Feast of Saint Peter of Alcantara, Confessor Missa “Justus ut palma florebit”
Saint Peter of Alcantara was born in Alcantara, Spain in 1499. His father, Peter Garavita, was the governor of the province, and his mother was of the noble family of Sanabia. After a course of grammar and philosophy in his native town, he was sent, at the age of fourteen, to the University of Salamanca. Returning home, he became a Franciscan in the convent of the Stricter Observance at Manxaretes in 1515.
At the age of twenty-two he was sent to found a new community of the Stricter Observance at Badajoz. He was ordained priest in 1524, and the following year made guardian of the convent of St. Mary of the Angels at Robredillo. A few years later he began preaching with much success. He preferred to preach to the poor; and his sermons, taken largely from the Prophets and Sapiential Books, breathe the tenderest human sympathy. The reform of the “Discalced Friars” had, at the time when Peter entered the order, besides the convents in Spain, the Custody of St. Maria Pietatis in Portugal, subject to the General of the Observants.
Having been elected minister of St. Gabriel’s province in 1538, Peter set to work at once. At the chapter of Plasencia in 1540 he drew up the Constitutions of the Stricter Observants, but his severe ideas met with such opposition that he renounced the office of provincial and retired with John of Avila into the mountains of Arabida, Portugal, where he joined Father Martin a Santa Maria in his life of eremitical solitude. Soon, however, other friars came to join him, and several little communities were established. Peter being chosen guardian and master of novices at the convent of Pallais. In 1560 these communities were erected into the Province of Arabida.
Returning to Spain in 1553 he spent two more years in solitude, and then journeyed barefoot to Rome, and obtained permission of Pope Julius III to found some poor convents in Spain under the jurisdiction of the general of the Conventuals. Convents were established at Pedrosa, Plasencia, and elsewhere; in 1556 they were made a commissariat, with Peter as superior, and in 1561, a province under the title of St. Joseph. Not discouraged by the opposition and ill-success his efforts at reform had met with in St. Gabriel’s province, Peter drew up the constitutions of the new province with even greater severity. The reform spread rapidly into other provinces of Spain and Portugal.
In 1562 the province of St. Joseph was put under the jurisdiction of the general of the Observants, and two new custodies were formed: St. John Baptist’s in Valencia, and St. Simon’s in Galicia (see Friars Minor). Besides the above-named associates of Peter may be mentioned St. Francis Borgia, John of Avila, and Venerable Louis of Granada. In St. Teresa of Avila, Peter perceived a soul chosen of God for a great work, and her success in the reform of Carmel was in great measure due to his counsel, encouragement, and defense. (See St. Teresa of Avila.) It was a letter from St. Peter (14 April, 1562) that encouraged her to found her first monastery at Avila on August 24 of that year. St. Teresa’s autobiography is the source of much of the information regarding Peter’s life, work, and gifts of miracles and prophecy.
Perhaps the most remarkable of Peter’s graces were his gift of contemplation and the virtue of penance. Hardly less remarkable was his love of God, which was at times so ardent as to cause him, as it did St. Philip Neri, sensible pain, and frequently rapt him into ecstasy. The poverty he practised and enforced was as cheerful as it was real, and often let the want of even the necessaries of life be felt. In confirmation of his virtues and mission of reformation God worked numerous miracles through his intercession and by his very presence.
He died at the age of 63 on October 18, 1562 and was beatified by Pope Gregory XV in 1622, and canonized by Pope Clement IX in 1669. Besides the Constitutions of the Stricter Observants and many letters on spiritual subjects, especially to St. Teresa, he composed a short treatise on prayer, which has been translated into all the languages of Europe and spread to other tongues as well. In 1826 Pope Leo XII named him the Patron of Brazil.
INTROIT Psalm 91: 13, 14
The just shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow up like the cedar of Lebanon. They that are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of the house of our God. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen. Repeat In the midst of the Church…
God, Who didst vouchsafe to make blessed Peter, Thy confessor, glorious by the gift of a wonderful spirit of penance and most lofty contemplation, grant us, we beseech Thee, that, through his interceding merits, being mortified in the flesh, we may the more easily understand the things of Heaven. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. R. Amen.
EPISTLE Philippians 3: 7-12
Lesson from the Epistle of blessed Paul the Apostle to the Philippians. Brethren, the things that were gain to me, the same I have counted loss for Christ. Furthermore, I count all things to be but loss, for the excellent knowledge of Jesus Christ, my Lord; for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but as dung, that I may win Christ; and may be found in Him, not having my justice, which is of the law, but that which is of the faith of Christ Jesus, which is of God, justice in faith; that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings; being made conformable to His death, if by any means I may attain to the resurrection which is from the dead; not as though I had already attained, or were already perfect; but I follow after, if I may by any means apprehend wherein I am also apprehended by Christ Jesus.
GRADUAL/ALLELUIA Ecclus. 44:5
With thy comeliness and thy beauty set out, proceed prosperously, and reign. V. Because of truth, and meekness and justice: and thy right hand shall conduct thee wonderfully. Alleluia, alleluia. V. (Ps. 111: 1) Blessed is the man that feareth the Lord, he delights exceedingly in His commandments. Alleluia.
GOSPEL Luke 11: 33-36
At that time, Jesus said to His disciples: “No man lighteth a candle, and putteth it in a hidden place, nor under a bushel: but upon a candlestick, that they that come in may see the light. The light of thy body is thy eye. If thy eye be single, thy whole body will be lightsome; but if it be evil, thy body also will be darksome. Take heed therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness. If then thy whole body be lightsome, having no part of darkness, the whole shall be lightsome, and as a bright lamp shall enlighten thee.”
OFFERTORY ANTIPHON Psalm 20: 2,3
In thy strength, O Lord, the just shall joy, and in Thy salvation he shall rejoice exceedingly: Thou hast given him his heart’s desire.
Grant us, we beseech Thee, O almighty God, that the offering of our lowliness may be pleasing to Thee in honour of Thy saints, and purify us in both body and mind. Through Our Lord Jesus Christ Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God Forever and ever. R.Amen.
PREFACE of the Common
It is truly meet and just, right and for our salvation that we should at all times and in all places, give thanks unto Thee, O holy Lord, Father almighty, everlasting God: through Christ our Lord. Through Whom the Angels praise Thy Majesty, the Dominations worship it, the Powers stand in awe. The Heavens and the Heavenly hosts together with the blessed Seraphim in triumphant chorus unite to celebrate it. Together with them we entreat Thee, that Thou mayest bid our voices also to be admitted, while we say in lowly praise:
COMMUNION ANTIPHON Matthew 19: 28-29
Amen I say to you, that you, who have left all things and followed Me, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall possess life everlasting.
Grant, we beseech Thee, O Lord, our God, that by the intercession of those on whose feast the mysteries are offered, they may be made efficacious for our salvation. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Who livest and reignest, with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God For ever and ever. R. Amen.