Inspirational Saints of the Liturgy
The First Eucharistic Prayer features the names of 41 saints. I confess that until recently I did not know who all of these saints are. But after hearing (and being able to really focus on) this prayer on the Feast of the Assumption, I decided to do some research to try to find out a little more than I knew before. The result was a spiritual awakening regarding the importance of examining the Liturgy as part of spiritual development.
I started with the names of the saints that are the most obscure to me, and found riches waiting around every corner. Three popes and a bishop—all leaders of the early Church, all martyrs.
After the crucifixion of St. Peter, Linus continued the leadership of the Church in Rome, although according to the Catholic Encyclopedia there is some doubt about whether or not he was pope after Peter or after Clement. Not much is known about him, but he was Pope for about twelve years during a lapse in the Roman persecution of Christians. Legend has it that he died a martyr and was buried next to St. Peter on Vatican Hill.
He was pope for two years after Pope Fabian’s death in 250. This great saint had to deal with an anti-pope, schism and exile, after which he was beheaded. The schism occurred when the Novatians separated themselves from the Church, accusing Cornelius of being too lenient in reinstating those who had fallen from the Faith under the stress of the persecutions.
This saint’s support of Cornelius was essential to ending the schism that accompanied the beginning of his reign. St. Cyprian was a bishop of Carthage of some influence, and brought his fellow bishops in Africa to Cornelius’s support. He was a noted author, though not accounted a great scholar. He was exiled for a brief period of time during renewed persecution. He served as a great example to all Christians, and came to the aid of fellow clergymen suffering under persecution. He was beheaded in 258 in the presence of many Christian witnesses, and was immediately acclaimed a martyr of the Church.
Marcellinus was elected to the papacy in 296. Virtually nothing is recorded about him; what is recorded is not verifiable. The theory is offered that he chose to pursue methods of avoiding the ongoing Roman persecution of the day, and hence was invisible for pretty much his entire papacy. It is known that he ordered large rooms to be constructed in the catacombs for liturgical use. His tomb began receiving great veneration by Christians not long after his death in 304.
More Riches Are in Store for Those Who Look
If you continue to the better-known saints, you are met with tales that will amaze and inspire. Not the least of them being our first Pope, Saint Peter. We’re so familiar with him that his details become more commonplace. But if you consider his path from simple fisherman to crucifixion in Rome . . . Christ accomplished great things through an undiscerning, weak, rash, hasty, bull-headed individual—and he is one of our greatest saints.
The litany of saints in Eucharistic Prayer I is more than just a fleeting list of invocations in a lengthy prayer. It is a catalogue of the wealth of the Church. When you hear those names, you are meant to feel uplifted and proud that you are the spiritual descendent of such great predecessors. The nature of many of their deaths is a source of derision and scorn to the world, but to us, a badge of victory and a source of consolation.
One of the most important things that we Catholics have is the Sacred Liturgy—the beautiful ritual which has as its primary focus the introduction of Christ’s Real Presence into our midst. As an integral part of our faith, we should learn more about the elements of our Liturgy, the reasons for their inclusion, and how they complement that sublime moment when Christ is made present to us in His body, blood, soul and divinity. More information about these saints and many others can be found by searching on this site. Additional information was located in the Catholic Encyclopedia found at newadvent.com.
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