Blog Post - April 14th
S. Justin| SS. Tiburtius, Valerian and Maximus| Daily Meditation| Daily Quote by S. Padre Pio| Divine Mercy Reflection
St. Justin, Martyr
Justin never ended his quest for religious truth even when he converted to Christianity after years of studying various pagan philosophies.
As a young man, he was principally attracted to the school of Plato. However, he found that the Christian religion answered the great questions about life and existence better than the philosophers.
Upon his conversion he continued to wear the philosopher's mantle, and became the first Christian philosopher. He combined the Christian religion with the best elements in Greek philosophy. In his view, philosophy was a pedagogue of Christ, an educator that was to lead one to Christ.
Justin is known as an apologist, one who defends in writing the Christian religion against the attacks and misunderstandings of the pagans. Two of his so-called apologies have come down to us; they are addressed to the Roman emperor and to the Senate.
For his staunch adherence to the Christian religion, Justin was beheaded in Rome in 165.
As patron of philosophers, Justin may inspire us to use our natural powers (especially our power to know and understand) in the service of Christ and to build up the Christian life within us. Since we are prone to error, especially in reference to the deep questions concerning life and existence, we should also be willing to correct and check our natural thinking in light of religious truth. Thus we will be able to say with the learned saints of the Church: I believe in order to understand, and I understand in order to believe.
"Philosophy is the knowledge of that which exists, and a clear understanding of the truth; and happiness is the reward of such knowledge and understanding" (Justin, Dialogue with Trypho, 3).
Commemoration of SS. Tiburtius, Valerian and Maximus, Martyrs - Latin Calendar
Saints Tiburtius, Valerian, and Maximus are three Christian martyrs who were buried on 14 April of some unspecified year in the Catacombs of Praetextatus on the Via Appia near Rome.
According to the legendary Acts of Saint Cecilia, a mid-fifth-century Acts of the Martyrs composition that has no historical value, Valerian was the husband of Saint Cecilia, Tiburtius his brother, and Maximus as a soldier or official who was martyred with these two. The story was retold by Chaucer. Devotional publications make the story more credible by simplifying it.
The three martyrs were traditionally honoured with a joint feast day on 14 April, as shown in the Tridentine Calendar. The 1969 revision of the General Roman Calendar removed this celebration, since the only thing really known about them is the historical fact of their burial in the Catacombs of Praetextatus. However, it allowed them to be honoured in local calendars.
The 2001 decree of promulgation of the revised Roman Martyrology declared: "In accordance with the Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council on the Sacred Liturgy, 'the accounts of martyrdom or the lives of the saints are to accord with the facts of history' (art. 92 c), the names of saints included in the Martyrology and their notices have to be subjected more carefully than before to the judgement of historical study."
Accordingly, the revised Roman Martyrology now merely states, under 14 April: "At Rome, in the cemetery of Praetextatus on the Appian Way, Saints Tiburtius, Valerian and Maximus, martyrs."
The Eastern Orthodox Church honors them together with Saint Cecilia on the 22th of November.
Let us affectionately welcome the brave triumvirate of martyrs, presented today to our Risen Jesus by the Roman Church of the second century. The first is Valerian, the chaste and noble spouse of Cecily; he wears on his brow a wreath of roses and lilies. The second is Tiburtius, Valerian’s brother, and like him, a convert of Cecily; he shows us the triumphant palm he won so speedily. Maximus is the third; he witnessed the combat and the victory of the two brothers, imitated their example, and followed them to heaven. The immortal Cecily is the queen of this holy group; she taught them to be martyrs; she has a right to our remembrance on this day of their feast. She herself shared in their glorious privilege of suffering and dying for the name of Christ. She won the crown five months later, on September 16, according to the most ancient calendars; her feast, however, is no longer kept on that day. The solemnity of November 22, formerly preceded by a vigil, is marked in the Roman breviary as the day of her martyrdom; it is, in reality, the anniversary of the dedication of her magnificent basilica in Rome.
The Church makes a commemoration of our three great martyrs today.
The following lesson is extremely short. The reason is that this feast is very ancient; and in the early ages of the Church, simple offices, as they are called, were extremely frequent; and it was only for great feasts that three nocturns were said, each with three lessons.
