The Liturgical Year: Saint Sabas, Abbot

Saint Sabas of Mar Saba5 December

The Roman Church confines herself to-day to the Office of the Feria; but to that she joins a Commemoration of Saint Sabas, Abbot of the celebrated Laura of Palestine, which still exists under his name. This Saint, who died in 533, is the only one of the Monastic Order of whom the Church makes any mention in her Liturgy during the whole period of Advent; we might even say that he is the only simple Confessor whose name occurs in the Calendar of this part of the year; for, as regards Saint Francis Xavier, the glorious title of Apostle of the Indies puts him in a distinct class of Saints. Here again we should recognise Divine Providence, which has selected, for these days of preparation for Christmas, those Saints whose characteristic virtues would make them our fittest models in this work of preparation. We have the feasts of Apostles, Pontiffs, Doctors, Virgins: Jesus, the Man-God, the King and Spouse of men, is preceded by this magnificent procession of the noblest of his servants: simple Confession has but a single representative, the Anchoret and Cenobite Sabas, who, by his profession of the monastic life is of that family of holy solitaries, which began with the Prophet Elias under the Old Testament, and continued up to the time of Saint John the Precursor, who was one of its members, and will continue on during the New Covenant until the last Coming of Jesus. Let us, then, honour this holy Abbot, towards whom the Greek Church professes a filial veneration, and under whose invocation Rome has consecrated one of her Churches. Let us beg his prayers by this Collect of the holy Liturgy:


May the intercession, we beseech you, O Lord, of the blessed Abbot Sabas, recommend us to you; that what we cannot hope for through our own merits we may obtain by his prayers. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

O Sabas, you man of desires! in your expectation of that Lord, who has bid his servants watch until he come, you withdrew into the desert, fearing lest the turmoil of the world might distract your mind from its God. Have pity on us who are living in the world, and are so occupied in the affairs of that world, and yet who have received the commandment which you did so take to heart, of keeping ourselves in readiness for the Coming of our Saviour, and our Judge. Pray for us, that when he comes, we may be worthy to go out to meet him. Remember also the Monastic State, of which you are one of the brightest ornaments; raise it up again from its ruins; let its children be men of prayer and faith, as of old; let your spirit be among them, and the Church thus regain, by your intercession, all the glory which is reflected on her from the sublime perfection of this holy State.

– from the book The Liturgical Year: Advent, by the Very Reverend Dom Prosper Gueranger, Abbot of Solesmes, translated from the French by the Revered Dom Laurence Shepherd, Monk of the English-Benedictine Congregation, 2nd edition; published in Dublin Ireland by James Duffy, 15 Wellington-Quay, 1870