March 4th is the wonderful Feast of Saint Casimir of Poland, though because it usually falls during Lent it is reduced to a commemoration at Holy Mass and at Lauds in the morning. Still it is very much worth remembering this great Saint who gave up so much in regard to worldly riches so that he could store up treasure in Heaven. And what better example could we have during Lent?
Saint Casimir’s Hymn to the Blessed Virgin
Translated from the Latin by the Rev. Father George A. Watson.
Saint Casimir, son of Casimir III, King of Poland, and Elizabeth of Austria, was born at Cracow, October 3, 1458. He was elected King of Hungary, but excluded from the Succession. Having renounced the vanities of the world, he devoted himself wholly to works of piety, and in these, he spent the remaining years of his life.
He was especially distinguished for his devotion to the Mother of God. In her honor, he composed a Hymn, which begins: Omni die, die Mariae. To Mary, daily say. He died at V’ilna, March 4, 1484. He was Canonized by Leo X, in 1521. His tomb was re-embellished in 1604, at which time, his garments were found entire, his body incorrupt, and the Hymn, Omni die, resting under his right temple.
Oh God ! Who in the midst of royal delights and the allurements of the world, hast strengthened Saint Casimir with the virtue of constancy, we beseech Thee, that the Faithful, through his intercession, may despise worldly desires, and aspire after Heavenly rewards. Through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
SAINT CASIMIR’S HYMN
TO THE BLESSED VIRGIN
To Mary, give thy daily praise,
To her, my soul, thy thoughts upraise.
Her holy feasts, her actions kind.
Be ever present, to thy mind.
Admire her Queen-like, gracious mien,
Its living source, the soul unseen.
A Virgin Mother’s, matchless fame,
A Mother now, in joy proclaim.
Devoutly, in her service move.
Escape from crime’s, detested groove.
Avoid sin’s tempest driven shore,
Its loathsome wrecks, for evermore.
Whate’er the mighty Lord hath reaped,
Hath us upon, most bounteous heaped.
This generous Queen, of heav’nly grace.
Has favored, ev’ry human race.
Relate a Virgin Mother’s deeds,
As gently she, to triumph speeds,
A cur-sed and afflicted race,
Hast Thou restored, to honor’s place.
Give to this lovely, ceaseless Queen,
Exalted praise, its brightest sheen
Announce an ever generous mind,
And gifts profuse, to human kind.
Her glory, in an endless round,
The body’s aids, her praise resound.
The senses subject, conscious grow.
Their duty do, their service show.
Who can of fluent, flaming word,
Her worth surpass, ’twere so absurd?
Whose fertile, subtile, active brain.
Can worthy hymns, of her obtain?
God’s Virgin Mother, all do prize,
With Her they hope, their souls may rise.
But not, indeed, to like renown.
Nor such a bright, celestial crown.
To pious minds, ’tis very clear.
Rare virtue’s needs, do so appear,
That I and mine, her praise intend,
And in her honor, these may blend.
Due praise on Mary, to bestow,
The wisest minds, can never know,
Who keeps her name, and it foregoes,
Most senseless he, his folly shows.
Whose holy life, to wisdom bound,
Displayed its power, its love profound,
Who th’ unbeliever’s shallow craft,
Upon its flare, did sure engraft,
Flowers have their proper, varied speech,
Thy actions’ chimes, they cannot reach.
Her worthy words, their equal deeds.
Are sweetest virtue’s, surest seeds.
Eve’s fatal crime, had Heaven’s approach,
Against us barred, at sin’s encroach,
Submissive, faithful Mary’s will,
Did souls induce, to enter still.
A vengeful, and a bitter blow.
Did haughty Eve, on man bestow.
But Mary gracious, leads the way.
To happy Heav’n’s, eternal stay.
In Mary’s, ardent love engage,
From youth her praise, advancing age.
Entreat her, blameless venerate,
From early dawn, to evening late.
