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SS. SOTER AND CAIUS, POPES AND MARTYRS

SS. SOTER AND CAIUS, POPES AND MARTYRS

SS SOTER AND CAIUS, POPES AND MARTYRS – MEMORIAL: APRIL 22

Born at Fondi in Campania, Soter passed the decree prohibiting consecrated virgins from touching the sacred vessels or acting as thurifer in the church. He also decreed that everyone except those in mortal sin should receive Holy Communion on Holy Thursday. He was martyred under Marcus Aurelius and buried in what was later called the cemetery of Callistus.

HE WAS BURIED IN THE CEMETERY OF CALLISTUS

Caius was a native of Dalmatia and a relative of Diocletian. He decreed that the office of bishop should be reached through the orders of porter, reader, exorcist, acolyte, subdeacon, deacon, and priest. He hid in a cave for a time to escape Diocletian’s cruel treatment of Christians, but after eight years he and his brother Gabinus were martyred and together were buried in the cemetery of Callistus.

PRAYER:

O Eternal Shepherd, look with favour upon your flock. Safeguard and shelter it forevermore through blessed Soter and Caius, your Martyrs and Supreme Pontiffs, whom you constituted shepherds of the whole Church. Through our Lord Jesus Christ…

– From: An Approved English Translation of the Breviarium Romanum, Burns & Oates, London, 1964

 

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“FOR PITY’S SAKE,” THEY CRY, “DO NOT MENTION HIS NAME!”

AND YOU, WHERE WILL YOU BE?

“Go into a graveyard; consider all these skeletons, and above all, hear the words which each one addresses to you: ‘See what has happened to me, and learn what shall happen to you.’
Again, give heed to your surroundings; those family portraits, these walls, these rooms, these garments, these beds, all these things which you have inherited, have power to awaken thoughts of your own death, by recalling that of your parents and kindred.

How can you doubt that you have to die? On a certain day you were inscribed on the [register of births]; another day will come, a day already fixed upon by God, when you shall be inscribed on the register of deaths. Today you say, in speaking of your dead relatives: ‘my late father’, ‘my late uncle’, ‘my late brother’; soon those who survive will be speaking in the same way of you. In the past you have often heard [the death of others announced; some day your death will be announced in the same manner – and you shall be in eternity.]

THE GREAT OBLIVION

A man has just died, and the news spreads, ‘He was a man of honour’, says one; another adds: ‘what a loss! He was so amiable, so good!’ Some regret him because he pleased them and was of service to them; others rejoice at his death, because they reap certain advantages from it. At the most, there will soon be no more talk of it; after to-morrow he will begin to sink into oblivion. His nearest relatives will avoid awakening the remembrance of him, for fear of renewing their grief. During the visits of condolence the conversation turns on everything except him who is the occasion of them! And if, per chance, someone is about to introduce him into the conversation: ‘For pity’s sake,’ they cry, ‘do not mention his name!’

No doubt, your family will weep for you at first. But soon the pleasure of dividing your property will banish these tears and grievings; and the very apartment where you have breathed your last sigh, and heard your Final Sentence from the lips of Jesus Christ, will be the scene of family reunions and parties of pleasure. And your soul, where will it be?”
– Laverty & Sons (eds), 1905

 

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“SOME CATHOLIC CHRISTIANS VISIT CEMETERIES FAR TOO OFTEN – ISN’T THAT RATHER MORBID?”

QUESTION:

“Why do some people visit cemeteries so often? I know people who go to the cemetery every week. I can understand people going to clean up the family grave but, if we can pray for our deceased in Church and at home why go to the cemetery? It seems unnecessary and a little morbid to me.

ANSWER:

Apart from looking after and cleaning up the graves of relatives, I think a good reason for all of us to go to the graveyard at least once a year is to honour the memory of our deceased relatives and friends.

Visiting a cemetery also reminds us of our mortality – that one day we too will go to our graves. Finally while we can and do pray for the deceased at Mass and at home, a visit to the grave is a more forceful reminder not to forget to pray for them.
– From St Martin’s Messenger, Ireland.”
This article was published in “Don Bosco’s Madonna” issue November 2013. For subscriptions and donations please visit http://www.donboscosmadonna.org (external link) or http://www.dbmshrine.org (external link).

 
 

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HEAVEN AND EARTH ARE JOINED IN COMMON PRAYER – NOVEMBER IS THE MONTH WE COUNT OUR SPIRITUAL BLESSINGS

THE CEMETERY IS ABLAZE WITH LIGHT… IN THE GLOW OF CANDLELIGHT, THE DARKNESS IS DISPELLED… IT IS A DECLARATION THAT LOVE REMAINS ETERNAL AND THAT IT OVERCOMES THE SEPARATION THAT DEATH BRINGS.

