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Friday, November 19, 2010

Saint Pontianus, Pope and Martyr, November 19

Saint Pontianus, Pope and Martyr, November 19

Saint Pope Pontianus
Pontianus was a Roman, and succeeded Saint Urban I as Pope, during the reign of the Emperor Alexander. This Emperor banished him into the Island of Sardinia, along with the priest Hippolytus, on account of their profession of the Christian Faith. There he endured many hardships because of his belief in Christ, and departed this life on October 30th, about the year 235. His body was brought to Rome by Pope Saint Fabian and his clergy, and buried in the Cemetery of Saint Callistus, on the Appian Way. He sat in the Seat of Peter four years, four months, and twenty-five days, and held two ordinations in the month of December wherein he made six priests, five deacons, and six bishops for divers places.

A Homily by Saint Augustine the Bishop

Today we keep holy day in anniversary of the triumph of the blessed Martyr Pontianus, concerning whom the Church biddeth us to rejoice at his glory, and to consider how we may follow in his footsteps. For if so be that we suffer with him, we shall also reign with him in glory. In his glorious contest we have two things chiefly to remember : the hardened cruelty of the tormentor, and the unconquered patience of the Martyr : the cruelty of the tormentor, that we may abhor it ; the patience of the Martyr, that we may imitate it. Hear what the Psalmist saith, complaining against sin ; Fret not thyself because of the ungodly, for they shall soon be cut down like the grass. But hear the teaching of the Apostle concerning the patience which is to be shewn against the ungodly : Ye have need of patience, that after ye have done the will of God, ye may receive the promise.

And so the patience of the blessed Martyr was crowned, and the spiteful ungodliness of the tormentor was given over to everlasting punishment. Christ’s glorious champion shrank not from the dungeon, for during his contest he looked forward to his reward. Like his Master, he bore reproach, endured mocking, and feared not the scourges. And as many sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us ; for our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. Being uplifted above earthly things in the love inspired by this promise, and greatly moved by the pleasant foretaste of the heavenly sweetness, he could say with the Psalmist : Whom have I in heaven but thee, and there is none upon earth that I desire in comparison of thee : my flesh and my heart faileth, but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.

St.Augustine of Hippo
For as man’s weakness could do so, in this our darkness, he fixed the eyes of his soul on things eternal, and contemplated the joys of the heavenly city. And being unable to describe it , he could only cry in wonder : whom have I in heaven but thee? As thought to say : What thou art passeth my strength to contemplate. It passeth the power of my utterance. It goeth beyond the reach of my understanding. Such is that beauty, that glory, that exaltation, wherein, far from the provoking of men, in the secret of his presence, our Lord Jesus Christ shall change our vile body, that is may be fashioned like unto his own glorious body! Because of his vision of this perfect liberty he shrank from no danger, and quailed before no torment. And if he could have died a thousand times, he would not have thought that he had paid a price high enough for this perfect liberty.

Collect :
Be merciful to the people of thy flock, O Lord, eternal Shepherd and Bishop of the souls of men : and keep us in thy continual protection, at the intercession of thy blessed Martyr, the Holy Father Pontianus, whom thou didst raise up in thy Church to be thine under-Shepherd, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

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