DAILY CATHOLIC    THURSDAY     October 14, 1999     vol. 10, no. 196


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Thursday, October 14, 1999

    Thursday October 14:
    Twenty-eighth Thursday in Ordinary Time and
    Feast of Pope Saint Callixtus I, Martyr

    Green or red vestments

      First Reading: Romans 3: 21-30
      Psalms: Psalm 130: 1-7
      Gospel Reading: Luke 11: 47-54

Feast of Pope Saint Callixtus I, Martyr

          Born into slavery in Rome, Saint Callistus I or Saint Calixtus was placed in charge of a bank by his owner a Roman pagan by the name of Carpophorus. Because he was not educated he lost the bank's funds through manipulation by Jewish investors who were trying to filter the money out through devious means. Fearing he would be blamed, Callistus fled. He was captured at Porto and sentenced to the salt mines but not before he was subjected to the hand mill to join hardened slaves. Finally his creditors asked for his release so they could again use him as a ruse to pilfer more funds. Once they were successful, they again pointed the finger at Callistus who was arrested in the Synagogue trying to recover the money and prove his innocence. Again he was sentenced in 186 to the Sardinian mines, but in 199 the mistress of the Emperor Commodus, the young Marcia effected his release. Pope Saint Victor intervened on Callistus' behalf and sent him to Anzio in Italy where in 217 he was baptized and ordained by the current pope Saint Zephyriunus whom Callistus would succeed. Callistus was brought back to Rome with the Holy Father and became a friend and advisor of Zephyrinus. Back in Rome the Pope appointed Callistus procreator of the cemetery on the Appian Way which would become the Catacomb of the Popes and is today St. Callistus Cemetery where 46 Popes and over 200,000 Christians are buried. In 217 his beloved friend was martyred and Callistus became the 16th chosen in the line of Peter. However, his appointment was bitterly opposed by Saint Hippolytus who had also been a candidate for the papacy. Hippolytus set himself up as the pope, thus becoming the Church's first antipope. Callistus pronounced Latin as the official language and this further angered Hippolytus who had been born into nobility and favored Greek over Latin, considered the language of the commoners. Callistus had always clung to the needs of the poor. Those like him, who had been slaves, or non-Romans or who were poor were rejected and in turn they rejected the Greek either out of lack of formal education or their despise for what pagan Rome stood for. They, in turn, adopted Latin as a means of communication and it was quickly embraced by the Christians who were, for the most part, in and among the poor as Christ had directed. Yet insurrection was inevitable from the Greek camp. Fired up by Hippolytus, those who favored Greek objected vehemently to the abandonment of their language. It's interesting to not that only a few things of Greek such as the Kyrie Leison were retained. It was an all-out victory for Callistus and for Latin, but left scars that lasted for centuries and eventually led to a split between East and West. Though his successor St. Zephyrinus is considered the "Father of Ecclesiastical Latin", it was Callistus who decreed it the official language of the Church. As time passed, more and more Latin was incorporated into the liturgy of the Mass. It also became a possessive tongue where the Christians guarded and treasured this new speech. Callistus also reasoned that if the liturgy was conducted in Latin universally, Christians could more readily identify and participate wherever they went. From 220 to 1965 this was the rule rather than the exception. Unfortunately, today it's the exception rather than the rule. He served as pontiff for five years, eventually being driven to return to his roots of a poor slave by taking shelter in the poor and populous quarters of Rome to elude the terrible persecution of the Roman Emperor Septimus Severus who eventually caught up with him in 222. On October 14 Severus had Callistus severly beaten with clubs and his remains thrown into a well where today the church Santa Maria in Trastevere now stands.

