Friday, September 25, 2020

St. Pionius, martyr, burned alive in 250 AD.

As he was led to the executioner, St. Pionius was taunted and urged to worship the pagan gods by the idolators. They tempted him by mentioning the many compromised Catholics had given in to the Roman threats of torture, or were unable to withstand the torture itself. The saint replied: “Each one is master of his own will.” Among these fallen Christians was the Roman Catholic Bishop Eudæmon, Bishop of Smyrna, who had apostatized from the Faith and offered sacrifice to the false gods, to obey the edict of the Emperor. What is the analogy to today's Church almost 2000 years later, when we are not ordered to sacrifice to pagan gods? I think it would be the apostasy of bishops and clerics who falsely proclaim that Catholics may vote in good conscience for those who promote the heartless destruction and sacrifice of human babies during all nine months and even after birth, as long as that is not the reason they are voting for them!

St. Pionius was a priest of the church of Smyrna; he was exceedingly learned, and inflamed with the love of Jesus Christ, and a zeal for the conversion of souls, which was successfully exercised in the conversion of many infidels and abandoned sinners. In his time, that is, about the year 250, the persecution of Decius was raging, and the saint by continual prayer prepared himself for martyrdom, in case such should be his lot. One day, as he was engaged in prayer with Asclepiades and Sabina, two pious Christians, it was revealed to them that, on the day following, they would be arrested for the faith; they therefore made an offering of their lives to Jesus Christ, and placed halters about their necks in order to signify to the soldiers that they were ready to undergo martyrdom.

On the following morning, Palemon, the guardian of the temple, came with a troop of soldiers, and said to them: “Are ye aware of the orders of the emperor, that ye are all to sacrifice to the gods of the empire?” Pionius answered: “That which we know is the order of God—which is, not to sacrifice to any but himself, the sovereign Lord of all.” Upon this reply they were all arrested and led into a great square, where St. Pionius, turning to the enemies of the faith, said that they were vainly rejoicing on account of the apostasy of some few bad Christians, and protested that no species of torture would ever compel him to adore those whom they impiously called gods. 

St. Pionius
St. Pionius

Palemon said to him: “And why wilt thou, Pionius, regardless of life, deprive thyself of the beauteous light of the day which thou enjoyest?” The saint replied: “This light is beauteous, but there is another light more glorious, and a life more estimable, to which Christians aspire.” The people called upon him to sacrifice, but he answered: “Our resolve is to persevere in the faith.” The people desired that the saint should speak in the theatre, in order that they might all hear him conveniently, but some told Palemon that if he gave him liberty to speak, a tumult might follow; he therefore said to Pionius: “If thou wilt not sacrifice, come with us at least to the temple.” The saint said: “Our entrance into your temple cannot benefit your gods.” “Then,” said Palemon, “thou wilt not be persuaded?” Pionius replied: “Would to God I could persuade ye all to become Christians. Some of the idolaters exclaimed: “Thou canst never induce us to that; we would rather be burned alive.” The saint re-joined: “But it will be worse for you to burn eternally after death.”

Palemon, who was anxious to save the life of Pionius, ceased not to importune him; but the saint resolutely answered: “Thou hast orders to persuade or to punish me; thou canst not persuade, therefore punish.” Hereupon Palemon, being enraged, asked: “But why wilt thou not sacrifice?” Pionius: “Because I am a Christian.” Palemon: “What is the God whom thou adorest?” Pionius: “I adore the Almighty God, who, having made all things, created us also, as I have learned from Jesus Christ.” Palemon: “Sacrifice to the emperor at least.” Pionius: “I shall never sacrifice to a man.” The judge then judicially inquired his name, and to what church he belonged. The saint replied: “I am a Christian, and belong to the Catholic Church.” His companions gave the same answer, and they were all sent to prison.

On the road thither, some of the idolaters observed that many Christians had sacrificed. The saint answered: “Each one is master of his own will: my name is Pionius.” By this he meant to encourage the others to imitate his example, and remain constant in the faith. When they came to the prison, many Christians offered them refreshments, but Pionius said: “I have not time to think of anything but the martyrdom which awaits me.” The guards, seeing so many Christians coming to visit the saint, brought him and his companions to a more remote and obscure place, for which they gave thanks to God, as their more solitary confinement enabled them to commune more freely with God. Notwithstanding the change, however, many Christians, who had abandoned the faith on account of the violence of the torments, came to Pionius, who wept over their fall, and exhorted them to do penance, and hope for pardon, through the mercy of Jesus Christ.

