CATHARINE LAMB's Shears and Tears of a Lamb (apr2lam.htm)

April 2, 2004
vol 15, no. 93

Forever canonized in the Canon of the Mass

Abandoned Saints to sustain Thy Sinful Servants    Part III

    "Through deceptive language and rhetoric we are being called upon to 'unite with our pagan neighbors' in arriving at a unified (one world) religion, burying testimony to Christ, the Way, the Truth and the Life. The holy martyrs laid down their lives in resistance to just such a notion. Did they die in vain? "

    We continue with discovering more about these great martyrs whose names are mentioned in the Nobis quoque peccatoribus of the Canon, but who have been abandoned in the mass of the New Order.

    There is nothing like a good dose of history regarding the early martyrs of the Faith to jolt us back to the reality of the tremendously high price paid by these saints for the glory of God and the Church established by His Only Son Jesus Christ.

    Unfortunately, in our times, religion has become something that is not to be taken very seriously. The world aches and groans in its efforts to alienate man from God, to eradicate true Christian spirituality from the face of the earth and to replace it with the enticements of immoral pleasure, material prosperity and a fatal consumerism. A Church who publicly dumped her traditions and teachings in order to accommodate the world, and whose banner reads something like, "I'm Okay, You're Okay" is simply smiled at with a wink from her enemies. Once again, we are reminded that it wasn't always so.

    In the days of St. Ignatius of Antioch, a Christian would rather die than sit down with pagans and worship false gods. A bishop zealously fought to defend the Christian truth against all heresy and falsehood. The spiritual well being of those under his charge was his main priority, and the word "ecumenism" had not yet been invented. Converting others to the Catholic Faith was commendable and expected even though at times such activity was punishable by death at the hands of the persecutors.

    Contrast that with today, where we witness cardinals of the Church calling for a halt to the activity of converting others to the Faith so that we not disturb the delicate dialogue established between religions.

    We stand in utter shock as we see the current reigning pontiff himself sitting down with pagans, showing complete tolerance for and even commending their worship of false gods in the name of some worldly "peace."

    Through deceptive language and rhetoric we are being called upon to "unite with our pagan neighbors" in arriving at a unified (one world) religion, burying testimony to Christ, the Way, the Truth and the Life. The holy martyrs laid down their lives in resistance to just such a notion. Did they die in vain?

    The traditional Roman Rite of the Mass tells us that they did not, and we invoke their names at every Mass, pleading for their intercession, hoping to be found worthy by the merits of Christ to join in their company.

The Priest says audibly:
Nobis quoque peccatoribus
He then returns to saying the following inaudibly for the Canon of the Mass is so sacred
famulis tuis, de multitudine miserationum tuarum sperantibus partem aliquam, et societatem donare digneris, cum tuis sanctis Apostolis et Martyribus: cum Ioanne, Stephano, Matthia, Barnaba, Ignatio, Alexandro, Marcellino, Petro, Felicitate, Perpetua, Agatha, Lucia, Agnete, Caecilia, Anastasia, et omnibus Sanctis suis: intra quorum nos consortium, non aestimator meriti, sed veniae, quaesumus, largitor admitte. Per Christum Dominum nostrum.
The Priest says audibly:
To us also, Thy sinful servants,
He then returns to saying the following inaudibly for the Canon of the Mass is so sacred
confiding in the multitude of Thy mercies, vouchsafe to grant some part and fellowship with Thy holy Apostles and Martyrs, with John, Stephen, Matthias, Barnabas, Ignatius, Alexander, Marcellinus, Peter, Felicitas, Perpetua, Agatha, Lucy, Agnes, Cecilia, Anastasia, and with all Thy Saints, into whose company we beseech Thee to admit us, not weighing our merits, but pardoning our offenses. Through Christ our Lord.

    St. Ignatius of Antioch was born in Syria around the year 50 A.D. It is believed that he, along with his good friend St. Polycarp, was among the auditors of the Apostle John. St. Peter himself appointed Ignatius to the See of Antioch. The Catholic Encyclopedia tells us that St. Ignatius was unremitting in his vigilance and tireless in his efforts to inspire hope and to strengthen the weaklings of his flock against the terrors of the persecution of Domitian.

