Jan. 25, 2022

January 25, 2022: CONVERSION OF ST. PAUL, APOSTLE

Rank: Greater Double.

“And the Lord said… this man is to me a vessel of election, to carry my name before the gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel. For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.”
(Acts, ix. 15-16)

“Is not this he who persecuted in Jerusalem those that called upon the name of Jesus; and came hither for that intent, that he might carry them bound to the chief priests? But Saul increased much more in strength, and confounded the Jews who dwelt at Damascus, affirming that this is the Christ.”
(Acts, ix. 21-22)

 

Ant. Holy Apostle Paul! preacher of the truth, and Doctor of the Gentiles! Intercede for us to the God, that chose thee.

℣. Thou art a vessel of election, O holy Apostle Paul!
℟. The preacher of truth in the whole world.

Let Us Pray.

O God, who by the preaching of blessed Paul the Apostle, didst instruct the multitude of the Gentiles: grant, we beseech thee, that whilst we celebrate his memory, we may find the effects of his prayers. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen.

(Commemoration of St. Peter) O God, who by delivering to the blessed Apostle Peter the keys of the kingdom of heaven, didst give him the power of binding and loosing: grant, that by his intercession, we may be freed from the bonds of our sins. Who livest, and resignest, world without end. Amen.

 

HYMN

Illustrious Doctor guide our ways;
Our hearts with thee to heav’n raise,
Till faith obscure her noon light gains,
And like the sun, love only reigns.

To God, all-ruling, One and Three,
Be never-ceasing jubilee,
Eternal glory, endless praise
For an eternity of days. Amen.

℣. Thou art a chosen vessel, O holy Paul the Apostle
℟. The preacher of the truth thro’ the whole world.

 

LESSON.
Account from the Acts of the Apostles, Ch. ix. 1-22.

And Saul as yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high-priest, And asked of him letters to Damascus, to the synagogues: that if he found any men and women of this way, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. And as he went on his journey, it came to pass that he drew nigh to Damascus: and suddenly a light from heaven shined round about him. And falling on the ground, he heard a voice saying to him: Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? Who said: Who art thou, Lord? And he: I am JESUS whom thou persecutest. It is hard for thee to kick against the goad. And he trembling and astonished, said: Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said to him: Arise, and go into the city, and there it shall be told thee what thou must do. Now the men who went in company with him stood amazed, hearing indeed a voice, but seeing no man. And Saul arose from the ground, and when his eyes were opened, he saw nothing. But they leading him by the hands, brought him to Damascus. And he was there three days without sight, and he did neither eat nor drink. Now there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias: and the Lord said to him in a vision: Ananias. And he said: Behold I am here, Lord. And the Lord said to him: Arise, and go into the street that is called Strait, and seek in the house of Judas, one named Saul of Tarsus. For behold he prayeth. (And he saw a man named Ananias, coming in and putting his hands upon him, that he might receive his sight.) But Ananias answered: Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints in Jerusalem: And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that invoke thy name. And the Lord said to him: Go thy way, for this man is to me a vessel of election, to carry my name before the gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel. For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake. And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house: and laying his hands upon him, he said: Brother Saul, the Lord JESUS hath sent me, he that appeared to thee in the way as thou camest: that thou mayst receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost. And immediately there fell from his eyes as it were scales, and he received his sight; and rising up he was baptized. And when he had taken meat, he was strengthened. And he was with the disciples that were at Damascus, for some days. And immediately he preached JESUS in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God. And all that heard him were astonished, and said: Is not this he who persecuted in Jerusalem those that called upon this name; and came hither for that intent, that he might carry them bound to the chief priests? But Saul increased much more in strength, and confounded the Jews who dwelt at Damascus, affirming that this is the CHRIST.

 

We have already seen how the Gentiles, in the person of the Three Magi, offered their mystic gifts to the Divine Child of Bethlehem, and received from him, in return, the precious gifts of faith, hope, and charity. The harvest is ripe; it is time for the reaper to come. But, who is to be God's labourer? The Apostles of Christ are still living under the very shadow of mount Sion. All of them have received the mission to preach the gospel of salvation to the uttermost parts of the world; but not one among them has, as yet, received the special character of Apostle of the Gentiles. Peter, who had received the Apostleship of Circumcision (Gal, ii. 8), is sent specially, as was Christ himself, to the sheep that are lost of the house of Israel (St. Matth, xv. 24), And yet, as he is the Head and the Foundation, it belongs to him to open the door of Faith to the Gentiles (Acts, xiv. 26); which he solemnly does, by conferring Baptism on Cornelius, the Roman Centurion.

But the Church is to have one more Apostle—an Apostle for the Gentiles—and he is to be the fruit of the martyrdom and prayer of St. Stephen. Saul, a citizen of Tarsus, has not seen Christ in the flesh, and yet Christ alone can make an Apostle. It is, then, from heaven, where he reigns impassible and glorified, that Jesus will call Saul to be his disciple, just as, during the period of his active life, he called the fishermen of Genesareth to follow him and hearken to his teachings. The Son of God will raise Saul up to the third heaven, and there will reveal to him all his mysteries: and when Saul, having come down again to this earth, shall have seen Peter (Gal, i. 18), and compared his Gospel with that recognised by Peter (Gal, ii. 2)—he can say, in all truth, that he is an Apostle of Christ Jesus (Gal, i. 1), and that he has done nothing less than the great Apostles (II Cor, xi. 5).

It is on this glorious day of the Conversion of Saul, who is soon to change his name into Paul, that this great work is commenced. It is on this day, that is heard the Almighty voice which breaketh the cedars of Libanus (Ps, xxviii. 5), and can make a persecuting Jew become first a Christian, and then an Apostle. This admirable transformation had been prophesied by Jacob, when, upon his death-bed, he unfolded, to each of his sons, the future of the tribe of which he was to be the father. Juda was to have the precedence of honour; from his royal race, was to be born the Redeemer, the Expected of nations. Benjamin's turn came; his glory is not to be compared with that of his brother Juda, and yet it was to be very great—for, from his tribe, is to be born Paul, the Apostle of the Gentile nations.

These are the words of the dying Prophet: Benjamin, a ravenous wolf, in the morning shall eat the prey, and in the evening shall divide the spoil (Gen, xlix. 27). Who, says an ancient writer, is he, that in the morning of impetuous youth, goes like a wolf, in pursuit of the sheep of Christ, breathing threatenings and slaughter against them? Is it not Saul on the road to Damascus, the bearer and doer of the high-priest's orders, and stained with the blood of Stephen, whom he has stoned by the hands of all those, over whose garments he kept watch? And he, who, in the evening, not only does not despoil, but, with a charitable and peaceful hand, breaks to the hungry the bread of life—is it not Paul, of the tribe of Benjamin, the Apostle of Christ, burning with zeal for his brethren, making himself all to all, and wishing even to be an anathema for their sakes?

Oh! the power of our dear Jesus! how wonderful! how irresistible! He wishes that the first worshippers at his Crib
should be humble Shepherds—and he invites them by his Angels, whose sweet hymn was enough to lead these simple-hearted men to the Stable, where lies, in swaddling-clothes, He who is the hope of Israel. He would have the Gentile Princes, the Magi, do him homage—and bids to arise in the heavens a Star, whose mysterious apparition, joined to the interior speaking of the Holy Ghost, induces these men of desire to come from the far East, and lay, at the feet of an humble Babe, their riches and their hearts. When the time is come for forming the Apostolic College, he approaches the banks of the sea of Tiberias, and with this single word: Follow me, he draws after him such as he wishes to have as his Disciples. In the midst of all the humiliations of his Passion, he has but to look at the unfaithful Peter, and Peter is a penitent. To-day, it is from heaven that he evinces his power: all the mysteries of our redemption have been accomplished, and he wishes to show mankind, that he is the sole author and master of the Apostolate, and that his alliance with the Gentiles is now perfect:—he speaks; the sound of his reproach bursts like thunder over the head of this hot Pharisee, who is bent on annihilating the Church; he takes this heart of the Jew, and, by his grace, turns it into the heart of the Apostle, the Vessel of election, the Paul who is afterwards to say of himself: I live, not I, but Christ liveth in me (Gal, ii. 20).

