Catholic Tradition News Letter B7: Holy Eucharist, Sexagesima Sunday, St Onesimus

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Vol 13 Issue 7 ~
Editor: Rev. Fr. Courtney Edward Krier
February 15, 2020 ~ Our Lady on Saturday

1.      What is the Holy Eucharist
2.      Sexagesima Sunday
3.      Saint Onesimus
4.      Family and Marriage
5.      Articles and notices
Dear Reader:

As we prepare for the Lenten Season, we are reminded of the need to do penance. Penance is sorrow for sin that brings one to amend the injustice done both by restoring the loss to the one offended and the change in one’s life needed never to commit the injustice again. This is seen in Zachaeus (Luke 19:8): Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have wronged any man of any thing, I restore him fourfold. This accords with the words of John the Baptist: Bring forth therefore fruit worthy of penance (Matthew 3:8). This is especially found in the virtue of mercy: Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. (Matt. 5:7) Why? Because in penance, one wants to receive forgiveness. Tobias reveals this when counseling his son: Give alms out of thy substance, and turn not away thy face from any poor person: for so it shall come to pass that the face of the Lord shall not be turned from thee. According to thy ability be merciful. If thou have much give abundantly: if thou have a little, take care even so to bestow willingly a little. For thus thou storest up to thyself a good reward for the day of necessity. For alms deliver from all sin, and from death, and will not suffer the soul to go into darkness. Alms shall be a great confidence before the most high God, to all them that give it. (Tob. 4:7-12)

The Psalmist sings of the mercy of God in these beautiful lines: I have loved, because the Lord will hear the voice of my prayer. Because he hath inclined his ear unto me: and in my days I will call upon him. The sorrows of death have encompassed me: and the perils of hell have found me. I met with trouble and sorrow: And I called upon the name of the Lord. O Lord, deliver my soul. The Lord is merciful and just, and our God sheweth mercy. The Lord is the keeper of little ones: I was little and he delivered me. Turn, O my soul, into thy rest: for the Lord hath been bountiful to thee. For he hath delivered my soul from death: my eyes from tears, my feet from falling. I will please the Lord in the land of the living. (Ps. 114:1-8)

David shows the mercy of God in the following: They were hungry and thirsty: their soul fainted in them. And they cried to the Lord in their tribulation: and he delivered them out of their distresses. And he led them into the right way: that they might go to a city of habitation. Let the mercies of the Lord give glory to him: and his wonderful works to the children of men. For he hath satisfied the empty soul, and hath filled the hungry soul with good things. Such as sat in darkness and in the shadow of death: bound in want and in iron. Because they had exasperated the words of God: and provoked the counsel of the most High: And their heart was humbled with labours: they were weakened, and there was none to help them. Then they cried to the Lord in their affliction: and he delivered them out of their distresses. And he brought them out of darkness, and the shadow of death; and broke their bonds in sunder. Let the mercies of the Lord give glory to him, and his wonderful works to the children of men. (Ps. 106:5-15)

This mercy then, is salutary to the repentant, to those doing penance. In Scripture it becomes a requirement as the Lord speaks through Isaias: Is not this rather the fast that I have chosen? loose the bands of wickedness, undo the bundles that oppress, let them that are broken go free, and break asunder every burden. Deal thy bread to the hungry, and bring the needy and the harbourless into thy house: when thou shalt see one naked, cover him, and despise not thy own flesh. Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thy health shall speedily arise, and thy justice shall go before thy face, and the glory of the Lord shall gather thee up. Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall hear: thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am. If thou wilt take away the chain out of the midst of thee, and cease to stretch out the finger, and to speak that which profiteth not. When thou shalt pour out thy soul to the hungry, and shalt satisfy the afflicted soul then shall thy light rise up in darkness, and thy darkness shall be as the noonday. (Isa. 58:6-10)

And this inspired saying found in the Book of Proverbs is an axiom: He that is inclined to mercy shall be blessed: for of his bread he hath given to the poor. (Prov. 22:9)—To be continued next week.

As always, enjoy the readings provided for your benefit.—The Editor

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WHAT IS THE HOLY EUCHARIST

By Rev. Courtney Edward Krier

PART II

Institution

Old Testament Prefigurements of the Holy Eucharist

Old Testament Sacrifices

Bread and Wine

The account of the feeding of the Israelites in the wilderness is found in chapter 16 of Exodus as follows:

And they [the Israelites] set forward from Elim, and all the multitude of the children of Israel came into the desert of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai: the fifteenth day of the second month, after they came out of the land of Egypt. And all the congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. And the children of Israel said to them: Would to God we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat over the flesh pots, and ate bread to the full. Why have you brought us into this desert, that you might destroy all the multitude with famine? And the Lord said to Moses: Behold I will rain bread from heaven for you: let the people go forth, and gather what is sufficient for every day: that I may prove them whether they will walk in my law, or not. But the sixth day let them provide for to bring in: and let it be double to that they were wont to gather every day.

