S. Cajetan| S. Donatus| Pope S. Sixtus II| SS. Felicissimus and Agapitus| Daily Meditation| Daily Quote by S. Padre Pio| Divine Mercy Reflection
Like most of us, Cajetan seemed headed for an “ordinary” life—first as a lawyer, then as a priest engaged in the work of the Roman Curia.
His life took a characteristic turn when he joined the Oratory of Divine Love in Rome, a group devoted to piety and charity, shortly after his ordination at 36. When he was 42 he founded a hospital for incurables at Venice. At Vicenza, he joined a “disreputable” religious community that consisted only of men of the lowest stations of life—and was roundly censured by his friends, who thought his action was a reflection on his family. He sought out the sick and poor of the town and served them.
The greatest need of the time was the reformation of a Church that was “sick in head and members.” Cajetan and three friends decided that the best road to reformation lay in reviving the spirit and zeal of the clergy. (One of them later became Paul IV.) Together they founded a congregation known as the Theatines (from Teate [Chieti] where their first superior-bishop had his see). They managed to escape to Venice after their house in Rome was wrecked when Emperor Charles V’s troops sacked Rome in 1527. The Theatines were outstanding among the Catholic reform movements that took shape before the Protestant Reformation. He founded a monte de pieta (“mountain [or fund] of piety”) in Naples—one of many charitable, nonprofit credit organizations that lent money on the security of pawned objects. The purpose was to help the poor and protect them against usurers. Cajetan’s little organization ultimately became the Bank of Naples, with great changes in policy.
When Cajetan was sent to establish a house of his congregation in Naples, a count tried to prevail upon him to accept an estate in lands. He refused. The count pointed out that he would need the money, for the people of Naples were not as generous as the people of Venice. “That may be true,” replied Cajetan, “but God is the same in both cities.”
If Vatican II had been summarily stopped after its first session in 1962, many Catholics would have felt that a great blow had been dealt to the growth of the Church. Cajetan had the same feeling about the Council of Trent (1545-63). But, as he said, God is the same in Naples as in Venice, with or without Trent or Vatican II. We open ourselves to God’s power in whatever circumstances we find ourselves, and God’s will is done. God’s standards of success differ from ours.
Also today in the Latin Calendar we commemorate S. Donatus, Bishop and Martyr. A story about this commemoration can be found below.
St. Donatus of Arezzo, Bishop and Martyr
THE GOLDEN LEGEND: SAINT DONATUS - AUGUST 7
Donatus comes from a Deo natus, born of God, that is, by regeneration and the infusion of grace and glorification, which are a threefold spiritual rebirth through God. For when the saints die they are said to be born, whence the day of a saint's death is called his natal feast. A child in sooth strains to be born, in order that he may have more room to move, more abundant food to eat, a freer air to breathe, and light to see. And since the saints, by death, issue from the womb of their mother the Church, they receive these four things according to their mode, and thus are said to be born. Or again, Donatus is the same as dono datus, he who is given.
Donatus was reared and instructed with the Emperor Julian, at the time when Julian was ordained a subdeacon. But as soon as Julian was raised to the rank of emperor, he put the father and mother of Donatus to death. Donatus himself fled to Arezzo where he dwelt with the monk Hilary, and wrought many miracles. One day the prefect of the city brought his son to him, the boy being possessed of the Devil. The unclean spirit within him cried out: 'In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, Donatus, molest me not, nor drive me forth from my house! O Donatus, why do you torment me?' But Donatus prayed, and at once the prefect's son was delivered.
A tax-gatherer in Tuscany, named Eustacllius, left the public monies in the care of his wife Euphrosina, who, seeing the province overrun by enemies, hid the monies and then died, overcome with grief. When her husband returned, he was unable to find the treasure, and was about to be handed over with his sons to the executioners, when he had recourse to Saint Donatus. The saint went with him to Euphrosina's tomb, and having prayed, said in a loud voice: 'Euphrosina, I adjure you by the Holy Ghost, tell us where you have placed the monies!' And at once a voice from the tomb said: 'I buried all under the doorsill of my house!' And going thither, they found the money, as she had said.
Some days later the bishop Satyrus expired in the Lord, and the clergy elected Donatus in his place. And one day, as Gregory relates in his Dialogue, the people were receiving the Holy Communion in the Mass, and the deacon was distributing the Blood of Christ, when the pagans pushed him so rudely that he fell, and the holy chalice was shattered. As he and the people were sore aggrieved at that, Donatus gathered the fragments of the chalice, and having prayed, restored it to its former shape. The Devil, however, hid one fragment, and this is still lacking in the chalice, as a testimony of the miracle. And at the sight of this miracle, eighty pagans were converted and received baptism.
