Transfiguration of Our Lord| Pope S. Sixtus II| SS. Felicissimus and Agapitus| Daily Meditation| Daily Quote by S. Padre Pio| Divine Mercy Reflection
Transfiguration of the Lord
All three Synoptic Gospels tell the story of the Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-8; Mark 9:2-9; Luke 9:28-36). With remarkable agreement, all three place the event shortly after Peter’s confession of faith that Jesus is the Messiah and Jesus’ first prediction of his passion and death. Peter’s eagerness to erect tents or booths on the spot suggests it occurred during the Jewish week long, fall Feast of Booths.
In spite of the texts’ agreement, it is difficult to reconstruct the disciples’ experience, according to Scripture scholars, because the Gospels draw heavily on Old Testament descriptions of the Sinai encounter with God and prophetic visions of the Son of Man. Certainly Peter, James and John had a glimpse of Jesus’ divinity strong enough to strike fear into their hearts. Such an experience defies description, so they drew on familiar religious language to describe it. And certainly Jesus warned them that his glory and his suffering were to be inextricably connected—a theme John highlights throughout his Gospel.
Tradition names Mt. Tabor as the site of the revelation. A church first raised there in the fourth century was dedicated on August 6. A feast in honor of the Transfiguration was celebrated in the Eastern Church from about that time. Western observance began in some localities about the eighth century.
On July 22, 1456, Crusaders defeated the Turks at Belgrade. News of the victory reached Rome on August 6, and Pope Callistus III placed the feast on the Roman calendar the following year.
One of the Transfiguration accounts is read on the second Sunday of Lent each year, proclaiming Christ’s divinity to catechumens and baptized alike. The Gospel for the first Sunday of Lent, by contrast, is the story of the temptation in the desert—affirmation of Jesus’ humanity. The two distinct but inseparable natures of the Lord were a subject of much theological argument at the beginning of the Church’s history; it remains hard for believers to grasp.
“At his Transfiguration Christ showed his disciples the splendor of his beauty, to which he will shape and color those who are his: ‘He will reform our lowness configured to the body of his glory’” (Philippians 3:21) (St. Thomas Aquinas,Summa Theologiae).
Today in the Latin Calendar there is also commemorated Pope S. Sixtus II, Martyr. A story about this commemoration can be found by Clicking Here.
Pope St. Sixtus II was the Pope from August 257, until August 258. He died as a martyr during the persecution by Emperor Valerian I. He is believed to have been a Greek. In the persecutions under Valerian I in 258, numerous bishops, priests, and deacons were put to death, trying to stop Christianity from spreading.
Pope Sixtus II was one of the first victims of this persecution, and was beheaded on August 6th, 258. He was murdered along with six deacons, Januarius, Vincentius, Magnus, Stephanus, Felicissimus and Agapitus. St. Sixtus II prophesied that his most well-known deacon, St. Lawrence of Rome, would suffer martyrdom three days after his master, and he was beheaded on August 10, 258 – just as Pope St. Sixtus II had prophesied. Rome does have a composition that was written by Pope St. Sixtus to this day.
When you here the names of saints in the Roman Canon of the Mass, it is St. Sixtus II and his companion-martyrs that are commemorated during this prayer. Pope Damasus I, placed the following inscription honoring him, on his tomb in the catacomb of Callixtus, “At the time when the sword pierced the bowels of the Mother, I, buried here, taught as Pastor the Word of God; when suddenly the soldiers rushed in and dragged me from the chair. The Faithful offered their necks to the sword, but as soon as the Pastor saw the ones who wished to rob him of the palm of martyrdom, he was the first to offer himself and his own head, not tolerating that the pagan frenzy should harm the others. Christ, who gives recompense, made manifest the Pastor’s merit, preserving unharmed his flock”. This inscription can be seen today.
Practical Take Away
Pope St. Sixtus II validates the willingness to be martyred in our early church, to ensure the faith would continue. The faith would grow afterwards, not be stifled. Many of his faithful offered to take his place to be beheaded, but he would not hear of it. He literally gave his head in martyrdom so that his flock would not be harmed. And so it was, he and six deacons were murdered, and they left his flock alone. He, leading the way, then his deacons, literally laying their lives down out of love for those they served. How many of us today, nearly 1700 years later, would be willing to do the same for our faith?
Also in the Latin Calendar there is commemorated today of SS. Felicissimus and Agapitus, Martyrs. A story about this commemoration can be found below.