The commemoration of this great event was to be a Feast in the Church, and it had a right to be kept as near as might be to the one which celebrates the martyrdom of St. Stephen, for Paul is the Protomartyr's convert. The anniversary of his martyrdom would, of course, have to be solemnised at the summer-solstice; where, then, place the Feast of his Conversion if not near Christmas, and thus our own Apostle would be at Jesus' Crib, and Stephen's side? Moreover, the Magi could claim him, as being the conqueror of that Gentile-world, of which they were the first-fruits.

And lastly, it was necessary, in order to give the court of our Infant-King its full beauty, that the two Princes of the Church—the Apostle of the Jews, and the Apostle of the Gentiles—should stand close to the mystic Crib; Peter, with his Keys, and Paul, with his Sword. Bethlehem thus becomes the perfect figure of the Church, and the riches of this season of the Cycle are abundant beyond measure.

 

Conversion of St. Paul.

This great apostle was a Jew, of the tribe of Benjamin. At his circumcision, on the eighth day after his birth, he received the name of Saul. His father was by sect a Pharisee, and a denizen of Tarsus, the capital of Cilicia: which city had shown a particular regard for the cause of the Cӕsars; on which account Cassius deprived it of its privileges and lands; but Augustus, when conqueror, made it ample amends by honoring it with many new privileges, and with the freedom of Rome, as we read in the two Dions and Appian. Hence St. Paul, being born at Tarsus, was by privilege a Roman citizen, to which quality a great distinction and several exemptions were granted by the laws of the empire (Acts, xxi. 29; xxii. 3). His parents sent him young to Jerusalem, where he was educated and instructed in the strictest observance of the law of Moses, by Gamaliel (Acts, xxii. 3), a learned and noble Jew, and probably a member of the Sanhedrim; and was a most scrupulous observer of it in every point. He appeals even to his enemies to bear evidence how conformable to it his life had been in every respect (Acts, xxvi. 4). He embraced the sect of the Pharisees, which was of all others the most severe, though by its pride the most opposite to the humility of the gospel (Acts, xxvi. 5). It was a rule among the Jews that all their children were to learn some trade with their studies, were it but to avoid idleness, and to exercise the body, as well as the mind, in something serious. It is therefore probable that Saul learned in his youth the trade which he exercised even after his apostleship, of making tents.

Saul, surpassing all his equals in zeal for the Jewish law and their traditions, which he thought the cause of God, became thereby a blasphemer, a persecutor, and the most outrageous enemy of Christ (Gal, i. 14). He was one of those who combined to murder St. Stephen, and by keeping the garments of all who stoned that holy martyr, he is said by St. Austin to have stoned him by the hands of all the rest; to whose prayers for his enemies he ascribes the conversion of St. Paul: “If Stephen,” said he, “had not prayed, the church would never have had St. Paul.”

After the martyrdom of the holy deacon, the priests and magistrates of the Jews raised a violent persecution against the church at Jerusalem, in which Saul signalized himself above others. By virtue of the power he had received from the high priest, he dragged the Christians out of their houses, loaded them with chains, and thrust them into prison (Acts, viii. 3; xxii. 4; xxvi. 10). He procured them to be scourged in the synagogues, and endeavored by torments to compel them to blaspheme the name of Christ. And as our Saviour had always been represented by the leading men of the Jews as an enemy to their law, it was no wonder that this rigorous Pharisee fully persuaded himself that he ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth (Acts, xxvi. 9). By the violences he committed, his name became everywhere a terror to the faithful. The persecutors not only raged against their persons, but also seized their estates and what they possessed in common (Heb, x. 32), and left them in such extreme necessity, that the remotest churches afterwards thought it incumbent on them to join in charitable contributions to their relief. All this could not satisfy the fury of Saul; he breathed nothing but threats and the slaughter of the other disciples (Acts, x. 1). Wherefore, in the fury of his zeal, he applied to the high priest and Sanhedrim for a commission to take up all Jews at Damascus who confessed Jesus Christ, and bring them bound to Jerusalem, that they might serve as public examples for the terror of others. But God was pleased to show forth in him his patience and mercy; and, moved by the prayers of St. Stephen and his other persecuted servants, for their enemies, changed him, in the very heat of his fury, into a vessel of election, and made him a greater man in his church by the grace of the apostleship, than St. Stephen had ever been, and a more illustrious instrument of his glory. He was almost at the end of his journey to Damascus, when, about noon, he and his company were on a sudden surrounded by a great light from heaven, brighter than the sun (Acts, ix, xxii, xxvi). They all saw the light, and being struck with amazement, fell to the ground. Then Saul heard a voice, which to him was articulate and distinct; but not understood, though heard by the rest: Saul, Saul, why dost thou persecute me? Christ said not: Why dost thou persecute my disciples? but me: for it is he, their head, who is chiefly persecuted in his servants. Saul answered: Who art thou, Lord? Christ said: Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest. It is hard for thee to kick against the goad: “to contend with one so much mightier than thyself. By persecuting my church you make it flourish, and only prick and hurt yourself.” This mild expostulation of our Redeemer, accompanied with a powerful interior grace, strongly affecting his soul, cured his pride, assuaged his rage, and wrought at once a total change in him. Wherefore, trembling and astonished, he cried out: Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? What to repair the past! What to promote your glory? I make a joyful oblation of myself to execute your will in every thing, and to suffer for your sake afflictions, disgraces, persecutions, torments, and every sort of death. The true convert expressed this, not in a bare form of words, nor with faint languid desires, nor with any exception lurking in the secret recesses of his heart; but with an entire sacrifice of himself, and an heroic victory over the world with its frowns and charms, over the devils with their snares and threats, and over himself and all inclinations of self-love; devoting himself totally to God. A perfect model of a true conversion, the greatest work of almighty grace! Christ ordered him to arise and proceed on his journey to the city, where he should be informed of what he expected from him. Christ would not instruct him immediately by himself, but, St. Austin observes, sent him to the ministry which he had established in the church, to be directed in the way of salvation by those whom he had appointed for that purpose. He would not finish the conversion and instruction of this great apostle, whom he was pleased to call in so wonderful a manner, but by remitting him to the guidance of his ministers; showing us thereby that his holy providence has so ordered it, that all who desire to serve him, should seek his will by listening to those whom he has commanded us to hear, and whom he has sent in his own name and appointed to be our guides. So perfectly would he abolish in his servants all self-confidence and presumption, the source of error and illusion. The convert, rising from the ground, found that, though his eyes were open, he saw nothing. Providence sent this corporal blindness to be an emblem of the spiritual blindness in which he had lived, and to signify to him that he was henceforward to die to the world, and learn to apply his mind totally to the contemplation of heavenly things. He was led by the hand into Damascus, whither Christ seemed to conduct him in triumph. He was lodged in the house of a Jew named Judas, where he remained three days blind, and without eating or drinking. He doubtless spent his time in great bitterness of soul, not yet knowing what God required of him. With what anguish he bewailed his past blindness and false zeal against the church, we may conjecture both from his taking no nourishment during those three days, and from the manner in which he ever after remembered and spoke of his having been a blasphemer and a persecutor. Though the entire reformation of his heart was not gradual, as in ordinary conversions, but miraculous in the order of grace, and perfect in a moment; yet a time of probation and a severe interior trial (for such we cannot doubt but he went through on this occasion) was necessary to crucify the old man and all other earthly sentiments in his heart, and to prepare it to receive the extraordinary graces which God designed him. There was a Christian of distinction in Damascus, much respected by the Jews for his irreproachable life and great virtue; his name was Ananias. Christ appeared to this holy disciple, and commanded him to go to Saul, who was then in the house of Judas at prayer: Ananias trembled at the name of Saul, being no stranger to the mischief he had done in Jerusalem, or to the errand on which he was set out to Damascus. But our Redeemer overruled his fears, and charged him a second time to go to him, saying: Go, for he is a vessel of election to carry my name before Gentiles and kings, and the children of Israel; and I will show him how much he has to suffer for my name. For tribulation is the test and portion of all the true servants of Christ. Saul in the mean time saw in a vision a man entering, and laying his hands upon him, to restore his sight. Ananias, obeying the divine order, arose, went to Saul, and laying his hands upon him, said: Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to thee on thy journey, hath sent me that thou mayest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost. Immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he recovered his eyesight. Ananias added: The God of our fathers hath chosen thee that thou shouldst know his will and see the just one, and shouldst hear the voice from his mouth: and thou shalt be his witness unto all men to publish what thou hast seen and heard. Arise, therefore, be baptized and washed from thy sins, invoking the name of the Lord. Saul then arose, was baptized, and took some refreshment. He stayed some few days with the disciples at Damascus, and began immediately to preach in the synagogues, that Jesus was the Son of God, to the great astonishment of all that heard him, who said: Is not this he who persecuted at Jerusalem those who invoked the name of Jesus, and who is come hither to carry them away prisoners? Thus a blasphemer and a persecutor was made an apostle, and chosen to be one of the principal instruments of God in the conversion of the world.

