Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Communion Of Saints

St Isaiah the Prophet

A few months ago I finally bought a copy of the new Roman Martyrology after much diddering.  I had been meaning to get a copy for myself, but could not source one outside of the Vatican bookshop.  It was when I was in London that I picked up a copy in the CTS bookshop beside Westminster Cathedral - a fantastic shop.   The book was expensive but will be very useful.

So today, as I look through the entries, I see it is the feast of the Prophet Isaiah - traditionally the Church has honoured the Old Testament prophets as Saints: in Carmel we venerate St Elijah as one of our spiritual fathers.  Tomorrow, incidentally, is the feast of St Job.

Other feasts today:  St Pachomachus the abbot, father of monasticism in the East.  St Hermas, a first century bishop and martyr, who was mentioned by St Paul in his Letter to the Romans.  The Martyrs of Persia - three hundred and ten Christians put to death for their faith in the fourth century.  St Denis of Lyons, bishop. St Gerontius of Cervia, a bishop murdered by bandits near Ancona in the year 501 when returned from a Synod in Rome, honoured as a martyr.  St Beatus, a French hermit.  Blessed Fortis Gabrielli, a hermit of the Camaldese order who died in 1040.  Blessed Benincasa of Monte Politano, a Servite. Blessed Thomas Pickering, an English Benedictine lay brother put to death for his Catholic faith in 1679 during the reign of King Charles II - he was falsely accused under the fictional Titus Oates plot.  St Joseph Do-Quang Hien, a Vietnamese Dominican priest beheaded for his faith in Tonkin in 1840.  And two from the diocese of Munich: Blessed Maria-Teresa Gerhardinger, foundress of the School Sisters of Notre Dame who died in 1879; and Blessed Stephen Grelewski, a Polish priest interred and martyred in Dachau Concentration Camp 1941.  Not mentioned in the Martyrology (it is already out of date), St George Preca, Maltese diocesan priest and Third Order Carmelite (Ancient Observance).

A snapshot of the Martyrology, but also of the life of the Church - all over the world the various local churches celebrate their own local Saints and Beati, and in doing so commemorate the Communion of Saints, and the union which exists in the Church - a union, under Peter, which to be bound by faith, love and, sometimes forgotten, sanctity.  It is the deepening of such union which should be high on the list of those seeking reform: a union which is not confined to the people who are alive today, but one which includes all those who have gone before us "marked with the sign of faith" and those yet to be conceived: that is the Church. 

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