This calendar of saints is drawn from several denominations, sects, and traditions. Although it will no longer be updated daily, the index on the right will guide visitors to a saint celebrated on any day they choose. Additional saints will be added as they present themselves to Major.

Friday, May 31, 2013

May 31 -- Feast of Mary, Mediatrix of All Graces

Grace is light, I guess
Here's a quote from Martin Luther, the former Augustinian who became a Protestant reformer.  The quote was lifted from the website Beggars All: Reformation and Apologetics.

“Here the scholastics have concocted various dreams about dulia, latria, and hyperdulia.  With one and the same word the Hebrew denotes service toward God and toward men, so that their distinction is useless. But Moses wants to say this: “Serve Him alone. That is, whatever you do, and whether you live under the bondage of men or as a manager of affairs, refer it to Me, and do it in no other name than that you are sure in faith that I alone am served in this.”

Dr. Luther gives us some vocab to work on.  
LATRIA -- This is the highest form of worship, reserved for God alone.

DULIA -- This is a lower level of veneration, offered to angels and saints.

HYPERDULIA -- This is an intermediate level of worship, reserved for the human form of Jesus and his mother, Mary.  Mary is considered the perfection of humanity, a person born without original sin, and therefore deserving of some higher type of veneration than Peter, Paul, John, James, and the other saints.   

 I think I mentioned somewhere that there are forty-six calendar days which are designated as feasts dedicated to the BVM, globally or locally.  In addition, six moveable feasts are dedicated to her, and nine of the fixed feasts celebrate two or more different aspects of her.  For example, today is both the Feast of the Visitation (when pregnant young Mary visited her cousin, pregnant old Elizabeth) and Feast of the Mediatrix of All Graces.  

Okay, maybe MEDIATRIX is also a word that should be defined, though you probably figured it out for your self.  

The stem word MEDIA (plural of the word MEDIUM) is a Latin word that refers to something in the middle, especially if it intervenes or provides a conduit.  In the nineteenth century, one could have gone to a person called a medium who would let a spirit speak through him/her to someone else.  I suppose you could still find such media in the twenty-first century, though mostly we use the term to talk about journalists in print, broadcast, and internet.  

Senatrix Smith
The suffix -TRIX comes straight out of Latin and denotes a female form of a person who performs some verb.  Thus, Senator Ed Muskie was a legislator but Senator Margaret Chase Smith was a legislatrix.  In fact, she might even be called a senatrix.  Perhaps it is not odd that Saint Martha the Dominator is not called Martha the Dominatrix, as that might imply something else. 

Mediatrix of All Graces, et filius
Okay, that's enough vocab.  Now on to the BVM.  To begin, we must consider the execution of Jesus as a blood sacrifice offered by God to God in order to redeem the souls of all humans from Satan, who could claim lay claim to them because of their sins.  This universal redemption is called Grace.  Mary, having borne maternal suffering at the Cross during the execution, merits a role in the dispensation of Grace.  Thus, she is the medium (or mediatrix) of Grace.  

All Graces is an odd term.  It could refer to the Grace which is offered to each sinner, but Grace in that sense is usually collectivized rather than particularized.  It could also refer to other graces than the redemption, e.g. fortitude in times of trial, comfort in times of loss, faith in times of doubt, guidance in times of peril.  

The saints may be able to approach God on our behalf, or perhaps they are just exemplars of virtues to which we must remember to aspire.  The angels are creatures of God who, like humans, have some role to play in God's mysterious purpose.  Both saints and angels may merit dulia, but only if we can keep the distinction between dulia and latria clear in our minds, on our lips, and in our hearts.  If it becomes blurry, we must limit ourselves to latria or stand in peril of God's warning to Moses.  If we are to assume that the BVM has a role in the distribution of Grace, that elevates her a level from the saints, and therefore would merit hyperdulia.  The levels are perilous, as one might easily slide into a polytheistic practice, but if clarity can be retained, they may satisfy the needs of some of the faithful.  


Thursday, May 30, 2013

May 30 -- Feast of Saint Exuperantius

Stilicho, at right, et filius uxorque
Exuperantius was bishop of Ravenna during some of Italy's worst years.  He took over in 398; you'll probably recall that Alaric sacked Rome in 410.  Alaric's assault on the Eternal City did not come out of the blue; rather, it was the fruit of a decade or more of war between Flavius Stilicho, the Magister Militum from Constantinople, and the Gothic armies in Italy. 

I haven't always said kind things about the bishops of Ravenna.  Some have pontifical pretensions, suggesting an equality with the Bishop of Rome simply by proximity to the western Emperor.  Exuperantius left no record of such pretensions, but he did carefully protect Ravenna from the hazards of his time.  When Stilicho was ravaging Italy in pursuit of the Visigoths, feeding and funding his troops on the loot they could gather from the towns and cities they were ostensibly defending, Exuperantius successfully persuaded the Magister Militum to leave Ravenna unmolested.  That alone seems pretty miraculous. 

It is easy to discuss wars like this, with centuries to distance me from the horrors.  I can praise Exuperantius without necessarily contemplating the suffering that would have followed the Byzantine army's sack of the city, or the suffering that followed Alaric's sack of Rome.  With wars continuing throughout Africa and Asia, let us all pray that the peace and security of Ravenna be spread throughout the world.