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ST CALLISTUS I, POPE AND MARTYR

ST CALLISTUS I, POPE AND MARTYR

ST CALLISTUS I, POPE AND MARTYR – MEMORIAL: OCTOBER 14

Callistus, a Roman, ruled the Church when Antoninus Heliogabulus was emperor. He instituted the four periods of the year which are known as Ember Days – days on which, in accordance with the apostolic tradition, fasting was to be observed by all. He built the basilica called St Mary across-the-Tiber and enlarged the ancient cemetery on the Appian Way, in which are buried many holy Priests and martyrs. For this reason, it is called the cemetery of Callistus. He reigned five years, one month and twelve days.

HE WAS CROWNED WITH MARTYRDOM

After a long imprisonment, during which he was starved and frequently scourged, he was thrown head-downward into a well. He was crowned with martyrdom under the Emperor Alexander and was buried in the cemetery of Calepodius on the Aurelian Way, at the third mile-stone from the City, on the day before the Ides of October [222]. Afterwards his body was carried to the basilica of St Mary across-the-Tiber, and was placed under the high altar, where it is venerated with the greatest devotion.

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

PRAYER:

God of mercy,

hear the prayers of your people

that we may be helped by Saint Callistus,

whose martyrdom we celebrate with joy.

Through our Lord…

 

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SERMON FROM THE AQUEDUCT

SERMON FROM THE AQUEDUCT

The word was made flesh and now dwells among us. He dwells in our memory, he dwells in our thoughts. He comes down even to our imagination.

“How?” you ask. By lying in a manner, by nestling at his mother’s breast, preaching on the mountain, praying throughout the night, hanging on the Cross, growing pallid in death, free among the dead, triumphant in hell. He does it by rising on the third day, by showing the Apostles the print of the nails, the marks of his victory, and finally by ascending before their very eyes into the mysterious heights of the heaven. Of which of these can we not think truly, lovingly, piously, holily?

Of whichever one I think, I think of God; and he is my God through them all. I call it wisdom to meditate upon them, I judge it prudent to recall the memory of their sweetness. From such seeds the priestly rod put forth buds; Mary, drawing their nurture from celestial depths, brought forth the flowers. She who received the Word from the heart of the Father himself, was on a supernal plane, higher even than the angels.

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

 

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ST JEROME, CONFESSOR AND DOCTOR OF THE CHURCH

ST JEROME, CONFESSOR AND DOCTOR OF THE CHURCH

ST JEROME, CONFESSOR AND DOCTOR OF THE CHURCH – MEMORIAL: SEPTEMBER 30

Jerome was born in Strido in Dalmatia. As a youth, he was baptised at Rome and was educated in the liberal arts by Donatus and other very learned men. From a religious motive he travelled through all of Palestine. Then he retired into the vast desert of Syria. There he spent four years reading the divinely inspired books and meditating upon the blessedness of heavenly things.

HE MEDITATED UPON THE BLESSEDNESS OF HEAVENLY THINGS

After being ordained a priest by Paulinus, Bishop of Antioch, he returned to Palestine, to Bethlehem, to be close by the Crib of Christ the Lord. Here he drew up for himself a holy rule and overcame the snares of the devil by pious works and constant reading and writing. From all over the world he was called upon as an inspired authority to settle questions about the interpretation of Sacred Scripture.

AN EXPERT IN THE INTERPRETATION OF SACRED SCRIPTURE 

Pope Damasus and St Augustine consulted him often about very difficult passages of Scripture because of his singular knowledge and understanding not only of the Latin and Greek languages, but also of Hebrew and Chaldaic. He translated the Old Testament from the Hebrew. At the command of Pope Damasus, he made a faithful translation of the New Testament from the Greek and also wrote commentaries on many parts of Scripture. In his extremely old age, he passed [A. D. 420]. He was buried in Bethlehem, and was later transferred to Rome and entombed in the basilica of St Mary Major.

PRAYER:

O God, who graciously gave your Church blessed Jerome, your Confessor and peerless teacher, to explain the Holy Scriptures, grant, we beseech you, that, with the help of his merits and by your assistance, we may be able to put into practice what he has taught us by his life and works. Through our Lord.

– From: An Approved English Translation of the Breviarium Romanum, Burns & Oates, London, 1964 [bold headings added]

 

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STS CLETUS AND MARCELLINUS – “HEALTH AND APOSTOLIC BENEDICTION”

STS CLETUS AND MARCELLINUS – “HEALTH AND APOSTOLIC BENEDICTION”

Sts Cletus and Marcellinus, Popes and Martyrs; [Memorial: April 26]

Cletus, a Roman, governed the Church when Vespian and Titus were emperors. By order of the Prince of the Apostles he ordained twenty-five priests in the City. He was the first who used the salutation in his letters: “Health and Apostolic benediction.” He put the Church in admirable order and, while Domitian was emperor, in the second persecution after that of Nero, he was crowned with martyrdom and was buried in the Vatican, near the body of St Peter.