And Moses and Aaron said to the children of Israel: In the evening you shall know that the Lord hath brought you forth out of the land of Egypt: And in the morning you shall see the glory of the Lord: for he hath heard your murmuring against the Lord: but as for us, what are we, that you mutter against us? In the evening you shall eat flesh, and in the morning you shall have your fill of bread: and you shall know that I am the Lord your God. So it came to pass in the evening, that quails coming up, covered the camp: and in the morning, a dew lay round about the camp. And when it had covered the face of the earth, it appeared in the wilderness small, and as it were beaten with a pestle, like unto the hoar frost on the ground. And when the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another: Manhu! which signifieth: What is this! for they knew not what it was. And Moses said to them: This is the bread, which the Lord hath given you to eat.

This is the word, that the Lord hath commanded: Let every one gather of it as much as is enough to eat: a gomor for every man, according to the number of your souls that dwell in a tent, so shall you take of it. And the children of Israel did so: and they gathered, one more, another less. And they measured by the measure of a gomor: neither had he more that had gathered more: nor did he find less that had provided less: but every one had gathered, according to what they were able to eat. And Moses said to them: Let no man leave thereof till the morning. And they hearkened not to him, but some of them left until the morning, and it began to be full of worms, an it putrified, and Moses was angry with them.

Now every one of them gathered in the morning, as much as might suffice to eat: and after the sun grew hot, it melted. But on the sixth day they gathered twice as much, that is, two gomors every man: and all the rulers of the multitude came, and told Moses. And he said to them: This is what the Lord hath spoken: Tomorrow is the rest of the sabbath sanctified to the Lord. Whatsoever work is to be done, do it: and the meats that are to be dressed, dress them: and whatsoever shall remain, lay it up until the morning. And they did so as Moses had commanded, and it did not putrify, neither was there worm found in it. And Moses said: Eat it today, because it is the sabbath of the Lord: today it shall not be found in the field.

Gather it six days: but on the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord, therefore it shall not be found. And the seventh day came: and some of the people going forth to gather, found none. And the Lord said to Moses: How long will you refuse to keep my commandments, and my law? See that the Lord hath given you the sabbath, and for this reason on the sixth day he giveth you a double provision: let each man stay at home, and let none go forth out of his place the seventh day. And the people kept the sabbath on the seventh day.

And the house of Israel called the name thereof Manna: and it was like coriander seed white, and the taste thereof like to flour with honey. (Exod. 16:1-31)

Our Lord, of Whose words John includes in his Gospel, speaks of the manna as the prefigurement of His giving His followers His Body and Blood:

I am the bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the desert, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven; that if any man eat of it, he may not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever; and the bread that I will give, is my flesh, for the life of the world. (John 6:48-52)

If Christ would give only the bread that man himself made, it would not be greater than Moses who did not give what he made, but what God miraculously provided. Therefore, in contrasting the manna, in which the Israelites ate, desiring only bodily nourishment, and died before crossing into the Promised Land—And thou gavest them bread from heaven in their hunger, and broughtest forth water for them out of the rock in their thirst (2 Esdras 9:15)—Christ tells them the Bread of Life will nourish them who believe until they enter into eternal life. This Bread of Life is Himself, Who is offered in sacrifice as the Lamb. The manna was not offered because it was merely the fruit of the earth and unacceptable as was Cain’s offering of the fruits of the earth. It only had typological significance as pointing to the future people of God (the Church) being fed with the Body and Blood of Christ during their earthly sojourn. In this sense the Writer of the Book of Wisdom can point out that it was more than what the Egyptians ate: Instead of which things thou didst feed thy people with the food of angels, and gavest them bread from heaven prepared without labour; having in it all that is delicious, and the sweetness of every taste. (Wisd. 16:20) The confirmation of it being miraculous is expressed by the Psalmist: And had rained down manna upon them to eat, and had given them the bread of heaven; Man ate the bread of angels: he sent them provisions in abundance. (Ps. 77:24-25);  and further, They asked, and the quail came: and he filled them with the bread of heaven. (Ps. 104:40) Again, that it is to be understood in typology is brought out in Psalm 80, v. 17: And he fed them with the fat of wheat, and filled them with honey out of the rock.