Felicissimus and Agapitus
A deacon of Carthage who, in the middle of the third century, headed a short-lived but dangerous schism, to which undue doctrinal importance has been given by a certain class of writers, Neander, Ritschl, Harnack, and others, who see in it "a presbyterial reaction against episcopal autocracy". Of the chief figure in the revolt, Felicissimus, not much can be said. The movement of which he was afterwards the leader originated in the opposition of five presbyters of the church in Carthage to St. Cyprian's election as bishop of that see. One of these presbyters, Novatus, selected Felicissimus as deacon of his church in the district called Mons, and because of the importance of the office of deacon in the African Church, Felicissimus became the leader of the malcontents. The opposition of this faction, however, led to no open rupture until after the outbreak of the Decian persecution in 250, when St. Cyprian was compelled to flee from the city. His absence created a situation favourable to his adversaries, who took advantage of a division already existing in regard to the methods to be followed in dealing with those who had apostatized (lapsi) during persecution and who afterwards sought to be readmitted to Christian fellowship. It was easy under the circumstances to arouse much hostility to Cyprian, because he had followed an extremely rigorous policy in dealing with those lapsi. The crisis was reached when St. Cyprian sent from his place of hiding a commission consisting of two bishops and two priests to distribute alms to those who had been ruined during the persecution. Felicissimus, regarding the activities of these men as an encroachment on the prerogatives of his office, attempted to frustrate their mission. This was reported to St. Cyprian, who at once excommunicate him. Felicissimus immediately gathered around him all those who were dissatisfied with the bishop's treatment of the lapsi and proclaimed an open revolt. The situation was still further complicated by the fact that the thirty years' peace preceding the Decian persecution had caused much laxity in the Church, and that on the first outbreak of hostilities multitudes of Christians had openly apostatized or resorted to the expedient of purchasing certificates from the venal officials, attesting their compliance with the emperor's edict. Besides this the custom of readmitting apostates to Christian fellowship, if they could show tickets from confessors or martyrs in their behalf, had resulted in widespread scandals.
While St. Cyprian was in exile he did not succeed in checking the revolt even though he wisely refrained from excommunicating those who differed from in regard to the treatment of the lapsi. After his return to Carthage (251) he convoked a synod of bishops, priests and deacons, in which the sentence of excommunication against Felicissimus and the heads of faction was reaffirmed, and in which definite rules were laid down regarding the manner of readmitting the lapsi. The sentence against Felicissimus and his followers did not deter them from appearing before another council, which was held in Carthage the following year, and demanding that the case be reopened. Their demand was refused, and they sought to profit by the division in the Roman Church which had arisen from similar causes, except that in this case the charge of laxity was levelled against the orthodox party. This proceeding and the fact that the Council of Carthage had decided with so much moderation in regard to the lapsi, modifying as it did the rigoristic policy of Cyprian by a judicious compromise, soon detached from Felicissimus all his followers, and the schism disappeared.
Pope Sixtus II was an Athenian, who, from a philosopher, became a disciple of Christ. In the persecution under Valerian he was accused of openly preaching Christ, and was seized and haled to the temple of Mars, where he was given the choice of death or offering sacrifice to the idol. He firmly refused to commit that wickedness, and as he was being led away to seal his testimony, holy Lawrence ran up to him and his grief said to him: Father, whither goest thou without thy son? Holy Priest, dost thou fare hence without a Deacon? Sixtus answered him: I am not leaving thee, my son; there awaiteth thee for Christ's truth a sterner wrestling than mine; yet three days, and thou shalt follow me, the Deacon behind the Priest; and in the meanwhile, if thou hast anything in the treasury, give it to the poor. Sixtus was accordingly slain upon that day, and with him the Deacons Felicissimus and Agapitus, and the Subdeacons Januarius, Magnus, Vincent, and Stephen. He was buried in the cemetery of Callistus, and they in the cemetery of Prætextatus upon the 6th day of August. He sat in the throne of Peter eleven months and twelve days. During that time he held one ordination in the month of December, wherein he made four Priests, seven Deacons and two Bishops.
Everything we need includes the time and energy to do what God has in mind for us to do on any given day. Balance and freedom from obsessive worry is the goal. May we find that balance by God's grace.
Quote by S. Padre Pio:
I cast myself trustfully into the arms of Jesus.
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 218: A Single Perception of God
It is important to understand God and His ways, but understanding is not the same as knowing. Knowing God means we encounter a Person. We do not only understand what this person says; rather, we engage, meet, experience and enter into a relationship with this Person. In fact, one of the greatest blessings we can ever receive in this life is to obtain even a single perception of God. Even one single perception of Him, one single encounter with Him, one single act of knowing Him is enough to change our lives forever. An act of authentic knowing of God is more important than any other act we can do in life (See Diary #1133).
If you were offered all the wealth and fame of the world, great success and prestige, would you take it? Most likely you would. Being successful or wealthy or well known or greatly honored is often desirable. In and of themselves, none of these qualities are bad. But there is a grave danger in these desires the moment that they become more important to us than our desire to know God, distracting us from that ultimate goal. The moment we find ourselves desiring worldly things more than a desire for the very Person of God is the moment that we have mixed up our priorities in life. Seek even one single act of encountering our merciful God and you will find that this knowledge of Him is worth more than anything this world can offer.
My Lord, I desire to know You. Please increase that desire in my soul so that it is more powerful than every other desire in my life. I pray that You give me even a single perception of You, a single knowledge of You, dear Lord, and in that knowledge please change my life. Jesus, I trust in You.