It was Ben Franklin who, at a critical impasse during the Constitutional Convention in June 1787, attempted to introduce the practice of daily common prayer with these words:
|ST BENJAMIN, MARTYR, DEACON—424 A.D.|
|Feast: March 31
|From Theodoret, Hist. Eccles. lib. v. c. 39, &c.Isdegerdes, son of Sapor III, put a stop to the cruel persecution against the Christians in Persia, which had been begun by Sapor II, and the church had enjoyed twelve years’ peace in that kingdom when, in 420, it was disturbed by the indiscreet zeal of one Abdas, a Christian bishop, who burned down the Pyraeum, or temple of fire, the great divinity of the Persians. King Isdegerdes threatened to demolish all the churches of the Christians unless he would rebuild it. Abdas had done ill in destroying the temple, but did well in refusing to rebuild it; for nothing can make it lawful to contribute to any act of idolatry, or to the building a temple, as Theodoret observes. Isdegerdes therefore demolished all the Christian churches in Persia, put to death Abdas, and raised a general persecution against the church, which continued forty years with great fury. Isdegerdes died the year following, in 421. But his son and successor, Varanes, carried on the persecution with greater inhumanity. The very description which Theodoret, a contemporary writer, and one that lived in the neighbourhood, gives of the cruelties he exercised on the Christians strikes us with horror: some were flayed alive in different parts of the body, and suffered all kinds of torture that could be invented: others, being stuck all over with sharp reeds, were hauled and rolled about in that condition; others were tormented divers other ways, such as nothing but the most hellish malice was capable of suggesting. Amongst these glorious champions of Christ was St. Benjamin, a deacon. The tyrant caused him to be beaten and imprisoned. He had lain a year in the dungeon when an ambassador from the emperor obtained his enlargement on condition he should never speak to any of the courtiers about religion.
The ambassador passed his word in his behalf that he would not; but Benjamin, who was a minister of the gospel, declared that he could not detain the truth in captivity, conscious to himself of the condemnation of the slothful servant for having hid his talent. He therefore neglected no opportunity of announcing Christ. The king, being informed that he still preached the faith in his kingdom, ordered him to be apprehended; but the martyr made no other reply to his threats than by putting this question to the king: What opinion he would have of any of his subjects who should renounce his allegiance to him, and join in war against him? The enraged tyrant caused reeds to be run in between the nails and the flesh both of his hands and feet, and the same to be thrust into other most tender parts, and drawn out again, and this to be frequently repeated with violence. He lastly ordered a knotty stake to be thrust into his bowels, to rend and tear them, in which torment he expired in the year 424. The Roman Martyrology places his name on the 31st of March.
St. Ephrem, considering the heroic constancy of the martyrs, makes on them the following pious reflections: “The wisdom of philosophers, and the eloquence of the greatest orators, are dumb through amazement, when they contemplate the wonderful spectacle and glorious actions of the martyrs: the tyrants and judges were not able to express their astonishment when they beheld the faith, the constancy, and the cheerfulness of these holy champions. What excuse shall we have in the dreadful day of judgment, if we, who have never been exposed to any cruel persecutions, or to the violence of such torments, shall have neglected the love of God and the care of a spiritual life? No temptations, no torments, were able to draw them from that love which they bore to God; but we, living in rest and delights, refuse to love our most merciful and gracious Lord. What shall we do in that day of terror, when the martyrs of Christ, standing with confidence near his throne, shall show the marks of their wounds? What shall we then show? Shall we present a lively faith? true charity towards God? a perfect disengagement of our affections from earthly things? souls freed from the tyranny of the passions? silence and recollection? meekness? almsdeeds? prayers poured forth with clean hearts? compunction, watchings, tears? Happy shall he be whom such good works shall attend. He will be the partner of the martyrs, and, supported by the treasure of these virtues, shall appear with equal confidence before Christ and his angels.” We entreat you, O most holy martyrs, who cheerfully suffered most cruel torments for God our Saviour and his love, on which account you are now most intimately and familiarly united to him, that you pray to the Lord for us miserable sinners, covered with filth, that he infuse into us the grace of Christ that it may enlighten our souls that we may love him, &c.”1
1 St. Ephrem. Hom. In SS. Martyres t 3 Op. Gr et Tat p. 251. ed. Vatic. ap. 1746.
(Taken from Vol. III of “The Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs and Other Principal Saints” by the Rev. Alban Butler, the 1864 edition published by D. & J. Sadlier, & Company)
Provided Courtesy of:
Deacon. Imprisoned for a year for his faith, he was released on condition that he never speak about Christianity where he could be heard by any of the royal court. Benjamin then became a street preacher, proclaiming the word any place he could find people. For his obstinate evangelization during the persecutions of king Varanes, he was arrested, torturedand martyred.
