Saint Sebastian

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Saint Sebastian

Martyr
(† 288)

Saint Sebastian was an officer in the Roman army, esteemed even by the pagans as a good soldier, and honored by the Church ever since as a champion of Jesus Christ. Born at Narbonne, Sebastian came to Rome about the year 284 and entered the lists against the powers of evil. He found the twin brothers Marcus and Marcellinus in prison for the faith, and when they were close to yielding to the entreaties of their relatives, encouraged them to despise flesh and blood, and to die for Christ. God confirmed his words by miracles: light shone around him while he spoke; he cured the sick by his prayers; and in this divine strength he led multitudes to the faith, among them the Prefect of Rome, with his son Tiburtius.

He saw his disciples die before him, and one of them came back from heaven to tell him that his own end was near. It was in a contest of fervor and charity that Saint Sebastian found the occasion of martyrdom. The Governor-Prefect of Rome was converted to the faith and afterwards retired to his estates in Campania, taking with him a great number of his fellow-converts to this place of safety. It was a question whether Polycarp the priest or Saint Sebastian should accompany the neophytes. Each was eager to stay and face the danger at Rome; finally the Pope decided that the Roman church could not spare the services of Sebastian, who therefore remained amid the perils in the city.

He continued to labor at his post of danger until he was betrayed by a false disciple. He was led before Diocletian and, at the emperor’s command, pierced with arrows and left for dead. God raised him up again, cured, and of his own accord he went before the emperor and conjured him to halt the persecution of the Church. Again sentenced, he was beaten to death by clubs, and crowned his labors by the merit of a double martyrdom.

Reflection. Your ordinary occupations will give you opportunities of laboring for the faith. Ask help from Saint Sebastian, both wise and prudent.

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). 

Saint Canutus

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Saint Canutus

King of Denmark, Martyr
(† 1086)

Saint Canutus, King of Denmark, was endowed with excellent qualities of both mind and body. As a young prince, he cleared the seas of pirates and subdued several neighboring provinces which were harassing Denmark by their incursions. His courage rivaled in excellence with his ability in the conduct and skills of war, but his singular piety, in a time when few of his land were Christian, eclipsed all his other endowments.

Saint Canutus succeeded his elder brother Harold on the throne of Denmark in the year 1080. He began his reign by a successful war against the troublesome, barbarous enemies of the state, and by planting the faith in the conquered provinces. Amid the glory of his victories he humbly prostrated himself at the foot of the crucifix, laying there his diadem, and offering himself and his kingdom to the King of kings. After having provided for the peace and safety of his country, he married Eltha, daughter of Robert, Earl of Flanders, who proved herself a spouse worthy of him. They are the parents of Blessed Charles, Count of Amiens and Flanders, a martyr for his faith, brutally slain like his father, while in prayer.

The justice of Saint Canutus as sovereign became evident when he condemned to death a Danish lord whose vessel, to sustain the owner’s luxury, had pillaged the ship of a neighboring country and massacred the crew. He applied himself to the reform of all internal abuses. For this purpose he enacted severe but necessary laws for the strict administration of justice, the repression of violence and tyranny by the powerful, without respect to persons. He favored and honored holy men, and granted many privileges and immunities to the clergy. His charity and tenderness towards his subjects made him study all possible ways to make them a happy people. He showed a royal munificence in building and adorning churches, and gave the crown which he wore, of very great value, to a church in his capital and place of residence, where the kings of Denmark are still buried.

To the virtues which constitute a great king, Canutus added those which prove the great Saint. A rebellion having sprung up in his kingdom, the king was surprised at church by the rebels. Perceiving his danger, he confessed his sins at the foot of the altar and received Holy Communion. Stretching out his arms before the altar, the Saint fervently recommended his soul to his Creator; in this posture he was struck down on his knees by the enemies of his Christian reign.

Reflection. The soul of a man is endowed with many noble powers, and feels a keen joy in their exercise; but the keenest joy we are capable of knowing consists in prostrating all our powers of mind and heart in humble adoration before the majesty of God.

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); Les Petits Bollandistes: Vies des Saints, by Msgr. Paul Guérin (Bloud et Barral: Paris, 1882), Vol. 1

Saint Peter’s Chair at Rome

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Saint Peter’s Chair at Rome

(43 A.D.)

Saint Peter having triumphed over the devil in the East, the latter pursued him to Rome. But he who had formerly trembled at the voice of a poor servant girl now feared not the very throne of idolatry and superstition. The capital of the empire of the world and the center of impiety called for the zeal of the Prince of the Apostles. God had established the Roman Empire and extended its dominion beyond that of any former monarchy, to facilitate the propagation of His Gospel; and its metropolis was of the greatest importance for this enterprise. Saint Peter took that province upon himself and, repairing to Rome, there preached the faith and established his ecclesiastical chair.

That Saint Peter preached in Rome, founded the Church there, and died there by martyrdom under Nero, are incontestable facts, by the testimony of all writers of different countries who lived around that time — persons of unquestionable veracity, who could not but be informed of the truth in a matter so important, and of its own nature so public and notorious. This fact is verified by monuments of every kind, attesting the prerogatives, rights and privileges which that church enjoyed from these early times, in consequence of its title as seat of the Vicar of Christ.

It was an ancient custom observed by churches to keep an annual festival commemorating the consecration of their bishops, and the feast of the Chair of Saint Peter is found in ancient martyrologies. Christians justly celebrate the founding of this mother-church, the center of Catholic communion, in thanksgiving to God for His mercies to His Church, and to implore His future blessings for it.

Reflection. As one of God’s greatest mercies to His Church, let us earnestly beg Him to raise up in it zealous pastors, directed by His Spirit, with which He animated His Apostles.

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). 

INSTRUCTION ON THE SECOND SUNDAY AFTER EPIPHANY

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INSTRUCTION ON THE SECOND SUNDAY AFTER EPIPHANY

The Church’s Year
Rev. Fr. Leonard Goffine

In the Introit of this day’s Mass the Church calls upon all creatures to thank God for the Incarnation of His only-begotten Son.

INTROIT Let all the earth adore Thee, O God and sing to Thee: let it sing a psalm to Thy name (Ps. 65:4). Shout with joy to God all the earth, sing ye a psalm to His name: give glory to His praise (Ps. 65:1-2). Glory be to the Father.

COLLECT Almighty and eternal God, Who disposest all things in heaven and on earth: mercifully hear the supplications of Thy people, and give Thy peace to our times. Through our Lord.

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Our Lady of Pontmain

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Our Lady of Pontmain

On January 17, 1871, Paris was besieged; two-thirds of the country was in the power of the Germans. The battle of Le Mans had laid Mayenne and Brittany open to the invaders. In this time of direst trouble, prayer was rising from different parts of France as from one heart and from one voice, most earnestly near that spot where the invader’s next attack was expected. This spot was Laval, chief town of Mayenne.

Then it was that Pontmain, a hamlet of some five hundred inhabitants, was to become for ever memorable, because of the heavenly favour bestowed upon it that night. Even its geographical position on the borderland between Brittany and Mayenne was to assume historical importance. Seen by the light of the celestial drama about to be enacted above it, it was to appear as a sentinel guarding Brittany.

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