This is seen in On the Mysteries, by Saint Ambrose:

Now consider whether the bread of angels be more excellent or the Flesh of Christ, which is indeed the body of life. That manna came from heaven, this is above the heavens; that was of heaven, this is of the Lord of the heavens; that was liable to corruption, if kept a second day, this is far from all corruption, for whosoever shall taste it holily shall not be able to feel corruption. For them water flowed from the rock, for you Blood flowed from Christ; water satisfied them for a time, the Blood satiates you for eternity. The Jew drinks and thirsts again, you after drinking will be beyond the power of thirsting; that was in a shadow, this is in truth. (Chapt. viii, 48)

Ambrose points this again in his work, On the Sacraments:

First of all, the figure which preceded in the time of Moses, what does it mean? For, when the people of the Jews were thirsty and murmured, because he could not find water, God ordered Moses to touch the rock with a twig. He touched the rock, and the rock poured forth a great deal of water, just as the Apostle says : ‘And they drank of the rock that followed, and the rock was Christ’ (Cf. 1 Cor. 10.4.) It was not an immovable rock that followed the people. And do you drink, that Christ may follow you. See the mystery: ‘Moses’ that is, the Prophet, ‘with a twig’ that is, with the word of God—The priest with the word of God touches the rock, and water flows, and the people of God drink. Then the priest touches the chalice, water abounds in the chalice, the people of God spring up into eternal life and drink, who acquired the grace of God. (Cf. John 4.14.)

(Chapt. v, 3)

Saint Augustine, in explaining the passage of John 6:50, writes:

This is the bread which comes down from heaven. Manna signified this bread; God’s altar signified this bread. Those were sacraments. In the signs they were diverse; in the thing which was signified they were alike. Hear the apostle: For I would not that you should be ignorant, brethren, says he, that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and did all eat the same spiritual meat. Of course, the same spiritual meat; for corporally it was another: since they ate manna, we eat another thing; but the spiritual was the same as that which we eat. But our fathers, not the fathers of those Jews; those to whom we are like, not those to whom they were like. Moreover he adds: And did all drink the same spiritual drink. They one kind of drink, we another, but only in the visible form, which, however, signified the same thing in its spiritual virtue. For how was it that they drank the same drink? They drank, says he of the spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ. (1 Corinthians 10:1-4) Thence the bread, thence the drink. The rock was Christ in sign; the real Christ is in the Word and in flesh. And how did they drink? The rock was smitten twice with a rod; the double smiting signified the two wooden beams of the cross. This, then, is the bread that comes down from heaven, that if any man eat thereof, he shall not die. But this is what belongs to the virtue of the sacrament, not to the visible sacrament; he that eats within, not without; who eats in his heart, not who presses with his teeth. (On John Tract 26, 12)

(To be continued)

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The Sunday Sermons of the Great Fathers

M. F. Toal

THE GOSPEL OF THE SUNDAY

Luke viii. 4-15

At that time: when a very great multitude was gathered together, and hastened out of the cities unto Him, He spoke by a similitude. The sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed some fell by the wayside, and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it. And other some fell upon a rock: and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. And other some fell among thorns, and the thorns growing up with it, choked it. And other some fell upon good ground; and being sprung up, yielded fruit a hundredfold. Saying these things, He cried out: he that hath ears to hear, let him hear And His Disciples asked Him what this parable might be. To whom He said: to you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God; but to the rest in parables, that seeing they may not see, and hearing may not understand. Now the parable is this: the seed is the word of God. And they by the wayside are they that hear; then the devil cometh, and taketh the word out of their heart, lest believing they should be saved. Now they upon the rock, are they who when they hear, receive the word with joy: and these have no roots; for they believe for a while, and in time of temptation, they fall away. And that which fell among thorns, are they who have heard, and going their way, are choked with the cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and yield no fruit. But that on the good ground, are they who in a good and perfect heart, hearing the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit in patience.

EXPOSITION FROM THE CATENA AUREA

THEOPHYLACTUS, in hoc loco: That which David had foretold, speaking in the person of Christ: I wil1 open my mouth in parables, the Lord here fulfils; hence is it said: And when a very great multitude was gathered together, and hastened out of the cities unto him, He spoke by a similitude. The Lord speaks in parables, in the first place so as the better to secure the attention of his listeners; for men are wont to be drawn to things that are obscure, and turn from what is readily obvious to the mind; in the second place so that those who were unworthy might not comprehend that which was mystically unfolded.