Valerian, a Roman by birth, and of a noble family, was married to the blessed Cecily, who was of equal nobility. By the advice of this virgin, he and his brother Tiburtius were baptized by the holy Pope Urban, in the reign of the Emperor Alexander Severus. Almachius, the City Prefect, having been informed that they had become Christians, had distributed their patrimony among the poor, and were burying the bodies of the Christians, summoned them before him, and severely rebuked them. Finding, however, that they persevered in confessing Christ to be God, and in proclaiming the gods to be but vain images of devils, he ordered them to be scourged. But they were not to be induced, by this scourging, to adore the idols of Jupiter; they continued firm in the profession of the true faith: they were therefore beheaded four miles out of Rome. One of the Prefect’s officials, by name Maximus, who had been appointed to lead them to execution, was filled with admiration at seeing the courage wherewith they suffered, and professed himself to be a Christian, as did likewise several other servants of the Prefect. Not long after, they were all beaten to death with whips loaded with plummets of lead; and thus, from being slaves of the devil, they became martyrs of Christ our Lord.
Holy and precious fruits of the great Cecily’s apostolate! we this day unite with the blessed Spirits in celebrating your entrance into the court of heaven. Thou, O Valerian, wast led to faith, and to the sublimest of all virtues, by thy noble spouse; thou wast the first to enter into the joy of the Lord; but in a few days thy Cecily followed thee, and the love begun on earth was made eternal in heaven. Speaking of thee and her, an angel said that your roses and lilies should never fade; their fragrance of love and purity is sweeter by far now than when they bloomed here below. Thou, O Tiburtius! brother of these two angels of earth! thou owest to them thy beautiful palm; thou art a sharer in their eternal happiness, and the three names, Cecily, Valerian, and Tiburtius, are to be forever united in the admiration of angels and men. The sight of the two brothers suffering so bravely for Christ inflamed thy ambition, O Maximus, to imitate them; the God of Cecily became thine; thou didst shed thy blood for him; and he, in return, has placed thee in heaven near Cecily, Valerian and Tiburtius, to whom, while on earth, thou wast so inferior by birth and position.
Now, therefore, O holy martyrs, be our protectors, and hear the prayers we address unto you. Speak in our favor to the immortal King, for whom you so bravely fought and died; ask him to fill our hearts with his love, and make us generous like you. You despised this fleeing life; we too must despise it, if we would share in the happiness you now enjoy, the sight of our Risen Lord. The battle we have to fight may, perhaps, be different from yours; but the reward that awaits us is, like your own, everlasting. Rather than betray Christ, you laid down your lives; our duty is the same—we must die rather than sin. Pray for us, O holy martyrs, that our lives may henceforward be such as will honor this year’s Pasch. Pray also for the Church of Rome, your Mother; her days of trial have returned; she has a right to count upon your intercession for the help she needs.
A Third Story:
THESE holy martyrs have always been held in singular veneration in the church, as appears from the ancient calendar of Fronto, the sacramentary of St. Gregory, St. Jerom’s Martyrology, that of Thomasius, &c. Valerian was espoused to St. Cecily, and converted by her to the faith; and with her he became the instrument of the conversion of his brother Tiburtius. Masimus, the officer appointed to attend their execution, was brought to the faith by the example of their piety, and received with them the crown of martyrdom, in the year 229. The theatre of their triumph seems to have been Rome, though some have imagined they suffered in Sicily. They were interred in the burying place of Prætextatus, which, from them, took the name of Tiburtius. It was contiguous to that of Calixtus. In that place Pope Gregory III. repaired their monument in 740; and Adrian I. built a church under their patronage. But Pope Paschal translated the remains of these martyrs, of St. Cecily, and the popes SS. Urban and Lucius, into the city, where the celebrated church of St. Cecily stands. These relics were found in it in 1599, and visited by the Order of Clement VIII., and approved genuine by the Cardinals Baronius and Sfondrate. The Greeks vie with the Latins in their devotion to these martyrs. 1
Most agreeable to the holy angels was this pious family, converted to God by the zeal and example of St. Cecily, who frequently assembled to sing together, with heavenly purity and fervour, the divine praises. We shall also draw upon ourselves the protection, constant favour, and tender attention of the heavenly spirits, if we faithfully imitate the same angelical exercise. Mortification, temperance, humility, meekness, purity of mind and body, continual sighs toward heaven, prayer, accompanied with tears and vehement heavenly desires, disengagement of the heart from the world, a pure and assiduous attention to God and to his holy will, and a perfect union by the most sincere fraternal charity, are virtues and exercises infinitely pleasing to them. The angels of peace are infinitely delighted to see the same perfect intelligence and union, which make an essential part of their bliss in heaven, reign among us on earth, and that we have all but one heart and one soul.
