"Today the concept of truth is viewed with suspicion, because truth is identified with violence. Over history there have, unfortunately, been episodes when people sought to defend the truth with violence. But they are two contrasting realities. Truth cannot be imposed with means other than itself! Truth can only come with its own light. Yet, we need truth. ... Without truth we are blind in the world, we have no path to follow. The great gift of Christ was that He enabled us to see the face of God".Pope Benedict xvi, February 24th, 2012
The Church is ecumenical, catholic, God-human, ageless, and it is therefore a blasphemy—an unpardonable blasphemy against Christ and against the Holy Ghost—to turn the Church into a national institution, to narrow her down to petty, transient, time-bound aspirations and ways of doing things. Her purpose is beyond nationality, ecumenical, all-embracing: to unite all men in Christ, all without exception to nation or race or social strata. - St Justin Popovitch
Wednesday, 10 November 2010
November 11: St Martin of Tours
Bishop; born atSabaria(todaySteinamangerinGerman, orSzombathelyinHungarian), Pannonia (Hungary), about 316; died atCandes, Touraine, most probably in 397. In his early years, when hisfather, a military tribune, was transferred toPaviainItaly,Martinaccompanied him thither, and when he reached adolescence was, in accordance with the recruitinglawsenrolled in the Roman army.Touchedbygraceat an early age, he was from the first attracted towardsChristianity, which had been in favour in the camps since theconversionofEmperor Constantine. His regiment was soon sent toAmiensinGaul, and this town became the scene of the celebratedlegendof the cloak. At the gates of the city, one very cold day,Martinmet a shivering and half-naked beggar. Moved with compassion, he divided his coat into two parts and gave one to thepoorman. The part kept by himself became the famousrelicpreserved in theoratoryof theFrankishkings under the name of "St. Martin'scloak".Martin, who was still only acatechumen, soon receivedbaptism, and was a little later finally freed from military service at Worms on the Rhine. As soon as he was free, he hastened to set out toPoitierstoenrolhimself among thedisciplesofSt. Hilary, the wise andpiousbishopwhosereputationas atheologianwas already passing beyond the frontiers ofGaul. Desiring, however, to see hisparentsagain, he returned toLombardyacross the Alps. The inhabitants of this region, infested withArianism, were bitterly hostile towardsCatholicism, so thatMartin, who did not conceal hisfaith, was very badly treated by order ofBishopAuxentius of Milan, the leader of thehereticalsectinItaly.Martinwas very desirous of returning toGaul, but, learning that theArianstroubled that country also and had even succeeded in exilingHilaryto theOrient, he decided to seek shelter on the island of Gallinaria (nowIsolad'Albenga) in the middle of theTyrrhenianSea.
As soon asMartinlearned that an imperialdecreehad authorizedHilaryto return toGaul, he hastened to the side of his chosen master atPoitiersin 361, and obtained permission from him to embrace at some distance from there in adesertedregion (now calledLigugé) the solitarylifethat he hadadoptedinGallinaria. His example was soon followed, and a great number ofmonksgathered around him. Thus was formed in thisGallicThebaida reallaura, from which later developed the celebratedBenedictineAbbeyofLigugé.Martinremained about ten years in this solitude, but often left it to preach theGospelin the central and western parts ofGaul, where the rural inhabitants were still plunged in the darkness ofidolatryand given up to all sorts of grosssuperstitions. Thememoryof theseapostolicjourneyings survives to our day in the numerous locallegendsof whichMartinis the hero and which indicate roughly the routes that he followed. When St. Lidorius, secondBishopofTours, died in 371 or 372, theclergyof that city desired to replace him by the famoushermitofLigugé. But, asMartinremaineddeafto theprayersof the deputies who brought him this message, it wasnecessaryto resort to a ruse to overcome his resistance. AcertainRusticius, arichcitizen ofTours, went and begged him to come to his wife, who was in the last extremity, and to prepare her for death. Without any suspicions,Martinfollowed him in all haste, but hardly had he entered the city when, in spite of the opposition of a fewecclesiastical dignitaries, popularacclamationconstrained him to becomeBishopof theChurchofTours.