ORIGEN, in Catena G.P.: And therefore is it significantly recorded: When a very great multitude was gathered together; for they are few, not many, who enter in at the narrow gate, and find the strait way that leads to life eternal (Mt. vii.14). Hence Matthew says, that outside He taught in parables, but that when He came into the house He expounded them to His Disciples. EUSEBIUS, in Catena G.P.: Fittingly did Christ speak the first parable to the multitude, not alone of those who were standing about Him, but to all who in the future would come after them; awakening their minds to attend to His words, when He said: The sower went out to sow his seed.

BEDE, in Lucam: We can imagine no greater sower than the Son of God, Who, coming forth from the bosom of the Father, to which no creature hath access, enters this world to give testimony of truth.

CHRYSOSTOM, Hom. 45 in Matt.: He went forth Who is everywhere, yet unconfined in space, and came to us in the garment of our flesh. Christ aptly speaks of His approach to us as a going forth; for we were shut out from God, as those who are condemned and rebellious are cast forth by a king. But he that wishes to reconcile them to the king, going forth, speaks with them outside the kingdom. Then they being made worthy he brings them into the royal presence. Thus did Christ also act.

THEOPHYLACTUS: He goes forth now, not to kill labourers, or lay waste fields, but to sow His seed. EUSEBIUS: There were others that came forth from the heavenly home and came down among men, not however that they might sow, for they were not sowers, but spirits who were sent as governors. Even Moses and the prophets who came after him did not sow the mysteries of the kingdom of God in the minds of men, but from afar they prepared their souls, withdrawing the foolish from the folly of their error, and from the worship of idols, and got ready the ground for the sowing. The Word of God is alone the Sower of all things, Who shall announce the New Seed, namely, the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven.

THEOPHYLACTUS: The Son of God ceases not to sow the word of God in our soul; for not alone when He teaches, but even when He creates us, He sows good seed in our hearts. TITUS: He went forth that He might sow His own seed; since He spoke not borrowed words, for of His own nature He is the Word of the Living God. The seed sown by Paul, or by John, is not their own; they have it because they received it. The seed Christ possesses is His own; He utters wisdom that is of His very nature. Hence the Jews declared: How did this man know letters, having never learned? (Jn. vii. 15).

EUSEBIUS: He teaches therefore that there are two degrees among the receivers of the seed. First, they who were made worthy of their heavenly vocation, but because of sloth and neglect fell from grace. The second kind are those who have multiplied the seed with abundance of fruit. He lays down according to Matthew three kinds in each degree. For they who spoil the seed do not all do so in the same way; and they who bring forth fruit do not all receive in equal measure. The seed reveals the actions of those that lose it. For there are some who, without having sinned, lose the implanted life-giving seed within their own souls: for it becomes hidden from their mind and memory by evil spirits and demons, who fly through the air, or also by deceitful  lying men, whom He here calls fowls of the air.

The Gospel continues: And as he sowed, some fell by the way side. THEOPHYLACTUS: He does not say that in sowing the seed the sower cast it by the way side, but He says that some fell. For He Who is sowing preaches true doctrine: but His words fall with varying effect among His hearers; as some of them are called a way side. And it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it.

CYRIL, Catena G.F.: For they are dry and untilled as is every way side; for it is trodden on by everyone, and nothing of this seed is buried therein. So to those who have an unteachable heart the divine counsel does not enter in, to grow unto the praise of virtue: rather such are as a way side that is haunted by unclean spirits. Some there are who hold the faith lightly within them, as though it were a matter of words; their faith lacks root, and concerning such as these He goes on: And other some fell upon a rock: and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it had no moisture.

BEDE: A heart that is hard and stubborn He calls a rock. What is here spoken of as moisture for the root of the seed, in another parable is called the oil that is to nourish the virgins’ lamps, namely: love, and perseverence in virtue. EUSEBIUS: There are some who because of their greed and appetite for pleasure, and because of their earthly cares, which here are called thorns, cause the seed that is sown among them to be smothered; and of these He says: And some other fell among thorns, and the thorns growing up with it, choked it.

CHRYSOSTOM, as above: For as the thorns do not let the young wheat grow up, but, pressing against them, smother the growing shoots, so do the cares of this present life prevent the spiritual seed from coming to fruit. A farmer would be chided who would sow seed among thorns, and upon rock, and upon the way side. For it is not possible for rock to become earth, or for a road to cease to be a road, or for thorns to cease to be thorns. But it is otherwise with reasoning beings. For here it is possible for rock to be changed into good earth, and for a way to cease to be trodden on, and for thorns to be rooted out.

