St. Raymund Nonnatus Being Nourished by the Angels by Eugenio Cax s, 1630
St. Raymund Nonnatus
FromTHE LITURGICAL YEARby Dom Gu ranger, O.S.B.
August closes as it began, with a feast of deliverance; as though that were the divine seal set by eternal Wisdom upon this month--the month when holy Church makes the words and ways of divine Wisdom the special object of her contemplation.
Upon the fall of our first parents and their expulsion from paradise, the Word and Wisdom of God, that is, the second Person of the blessed Trinity, began the great work of our deliverance--that magnificent work of human redemption which, by an all-gracious, eternal decree of the three divine Persons, was to be wrought out by the Son of God in our flesh. And as that blessed Saviour, in His infinite wisdom, made spontaneous choice of sorrows, of sufferings, and of death on a cross, as the best means of our redemption, so has He always allotted to His best loved friends, the kind of life which He had deliberately chosen for Himself, that is, the way of the cross. And the nearest and dearest to Him were those who were predestined, like His blessed Mother, the Mater Dolorosa, to have the honour of being most like Himself, the Man of sorrows. Hence the toils and trials of the greatest saints; hence the great deliverances wrought by them, and their heroic victories over the world and over the spirits of wickedness in the high places.
On the feasts of St. Raymund of Pennafort and St. Peter Nolasco, we saw something of the origin of the illustrious Order, to which Raymund Nonnatus added such glory. Soon the august foundress herself, Our Lady of Mercy, will come in person to receive the expression of the world's gratitude for so many benefits. The following legend recounts the peculiar merits of our saint of today.
This Raymond is commonly called the Unborn, because his was one of the rare cases in which the child is not brought into the world in the course of nature, but by a surgical operation after the death of the mother. He was the son of godly and noble parents, at Portel, (in the dioecese of Urgel,) in Catalonia. The tokens of his holy after-life appeared even in his childhood. The things that delight children, and the attractions of the world, had no charm for him. He was so earnest in godliness that all men marvelled at his habits of premature old age. As he grew older, he gave himself to the study of letters, but, at the command of his father, turned to farming. He went often to the Chapel of St Nicolas, in the suburbs of Portel, to visit the sacred image of the Mother of God, which is still sought with great tenderness by the faithful. There he poured forth his soul in prayer, and earnestly entreated the Mother of God herself to be pleased to take him for her son, to show him the way wherein it should be safe for him to walk, and to teach him the science of the Saints.
And the most gracious Maiden was not deaf to his prayers. From her he understood that it would please her right well, if he would join the Religious Order which had just been founded at her own inspiration, styled of Ransom or of Mercy, for buying up and freeing slaves. As soon as he had received this intimation from her, he went to Barcelona, and entered the Institute so nobly dedicated to love for our neighbour. Once enlisted in the Regular Army, he guarded unspotted for ever the virginity which he had already consecrated to the Blessed Virgin for ever. But he was a bright and shining light of all other good words and works, especially of tender compassion for Christians who were passing a life of grievous bondage in the possession of unbelieving masters. To free such he was sent into Africa, and delivered many. But his money ran short, and as there were still many in imminent danger of denying the faith, he pawned himself. He was enkindled with a most vehement longing for the salvation of souls, and by his exhortations brought divers Mohammedans to Christ. The Moors therefore threw him into close prison, and put him to divers tortures, at last making holes through his lips and locking them together with an iron padlock, which horrid cruelty he long bore.
The account of these, and other brave things that he did, he got the name of a Saint far and wide. Gregory IX. was moved thereby to make Raymond a Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church, but in this place of honour the man of God shrank from all outward show, and clung ever tightly to the lowliness that beseemeth a Religious man. He had started for Rome, (in obedience to the command of the Pope,) but had only got as far as Cardona, (six miles from Barcelona,) when he was seized with his last illness, and earnestly called for the strengthening Sacraments of the Church. But his position became critical, and the Priest had not arrived. Then Angels came unto him, clad in the habit of his own Order, and ministered unto him the wholesome Provision for the last journey. When he had taken It, he gave God thanks, and departed hence to be ever with the Lord. It was the last Lord's Day in August, 1240. After his death there was some dispute arose as to where his body should be buried so they shut it up in a box, and laid it upon a blind mule, and the beast was guided by God to carry it to the chapel of St Nicolas, that he might be buried where he had laid the foundations of his nobler life. There was built there a Convent of his Order, and the faithful come together thither from all parts of Catalonia to honour him, and he is famous for divers signs and wonders.