St. Paul never recalled to mind this his wonderful conversion, without raptures of gratitude and praise to the divine mercy. The church, in thanksgiving to God for such a miracle of his grace, from which it has derived such great blessings, and to commemorate so miraculous an instance of his almighty power, and to propose to penitents a perfect model of a true conversion, has instituted this festival, which we find mentioned in several calendars and missals of the eighth and ninth centuries, and which pope Innocent III commanded to be observed with great solemnity. It was for some time kept a holy day of obligation in most churches in the West; and we read it mentioned as such in England in the council of Oxford in 1222, in the reign of king Henry III.

Taken from: The Liturgical Year – Christmas, Vol. II, Edition 1868;
The Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and Other Principal Saints, Vol. I, 1903; and
The Divine Office for the use of the Laity, Volume I, 1806.

 

“At Damascus the governor of the nation under Aretas the king, guarded the city of the Damascenes to apprehend me: And through a window in a basket was I let down by the wall, and so escaped his hands, in the name of the Lord.”
(II Cor, xi. 32-33)

 

Ss. Peter and Paul, pray for us.

 

Jan. 24, 2022

January 24, 2022: ST. TIMOTHY, BISHOP AND MARTYR

Rank: Double.

“And we sent Timothy our brother, and the minister of God in the gospel of Christ, to confirm you and exhort you concerning your faith. That no man should be moved in these tribulations.”
(I Thess, iii. 2,3)

“Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me, as I also am of Christ. For this cause have I sent to you Timothy, who is my dearest son and faithful in the Lord; who will put you in mind of my ways, which are in Christ Jesus; as I teach every where in every church.”
(I Cor, iv. 16, 17)

 

Prayer (Collect).

Have regard, O Almighty God, to our weakness, and as we sink under the weight of our own doings, let the glorious intercession of blessed Timothy, thy Martyr and Bishop, be a protection to us. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen.

 

Before giving thanks to God for the miraculous Conversion of the Apostle of the Gentiles [St. Paul], the Church assembles us together for the Feast of his favourite Disciple. Timothy—the indefatigable companion of St. Paul—the friend to whom the great Apostle, a few days before shedding his blood for Christ, wrote his last Epistle—comes now to await his master's arrival at the Crib of the Emmanuel. He there meets John the Beloved Disciple, together with whom he bore the anxieties attendant on the government of the Church of Ephesus; Stephen, too, and the other Martyrs, welcome him, for he, also, bears a Martyr's palm in his hand. He presents to the august Mother of the Divine Babe the respectful homage of the Church of Ephesus, which Mary had sanctified by her presence, and which shares with the Church of Jerusalem the honour of having had Her as one of its number, who was not only, like the Apostles, the witness, but moreover, in her quality of Mother of God, the ineffable instrument of the salvation of mankind.

 

Let us now read, in the Office of the Church, the abridged account of the actions of this zealous disciple of the Apostles.

Timothy was born at Lystra, in Lycaonia. His father was a Gentile, and his mother a Jewess. When the Apostle Paul came into those parts, Timothy was a follower of the christian religion. The Apostle had heard much of his holy life, and was thereby induced to take him as the companion of his travels: but, on account of the Jews, who had become converts to the faith of Christ, and were aware that the father of Timothy was a Gentile, he administered to him the rite of circumcision. As soon as they arrived at Ephesus, the Apostle ordained him Bishop of that Church.

The Apostle addressed two of his Epistles to him—one from Laodicea, the other from Rome—to instruct him how to discharge his pastoral office. He could not endure to see sacrifice, which is due to God alone, offered to the idols of devils; and finding that the people of Ephesus were offering victims to Diana, on her festival, he strove to make them desist from their impious rites. But they, turning upon him, stoned him. The Christians could not deliver him from their hands, till he was more dead than alive. They carried him to a mountain not far from the town, and there, on the ninth of the Calends of February (January 24), he slept in the Lord.

 

Another account of St. Timothy.

St. Timothy, the beloved disciple of St. Paul, was of Lycaonia, and probably of the city Lystra. His father was a Gentile, but his mother Eunice a Jewess. She, with Lois his grandmother, embraced the Christian religion, and St. Paul commends their faith. Timothy had made the holy scriptures his study from his infancy (II Tim, iii. 15). When St. Paul preached in Lycaonia, in the year 51, the brethren of Iconium and Lystra gave him so advantageous a character of the young man, that the apostle, being deprived of St. Barnaby, took him for the companion of his labors, but first circumcised him at Lystra. For though the Jewish ceremonies ceased to be obligatory from the death of Christ, it was still lawful to use them (but not as of precept and obligation) till about the time of the destruction of Jerusalem with the temple, that the synagogue might be buried with honor. Therefore St. Paul refused to circumcise Titus, born of Gentile parents, to assert the liberty of the gospel, and to condemn those who erroneously affirmed circumcision to be still of precept in the New Law. On the other side, he circumcised Timothy, born of a Jewess, by that condescension to render him the more acceptable to the Jews, and to make it appear that himself was no enemy to their law. St. Chrysostom here admires the prudence, steadiness, and charity of St. Paul; and we may add, the voluntary obedience of the disciple. St. Austin extols his zeal and disinterestedness in immediately forsaking his country, his house, and his parents, to follow this apostle, to share in his poverty and sufferings. After he was circumcised, St. Paul, by the imposition of hands, committed to him the ministry of preaching, his rare virtue making ample amends for his want of age. From that time the apostle regarded him not only as his disciple and most dear son, but as his brother, and the companion of his labors (I Thess, iii. 2; I Cor, iv. 17). He calls him a man of God (I Tim, vi. 11), and tells the Philippians, that he found no one so truly united to him in heart and sentiments, as Timothy (Phil, ii. 20). This esteem of the apostle is a sufficient testimony of the extraordinary merit of the disciple, whose vocation and entrance into the ministry was accompanied with prophecies in his behalf (I Tim, i. 18).

St. Paul travelled from Lystra over the rest of Asia, sailed into Macedon, and preached at Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berœa, in the year 52. Being compelled to quit this last city by the fury of the Jews, he left Timothy behind him, to confirm the new converts there. On St. Paul's arrival at Athens he sent for him, but being informed that the Christians of Thessalonica lay under a very heavy persecution for the faith, he soon after deputed him to go thither, to comfort and encourage them under it; and he returned to St. Paul, then at Corinth, to give him an account of his success in that commission (Acts, xviii). Upon this the apostle wrote his first epistle to the Thessalonians. From Corinth St. Paul went to Jerusalem, and thence to Ephesus, where he spent two years. Here he formed a resolution of returning into Greece, and sent Timothy and Erastus before him through Macedon, to apprize the faithful in those parts of his intention, and to prepare the alms intended to be sent the Christians of Jerusalem.

Timothy had a particular order to go afterwards to Corinth, to correct certain abuses, and to revive in the minds of the faithful there the doctrine which the apostle had taught them; who, writing soon after to the Corinthians, earnestly recommended this disciple to them (I Cor, xvi. 10). St. Paul waited in Asia for his return, and then went with him into Macedon and Achaia. St. Timothy left him at Philippi, but rejoined him at Troas. The apostle on his return to Palestine was imprisoned, and after two years custody at Cӕsarea, was sent to Rome. Timothy seems to have been with him all or most of this time, and is named by him in the titles of his epistles to Philemon, and to the Philippians and Thessalonians, in the years 61 and 62. St. Timothy himself suffered imprisonment for Christ, and gloriously confessed his name, in the presence of many witnesses; but was set at liberty (Heb, xiii. 23). He was ordained bishop by a prophecy, and a particular order of the Holy Ghost (I Tim, iv. 14). He received by this imposition of hands, not only the grace of the sacrament, and the authority to govern the church, but also the power of miracles, and the other exterior gifts of the Holy Ghost. St. Paul being returned from Rome into the East, in the year 64, left St. Timothy at Ephesus, to govern that church, to oppose false teachers, and to ordain priests, deacons, and even bishops (I Tim, i). For St. Chrysostom and other fathers observe, that he committed to him the care of all the churches of Asia: and St. Timothy is always named the first bishop of Ephesus.

