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Birgitt Hacker
Birgitt Hacker
Pastoral Associate of Adult Faith Formation & Ministries

Daily Readings

January 19, 2022 - 4:30am
Reading I 1 Sm 17:32-33, 37, 40-51

David spoke to Saul:
“Let your majesty not lose courage.
I am at your service to go and fight this Philistine.”
But Saul answered David,
“You cannot go up against this Philistine and fight with him,
for you are only a youth, while he has been a warrior from his youth.”

David continued:
“The LORD, who delivered me from the claws of the lion and the bear,
will also keep me safe from the clutches of this Philistine.”
Saul answered David, “Go! the LORD will be with you.”

Then, staff in hand, David selected five smooth stones from the wadi
and put them in the pocket of his shepherd’s bag.
With his sling also ready to hand, he approached the Philistine.

With his shield bearer marching before him,
the Philistine also advanced closer and closer to David.
When he had sized David up,
and seen that he was youthful, and ruddy, and handsome in appearance,
the Philistine held David in contempt.
The Philistine said to David,
“Am I a dog that you come against me with a staff?”
Then the Philistine cursed David by his gods
and said to him, “Come here to me,
and I will leave your flesh for the birds of the air
and the beasts of the field.”
David answered him:
“You come against me with sword and spear and scimitar,
but I come against you in the name of the LORD of hosts,
the God of the armies of Israel that you have insulted.
Today the LORD shall deliver you into my hand;
I will strike you down and cut off your head.
This very day I will leave your corpse
and the corpses of the Philistine army for the birds of the air
and the beasts of the field;
thus the whole land shall learn that Israel has a God.
All this multitude, too,
shall learn that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves.
For the battle is the LORD’s and he shall deliver you into our hands.”

The Philistine then moved to meet David at close quarters,
while David ran quickly toward the battle line 
in the direction of the Philistine.
David put his hand into the bag and took out a stone,
hurled it with the sling,
and struck the Philistine on the forehead.
The stone embedded itself in his brow,
and he fell prostrate on the ground.
Thus David overcame the Philistine with sling and stone;
he struck the Philistine mortally, and did it without a sword.
Then David ran and stood over him;
with the Philistine’s own sword which he drew from its sheath
he dispatched him and cut off his head.

Responsorial Psalm 144:1b, 2, 9-10

R.        (1)  Blessed be the Lord, my Rock!
Blessed be the LORD, my rock,
            who trains my hands for battle, my fingers for war.
R.        Blessed be the Lord, my Rock!
My refuge and my fortress,
            my stronghold, my deliverer,
My shield, in whom I trust,
            who subdues my people under me.
R.        Blessed be the Lord, my Rock!
O God, I will sing a new song to you;
            with a ten-stringed lyre I will chant your praise,
You who give victory to kings,
            and deliver David, your servant from the evil sword.
R.        Blessed be the Lord, my Rock!

Alleluia See Mt 4:23

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Jesus preached the Gospel of the Kingdom
and cured every disease among the people.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Mk 3:1-6

Jesus entered the synagogue.
There was a man there who had a withered hand.
They watched Jesus closely
to see if he would cure him on the sabbath
so that they might accuse him.
He said to the man with the withered hand,
“Come up here before us.”
Then he said to the Pharisees,
“Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than to do evil,
to save life rather than to destroy it?”
But they remained silent.
Looking around at them with anger
and grieved at their hardness of heart,
Jesus said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.”
He stretched it out and his hand was restored.
The Pharisees went out and immediately took counsel
with the Herodians against him to put him to death.

- - -

Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

January 18, 2022 - 4:30am
Reading I 1 Sm 16:1-13

The LORD said to Samuel:
“How long will you grieve for Saul,
whom I have rejected as king of Israel?
Fill your horn with oil, and be on your way.
I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem,
for I have chosen my king from among his sons.”
But Samuel replied:
“How can I go?
Saul will hear of it and kill me.”
To this the LORD answered:
“Take a heifer along and say,
‘I have come to sacrifice to the LORD.’
Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I myself will tell you what to do;
you are to anoint for me the one I point out to you.”