Friday, October 15, 1999

    Friday October 15:
    Feast of Saint Teresa of Avila, Virgin, Religious and Doctor of the Church

    White vestments

      First Reading: Romans 4: 1-8
      Psalms: Psalm 32: 1-2, 5, 7, 11
      Gospel Reading: Luke 12: 1-7

Feast of Saint Teresa of Avila, Virgin, Religious and Doctor of the Church

          Probably no religious reformed the Church more than the great Saint Teresa of Avila who was born of Jewish descent in Avila, Spain on October 4, 1515 as Teresa de Cepeda y de Ahumada. Teresa was educated by the Augustinian nuns but at the age of 17 she was forced to leave the convent because of ill health. Regaining her strength she succumbed for a short time to the world and the wealth of Spain which was regaling in the golden age of riches garnered from the New World and the many superb spiritual treatises emanating from Spain. Teresa, like Saint Francis of Assisi and Saint Anthony, longed to become a missionary and receive the crown of martyrdom at the hands of the heathen Moors. But this faded from memory as she regained her strength and gave into vanity and the distractions of the world, the flesh and the devil. It was while reading the writings of Saint Jerome that she realized the error of her ways and sought to become a Carmelite nun at the Monastery of the Incarnation in Avila in 1535. Shortly after her profession in 1537, she again became ill and was dispatched for treatment in 1538. Two years later she returned but remained an invalid for several years. After nearly 20 years as a nun she was greatly touched by the Confessions of Saint Augustine, in particular his description of the image Ecce Homo and dedicated the rest of her life to prayer and reform of the Carmelites. During the two years of 1556 and 57 Teresa experienced mystic occurrences with visions and locutions. Because she thought this was satan mimicking Our Lord and Our Lady she was thrown into great anguish until she confided in her new spiritual advisor Saint Peter of Alcantara who convinced her they were authentic from all she had conveyed to him. The Messages from Heaven prompted her to found St. Joseph Convent in Avila despite fierce opposition and ridicule from those who derided her for founding a convent to live the strict Carmelite rule rather than the relaxed rule that was being taken advantage of and being lived in most every convent of that time. In 1567 the Prior General of the Carmelites Father Rubeo gave Teresa permission to establish other convents with the same strict rule as established at St. Joseph's. This gave rise to a bitter struggle from the calced Carmelites who feared their easy-going lifestyle was threatened by this ultra conservative upstart nun. At the General Chapter Convention at Piacenza in 1575, Fr. Rubeo was forced by the majority to place strict restrictions on Teresa's group. The bitter struggle continued for the next five years but Teresa was undaunted and prayed diligently that the Will of God would prevail in this struggle. Joining her in this tireless crusade to reform the Carmelites was a young priest John Yepes who is better known as Saint John of the Cross. With his help she founded the first monastery for men under the strict decalced rule and continued to travel throughout Spain establishing more monasteries as she continuously turned over to St. John the duties of each in the formation of the friars. This responsibility, not to mention the constant harassment and struggle for control, all contributed to the doubts and void John felt in which he wrote about in his now famous "Dark Night of the Soul". Yet, he and Teresa persevered and in 1580 Pope Gregory XIII through the encouragement of the King of Spain King Philip II officially recognized the two distinct branches of the Carmelites - Calced and Discalced and made the latter a separate province free from the influence of those who sought to discredit Teresa. During her travels and drawing from her mystical experiences, Teresa wrote her autobiography The Life in 1565, The Way of Perfection in 1573, and the work The Interior Castle in 1577 - all classics in spiritual literature. Teresa, considered one of the greatest mystics of all time, confounded many who met this saint for she was deeply spiritual and intelligent but could be as stubborn and bullheaded as they come. Add to this that she combined her highly active and political life with a love for deep contemplation which she passed on to all she met, founding 40 new foundations throughout her lifetime to totally reform the Carmelites and put the life of a religious back on the track God intended. Teresa, greatly worn by her travails, travels and trials died at Alba de Tormes in the Province of Salamanca, Spain on the evening of October 4, 1582 - the very same evening the new Gregorian calendar replaced the old Julian calendar and moved everything up ten days, thus the confusion of when Teresa died because the new calendar would have her called home to Heaven on October 14th. It was symbolic that the new had replaced the old for Teresa had replaced the stagnant, liberal lifestyle of the religious with a more dedicated and reverent contemplative way of life in keeping with the vocation they were called to; and she was canonized by Pope Gregory XV in 1622. In 1970 Pope Paul VI honored her as the first woman to be declared a Doctor of the Church.

October 14, 1999       volume 10, no. 196


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