Palemon then arrived with a troop of soldiers, and orders from the proconsul to take the confessors to Ephesus. The saint desired to see the order, but the commanding officer put a halter round his neck, and dragged him so violently as almost to suffocate him. He was thus led to the square; and when the martyrs arrived at the temple, they cast themselves on the ground in order not to enter, but the soldiers dragged them in, and placed them erect before the impious altar. They there met Eudæmon, the unhappy Bishop of Smyrna, who had miserably sacrificed to the gods, and the idolaters vainly hoped that they might be moved by his example to prevaricate also. One of the idolaters wished to place on the head of St. Pionius a crown which had been worn by one of the apostates, but the saint broke it in pieces, and cast it from him. Not knowing what to do to pervert the confessors, they brought them back to prison, and while Pionius was entering, one of the soldiers smote him on the head. The saint bore it with patience, but God chastised his assailant by causing not only his hand but his side to become swollen and inflamed, so that he could not breathe. 

St. Pionius is burned alive.

After some days, the proconsul arrived at Smyrna, and having summoned Pionius, asked him to what sect he belonged. The saint replied: “I am a priest of the Catholic Church.” The proconsul re-joined: “Then art thou a doctor and a professor of folly.” Pionius: “No. but of piety.” Proconsul: “And of what piety?” Pionius: “Of that piety which has for its object the God who made heaven and earth.” The proconsul then commanded him to sacrifice, but the saint replied: “I have learned to adore one only living God.” The tyrant then ordered him to be tortured, during which having in vain importuned him to sacrifice, he finally condemned him to be burned.

In proceeding to the place of execution, St. Pionius walked quickly and with joyous countenance; having arrived at the place, he undressed without assistance, and offered himself to be nailed to the stake, after which the pagans exclaimed: “Repent, O Pionius; promise to obey, and thou shalt be saved.” But he replied: “I have not felt the pain of the nails; I desire to die, that the people may know that death shall be followed by resurrection.” The pile having been fired, the saint closed his eyes, so that the spectators thought he was already dead, but he was only praying; he opened his eyes, and having concluded the prayer with the usual “Amen,” placidly gave up the ghost, saying: “Lord Jesus, receive my soul.” The end of his companions is not upon record, but it is piously believed that they also received the crown of martyrdom.

From Victories of the Martyrs, by St. Alphonsus de Liguori.

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Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Power Prayers

Power Prayers from the Revelations of St. Gertrude the Great.

Taken from the “Life and Revelations of St. Gertrude the Great.” Written in part by St. Gertrude herself, largely compiled by the religious of her monastery, with other sources.

Ah!” exclaimed St. Gertrude, “teach me, O best of teachers, how to perform even one action perfectly in memory of Thy Passion.” Our Lord replied, “When you are praying, extend your arms to represent the manner in which I extended mine to God my Father in My Passion; and do this for the salvation of every member of the Church, in union with the love with which I stretched out My arms upon the cross.” “If I do this,” she replied, “I must hide myself hide myself in a corner, for it is far from being customary.” Our Lord replied, “If anyone prays thus with his hands extended, without fear of contradiction, he pays Me the same honor as one would do who solemnly enthroned a king.”    Life of St. Gertrude; Part 4, Chapter 13.

The Apostles and Evangelist St. John appeared to this virgin as she prayed one day during Advent. He was clothed in a gold-colored habit, covered with golden eagles; which signified that, though this Saint was elevated to the highest contemplation, even while in the body, he always sought to humble himself by the consideration of his own unworthiness. He had also two golden lilies on his two shoulders. On the right was written, in marvelous characters, the words of the Gospel Discipulus quem diligebat Jesus (The disciple whom Jesus loved); and on the left, Iste custos Virginis (This is the guardian of the Virgin); to mark the singular advantage which he enjoyed of being called, and of being, the disciple whom Jesus loved above the rest of His Apostles, and of having been found worthy by Christ Himself to receive from Him the charge of His Mother before He expired, on account of his surpassing purity.

