Neither are the souls of the pious dead separated from the Church which even now is the kingdom of Christ. Otherwise there would be no remembrance of them at the altar of God in the communication of the Body of Christ. -- Saint Augustine of Hippo from “The City of God

Monday, November 11, 2013

Saint Martin of Tours

"The Charity of St. Martin" -- by Louis Anselme Longa
"The Charity of St. Martin" -- by Louis Anselme Longa

Saint Martin of Tours (also known as Martin the Merciful; The Glory of Gaul) was born around 316 A.D. at Upper Pannonia (in modern Hungary) of pagan parents. His father was a Roman military officer and tribune.

Saint Martin was raised in Pavia, Italy. He discovered Christianity, and became a catechumen in his early teens. He was baptized into the Church at the age of 18.

He joined the Roman imperial army at the age of 15, serving in a ceremonial unit that acted as the emperor's bodyguard, and was rarely exposed to combat. He became a cavalry officer, and was assigned to garrison duty in Gaul (modern France).

Once, while on horseback in Amiens in Gaul , he encountered a beggar. Having nothing to give but the clothes on his back, he cut his officer's cloak in half, and gave it to the beggar. He later had a vision of Christ wearing the cloak.

Just before a battle, Martin announced that he was Christian, and that his faith prohibited him from fighting. This resulted in his being charged with cowardice, he was jailed, and his superiors planned to put him in the front of the battle. The invaders sued for peace, the battle never occurred, and Martin was released from military service at Worms.

After he was released he journeyed to Poitiers to labor under Saint Hilary, Bishop of Poitiers. There he organized a community of monks, erected the monastery of Liguge, and in 371 became Bishop of Tours. He later founded the monastery of Marmoutier and resided there. He was an opponent of Arianism.

After a last visit to Rome, Martin went to Candes, one of the religious centers created by him in his diocese, where he died in 397. By his request, he was buried in the Cemetery of the Poor on 11 November 397 and his relics rested in the basilica of Tours until 1562 when the cathedral and the saints relics were destroyed by militant Protestants.

Some fragments of his tomb were found during construction excavation in 1860.

An extensive biography of Martin was written by Saint Sulpicius Severus. Martin of Tours was the first non-martyr to receive the cultus of a saint.

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Below is an excerpt from a letter by Saint Sulpicius Severus on Saint Martin of Tours:

Martin knew long in advance the time of his death and he told his brethren that it was near. Meanwhile, he found himself obliged to make a visitation of the parish of Candes. The clergy of that church were quarreling, and he wished to reconcile them.

Although he knew that his days on earth were few, he did not refuse to undertake the journey for such a purpose, for he believed that he would bring his virtuous life to a good end if by his efforts peace was restored in the church.

He spent some time in Candes, or rather in its church, where he stayed. Peace was restored, and he was planning to return to his monastery when suddenly he began to lose his strength. He summoned his brethren and told them he was dying. All who heard this were overcome with grief. In their sorrow they cried to him with one voice: “Father, why are you deserting us? Who will care for us when you are gone? Savage wolves will attack your flock, and who will save us from their bite when our shepherd is struck down? We know you long to be with Christ, but your reward is certain and will not be any less for being delayed. You will do better to show pity for us, rather than forsake us.”

Thereupon he broke into tears, for he was a man in whom the compassion of our Lord was continually revealed. Turning to our Lord, he made this reply to their pleading: “Lord, if your people still need me, I am ready for the task; your will be done.”

Here was a man words cannot describe. Death could not defeat him nor toil dismay him. He was quite without a preference of his own; he neither feared to die nor refused to live. With eyes and hands always raised to heaven he never withdrew his unconquered spirit from prayer. It happened that some priests who had gathered at his bedside suggested that he should give his poor body some relief by lying on his other side. He answered: “Allow me, brothers, to look toward heaven rather than at the earth, so that my spirit may set on the right course when the time comes for me to go on my journey to the Lord.”