St. Paul wrote his first epistle to Timothy from Macedon, in 64; and his second, in 65, from Rome, while there in chains, to press him to come to Rome, that he might see him again before he died. It is an effusion of his heart, full of tenderness towards this his dearest son. In it he encourages him, endeavors to renew and stir up in his soul that spirit of intrepidity, and that fire of the Holy Ghost, with which he was filled at his ordination; gives him instructions concerning the heretics of that time, and adds a lively description of such as would afterwards arise (II Tim, iii. 1, 2).

We learn (I Tim, v. 23) that St. Timothy drank only water: but his austerities having prejudiced his health, on account of his weak stomach and frequent infirmities, St. Paul ordered him to use a little wine. The fathers observe that he only says a little, even in that necessity, because the flesh is to be kept weak, that the spirit may be vigorous and strong. St. Timothy was then young: perhaps about forty. It is not improbable that he went to Rome to confer with his master. In the year 64 he was made by St. Paul bishop of Ephesus, before St. John arrived there, who resided also in that city as an apostle, and exercising a general inspection over all the churches of Asia. St. Timothy is styled a martyr in the ancient martyrologies.

His acts, in some copies ascribed to the famous Polycrates, bishop of Ephesus, but which seem to have been written at Ephesus, in the fifth or sixth age, and abridged by Photius, relate, that under the emperor Nerva, in the year 97, St. John being still in the isle of Patmos, St. Timothy was slain with stones and clubs by the heathens, while he was endeavoring to oppose their idolatrous ceremonies on one of their festivals called Catagogia, kept on the 22nd of January, on which the idolaters walked in troops, everyone carrying in one hand an idol, and in the other a club. St. Paulinus, Theodorus Lector, and Philostorgius, inform us, that his relics were with great pomp translated to Constantinople in the year 356, in the reign of Constantius. St. Paulinus witnesses, that the least portion of them wrought many miracles wherever they were distributed. These precious remains, with those of St. Andrew and St. Luke, were deposited under the altar, in the church of the apostles in that city, where the devils, by their howlings, testified how much they felt their presence, says St. Jerom; which St. Chrysostom also confirms.

Pious reading was the means by which St. Timothy, encouraged by the example and exhortations of his virtuous grandmother and mother, imbibed in his tender years, and nourished during the whole course of his life, the most fervent spirit of religion and all virtues; and his ardor for holy reading and meditation is commended by St. Paul, as the proof of his devotion and earnest desire of advancing in divine charity. When this saint was wholly taken up in the most laborious and holy functions of the apostolic ministry, that great apostle strongly recommends to him always to be assiduous in the same practice (I Tim, iv. 7 & 13), and in all exercises of devotion. A minister of the gospel who neglects regular exercises of retirement, especially self-examination, reading, meditation, and private devotion, forgets his first and most essential duty, the care he owes to his own soul. Neither can he hope to kindle the fire of charity in others, if he suffer it to be extinguished in his own breast. These exercises are also indispensably necessary in a certain degree, in all states and circumstances of life; nor is it possible for a Christian otherwise to maintain a spirit of true piety, which ought to animate the whole body of all his actions, and without which even spiritual functions want as it were their soul.

Taken from: The Liturgical Year – Christmas, Vol. II, Edition 1868;
The Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and Other Principal Saints, Vol. I, 1903; and
The Divine Office for the use of the Laity, Volume I, 1806.

 

St. Timothy, pray for us.

 

Jan. 23, 2022

January 23, 2022: COMMEMORATION OF ST. RAYMUND OF PEÑAFORT, CONFESSOR

 

Prelates, Kings, and people of the earth! celebrate the glorious name of Raymund, to whom the salvation of all mankind was an object of loving care.

He bids the treacherous sea be firm, and on her open waters carry him to land; he spreads his mantle, and his staff the mast, he rides upon the waves.

 

Prayer (Collect).

O God, who didst make blessed Raymond an excellent minister of the sacrament of penance, and didst miraculously conduct him thro’ the waves of the sea; grant, by his intercession, that we may bring forth worthy fruits of penance, and be enabled to arrive at the port of eternal salvation. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen.

 

With admirable study and research, he collects together the scattered Decrees of the Sovereign Pontiffs, and all the sacred maxims of the ancient Canons, so worthy to be handed down to all ages.

 

The glorious choir of Martyrs, that stands round our Emmanuel, till the day of his Presentation in the Temple, opens its ranks, from time to time, to give admission to the Confessors, whom divine Providence has willed should grace the Cycle, during this sacred season. The Martyrs surpass all the other Saints in number; but, still, the Confessors are well represented. After Hilary, Paul, Maurus, and Antony, comes Raymund of Pegnafort, one of the glories of the Order of St. Dominic and of the Church, in the 13th century.

According to the saying of the Prophets, the Messias is come to be our Lawgiver; nay, he is himself our Law. His words are to be the rule of mankind; he will leave with his Church the power of legislation, to the end that she may guide men in holiness and justice, in all ages. As it is his Truth that presides over the teaching of the Faith, so is it his Wisdom that regulates Canonical Discipline. But the Church, in the compilation and arrangement of her laws, engages the services of men, whom she judges to be the most competent for the work, by their knowledge of Canon Law and the holiness of their lives.

St. Raymund has the honour of having been intrusted to draw up the Church's Code of Canon Law. It was he who, in the year 1234, compiled, by order of Pope Gregory the Ninth, the five Books of the Decretals; and his name will ever be associated with this great work, which forms the basis of the actual discipline of the Church.

Raymund was a faithful disciple of that God, who came down from heaven to save sinners, by calling them to receive pardon. He has merited the beautiful title, conferred on him by the Church, of excellent Minister of the Sacrament of Penance. He was the first who collected together, into one body of doctrine, the maxims of christian morality, which regulate the duties of the confessor with regard to the Faithful, who confess their sins to him. The Sum of Penitential Cases opened the series of those important Treatises, in which learned and holy men have carefully considered the claims of law and the obligations of man, in order to instruct the Priest how to pass judgment, as the Scripture says, between leprosy and leprosy (Deut, xvii. 8).

In fine, when the glorious Mother of God, who is also the Mother of men, raised up, for the Redemption of Captives, the generous Peter Nolasco—whom we shall meet, a few days hence [Jan 28], at the Crib of our Redeemer—Raymund was an important instrument in this great work of mercy; and it is with good reason, that the Order of Mercy looks upon him as one of its Founders, and that so many thousand captives, who were ransomed by the Religious of that Order from the captivity of the Moors, have honoured him as one of the principal authors of their liberty.

 

Let us now read the account of the actions of this holy man, whose life was indeed a full one, and rich in merit. The Lessons of his Feast thus abridge his history.

The blessed Raymund was born at Barcelona, of the noble family of Pegnafort. Having been imbued with the rudiments of the christian faith, the admirable gifts he had received, both of mind and body, were such, that even when quite a boy, he seemed to promise great things in his after life. While still young, he taught humanities in Barcelona. Later on, he went to Bologna, where he applied himself with much diligence to the exercises of a virtuous life, and to the study of canon and civil law. He there received the Doctor's cap, and interpreted the sacred canons so ably, that he was the admiration of his hearers. The holiness of his life becoming known far and wide, Berengarius, the Bishop of Barcelona, when returning to his diocese from Rome, took Bologna in his way, in order to see him; and, after most earnest entreaties, induced Raymund to accompany him to Barcelona. He was, shortly after, made Canon and Provost of that Church, and became a model, to the clergy and people, by his uprightness, modesty, learning, and meekness. His tender devotion to the Holy Mother of God was extraordinary, and he never neglected an opportunity of zealously promoting the devotion and honour which are due to her.