Then St. Gertrude said to our Lord: “O most loving Lord, why is Thy beloved one manifested to a creature so unworthy as I am” Our Lord answered: “I have done this that he may be united to you by a special friendship; and as you have no apostle, I have appointed him to be ever your faithful advocate with Me in heaven.” “Teach me, then, my sweetest Lord,” she replied, “how I can show my gratitude to him.” Our Lord answered: “If any person says a Pater Noster daily in honor of this Apostle, reminding him of the sweet fidelity with which his heart was filled when I taught this prayer, he will not fail to obtain for whoever prays thus the grace of persevering faithfully in virtue, even to the end of his life.”    Life; Part 4 Chapter 4. 


By Miguel Cabrera, Mexico

There is infinitely more merit in meditating attentively on the Passion of Jesus than in any other exercise.”

As this Saint touched the crucifix devoutly, she learned that if any one only looks on the image of the cross of Jesus Christ with a holy intention, God regards him with such goodness and mercy, that he receives in his soul, as in a spotless mirror, an image which is so agreeable that the whole court of heaven delights therein; and this serves to increase his eternal glory in the life to come in proportion as he has practiced this act of devotion in this life.

On another occasion she learned that when any one turns towards a crucifix, he ought to persuade himself that our Lord speaks thus lovingly to his heart: “Behold how, for your love, I have been fastened to this cross, naked, despised, torn and wounded in My Body, and in all My members; and still My Heart has such tender charity for you, that were it necessary for your salvation, and were there no other means of saving you, I would even at this moment suffer for you alone all that I have suffered for the whole world.” By this reflection man ought to excite himself to gratitude, because it never happens that any one looks at a crucifix without a particular providence. There is no Christian, therefore, who is not guilty, if he is so ungrateful as to neglect the adorable price of his salvation, since we can never look at a crucifix thoughtfully without receiving great benefit thereby.

On another occasion, as she was occupied in considering the Passion of our Lord, it was made known to her that there is infinitely more merit in meditating attentively on the Passion of Jesus than in any other exercise. For as it is impossible to handle flour without attaching it to yourself, so also is it impossible to meditate devoutly on the Passion of the Lord without deriving great fruit thereby. And when any one reads anything concerning the Passion, they at least dispose their souls to receive the fruit of it, as it is more meritorious to meditate on it than on any subject. Let us, then, endeavor to reflect constantly on it, that it may be honey to your lips, music to our ears, and joy to our hearts.   Life; Part 3, Chapter 34.

From The Life and Revelations of St. Gertrude the Great available online Here.

The following efficacious prayer which is traditionally associated with St. Gertrude is not in the above book. She did produce other works, but most have been lost.

Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Most Precious Blood of Thy Divine Son, Jesus, in union with the Masses said throughout the world today, for all the Holy Souls in Purgatory, for sinners everywhere, for sinners in the universal Church, for those in my own home and in my family. Amen.”

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Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Do some of the looters and rioters seem possessed?

Do some of the looters and rioters seem possessed? The cure of the possessed child by Jesus offers some insights and observations on the actions of the evil spirit; from an ancient spiritual manual.

“He 'throws them to the ground' by making them fix their affection on earthly things. He makes them foam at the mouth and gnash their teeth, by inducing them to make use of foul and unbecoming language. He throws them into the fires of concupiscence . . .”

           The Possessed Child. (See below, St. Mark 9: 16-28).

A. Reflect on the great tyranny which the devil exercises on the bodies of those whom God permits him to possess. In the case of the possessed child, he threw him to the ground, made him foam at the mouth, cast him often into the fire, and often into the water. If he is so tormenting in this life, what will he be in the next? In this world his hands are tied, but in the next he has complete possession of the poor sinner. Of this terrifying reign in hell the prophet says, The streams thereof shall be turned into pitch, and the ground thereof into brimstone, and the land there of shall become burning pitch (Isa. 34:9).

B. The devil exercises a similar power in this world over sinners who are subject to him. He makes them inconstant like the moon in their resolutions of reforming. He renders them deaf to the inspirations of God and dumb in his praises. He 'throws them to the ground' by making them fix their affection on earthly things. He makes them foam at the mouth and gnash their teeth, by inducing them to make use of foul and unbecoming language. He throws them into the fires of concupiscence, and extinguishes every kindling spark of virtue by throwing them into the watery gulfs of worldly pleasures. Follow the advice of St. Paul and be one of those who recover themselves from the snare of the devil, to whose will they are held captive (2 Tim. 2:26).

