Proper of the Saints and Feasts |
Monday, October 28:
Double of the Second Class Feast of the Apostles Saints Simon and Jude, Martyrs
Double of the Second Class. Red Vestments.
SAINT SIMON and SAINT JUDE, Apostles and Martyrs
Simon was a simple Galilean, a brother of Jesus, as the ancients called one’s close relatives — aunts, uncles, first cousins; he was one of the Savior’s four first cousins, with James the Less, Jude and Joseph, all sons of Mary, the wife of Alpheus, or Cleophas, either name being a derivative of the Aramaic Chalphai. The latter was the brother of Saint Joseph, according to tradition. All the sons of this family were raised at Nazareth near the Holy Family. (See the Gospel of Saint Matthew 13:53-58.) Simon, Jude and James were called by Our Lord to be Apostles, pillars of His Church, and Joseph the Just was His loyal disciple.
Saint Simon the Zealot or the Zealous, was the name this Apostle bore among the twelve. He preached in Egypt, Mauritania (Spain), and Lybia, leaving behind him the fertile hills of Galilee, where he had been engaged in the healthful cultivation of the vineyards and olive gardens. He later rejoined his brother, Saint Jude, in Persia, where they labored and died together. At first they were respected by the king, for they had manifested power over two ferocious tigers who had terrorized the land. With the king, sixty thousand Persians became Christians, and churches rose over the ruins of the idolatrous temples.
But the ancient enemy, who never sleeps, rose up, and when the two went elsewhere the pagans commanded them to sacrifice to the sun. Both Apostles, just before that time, had seen Our Lord amid His Angels. Simon said to Jude, “One of the Angels said to me, I will take you out of the temple and bring the building down upon their heads. I answered him, Let it not be so; perhaps some of them will be converted.” They prayed for mercy for the people and offered their lives to God. Saint Simon told the crowd that their gods were only demons, and ordered them to come out of the statues, which they did, revealing themselves under hideous forms. But the idolaters fell on the Apostles and massacred them, while they blessed God and prayed for their murderers.
Saint Jude has left us a short but powerful epistle, written after the death of his brother James, bishop of Jerusalem, and addressed to the new Christians being tempted by false brethren and heretics. He is the Patron Saint of Hopeless Cases. Some accounts relate Jude was crucified on the cross as an example to all, but most hold to the tradition that he was clubbed to death and beheaded. He is often depicted holding the face of Jesus and a club, the instrument of his martyrdom. In some illustrations, a flame protrudes from his forehead representing the power of the Holy Ghost.
Zeal is an ardent love which makes a man fearless in defense of God’s honor, and earnest to make known the truth at all costs. If we desire to be children of the Saints, we must be zealous for the Faith.
Source: Vie des Saints pour tous les jours de l’année, by Abbé L. Jaud (Mame: Tours, 1950).
Wednesday, October 23:
Ferial Day and Traditional Feast of Saint Narcissus, Bishop of Jerusalem
Saint Narcissus from his youth applied himself with great care to the study of both religious and human disciplines. He entered into the ecclesiastical state, and in him all the sacerdotal virtues were seen in their perfection; he was called the holy priest. He was surrounded by universal esteem, but was consecrated Bishop of Jerusalem only in about the year 180, when he was already an octogenarian. He governed his church with a vigor which was like that of a young man, and his austere and penitent life was totally dedicated to the welfare of the church.
In the year 195, with Theophilus of Cesarea he presided at a council concerning the celebration date of Easter; it was decided then that this great feast would always be celebrated on a Sunday, and not on the day of the ancient Passover.
God attested his merits by many miracles, which were long held in memory by the Christians of Jerusalem. One Holy Saturday the faithful were distressed, because no oil could be found for the church lamps to be used in the Paschal vigil. Saint Narcissus bade them draw water from a neighboring well and after he blessed it, told them to put it in the lamps. It was changed into oil, and long afterwards some of this oil was still preserved at Jerusalem in memory of the miracle.
The virtue of the Saint did not fail to make enemies for him, and three wretched men charged him with an atrocious crime. They confirmed their testimony by horrible imprecations. The first one prayed that he might perish by fire, the second that he might be wasted by leprosy, the third that he might be struck blind, if the accusations they made against their bishop were false. The holy bishop had long desired a life of solitude, and at this time he decided it was best to withdraw to the desert and leave the Church in peace. But God intervened on behalf of His servant, when all three of the bishop’s accusers suffered the penalties they had invoked. Narcissus could then no longer resist the petitions of his people; he returned to Jerusalem and resumed his office. He died in extreme old age, bishop to the last.
REFLECTION: God never fails those who trust in Him; He guides them through darkness and through trials, in silence but securely, to their end; and in the evening time there is light.
Sources: Vie des Saints pour tous les jours de l’année, by Abbé L. Jaud (Mame: Tours, 1950); 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).