Her Son’s behest, may She commend,
A helping hand, may She extend.
At life’s eventful, happy close.
Our souls receive, to Heaven’s repose.
The brightest glory of thy race.
Elected know, to highest grace.
Away, far down, mayst sweetly view,
The greatest, and the wisest few.
Their voices, in thy service raise,
Attentive view, thy servants’ praise.
The guilty cleanse, and nobly free,
Of Heav’nly gifts, they worthy be.
Great Jesse’s rod, and weary mind’s
Secure retreat, when passion blinds.
Fair wisdom’s bright, and honored road,
The mighty Lord’s, divine abode.
In thy pursuits, we goodness view,
And grace’s fountain, dost renew.
God’s pleasing temple, ever found,
In justice all, thy worth abound.
Hail Virgin! now the gates unbar,
To hapless souls, from God afar.
Against Thee, vainly was essayed,
The serpent’s fraud, it long delayed,
King David’s, noble daughter fair,
Of Heav’nly King, art Thou, the heir.
From whom creation, steady flows.
Whose hand preserves, it wisely knows.
Untainted, living virtue’s stem,
A charming rose, a dazzling gem.
Who lead’st a Virgin choir elate,
To endless joys, a happy state.
Do th’ expeditious, power bestow.
That worthy words, and actions flow.
Unceasing praises, may produce.
Thy merits’ crown, their holy use.
May mem’ry, all its art afford,
Thy frequent praise, its burden’s load.
Forget th’ ignoble, worthless dead.
And now to view, thy glory led.
The death-like silence, of my lips,
Too plainly shows, their guilty slips.
Thy favors, silent may not be.
Their sinful use, ma}^ never see.
Upraise sweet commendation’s voice,
A Virgin’s praise, in her rejoice.
And those, in vice’s ev’ry turn,
Dear freedom’s chance, they may not spurn.
Always most pure, and fruitful most,
A Virgin Thou, a mighty host.
A Virgin, yet a mother greets.
So flow’ring palm, its fruit completes,
Be ever, consolation’s pow’r,
Thy matchless charms, their beauty’s flow’r.
And from depressing, wearing grief,
Its fruit afford, a swift relief.
Without the stain of any sin.
Fair beauty’s boast, art Thou within.
Pure, joyful, may we ever be.
Thy praises’ end, may never see.
Untasted joys, unwonted they,
Through Mother Thee, their worth display.
Faith’s flaming, shining, guiding star,
To heav’nly homes, it points afar,
To Thee, a blissful tribute flows,
A grateful world, its duty shows.
Forgetful, of its former days,
Bereft of truth’s, consoling rays.
The rich, in desolation cast,
Review in grief, their treasures past.
As, in thy very words, contained.
The needy have, their all regained.
The wand’ring, crooked ways perverse.
Of manners vile, their deadly curse.
Repelled by thy protecting hand.
Hast forced to seek, another land.
Reduce the body’s vices more.
The weary soul, to God restore.
To spurn the world, allurements vain,
Hast taught, its follies to restrain.
In virtue’s state, and God besought.
The mind’s pursuit, hast wisely taught.
The body’s notions, to restrain,
A heav’nly crown, to thus obtain.
Creator, and Redeemer great.
Who led us back, to virtue’s state.
In chaste enclosure, hast Him borne,
Now sorrow’s darts, cease we to mourn,
Hast borne a Son, we truly state,
A Mother Thou, Immaculate.
Creator, Sovereign, present King,
Of mighty Lords, and ev’ry thing.
Hast wrecked the wary fiend’s intent,
Unconquered Thou, thy might unspent,
Salvation s hope, relinquished sore,
Shines back by pardon, as before.
Of Him, the Mother, sweetly sing,
A blessed Lord, unconqu’r’d King.
Born uncreated, and of Thee,
The Saviour of, our race is he.
Of the despairing, soul oppressed.
Repairer Thou, consoler best.
Protect from all affliction sore,
The wicked can, escape no more.
