(Can be used as a Novena for Nine Consecutive Days.)
O glorious Apostle, Saint James, who by reason of thy fervent and generous heart wast chosen by Jesus to be a witness of His glory on Mount Thabor, and of His agony in Gethsemane; thou, whose very name is a symbol of warfare and victory: obtain for us strength and consolation in the unending warfare of this life, that, having constantly and generously followed Jesus, we may be victors in the strife and deserve to receive the victor's crown in heaven. Amen.
[color](Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be.)
(Indulgence of 300 days)
Hymn: Exsultet Orbis
Now let the earth with joy resound,
And heaven the chant re-echo round;
Nor heaven nor earth too high can raise
The great Apostle's glorious praise.
O ye who, throned in glory dread,
Shall judge the living and the dead,
Lights of the world forevermore!
To you the suppliant prayer we pour.
Ye close the sacred gates on high;
At your command apart they fly:
O loose for us the guilty chain
We strive to break, and strive in vain.
Sickness and health your voice obey;
At your command they go or stay:
From sin's disease our souls restore;
In good confirm us more and more.
So when the world is at its end,
And Christ to Judgment shall descend,
May we be called those joys to see
Prepared from all eternity.
All honor, laud, and glory be,
O Jesu, Virgin-born, to thee;
All glory, as is ever meet,
To Father and to Paraclete. Amen.
[color]Hymn: Aeterna Christi
The eternal gifts of Christ the King,
The Apostles' glory let us sing;
And all with hearts of gladness raise
Due hymns of thankful love and praise
For they the Church's Princes are,
Triumphant leaders in the warrior band,
True lights to lighten every land.
Theirs was the steadfast faith of Saints,
The hope that never yields nor faints,
The love of Christ in perfect glow,
That lay the prince of this world low,
In them the Father's glory shone,
In them the Spirit's will was done,
The Son himself exults in them:
Joy fills the new Jerusalem.
Praise to the Father, with the Son,
And Holy Spirit, three in One;
As ever was in ages past,
And so shall be while ages last.
A Prayer to the Holy Martyrs
to Obtain Their Protection
O ye blessed Princes of the heavenly kingdom! ye who sacrificed to the Almighty God the honors, the riches, and possessions of this life, and have received in return the unfading glory and never-ending joys of heaven! ye who are secure in the everlasting possession of the brilliant crown of glory which your sufferings have obtained! Look with compassionate regards upon our wretched state in this valley of tears, where we groan in the uncertainty of what may be our eternal destiny. And form that divine Savior, for Whom you suffered so many torments, and Who now repays you with so unspeakable glory, obtain for us that we may love Him with all our heart, and receive in return the grace of perfect resignation under the trials of this life, fortitude under the temptations of the enemy, and perseverance to the end. May your powerful intercession obtain for us that we may one day in your blessed company sing the praises of the Eternal, and even as you now do, face to face, enjoy the beatitude of His vision! Amen
[color](St. Alphonsus de Liguori)
Saint James the Greater, Apostle
from the Liturgical Year, 1909
et us, today, hail the bright star, which once made Compostella so resplendent with its rays, that the obscure town became, like Jerusalem and Rome, a centre of attraction to the piety of the whole world. As long as the Christian empire lasted, the sepulchre of St. James the Great rivalled in glory that of St. Peter himself. A
mong the Saints of God, there is not one who manifested more evidently how the elect keep up after death an interest in the works confided to them by our Lord. The life of St. James after his call to the Apostolate was but short; and the result of his labours in Spain, his allotted portion, appeared to be a failure. Scarcely had he, in his rapid course, taken possession of the land of Iberia, when, impatient to drink the chalice which would satisfy his continual desire to be close to his Lord, he opened by martyrdom the heavenward procession of the twelve, which was to be closed by the other son of Zebedee. O Salome, who didst give them both to the world, and didst present to Jesus their ambitious prayer, rejoice with a double joy: thou art not repulsed; He who made the hearts of mothers is thine abettor. Did he not, to the exclusion of all others except Simon his Vicar, choose thy two sons as witnesses of the greatest works of his power, admit them to the contemplation of his glory on Thabor, and confide to them his sorrow unto death in the garden of his agony? And to-day thy eldest born becomes the first-born in heaven of the sacred college; the protomartyr of the Apostles repays, as far as in him lies, the special love of Christ our Lord. B