Samuel did as the LORD had commanded him.
When he entered Bethlehem,
the elders of the city came trembling to meet him and inquired,
“Is your visit peaceful, O seer?”
He replied:
“Yes!  I have come to sacrifice to the LORD.
So cleanse yourselves and join me today for the banquet.”
He also had Jesse and his sons cleanse themselves
and invited them to the sacrifice.
As they came, he looked at Eliab and thought,
“Surely the LORD’s anointed is here before him.”
But the LORD said to Samuel: 
“Do not judge from his appearance or from his lofty stature,
because I have rejected him.
Not as man sees does God see,
because he sees the appearance
but the LORD looks into the heart.”
Then Jesse called Abinadab and presented him before Samuel,
who said, “The LORD has not chosen him.”
Next Jesse presented Shammah, but Samuel said,
“The LORD has not chosen this one either.”
In the same way Jesse presented seven sons before Samuel,
but Samuel said to Jesse,
“The LORD has not chosen any one of these.”
Then Samuel asked Jesse,
“Are these all the sons you have?”
Jesse replied,
“There is still the youngest, who is tending the sheep.”
Samuel said to Jesse,
“Send for him;
we will not begin the sacrificial banquet until he arrives here.” 
Jesse sent and had the young man brought to them.
He was ruddy, a youth handsome to behold
and making a splendid appearance.
The LORD said,
“There–anoint him, for this is he!”  
Then Samuel, with the horn of oil in hand,
anointed him in the midst of his brothers;
and from that day on, the Spirit of the LORD rushed upon David. 
When Samuel took his leave, he went to Ramah.

Responsorial Psalm 89:20, 21-22, 27-28

R.        (21a)  I  have found David, my servant.
Once you spoke in a vision,
            and to your faithful ones you said:
“On a champion I have placed a crown;
            over the people I have set a youth.”
R.        I  have found David, my servant.
“I have found David, my servant;
            with my holy oil I have anointed him,
That my hand may be always with him,
            and that my arm may make him strong.”
R.        I  have found David, my servant.
“He shall say of me, ‘You are my father,
            my God, the Rock, my savior.’
And I will make him the first-born,
            highest of the kings of the earth.”
R.        I  have found David, my servant.

Alleluia See Eph 1:17-18

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
May the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ
enlighten the eyes of our hearts,
that we may know what is the hope
that belongs to our call.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Mk 2:23-28

As Jesus was passing through a field of grain on the sabbath,
his disciples began to make a path while picking the heads of grain.
At this the Pharisees said to him,
“Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the sabbath?”
He said to them,
“Have you never read what David did
when he was in need and he and his companions were hungry?
How he went into the house of God when Abiathar was high priest
and ate the bread of offering that only the priests could lawfully eat,
and shared it with his companions?”
Then he said to them,
“The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath.
That is why the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath.”

- - -

Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

January 17, 2022 - 4:30am
Reading I 1 Sm 15:16-23

Samuel said to Saul:
“Stop! Let me tell you what the LORD said to me last night.”
Saul replied, “Speak!” 
Samuel then said: “Though little in your own esteem,
are you not leader of the tribes of Israel?
The LORD anointed you king of Israel and sent you on a mission, saying,
‘Go and put the sinful Amalekites under a ban of destruction.
Fight against them until you have exterminated them.’
Why then have you disobeyed the LORD?
You have pounced on the spoil, thus displeasing the LORD.”
Saul answered Samuel:  “I did indeed obey the LORD
and fulfill the mission on which the LORD sent me.
I have brought back Agag, and I have destroyed Amalek under the ban.
But from the spoil the men took sheep and oxen,
the best of what had been banned,
to sacrifice to the LORD their God in Gilgal.”
But Samuel said:
            “Does the LORD so delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
            as in obedience to the command of the LORD?
            Obedience is better than sacrifice,
                        and submission than the fat of rams.
            For a sin like divination is rebellion,
                        and presumption is the crime of idolatry.
            Because you have rejected the command of the LORD,
                        he, too, has rejected you as ruler.”

Responsorial Psalm 50:8-9, 16bc-17, 21 and 23

R.        (23b)  To the upright I will show the saving power of God.
“Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you,
            for your burnt offerings are before me always.
I take from your house no bullock,
            no goats out of your fold.”
R.        To the upright I will show the saving power of God.
“Why do you recite my statutes,
            and profess my covenant with your mouth,
Though you hate discipline
            and cast my words behind you?”
R.        To the upright I will show the saving power of God.
“When you do these things, shall I be deaf to it?
            Or do you think that I am like yourself?
            I will correct you by drawing them up before your eyes.
He that offers praise as a sacrifice glorifies me;
            and to him that goes the right way I will show the salvation of God.”
R.        To the upright I will show the saving power of God.