May not destruction’s fearful doom,
In fire-fed pool, my soul consume.
A heav’nly crown, for me obtain,
Its rarest virtues, may I gain.
Give freely to th’ entreating mind, t^i
Celestial gifts, and them combined.
Which cure its ev’ry, deadly sore,
Its just desires, to it restore.
Chaste, modest, may I ever be,
Dissension’s son, may never see.
Attractive, sober, pious, kind,
And others’ rights, may cautious mind.
Most aptly taught, supremely well.
In wisdom’s race, may praise compel.
On guard against the cunning foe.
Right well adorned, with virtue’s glow,
In all, still seeing naught defiled.
Unchanging, grave, and ever mild.
Mature and stainless, void of guile,
Forbearing, meek, for all a smile.
Th’ unvarnished truth to say and find,
A guarded heart, a thoughtful mind,
No evil wishing, serving God,
In holy works, without the prod.
Be Thou the tutrix, aider near,
The Christian’s help, we banish fear.
Fix not our thoughts, on things below,
Through grace’s channels, let them flow.
Above all praises, worthy far.
Of shoreless sea, the saving Star.
Dost in fair beauty, far outrun.
The lightsome orb, and shining sun.
Sustain, relieve, and give the meek,
Thy prayer intense, them quickly seek.
What darkens, or depraves the mind,
Correct, remove, in fetters bind.
A happy Virgin’s joy recount,
From devil’s frauds, we safely mount.
A Virgin, and her godlike Son,
Restored the Crown, the devil won.
Inviolate, and fruitful made.
By heav’nly off-spring, art repaid.
With modest virtue’s, lilly crown,
Enriched and raised, to great renown.
For what Thou wast. Thou dost remain,
And generating, know’st no stain.
Dost meekly nurse, and handle him.
From whom thy body, soul and limb.
Oh ! deign me gracious, to commend.
And by thy Son, my soul defend.
That I destruction, may escape,
From danger dire, my course may shape.
That I be meek, contention part,
Desires most wicked, from the heart.
Against sin, give protection sure,
And virtue’s prize, may I secure.
In slavish fetters, be not bound,
In worldly lust, be never found.
The souls in folly, that embark,
It senseless makes, and doubly dark.
Impede elation’s deadly course,
Of evils great, the fatal source.
Devouring anger’s wicked flow,
Not madly blaze, with fury glow,
May God’s protecting, saving grace,
My heart preserve, in virtue’s race.
Let not the ancient, wicked foe.
Sow noxious seeds, of sin and woe.
Assistance thine, relief afford,
Thy feasts and actions, may we hoard.
Do not forget thy servants dear,
In Heav’n, with Thee, may all appear.
Raise meekly now, your gentle voice,
In God and Mary, e’er rejoice.
Let not the sordid things of earth,
Withdraw you, from a heav’nly birth.
How few, and far between, our joys,
On them the soul, its strength employs.
In weak endeavors, sadly vain.
To reach a bliss, they can’t contain.
We nobly pass, from passion’s flow.
When virtue does, her force bestow.
To Mary, humbly have recourse.
From Her to us, is virtue’s source.
The Liturgical Year
Dom Prosper Gueranger, O.S.B.