ut how was he a messenger of the faith, since the sword of Herod Agrippa put such a speedy end to his mission? And how did he justify his name of son of thunder, since his voice was heard by a mere handful of disciples in a desert of infidelity? This new name, another special prerogative of the two brothers, was realized by John in his sublime writings, wherein as by lightning flashes he revealed to the world the deep things of God; it was the same in his case as in that of Simon, who having been called Peter by Christ, was also made by him the foundation of the Church: the name given by the Man-God was a prophecy, not an empty title. With regard to James too, then, Eternal Wisdom cannot have been mistaken. Let it not be thought that the sword of any Herod could frustrate the designs of the Most High upon the men of his choice. The life of the Saints is never cut short; their death, ever precious, is still more so when in the cause of God it seems to come before the time. It is then that with double reason we may say their works follow them; God, Himself, being bound in honour, both for His own sake and for theirs, to see that nothing is wanting to their plenitude. As a, victim, of a holocaust he hath received them, says the Holy Ghost, and in time there shall be respect had to them. The just shall shine, and shall run to and fro like sparks among the reeds. They shall judge nations, and rule over peoples; and their Lord shall reign for ever (Wisd. iii. 6-8). How literally was this Divine oracle to be fulfilled with regard to our Saint! N
early eight centuries, which to the heavenly citizens are but as a day, had passed over that tomb in the North of Spain, where two disciples had secretly laid the Apostle's body. During that time, the land of his inheritance, which he had so rapidly traversed, had been overrun first by Roman idolaters, then by Arian barbarians, and when the day of hope seemed about to dawn, a deeper night was ushered in by the Crescent. One day lights were seen glimmering over the briars that covered the neglected monument; attention was drawn to the spot, which henceforth went by the name of the field of stars. But what are those sudden shouts coming down from the mountains, and echoing through the valleys? Who is this unknown chief rallying against an immense army the little worn-out troop whose heroic valour could not yesterday save it from defeat? S
wift as lightning, and bearing in one hand a white standard with a red cross, he rushes with drawn sword upon the panic-stricken foe, and dyes the feet of his charger in the blood of 70,000 slain. Hail to the chief of the holy war, of which this Liturgical Year has so often made mention! Saint James! Saint James! Forward, Spain! It is the reappearance of the Galilaean Fisherman, whom the Man-God once called from the bark where he was mending his nets; of the elder son of thunder, now free to hurl the thunderbolt upon these new Samaritans, who pretend to honour the unity of God by making Christ no more than a prophet (Battle of Clavijo, under Ramiro I. about 845). Henceforth, James shall be to Christian Spain, the firebrand which the Prophet saw, devouring all the people round about, to the right hand and to the left, until Jerusalem shall be inhabited again in her own place in Jerusalem (Zach. xii. 6). A
nd when, after six centuries and a half of struggle, his standard bearers, the Catholic kings, had succeeded in driving the infidel hordes beyond the seas, the valiant leader of the Spanish armies laid aside his bright armour, and the slayer of Moors became once more a messenger of the faith. As fisher of men, he entered his bark, and gathering around it the gallant fleets of a Christopher Columbus, a Vasco di Gama, an Albuquerque, he led them over unknown seas to lands that had never yet heard the name of the Lord. For his contribution to the labours of the twelve, James drew ashore his wellfilled nets from West and East and South, from new worlds, renewing Peter's astonishment at the sight of such captures. He, whose apostolate seemed at the time of Herod III. to have been crushed in the bud before bearing any fruit, may say with St. Paul: I have no way come short of them that are above measure Apostles, for by the grace of God I have laboured more abundantly than all they (2 Cor. xii. 11, and 1 Cor. xv. 10). L
et us now read the lines consecrated by the Church to his honour: James, the son of Zebedee, and own brother of John the Apostle, was a Galilaean. He was one of the first to be called to the Apostolate together with his brother, and, leaving his father and his nets, he followed the Lord. Jesus called them both Boanerges, that is to say, sons of Thunder. He was one of the three Apostles whom our Saviour loved the most, and whom He chose as witnesses of His transfiguration, and of the miracle by which He raised to life the daughter of the ruler of the Synagogue, and whom He wished to be present when he retired to the Mount of Olives, to pray to his Father, before being taken prisoner by the Jews. A
