"Alas! some tepid and dissolute people are willing to put off their confession, and desire that their communion should be deferred, lest they should be obliged thereby to keep a stricter watch over themselves." -St. Thomas Aquinas
+ Imprimatur John, Cardinal McCloskey
Archbishop of New York - New York, June 3, 1878
THIS eminent Saint and glorious Doctor of the Syriac Church was a native of Nisibis, in Mesopotamia. In his youth, entering the world, he trembled at the sight of its vices and the slippery path of its pleasures, and he thought it the safer part to strengthen himself in retirement, that he might afterward be the better able to stand his ground in the field. He accordingly chose the highest mountain for his abode, sheltering himself in a cave in the winter, and the rest of the year living in the woods, continually exposed to the open air. Notwithstanding his desire to live unknown to men, he was discovered, and many were not afraid to climb the rugged rocks that they might recommend themselves to his prayers and receive the comfort of his spiritual advice.
He was favored with the gifts of prophecy and miracles in an uncommon measure. One day, as he was travelling, he was accosted by a gang of beggars, with the view of extorting money from him under pretence of burying their companion, who lay stretched on the ground as if he were dead. The holy man gave them what they asked, and "offering up supplications to God as for a soul departed, he prayed that his Divine Majesty would pardon him the sins he had committed whilst he lived, and that he would admit him into the company of the Saints." As soon as the Saint was gone by, the beggars, calling upon their companion to rise and take his share of the booty, were surprised to find him really dead. Seized with sudden fear and grief, they shrieked in the utmost consternation, and immediately ran after the man of God, cast themselves at his feet, confessed the cheat, begged forgiveness, and besought him by his prayers to restore their unhappy companion to life, which the Saint did. The most famous miracle of our Saint was that by which he protected his native city from the barbarians. Sapor II., the haughty King of Persia, besieged Nisibis with the whole strength of his empire, whilst our Saint was Bishop.
The Bishop would not pray for the destruction of any one, but he implored the Divine Mercy that the city might be delivered from the calamities of so long a siege. Afterward, going to the top of a high tower, and turning his face towards the enemy, and seeing the prodigious multitude of men and beasts which covered the whole country, he said, "Lord, Thou art able by the weakest means to humble the pride of Thy enemies; defeat these multitudes by an army of gnats." God heard the humble prayer of His servant. Scarce had the Saint spoken those words, when whole clouds of gnats and flies came pouring down upon the Persians, got into the elephants’ trunks and the horses’ ears and nostrils, which made them chafe and foam, throw their riders, and put the whole army into confusion and disorder. A famine and pestilence, which followed, carried off a great part of the army; and Sapor, after lying above three months before the place, set fire to all his own engines of war, and was forced to abandon the siege and return home with the loss of twenty thousand men. Sapor received a third foil under the walls of Nisibis, in 359, upon which he turned his arms against Amidus, took that strong city, and put the garrison and the greatest part of the inhabitants to the sword. The citizens of Nisibis attributed their preservation to the intercession of their glorious patron, St. James, although he had already gone to his reward. He died in 350.
This Weeks Friday Fare … Food for the Soul
By: Abbot Dom Gueranger
+ Imprimatur 1927
TUESDAY OF THE FOURTH WEEK AFTER EASTER
We are bound to believe the word of God: but this word is accompanied with every proof of its really coming from God. When Jesus told men that he was the Son of God, he gave ample proof of his being such: in the same manner, he insists on our believing what he reveals, but he gives us a guarantee of its being the truth. What is this guarantee? Miracles. Miracles are the testimony which God bears to himself. A miracle rouses man's attention, for he cows that it is by God's will alone that the laws of nature can be suspended. If God employ a miracle to make his will known, he has a right to find man obedient. The Israelites were convinced that it was God who was leading them, for the sea opened a passage to them, immediately that Moses stretched forth his hand over its waters.
