Saint Eulogius

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Saint Eulogius

(† 859)

Saint Eulogius was of a senatorial family of Cordova, at that time the capital of the Moors in Spain. He was educated among the clergy of the Church of Saint Zoilus, a martyr who had suffered with nineteen others several centuries earlier, under Diocletian. In his own time still, many Christians were resisting the efforts of the Moors to make the Christians apostatize. Without ever weakening, Eulogius, who was a priest and head of the principal ecclesiastical school at Cordova, combated the perverse influence of the invaders, and it is primarily because of him that the Church saw a new and magnificent flowering of victims immolated for the faith, later to be the source of great blessings for Spain. Eulogius recorded the names and acts of these generous martyrs.

In 850, he himself was seized and imprisoned. In prison he wrote his Exhortation to Martyrdom, addressed to the virgins Flora and Mary, who were beheaded on the 24th of November, 851. Six days after their death he was set at liberty. In the year 852 several others suffered the same martyrdom. Saint Eulogius encouraged these martyrs, too, for their triumphs, and was the support of the distressed flock. When the Archbishop of Toledo died in 858, Saint Eulogius was elected to succeed him; but some obstacle hindered him from being consecrated, and his martyrdom would follow in less than two months.

A virgin, by name Leocritia, of a wealthy governing family of Moors, had been instructed from her infancy in the Christian religion by one of her relatives, and privately baptized. Her father and mother treated her cruelly, scourging her to compel her to renounce her faith. Having made her situation known to Saint Eulogius and his sister, adding that she desired to go where she might freely exercise her religion, they secretly procured for her means of escaping, and concealed her for some time among faithful friends. But the matter was at length discovered, and they were all brought before the Moslem magistrate, who threatened to have Eulogius scourged to death. The Saint told him that his torments would be of no avail, for he would never change his religion; continuing, he exposed vigorously the impostures and errors of the Moslem religion, and exhorted the judge to become a disciple of Jesus Christ, the unique Saviour of the world. At this, the judge gave orders that he be taken to the palace and be presented before the king’s council.

Eulogius boldly proposed the truths of the Gospel to these officials. But in order not to hear him, the council condemned him immediately to be decapitated. As they were leading him at once to execution, one of the guards gave him a blow on the face for having spoken against the prophet Mahomet; he turned the other cheek, and patiently received a second. He received the stroke of death with great cheerfulness, on the 11th of March, 859. Saint Leocritia was beheaded four days afterwards, and her body thrown into the Guadalquivir River, but salvaged for burial by the Christians.

Reflection. Beg of God, through the intercession of these holy martyrs, the gift of perseverance. Their example will supply you with an admirable rule for obtaining this crowning gift. Remember that you have renounced the world and the devil once and for all at your Baptism; then do not hesitate, do not look back, do not listen to suggestions against faith or virtue, but advance, day by day, along the road which you have chosen, to God, who is your eternal reward, exceedingly great.

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); Vie des Saints pour tous les jours de l’année, by Abbé L. Jaud (Mame: Tours, 1950).

The Forty Martyrs of Sebaste

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The Forty Martyrs of Sebaste

(† 320)

The Forty Martyrs were soldiers quartered at Sebaste in Armenia, about the year 320. When their legion was ordered to offer sacrifice to idols, they refused to betray the faith of their baptism, and replied to all persuasive efforts, We are Christians! When neither cajolings or threats could change them, after several days of imprisonment they were chained together and taken to the site of execution. It was a cruel winter, and they were condemned to lie without clothing on the icy surface of a pond in the open air until they froze to death.

The forty, not merely undismayed but filled with joy at the prospect of suffering for Jesus Christ, said: No doubt it is difficult to support so acute a cold, but it will be agreeable to go to paradise by this route; the torment is of short duration, and the glory will be eternal. This cruel night will win for us an eternity of delights. Lord, forty of us are entering combat; grant that we may be forty to receive the crown!

There were warm baths close by, ready for any among them who would deny Christ. One of the confessors lost heart, renounced his faith, and went to cast himself into the basin of warm water prepared for that intention. But the sudden change in temperature suffocated him and he expired, losing at once both temporal and eternal life. The still living martyrs were fortified in their resolution, beholding this scene.

