Friday, February 29, 2008

Leap Year Saints

Happy Leap Day to all. We've still got about three hours left (on the West coast; on the East coast, it's already March), and I wanted to take this opportunity to honor some of those saints whose commemorations fall on this day. From today's Roman Martyrology:
At Rome, the birthday of the holy martyrs Macarius, Rufinus, Justus, and Theophilus.

At Alexandria, the passion of the Saints Caerealis, Pupulus, Caius, and Serapion.

In the same city, in the reign of Emperor Valerian, the commemoration of the holy priests, deacons, and many others. When a most deadly epidemic was raging, they willingly met their death by ministering to the sick. The religious sentiment of the pious faithful has generally venerated them as martyrs.

At Rome, St. Hilary, pope and confessor.

In the territory of Lyons, in the Jura Mountains, the death of St. Romanus, abbot, who first had led the life of a hermit there. His reputation for virtues and miracles brought under his guidance many monks.

At Papia, the transfer, ordered by the Lombard King Luitprand, of the body of St. Augustine, bishop, away from the island of Sardinia.

And elsewhere in divers places, many other holy martyrs, confessors, and holy virgins.

R. Thanks be to God.
The Byzantine Rite honors St. John Cassian ("Cassian the Roman") on this day. From the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese:
Apolytikion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
The image of God, was faithfully preserved in you, O Father. For you took up the Cross and followed Christ. By Your actions you taught us to look beyond the flesh for it passes, rather to be concerned about the soul which is immortal. Wherefore, O Holy John Cassian, your soul rejoices with the angels.
Kontakion in the First Tone
Thy words breathe forth the sweetness of heavenly cassia, dispelling the foul odour of passion and pleasures; but with the sweet fragrance of thy discretion and temperance, they make known the spiritual ascents in the Spirit, leading men on high, O righteous Father John Cassian, divinely-sent guide of monks.

This Saint was born about the year 350, and was, according to some, from Rome, according to others, from Dacia Pontica (Dobrogea in present-day Romania)...[He] became a monk in Bethlehem with his friend and fellow-ascetic, Germanus of Dacia Pontica, whose memory is also celebrated today. Hearing the fame of the great Fathers of Scete, they went to Egypt about the year 390; their meetings with the famous monks of Scete are recorded in Saint John's Conferences. In the year 403 they went to Constantinople, where Cassian was ordained deacon by Saint John Chrysostom; after the exile of Saint Chrysostom, Saints Cassian and Germanus went to Rome with letters to Pope Innocent I in defence of the exiled Archbishop of Constantinople. There Saint Cassian was ordained priest, after which he went to Marseilles, where he established the famous monastery of Saint Victor. He reposed in peace about the year 433.

...Saint John Climacus also praises him highly in section 105 of Step 4 of the Ladder of Divine Ascent, on Obedience.
His writings, so commended in the Rule of St. Benedict, were later incorporated into the Philokalia. Here are links to his Conferences and Institutes. Finally, here is a post I did long ago on the Desert Fathers' testimony (in his Conferences) on the importance of the opening versicle in most canonical hours of Western Rite worship: "O God, make speed to save me/O Lord, make haste to help me."

May they all pray for us!

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