Now Jesus, the author and finisher of faith, (Heb. xii 2) did not demand our belief in the truths he revealed to us until he had proved the divinity of his mission by miracles. The works which I do, said he, give testimony of me. (St. John v 36) And again: If you will not believe me, believe my works. (Ibid. x 38) And what are these works? When St. John the Baptist sent some of his disciples to Jesus, that they might ask him if he were the promised Messias, Jesus gave them this answer: Go and relate to John what you have heard and seen. The blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are made clean, the deaf hear, the dead rise again, the poor have the Gospel preached unto them. (St. Luke vii 22)
Such is the motive of our faith. Jesus requires of us that we receive his word, as being that of the Son of God - for he has proved himself to be so by the works he has wrought. Truly may we exclaim with the Psalmist: Thy testimonies, O Lord, are become exceedingly credible! (Ps. dcii 5) Whom shall we believe, if we refuse to believe him? And what must be the guilt of them who refuse to believe! Let us hearken to our JEsus speaking of those proud men who, though they had witnessed his miracles, rejected his teaching: If, says he, I had not done among them the works that no other man hath done, they would not have sin. (St. John xv 24) It is their incredulity that led them astray; but their incredulity showed itself when, after witnessing such miracles as the raising Lazarus to life, they refused to acknowledge the divinity of him who bore testimony to himself by such works as these.
But our Risen Jesus is soon to ascend into HEaven; the miracles he wrought will be things of long past; are we, henceforth, to have no testimony for his word, which is the object of our Faith? Let us not fear. Do we forget that historical documents, when genuine, bring the same convocation to our minds, with regard to past events, as though we ourselves had been witnesses of those events? Is it not a law of the human mind 0 is it not a basis of certainty 0 that we yield assent to the testimony of our fellow men, as often as we have evidence that they are neither deceived themselves, nor wish to deceive us? The miracles wrought by Jesus will be handed down to the end of time, supported by guarantees of authenticity which no facts of history could possibly have. If the authority of history is what all acknowledge it to be, then is he a fool who doubts the miracles which we are told worked by our Saviour. Through we have not been eye-witnesses of them, yet such is our certainty of their having been done, that our faith is as strong and as docile as though we had assisted at the admirable scenes described in the Gospel.
Our Lord had sufficiently provided for our yielding our Faith to his word, by letting us know that he had confirmed his teaching by his miracles. But he would do more. He gives his disciples the power to do what he himself had done, and this in order that our faith might be strengthened by these supernatural evidences. It was on one of the forty days spent with his Apostles before his Ascension, that he spoke these words to them: Go ye into the whole world, and preach the Gospel to ever creature. HE that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be condemned. (St. Mark xvi 15,16) We have already stated the basis on which this faith was to rest - the miracles of the God-Man who demands our faith. But there were to be other miracles superadded to his own. Let us continue the text just quoted: And these signs shall follow them that believe: in my name they shall cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they shall drink any deadly thing it shall not hurt them; they shall lay their hands upon the sick, and they shall recover. (Ibid. ski 17) Here, then, we find the power of working miracles given to Jesus' disciples. He bids them go and preach his word to men, and men must yield their faith; he therefore gives his disciples the power over nature which will prove them to be the ambassadors of the Most High. Their word is not their own; it is that of God. They are the ministers of the Incarnate God, and we must believe their teaching. By believing them, we are, in reality, believing him who sends them, and who, to make us sure of their rightful authority, gives them the credentials which he himself deigned to show to men, when he spoke with his own lips.
Neither is this all. If we carefully weigh his words, we shall see that he does not intend the gift of miracles to cease with his first disciples. It is true that history proves how faithfully Jesus fulfilled his promise, and that, when the Apostles went forth commanding the world to believe what they preached, they gave testimony of their divine mission by countless miracles; but our Risen Lord promised more than this. He said not: 'These are the signs which shall follow my Apostles; but:These are the signs which shall follow them that believe. By these words he perpetuated in his Church the gift of miracles; he made it one of her chief characteristics, and one of the grounds of our faith .Before his Passion, he had gone so far as to say: He that believeth in me, the works that I do, he also shall do, and greater than these shall he do. (St. John xiv 12) It is now that he graces her with this prerogative: so that, dating from that hour, we must not be surprised at finding that his saints perform miracles greater even, at times, than his own. He promised that it should be so, and has kept his word; thus showing us how desirous he is that faith (which is one of the main objects of a miracle) should be fostered and made vigorous in his Church. Far, then, be from every loyal child of the Church that fear, that uneasy feeling, yea, that indifference which some people evince when they hear or read of a miracle. The only thing we should as is - are the witnesses trustworthy? If so, a true Catholic should receive the account with joy and gratitude; he should give thanks to our JEsus who thus mercifully fulfils his promise, and keeps such a watchful eye over the preservation of faith Let us adore him in that miracle of miracles, his Resurrection.