Consecrated on 4 July,Martinbrought to the accomplishment of thedutiesof his newministryall the energy and the activity of which he had already given so manyproofs. He did not, however, change his way oflife: fleeing from thedistractionsof the large city, he settled himself in a small cell at a short distance fromTours, beyond the Loire. Some otherhermitsjoined him there, and thus was gradually formed a newmonastery, which surpassed that ofLigugé, as is indicated by the name, Marmoutier (Majus Monasterium), which it has kept to our own day. Thus, to an untiringzealMartinadded the greatest simplicity, and it is this which explains how hispastoraladministration so admirably succeeded in sowingChristianitythroughout Touraine. Nor was it a rare occurrence for him to leave hisdiocesewhen he thought that his appearance in some distant locality might produce somegood. He even went several times toTrier, where the emperors had established their residence, to plead the interests of theChurchor to ask pardon for some condemnedperson. His role in thematterof thePriscillianistsandIthacians was especially remarkable. AgainstPriscillian, theSpanishheresiarch, and his partisans, who had beenjustlycondemned by theCouncilofSaragossa, furious charges were brought beforeEmperorMaximusby someorthodoxbishopsofSpain, led byBishopIthacius.Martinhurried toTrier, not indeed to defend theGnosticandManichaeandoctrinesofPriscillian, but to remove him from thesecularjurisdictionof the emperor.Maximusat first acceded to his entreaty, but, whenMartinhad departed, yielded to the solicitations ofIthaciusand orderedPriscillianand his followers to be beheaded. Deeply grieved,Martinrefused to communicate withIthacius. However, when he went again toTriera little later to ask pardon for two rebels, Narses and Leucadius,Maximuswould only promise it to him on condition that he would make his peace with Ithaeius. Tosavethe lives of his clients, heconsentedto this reconciliation, but afterwards reproached himself bitterly for thisactof weakness.
After a last visit toRome,Martinwent toCandes, one of thereligiouscentrescreatedby him in hisdiocese, when he was attacked by the malady which ended his life.Orderinghimself to be carried into thepresbyteryof thechurch, he died there in 400 (according to someauthorities, more probably in 397) at the age of about 81, evincing until the last that exemplaryspiritofhumilityandmortificationwhich he had ever shown. TheChurchofFrancehas always consideredMartinone of her greatestsaints, andhagiographershave recorded a great number ofmiraclesdue to hisintercessionwhile he was living and after his death. His cult was very popular throughout theMiddle Ages, a multitude ofchurchesandchapelswerededicatedto him, and a great number of places have been called by his name. His body, taken toTours, was enclosed in astonesarcophagus, above which hissuccessors,St. BritiusandSt. Perpetuus, built first a simplechapel, and later abasilica(470).St. Euphronius,BishopofAutunand a friend ofSt. Perpetuus, sent asculpturedtablet of marble to cover thetomb. A largerbasilicawas constructed in 1014 which was burned down in 1230 to be rebuilt soon on a still larger scale Thissanctuarywas the centre of great nationalpilgrimagesuntil 1562, the fatal year when theProtestantssacked it from top to bottom, destroying thesepulchreand therelicsof the great wonder-worker, the object of theirhatred. The ill-fatedcollegiatechurchwas restored by itscanons, but a new and more terrible misfortune awaited it. Therevolutionaryhammer of 1793 was to subject it to a last devastation. It was entirely demolished with the exception of the two towers which are still standing and, so that its reconstruction might be impossible, theatheisticmunicipalitycausedtwo streets to be opened up on its site. In December, 1860, skilfullyexecutedexcavations located the site ofSt. Martin'stomb, of which some fragments were discovered. These precious remains are at present sheltered in abasilicabuilt by MgrMeignan,ArchbishopofTourswhich is unfortunately of very small dimensions and recalls only faintly the ancient and magnificentcloisterof St. Martin. On 11 November each year thefeastof St. Martin issolemnlycelebrated in thischurchin the presence of a large number of thefaithfulofToursand other cities and villages of thediocese.