When he was about forty-five years of age, he made his solemn profession in the Order of the Friars Preachers. He then, as a soldier but just entered into service, devoted himself to the exercise of every virtue, but, above all, to charity to the poor, and this mainly to the captives, who had been taken by the infidels. It was by his exhortation, that St. Peter Nolasco (who was his penitent) was induced to devote all his riches to this work of most meritorious charity. The Blessed Virgin appeared to Peter, as also to blessed Raymund and to James the First, King of Arragon, telling them, that it would be exceedingly pleasing to herself and her divine Child, if an Order of Religious men were instituted, whose mission it should be to deliver captives from the tyranny of infidels. Whereupon, after deliberating together, they founded the Order of our Lady of Mercy for the Ransom of Captives; and blessed Raymund drew up certain rules of life, which were admirably adapted to the spirit and vocation of the said Order. Some years after, he obtained their approbation from Gregory the Ninth, and made St. Peter Nolasco, to whom he gave the habit with his own hands, first General of the Order.

Raymund was called to Rome by the same Pope, who appointed him to be his Chaplain, Penitentiary, and Confessor. It was by Gregory's order, that he collected together, in the volume called the Decretals, the Decrees of the Roman Pontiffs, which were to be found separately in the various Councils and Letters. He was most resolute in refusing the Archbishopric of Tarragon, which the same Pontiff offered to him, and, of his own accord, resigned the Generalship of the Dominican Order, which office he had discharged, in a most holy manner, for the space of two years. He persuaded James, the King of Arragon, to establish in his dominions the Holy-Office of the Inquisition. He worked many miracles; among which is that most celebrated one of his having, when returning to Barcelona from the island of Majorca, spread his cloak upon the sea, and sailed upon it, in the space of six hours, the distance of a hundred and sixty miles, and having reached his convent, he entered it through the closed doors. At length, when he had almost reached the hundredth year of his age, and was full of virtue and merit, he slept in the Lord, in the year of the Incarnation 1275. He was canonised by Pope Clement the Eighth.

 

Thou wast the confidant of the Heart of Mary, the Queen of Mercy, and she made thee share with her in the work of the Redemption of Captives.

 

Another account of St. Raymund of Peñafort.

A.D. 1275

The house of Pegnafort, or, as it is pronounced, Pennafort, was descended from the counts of Barcelona, and nearly allied to the kings of Aragon. Raymund was born in 1175, at Pennafort, a castle in Catalonia, which in the fifteenth century was changed into a convent of the order of St. Dominick. Such was his rapid progress in his studies, that at the age of twenty he taught philosophy at Barcelona, which he did gratis, and with so great reputation, that he began then to be consulted by the ablest masters. His principal care was to instil into his scholars the most perfect maxims of a solid piety and devotion, to compose all differences among the citizens, and to relieve the distressed. He was about thirty years of age when he went to Bologna, in Italy, to perfect himself in the study of the canon and civil law, commenced Doctor in that faculty, and taught with the same disinterestedness and charity as he had done in his own country. In 1219 Berengarius, bishop of Barcelona, who had been at Rome, took Raymund home with him, to the great regret of the university and senate of Bologna; and, not content with giving him a canonry in his church, made him his archdeacon, grand vicar, and official. He was a perfect model to the clergy, by his innocence, zeal, devotion, and boundless liberalities to the poor, whom he called his creditors. In 1222 he took the religious habit of St. Dominick at Barcelona, eight months after the death of the holy founder, and in the forty-seventh year of his age. No person was ever seen among the young novices more humble, more obedient, or more fervent. To imitate the obedience of a Man-God, who reduced himself to a state of subjection to his own creatures, to teach us the dangers and deep wound of self-will, and to point out to us the remedy, the saint would depend absolutely on the lights of his director in all things. And it was upon the most perfect self-denial that he laid the foundation of that high sanctity which he made the object of his most earnest desires. The grace of prayer perfected the work which mortification had begun. In a spirit of compunction he begged of his superiors that they would enjoin him some severe penance, to expiate the vain satisfaction and complacency which he said he had sometimes taken in teaching. They indeed imposed on him a penance, but not such a one as he expected. It was to write a collection of cases of conscience for the instruction and conveniency of confessors and moralists. This produced his Sum, the first work of that kind. Had his method and decisions been better followed by some later authors of the like works, the holy maxims of Christian morality had been treated with more respect by some moderns than they have been, to our grief and confusion.

Raymund joined to the exercises of his solitude the functions of an apostolical life, by laboring without intermission in preaching, instructing, hearing confessions with wonderful fruit, and converting heretics, Jews, and Moors. Among his penitents were James, king of Aragon, and St. Peter Nolasco, with whom he concerted the foundation of the Order of the Blessed Virgin of mercy for the redemption of captives. James, the young king of Aragon, had married Eleonora of Castile within the prohibited degrees, without a dispensation. A legate was sent by pope Gregory IX to examine and judge the case. In a council of bishops of the two kingdoms, held at Tarragon, he declared the marriage null, but that their son Don Alphonso should be reputed lawfully born, and heir to his father's crown. The king had taken his confessor with him to the council, and the cardinal legate was so charmed with his talents and virtue, that he associated him in his legation, and gave him a commission to preach the holy war against the Moors. The servant of God acquitted himself of that function with so much prudence, zeal, and charity, that he sowed the seeds of the total overthrow of those infidels in Spain. His labors were no less successful in the reformation of the manners of the Christians detained in servitude under the Moors, which were extremely corrupted by their long slavery or commerce with these infidels. Raymund showed them, by words full of heavenly unction and fire, that, to triumph over their bodily, they must first conquer their spiritual enemies, and subdue sin in themselves, which made God their enemy. Inculcating these and the like spiritual lessons, he ran over Catalonia, Aragon, Castile, and other countries. So general a change was wrought hereby in the manners of the people, as seemed incredible to all but those who were witnesses of it. By their conversion the anger of God was appeased, and the arms of the faithful became terrible to their enemies. The kings of Castile and Leon freed many places from the Moorish yoke. Don James, king of Aragon, drove them out of the islands of Majorca and Minorca, and soon after, in 1237, out of the whole kingdom of Valentia. Pope Gregory IX having called St. Raymund to Rome in 1230, nominated him his chaplain, (which was the title of the Auditor of the causes of the apostolic palace,) as also grand penitentiary. He made him likewise his own confessarius, and in difficult affairs came to no decision but by his advice. The saint still reserved himself for the poor, and was so solicitous for them that his Holiness called him their father. He enjoined the pope, for a penance, to receive, hear, and expedite immediately all petitions presented by them. The pope, who was well versed in the canon law, ordered the saint to gather into one body all the scattered decrees of popes and councils, since the collection made by Gratian in 1150. Raymund compiled this work in three years, in five books, commonly called the Decretals, which the same pope Gregory confirmed in 1234. It is looked upon as the best finished part of the body of the canon law; on which account the canonists have usually chosen it for the texts of their comments. In 1235, the pope named St. Raymund to the archbishopric of Tarragon, the capital of Aragon: the humble religious man was not able to avert the storm, as he called it, by tears and entreaties; but at length fell sick through anxiety and fear. To restore him to his health, his Holiness was obliged to consent to excuse him, but required that he should recommend a proper person. The saint named a pious and learned canon of Gironne. He refused other dignities with the like constancy.