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Vatican plans first-ever display of relics of St. Peter : News Headlines - Catholic Culture

Saint Peter the Apostle by James Tissot

The following excerpts are from Catholic Culture's Catholic World News:

  • The Vatican is planning an unprecedented public display of the relics of St. Peter, as the Year of Faith comes to a close.
  • The display was announced by Archbishop Rino Fisichella, the president of Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization, in an article appearing in the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano. The archbishop did not supply any details of the plans.


Read more by clicking below:
Vatican plans first-ever display of relics of St. Peter : News Headlines - Catholic Culture

Friday, November 01, 2013

Feast of All Souls Day (From Goffine's Devout Instructions)



November 2

ALL SOULS' DAY is the annual commemoration of all those souls who departed this life in the grace and favor of God but who are still detained in purgatory. Purgatory is that third place in the other world in which the souls of the departed suffer the temporal punishment of those sins for which in life they have not sufficiently atoned, and in which they are purified until they are worthy to appear in the presence of God.
Is there a purgatory?
Yes; it is a doctrine of our faith. 1. Even under the Old Law the Jews held to this belief, and accordingly Judas Machabeus sent twelve thousand silver drachmas to Jerusalem to procure the offering of sacrifices for the dead. 2. Under the New Law Jesus Christ seems to point to such a place (Matthew 5:26, 12:32). The apostle Paul writes to the Corinthians:
"The fire shall try every man's work, of what sort it is. If any man's work abide, which he hath built thereupon [upon Christ], he shall receive a reward; if any man's work burn, he shall suffer loss [by the fire of purgatory], but he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire." (1st Corinthians 3:13-15)
A fire from which a man may be saved cannot be the fire of hell; for from hell there is no redemption. The words of Saint Paul, therefore, can only be understood of purgatory.
What souls are they that go to purgatory?
The souls of all those who, though dying in the grace of God, have yet something to atone for. Those persons dying in the grace of God are still friends of God, and certainly God does not cast those who are His friends into hell. It is, therefore, as suitable to the idea of God's mercy as it is consonant to reason that such souls should be first purified in purgatory.
How can we assist the souls suffering in purgatory?
1. By our prayers. The Holy Scripture says: "It is a holy and a wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins." (2nd Machabees 12:46) The Catholic Church has therefore always taught that the prayer of the faithful for the departed is holy and wholesome. 2. By the holy sacrifice of the Mass, the fruits of which are most beneficial to the souls in purgatory. For this reason holy Church has always, from the time of the apostles, remembered the dead in the holy Mass. 3. By gaining indulgences, and other good works, by which we supplicate God to show mercy to the souls of the suffering, to accept what is performed by us in satisfaction for the punishment to be endured by them, and to bring them into the kingdom of everlasting peace and light. (Ecclesiasticus 7:37)
When and how was this yearly commemoration of the departed introduced?
The time of the introduction of this commemoration cannot be determined; for as early as the time of Tertullian he mentions that the Christians of his day held a yearly commemoration of the dead. Towards the end of the tenth century Saint Odo, abbot of the Benedictines, at Cluny, directed this feast to be celebrated yearly, on the 2d of November, in all the convents of his Order, which usage was afterwards enjoined upon the whole Christian world by Pope John XVI. The feast of this day was probably established in order that, after having one day before rejoiced over the glory of the saints in heaven, we should this day remember in love those who are sighing in purgatory for deliverance.
Prayer

O God, the Creator and Redeemer of all the faithful, grant to the souls of Thy servants departed the remission of all their sins, that, by our pious supplications, they may obtain the pardon which they have always desired. Who livest and reignest, now and forever, Amen.

Epistle: I Corinthians 15:51-57

Brethren: Behold I tell you a mystery: we shall all indeed rise again, but we shall not all be changed. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall rise again incorruptible; and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. And when this mortal hath put on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting? Now the sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, Who hath given us the victory through Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Gospel: John 5:25-29

At that time Jesus said to the multitude of the Jews: Amen, amen, I say unto you, that the hour cometh, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live. For as the Father hath life in Himself, so He hath given to the Son also to have life in Himself, and He hath giveth Him power to do judgment, because He is the Son of man. Wonder not at this, for the hour cometh wherein all that are in the graves shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that have done good things shall come forth unto the resurrection of life, but they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of judgment.

--Goffine's Devout Instructions