Blog Post - August 13th
S. Hippolytus| Pope S. Pontian| S. Cassian| Daily Meditation| Daily Quote by S. Padre Pio| Divine Mercy Reflection
Sts. Pontian and Hippolytus
(S. Hippolytus-Both Calendars; Pope S. Pontian-Ordinary Time Only;
S. Cassian-Latin Calendar Only)
Two men died for the faith after harsh treatment and exhaustion in the mines of Sardinia. One had been pope for five years, the other an antipope for 18. They died reconciled.
Pontian was a Roman who served as pope from 230 to 235. During his reign he held a synod which confirmed the excommunication of the great theologian Origen in Alexandria. Pontian was banished to exile by the Roman emperor in 235, and resigned so that a successor could be elected in Rome. He was sent to the “unhealthy” island of Sardinia, where he died of harsh treatment in 235. With him was Hippolytus (see below) with whom he was reconciled. The bodies of both martyrs were brought back to Rome and buried with solemn rites as martyrs.
St. Pontian (Pontianus) was a victim of the persecution of Alexander Severus, who directed his attention particularly against the leaders of the Church. St. Pontian governed the Church from 230 to 235. He was exiled to the mines of Sardinia and died in exile. St. Hippoytus, a priest and a person of some importance in the Church in Rome at the beginning of the third century, provoked a schism which lasted for some years. He was exiled to Sardinia with St. Pontian, where he was reconciled with the Church and died for the faith in 235.
Before the reform of the General Roman Calendar today was also the feast of St. Cassian of Immola, a martyr of the neighborhood of Bologna. According to his biography he was a schoolmaster and was delivered with his hands tied behind his back to his young pupils, who stabbed him to death. In the bishop's chapel at Ravenna there is a mosaic of St. Cassian that dates from the fifth century.
As a priest in Rome, Hippolytus (the name means “a horse turned loose”) was at first “holier than the Church.” He censured the pope for not coming down hard enough on a certain heresy—calling him a tool in the hands of one Callistus, a deacon—and coming close to advocating the opposite heresy himself. When Callistus was elected pope, Hippolytus accused him of being too lenient with penitents, and had himself elected antipope by a group of followers. He felt that the Church must be composed of pure souls uncompromisingly separated from the world: Hippolytus evidently thought that his group fitted the description. He remained in schism through the reigns of three popes. In 235 he was also banished to the island of Sardinia. Shortly before or after this event, he was reconciled to the Church, and died with Pope Pontian in exile.
Hippolytus was a rigorist, a vehement and intransigent man for whom even orthodox doctrine and practice were not purified enough. He is, nevertheless, the most important theologian and prolific religious writer before the age of Constantine. His writings are the fullest source of our knowledge of the Roman liturgy and the structure of the Church in the second and third centuries. His works include many Scripture commentaries, polemics against heresies and a history of the world. A marble statue, dating from the third century, representing the saint sitting in a chair, was found in 1551. On one side is inscribed his table for computing the date of Easter, on the other a list of how the system works out until the year 224. Blessed John XXIII installed the statue in the Vatican library.
Hippolytus was a strong defender of orthodoxy, and admitted his excesses by his humble reconciliation. He was not a formal heretic, but an overzealous disciplinarian. What he could not learn in his prime as a reformer and purist, he learned in the pain and desolation of imprisonment. It was a fitting symbolic event that Pope Pontian shared his martyrdom.
“Christ, like a skillful physician, understands the weakness of men. He loves to teach the ignorant and the erring he turns again to his own true way. He is easily found by those who live by faith; and to those of pure eye and holy heart, who desire to knock at the door, he opens immediately. He does not disdain the barbarian, nor does he set the eunuch aside as no man. He does not hate the female on account of the woman’s act of disobedience in the beginning, nor does he reject the male on account of the man’s transgression. But he seeks all, and desires to save all, wishing to make all the children of God, and calling all the saints unto one perfect man” (Hippolytus, Treatise on Christ and Antichrist).
Sts. Pontian and Hippolytus
As kind as Severus might have been to the Christians, his successor Maximus Thrax persecuted them. Although Maximus was not a religious man himself, he despised Severus and intended to reverse any attitude to which Severus might have been disposed. He therefore decreed that leaders of the Church be singled out and banished to the labor mines of Sardinia, the famous "Island of Death."
Pontian, a Roman and son of Calpurnius, had enjoyed a peaceful reign over the Roman Church during Severus' time, but soon found himself among the first victims of this new emperor. Rounded up with the antipope Hippolytus, Pontian was deported to the labor mines. Since deportation was a life sentence which few survived, Pontian felt obligated to abdicate so that a successor might quickly preside over the Holy See. He is the first pope known to have abdicated.
