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Newsletter of Mater Dei Seminary
August 2002

Other articles in this newsletter:
The Various Tortures to Which the Martyrs Were Subjected
Moral Theology: Vitamin Pills and the Eucharistic Fast

Dear friends and benefactors,

“The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Christians.” thus spoke the early Christian writer Tertullian on the miraculous spread of the Church during the times of her greatest persecution. Each month of the ecclesiastical year our Holy Mother the Church honors among her many saints, the martyrs, those heroic men, women, and children who shed their blood and suffered death for their holy Catholic Faith.

During this month of August, we celebrate a number of well-known martyrs: St. Lawrence, deacon-martyr; St. Philomena, virgin-martyr, and St. Tarcisius, the martyr for the Holy Eucharist. What a tremendous example we find in the accounts of their supreme sacrifices. Imagine the strength of soul St. Lawrence exhibited while he was slowly roasted on the gridiron, exclaiming to his executioners, “Turn me over, for I am done on this side!” The next time we barbecue our hamburgers and hot dogs this summer, let us ponder the intense sufferings that he endured for the Catholic Faith. How many pagans were moved by divine grace and were converted to the one true Faith in face of such supernatural fortitude!

And how much more were the pagans moved by the martyrdoms of young boys and girls! In the life of St. Philomena, we marvel at a young girl who vowed her virginity to Jesus Christ and accepted the most cruel torments rather than compromise her Faith and her vows before the Roman Emperor. Her executioners scourged her, shot her with arrows, and suspended and anchor around her neck in order to drown her in the Tiber River. Throughout St. Philomena’s painful ordeal, many pagans witnessed the power of Almighty God which miraculously sustained her in all these trials. She finally won the crown of martyrdom when she was beheaded.

In the Roman Martyrology we find recorded on August 15th the young acolyte, Tarcisius, who was martyred while carrying the Holy Eucharist to the imprisoned Christians before their execution. Rather than expose the Blessed Sacrament to the sacrilegious profanation of a pagan mob, this young martyr endured the paltering of stones and pommeling with clubs. Pope Damasus commemorated the victory of his martyrdom with the following poem: “Tarcisium sanctum Christi sacramenta gerentem cum male sana manus premeret vulgare profanis, ipse animam potius voluit dimittere caesus prodere quam canibus rapidis caelestia membra.” (When a wicked group of fanatics flung themselves on Tarcisius — who was carrying the Eucharist — wanting to profane the Sacrament, the boy preferred to give up his life rather than yield up the Body of Christ to these rabid dogs.)

The wonderful examples of heroism displayed by the martyrs in imitation of our crucified Savior should be a powerful incentive for all of us to be ready and willing to make whatever sacrifices God may require of us in the practice of our Catholic Faith. I highly recommend to all of you the book, “Victories of the Martyrs” by St. Alphonsus Liguori. In the midst of our crosses and trials and temptations, let us draw strength and inspiration from those who now hold the palm of martyrdom in the kingdom of Heaven!

With our prayers and blessing,
Most Rev. Mark A. Pivarunas, CMRI

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Printed copies of Adsum, a publication by the seminarians of Mater Dei Seminary for the reading enjoyment of friends and benefactors, are sent free of charge to all who request it. Most issues also contain photos of recent events involving the seminarians. If you would like to put on this mailing list, please use this form.

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