    There was a short-lived period of peace wherein St. Ignatius rejoiced, yet still longed to receive the fullness of Christian discipleship through the medium of martyrdom. In the ninth year of the reign of Trajan it was decreed that the Christians should unite with their pagan neighbors in the worship of the gods. A general persecution of the Christians followed, with death as the penalty for all who refused to offer the pagan sacrifice. St. Ignatius zealously fought the attempts of the emperor and was soon arrested and led before Trajan who accused him of violating the imperial edict and inciting others to follow suit. He was then ordered to be put in chains and taken to Rome to become the food of wild beasts and entertainment for the people. Though his journey to Rome was a great trial, word of his fate and destination traveled swiftly before him. At several places along the road his fellow Christians greeted him with words of encouragement and reverential homage. At long last, upon arriving in Rome he was martyred in the Flavian amphitheatre.

    His relics were borne back to Antioch and eventually translated to St. Clement's at Rome where they now rest. The Church celebrates his feast day on February 1. When we consider the apostasy in the Church today, exhibited by so many of her "ordained bishops" let us turn to St. Ignatius as a shining example of what a true bishop should be:

    The character of St. Ignatius, as deduced from his own and the extant writings of his contemporaries, is that of a true athlete of Christ. The triple honor of apostle, bishop and martyr was well merited by this energetic soldier of the Faith. An enthusiastic devotion to duty, a passionate love of sacrifice, and an utter fearlessness in the defense of Christian truth, were his chief characteristics. Zeal for the spiritual well-being of those under his charge breathes from every line of his writings. Ever vigilant lest they be infected by the rampant heresies of those early days; praying for them, that their faith and courage may not be wanting in the hour of persecution; constantly exhorting them to unfailing obedience to their bishops' teaching them all Catholic truth; eagerly sighing for the crown of martyrdom, that his own blood may fructify in added graces in the souls of his flock, he proves himself in every sense a true pastor of souls, the good shepherd that lays down his life for his sheep (The Catholic Encyclopedia, 1910).

    Pope St. Alexander I is reckoned as the fifth pope in succession from the Apostles. His pontificate was from around the year 106 to 117. He prescribed water to be mixed with the wine at Mass on account of the blood and water that flowed from the side of Jesus. He is also said to have introduced the use of blessing water mixed with salt for the purification of Christian homes from evil influences. It is believed that he suffered a martyr's death by decapitation on the Via Nomentana in Rome on May 3, 117, along with two priests.

    In 1855, a semi-subterranean cemetery of the holy martyrs Sts. Alexander, Eventulus, and Theodulus was discovered near Rome, at the spot where the above mentioned tradition declares the Pope to have been martyred. Their bones now rest in Rome in the church of St. Sabina. The three martyrs share a common feast day of May 3.

    Saints Marcellinus and Peter were martyred together around the year 303. St. Peter, an exorcist, was sent to prison under the Emperor Diocletian. There, he converted his jailer along with his whole family and took them to the priest, Marcellinus who baptized them. They were brought before judge Serenus and they bore witness to Jesus Christ. They were condemned to death and after atrocious torments, were beheaded. The St. Andrew Daily Missal describes these men as, "Possessing the first fruits of the Holy Ghost, they awaited with sighs the adoption of the children of God and their sufferings were in nowise compared with the glory which now shines forth in them." Their feast day is June 2, along with fellow martyr St. Erasmus bishop of Syria.

Next installment of "Abandoned Saints": Saints Felicitas, Perpetua, and Agatha

Catharine Lamb

(Sources, The Catholic Encyclopedia, 1910; The Saint Andrew Daily Missal; Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, 1925 Benziger Brothers; Pocket Dictionary of Saints by John J. Delaney, Image Books, 1983.)

    For past columns by Catharine, see 2004lam.htm Archives
    April 2, 2004
    vol 15, no. 93