Monday, November 23, 1998
Monday November 23:
Thirty-fourth Monday in Ordinary Time and
Feast of Pope Saint Clement I, martyr and
Feast of Saint Columban, Irish abbot and missionary and
Feast of Blessed Miguel Agustin Pro, priest, religious and martyr
Green, red or white vestments
First Reading: Revelation/Apocalpyse 14: 1-5
Psalms: Psalm 24: 1-6
Gospel Reading: Luke 21: 1-4
November 23: SAINT CLEMENT I, Pope and Martyr
The third successor of Saint Peter, and fourth pope Pope Saint Clement I was elected pontiff in 88 AD. He ruled the See of Rome for most of the last decade of the First Century. During that time he restored the Sacrament of Confirmation as St. Peter had instructed. He also is the one who assigned the popular phrase "Amen" which means "so be it" at the end of all prayers. Clement authored many letters, specifically to the Corinthians in which he capsulized the role of the Church in rebuking schism, "They who are great," he wrote, "cannot yet subsist without those that are little, nor the little without the great. In our body, the head without the feet is nothing, neither the feet without the head. And the smallest members of our body are useful and necessary to the whole." Fearing his influence, the Roman Emperor Trajan had Cement exiled to the Crimea. There the Holy Father converted so many that the enraged Emperor had him carted out to sea and there, with an anchor tied around his neck, cast into the depths of the Mediterranean. He has been venerated ever since the end of the 4th Century in the basilica of St. Clement in Rome.
November 23: SAINT COLUMBAN, Abbot and Missionary
Born in West Leinster, Ireland around 540, Saint Columban was a product of the fruits of Saint Patrick's missionary efforts. Though Columban's mother objected to his entering the monastery at Bango, he did, becoming a monk. With 12 other monks he was sent to evangelize France in 585, then still called Gaul. Five years later Columban was given land to contruct a monastery at Annegray and followed that with two more houses in Luxeuil and Fontaines. Soon after he had followers through most of Western Europe who built like monasteries in upper France, Germany, Switzerland and Italy. With the number of monks swelling to well over 250, St. Columban penned a Rule for the monks in addition to a guide for confessors called a Penitentiary. Because of his origins, Columban installed Celtic usages in the monastery which he defended as exempt from the bishop's jurisdiction. Angered by this, the bishops expelled him from France in 603 after Columban had written Pope Saint Gregory the Great defending his position against the impositions placed on him by the Gallican bishops. He settled in Burgundy in the south part of France but was soon banished from there along with all his monks because he refused to act as celebrant for King Theodoric II who would not give up his concubines. Returning to Ireland by sea, Columban was shipwrecked and was offered refuge by King Theodebert II of Neustria, where he went to Metz, east of Paris in Northern France evangelizing the Alemanni around the area of Bregenz. All was going well until his old nemesis Theodoric waged war on Theodebert and captured the land. Columban again had to flee, this time going east through Switzerland and south through the Italian Alps where he was welcomed by Milanese King Agilulf who was an Arian Lombard. Soon after Columban founded the monastery of Bobbio in the Lombard mountains south of Milan and just north of Genoa near the Mediterranean. There he wrote the Monastic Rule, and many treatises against the Arian heresy. Bobbio became one of the great monasteries of that time period, a center of culture for learning and spirituality. Columban died on November 23, 615 at the age of 72. In 1969, Pope Paul VI proclaimed his feast be celebrated in the Roman Calendar on November 23rd.
November 23: BLESSED MIGUEL AGUSTIN PRO, Presbyter and Martyr
Venerated throughout Mexico, Blessed Miguel Agustin Pro was a Jesuit priest who was martyred during the Church persecutions early in this century. Born in the shadow of the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in 1891, Miguel entered the Jesuit seminary. Throughout his life Miguel was a victim soul, suffering much in reparation for others. He suffered particularly severe stomach ailments. While in the Mexican novitiate in 1911, revolution broke out and by 1914 the Jesuits feared for their lives. Miguel, along with many of his colleagues, were sent first to Laredo, Texas to continue their studies, then to California. They were then sent by the Provincial to Nicaragua, but were soon called to Spain. In his final year of studies, as a deacon, Miguel was assigned to Belgium where he was ordained in 1925. He was reassigned to his beloved Mexico City but within a month the Mexican regime banned all public worship. In secret Father Pro ministered to the faithful, always staying a step ahead of the government spies. However, in November 1927 a car which had been previously owned by one of Miguel's brothers was seen tossing a bomb toward Mexican President Calles' car along Paseo de la Reforma. Needless to say all the Pro brothers were arrested and a kangaroo court condemned them to a firing squad. The youngest brother, at the eleventh hour, was granted a reprieve and exiled to the U.S. Miguel and his other brother were not so fortunate and they were both marched into the courtyard on November 23, 1927. There, as the government rifles were aimed at the two men, Father Miguel stretched out his arms wide proclaiming in a loud, clear voice: "Viva Cristo Rey!" which in English means "Long live Christ the King!" Shots rang out and within seconds Miguel had joined the long list of martyrs. Three years later a campaign for his beatification was begun. He is still waiting canonization. With his devotion to "Cristo Rey" it is fitting that he is honored the day after the Solemnity of Christ the King.