Saint Callistus I

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Saint Callistus I

Pope and Martyr
(† 223)

Early in the third century, it was to Callistus, then a deacon, that Pope Saint Zephyrinus confided the government of the clergy, as well as the creation and maintenance of the Christian cemeteries, which at that time were the catacombs of Rome. At the death of the Sovereign Pontiff, Callistus succeeded him as Head of the Church.

It is he who made obligatory for the entire Church, the fast of the Ember Days which the Apostles had instituted, to bring down blessings on each season of the year. During his time, the Christians began to build churches, which though destroyed during the various persecutions, were eventually rebuilt. Among the catacombs owed to his government, is the one on the Appian Way which bears his name. Many precious memories are conserved there; in it are found the tomb of Saint Cecilia, the crypts of several popes, and paintings which attest the perfect conformity of the primitive Faith with that of the present-day Church.

During the pontificate of Saint Callistus, several very striking conversions occurred among the very officers of the persecuting emperor Alexander Severus. At one time an officer, his family and household, forty-two persons in all, were baptized by the Pope on the same day. Many others asked him for Baptism; among them a Senator and sixty-eight persons of his household, and a guardian of the saintly Pope, whose name was Privatus, after the prayers of the Holy Father had cured him of an ulcer. All these new Christians were martyred, and their heads were exposed at the various gates of Rome to discourage any who would propagate the Faith of Christ in that city. Despite the continuing pursuits and his constant solicitude for all the churches, Saint Callistus found the means to have a diligent search made by fishermen for the body of a priest of his clergy, which had been cast into the Tiber after his martyrdom. When it was found he was filled with joy, and buried it with hymns of praise.

During the persecution Saint Callistus was obliged to take shelter in the poor and populous quarters of the city. The martyred priest, Calipodius, appeared to him soon afterwards, saying: Father, take courage; the hour of the reward is approaching; your crown will be proportionate to your sufferings. Soon afterwards he was discovered there, and the house was guarded by soldiers who received the order to allow no food to enter it for several days. And Saint Callistus was martyred in his turn. With a rock suspended from his neck, he was thrown from a window into a well on October 14, 223. The priest Asterius recovered and buried his body in the catacomb named for Calipodius. A week later Asterius too was arrested and thrown into the Tiber. The Christians interred this martyr also.

Reflection: In the mortal remains of a Christian, we see what has been the temple of the Holy Ghost, and which still is precious in the sight of God, who will watch over it and one day raise it up in glory to shine forever in His kingdom. May our actions bear witness to our belief in these truths.

Les Petits Bollandistes: Vies des Saints, by Msgr. Paul Guérin (Bloud et Barral: Paris, 1882), Vol. 12; Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butler’s Lives of the Saints and other sources by John Gilmary Shea (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894).

The Admiral of the Ocean Sea

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The Admiral of the Ocean Sea

A native of the Italian city-state of Genoa, Columbus became a sailor at the age of fourteen. He learned the nautical trade sailing on Genoese merchant vessels and became an accomplished navigator. On a long-distance voyage past Iceland in February 1477, Columbus learned about the strong east-flowing Atlantic currents and believed a journey across the ocean could be made because the currents would be able to bring a ship home. So Columbus formulated a plan to seek the east by going west. He knew such an ambitious undertaking required royal patronage, and in May of 1486 he secured a royal audience with their Catholic Majesties King Fernando and Queen Isabel of Spain, who in time granted everything Columbus needed for the voyage.

On August 3, 1492, Columbus embarked from Spain with ninety men on three ships: the Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria. After thirty-three days at sea, Columbus’s flotilla spotted land (the Bahamas), which he claimed in the name of the Spanish monarchs.