For the recovery of his health he returned to his native country, and was received with as much joy as if the safety of the whole kingdom, and of every particular person, had depended on his presence. Being restored again to his dear solitude at Barcelona, he continued his former exercises of contemplation, preaching, and administering the sacrament of penance. Except on Sundays, he never took more than one very small refection in the day. Amidst honors and applause he was ever little in his own eyes: he appeared in the schools like a scholar, and in his convent begged the superior to instruct him in the rules of religious perfection, with the humility and docility of a novice. Whether he sung the divine praises with his brethren, or prayed alone in his cell, or some corner of the church, he poured forth an abundance of tears; and often was not able to contain within himself the ardor of his soul. His mildness and sweetness were unalterable. The incredible number of conversions of which he was the instrument, is known only to Him who, by his grace, was the author of them. He was employed frequently in most important commissions, both by the holy see and by the king. But he was thunderstruck by the arrival of four deputies from the general chapter of his order at Bologna, in 1238, with the news that he was chosen third general, Jordan of Saxony being lately dead. He wept and entreated, but at length acquiesced in obedience. He made the visitation of his order on foot, without discontinuing any of his penitential austerities, or rather exercises. He instilled into his spiritual children a love of regularity, solitude, mortification, prayer, sacred studies, and the apostolical functions, especially preaching. He reduced the constitutions of his order into a clearer method, with notes on the doubtful passages. This his code of rules was approved in three general chapters. In one held at Paris in 1239, he procured the establishment of this regulation, that a voluntary demission of a superior, founded upon just reasons, should be accepted. This he contrived in his own favor; for, to the extreme regret of the order, he in the year following resigned the generalship, which he had held only two years. He alleged for his reason his age of sixty-five years. Rejoicing to see himself again a private religious man, he applied himself with fresh vigor to the exercises and functions of an apostolical life, especially the conversion of the Saracens. Having this end in view, he engaged St. Thomas [of Aquinas] to write his work ‘Against the Gentiles;’ procured the Arabic and Hebrew tongues to be taught in several convents of his order; and erected convents, one at Tunis, and another at Murcia, among the Moors. In 1256, he wrote to his general that ten thousand Saracens had received baptism. King James took him into the island of Majorca. The saint embraced that opportunity of cultivating that infant church. This prince was an accomplished soldier and statesman, and a sincere lover of religion, but his great qualities were sullied by a base passion for women. He received the admonitions of the saint with respect, and promised amendment of life, and a faithful compliance with the saint's injunctions in every particular; but without effect. St. Raymund, upon discovering that he entertained a lady at his court with whom he was suspected to have criminal conversation, made the strongest instances to have her dismissed, which the king promised should be done, but postponed the execution. The saint, dissatisfied with the delay, begged leave to retire to his convent at Barcelona. The king not only refused him leave, but threatened to punish with death any person that should undertake to convey him out of the island. The saint, full of confidence in God, said to his companion, “A king of the earth endeavors to deprive us of the means of retiring; but the King of heaven will supply them.” He then walked boldly to the waters, spread his cloak upon them, tied up one corner of it to a staff for a sail, and having made the sign of the cross, stepped upon it without fear, while his timorous companion stood trembling and wondering on the shore. On this new kind of vessel the saint was wafted with such rapidity, that in six hours he reached the harbor of Barcelona, sixty leagues distant from Majorca. Those who saw him arrive in this manner met him with acclamations. But he, gathering up his cloak dry, put it on, stole through the crowd, and entered his monastery. A chapel and a tower, built on the place where he landed, have transmitted the memory of this miracle to posterity. This relation is taken from the bull of his canonization, and the earliest historians of his life. The king became a sincere convert, and governed his conscience, and even his kingdoms, by the advice of St. Raymund from that time till the death of the saint. The holy man prepared himself for his passage to eternity, by employing days and nights in penance and prayer. During his last illness, Alphonsus, king of Castile, with his queen, sons, and brother; and James, king of Aragon, with his court, visited him, and received his last benediction. He armed himself with the last sacraments; and, in languishing sighs of divine love, gave up his soul to God, on the 6th of January, in the year 1275, and the hundredth of his age. The two kings, with all the princes and princesses of their royal families, honored his funeral with their presence: but his tomb was rendered far more illustrious by miracles. Several are recorded in the bull of his canonization, published by Clement VIII in 1601. Bollandus has filled fifteen pages in folio with an account of them. His office is fixed by Clement X to the 23d of January.

The saints first learned in solitude to die to the world and themselves, to put on the spirit of Christ, and ground themselves in a habit of recollection and a relish only for heavenly things, before they entered upon the exterior functions even of a spiritual ministry. Amidst these weighty employments, not content with reserving always the time and means of frequent retirement for conversing with God and themselves, in their exterior functions by raising their minds to heaven with holy sighs and desires, they made all their actions in some measure an uninterrupted prayer and exercise of divine love and praise. St. Bonaventure reckons it among the general exercises of every religious or spiritual man, “That he keep his mind always raised, at least virtually, to God: hence, whensoever a servant of God has been distracted from attending to him for ever so short a space, he grieves and is afflicted, as if he was fallen into some misfortune, by having been deprived of the presence of such a friend who never forgets us. Seeing that our supreme felicity and glory consists in the eternal vision of God, the constant remembrance of him is a kind of imitation of that happy state: this the reward, that the virtue which entitles us to it. Till we are admitted to his presence, let us in our exile always bear him in mind: every one will behold him in heaven with so much the greater joy, and so much the more perfectly, as he shall more assiduously and more devoutly have remembered him on earth. Nor is it only in our repose, but also in the midst of our employments, that we ought to have him present to our minds, in imitation of the holy angels, who, when they are sent to attend on us, so acquit themselves of the functions of this exterior ministry as never to be drawn from their interior attention to God. As much as the heavens exceed the earth, so much larger is the field of spiritual meditation than that of all terrestrial concerns.”

 

Remember, too, O St. Raymund, thy dear Spain, where thou didst pass thy saintly life. Her Church is in mourning, because she has lost the Religious Orders which made her so grand and so strong: pray that they may be speedily restored to her, and assist her as of old. Protect the Dominican Order, of whose Habit and Rule thou wast so bright an ornament. Thou didst govern it with great prudence, whilst on earth; now that thou art in heaven, be a father to it by thy love. May it repair its losses. May it once more flourish in the universal Church, and produce, as in former days, those fruits of holiness and learning, which made it one of the chief glories of the Church of God.

 

Taken from: The Liturgical Year – Christmas, Vol. II, Edition 1868;
The Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and Other Principal Saints, Vol. I, 1903; and
The Divine Office for the use of the Laity, Volume I, 1806.

 

January 23, 2022: St. Emerentiana, Virgin and Martyr.

 

St. Raymund of Peñafort, pray for us.

 

Jan. 23, 2022

January 23, 2022: COMMEMORATION OF ST. EMERENTIANA, VIRGIN AND MARTYR

In thy comeliness and beauty, go on, proceed prosperously, and reign.

Prayer (Collect).

Let blessed Emerentiana, thy Virgin and Maytyr, O Lord, sue for our pardon, who by the purity of her life, and the profession of thy virtue, was always well pleasing to thee. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen.

 

Three days have scarcely passed since the martyrdom of St. Agnes, when the Liturgy, so jealous of every tradition, invites us to visit the Martyr's tomb. There we shall find a young Virgin, named Emerentiana; she was the friend and foster-sister of our dear little heroine, and has come to pray and weep at the spot, where lies her loved one, so soon and so cruelly taken from her. Emerentiana has not yet been regenerated in the waters of Baptism; she is going through the exercises of a Catechumen; but her heart already belongs, by faith and desire, to Jesus.

Whilst the young girl is pouring forth her grief over the tomb of her much-loved Agnes, she is surprised by the approach of some pagans; they ridicule her tears, and bid her pay no more of this sort of honour to one who was their victim. Upon this, the child, longing as she was to be with Christ, and to be clasped in the embraces of her sweet Agnes, was fired with holy courage—as well she might near such a Martyr's tomb—and turning to the barbarians, she confesses Christ Jesus, and curses the idols, and upbraids them for their vile cruelty to the innocent Saint who lay there.

This was more than enough to rouse the savage nature of men, who were slaves to the worship of Satan; and scarcely had the child spoken, when she falls on the tomb, covered with the heavy stones thrown on her by her murderers. Baptised in her own blood, Emerentiana leaves her bleeding corpse upon the earth, and her soul flies to the bosom of her God, where she is to enjoy, for ever, union with him, in the dear company of Agnes.

Let us unite with the Church, which so devoutly honours these touching incidents of her own history. Let us ask Emerentiana to pray that we may have the grace to be united with Jesus and Agnes in heaven; and congratulate her on her own triumph, by addressing her in the words of the holy Liturgy.

 

Ant. Come, O Spouse of Christ, receive the crown, which the Lord hath prepared for thee for ever.

℣. Grace is poured abroad in thy lips.
℟. Therefore hath God blessed thee for ever.

Let us Pray.

Let blessed Emerentiana, thy Virgin and Maytyr, O Lord, sue for our pardon, who by the purity of her life, and the profession of thy virtue, was always well pleasing to thee. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen.