Marcellinus, a Roman, ruled the Church in the frightful persecution of the Emperor Diocletian. He suffered many hardships from the unjust severity of those who reproached him. This blessed Pope was beheaded for confessing the faith, together with three other Christians, Claudius, Cyrinus and Antonius.

Prayer

Eternal Shepherd, look with favour upon your flock. Shelter and safeguard it for evermore through blessed Cletus and Marcellinus, Martyrs and Supreme Pontiffs, whom you constituted shepherds of the whole Church. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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

 

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ABOUT THE MARTYRS OF THE ALEXANDRIAN PLAGUE

Today, 28th February, the Church remembers the heroic charitable acts of the Martyrs of the Alexandrian Plague.

In the middle of the third century, a plague spread through much of the Roman Empire. The illness was so lethal and so contagious that it was reported that in one day over 5,000 people died in Rome. The plague was similarly catastrophic in Alexandria, Egypt.

Frightened by the plague, many of the pagan residents of Alexandria left the city and abandoned those who were victims of this terrible disease. People were left to die alone and to remain unburied on the streets.

Amidst these horrors a great number of Christians of the city, priests and people, chose to stay behind and voluntarily nurse the dying and bury the dead. This was remarkable for two reasons. Firstly, it would be quite certain that these Christians would catch the plague from the victims they tended and undergo great suffering and death themselves. Secondly, as the Christian community had been heavily persecuted at that time in Alexandria, they were actually tending to the cruel persecutors who had tortured them.

The Bishop of Alexandria, St Dionysius, wrote accounts of the great charity shown by the local Christians. “Most of the brethren were prodigal in their love and brotherly kindness. They supported one another, visited the sick fearlessly, and looked after them without stint, serving them in Christ. They were happy to die with them, bearing their neighbour’s burdens and taking the disease and pain on themselves, even to death which they caught from them. They put reality into what we look on as a courteous formula, accepting death as “humble servants” of one another. Such religious dutifulness and strength of faith seems not to fall short of martyrdom itself.” St Dionysius goes [on to note in] the report that, “the pagans behaved very differently.

The identity of these Alexandrian Christians as martyrs was later promulgated in the Church’s book of recognised saints, the Roman Martyrology.

St Gregory of Nyssa wrote, “Christianity is an imitation of God’s nature.” Those who practise Christianity perfectly will always act differently to “pagans”, as mentioned by St Dionysius, because they imitate Jesus Christ, who showed such great love to those in need beyond the normal calling of women and men.

– From: “Spiritual Thought from Fr Chris”, 2/2016

 

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THE SOLEMN FEAST OF THE CHAIR OF ST PETER

Homily by St Augustine, Bishop

The solemn feast of today was called St Peter’s Chair by our forefathers, because it is said that on this day Peter, first of the Apostles, took possession of his episcopal chair. Rightly, therefore, do the churches honour the feast of that Chair, which the Apostle accepted for the salvation of the churches, as the Lord said: “You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church.”

Therefore, the Lord named Peter the foundation of the Church; and it is, therefore, right that the Church should honour this foundation, upon which the lofty structure of the ecclesiastical edifice is built. The Psalm which has been read, says very suitably: “Let them exalt him in the assembly of the people, and praise him in the chair of the ancients.” Blessed be God who has commanded the blessed Apostle Peter to be exalted in the Church; for it is just that we should honour in the Church this foundation, by which it rises to heaven.

In keeping today the feast of this Chair, we honour the office and the priesthood. Individual churches pay to one another this tribute of mutual respect, for the more the priestly office is honoured, the more the dignity of the Church is enhanced. Since religious observance has introduced this feast into the life of the Church, I wonder why some infidels of today are sunk so deep in error, that they place food and wine upon the tombs of the dead, as though souls which have departed from the body were in need of bodily refreshment.

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

 
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Posted by on February 22, 2016 in Words of Wisdom

 

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“I AM THE WHEAT OF CHRIST”- ST IGNATIUS

St Ignatius, Bishop and Martyr

Ignatius was the third Bishop of Antioch, the second successor of Peter in that see. In the time of Trajan, he was accused of being a Christian and condemned to be thrown to the beasts at Rome.

When he was being deported there in chains from Syria, he instructed all the cities of Asia at which he stopped with exhortations from the Gospel, even teaching the remote cities by his epistles.

In one of these cities, Smyrna, while being entertained at the home of St Polycarp, he wrote to the Romans, and among other things said this:

O beasts prepared to bring me salvation! When will they come? When will they be set loose? When will they enjoy my flesh? I hope they are ferocious, so that they have no fear of touching my body, as they sometimes have. Now I begin to be Christ’s disciple. Let fire, the cross, wild beasts, ripping apart of the limbs, pains of the entire body, and every torture of the devil’s refined art fall together upon me, so long as I merit gaining Jesus Christ.

Therefore, when taken to Rome, hearing the roaring lions, he burned with the desire for martyrdom and pronounced these words:

“I am the wheat of Christ: may I be ground by the teeth of beasts that I may become pure bread.” He suffered in the eleventh year of Trajan’s reign.

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

 

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