- Book of Saints, by the Monks of Ramsgate
- Lives of the Saints, by Father Alban Butler
- Pictorial Lives of the Saints
- “Saint Benjamin the Deacon“. CatholicSaints.Info. 29 March 2017. Web. 31 March 2017. <http://catholicsaints.info/saint-benjamin-the-deacon/>
“Lord Jesus Christ, in union with that divine intention wherewith on earth Thou didst offer to God Thy praises through Thy Most Sacred Heart, and dost now offer them in the Sacrament of the Eucharist everywhere on earth even to the end of time, I most gladly offer Thee throughout this entire day, all my thoughts and intentions, all my affections and desires, all my words and deeds, in imitation of the most sacred Heart of the blessed and ever Virgin Mary Immaculate. Amen.”
Thursday, March 30, 2017
Exodus 32:7-14; John 5.31-47
Today we continue with yesterday’s words of Jesus to the Jewish religious leaders. Jesus re-affirms that God himself is the witness – in four ways – to the truth of all that Jesus says:
- The testimony of John the Baptist, although that was only human testimony (vv.33-34).
- The works of Jesus give clear testimony of the divine origin of all that Jesus does. “The works that the Father gave me to accomplish, these works that I perform testify on my behalf that the Father has sent me.” The leaders could not see this but the crowds often testified to it with enthusiasm. (v.36)
- The Father himself has given testimony, although that has not been seen directly by some of the Jews. “The Father who sent me has testified on my behalf but you have never heard his voice nor seen his form.” (Is this a reference to Jesus’ baptism or to the Transfiguration?) (vv.37-38);
- A careful reading of the scriptures will show they give testimony to Jesus. “You search the scriptures, because you think you have eternal life through them; even they testify on my behalf. But you do not want to come to me to have life.” This is clearly shown later on by Jesus when explaining the scriptures to the two disciples on the way to Emmaus. (vv.39-40).
Although Jesus clearly comes in the name of his Father, he is not accepted or believed in.
Yet some individual will come in his own name and they will accept him. Further they keep looking into their own traditions rather than looking further to someone who clearly comes from God.
Jesus will not accuse them before his Father. Moses, in whom they claim to believe, will be their accuser. “If you have believed Moses, you would have believed me, because he wrote about me. But if you refuse to believe what he wrote, how can you believe what I say?”
We see Moses interceding for Israel after they apostate. Moses had just been away for few days and as they say, “When the cat us away, the rats takes over.”
Even us, how long do we hold to our faith? How long do we hold to our resolutions? Have we not broken the lenten fast even before we are in the middle of lent? How many of us after making act of contrition after confessions have managed to hold to that holiness for a day?
Lets keep on keeping on with the good fight since by Easter and the ultimate easter Jesus will have won for us last the last battle and Satan will be chained forever in the fire of hell.
Oh Lord, remember us out of the love you have for your people.
St. Theresa of Lisieux, pray for us
(Isaiah ixl.viii-xv / John v.xvii-xxx
A Word is a powerful. Though untangible its effect are tangible. But not all words make sense. We read many words in the first reading and the gospel but these words will just remain as words unless we hear something more.
When we hear the voice of Jesus behind those words, then those words become powerful. Then those words become life-giving.
Jesus said that whoever listens to His words has eternal life. To have eternal life means that we will live up to our purpose. We therefore need to live a life that is free from sin and wrong-doing, so that we know what peace and joy and love and the fullness of life is all about.
And whenever we have our needs, we just have to present it to the Lord in prayer.
As the Lord said in the first reading: At the favourable time I will answer you.
Those are powerful words of God’s promises. May we listen to them, so that we will have life.
St. Theresa of Lisieux, pray for us.
Tuesday, xxviii. march mmxvii
(Ezekiel 1-9, 12 / John 5:1-3, 5-16)
Have it ever crosses your mind that the words “listen” and “silent” have the same letters just arranged differently?Yes because the two are inseparable. In order to listen one need to be silent. I remember 2 decade ago, our professsor Tero (Muraya) used to ask the students, “Me talk you talk who hear who?”
There are many time when we don’t listen to understand but we listen to to reply and that is why even when the other person is speaking we are already shaking our lips to reply. That is a communication crime.
This lead us to a liturgical mistake that has been introduced by Vatican II implementations. Many churches nowadays provide their Christians with leaflets of the Lectionary extracts and instead of them listening they all read. What is the use of lectors?
When we do not listen we give wrong replies. Jesus is asking a straight forward question to a man who has been sick for 38 years but the man start giving unnecessary stories.
Maybe after 38 years of disappointment this has become the only thing distracting his mind. He sees no other means to his yearning but a song of “pool-shake-run-Ooh! Somebody else has entered!”
As too we may be blaidered by our problems to a point of not listening to Jesus’ question. Jesus is asking us today: Do you want to be well again?
Let us learn to be silent as we listen and ponder on that question. May we understand that question and come to experience what Jesus wants to do for us.
St. Theresa of Lisieux, pray for us.