ST. CUNEGUNDES was the daughter of Siegfried, the first Count of Luxemburg, and Hadeswige, his pious wife. They instilled into her from her cradle the most tender sentiments of piety, and married her to St. Henry, Duke of Bavaria, who, upon the death of the Emperor Otho III., was chosen king of the Romans, and crowned on the 6th of June, 1002. She was crowned at Paderborn on St. Laurence's day. In the year 1014 she went with her husband to Rome, and received the imperial crown with him from the hands of Pope Benedict VIII. She had, by St. Henry's consent, before her marriage made a vow of virginity. Calumniators afterwards made vile accusations against her, and the holy empress, to remove the scandal of such a slander, trusting in God to prove her innocence, walked over red-hot ploughshares without being hurt. The emperor condemned his too scrupulous fears and credulity, and from that time they lived in the strictest union of hearts, conspiring to promote in everything God's honor and the advancement of piety.
Going once to make a retreat in Hesse, she fell dangerously ill, and made a vow to found a monastery, if she recovered, at Kaffungen, near Cassel, in the diocese of Paderborn, which she executed in a stately manner, and gave it to nuns of the Order of St. Benedict. Before it was finished St. Henry died, in 1024. She earnestly recommended his soul to the prayers of others, especially to her blear nuns, and expressed her longing desire of joining them. She had already exhausted her treasures in founding bishoprics and monasteries, and in relieving the poor, and she had therefore little left now to give. But still thirsting to embrace perfect evangelical poverty, and to renounce all to serve God without obstacle, she assembled a great number of prelates to the dedication of her church of Kaffungen on the anniversary day of her husband's death, 1025; and after the gospel was sung at Mass she offered on the altar a piece of the true cross, and then, putting off her imperial robes, clothed herself with a poor habit; her hair was cut off, and the bishop put on her a veil, and a ring as a pledge of her fidelity to her heavenly Spouse. After she was consecrated to God in religion, she seemed entirely to forget that she had been empress, and behaved as the last in the house, being persuaded that she was 30 before God. She prayed and read much, worked with her hands, and took a singular pleasure in visiting and comforting the sick. Thus she passed the last fifteen years of her life. Her mortifications at length reduced her to a very weak condition, and brought on her last sickness. Perceiving that they were preparing a cloth fringed with gold to cover her corpse after her death, she changed color and ordered it to be taken away; nor could she be at rest till she was promised she should be buried as a poor religious in her habit. She died on the 3d of March, 1040. Her body was carried to Bamberg and buried near that of her husband. She was solemnly canonized by Innocent III. in 1200.
Reflection. —Detachment of the mind, at least, is needful to those who cannot venture on an effectual renunciation. "So likewise every one of you," saith Jesus Christ, "that doth not renounce all that he possesseth, cannot be My disciple." you!
Lives Of The Saints By Alban Butler, Benziger Bros. Edition www.globalgrey.co.uk
Prayers and Reading for Today’s MASS
Ferial Day – Friday After Ash Wednesday
Introit • Ps. 29, 11
The Lord hath heard and hath had mercy upon me: the Lord became my helper. Ps. 29, 2. I will extol Thee, O Lord, for Thou hast upheld me: and hast not made my enemies to rejoice over me. Glory be …
May Thy kindly favor, we beseech Thee, O Lord, accompany the fast we have begun, that we may be able to practice with a single heart the observance which we bodily perform. Through our Lord.
Epistle • Is. 58, 1-9
Lesson from Isaias the Prophet.
[God rejects the hypocritical fasts of the Jews: recommends works of mercy, and sincere godliness.]
Thus saith the Lord God: Cry, cease not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their wicked doings, and the house of Jacob their sins. For they seek me from day to day, sad desire to know my ways, as a nation that hath done justice, and hath not forsaken the judgment of their God: they ask of me the judgments of justice: they are willing to approach to God. Why have we fasted, and thou hast not regarded: have we humbled our souls, and thou hast not taken notice? Behold in the day of your fast your own will is found, and you exact of all your debtors. Behold you fast for debates and strife. and strike with the fist wickedly. Do not fast as you have done until this day, to make your cry to be heard on high. Is this such a fast as I have chosen: for a man to afflict his soul for a day? is this it, to wind his head about like a circle, and to spread sackcloth and ashes? wilt thou call this a fast, and a day acceptable to the Lord?
Is not this rather the fast that I have chosen? loose the bands of wickedness, undo the bundles that oppress, let them that are broken go free, and break asunder every burden. Deal thy bread to the hungry, and bring the needy and the harbourless into thy house: when thou shalt see one naked, cover him, and despise not thy own flesh. Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thy health shall speedily arise, and thy justice shall go before thy face, and the glory of the Lord shall gather thee up. Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall hear: thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am. Because I the Lord thy God am merciful.
Gradual • Ps. 26, 4
One thing I have asked of the Lord, this will I seek after that I may dwell in the house of the Lord. That I may see the delight of the Lord, and be protected from His holy temple.
Gospel • Matt. 5, 43-48; 6, 1-4
Continuation of the Holy Gospel According to St. Matthew.
At that time, Jesus said to His disciples: You have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thy enemy. But I say to you, Love your enemies: do good to them that hate you: and pray for them that persecute and calumniate you: That you may be the children of your Father who is in heaven, who maketh his sun to rise upon the good, and bad, and raineth upon the just and the unjust. For if you love them that love you, what reward shall you have? do not even the publicans this? And if you salute your brethren only, what do you more? do not also the heathens this? Be you therefore perfect, as also your heavenly Father is perfect.
Take heed that you do not your justice before men, to be seen by them: otherwise you shall not have a reward of your Father who is in heaven. Therefore when thou dost an almsdeed, sound not a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be honoured by men. Amen I say to you, they have received their reward. But when thou dost alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doth. That thy alms may be in secret, and thy Father who seeth in secret will repay thee.
Offertory • Ps. 118, 154, 125
Quicken me, O Lord, according to Thy word: that I may know Thy testimonies.
GRANT us, we pray Thee, O Lord, that the sacrifice of the Lenten observance, which we offer, may both render our souls acceptable and give us the power of a readier self-denial. Through our Lord.
Communion • Ps. 2, 11, 12
Serve ye the Lord with fear: and rejoice unto Him with trembling. Embrace discipline, lest you perish from the just way.
Pour upon us, O Lord, the spirit of Thy love, to make us of one mind, as Thou hast filled us with one heavenly bread. Through our Lord.