CYRIL, in Catena G.P.: Rich and fertile earth is the good and honest souls who receive deep within them the seed of the Word, and keep it, and nourish it. And regarding such as these there is added: And other some fell upon good ground, and being sprung up, yielded fruit a hundredfold. When the divine word is infused into a soul that is freed from every disorder, it there takes deep root, bringing forth as it were ears of corn, and is thus brought to the desired end. BEDE: Perfect fruit He calls fruit a hundredfold. For the denary number is always accepted as the number of perfection; for the observance of the Law is contained within ten precepts. Ten multiplied by itself is a hundred: so by a hundred great perfection is signified.

CYRIL: What the parable means we learn from Him Who composed it; hence follows: Saying these things, he cried out: He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. BASIL, in Catena G.P.:To hear relates to the intellect. So by this saying He arouses their interest so that they attend to what is being said.

BEDE: As often as this admonition is inserted in the Gospel or in the Apocalypse of John, it is indicated to us that what is said is something mystical, and that we are to seek carefully the meaning of it. Accordingly, the Disciples, not understanding Him, ask the Saviour; for there follows: And his disciples asked him what this parable might be. No one is to imagine that as soon as the parable was spoken the Disciples put their question, but only when, as Mark says, He was alone, the twelve asked him (Mk. iv. 10).

ORIGEN: A parable is a discourse about something as though it had happened, which nevertheless, though it is possible, has not happened in reality, and signifying certain things by their analogy with the things spoken of in the parable. An enigma is a form of speech in which certain things are related as facts, which however have neither taken place, nor can take place, but which yet signify something hidden; as was said in the Book of Judges: The trees went to anoint a king over them (Judg. ix. 8). What is here written did not actually take place, namely, that a sower went out to sow his seed, yet it was possible for it to happen.

EUSEBIUS: The Lord did teach them why He spoke to the multitudes in parables. For there is added: To you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom; but to the rest in parables. GREGORY NAZIANZEN: When you hear this, do not begin to invent different natures, like certain heretics, who are of opinion that the one are of a ruined, the others of a sound nature; that some are so constituted that their own will leads them either to what is good or what is bad. But add to this the words: To you it is given; that is, to those who are willing, and plainly worthy.

THEOPHYLACTUS: But to those who are not worthy of such mysteries, they were spoken in a veiled manner; so there follows: But to the rest in parables, that seeing they may not see, and hearing may not understand. They think they hear, but they do not; they do hear, but they understand not all. Christ concealed His meaning from them for this reason, lest a greater peril be made for them, if having understood the teaching of Christ they should despise it. For he that has understood it, and then rejected it, shall be punished more severely.

BEDE: Rightly therefore are they instructed in parables, since the ears of their hearts being closed, they give no thought to learning the truth, unmindful of what the Lord had said: He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. GREGORY, Hom. 15 in Evang.: The Lord deigned to explain to them what He had been saying, so that we may learn to ask the meaning of those things also which He has willed not to explain. For he continues: Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God.

EUSEBIUS: He says that there are three causes that destroy the seed implanted in the souls of men. For some destroy the seed buried within themselves, lightly giving ear to those who seek to deceive them; of whom He says: And they by the wayside are they that hear: then the devil cometh, and taketh the word out of their heart, lest believing they should be saved. BEDE: They, namely, who do not consider the word which they hear as being worthy of any belief, any understanding, or of using to any profit.

EUSEBIUS: Some, since they have not received the word of God deeply into their souls, are easily overcome when adversity arises: of whom He goes on to say: Now they upon the rock, are they who when they hear, receive the word with joy: and these have no roots; for they believe for a while, and in time of temptation, they fall away. CYRIL: For these when they enter a Church, joyfully take part in the divine mysteries, but without a serious mind, so when they are outside the church again they forget about the sacred rites. And while the Christian faith is left in peace, they will remain with us: but should persecution arise, they will not stand fast, because their faith lacks root.

GREGORY: Many make a start upon some good work, but speedily grow weary, because of temptations and tribulations, and abandon what they have begun. The rocky ground had not therefore the moisture whereby to bring to fruition that which it had germinated. EUSEBIUS: Some smother the seed implanted with them, through riches and pleasures, as though smothering it among thorns; of whom He says: And that which fell among thorns, are they who have heard, and going their way, are choked with the cares and pleasures and riches of this life, and yield no fruit.