“THE GATHERING

There are many references in the Irish media today to what is called ‘The Gathering.’ It is the title of several recent novels, the name of a travelling show-band and the banner under which the Tourist Boards in Ireland and Scotland attract visitors to ‘the old country’.

This tourist campaign, ‘The Gathering’ consists of a series of cultural events throughout the year which celebrate the rich heritage and tradition of the Celts. It is a celebration of one’s ethnic roots, a time of remembrance and an experience that deepens one’s sense of belonging. Tracing one’s ancestors plays an important role in the scheme and it is an attractive way to appreciate one’s history and cultural identity.

THE HOLY GATHERING

There is another annual Holy Gathering that often goes unnoticed and is certainly not promoted by any tourist board. It is called the Communion of Saints and its highlight is celebrated at the beginning of November.
NOVEMBER

November is often thought of as a dismal month, a time of frost and decay and mourning for the dead. For the People of God, however, it surely must be otherwise. This is the month we count our spiritual blessings, chief among which is belonging to a pilgrim people that looks forward in hope to its goal of communion with all the saints. In the perspective of faith November should always be an occasion of joy. Nowhere do I find that joyful exuberance more evident than in the Philippines at this time. November first is a national holiday and a time of festivity.

A TIME OF FESTIVITY

Everyone spends the day in the carefree atmosphere of a large family gathering. But the venue for this gathering is surprising: it takes place in the local, town or parish cemetery. It is a day of home-coming and reunion summoned by the memory of the dead. The celebration begins a few days beforehand with a mass exodus from the city by land, sea and air as people return to their native towns and villages. Work is already underway at the local graveyard in tidying up and dressing the family plot where the beloved deceased lie buried.

FLOWERS, GARLANDS AND CANDLES

Though there is a subdued solemnity about remembering the dead, there is nothing sombre about this celebration. Quite the contrary, for the cemetery becomes a hive of activity and good cheer; it is spruced up and decorated for the Feast of All Saints. Garlands are laid, flowers in abundance are strewn on the graves, and candles are placed around them. The cemetery takes on the air and appearance of a town festival.

A FAMILY GATHERING AND A FAMILY MEAL

Great feasts are preceded by what is called the visperas or vespers which is the prelude to the main event and celebration. It takes place on the vigil, or the evening before the feast, and the excitement of anticipation often surpasses the joy of the actual day itself.

This is even more the case when the feat of All Saints comes round. The cemetery. The cemetery is ablaze with light as families gather round the graves of their loved ones. In the glow of candlelight, the darkness is dispelled and the wake goes on all through the night in a festive spirit. Drink and food are provided in much the same way as the Noche Buena (or Christmas Eve) opens the season of joy. The vigil is an expression of solidarity with the departed whose presence and friendship is recalled and intimately felt.

LOVE REMAINS ETERNAL

On this special day of commemoration the dead are not forgotten, rather they are still very much alive in the conversation and stories that are told. This is the gathering of all the family, the living and the dead and it is fittingly celebrated with a family meal. It is a declaration that love remains eternal and that it overcomes the separation that death brings.

THE CHURCH CELEBRATES THE TRIUMPH OF FAITH

In the Church’s universal calendar the feasts of All Saints and All Souls are held consecutively on November first and second. The Church first celebrates the triumph of faith in the glory of the Saints, and reminds the pilgrim people of their destiny in the New Jerusalem. She then turns her attention to those who are being purified and in need of intercession.

Heaven and earth are joined in common prayer for the faithful departed. In doing so, the Church tends to stress the different branches of the Communion of Saints [Church Militant (the faithful currently living on earth), Church Suffering (people in ‘transit to heaven’ going through the ‘cleansing fire’ termed by the Church ‘purgatory’; see for example 1 Co 3:15; Apoc 21:27; Mt 16:27) and Church Triumphant, those in heaven, beholding God face-to-face)] rather than its unity.

THE PEOPLE OF GOD – LIVING & DEAD – UNITED IN CHRIST

In the Philippines, however, the two feasts are fused into one and inspired by the one same spirit of joy. The saints are all the living and the dead who are united in Christ, and so the need for a separate celebration on November 2 seems redundant. This is in contrast to the practice of the universal Church. But have we not in this example of popular religiosity an insight of faith into the undivided unity of those who belong to Christ? November first is a red letter day in the Church calendar for it marks “The Holy Gathering” of the People of God.”
– This article by Fr Colm McKeating (explanatory text in brackets [] added afterwards) was published in “Far East”, issue November 2013. For subscriptions, donations and information regarding missionary vocations please visit http://www.columbans.co.uk (external link) or http://www.columbansisters.org (external link).

 
 

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