Tag Archives: martyr

Saint John Houghton, Saint Robert Lawrence, and Saint Augustine Webster

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Saint John Houghton (1487-1535), born in Essex, England, became a parish priest then found his vocation with the Carthusian Order, an order founded by Saint Bruno. In history the Carthusian vocation is given to few.  In the North America, in fact, in Vermont, there is only Charterhouse for monks. There is no monastery for Carthusian nuns. We do, however, have a monastery of nuns aggregated to the Carthusian order called, The Monastic Family of Bethlehem and of the Assumption of the Virgin, Livingston Manor, New York. They are impressive nuns because of the complete faithfulness to the charism of being with God alone.

Father Houghton was elected Prior of the Beauvale Charterhouse, Northhampton, for a few months before moving to the London Charterhouse.  In 1534, he was with Blessed Humphrey Middlemore (killed on 19 June 1535), for refusing to accept the Act of Succession, which recognized the legitimacy of the monarchial authority of Elizabeth I. Had Houghton and Middlemore signed the  Act of Succession they would have been released. There were two Carthusian monks accepted the law “as far as the law of God allows” and were released.

Houghton was arrested again in 1535 but this time with Saint Robert Lawrence and Saint Augustine Webster finally for refusing to accept the Act of Supremacy.  Lawrence was the Prior of the Beauvale Charterhouse and Webster was the Prior of the Axholme Charterhouse at the time of the arrests. The three were hanged, drawn, and quartered on this date in1535.

With the Church we pray:

Almighty and everlasting God, who kindled the flame of your love in the hearts of your holy martyrs Saint John Houghton, Saint Robert Lawrence, and Saint Augustine Webster: grant to us, your humble servants, a like faith and power of love, that we who rejoice in their triumph may profit by their examples.

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Saint Polycarp

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Saint Polycarp‘s rich writings point to one thing: a sharp focus on Jesus Christ as the only thing we ought to be concerned with today. Nothing else really matters….

Polycarp (AD 69-155) was a bishop of Smyrna and martyr of the Church. He was a disciple of the Beloved Disciple John who ordained him a bishop. Polycarp’s life and work are attested to by Irenaeus, Tertullian and Jerome. He is called an Apostolic Father along with Saint Clement of Rome and Saint Ignatius of Antioch.

Saint Polycarp’s witness is key in knowing the early Church’s life and how we work in building up the Kingdom today. The saint was instrumental in bring others to Christ.

This excerpt tells us of his call to greater conversion in the Lord.

“… if we do His will and walk in His commandments and love the things which He loved, abstaining from all unrighteousness, covetousness, love of money, evil speaking, false witness; not rendering evil for evil or railing for railing or blow for blow or cursing for cursing; but remembering the words which the Lord spake as He taught; Judge not that ye be not judged. Forgive, and it shall be forgiven to you. Have mercy that ye may receive mercy. With what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again; and again Blessed are the poor and they that are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of God.”

The Epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians

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Saint Agnes

Saint Agnes of Rome

Saint Agnes of Rome

What I longed for, I now see; what I hoped for, I now possess; in heaven I am espoused to him whom on earth I loved with all my heart. 

Saint Agnes raised her hands and prayed: Holy Father, hear me. I am coming to you whom I have loved, whom I have sought and always desired.

The feast of Agnes, like the other virgin martyrs of the Church point to the fact that loving Christ is no easy fact, even when the burning desire of the heart is tangible. Much suffering, much rejection, unto death, is the sign of discipleship. In many ways the line from yesterday’s gospel, “Do what he tells you” is very exacting today with Agnes.

The cost of being in love with Jesus Christ and the willingness to suffer for and with His sacrament, the Church, is as much a reality today in all parts of the world as it was for Agnes in hers.

Let is pray for persecuted Christians, those who desire to belong to Christ but can’t.

Saint Stephen

Stoning of Stephen.jpgThe gates of heaven were opened for blessed Stephen, who was found to be first among the number of the Martyrs and therefore is crowned triumphant in heaven. (Entrance Antiphon)

There’s nothing sentimental about the Christmas season, at least, liturgically speaking, with the day after the feast of the Incarnation being dedicated to the first martyr, Saint Stephen. The antiphon for Mass (above) tells us what the Church believes. The Stational Mass in Rome for today is the Church of Saint Stephen on the Coelian Hill.

Stephen is clearly one of the earliest followers of Jesus, a convert to the way of living proposed by Jesus. Stephen is known to be the first to lay down his life for Christ.
What comes to mind for Saint Stephen’s intercession is help is all those Christians around the world who live in fear of persecution, and those who live in an atmosphere of being misunderstood –falsely accused. Today is also a day to pray for our deacons since Saint Stephen was among the first 7 deacons of our Church.

“Yesterday the Lord of the universe welcomed us whereas today it is the imitator [Stephen] of the Lord,” Saint Gregory of Nyssa preached.
Stephen was stoned in Jerusalem two years after the Lord was crucified. The Church’s Liturgy echoes the teaching of the Fathers of the Church and what was experienced by Stephen himself: imitate the Lord by teaching truth, praying for those who harm you, forgiving those who falsely accuse you, and offer your life completely, even unto death.¬†Persecuted Christians give good evidence of this assessment.
What connection must we make between the beauty of the birth of the Son of God and the death Stephen? The Child born humbly in poverty will humbly die on the cross, the swaddling clothes at the birth will become the burial shroud; the cave of the birth later becomes the cave of death.
Among the things Saint Stephen is the patron of, are deacons, persecuted Christians, coffin makers, and against headaches.
With the Church we pray,
Grant, Lord, we pray, that we may imitate what we worship, and so learn to love even our enemies, for we celebrate the heavenly birthday of a man who knew how to pray even for his persecutors.

“For Greater Glory” now available on DVD

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The movie, “For Greater Glory,” is now available on DVD on Amazon, but it is also available from Ignatius Press.

What price would
you pay for freedom? In the exhilarating action epic “For Greater Glory” an
impassioned group of men and women each make the decision to risk it all for
family, faith and the very future of their country, as the film’s adventure
unfolds against the long-hidden, true story of the 1920s Cristero War the
daring people’s revolt that rocked 20th Century North America.

This movie is an excellent addition for your Catholic library of film and appropriate for a high school Catholic curricula, the RCIA and adult faith formation work of your parish. This forgotten part of our North American history needs to be better known.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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