Near Arezzo there was a poisoned spring, and anyone who drank thereof died immediately. And when Saint Donatus rode upon his donkey to the spring in order to purify the waters by his prayers, a terrible dragon rushed forth, twisted his tail about the donkey's legs, and reared up against Donatus. But the saint struck him with a whip, or, as others have it, spat in his face, and killed him in a trice. Then he besought the Lord, and the waters of the spring were purified forthwith. Another time, when he and his companions were suffering from thirst, he prayed, and caused a spring to break forth at the spot where they stood.
The daughter of the Emperor Theodosius, being possessed of the Devil, was brought to Saint Donatus, who said: 'Begone, unclean spirit, and dwell not in this body fashioned by God!' And the demon answered: 'Tell me how I shall go out, and whither I shall go!' 'Whence are you come?' asked the saint. 'From the desert!' answered the demon. 'Go back to the desert!' said the saint. And the demon replied: 'I see on you the sign of the cross, whence a fire leaps out against me, and for the fear I have I know not whither to go. But give me room to pass, and I shall go out!' And Donatus said: 'There, you have room to pass: go back to your place!' And the demon went out, making the whole house to quake as he passed.
A dead man was borne on his way to the tomb, when a man came up, holding a document in his hand, and declared that the defunct owed him two hundred solidi, and that he would not allow him to be buried until the sum was paid. The dead man's wife went in tears to tell this to Saint Donatus, affirming at the same time that the man had already received payment of all the money. Then the saint betook himself to the bier, and taking the dead man by the hand, said to him: 'List to me!' And the defunct responded: 'I hear!' 'Arise,' said Saint Donatus, 'and deal with this man who forbids you to be buried!' The dead man sat up, proved before all that he had acquitted the debt, took the writing and tore it in pieces. Then he said to Saint Donatus: 'Father, bid me sleep again!' And the saint answered: 'My son, go now to your rest!'
At that time no rain had fallen for almost three years, and a great barrenness lay upon the land. The infidels therefore went to the Emperor Theodosius, and demanded that Donatus be delivered to them, for that he had caused the drought by his magical arts. At the emperor's urging Donatus came out, prayed to the Lord, and thus brought down an instant fall of rain. Then he went back to his house, his garments being dry, although the others were drenched with rain.
Some time thereafter, when the Goths were ravaging Italy, and many were renouncing the faith of Christ, Saint Donatus and Saint Hilary went to the prefect Quadracianus, and rebuked him for his apostasy. At this the prefect seized the two saints, and commanded them to sacrifice to Jupiter. And when they refused, Hilary was stripped and beaten until he breathed forth his soul, and Donatus was imprisoned, and then beheaded. The martyrdom took place in Arezzo about the year of the Lord 380.
Today in Ordinary Time we commemorate 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 today in Ordinary Time we commemorate 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.
Living God's Message:
Not all of us are called to shout our message from the rooftops. Those of us called to a quiet, reflective lifestyle have an important place in God's plan, just as those of us who are called to serve more actively. There is room for all in God's kingdom.
Quote by S. Padre Pio:
Be fully convinced ... that what ... greatly assures our perfection is the virtue of patience.
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 219: Difficulties in Proclaiming Mercy
If you commit yourself to a full embrace of the Mercy of God in your life, you will be transformed beyond your wildest dreams. But you will also have another experience. You will encounter great difficulties in your attempts to live and proclaim Mercy to a fallen world. The world does not understand the Mercy of God. The world only knows harshness and judgment. It seeks revenge and honors pride and self-assertion. Mercy, however, it does not understand. And when you embrace Mercy and allow it to be made manifest through your life, it will not always be accepted. You may be misunderstood, labeled as weak and even ignored by many. Do not get discouraged at the rejection you will encounter as you seek to be an apostle of the Mercy of God. This is inevitable, but in that rejection and in every difficulty you encounter, you will discover a new level of holiness as you rest close to the Heart of Christ (See Diary #1142).
As you attempt to embrace Mercy in your life, what difficulties do you encounter? Do others fail to understand the path you are on? Do you feel misunderstood and even judged? Reflect upon your experience and try to surrender every difficulty you experience over to the Heart of Christ. His act of perfect Mercy, manifested through His death on the Cross, was seen by many as a pitiful and unfortunate consequence of His weakness. However, Jesus’ love was not hampered by these false perceptions. He pressed on, offering His life for the salvation of the world. You must do the same.
Lord, Your Mercy is so profound and so mysterious that, at times, I question its wisdom. I question whether I am walking the road to sanctity or foolishness. Give me courage, clarity and strength to persevere down the road You have called me and help me to continually trust in Your abundance of Mercy. Jesus, I trust in You.