Ordinary Time: January 20th
Optional Memorials of St. Fabian, pope and martyr; St. Sebastian, martyr
Previous Calendar: Sts. Fabian and Sebastian
St. Fabian and St. Sebastian 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. The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity
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 3, The presence of Christ, turning the world upside down. “When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him.” (Matthew 2:3)
- 2 Thessalonians 2:13-3:5, But the Lord is faithful, he will strengthen you.
- Matthew 2:1-5, He was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him.
Christ’s coming disturbs the ways of the world. In contrast to so many political leaders, the Lord comes in humility denouncing the evil of injustice and oppression that accompanies the ambition for power and status. Jesus’ presence creates disturbance precisely because He rocks the boat of those rich and the powerful that work only for their own interests and neglect the common good. But, for those who work for peace and unity, Christ’s coming brings the light of hope.
We all need to acknowledge the instances when our ways are not God’s ways of justice and peace. When Christians work together for justice and peace our efforts are more powerful. And when Christians work together in this way, the answer to our prayer for Christian unity is made visible such that others recognize in us Christ’s presence in the world today. The Good News is that God is faithful, and he is always the one strengthening us and protecting us from harm, and inspiring us to work for the good of others, especially those living in the darkness of suffering, hatred, violence and pain.
O Lord, you have illumined the star of hope in our lives. Help us to be united in our commitment to bring about your Reign of love, justice and peace and so to be the light of hope to all those living in the darkness of despair and disillusionment. Shine your light upon us and set our hearts on fire so that your love surrounds us with warmth. Lift us up to you, you who have emptied yourself for our sake, so that our lives may glorify you, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.