Alleluia Hb 4:12

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The word of God is living and effective,
able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Mk 2:18-22

The disciples of John and of the Pharisees were accustomed to fast.
People came to Jesus and objected,
“Why do the disciples of John and the disciples of the Pharisees fast,
 but your disciples do not fast?”
Jesus answered them,
“Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them?
As long as they have the bridegroom with them they cannot fast.
But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them,
and then they will fast on that day.
No one sews a piece of unshrunken cloth on an old cloak.
If he does, its fullness pulls away,
the new from the old, and the tear gets worse.
Likewise, no one pours new wine into old wineskins.
Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins,
and both the wine and the skins are ruined.
Rather, new wine is poured into fresh wineskins.”
 

- - -

Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

January 16, 2022 - 4:30am
Reading I Is 62:1-5

For Zion’s sake I will not be silent,
   for Jerusalem’s sake I will not be quiet,
until her vindication shines forth like the dawn
   and her victory like a burning torch.

Nations shall behold your vindication,
   and all the kings your glory;
you shall be called by a new name
   pronounced by the mouth of the LORD.
You shall be a glorious crown in the hand of the LORD,
   a royal diadem held by your God.
No more shall people call you “Forsaken, “
   or your land “Desolate, “
but you shall be called “My Delight, “
   and your land “Espoused.”
For the LORD delights in you
   and makes your land his spouse.
As a young man marries a virgin,
   your Builder shall marry you;
and as a bridegroom rejoices in his bride
   so shall your God rejoice in you.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 96:1-2, 2-3, 7-8, 9-10

R. (3) Proclaim his marvelous deeds to all the nations.
Sing to the LORD a new song;
            sing to the LORD, all you lands.
Sing to the LORD; bless his name.
R. Proclaim his marvelous deeds to all the nations.
Announce his salvation, day after day.
Tell his glory among the nations;
            among all peoples, his wondrous deeds.
R. Proclaim his marvelous deeds to all the nations.
Give to the LORD, you families of nations,
            give to the LORD glory and praise;
            give to the LORD the glory due his name! 
R. Proclaim his marvelous deeds to all the nations.
Worship the LORD in holy attire.
            Tremble before him, all the earth;
Say among the nations: The LORD is king.
            He governs the peoples with equity.
R. Proclaim his marvelous deeds to all the nations.

Reading II 1 Cor 12:4-11

Brothers and sisters:
There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; 
there are different forms of service but the same Lord;
there are different workings but the same God
who produces all of them in everyone.
To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit
is given for some benefit.
To one is given through the Spirit the expression of wisdom;
to another, the expression of knowledge according to the
same Spirit;
to another, faith by the same Spirit;
to another, gifts of healing by the one Spirit;
to another, mighty deeds;
to another, prophecy;
to another, discernment of spirits;
to another, varieties of tongues;
to another, interpretation of tongues.
But one and the same Spirit produces all of these,
distributing them individually to each person as he wishes.

Alleluia Cf. 2 Thes 2:14

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
God has called us through the Gospel
to possess the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Jn 2:1-11

There was a wedding at Cana in Galilee,
and the mother of Jesus was there.
Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding.
When the wine ran short,
the mother of Jesus said to him,
“They have no wine.”
And Jesus said to her,
“Woman, how does your concern affect me?
My hour has not yet come.”
His mother said to the servers,
“Do whatever he tells you.”
Now there were six stone water jars there for Jewish ceremonial washings,
each holding twenty to thirty gallons.
Jesus told them,
“Fill the jars with water.”
So they filled them to the brim.
Then he told them,
“Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter.”
So they took it. 
And when the headwaiter tasted the water that had become wine,
without knowing where it came from
— although the servers who had drawn the water knew —,
the headwaiter called the bridegroom and said to him,
“Everyone serves good wine first,
and then when people have drunk freely, an inferior one;
but you have kept the good wine until now.”
Jesus did this as the beginning of his signs at Cana in Galilee
and so revealed his glory,
and his disciples began to believe in him.

- - -

Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

January 15, 2022 - 4:30am
Reading I 1 Sm 9:1-4, 17-19; 10:1

There was a stalwart man from Benjamin named Kish,
who was the son of Abiel, son of Zeror,
son of Becorath, son of Aphiah, a Benjaminite.
He had a son named Saul, who was a handsome young man.
There was no other child of Israel more handsome than Saul;
he stood head and shoulders above the people.