Then the ice was suddenly flooded with a bright light; one of the soldiers guarding the men, nearly blinded by the light, raised his eyes and saw Angels descend with forty crowns which they held in the air over the martyrs’ heads; but the fortieth one remained without a destination. The sentry was inspired to confess Christ, saying: That crown will be for me! Abandoning his coat and clothing, he went to replace the unfortunate apostate on the ice, crying out: I am a Christian! And the number of forty was again complete. They remained steadfast while their limbs grew stiff and frozen, and died one by one.

Among the forty there was a young soldier named Meliton who held out longest against the cold, and when the officers came to cart away the dead bodies they found him still breathing. They were moved with pity, and wanted to leave him alive, hoping he would still change his mind. But his mother stood by, and this valiant woman could not bear to see her son separated from the band of martyrs. She exhorted him to persevere, and lifted his frozen body into the cart. He was just able to make a sign of recognition, and was borne away, to be thrown into the flames with the dead bodies of his brethren. Their bones were cast into the river, but they floated and were gathered up by the faithful.

Reflection. All who live the life of grace are one in Christ. But besides this there are many special ties, resulting from community life, or at least of prayer in common and pious works. Thank God if He has bound you to others by these spiritual ties; pray that the bond which unites you here may last for eternity.

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); Vie des Saints pour tous les jours de l’année, by Abbé L. Jaud (Mame: Tours, 1950). 

Meditations for Each Day of Lent – Wednesday After the Third Sunday

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Meditations for Each Day of Lent
by St. Thomas Aquinas

Wednesday After the Third Sunday

The Price of Our Redemption

You are bought with a great price.–I Cor. vi. 20

The indignities and sufferings anyone suffers are measured according to the dignity of the person concerned. If a king is struck in the face he suffers a greater indignity than does a private person. But the dignity of Christ is infinite, for He is a divine person. Therefore, any suffering undergone by Him, even the least conceivable suffering, is infinite. Any suffering at all, then, undergone by Him, without His death, would have sufficed to redeem the human race.

St. Bernard says that the least drop of the blood of Christ would have sufficed for the redemption of us all. And Christ could have shed that one drop without dying. Therefore, even without dying he could, by some kind of suffering, have redeemed, that is, bought back, all mankind.

Now in buying two things are required, an amount equal to the price demanded and the assigning of that amount to the purpose of buying. For if a man gives a price that is not equal in value to the thing to be bought, we do not say that he has bought it, but only that he has partly bought it, and partly been given it. For example, if a man buys for ten shillings a book that is worth twenty shillings, he has partly bought the book and it has, partly, been given to him. Or again, if he puts together a greater price but does not assign it to the buying, he is not said to buy the book. If therefore when we speak of the redemption and buying back of the human race we have in view the amount of the price, we must say that any suffering undergone by Christ, even without His death, would have sufficed, because of the infinite worth of His person. If, however, we speak of the redemption with reference to the setting of the price to the purpose in hand, we have then to say that no other suffering of Christ less than His death, was set by God and by Christ as the price to be paid for the redemption of man kind. And this was so for three reasons:

1. That the price of our redemption should not only be infinite in value, but be of the same kind as what it bought, i.e., that it should be with a death that He bought us back from death.

2. That the death of Christ would be not only the price of our redemption but also an example of courage, so that men would not be afraid to die for the truth. St. Paul makes mention of this and the preceding cause when he says, That, through death, He might destroy him who had the empire of death (this is the first cause), and might deliver them, who throug the fear of death were all their lifetime subject to servitude (this for the second cause) (Heb. ii. 14, 15)

3. That the death of Christ might be a sacrament to work our salvation; we, that is, dying to sin, to bodily desires and to our own will through the power of the death of Christ. These reasons are given by St. Peter when he says, Christ who died once for our sins, the just for the unjust; that He might offer us to God, being put to death indeed in the flesh, but enlivened in the spirit (1 Pet. iii. 18).

And so it is that mankind has not been redeemed by any other suffering of Christ without His death.

But, as a matter of fact, Christ would have paid sufficiently for the redemption of mankind not only by giving His own life but by suffering any suffering no matter how slight, if this slight suffering had been the thing divinely appointed, and Christ would thereby have paid sufficiently because of the infinite worth of His person.