISBN 1-85109-440-7. Retrieved November 23, 2009.
  • This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Legends of the Saints". Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company.