C. The possessed child was presented first to the Apostles, but they could not cure him. We too should have recourse to every human means before expecting a miracle from God. The disciples were not permitted to cure this youth probably to increase and preserve their humility. Cherish this virtue, and say with the pious David, It is good for me that thou hast humbled me, that I may learn thy justifications (Ps. 118:71).

D. When Christ was requested to cure this youth He scolded the disciples for their unbelief. O unbelieving generation, how long shall I put up with you (Mark 9:18). Learn from this how hateful are unbelief and obstinacy in the sight of God. When the possessed child was brought before Him, the spirit immediately threw the boy into convulsions, and he fell down on the ground, and rolled about foaming at the mouth (Mark 9:19). How bold and insolent is this infernal spirit even in the presence of Christ. Do not, therefore, wonder if he assails you during your most sacred devotions or when you approach the Sacrament of the altar.

E. The command of Christ deprived the devil of the power he had possessed over this young man from his infancy. Thou deaf and dumb spirit, I command thee, go out of him and enter him no more (Mark 9:24). O Lord, speak with the same efficacy to my soul. Observe how the devil crying out and violently convulsing him, went out of him (Mark 9:25). While he possessed this young man, he behaved more mildly toward him; but when he was forced to depart, he began to convulse him. The devil is always more spiteful when we abandon his service.

F. The boy's disease was difficult to cure, because it was inveterate and had grown with him from his infancy. If is difficult to abandon vices to which you have been long accustomed. A long sickness is troublesome to the physician (Eccl. 10:11). Christ said of this evil spirit, This kind can be cast out in no way except by prayer and fasting (Mark 9:28). Learn to appreciate the value of these spiritual weapons, and to use them successfully against the devil.

Gospel of Mark Chapter 9: 16-28.

And one of the multitude, answering, said: Master, I have brought my son to thee, having a dumb spirit. Who, wheresoever he taketh him, dasheth him, and he foameth, and gnasheth with the teeth, and pineth away; and I spoke to thy disciples to cast him out, and they could not. Who answering them, said: O incredulous generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him unto me. And they brought him. And when he had seen him, immediately the spirit troubled him; and being thrown down upon the ground, he rolled about foaming. And he asked his father: How long time is it since this hath happened unto him? But he said: From his infancy:

And oftentimes hath he cast him into the fire and into waters to destroy him. But if thou canst do any thing, help us, having compassion on us. And Jesus saith to him: If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. And immediately the father of the boy crying out, with tears said: I do believe, Lord: help my unbelief. And when Jesus saw the multitude running together, he threatened the unclean spirit, saying to him: Deaf and dumb spirit, I command thee, go out of him; and enter not any more into him. And crying out, and greatly tearing him, he went out of him, and he became as dead, so that many said: He is dead.

But Jesus taking him by the hand, lifted him up; and he arose. And when he was come into the house, his disciples secretly asked him: Why could not we cast him out? And he said to them: This kind can go out by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.

From Eternal Thoughts from Christ the Teacher, Volume 1, pp. 320-323, St. Paul Editions, 1961. An Old English version of this book, translated from the original Latin, was gifted to Richard Cardinal Cushing. He was so impressed by it that he rendered it into contemporary English and had it published at his own expense. The author or authors remain unknown.

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Wednesday, September 2, 2020

When we ask someone to pray for us...

When we ask someone to pray for us because we trust in their holiness or merits, the Lord revealed to St. Gertrude the Great that should that person neglect or forget to do so, the Lord Himself will provide the graces asked for.


From the Revelations of St.  Gertrude the Great.

Of the value and importance of recommending ourselves to the
prayers of others. 
     As the Saint prayed for a person who had requested her prayers 
with great humility, both personally and through others, she saw our
Lord approach this person, encompassing her with celestial light,
and pouring forth on her in the midst of this splendour all the graces 
which she had hoped to receive through the merits of the prayers of 
   Our Lord taught her by this, that when any one confides in the 
prayers of another, with a firm confidence that through their 
intercession they will receive grace from God, the Lord in His 
goodness pours forth His benedictions on them according to the
measure of their desires and their faith, even when he to whose
prayers they have recommended themselves neglects to pray for them.  

The Life and Revelations of St. Gertrude the Great, Part 3, Chapter 61, 
from the Internet.
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