Wednesday, 1 January 2014

January 2 Butler's saints of the day St. Fulgentius; St. Macarius of Alexandria

January 2.--ST. FULGENTIUS, Bishop.

IN spite of family troubles and delicate health, Fulgentius was appointed at an early age procurator of his province at Carthage. This success, however, did not satisfy his heart. Levying the taxes proved daily more distasteful, and when he was twenty-two, St. Austin's treatise on the Psalms decided him to enter religion. After six years of peace, his monastery was attacked by Arian heretics, and Fulgentius himself driven out destitute to the desert. He now sought the solitude of Egypt, but finding that country also in schism, he turned his steps to Rome. There the splendors of the imperial court only told him of the greater glory of the heavenly Jerusalem, and at the first lull in the persecution he resought his African cell. Elected bishop in 508, he was summoned forth to face new dangers, and was shortly after banished by the Arian king, Thrasimund, with fifty-nine orthodox prelates, to Sardinia. Though the youngest of the exiles, he was at once the mouthpiece of his brethren and the stay of their flocks. By his books and letters, which are still extant, he confounded both Pelagian and Arian heresiarchs, and confirmed the Catholics in Africa and Gaul. An Arian priest betrayed Fulgentius to the Numidians, and ordered him to be scourged. This was done. His hair and beard were plucked out, and he was left naked, his body one bleeding sore. Even the Arian bishop was ashamed of this brutality, and offered to punish the priest if the Saint would prosecute him. But Fulgentius replied, "A Christian must not seek revenge in this world. God knows how to right His servants' wrongs. If I were to bring the punishment of man on that priest, I should lose my own reward with God. And it would be a scandal to many little ones that a Catholic and a monk, however unworthy he be, should seek redress from an Arian bishop." On Thrasimund's death the bishops returned to their flocks, and Fulgentius, having reestablished discipline in his see, retired to an island monastery, where after a year's preparation he died in peace in the year 533.

Reflection.--Each year may bring us fresh changes and trials; let us learn from St. Fulgentius to receive all that happens as from the hand of God, and appointed for our salvation.

January 2.--ST. MACARIUS OF ALEXANDRIA.

MACARIUS when a youth left his fruit-stall at Alexandria to join the great St. Antony. The patriarch, warned by a miracle of his disciple's sanctity, named him the heir of his virtues. His life was one long conflict with self. "I am tormenting my tormentor," replied he to one who met him bent double with a basket of sand in the heat of the day. "Whenever I am slothful and idle, I am pestered by desires for distant travel." When he was quite worn out he returned to his cell. Since sleep at times overpowered him, he kept watch for twenty days and nights; being about to faint, he entered his cell and slept, but henceforth slept only at will. A gnat stung him; he killed it. In revenge for this softness he remained naked in a marsh till his body was covered with noxious bites and he was recognized only by his voice. Once when thirsty he received a present of grapes, but passed them untouched to a hermit who was toiling in the heat. This one gave them to a third, who handed them to a fourth; thus the grapes went the round of the desert and returned to Macarius, who thanked God for his brethren's abstinence. Macarius saw demons assailing the hermits at prayer. They put their fingers into the mouths of some, and made them yawn. They closed the eyes of others, and walked upon them when asleep. They placed vain and sensual images before many of the brethren, and then mocked those who were captivated by them. None vanquished the devils effectually save those who by constant vigilance repelled them at once. Macarius visited one hermit daily for four months, but never could speak to him, as he was always in prayer; so he called him an " angel on earth." After being many years Superior, Macarius fled in disguise to St. Pachomius, to begin again as his novice; but St. Pachomius, instructed by a vision, bad, rim return to his brethren, who loved him as their father. In his old age, thinking nature tamed, he determined to spend five days alone in prayer. On the third day the cell seemed on fire, and Macarius came forth. God permitted this delusion, he said, lest he be ensnared by pride. At the age of seventy-three he was driven into exile and brutally outraged by the Arian heretics. He died A. D. 394.

Reflection.--Prayer is the breath of the soul. But St. Macarius teaches us that mind and body must be brought to subjection before the soul is free to pray.