02 December 2013
The Five Wise Virgins of Advent
Today is the feast day of St. Bibiana, a Roman girl of noble birth martyred under the reign of Julian the Apostate. She is a great saint, though not widely known today, her feast day having been scrapped from the replacement calendar particular to the novus ordo missae.
Dom Gueranger points out something wonderful about the wisdom of the Church's immemorial calendar, with its annual and seasonal familiarity, in The Liturgical Year entry from today:
Of the saints whose feasts are kept during Advent, five are virgins. The first, St. Bibiana, whom we honor today, is a daughter of Rome; the second, St. Barbara, is the glory of the eastern Churches; the third, St. Eulalia of Merida, is one of Spain's richest treasures; the fourth, St. Lucy, belongs to beautiful Sicily; the fifth, St. Odilia, is claimed by France. These five wise virgins lighted their lamps and watched, waiting for the coming of the Spouse. Such was their constancy and fidelity, that four of them shed their blood for the love of Him, after whom they longed. Let us take courage by this noble example; and since we have not, as the apostle expresses it, as yet resisted unto blood, let us not think it hard if we suffer fatigue and trouble in the holy exercises of this penitential season of Advent: He, for whom we do them all, will soon be with us and repay us.
This is just one of the beautiful things about the liturgy, the liturgical year, and the ancient Mass, that I find over and over again. There is always some little surprise, or hidden gem, or discovery just around the corner. Just as the Subject of contemplation in Heaven can never be exhausted, on earth, the Mass is nearest analogue.
God bless Dom Gueranger, whose love for the liturgy and its riches could never been called an "ostentatious preoccupation." And the rich tradition of the Church, in her faith, liturgy and doctrine, will not forever be suppressed. We can only pray that the trammeling of this glorious liturgy will end, removing its perceived status as "a museum piece or something which is the property of a select few." May the prayers of St. Bibiana and the other wise virgins of Advent hasten the day.