THASCIUS CYPRIAN was a native of Carthage, his father being one of the principal senators of that city. He made great improvements in philosophy and all the liberal arts, applied himself to the study of oratory and eloquence with great success, and was made public professor of rhetoric at Carthage. This employment was anciently most honourable, and all this time he lived suitably to the rank of his birth, in great pomp and plenty; in honour and power, wearing a splendid attire, and never stirring abroad without a pompous retinue, and a crowd of clients and followers waiting upon him. He tells us in his book to Donatus, that he had lived a long time amidst the fasces, which were the Roman emblem of the supreme magistracy; but he deplores that he was then a slave to vice and evil habits. The far greater part of his life he passed in the errors of paganism, and he was upon the borders of old age when he was rescued from the darkness of idolatry, and the servitude of vice and errors.
THE HOLY pope Fabian having been crowned with martyrdom on the 20th of January, in the year 250, the see of Rome remained vacant above sixteen months, the clergy and people not being able all that while, through the violence of the persecution, to assemble for the election of a bishop. St. Cyprian says, that such was the rage of the persecutor Decius, that he would more easily have suffered a competitor in his empire than a bishop in Rome. At length, however, when that emperor was taken up in opposing the revolt of Julius Valens, or in his wars against the Goths, at a distance from Rome, Cornelius was chosen to fill the apostolic chair in 251. St. Cyprian testifies that he was a person of an unblemished character and virginal purity, remarkable for his humility; meek, modest, peaceable, and adorned with all other virtues; that he was not advanced to the episcopal dignity on a sudden, but had gone through all the orders of the clergy, as the previous steps, and served the Lord in the functions of each distinct order, as the canons require. At the time of St. Fabian’s death he was a priest in the Roman church, and had the chief share in the direction of affairs during the vacancy of the holy see. Far from aiming at, or desiring the supreme dignity in the church to which he was raised, he suffered violence, says the same St. Cyprian, and was promoted to it by force and compulsion. In this we see the character of the Spirit of God, which teaches holy men in humility and distrust sincerely to fear and decline such posts, which presumption, vanity and ambition make others seek and invade, who by this mark alone, are sufficiently proved to be most unworthy. And Cornelius, by gradually proceeding through all the functions of the ministry, according to the spirit of the church, had attained all the graces and virtues by which he was qualified for that high station. The election of Cornelius was made by a due assembly of almost all the clergy of Rome; a great number also of the laity, who were present, consented to and demanded his ordination. The concurring suffrages of sixteen ancient and worthy bishops, (two of whom were Africans,) who happened then to be in Rome, confirmed the same, and the elect was compelled to receive the episcopal consecration. St. Cyprian and other bishops, according to custom, despatched to him letters of communion and congratulation. Matters were thus settled when the devil found in Novatian an instrument to disturb the peace of the church. 1
The Church twice commemorates the sorrows of its heavenly Mother. The Friday of Passion week, since the 15th century, has also been dedicated by the universal Church to Her Compassion. Why is this so? To understand this double liturgy, we must know that Mary is also the Mother of the Mystical Body. The present feast was instituted by Pius VII after his return from his captivity and exile, which lasted from 1809 to 1814. Christ no longer suffers, and for Our Lady also, all suffering as we understand it has ceased. Nonetheless, the prophet Jeremias in his Lamentations, asks: To whom shall You be compared, O Virgin? Your affliction is like the ocean. A mother who is happy in her home weeps just the same over the sorrows of her children. The statues and pictures of Mary all over Europe wept before the Revolution in France, and Her statues weep again today, in many places. The Passion of Christ continues in His elect, in particular in His Vicar on earth, from whom He does not separate Himself, and against whom the force of hell is deployed unceasingly. The mysterious compassion of the Mother is forever acquired for the Mystical Body of Her Son, which must reproduce the divine death in its human nature, elevated above its natural condition by the superhuman power of grace.
The Exaltation of the Holy Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ
In the year 627, during the reign of the emperor Heraclius I of Constantinople, the Persians conquered the city of Jerusalem and removed from its venerable Sanctuary the major part of the true Cross of Our Lord, which Saint Helen, mother of the emperor Constantine, had left there after discovering it on Calvary. The emperor resolved to win back by combat this precious object, the new Ark of the Covenant for the new people of God. Before he left Constantinople with his army, Heraclius went to the church wearing black in the spirit of penance; he prostrated himself before the altar and begged God to sustain his courage. And on leaving he took with him a miraculous image of the Saviour, determined to combat with it even unto death.
INSTRUCTION ON THE FIFTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST
The Church’s Year Rev. Fr. Leonard Goffine
The Introit of the Mass is a fervent prayer; which may be said in every necessity and adversity:
INTROIT Bow down thine ear, O Lord; to me, and hear me: save thy servant, O my God, that hopeth in thee: have mercy on me, O Lord, for I have cried to thee all the day. Give joy to the soul of thy servant: for to thee, O Lord, I have lifted up my soul. (Ps. IXXXV.) Glory etc.
COLLECT Let Thy continued pity, O Lord, cleanse and defend Thy Church: and because without Thee it cannot abide in safety, govern it ever by Thy gift. Thro’.