 

Taken from: The Liturgical Year – Christmas, Vol. II, Edition 1868; and
The Divine Office for the use of the Laity, Volume I, 1806.

 

January 23, 2022: St. Raymund of Peñafort, Confessor.

 

St. Emerentiana, pray for us.

 

Jan. 22, 2022

January 22, 2022: SS. VINCENT AND ANASTASIUS, MARTYRS

Rank: Simple.

(Part I - St. Vincent of Saragossa, Martyr)

The day of triumph has dawned, the honoured day that brings us the Deacon’s Feast. Therefore, let us all be glad, and venerate our Vincent victorious in Christ.

He is called Vincent, and he proves that his name was prophetic of his deeds: vanquishing on land, and vanquishing on sea, every insult, pain, and fear.

Hail, Victorious Deacon! How beautiful art thou, with the Chalice of salvation in thy brave hands! It was thine office to offer it at the Altar, in order that the wine it contained might be changed, by the sacred words, into the Blood of Christ; and, when the Mystery was accomplished, thou hadst to take this same Chalice, and present it to the Faithful, to the end that they who thirsted after their God, might drink at the source of eternal life. But, on this day, thou offerest it thyself to Jesus, and it is full to the brim with thine own blood. Oh! how faithful a Deacon! giving even thy very life in testimony to the Mysteries of which thou wast the dispenser.

Three centuries had elapsed since Stephen’s sacrifice; sixty years had gone by since the sweet incense of Laurence’s martyrdom had ascended to the throne of God; and now, it is the last persecution—peace is dawning on the Church—and a third Deacon comes to prove that time had not impaired the Order—it was the Deacon of Saragossa—thyself, dear Saint!

 

Ant. For of such is the kingdom of heaven; they despised the life of the world, and attained to the rewards of the kingdom, and washed their robes in the Blood of the Lamb.

℣. Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, ye just.
℟. And glory, all ye right of heart.

Let Us Pray.

Hear, O Lord, our earnest prayers, that we who are sensible of the guilt of our crimes, may be delivered therefrom by the prayers of the blessed Martyrs, Vincent and Anastasius. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen.

 

Vincent, the Victorious, vested in the sacred dalmatic, and holding his palm in his hand, comes, today, to his Jesus' Crib, and right welcome is he to Stephen, the Crowned, his leader and his brother. Spain is his country. He is a Deacon of the glorious Church of Saragossa, and, by the strength and warmth of his faith, he is a type of that land, which is, by excellence, the Catholic Kingdom. But he does not belong to Spain only: like Stephen, and like Laurence, Vincent is the favourite and hero of the whole Church. Stephen, the Deacon, preached the divinity of Jesus amidst the shower of stones which were hurled upon him as a blasphemer; Vincent, the Deacon, confessed his faith in Jesus upon his red-hot gridiron, as did that other Deacon, Laurence. This triumvirate of Martyr-Deacons cluster together in the sacred Litany, and when we hear their three grand names, the Crown, the Laurel, and the Conqueror, we hail them as the three bravest Knights of our most dear Lord.

Vincent triumphed over the torture of fire, because the flame of divine love which burned within his soul, was keener than that which scorched his body. He was comforted, in the most miraculous manner, during his great sufferings; but God worked these prodigies, not to deprive Vincent of his crown, but to show his own power. The holy Deacon had but one thought, in the midst of all his pains—he was ambitious to make a return, by the gift of his own life, for that sacrifice whereby his divine Master had died for him and for all men. And now, that so generous a lover of God should be at the Crib of this same Jesus—is it not right and just? Oh! how he urges us, every Christmas, to love this Divine Infant! He that hesitated not, when called on to give himself to his Lord, even though it was to cost him such cruel pains—what cowards would he not call us, who can come so many Christmases to Bethlehem, and have nothing to give, but cold and divided hearts! His sacrifice was to be burnt alive, and torn, and cut, and he smiled as he gave it: what are we to say of ourselves, who take years to think before we will give up those childish things, which prevent us from ever seriously beginning a new life, with our new-born Jesus! Would that the sight of all these Martyrs, in whose company the Church has made us live during these few last days, would touch our hearts, and make them resolute and simple!

There is an ancient christian tradition, which makes St. Vincent the patron of vineyards and labourers in vineyards. This was, no doubt, suggested by the Saint's having held the office of Deacon; for the Deacon has to pour wine into the chalice during the holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and that wine is to be changed into the Blood of Christ. A few days ago, we assisted at the mystery of the Feast at Cana: Jesus then offered us the sacred cup, the wine of his love: to-day, again, he offers it to us by the hand of his Martyr Vincent. To make himself worthy of his high office, the holy Deacon mingled his own blood, as a generous wine, in the cup that holds the price of the world's salvation. It is thus that we are to understand that expression of St. Paul, which says, that the Saints fill up, in the flesh, by the merit of their sufferings, those things that are wanting, not in their efficacy, but in their fulness, of the sufferings of Christ (Coloss, i. 24), whose members the Saints are.

 

We will now give the abridged account of the martyrdom of St. Vincent, as it is related in the Lessons of his Feast.

Vincent was born at Huesca, a town of northern Spain, and, when quite a child, applied himself to study. He was taught the sacred sciences by Valerius, the Bishop of Saragossa. This prelate intrusted him with the duty of preaching the Gospel, on account of himself not being able to discharge that office, by reason of an impediment in his speech. This having reached the ears of Dacian, who had been made governor of that province by Dioclesian and Maximian, Vincent was apprehended at Saragossa, and was led in chains to Valencia, before the judgment-seat of Dacian. There he was tortured by lashes and the rack, in the presence of many people; but neither the violence of the torments, nor the harsh or bland speeches addressed to him, could induce him to swerve from his resolution. He was therefore laid on a gridiron, which was set upon burning coals; his flesh was torn off with iron hooks, and red-hot plates were laid over him. After this, he was led back to prison, the floor of which had been strewed with broken potsherds, in order that when he lay down to sleep, his body might be tortured by their sharp edges.

But, whilst he was shut up in this dark prison, a most bright light penetrated the place. They who were present, were astonished beyond measure, and the gaoler informed Dacian of what had occurred. Vincent was then ordered to be taken out of prison, and put on a soft bed; for the governor thought to gain over by such comforts as this, him whom he had failed to seduce by tortures. But Vincent's invincible spirit, strengthened by its faith and hope in Christ Jesus, overcame all their efforts; and after triumphing over fire, and sword, and all his tortures, took his flight to heaven, there to receive the crown of martyrdom, on the eleventh of the Calends of February (January 22). His body was thrown on a marsh, and denied burial; but a crow miraculously defended it, by its claws, beak, and wings, against birds of prey and a wolf. Dacian, hearing this, ordered it to be thrown into a deep part of the sea: but, by a fresh prodigy, it was washed to the shore, and the Christians gave it burial.

 

A detailed account of heroic Martyrdom of St. Vincent.

A.D. 304

The most glorious martyr St. Vincent was born, some say at Saragossa, others at Valentia, but most authors, and most probably, at Osca, now Huesca, in Granada. He was instructed in the sacred sciences and in Christian piety by Valerius, the bishop of that city, who ordained him his deacon, and appointed him, though very young, to preach and instruct the people. Dacian, a most bloody persecutor, was then governor of Spain. The emperors Dioclesian and Maximian published their second and third bloody edicts against the Christian clergy in the year 303, which in the following year were put in force against the laity. It seems to have been before these last that Dacian put to death eighteen martyrs at Saragossa, who are mentioned by Prudentius, and in the Roman Martyrology, January the 16th, and that he apprehended Valerius and Vincent. They spilt some of their blood at Saragossa, but were thence conducted to Valentia, where the governor let them lie long in prison, suffering extreme famine and other miseries. The proconsul hoped that this lingering torture would shake their constancy; but when they were brought out before him, he was surprised to see them still intrepid in mind, and vigorous in body, and reprimanded his officers, as if they had not treated the prisoners according to his orders. Then, turning to the champions of Christ, he employed alternately threats and promises to induce them to sacrifice. Valerius, who had an impediment in his speech, making no answer, Vincent said to him: “Father, if you order me, I will speak.” “Son,” said Valerius, “as I committed to you the dispensation of the word of God, so I now charge you to answer in vindication of the faith which we defend.” The holy deacon then acquainted the judge that they were ready to suffer every thing for the true God, and little regarded either his threats or promises in such a cause. Dacian contented himself with banishing Valerius. As for St. Vincent, he was determined to assail his resolution by every torture his cruel temper could suggest. St. Austin assures us, that he suffered torments far beyond what any man could possibly have endured, unless supported by a supernatural strength; and that he preserved such a peace and tranquillity in his words, countenance, and gestures in the midst of them, as astonished his very persecutors, and visibly appeared as something divine; while the rage and distraction of Dacian's soul was as visible in the violent agitations of his body, by his eyes sparkling with fury, and his faltering voice.