fter the Ascension of Jesus Christ into heaven, James preached His Divinity in Judea and Samaria, and led many to the Christian faith. Soon, however, he set out for Spain, and there made some converts to Christianity; among these were the seven men, who were afterwards consecrated bishops by St. Peter, and were the first sent by him into Spain. James returned to Jerusalem, and, among others, instructed Hermogenes, the magician, in the truths of faith. Herod Agrippa, who had been raised to the throne under the Emperor Claudius, wished to curry favour with the Jews, he, therefore, condemned the Apostle to death for openly proclaiming Jesus Christ to be God. When the man who had brought him to the tribunal saw the courage with which he went to martyrdom he declared that he, too, was a Christian. A
s they were being hurried to execution, he implored James' forgiveness. The Apostle kissed him, saying: "Peace be with you." Thus both of them were James having a little before cured a paralytic. His body was afterwards translated to Compostella, where it is honoured with the highest veneration; pilgrims flock thither from every part of the world, to satisfy their devotion or pay their vows. The memory of his natalis is celebrated by the Church to-day, which is the day of his translation. But it was near the feast of the Pasch that, first of all the Apostles, he shed his blood, at Jerusalem, as a witness to Jesus Christ.
Patron of Spain, forget not the grand nation which owes to thee both its heavenly nobility and its earthly prosperity; preserve it from ever diminishing those truths which made it, in its bright days, the salt of the earth; keep it in mind of the terrible warning that if the salt lose its savour, it is good for nothing any more but to be cast out and to be trodden on by men (St. Matth. v. 13). At the same time remember, O Apostle, the special cultus wherewith the whole Church honours thee. Does she not to this very day keep under the immediate protection of the Roman Pontiff both thy sacred body, so happily rediscovered in our times (Litterae Leonis XIII., diei 1 Novemb. 1884, ad Archiep. Compostell.), and the vow of going on pilgrimage to venerate those precious relics?
Where now are the days when thy wonderful energy of expansion abroad was surpassed by thy power of drawing all to thyself? Who but he that numbers the stars of the firmament could count the Saints, the penitents, the kings, the warriors, the unknown of every grade, the ever-renewed multitude, ceaselessly moving to and from that field of stars, whence thou didst shed thy light upon the world? Our ancient legends tell us of a mysterious vision granted to the founder of Christian Europe. One evening after a day of toil, Charlemagne, standing on the shore of the Frisian Sea, beheld a long belt of stars, which seemed to divide the sky between Gaul, Germany, and Italy, and crossing over , Gascony, the Basque territory, and Navarre, stretched away to the far-off Province of Galicia. Then thou didst appear to him and say: "This starry path " marks out the road for thee to go and deliver my "tomb; and all nations shall follow after thee (Pseudo-Turpin. De vita Car. Magn.)." And Charles, crossing the mountains, gave the signal to all Christendom to undertake those great Crusades, which were both the salvation and the glory of the Latin races, by driving back the Mussulman plague to the land of its birth.
When we consider that two tombs formed, as it were, the two extreme points or poles of this movement unparalleled in the history of nations: the one wherein the God-Man rested in death, the other where thy body lay, O son of Zebedee, we cannot help crying out with the Psalmist: Thy friends, O God, are made exceedingly honourable (Ps. csssviii. 17)! And what a mark of friendship did the Son of Man bestow on his humble apostle by sharing His honours with him, when the military Orders and Hospitallers were established, to the terror of the Crescent, for the sole purpose, at the outset, of entertaining and protecting pilgrims on their way to one or other of these holy tombs? May the heavenly impulse now so happily showing itself in the return to the great Catholic pilgrimages, gather once more at Compostella the sons of thy former clients. We, at least, will imitate St. Louis before the walls of Tunis, murmuring with his dying lips the Collect of thy feast; and we will repeat in conclusion: "Be thou, O Lord, the sanctifier and guardian of thy people; that, defended by the protection of thy Apostle James, they may please thee by their conduct, and serve thee with secure minds."