Now the asses of Saul’s father, Kish, had wandered off.
Kish said to his son Saul, “Take one of the servants with you
and go out and hunt for the asses.”
Accordingly they went through the hill country of Ephraim,
and through the land of Shalishah.
Not finding them there,
they continued through the land of Shaalim without success.
They also went through the land of Benjamin,
but they failed to find the animals.

When Samuel caught sight of Saul, the LORD assured him,
“This is the man of whom I told you; he is to govern my people.”

Saul met Samuel in the gateway and said,
“Please tell me where the seer lives.”
Samuel answered Saul: “I am the seer.
Go up ahead of me to the high place and eat with me today.
In the morning, before dismissing you,
I will tell you whatever you wish.”

Then, from a flask he had with him, Samuel poured oil on Saul’s head;
he also kissed him, saying:
“The LORD anoints you commander over his heritage.
You are to govern the LORD’s people Israel,
and to save them from the grasp of their enemies roundabout.

“This will be the sign for you
that the LORD has anointed you commander over his heritage.”

Responsorial Psalm 21:2-3, 4-5, 6-7

R.        (2a) Lord, in your strength the king is glad.
O LORD, in your strength the king is glad;
            in your victory how greatly he rejoices!
You have granted him his heart’s desire;
            you refused not the wish of his lips.
R.        Lord, in your strength the king is glad.
For you welcomed him with goodly blessings,
            you placed on his head a crown of pure gold.
He asked life of you: you gave him
            length of days forever and ever.
R.        Lord, in your strength the king is glad.
Great is his glory in your victory;
            majesty and splendor you conferred upon him.
For you made him a blessing forever;            
            you gladdened him with the joy of your face.
R.        Lord, in your strength the king is glad.

Alleluia Lk 4:18

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The Lord sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor
and to proclaim liberty to captives.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Mk 2:13-17

Jesus went out along the sea.
All the crowd came to him and he taught them.
As he passed by, he saw Levi, son of Alphaeus,
sitting at the customs post.
Jesus said to him, “Follow me.”
And he got up and followed Jesus.
While he was at table in his house,
many tax collectors and sinners sat with Jesus and his disciples;
for there were many who followed him.
Some scribes who were Pharisees saw that Jesus was eating with sinners
and tax collectors and said to his disciples,
“Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 
Jesus heard this and said to them,
“Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do.
I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”

- - -

Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

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Saint of the Day

January 19, 2022 - 10:23am
St. Canutus, King of Denmark

Feast date: Jan 19

Saint Canutus, King of Denmark,  succeeded his elder brother Harold on the throne of Denmark in the year 1080. He began his reign by a successful war against the enemies of the state, and by planting the faith in the conquered provinces. Amid the glory of his victories he humbly prostrated himself at the foot of the crucifix, laying there his diadem, and offering himself and his kingdom to the King of kings. After having provided for the peace and safety of his country, he married Eltha, daughter of Robert, Earl of Flanders, who proved herself a spouse worthy of him.

The justice of Saint Canutus as sovereign was well known. He applied himself to the reform of all internal abuses. For this purpose he enacted severe but necessary laws for the strict administration of justice, the repression of violence and tyranny by the powerful, without respect to persons. He favored and honored holy men, and granted many privileges and immunities to the clergy. His charity and tenderness towards his subjects made him study all possible ways to make them a happy people.

During a rebellion in his kingdom, the king was surprised at church by the rebels. He confessed his sins and received Holy Communion. Stretching out his arms before the altar, he was struck down on his knees by the enemies of his Christian reign.

January 18, 2022 - 7:23am
St. Charles of Sezze

Feast date: Jan 18

Saint Charles was born John Charles Marchioni in Sezze, Italy on October 19, 1613.  His family was extremely pious. They lived in a rural area and as a child Saint Charles worked as a shepherd.  Due to his lack of education, it is said he learned only the basics and could barely read and write. He joined the Franciscans as a lay brother in Naziano, where he served as a cook, porter, and gardener.

Saint Charles was known for his holiness, simplicity, and charity.  He was generous to travelers and sought out spiritual advice.  In 1656 he worked tirelessly with victims of the plague. He also wrote several mystical works including his autobiography entitled "The Grandeurs of the Mercies of God". Tradition states he was called to the bedside of the dying Pope Clement IX for a blessing. St. Charles told the Pope that they would meet again on January 6.