GREGORY: It is remarkable how the Lord interprets thorns as meaning riches, since the first wound, while the latter delight. Yet thorns they are, because they wound the mind with the stings of anxiety: and since they lead men on to sin, they stain, as with the blood of a wound received. There are two things which He links with riches: cares, and pleasures; because riches oppress the mind through care, and undo it through abundance. They choke the seed, because they strangle the throat of the mind with burthensome thoughts; and as long as they keep good desires from entering the mind, they as it were shut out the life-giving air.

EUSEBIUS: These things were described by the Saviour from foreknowledge. For events have shown that so it was to be. For not otherwise have some men fallen away from faith than in one or other of the ways which He foretold.

CHRYSOSTOM: That I may put many things in a few words: some hear His words carelessly; some are soft and weak; and some, becoming slaves of their appetites and of the things of this world, fall from goodness. The succession of way side, and rock, and thorns, is good; for there is need in the first place of remembering, and of caution; then we need fortitude; lastly, indifference to the things of the present. Finally He describes the good ground as the very opposite of the way side, or the rock, or the thorns, when He goes on: But that on the good ground, are they who in a good and perfect heart, hearing the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit in patience. For they who are by the way side do not keep the word, for the devil steals it from them; they who are on rocky ground, do not endure in patience the onset of temptation, since they are weak: they who are among thorns bear no fruit and are choked.

GREGORY: Through patience therefore the good ground yields fruit; because the good we do is undone, unless we also bear in patience the evil-doing of our neighbour. Through patience therefore is it that men bear fruit, because when tribulations are humbly endured, after tribulation they are received on high with joy, into eternal rest.

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16: ST ONESIMUS, MARTYR (FIRST CENTURY)

ONESIMUS was a slave of Philemon, a person of note of the city of Colossae in Phrygia who had been converted to the faith by St Paul. Having robbed his master, and being obliged to fly, he met with St Paul, then a prisoner for the faith at Rome, who converted and baptized him, and entrusted him with his canonical letter of recommendation to Philemon. By him, it seems, Onesimus was pardoned, set at liberty and sent back to his spiritual father, whom he afterwards faithfully served, for apparently St Paul made him, with Tychicus, the bearer of his epistle to the Colossians, and afterwards, as St Jerome and other fathers witness, a preacher of the gospel and a bishop. Baronius and others confound him with St Onesimus, the bishop of Ephesus some time after St Timothy, who showed great respect and charity to St Ignatius when on his journey to Rome in 107, and is highly commended by him.

The Roman Martyrology devotes a notice to Onesimus, identifying him with this bishop of Ephesus, consecrated to that see by St Paul (!) after the episcopate of St Timothy, and stating further that he was brought in chains to Rome, was there stoned to death, and that his remains were afterwards taken back to Ephesus.

SS. Elias, Jeremy, Isaias, Samuel, Daniel, and Other Holy Martyrs at Cæsarea, in Palestine (A.D. 309.)

IN the year 309, the emperors Galerius Maximianus and Maximinis continuing the persecution begun by Dioclesian, these five pious Egyptians went to visit the confessors condemned to the mines in Cilicia, and on their return were stopped by the guards of the gates of Cæsarea, in Palestine, as they were entering the town. They readily declared themselves Christians, together with the motive of their journey; upon which they were apprehended. The day following they were brought before Firmilian, the governor of Palestine, together with St. Pamphilus and others. The judge, before he began his interrogatory, ordered the five Egyptians to be laid on the rack, as was his custom. After they had long suffered all manner of tortures, he addressed himself to him who seemed to be their chief, and asked him his name and his country. They had changed their names, which, perhaps, before their conversion, where those of some heathen gods, as was customary in Egypt. The martyr answered, according to the names they had given themselves, that he was called Elias, and his companions, Jeremy, Isaias, Samuel, and Daniel. Firmilian then asked their country; he answered Jerusalem, meaning the heavenly Jerusalem, the true country of all Christians. The judge inquired in what part of the world that was, and ordered him to be tormented with fresh cruelty. All this while the executioners continued to tear his body with stripes, whilst his hands were bound behind him, and his feet squeezed in the woodstocks, called the Nervus. The judge, at last, tired with tormenting them, condemned all five to be beheaded, which was immediately executed.

