St. Paul the First Hermit

Image may contain: 1 person

St. Paul, the First Hermit

A.D. 342.

ELIAS and St. John the baptist sanctified the deserts, and Jesus Christ himself was a model of the eremitical state during his forty day’s fast in the wilderness; neither is it to be questioned that the Holy Ghost conducted the saint of this day, though young, into the desert, and was to him an instructor there: but it is no less certain, that an entire solitude and total sequestration of one’s self from human society, is one of those extraordinary ways by which God leads souls to himself, and is more worthy of our admiration, than calculated for imitation and practice; it is a state which ought only to be embraced by such as are already well experienced in the practices of virtue and contemplation, and who can resist sloth and other temptations, lest instead of being a help, it prove a snare and stumbling-block in their way to heaven. 1
This saint was a native of the Lower Thebais in Egypt, and had lost both his parents when he was but fifteen years of age: nevertheless he was a great proficient in Greek and Egyptian learning, was mild and modest, and feared God from his earliest youth. The bloody persecution of Decius disturbed the peace of the church in 250; gad what was most dreadful, Satan by his ministers, sought not so much to kill the bodies, as by subtle artifices and tedious tortures to destroy the souls of men. Two instances are sufficient to show his malice in this respect: A soldier of Christ, who had already triumphed over the racks and tortures, had his whole body rubbed over with honey, and was then laid on his back in the sun, with his hands tied behind him, that the flies and wasps, which are quite intolerable in hot countries, might torment and gall him with their stings. Another was bound with silk cords on a bed of down, in a delightful garden, where a lascivious woman was employed to entice him to sin; the martyr, sensible of his danger, bit off part of his tongue and spit it in her face, that the horror of such an action might put her to flight, and the smart occasioned by it be a means to prevent, in his own heart, any manner of consent to carnal pleasure. During these times of danger, Paul kept himself concealed in the house of another; but finding that a brother-in-law was inclined to betray him, that he might enjoy his estate, he fled into the deserts. There he found many spacious caverns in a rock, which were said to have been the retreat of money-coiners in the days of Cleopatra, queen of Egypt. He chose for his dwelling a cave in this place, near which were a palm-tree 1 and a clear spring; the former by its leaves furnished him with raiment, and by its fruit with food; and the latter supplied him with water for his drink. 2
Continue reading

The Gift of Water Baptism that Opens the Gates of Heaven

Image may contain: 6 people

The Gift of Water Baptism that Opens the Gates of Heaven
by Dom Prosper Gueranger, 1897

The thoughts of the Church, today [Jan 13th], are fixed on the Baptism of our Lord in the Jordan, which is the second of the three Mysteries of the Epiphany. The Emmanuel manifested Himself to the Magi, after having shown Himself to the Shepherds; but this manifestation was made within the narrow space of a stable at Bethlehem, and the world knew nothing of it. In the Mystery of the Jordan, Christ manifested himself with greater publicity. His coming is proclaimed by the Precursor; the crowd, that is flocking to the river for Baptism, is witness of what happens; Jesus makes this the beginning of His public life. But who could worthily explain the glorious circumstances of this second Epiphany?

It resembles the first in this, that it is for the benefit and salvation of the human race. The Star has led the Magi to Christ; they had long waited for His coming, they had hoped for it; now, they believe. Faith in the Messias’ having come into the world is beginning to take root among the Gentiles. But faith is not sufficient for salvation; the stain of sin must be washed away by water. He that believeth and is baptised, shall be saved (St. Mark, xvi. 16). The time is come, then, for a new manifestation of the Son of God, whereby there shall be inaugurated the great remedy, which is to give to Faith the power of producing life eternal.
Continue reading