Tag Archives: saints

Saints Cosmas and Damian

Cosmas and DamianWith the Church we pray:

May you be magnified, O Lord, by the revered memory of your saints Cosmas and Damian,for with providence beyond words, you have conferred on them everlasting glory and on us, your unfailing help.

Mother Church commemorates twin brothers, Saints Cosmas and Damian born in Arabia.  Eminent for their practice of medicine and reputation for giving free medical care; hence being known as the “moneyless ones.” The practice of charity and service to their neighbor exemplified that it is possible to live the gospel, especially Matthew 25. They attracted many converts to the faith. The holy brothers were arrested and beheaded during the Diocletian persecution in 303.

Saints Cosmas and Damian are patron saints of physicians and pharmacists. By the 6th century, their names were placed in the canon of the Mass (Eucharistic Prayer I).

Church history keeps their memory alive by the fact that we observe a feast day for them and that the faithful  erected church on the site of their burial place — later enlarged by the emperor Justinian; likewise a famous basilica was erected in their honor in Constantinople. Recall that Saint Francis of Assisi rebuilt the dilapidated San Damiano chapel outside Assisi.

Saint Joshua

St JoshuaThe Roman Martyrology offers us the commemoration of the holy Joshua (Jesus), son of Nun, servant of the Lord. It is he who, having had hands laid on him by Moses, became full of the spirit of wisdom. After the death of Moses, he led the people of Israel across the Jordan River, accompanied by many miracles, into the Promised Land.

Even though the Roman Martyrology has OT holy men and women noted for liturgical remembrance, the current liturgical calendar does not have them listed. Hence, I like to draw our attention to these types of commemorations.

Blessed feast!

Saint Bartholomew

St Batholomew DurerSaint Bartholomew, known also as Nathanael, apostle and martyr, died in AD 71, is liturgically recalled today. However, his feast comes after the Sunday’s precedence. Nonetheless, we need to closely attend to the life and ministry of the 12, those who personally and dramatically lived with the Lord for three years. Why? Because we follow their experience and we continually ask ourselves the key question of the Christian life: “Who are you, Jesus?”

Saint Bartholomew, Bar-Tolmai or son of Tolmai, was one of the twelve Apostles called to the apostolate by our Blessed Lord Himself. His name is more adequately rendered by his given name, Nathanael. If one wonders why the synoptic Gospels always call him Bartholomew, it would be because the name Nathanael in Hebrew is equivalent to that of Matthew, since both in Hebrew signify gift of God; in this way the Evangelists avoided all confusion between the two Apostles. He was a native of Cana in Galilee, a doctor of the Jewish law, and a friend of Philip.

Philip, advised by Peter and Andrew, hastened to communicate to his friend the good news of his discovery of Christ: We have found Him whom Moses in the Law, and the Prophets, wrote! Come and see. Jesus saw Nathanael coming to Him, and said of him, Behold a true Israelite, in whom there is no guile. (Cf. John 1:45-49) His innocence and simplicity of heart deserved to be celebrated with this high praise in the divine mouth of Our Redeemer. And Nathanael, when Jesus told him He had already seen him in a certain place, confessed his faith at once: Rabbi, Thou art the Son of God, Thou art the King of Israel!

Being eminently qualified by divine grace to discharge the functions of an Apostle, he carried the Gospel through the most barbarous countries of the East, penetrating into the remoter Indies, baptizing neophytes and casting out demons. A copy of the Gospel of Saint Matthew was found in India by Saint Pantænus in the third century, taken there, according to local tradition, by Saint Bartholomew. Saint John Chrysostom said the Apostle also preached in Asia Minor and, with Saint Philip, suffered there, though not mortally, for the faith. Saint Bartholomew’s last mission was in Greater Armenia, where, preaching in a place obstinately addicted to the worship of idols, he was crowned with a glorious martyrdom. The modern Greek historians say that he was condemned by the governor of Albanopolis to be crucified. Others affirm that he was flayed alive, which treatment might well have accompanied his crucifixion, this double punishment being in use not only in Egypt, but also among the Persians.

Reflection: The characteristic virtue of the Holy Apostles was zeal for the divine glory. A soldier is always ready to defend the honor of his prince, and a son that of his father; can a Christian say he loves God if he is indifferent to His honor?

Dictionnaire de la Bible, Ed. F. Vigouroux (Letouzey et Ané: Paris, 1912), Vol. 5, Philippe, Apôtre; Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butler’s Lives of the Saints and other sources by John Gilmary Shea (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894).

Feast of the Dispersion of the Apostles

On any number of occasions I’ve spoken about the various local commemorations of saints; not all liturgical calendars are the same due to the presence of locally venerated saints and blesseds. Saint Kateri Tekawitha is not on the liturgical calendar of Hong Kong, for example. A friend of mine brought to my attention an unusual feast, that of the Dispersion of the Apostles. It’s an Irish feast with no analogue in the USA. This is a clear example of the richness of local church. Moreover, one can say that the Catholic Church is not monolithic or hegemonic. Here’s the note of my friend:

Jesus-ApostlesOn July 15, Canon O’Hanlon notes the recording, in the Martyrology of Aengus, of The Feast of the Dispersion of the Apostles. This feast marks the dispersal of the Holy Apostles to their various missionary destinations, but in some of the copies of Saint Aengus’s calendar, a list of not only the biblical Twelve Apostles is appended, but also a list of the ‘Twelve Apostles of Ireland’. This was a name given to a group of early saints, students of Saint Finnian of Clonard, who themselves dispersed to various parts of Ireland to evangelise this country, some of them are also credited with founding missions outside of Ireland. In the account below I have transferred the actual quotations from the Martyrology out of the footnotes and into the main body of Canon O’Hanlon’s text. I have also added some notes on the identities of the Irish Twelve:

Festival of the Twelve Apostles

In the ancient Irish Church, on the 15th day of July, was celebrated the Festival of the Twelve Apostles, as we read in the “Feilire” of St. Aengus. In the “Leabhar Breac” copy is the following Irish rann, translated into English, by Whitley Stokes, LL.D.

“The twelve Apostles who excel every number, before a countless host Jesus distributed them among Adam’s seed.”

There is an Irish stanza annexed, in which those Twelve Apostles are severally named. Thus translated into English.

“Simon, Matthaeus and Matthew, Bartholomew, Thomas, Thaddaeus, Peter, Andrew, Philip, Paul, John and the two Jameses.”

And succeeding it, there is another, enumerating the Twelve Apostles of Ireland. This is headed “XII. Apostoli Hiberniae,” and then follow these lines, thus translated into English:

“The Twelve Apostles of Ireland”:

“Two Finnens, two chaste Colombs, Ciaran, Caindech, fair Comgall, Two Brenainns, Ruadan with splendour, Nindid, Mobii, son of Natfraech.”

This ancient Festival, styled the Separation of the Apostles of Christ for their Missions in various parts of the old world, has been often alluded to by the early Greek and Latin Fathers. The Bollandists, who place it at the 15th of July, have a learned disquisition on its origin and history, to which the reader is referred.

Notes on the Twelve Apostles of Ireland:

Two Finnens – the two great Saint Finnians – Finnian of Clonard, ‘tutor of the saints of Ireland’ and Finnian of Moville.

Two Chaste Colombs – Saint Columba of Iona and Saint Columba of Terryglass.

Ciaran – Some lists include two Ciarans, both Saint Ciaran the Elder (of Saighir) and Ciaran the Younger (of Clonmacnoise).

Caindech – Saint Canice or Kenneth of Kilkenny.

Fair Comgall – Saint Comgall of Bangor.

Two Brenainns – Saints Brendan the Elder (of Birr) and Brendan the Younger (the Navigator) of Clonfert.

Ruadan with splendour – Saint Ruadhan of Lorrha.

Nindid – Saint Ninnidh of Inismacsaint.

Mobii – Saint Mobhí of Glasnevin.

Son of Natfraech – Molaise of Devenish

Finally, it may be noted that the list of the Twelve Apostles of Ireland is preserved in various manuscripts which do not always tally. Some of the saints, not present on this list, can include Saints Senan and Sinell.

Saints Mary, Martha and Lazarus: Christian examples of friendship and hospitality

The Church universal celebrates the liturgical memorial of Saint Martha today. However, for those who live the Benedictine charism, the ordo (notes for Mass and the Divine Office) is much more expansive by observing the feast of Saints Mary, Martha and Lazarus. Even though these holy siblings predate Benedict and his blessed Rule, they are easily considered Benedictines.

The reason being is that Benedictines see all three siblings as Christian examples of interpersonal friendship and mutual obedience, hospitality (openness) and friendship with the Lord. But there is a deeper meaning in keeping the holy siblings together in the liturgical act. Each of the protagonists represent a fullness of the Christian life: penitence, service and contemplation (awareness). You could easily include confession of faith as when Martha declares her belief in Jesus’ radically claim of resurrection.

As Brother Emmanuel, a newly ordained Deacon at St Joseph’s Abbey (Spencer said),

Our Father, Saint Bernard, compares the monastic community to a family, like the one Jesus visited at Bethany. In the monastic community we find Lazarus, the penitent; Martha, the active servant and Mary, the contemplative. All three are necessary to make the monastery what it ought to be. For Saint Bernard true monastic perfection consists in ‘the union of all three vocations: that of the penitent, the active worker and the contemplative.’ (Sermon for the Assumption) Thomas Merton agreed that while the contemplative life was to be  preferred to the active life, the ‘most perfect souls’ would combine the vocations of Lazarus, Martha and Mary.

Benedictine monks, nuns, sisters and oblates are known for offering hospitality to pilgrims. In the Rule of Saint Benedict, Chapter 53 on The Reception of Guests, we read: “All guests who present themselves are to be welcomed as Christ, for him himself will say: I was a stranger and you welcomed me (Matthew 25-35).” You could easily include, You must honor everyone (1 Peter 2:17). This chapter is a manner of being, a path of meeting the Lord through a relationality with the person in front of us. Hence, hospitality is way of living communio, as way of engaging in friendship, as way of extending and receiving invitation to be a better person, as way to walk a journey with the other given to us to care for.

So, the feast of Saints Mary, Martha and Lazarus is a feast of friendship and hospitality. We are friends with Christ he first called us His friends, and friends open us to Him.

We need Saints Mary, Martha and Lazarus to show us how to live. They open show us to be Christians. Mary, Martha and Lazarus show us how to be a new Benedict and Scholastica.

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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