Porphyrius, a youth who was a servant of St. Pamphilus, hearing the sentence pronounced, cried out, that at least the honour of burial ought not to be refused them. Firmilian, provoked at this boldness, ordered him to be apprehended; and finding that he confessed himself a Christian, and refused to sacrifice, ordered his sides to be torn so cruelly, that his very bones and bowels were exposed to view. He underwent all this without a sigh or tear, or so much as making the least complaint. The tyrant, not to be overcome by so heroic a constancy, gave orders for a great fire to be kindled, with a vacant space to be left in the midst of it, for the martyr to be laid in, when taken off the rack. This was accordingly done, and he lay there a considerable time surrounded by the flames, singing the praises of God, and invoking the name of Jesus; till at length, quite broiled by the fire, he consummated a slow, but glorious martyrdom.

Seleucus, an eye-witness of this victory, was heard by the soldiers applauding the martyr’s resolution; and being brought before the governor, he, without more ado, ordered his head to be struck off.

(Butler’s Lives of the Saints)

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THE YEAR

AND OUR CHILDREN

Planning the Family Activities for Christian Feasts and Seasons

By Mary Reed Newland (1956)

8

ST. VALENTINE

February 14

FRIENDSHIPS AMONG CHILDREN

Friendship is an art. When we ignore the fact that childhood crushes in the young are merely an awkward way of trying to be special friends, we do them no favors. Of course children get crushes and of course girls become boy-conscious, with vice becoming versa; but they need not be shoved and pushed so hard.

One of the most excruciating trials of youngsters who believe themselves to be in love these days is restraining their impulses of affection. Very few children deliberately set out in their first encounters with crushes to commit any sins of impurity. In their innocence of experience they do not know exactly how such sins can be, or if they know the theory they do not know the fact. It is the task of Christian parents to convince them that these impulses must be held in check. Held in check they are good, they are manifestations of sincere and genuine affection, but they can so easily be transformed into something that is not good. The reason it has become such a delicate and difficult task (though I suppose it always was a worry for parents) is not because this restraint is impossible but because so few today seem to practice it. The example of promiscuous contemporaries is a powerful thing.

It rarely helps to start lecturing on the subject once children reach high school; it does not help at all to pooh-pooh love or schoolgirl crushes or the boy-friend business once it begins for a son or daughter growing up. But such occasions as St. Valentine’s Day (with innumerable opportunities all year round, of course) open this subject for discussion in a pleasant way. We may use the evenings spent making valentines to have our own open forum on the subject of love and the making of love and how it is that people fall in love, and how it is all related to God’s love.

Such Christian concepts as respect for girls and women, respect for our bodies and the bodies of others, the propriety and impropriety of kissing—whom and when, right judgment about the movies, their ads and their love making, many other things, can be formed at a very early age. We must use all our talent and love and conviction to form them in our children. We are foolish if we think that our children, because they are nice children, are automatically safe. In the movie ads and posters they see, the newsstand magazines and comics, the covers of the paper-backs, slicks, and in a hundred ways promiscuity is preached to them—and it is not preached to what is nice in them but to the deplorable weakness left in human nature by the inheritance of original sin.

We can work to form in them the conviction that making love is something positive and beautiful that belongs with marriage, and this concept can exist even for the small ones without, as we might fear, any undertones of s-e-x. Demonstrations of affection they can automatically connect with mommies and daddies, as well as with relatives and friends. When there are things to denounce, such as this week’s ad showing a movie siren and lover wrestling on the beach, we can make our denunciations more convincing if we avoid panic but rather express regret that some people persist in distorting out of its sacramental context what should be the beauty of human love.

There are many facets of this subject for parents to ponder. Each can adapt best the teaching for his children, but let us emphasize while they are still little that it is friendship that holds the joys of companionship for them.

I suppose the free use of the word boy-friend has made it almost a synonym for friend, but not quite. It may be a losing battle, but we continue to explain the difference. “Your friend, dear—your friend who is a girl. Little boys in second grade have friends, not girl-friends. Yes, I know—they tease and say you have a girl-friend, and that is too bad, because it is necessary that you love everyone with much more love than the word girl-friend intends. You must try to love them as Our Lord loves them, and you must try to see Our Lord in them. If you like someone especially well, better than others, that is all right. Then they are among your special friends. Be glad and be careful of your friendship. Friendship is a beautiful holy thing if you keep it that way.”

TO BUY OR TO MAKE?

