Tag Archives: saint

Saint Callistus and Ember Days

Happy feast day of Pope Saint Callistus. The Church liturgically remembers this early pope because of his leadership and spiritual care in the face of trial and heresy. Slave, failed banker, convict and pope. He’s a late second century personage. Studied theology, ordained a deacon and a great counselor. Killed in 222 a riot against Christians. He’s the patron saint of cemetery workers. The pope’s biography is incomplete and often untrustworthy due to the lack of good records from this time. This Pontiff shows how to face our trials (and death): with Christ alone. Don’t give into the temptation of nihilism. Seek what God has shown us: Himself.

The liturgical scholars tell us that Callistus gave us the Ember Days. Before the revision of the Liturgy, the Church observed days of prayer and fasting (outside Fridays, Advent and Lent, and certain other days) with Ember days. There exists for sets of Ember days corresponding more-or-less with the change of seasons. So, Ember Days were known by the faithful from about AD 220 to 1969. Callistus links our Christian life with a good dose of Old Testament theology and typology.

As typical, when you touch something ancient it has the possibility of disintegrating, which is what happened to the Embers. The 1969 revision of the Church calendar reads:

“In order to adapt the rogation and ember days to various regions and the different needs of the people, the conferences of bishops should arrange the time and plan of their celebration. Consequently, the competent authority should lay down norms, in view of local conditions, on extending such celebrations over one or several days and on repeating them during the year. On each day of these celebrations the Mass should be one of the votive Masses for various needs and occasions that is best suited to the intentions of the petitioners.”

Saint Moses the Prophet

St MosesToday, at least in the Orthodox world, Moses the Prophet and God-Seer, is liturgically remembered for giving us God’s Law, leading the Hebrews to the Promised Land, and taking off his sandals before the burning bush. Catholics liturgically commemorate the Prophet Moses but he is not currently on the Roman liturgical calendar. This Moses is not confused with another Saint Moses who was a hermit and bishop and called by some the “Apostle to the Saracens.”

“That light teaches us what we must do to stand within the rays of the true light: sandaled feet cannot ascend that height where the light of truth is seen, but the dead and earthly covering of skins, which was placed around our nature at the beginning when we were found naked because of disobedience to the divine will, must be removed from the feet of our soul. When we do this, the knowledge of the truth will result and manifest itself.”
— St. Gregory of Nyssa, “The Life of Moses”

Saint Jane Frances de Chantal

Jane Frances and Francis de SalesSaint Jane Frances de Chantal (1572 – 1641), wife, mother, and foundress of the Order of the Visitation. She had the assistance of Saint Francis de Sales with the Visitation. Saint Jane Frances is among the few saints that we know who is wife, mother and foundress. Many vocations in one person.

Holy Mother Saint Jane Frances said: “Give God a free hand to do as He likes, while you look on in loving simplicity.”

Saints beget saints. Here is a good example. Saint Vincent de Paul, a friend and spiritual director of the saint’s, said this about her:

“She was full of faith, yet all her life had been tormented by thoughts against it. While apparently enjoying the peace and easiness of mind of souls who have reached a high state of virtue, she suffered such interior trials that she often told me her mind was so filled with all sorts of temptations and abominations that she had to strive not to look within herself…But for all that suffering her face never lost its serenity, nor did she once relax in the fidelity God asked of her. And so I regard her as one of the holiest souls I have ever met on this earth.”

Saint Pantaleon

The Church has many stellar men and women who consciously served God and their neighbor. The Church, from the time of Jesus, cared for the health of people. Recall the miracles of cure that Jesus did for his hearers; the miracles were carried over to the Apostles who healed people in the Holy Name of Jesus. Then, several people come to mind who have special patronage either on the spiritual plane or the physical or both: Saint Luke, Saint Agatha, Saint Blase, Saint Peregrine, the 14 Holy Helpers and today’s saint, Pantaleon (the Eastern Church spells his name as Panteleimon, meaning “holy compassionate one”). The artists have rendered Pantaleon healing a child or  being in the middle of his execution for being a Christian.

The hagiography of Panteleon reveals that he was from a wealthy pagan father and a Christian mother, well-educated, a physician who was martyred in the fourth century. His cult was alive and well in the Middle Ages.

Saint Pantaleon, pray for us.

Saint Charles Lwanga and Companions, Martyrs of Uganda

The group of saints we have today are commonly called the Martyrs of Uganda, led by Saint Charles Lwanga and Companions. They met their destiny in 1886. In this era of ours we tend to look for witnesses that are coherent in their Christian following. The story of Saint Charles is the story of so many people today. Attend to the narrative:

King Mwanga of the Baganda in Uganda was a cruel and capricious ruler. One of his first acts, after becoming king at the age of eighteen, was to order the murder of James Hannington, the newly appointed Anglican bishop. The Christian missionaries, he believed, were the advance guard of encroaching European powers; they were tempting his people to abandon their traditional ways and thus posed a threat to his own rule. What is more, they also reproached him for demanding sexual favors from the young men who served as his pages.

In May 1886 Mwanga summoned all his pages and ordered the Christians among them to step forward. Fifteen of them approached, including the eldest, twenty-four-year-old catechist Charles Lwanga, as well as the youngest, a boy of thirteen whom Charles had baptized only the night before. After declaring that they were Christians and intended to remain so, the king ordered them put to death.

The group was marched to an execution spot on Lake Victoria, more than sixteen miles away. There they were wrapped in reeds, stacked on a pyre, and set aflame. The martyrs offered no protest, but simply murmured their prayers. Lwanga’s last words were “My God.”

Reports of these deaths, and many more in succeeding weeks, spread quickly, resulting in many conversions. The martyrs were canonized in 1964 by Pope Paul VI, who made a pilgrimage to their shrine.

St. Charles Lwanga said, “Poor, foolish man . . . you are burning me, but it is as if you were pouring water on my body.”

Credit: Give us our daily bread

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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