12 May 2020 ; The World of Our Lord
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
Rv 19: 5; 12: 10
Sing praise to our God,
all you who fear God, both small and great,
for now salvation and strength have come,
and the power of his Christ, alleluia.
Tuesday of the 5th week of Eastertide
or Saints Nereus and Achilleus, Martyrs
or Saint Pancras, Martyr
Saints Nereus and Achilleus, Martyrs
Many saints and martyrs died forgotten, and intercede for us anonymously in Heaven: we shall not know them until the day of judgement. Others are one degree less anonymous: we know their names, and we know that people whose judgement we trust regarded them as saints, but that is all.
Such are Saints Nereus and Achilleus. Pope St Damasus I dedicated his life to establishing and strengthening the Church after the great persecutions, and took much care over the restoration of the Roman catacombs and the proper burial of the martyrs there. He composed a funerary inscription for Nereus and Achilleus, which is too literary to be of much use as an historical document, but does say that they were Roman soldiers who became Christians, refused to serve any longer, and were therefore executed. They were buried in Rome, in the catacomb of St Domitilla. The fact that enough was known about them to identify them suggests that there must still have been a living memory of their martyrdom, which would put their deaths early in the fourth century.
Some legendary “Acts” of the martyrs exist, which make them servants of Flavia Domitilla, a noble Christian woman of the late first century. On the whole, it is likely that the composer of these Acts sought to fill in the gaps in history with what seemed most plausible and most edifying. We, who have a more bureaucratic idea of history, find it difficult to accept such motives, and so we are thrown back on saying that Nereus and Achilleus did exist, did die for their faith, are truly to be venerated as saints – and that this is all that we really need to know. As we pray to be given the strength of purpose that they had, we should be reminded that our own acts of witness are still valuable even if they are not spectacular, even if they do not result in every detail of our biographies being passed down through the ages.
Saint Pancras, Martyr
This Roman martyr is buried on the Aurelian Way just outside Rome. Some legends say that he was born in the East, orphaned, brought to Rome by an uncle, and martyred at the age of fourteen, but there is no particular reason to believe them.
The cult of St Pancras spread widely in the sixth century: in England, the first church that St Augustine built in Canterbury was dedicated to him.
In England today, St Pancras is not much revered, and people no longer name their children after him (as they still do, for instance, in Poland and Italy). This is not due to any major theological shift: it is simply that St Pancras gave his name to a parish in central London, and the parish gave its name to a major railway terminus next to King’s Cross. And who would want to be named after a railway station?
We do not suggest that English parents should inflict on their children the continuing humiliation of a name whose associations have become so bathetic; but all of us, everywhere, can honour the memory of St Pancras (about whom so little is known) by not letting the fear of ridicule dissuade us from doing what is right.
WORD OF OUR LORD
A peace the world cannot give is my gift to you
Jesus said to his disciples:
‘Peace I bequeath to you, my own peace I give you,
a peace the world cannot give,
this is my gift to you.
Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.
You heard me say: I am going away, and shall return.
If you loved me you would have been glad to know that I am going to the Father,
for the Father is greater than I.
I have told you this now before it happens,
so that when it does happen you may believe.
I shall not talk with you any longer,
because the prince of this world is on his way.
He has no power over me,
but the world must be brought to know
that I love the Father
and that I am doing exactly what the Father told me.’
Grant me, O Lord my God,
a mind to know you,
a heart to seek you,
wisdom to find you,
conduct pleasing to you,
faithful perseverance in waiting for you,
and a hope of finally embracing you.
St FAUSTYNA'S DIARY
Suffering is a great grace;
through suffering the soul becomes like the Savior;
in suffering love becomes crystallized;
the greater the suffering, the purer the love.”
(#57, page 29)
WORD OF OUR LORD - from the Acts of the Apostles
They gave an account of how God had opened the door of faith to the pagans
Some Jews arrived from Antioch and Iconium, and turned the people against the apostles. They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the town, thinking he was dead. The disciples came crowding round him but, as they did so, he stood up and went back to the town. The next day he and Barnabas went off to Derbe.
Having preached the Good News in that town and made a considerable number of disciples, they went back through Lystra and Iconium to Antioch. They put fresh heart into the disciples, encouraging them to persevere in the faith. ‘We all have to experience many hardships’ they said ‘before we enter the kingdom of God.’ In each of these churches they appointed elders, and with prayer and fasting they commended them to the Lord in whom they had come to believe.
They passed through Pisidia and reached Pamphylia. Then after proclaiming the word at Perga they went down to Attalia and from there sailed for Antioch, where they had originally been commended to the grace of God for the work they had now completed.
On their arrival they assembled the church and gave an account of all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith to the pagans. They stayed there with the disciples for some time.
It was ordained that the Christ should suffer
and rise from the dead,
and so enter into his glory.
Always Remember - JESUS LOVES YOU