Understanding how we are supposed to love betrays the glaring imbalance of the customary classroom exchanging of valentines. It is brutally discriminative. Suppose one of your darlings were not pretty. Suppose you had, as someone I know, a dearly beloved little one with a harelip. Suppose one of yours were, as another I know, lamentably fat. Suppose one son has a crossed eye, or a tantalizing stutter. The struggle to teach that beauty of mind and soul is far more important than curly hair or limpid eyes is not made easier when a child’s small harvest of classroom valentines proves that to have a pretty face, to be whole and well-built, to be lively and attractive, is what counts most after all. I am all for valentines in the classroom but with the emphasis on what this feast of St. Valentine teaches—love, not the deciding of popularity contests. It is good neither for the child who gets the most valentines, nor for the child who gets the least.

The answer to this seems therefore to have every child buy valentines for every other child, but this is as inadvisable as the alternative, because love bought by the bushel at the paper store counter is not love at all. Love is thoughtful and considerate, and takes pains to give the loveliest.

One solution that is fair and fun is to have the children draw names, say, of six other children, and, starting two or three weeks ahead of time, make the valentines to be given to these six. Then every child in the room gets six lovingly wrought valentines, an art project has been worked out, and a lesson in the intrinsic value of a thing made with care and given with love is learned.

A delightful book for parents and teachers is Appolonia’s Valentine, by Katherine Milhous, a story of some children in a schoolroom who made their valentines, with a poignant exchange of truly loving valentines between a little Pennsylvania Dutch girl and a little boy in France. The illustrations suggest numerous variations of valentines.

Our experience with homemade valentines has taught us many lessons. Since such valentines are not the custom where our children go to school, it has happened that St. Valentine’s Day found them with lovingly but somewhat clumsily made greetings which of course did not begin to measure up to the polish and print of the commercial items.

Some of their teachers have commented approvingly when they made their valentines, but sometimes other children have opened them, sniffed, and put them in the waste basket. Suspecting that this would happen, we wondered how to handle what would be the inevitable hurt feelings. The answer is not (if you feel this strongly about these things) to surrender the idea of making things with love. To send them off with forty cents apiece to buy forty penny valentines, then sit up most of the night addressing envelopes, is a capitulation we do not make easily. Anyway, when you begin to have four or five or more children in school, forty cents apiece is a lot of money for valentines.

As we suspected, one of them especially was hurt by the discovery that the lovingly given handiwork had been dismissed as crude and unacceptable. I admit I didn’t think much of my chances of convincing her that it didn’t make any difference. “I know, dear, and I suppose it isn’t surprising,” I began. “You can’t really see their true beauty unless you understand how the person who made them felt. The children who threw them away should not have done it because it was ungracious and impolite, really not nice at all—but then you can forgive them because they do not know any better. No one has explained to them how much better handmade things are. It takes no pains to walk into the stationery store and buy penny valentines from that mountain of valentines showing pigs and ducks and chickens and horses and donkeys all saying ‘Be my valentine.’ If they are the only valentines available, and if the children haven’t thought about making them—that is all they can do. And of course you must accept their valentines graciously because they have given you the best they could find.

‘Your valentines took time and care, you cut and pasted and made ladders for them, lettered them, made envelopes. All this work you put in them gives them real value. And knowing what the feast of St. Valentine means, you know how right it is to give valentines you have made.

“I cannot comfort you by saying that the children did not mean to throw away your valentines. But I can ask you this: did you not love making them? Wasn’t it fun? Didn’t we do it as part of our prayers, and we prayed for the children and tried to think about how Our Lord would have us love them? Well, lots of times loving is going to be like that: you will love people and they will not recognize it as love at all, or value it. It is important though that you go on loving. Do not blame the children. They did not understand. Be glad you had a happy time making them and ask God to help them understand about true love.”

She said, “Yes, I guess so,” that sadly smiling way children have of trying to agree to something you tell them when they don’t agree at all. And I thought: It’s all very well for me to talk, but you do want your gifts appreciated just the same.

But we are always underestimating grace. She came back at the end of the day. “You know what? I just figured it out. They don’t understand about Valentine’s Day the way they don’t understand about Christmas. Christmas isn’t just all toys and presents either—but they don’t understand.”

O thank you, Lord Jesus.

We cannot always coax them to hold out. They will make compromises with popular custom. As long as they do not compromise with sin it is safe to watch and say nothing and see if, in the afterwards of the compromising, their own good sense and judgment don’t finally clarify the values we have tried to give them. But it is important that we define our values. The reason many people do not understand the value of carefully wrought craftsmanship is because the issues have never been explored for them. Poor taste and mediocrity are so often the only face of things some people have ever seen. To be cross about it is not the answer. To explain with love will change more, faster.

(To be continued)

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Father Krier will be in Albuquerque February 17 and Eureka February 18. He will be in Los Angeles March 3 and in Pahrump March 12.

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