Ordinary Time: January 20th
Optional Memorials of St. Fabian, pope and martyr; St. Sebastian, martyr
Old Calendar: Sts. Fabian and Sebastian
Today the Church celebrates the optional memorials of St. Fabian, pope and martyr and St. Sebastian, martyr. These two saints have always been venerated together, and their names were coupled in the ancient martyrologies, as they are still in the Litany of Saints.St. Fabian was Pope from 236 to 250 AD. He promoted the consolidation and development of the Church. He divided Rome into seven diaconates for the purpose of extending aid to the poor. He was one of the first victims of the persecution of Decius, who considered him as a rival and personal enemy.St. Sebastian, a native of Milan, was an officer in Diocletian's imperial guard. He became a Christian and suffered martyrdom upon orders of the emperor.
St. Fabian, a Roman, was as energetic as he was admired and respected. He was able to accomplish a great deal during his long pontificate. Escaping the persecution of Emperor Maximus Thrax, who had been assassinated, Fabian enjoyed peace in the Church under the reigns of succeeding emperors.
- Pope Fabian's two special interests were the poor and the liturgy. Offer your Mass today for someone in spiritual need since this is the worst poverty and the greatest charity.
The name of Sebastian is enveloped in a wreath of legends. The oldest historical account of the saint is found in a commentary on the psalms by St. Ambrose; the passage reads: "Allow me to propose to you the example of the holy martyr Sebastian. By birth he was a Milanese. Perhaps the persecutor of Christians had left Milan, or had not yet arrived, or had become momentarily more tolerant. Sebastian believed that here there was no opportunity for combat, or that it had already passed. So he went to Rome, the scene of bitter opposition arising from the Christians' zeal for the faith. There he suffered, there he gained the crown."
- Read a longer account of St. Sebastian's life.
- St. Sebastian's Day is marked in Sicily and in Kerala, India with huge celebrations. Try a Sicilian or Kerala dish for dinner tonight in honor of the saint.
- If you have an athlete in your family teach them the prayer to St. Sebastian.
The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity
Day Three: "I have no husband" (John 4:17)
O you who are beyond all things,
how could we call you by any other name? What song could be sung for you? No word can express you. What Spirit can perceive you? No intelligence can comprehend you. You alone are inexpressible; all that is said has come from you. You alone are unknowable; all that is thought has come from you. All creatures proclaim you, those who speak and those who are dumb. Every one desires you, everyone sighs and aspires after you. All that exists prays to you, and every being that can contemplate your universe raises to you a silent hymn. Have pity on us, you who are beyond all things. How could we call you by any other name? Amen.