Saint Charles died on January 6, 1670 in Rome of natural causes, fulfilling his promise to meet Pope Clement IX, and he is buried in Rome in the Church of Saint Francis. He was Canonized by Pope John XXIII on April 12, 1959.

January 17, 2022 - 5:22am
St. Anthony of Egypt

Feast date: Jan 17

On his Jan. 17 feast day, both Eastern and Western Catholics celebrate the life and legacy of St. Anthony of Egypt, the founder of Christian monasticism whose radical approach to discipleship permanently impacted the Church.

In Egypt's Coptic Catholic and Orthodox Churches, which have a special devotion to the native saint, his feast day is celebrated on Jan. 30.

Anthony was born around 251, to wealthy parents who owned land in the present-day Faiyum region near Cairo. During this time, the Catholic Church was rapidly spreading its influence throughout the vast expanses of the Roman empire, while the empire remained officially pagan and did not legally recognize the new religion.

In the course of his remarkable and extraordinarily long life, Anthony would live to see the Emperor Constantine's establishment of Christianity as the official religion of the Roman empire. Anthony himself, however, would establish something more lasting – by becoming the spiritual father of the monastic communities that have existed throughout the subsequent history of the Church.

Around the year 270, two great burdens came upon Anthony simultaneously: the deaths of both his parents, and his inheritance of their possessions and property. These simultaneous occurrences prompted Anthony to reevaluate his entire life in light of the principles of the Gospel– which proposed both the redemptive possibilities of his personal loss, and the spiritual danger of his financial gains.
 
Attending church one day, he heard –as if for the first time– Jesus' exhortation to another rich young man in the Biblical narrative: “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” Anthony told his disciples in later years, that it was as though Christ has spoken those words to him directly.

He duly followed the advice of selling everything he owned and donating the proceeds, setting aside a portion to provide for his sister. Although organized monasticism did not yet exist, it was not unknown for Christians to abstain from marriage, divest themselves of possessions to some extent, and live a life focused on prayer and fasting. Anthony's sister would eventually join a group of consecrated virgins.
 
Anthony himself, however, sought a more comprehensive vision of Christian asceticism. He found it among the hermits of the Egyptian desert, individuals who chose to withdraw physically and culturally from the surrounding society in order to devote themselves more fully to God. But these individuals' radical way of life had not yet become an organized movement.

After studying with one of these hermits, Anthony made his own sustained attempt to live alone in a secluded desert location, depending on the charity of a few patrons who would provide him with enough food to survive. This first period as a hermit lasted between 13 and 15 years.

Like many saints both before and after him, Anthony became engaged in a type of spiritual combat, against unseen forces seeking to remove him from the way of perfection he had chosen. These conflicts took their toll on Anthony in many respects. When he was around 33 years old, a group of his patrons found him in serious condition, and took him back to a local church to recover.
 
This setback did not dissuade Anthony from his goal of seeking God intensely, and he soon redoubled his efforts by moving to a mountain on the east bank of the Nile river. There, he lived in an abandoned fort, once again subsisting on the charity of those who implored his prayers on their behalf. He attracted not only these benefactors, but a group of inquirers seeking to follow after his example.
 
In the first years of the fourth century, when he was about 54, Anthony emerged from his solitude to provide guidance to the growing community of hermits that had become established in his vicinity. Although Anthony had not sought to form such a community, his decision to become its spiritual father – or “Abbot”– marked the beginning of monasticism as it is known today.
 
Anthony himself would live out this monastic calling for another four decades, providing spiritual and practical advice to disciples who would ensure the movement's continued existence. According to Anthony's biographer, St. Athanasius, the Emperor Constantine himself eventually wrote to the Abbot, seeking advice on the administration of an empire that was now officially Christian.

“Do not be astonished if an emperor writes to us, for he is a man,” Anthony told the other monks. “But rather: wonder that God wrote the Law for men, and has spoken to us through his own Son.”

Anthony wrote back to Constantine, advising him “not to think much of the present, but rather to remember the judgment that is coming, and to know that Christ alone was the true and Eternal King.”
 
St. Anthony may have been up to 105 years old when he died, sometime between 350 and 356. In keeping with his instructions, two of his disciples buried his body secretly in an unmarked grave.