While imprisoned, Hippolytus reconciled his differences with Pontian and even ordered his followers to bring themselves back to the Church. Before he succumbed to the harsh treatment of the mines, Hippolytus became a true confessor of Christ.
Pontian, in the mines only two months, was brutally beaten to death by his jailers. His body, with that of Hippolytus, was returned to Rome approximately a year later, during the pontificate of Fabian. He was buried in the cemetery of Calixtus and was rightfully honored by the Church as a martyr.
Today in the Latin Calendar we commemorate SS. Hippolytus and Cassian. A story about S. Hippolytus is related above. A story about the commemoration of SS. Hippolytus and Cassian, Martyrs can be found by Clicking Here.
St. Cassian was a schoolmaster at Imola in northeast Italy. He died a martyr during the Roman persecutions under Diocletian, probably in the third century.
Cassian had apparently been a schoolteacher for some time. Then a widespread persecution of Christians commenced. Roman officials arrested him because he was known, or at least suspected, to be a Christian. He was taken before the governor, and the governor demanded, as usual, that he offer sacrifice to the gods. Naturally, Cassian refused to perform this act of apostasy, so he was condemned to death.
Now, the Romans had many set types of execution to choose from, but sometimes they invented others. Knowing that Cassian was a schoolmaster, the governor decided that it would be a clever novelty to have him stabbed to death by his own pupils!
The schoolmaster was therefore stretched out on the ground and fixed down securely. Then Cassian's former students were brought in. They had not particularly liked their teacher because he had been strict with them. Given the signal, therefore, they set about with a fiendish joy to torment him. They broke their wooden writing tablets over his head, carved their initials carefully on his flesh, and finally stabbed him all over with their pens. Cassian meanwhile accepted their blows with much patience and no malice. He died bloodied with a thousand little wounds.
Awareness of Sin:
Pray for an awareness of sin in your life, and offer those sins up to God. It is only when we say we're sorry that we can hear the words, “I forgive you.” And if you haven't gone to confession recently, you should go receive the wonderful graces offered to you in this sacrament.
Quote by S. Padre Pio:
I say to bear our imperfections with patience, and not at all to love and caress them, because humility is nourished in this suffering.
Divine Mercy Reflection
Reflections on Notebook Three: 189-236
We continue now to the third notebook that Saint Faustina filled with messages of Mercy from our Lord. As you enter into this notebook, pause and reflect upon all that you have read so far. Has it changed your perspective on life? Has it changed you? If it has, then continue down that same path and trust that the Lord will continue to do great things in your life. If it has not, reflect upon why!
Sometimes we need more than the words we read. We also need true prayer, deep prayer and what we may call “soaking prayer.” Consider this as you read through the reflections flowing from this notebook and allow the words to not only enter your mind, but to also enter deeper. Read them prayerfully and carefully. Speak to our Lord as Saint Faustina did. Read some more of her actual diary in addition to these reflections and learn from her humble and childlike faith.
The Lord wants to do great things in your life! Open the door, through prayer and reflection, and let Him in!
Reflection 225: Spiritual Friendship Through Prayer
One powerful channel of the Mercy of God is friendship with another. But friendship can be lived on various levels. Sometimes this bond is based on superficial and unimportant things, and at other times it’s deeply grounded in our Lord. A sign of a deep spiritual friendship is mutual prayer. If you have been blessed with a faith-filled friend, seal and deepen that friendship through a commitment to mutual prayer. Share your life and your needs with each other and commit to praying for those needs. Through the act of mutual prayer you will discover that the Mercy of God is poured forth in each of your lives, and that your mutual bond will be deepened in the Lord. This is a blessing of the Mercy of God as well as a source of its continued outpouring (See Diary #1171).
Reflect upon the friendships you have. What is the basis of each friendship? Perhaps each one will be varied. Some will be casual acquaintances, based on a shared interest. Others will be based on some deeper unifying bond. Spend time today especially reflecting upon those friendships that are based on your shared love of God. If you are blessed with one of these friendships, seek to deepen it through shared prayer. Reflect upon that which your friend is in need of the most and commit yourself to praying for this intention. And share your need with your friend. This mutual exchange of prayer will be a powerful source of the Mercy of God.
Lord, I especially thank You this day for the friendship of (mention a specific friend). I offer this friendship to You and ask for an abundance of grace to be poured out upon him/her. Lord, I especially offer this particular need in my friend’s life (identify a need). I thank You for Your unwavering love for each of us, dear Lord, and for Your own perfect gift of friendship in our lives. Jesus, I trust in You.