The martyr was first stretched on the rack by his hands and feet, drawn by cords and pulleys, till his joints were almost torn asunder: while he hung in this posture, his flesh was unmercifully torn off with iron hooks. Vincent, smiling, called the executioners weak and faint-hearted. Dacian thought they spared him, and caused them to be beaten, which afforded the champion an interval of rest: but they soon returned to him, resolved fully to satisfy the cruelty of their master, who excited them all the while to exert their utmost strength. They twice stayed their hands to take breath, and let his wounds grow cold; then began with fresh vigor to rend and tear his body, which they did in all its limbs and parts with such cruelty, that his bones and bowels were in most places exposed bare to sight. The more his body was mangled, the more did the divine presence cherish and comfort his soul, and spread a greater joy on his countenance. The judge, seeing the streams of blood which flowed from all the parts of his body, and the frightful condition to which it was reduced, was obliged to confess, with astonishment, that the courage of the young nobleman had vanquished him, and his rage seemed somewhat abated. Hereupon he ordered a cessation of his torments, begging of the saint for his own sake, that if he could not be prevailed upon to offer sacrifice to the gods, he would at least give up the sacred books to be burnt, according to the order of the late edicts. The martyr answered, that he feared his torments less than that false compassion which he testified. Dacian, more incensed than ever, condemned him to the most cruel of tortures, that of fire upon a kind of gridiron, called by the acts the legal torture. The saint walked with joy to the frightful engine, so as almost to get the start of his executioners, such was his desire to suffer. He mounted cheerfully the iron bed, in which the bars were framed like scythes, full of sharp spikes made red-hot by the fire underneath. On this dreadful gridiron the martyr was stretched out at length, and bound fast down. He was not only scourged thereon, but, while one part of his body was broiling next the fire, the other was tortured by the application of red-hot plates of iron. His wounds were rubbed with salt, which the activity of the fire forced the deeper into his flesh and bowels. All the parts of his body were tormented in this manner, one after the other, and each several times over. The melted fat dropping from the flesh, nourished and increased the flames; which, instead of tormenting, seemed, as St. Austin says, to give the martyr new vigor and courage; for the more he suffered, the greater seemed to be the inward joy and consolation of his soul. The rage and confusion of the tyrant exceeded all bounds: he appeared not able to contain himself, and was continually inquiring what Vincent did and what he said; but was always answered, that he suffered with joy in his countenance, and seemed every moment to acquire new strength and resolution. He lay unmoved, his eyes turned towards heaven, his mind calm, and his heart fixed on God in continual prayer.

At last, by the command of the proconsul, he was thrown into a dungeon, and his wounded body laid on the floor strewed with broken potsherds, which opened afresh his ghastly wounds, and cut his bare flesh. His legs were set in wooden stocks, stretched very wide, and strict orders were given that he should be left without provisions, and that no one should be admitted to see or speak to him. But God sent his angels to comfort him, with whom he sung the praises of his protector. The jailer observing through the chinks the prison filled with light, and the saint walking and praising God, was converted upon the spot to the Christian faith, and afterwards baptized. At this news Dacian chafed, and even wept through rage, but ordered some repose should be allowed the prisoner. The faithful were then permitted to see him, and coming in troops wiped and kissed his wounds, and dipped cloths in his blood, which they kept as an assured protection for themselves and their posterity. After this a soft bed was prepared for him, on which he was no sooner laid but he expired, the happy moment he had not ceased to pray for ever since his torments, and his first call to martyrdom. Dacian commanded his body to be thrown on a marshy field among rushes; but a crow defended it from wild beasts and birds of prey. The acts in Ruinart and Bollandus, and the sermon attributed to St. Leo, add, that it was then tied to a great stone and cast into the sea in a sack, but miraculously carried to the shore, and revealed to two Christians. They laid it in a little chapel out of the walls of Valentia, where God honored these relics with many miracles, as the acts and St. Austin witness. Prudentius informs us, that the iron on which he lay, and other instruments of his passion, were likewise preserved with veneration. Childebert, king of France, or rather of Paris, besieging Saragossa, wondered to see the inhabitants busied continually in making processions. Being informed they carried the stole of St. Vincent about the walls in devout prayer, and had been miraculously protected by that martyr's intercession, he raised the siege upon condition that relic should be given him. This he with great solemnity brought to Paris, and enriched with it the magnificent church and abbey of St. Vincent, now called St. Germain-des-Prés, which he built in 559, and which his successor Clotaire caused to be dedicated. In the year 855, his sacred bones were discovered at Valentia, and conveyed into France, and deposited in the abbey of Castres, now an episcopal see in Languedoc, where they remain; but several portions have been given to the abbey of St. Germain-des-Prés at Paris, and other churches; and part was burnt at Castres by the Huguenots about the end of the sixteenth century. Aimoinus, a contemporary monk, wrote the history of this translation, with an account of many miracles which attended it. St. Gregory of Tours mentions a portion of his relics to have been famous for miracles, in a village church near Poictiers. In the life of St. Domnolus, mention is made of a portion placed by him in a great monastery in the suburb of the city of Mans. But it is certain that the chief part of this martyr's body was conveyed to Lisbon. To escape the cruel persecution of the Saracen king Abderamene, at Valentia, many Christians privately withdrew themselves, and, carrying with them the body of St. Vincent, took shelter on the southwest cape, called the Sacred Promontory, and from these relics St. Vincent's, in the kingdom of Algarb, then under the Saracens. Alphonsus Henry, the most pious first king of Portugal, son of count Henry, having defeated five Moorish kings, at Ourique, in the year 1139, received from those faithful keepers the body of St. Vincent, sent it by sea to Lisbon, and built the royal monastery of the Cross of regular canons of St. Austin, in which he most religiously deposited this treasure, rendered more famous by miracles, in the year 1148… The Portuguese, ever since the year 1173, keep an annual commemoration of this translation on the 15th of September, which feast was confirmed by Sixtus V.

Prudentius finishes his hymn on this holy martyr by a prayer to him, that he would present the marks of his sufferings to Christ, to move him to compassion in his behalf.

God never more visibly manifested his power, nor gave stronger or more wonderful proofs of his tenderness and love for his church, than when he suffered it to groan under the most violent oppression and persecution; nor does his grace anywhere appear more triumphant than in the victories of his martyrs under the severest trials, and in the heroic virtues which they displayed amidst torments and insults. Under the slightest disappointments and afflictions we are apt to fall into discouragement, and to imagine, by our sloth and impatience, that our situation is of all others the most unhappy and intolerable. If nature feels, and we implore the divine mercy, and a deliverance, if this may be conducive to God's honor, we must be careful never to sink under the trials, or consent to the least secret murmuring: we must bear them, if not with joy, at least with perfect submission; and remain assured that God only seems to withdraw himself from us, that we may follow him more earnestly, and unite ourselves more closely to him.

 

Fly to the assistance of the Martyrs who, in distant countries, are dying for the true Faith; obtain for them such courage, that they may be the Vincents of our age. Protect Spain, thy country. Beseech our Emmanuel to send her heroes of thy stamp; that so, the Catholic Kingdom, which has ever been so jealous of purity of Faith, may speedily triumph over the trials, which are at present heavy upon her.

 

Taken from: The Liturgical Year – Christmas, Vol. II, Edition 1868;
The Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and Other Principal Saints, Vol. I, 1903; and
The Divine Office for the use of the Laity, Volume I, 1806.

 

January 22, 2022: St. Anastasius of Persia, Martyr.

 

St. Vincent of Saragossa, pray for us.