To what length, O illustrious saint, didst thou follow the counsel of the wise man! "The bands of wisdom," says he, "are a healthful binding." And, not satisfied with putting "thy feet into her fetters and thy neck into her chains," in the joy of thy love thou didst offer thy lips to the dreadful padlock, not mentioned by the son of Sirach.But what a reward is thine, now that this Wisdom of the Father, whose twofold precept of charity thou didst so fully carry out, inebriates thee with the torrent of eternal delights, adorning thy brow with the glory and grace which radiate from her own beauty! We would fain be forever with thee near that throne of light; teach us, then, how to walk, in this world, by the beautiful ways and peaceable paths of Wisdom. Deliver our souls, if they be still captive in sin; break the chains of our self-love, and give us instead those blessed bands of Wisdom which are humility, abnegation, self-forgetfulness, love of our brethren for God's sake, love of God for His own sake.
Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he hath been proved, he shall receive the crown of life.
(From the Alleluia versicle from the day's Mass, James, 1. 12)
COLLECT OF THE DAY
Deus, qui in liber ndis fid libus tuis ab impi rum captivit te be tum Raym ndum Confess rem tuum mir bilem effec sti ejus nobis intercessi ne conc de; ut a peccat rum v nculis absol ti, qutibi sunt pl cita, l beris m ntibus exsequ mur. Per D minum...
O God, who didst by Thy grace make blessed Raymund, Thy Confessor, work wonders in redeeming Thy faithful from bondage among the infidels: grant, beseech Thee, by his intercession, that being loosed from the bondage of our sins, we may be at liberty to do consistently what pleases Thee. Through...
Lesson - Ecclesiasticus, 31. 8-11 / Gospel - St. Luke, 12. 35-40
August 31.--ST. RAYMUND NONNATUS.
ST. RAYMUND NONNATUS was born in Catalonia, in the year 1204, and was descended of a gentleman's family of a small fortune. In his childhood he seemed to find pleasure only in his devotions and serious duties. His father perceiving in him an inclination to a religious state, took him from school, and sent him to take care of a farm which he had in the country. Raymund readily obeyed, and, in order to enjoy the opportunity of holy solitude, kept the sheep himself, and spent his time in the mountains and forests in holy meditation and prayer. Some time after, he joined the new Order of Our Lady of Mercy for the redemption of captives, and was admitted to his profession at Barcelona by the holy founder, St. Peter Nolasco. Within two or three years after his profession, he was sent into Barbary with a considerable sum of money, where he purchased, at Algiers, the liberty of a great number of slaves. When all this treasure was exhausted, he gave himself up as a hostage for the ransom of certain others. This magnanimous sacrifice served only to exasperate the Mohammedans, who treated him with uncommon barbarity, till, fearing lest if he died in their hands they should lose the ransom which was to be paid for the slaves for whom he remained a hostage, they gave orders that he should be treated with more humanity. Hereupon he was permitted to go abroad about the streets, which liberty he made use of to comfort and encourage the Christians in their chains, and he converted and baptized some Mohammedans. For this the governor condemned him to be put to death by thrusting a stake into the body, but his punishment was commuted, and he underwent a cruel bastinado. This torment did not daunt his courage. So long as he saw souls in danger of perishing eternally, he thought he had yet done nothing. St. Raymund had no more money to employ in releasing poor captives, and to speak to a Mohammedan upon the subject of religion was death. He could, however, still exert his endeavors, with hopes of some success, or of dying a martyr of charity. He therefore resumed his former method of instructing and exhorting both the Christians and the infidels. The governor, who was enraged, ordered our Saint to be barbarously tortured and imprisoned till his ransom was brought by some religious men of his Order, who were sent with it by St. Peter. Upon his return to Spain, he was nominated cardinal by Pope Gregory IX., and the Pope, being desirous to have so holy a man about his person, called him to Rome. The .Saint obeyed, but went no further than Cardona, when he was seized with a violent fever, which proved mortal. He died on the 31st of August, in the year 1240, the thirty-seventh of his age.
Reflection.--This Saint gave not only his substance but his liberty, and even exposed himself to the most cruel torments and death, for the redemption of captives and the salvation of souls. But alas! do not we, merely to gratify our prodigality, vanity, or avarice, refuse to give the superfluous part of our possessions to the poor, who for want of it are perishing with cold and hunger? Let us remember that "He that giveth to the poor shall not want"
Crusaders, 12th century French master