On this first voyage, Columbus also reached the islands of Cuba and Hispaniola. He stayed four months in the New World and arrived home to fanfare on March 15, 1493. Unfortunately, the Santa Maria ran aground on Hispaniola so was forced to leave forty-two men behind, ordered to treat the indigenous people well and especially to respect the women. Unfortunately, as Columbus discovered on his second voyage, that order was not heeded.
Columbus made four voyages to the New World, and each brought its own discoveries and adventures. His second voyage included many crewmen from his first, but also some new faces such as Ponce de León, who later won fame as an explorer himself. On this second voyage, Columbus and his men encountered the fierce tribe of the Caribs, who were cannibals, practiced sodomy, and castrated captured boys from neighboring tribes. Columbus recognized the Caribs’ captives as members of the peaceful tribe he met on his first voyage, so he rescued and returned them to their homes. This voyage included stops in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
The third voyage was the most difficult for Columbus, as he was arrested on charges of mismanagement of the Spanish trading enterprise in the New World and sent back to Spain in chains (though later fully exonerated). Columbus’s fourth and final voyage took place in 1502-1504, with his son Fernando among the crew. The crossing of the Atlantic was the fastest ever: sixteen days. The expedition visited Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica, and was marooned for a time on Jamaica.

Most of the accounts for the Admiral’s motives of his voyages are mistakenly focused on economic or political reasons. But on the contrary, his primary motive was to acquire gold to finance a crusade to retake Jerusalem from the Mohammedans. The evidence of this ideal was expressed in a letter he wrote on December 1492 to King Fernando and Queen Isabel, encouraging them to “spend all the profits of this my enterprise on the conquest of Jerusalem.” Also he wanted to evangelize the Faith to the New World by requesting Pope Alexander VI (r. 1492-1503) in 1502 to dispatch missionaries to the indigenous peoples of the New World so they could accept Christ. And the final proof of the Admiral’s exploration was done primary for the glory of God was in his will he had bequeathed funds for the missionary efforts in the lands he had discovered.

Another contradiction to the popular myth, Columbus treated the native peoples with great respect and friendship. The Admiral demanded that his men exchange gifts with the natives they encountered and not just take what they wanted by force. He enforced this policy rigorously: on his third voyage in August 1500, he hanged several men who disobeyed him by harming the native people.

The Admiral’s explorations was never intended to enslave the native peoples of New World. In fact, he considered the Indians who worked in the Spanish settlement in Hispaniola as employees of the Crown. In further proof that Columbus did not plan to rely on slave labor, he asked the Crown to send him Spanish miners to mine for gold. Indeed, no doubt influenced by Columbus, the Spanish monarchs in their instructions to Spanish settlers mandated that the Indians be treated “very well and lovingly” and demanded that no harm should come to them.
Columbus passed to his eternal reward on May 20, 1506.

Fear of Suffering


Fear of Suffering


MY CHILD, as long as you are afraid to suffer, you will not possess My peace. This fear will make it too difficult for you to follow My Will. In many things you will sin and do what is bad for you.

2. Be loyal to Me if you want My peace on earth and happiness unending in Heaven. Be loyal to My Will, whether I send what you like or what you dislike. For My sake live your daily life bravely, even when it involves hardship and suffering.

3. Many pursue an imaginary happiness. When they get what they want, they soon find out that it does not bring them the joy which they had expected. They gradually tire of it and the search for happiness is on again.

4. Do not blame the place where you are, nor the people around you if you do not have peace of soul. If you went elsewhere and met new people, you would still be the same you, with the same old faults and defects. You might become a changed man, but you would not necessarily be a better man. As soon as the old situations arose, you would still have to fight the battle from which you ran away. Being better means overcoming your faults, not putting them to sleep by avoiding disagreeable circumstances. The change which you must make is a change within yourself. Begin today with the help of My grace. Make a continual effort to mortify self-love.

Until I have overcome my faults, I can never be sure when they will flare up again and make me offend God. I must try to face situations in which I can practice the virtues opposed to my faults. If I am an impatient person, I should look for opportunities to practice patience. So too with other faults. Only action will prove what faults I have and which virtues I need. The man who is afraid of inconvenience or suffering, will never advance in virtue. He lacks the courage to face the unpleasant situation which can strengthen his virtue. True, I am not to look for occasions of sin, but I can find many an ordinary condition of my daily life which can act as a normal test of virtue.

My Jesus, only practice will perfect my soul. Only action can show me how far I have developed the graces which You have sent me. Do not let me go on avoiding the unpleasant situations which are a necessary part of my life. Let me face them and deal with them as You want me to. Where I should be unselfish, or humble, or patient, or trusting in You, let me practice these virtues. I refuse to go on living with my faults. I wish to begin at last to attack them by practicing the opposite virtues. As opportunities arise, let me recognize them and use them for Your sake. Amen.