St. James the Greater, Apostle
by Father Francis Xavier Weninger, 1876
t. James, who is surnamed the Greater because he was called to the Apostolate earlier than the other Apostle of the same name, was born in Galilee. He was the son of Zebedee and of Mary Salome, and a brother of the holy Apostle, St. John, the Evangelist. One day, when he sat with his father and his brother in a boat, mending the nets, Christ passed by, and said to him and his brother only these few words: "Follow me!" Immediately obeying, James and John left the boat and their father, and followed Him, remaining constant to Him, until His bitter passion. St. Epiphanius testifies that St. James always lived in celibacy, and it is known from the Gospel that he was one of the most intimate disciples of the Saviour; for on several occasions, when no other Apostle was admitted, James was present with Peter and John; for instance, when Christ raised to life the daughter of Jairus; during His transfiguration on Mount Thabor, and when, at a distance from the others He performed His holy prayers in the garden of Gethsemane, sweating blood in His agony. S
t. Mark relates that Christ called James and his brother, on account of the vehemence of their zeal, "Boanerges," or children of the thunder, because they announced the Gospel with such earnestness, that their voices penetrated the hearts of men, like the rolling of the thunder, and moved them to recognize and receive the truth. St. Luke narrates that once, when the Samaritans would not allow Christ to enter into their city, James and John were so indignant at the insult offered to their beloved Master, that they said to Him: "Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?" But Christ, rebuking them, said: "You know not of what spirit you are. The Son of Man came not to destroy souls, but to save." By these words, He intended to teach them that the spirit of Christianity and of the Gospel was no spirit of vengeance, but one of love and gentleness; more intent upon the salvation of men than upon their punishment. I
n the Gospel of St. Matthew, we read that the mother of James and John had come to Christ, asking Him to place one of her sons on His right hand, the other on His left in His kingdom. The Saviour reproved the two Apostles for their ambition, saying: "You know not what you ask." After this, He asked them: "Can you drink of the Chalice that I shall drink?" And they resolutely replied: "Yes, we can." They verified their words by their deeds; for they suffered much for Christ's sake, as is seen in their lives. St. James, soon after the ascension of the Lord and the coming of the Holy Ghost, preached at Jerusalem, at Samaria and in all Judaea. After this, he went to Spain and did the same with unabating zeal. How long he remained there, and how he succeeded in disseminating the Christian faith is not known. At Saragossa, they show a Church which, according to tradition, was built by this holy Apostle; and the cause of its erection is said to have been as follows:
The Saint one night left the city with his disciples and went to the banks of the river Ebro, to offer his prayer there undisturbed. Suddenly the Blessed Virgin, who at that time was still on earth, appeared to him, surrounded by many angels. James recognized her immediately, and, falling on his knees before her, honored her as the Mother of his Redeemer. She said to him: "Thou shalt build upon this place, a Church in my honor; for I know that the inhabitants of Saragossa will conceive an especial devotion to me, for which reason I will henceforth protect them." James obeyed her words, and erected a Church which although small at the beginning, was afterwards enlarged and rebuilt in its present form. This Church is still called the "Church of the Pillar of St. Mary," because the Blessed Virgin appeared to the Apostle on a pillar which yet remains. A
fter some years, St. James returned with several disciples to Jerusalem. Of the latter, seven became bishops in the course of time, and were sent back to Spain to convert the inhabitants of that noble land. He himself labored with great zeal, both at Jerusalem and in the surrounding country, for the conversion of the Jews. Many were brought by him to the Christian faith, while others became so enraged at him, that they determined to make away with him. The better to accomplish this, they took, to aid them, two magicians, Hermogenes and Philetus, requesting them to have a public discussion on religion with St. James and to disgrace him before the people. Should they, however, not succeed in this, they were to send some evil spirits to torment him. Philetus began; but was so convinced of his error by the Apostle, that he asked his pardon on bended knees, and became a convert to the Christian faith. Hermogenes, greatly incensed at this, conjured the devils by his magic and commanded them to bring the Apostle and Philetus to him in chains.