January 16, 2022 - 2:23am
St. Marcellus, Pope 

Feast date: Jan 16

Nothing of Marcellus' life before his papacy has survived the centuries. He became Pope at the end of the persecutions of Diocletian in aound 308-309. The persecutions had disrupted the Church so much that there had been a gap of over a year with no Pope. Once he was elected, he faced several challenges, including reconsituting the clergy, which had been decimated and whose remnant had practiced their vocation only covertly and with the expectation of martyrdom. He worked hard to recover and welcome back all who had denied the faith in order to keep from being murdered.

When a group of the apostacized, known as the Lapsi, refused to do penance, Marcellus refused to allow their return to the Church. The Lapsi had a bit of political pull, and some members caused such civil disruption that emperor Maxentius exiled the Pope in order to settle the matter. Legend says that Marcellus was forced to work as a stable slave as punishment, but this appears to be fiction, however we do know that he died of the terrible conditions he suffered in exile, and is considered a martyr because of that.

He was initially buried in the cemetery of Saint Priscilla in Rome, but his relics were later transferred to beneath the altar of San Marcello al Corso Church in Rome where they remain today.

January 15, 2022 - 12:23pm
St. Paul of Thebes

Feast date: Jan 15

On Jan. 15, the Catholic Church remembers Saint Paul of Thebes, whose life of solitude and penance gave inspiration to the monastic movement during its early years.

Surviving in the Egyptian desert on a small amount of daily food, St. Paul the Hermit lived in close communion with God. Before the end of his life at age 113, he met with St. Anthony the Great, who led an early community of monks elsewhere in the Egyptian desert.

Born in approximately 230, the future hermit Paul received a solid religious and secular education, but lost his parents at age 15. During the year 250, the Roman Emperor Decius carried out a notorious persecution of the Church, executing clergy and forcing laypersons to prove their loyalty by worshiping idols. The state used torture, as well as the threat of death to coerce believers into making pagan sacrifices.

Paul went into hiding during the Decian persecution, but became aware of a family member's plan to betray him to the authorities. The young man retreated to a remote desert location, where he discovered a large abandoned cave that had once been used as a facility for making counterfeit coins. He found that he could survive on water from a spring. A raven brought him half a loaf of bread daily.

Forced into the wilderness by circumstance, Paul found he loved the life of prayer and simplicity that it made possible. Thus, he never returned to the outside world, even though he lived well into the era of the Church's legalization and acceptance by the Roman Empire. Later on, his way of life inspired Catholics who sought a deeper relationship with God through spiritual discipline and isolation from the outside world.

One of these faithful was Anthony of Egypt, born in the vicinity of Cairo around 251, who also lived to an old age after deciding during his youth to live in the desert out of devotion to God. Paul of Thebes is known to posterity because Anthony, around the year 342, was told in a dream about the older hermit's existence, and went to find him.

A similar knowledge about Anthony had been mysteriously given to the earlier hermit. Thus, when he appeared at Paul's cave, they greeted each other by name, though they had never met. Out of contact with the Roman Empire for almost a century, Paul asked about its condition, and whether paganism was still practiced. He told Anthony how, for the last 60 years, a bird had brought him a ration of bread each day – a mode of subsistence also granted to the Old Testament prophet Elijah.

After 113 years, most of them spent in solitary devotion, Paul understood that he was nearing the end of his earthly life. He asked Anthony to return to his own hermitage, and bring back a cloak that had been given to the younger monk by the bishop St. Athanasius. That heroically orthodox bishop had not yet been born when Paul first fled to the desert, and Anthony had never mentioned him or the cloak in question. Amazed, Anthony paid reverence to Paul and set out to fulfill his request.

During the return trip, Anthony was shown a vision of St. Paul of Thebes' soul, glorified and ascending toward Heaven. On returning to the first hermit's cave, he venerated the body of its inhabitant, wrapped him in Athanasius' cloak, and carried him outdoors. Saint Jerome, in his “Life of St. Paul the First Hermit,” attests that two lions arrived, demonstrated their reverence, and dug a grave for the saint.

Having given him Athanasius' cloak, St. Anthony took back to his hermitage the garment which St. Paul of Thebes had woven for himself from palm leaves. Anthony passed on the account of his journey and the saint's life to his own growing group of monastic disciples, and it was written down by St. Jerome around the year 375 – approximately 33 years after the death of the first hermit.

Venerated on the same day by Roman Catholics, Eastern Catholics and Eastern Orthodox Christians, St. Paul of Thebes is also the namesake of a Catholic monastic order – the Order of Saint Paul the First Hermit – founded in Hungary during the 13th century and still in operation.

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