Saint Casimir – Confessor
It is from a Court that we are to be taught to-day the most heroic virtues. Casimir is a Prince; he is surrounded by all the allurements of youth and luxury; and yet he passes through the snares of the world with as much safety and prudence, as though he were an Angel in human form. His example shows us what we may do. The world has not smiled on us as it did on Casimir; but, how much we have loved it! If we have gone so far as to make it our idol, we must now break what we have adored, and give our service to the Sovereign Lord, who alone has a right to it. When we read the Lives of the Saints, and find that persons, who were in the ordinary walk of life, practiced extraordinary virtues, we are inclined to think that they were not exposed to great temptations, or that the misfortunes they met in the world, made them give themselves up unreservedly to God’s service. Such interpretations of the actions of the Saints are shallow and false, for they ignore this great fact,—that there is no condition or state, however humble, in which man has not to combat against the evil inclinations of his heart, and that corrupt nature alone is strong enough to lead him to sin. But in such a Saint as Casimir, we have no difficulty in recognizing that all his Christian energy was from God, and not from any natural source; and we rightly conclude, that we, who have the same good God, may well hope that this Season of spiritual regeneration will change and better us. Casimir preferred death to sin. But is not every Christian bound to be thus minded every’ hour of the day? And yet, such is the infatuation produced by the pleasures or advantages of this present life, that we, every day, see men plunging themselves into sin, which is the death of the soul; and this, not for the sake of saving the life of the body, but for a vile and transient gratification, which is oftentimes contrary to their temporal interests. What stronger proof could there be than this, of the sad effects produced in us by Original Sin ?—The examples of the Saints are given us as a light to lead us in the right path: let us follow it, and we shall be saved. Besides, we have a powerful aid in their merits and intercession: let us take courage at the thought, that these Friends of God have a most affectionate compassion for us their Brethren, who are surrounded by so many and great dangers.
The Church, in her Liturgy, thus describes to us the virtues of our young Prince.
Casimir was the son of Casimir, king of Poland, and of Elizabeth of Austria. He was put, when quite a boy, under the care of the best masters, who trained him to piety and learning. He brought his body into subjection by wearing a hairshirt, and by frequent fasting. He could not endure the soft bed which is given to kings, but lay on the hard floor, and during the night, he used privately to steal from his room, and go to the Church, where, prostrate before the door, he besought God to have mercy on him. The Passion of Christ was his favourite subject of meditation; and when he assisted at Mass, his mind was so fixed on God, that he seemed to be in one long ecstasy.
Great was his zeal for the propagation of the Catholic faith, and the suppression of the Russian schism. He persuaded the king, his father, to pass a law, forbidding the schismatics to build new churches, or to repair those which had fallen to ruin. Such was his charity for the poor and all sufferers, that he went under the name of the Father and Defender of the Poor. During his last illness, he nobly evinced his love or purity, which virtue he had maintained unsullied during his whole life. He was suffering a cruel malady; but he courageously preferred to die, rather than suffer the loss, whereby his physicians advised him to purchase his cure,—the loss of his priceless treasure.
Being made perfect in a short space of time, and rich in virtue and merit, after having foretold the day of his death, he breathed forth his soul into the hands of his God, in the twenty-fifth year of his age, surrounded by Priests and Religious. His body was taken to Vilna, and was honoured by many miracles. A young girl was raised to life at his shrine; the blind recovered their sight, miracles to insert his name among the Saints.
Enjoy thy well-earned rest in heaven, O Casimir! Neither the world with all its riches, nor the court with all its pleasures, could distract thy heart from the eternal joys it alone coveted and loved. Thy life was short, but full of merit. The remembrance of heaven made thee forget the earth. God yielded to the impatience of thy desire to be with him, and took thee speedily from among men. Thy life, though most innocent, was one of penance, for knowing the evil tendencies of corrupt nature, thou hadst a dread of a life of comfort. When shall we be made to understand that penance is a debt we owe to God,—a debt of expiation for the sins we have committed against him? Thou didst prefer death to sin; get us a fear of sin, that greatest of all the evils that can befall us, because it is an evil which strikes at God himself. Pray for us during this holy Season, which is granted us that we may do penance. The Christian world is honouring thee to-day; repay its homage by thy blessing. Poland, thy fatherland, is in mourning; comfort her. She was once the bulwark of the Church, and kept back the invasion of schism, heresy, and infidelity; and now she is crushed by tyrants, who seek to rob her of her faith;—pray for her that she may be freed from her oppressors, and, by regaining her ancient zeal for the faith, be preserved from the apostasy into which her enemies are seeking to drive her.