The evil spirits, however, by order of the Almighty, seized Hermogenes, and dragged him, in spite of all his blasphemy, to St. James. Just at the time, Philetus was there. The Apostle requested the latter in the name of Jesus Christ to break the chains of his former teacher, which was accordingly done. Astonished at this, Hermogenes burned all his books of magic, and embraced the Christian faith. W
hen the enemies of the Apostle perceived that they did not succeed in their project, they consulted two Roman Centurions, Lysias and Theocrates, whom, by promising a large sum of money, they had bribed for their plans. They wished to cause a disturbance among the people while the Apostle was preaching, and the two officers, pretending they had come to quiet the people, should seize the Saint and bring him to King Herod. All was done as they had planned. St. James preached with his usual zeal, and proved clearly to the assembled Jews, that Jesus Christ, Whom they had so ignominiously put to death on the Cross, was the Messiah, so long promised by the Almighty. According to the agreement, the enemies of the Apostle, not willing to listen any longer to his convincing arguments, stirred up the people, and one of them, a scribe, named Josiah, threw a cord around St. James' neck, when the two Centurions hastened forward, seized him, and brought him to King Herod. They accused him of having instigated the people to rebel, and this was sufficient for King Herod, who, to please the Jews, desired to put him to death. N
othing more agreeable could happen to the Apostle than to give his life for Christ's sake, and the joy he felt in his heart was perceptible in his countenance. He repeated publicly the confession of his faith and again announced that Christ was the true Messiah and Saviour of the world. When he was sentenced to be beheaded, he declared himself ready, not only for this manner of death, but for any other, however painful. The above-mentioned Josiah was deeply touched by the Saint's fearlessness, and not only repented of having apprehended him, but also confessed openly the faith of Christ; and casting himself at the feet of the Apostle, when the latter was led away to be executed, he humbly begged to be forgiven. The Saint, embracing him kindly, said: "Peace be with you!" The Jews, still more embittered at this, importuned Herod so long that at length he ordered Josiah to be beheaded. On his way to the place of execution, St. James met a man who had the palsy, and immediately restored him to health in the name of Jesus Christ. Arrived at the place, he gave thanks to God for having vouchsafed him the grace to die for the faith of Christ, and cheerfully received the fatal stroke, ending his life shortly before Easter. He was the first of all the Apostles who gave his blood for Christ, and is the only one whose death is mentioned in Holy Writ. His body was buried by the Christians with due solemnity, but was afterwards transported by his disciples to Compostella, where he is honored by the whole Christian world. Spain regards and esteems him as its mighty protector. It is known from authentic sources, that he appeared several times visibly at the head of the Spanish army, which, led by him, gained glorious victories over the barbarians.
No sooner was James called by Christ to follow Him, than unhesitatingly he left home and everything and followed the Saviour. If he had not done so, or if he had delayed, who knows if a second call would have reached him, and if he would not have gone to eternal destruction? God calls you already so long to follow Him, to do penance, to correct your life, to manifest greater fervor in His service, to avoid all occasions of evil, to break off all sinful associations, to confess your evil deeds, to restore what you have no right to possess, to repair the reputation of your neighbor, which you have injured by your slanders, etc. He calls you by an inner, voice, and by your confessor, or through sermons. Why do you not follow Him? Why do you delay from day to day? Oh! take heed, that the menace of God be not verified in you: "I called and you refused: I stretched out my hand and there was none that regarded. You have despised all my counsel, and have neglected my reprehensions. I will also laugh at your destruction. (Prov. i.)" If you do not wish to become yourself an example of this dreadful menace, resolve to-day to follow the call of your God, and to act according to His exhortations. Delay not longer, or He may cease to invite you, and you will go to destruction.