Happy are those holy souls which have renounced the world, in order more perfectly to form in their hearts the spirit of these virtues, in which they cease not, day and night, to attend to the divine praises, and consecrate themselves to Jesus Christ, by employing their whole life in this divine exercise. Their profession is a prelude to, or rather a kind of anticipation of, the bliss of heaven. The state of the blessed, indeed, surpasses it in certain high privileges and advantages. First, They praise God with far greater love and esteem, because they see and know him much more clearly, and as he is in himself. Secondly, They praise him with more joy, because they possess him fully. Thirdly, Their praises have neither end nor interruption. Yet our present state has also its advantages. First, If our praises are mingled with tears, compunction, watchfulness, and conflicts, they merit a continual immense increase of grace, love, and bliss for eternity. Secondly, Our praises cost labour, difficulty, and pain: they are a purgatory of love; those of the blessed the reward and the sovereign bliss. Thirdly, We praise God in a place where he is little loved and little known: we celebrate his glory in an enemy’s country, amidst the contradiction of sinners. This obliges us to acquit ourselves of this duty with the utmost fidelity and fervour. A second motive to excite us to assiduity in this exercise is, that it associates us already to the angels and saints, and makes the earth a paradise: it is also, next to the sacraments, the most powerful means of our sanctification and salvation. With what delight do the holy angels attend and join us in it! With what awe and fervour, with what purity of heart, ardent love, and profound sentiments of humility, adoration, and all virtues, ought we in such holy invisible company to perform this most sacred action! We should go to it penetrated with fear and respect, as if we were admitted into the sanctuary of heaven itself, and mingled in its glorious choirs. We ought to behave at it as if we were in paradise, with the utmost modesty, in silence, annihilating ourselves in profound adoration with the seraphim, and pronouncing every word with interior sentiment and relish. From prayer we must come as if we were just descended from heaven, with an earnest desire of speedily returning thither, bearing God in our souls, all animated and inflamed by him, and preserving that spirit of devotion with which his presence filled us at prayer.
Act with Great Love:
Giving ourselves to God and the greater good of all does not require grandiose gestures. It does require doing small things with great love. It means wholeheartedly committing to seeing the presence of God in all others, as well as ourselves.
Quote by S. Padre Pio:
The Lord only allows me to recall the persons and things he wants me to remember.
Divine Mercy Reflection
Reflections on Notebook One: 11-111
This first notebook of Saint Faustina begins her private revelations given from the Heart of Jesus to her. She writes in a beautiful and simple way. Though, as mentioned in the introduction to this book, her actual words are not quoted in these reflections that follow, the messages that she received and articulated are presented.
In truth, her messages are those contained in Sacred Scripture and in the Tradition of our Church. And if you were to read through the lives and teachings of the saints, you would find the same revelations. God has always spoken to us throughout the ages. He speaks the one Message of Truth, and He reveals that Message in love. The revelations to Saint Faustina are one new way that God continues to speak and reveal Himself to us, His sons and daughters.
The reflections in this first chapter, based on the first notebook, are intentionally short and focused. They are a way for you, the reader, to slowly and carefully listen to the Heart of God spoken to this great saint. Read these reflections slowly and prayerfully. Ponder them throughout the day and allow the Lord to speak to You the message He wants to give.
Reflection 104: The Chaplet of Mercy
Prayer is essential to our Christian walk. When you pray, it is good to speak from the heart, pouring out your soul to God. But prayer must also follow your faith and all you know of God. It must reflect your true knowledge of God and call upon His Mercy. The Chaplet of Divine Mercy is one such prayer that perfectly reflects your faith in the Mercy of God. (See Diary #475-476).
Do you pray? Do you pray every day? Is your prayer centered in faith and truth, enabling you to continually call on the Mercy of God? If you do not pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, try it every day for a week. Be faithful and trust in the faith revealed in the words spoken. You will see the doors of God’s Mercy open if you commit yourself to this prayer.
Eternal Father, I offer You the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your dearly beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world. For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have Mercy on us and on the whole world. Jesus, I trust in You.