Chesterton said, “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.”

MONDAY 29th AUGUST - BEHEADING OF SAINT JOHN THE BAPTIST

Beheading of St John by Sano di Pietro
Today is the feast of the Decollation of our Blessed Patron.

"Since the memory of blessed John the Baptist is not to be passed over cursorily, it is important that we should note who he was, and by whom, and for what cause, and how, and when he was slain. A just man is slain by adulterers, and the guilty passed sentence of death upon the judge. Further, the death of the Prophet was the reward of a dancing-girl. Lastly (which all the barbarians even would be likely to shudder at) the order to consummate the cruelty went forth amid feasting and conviviality; and from the banquet to the Prison, from the prison to the banquet, the obedient agents of this death-dealing and disgraceful act went to and fro. How great are the crimes confined in this single infamy!" (Homily of St Ambrose, Lesson iii from Matins.)

O God, of those that fought Thy fight,
Portion, and prize, and crown of light,
Break every bond of sin and shame
As now we praise Thy Martyr's name.

He recked not of the world's allure,
But sin and pomp of sin forswore:
Knew all their gall, and passed them by,
And reached the throne prepared on high.

Bravely the course of pain he ran,
And bare his torments as a man;
For love of Thee his blood outpoured,
And thus obtained the great reward.

With humble voice and suppliant word
We pray Thee therefore, holy Lord,
While we Thy Martyr's feast-day keep,
Forgive Thy loved and erring sheep.

Glory and praise for aye be done
To God the Father, and the Son,
And Holy Ghost, Who reign on high,
One God, to all eternity. Amen.
(Hymn for Vespers, St Peter of Verona 6th century, trans A McDougall)