Quote/s of the Day – 8 July – The Memorial of Sts Priscilla and Aquila – Patrons of Catholic Marriage and Families
Speaking of Marriage and the Family
“Authentic married love is caught up into divine love . . . so that this love may lead the spouses to God . . . and in God, they find the strength, to carry on their roles and responsibilities.”
Gaudium et Spes (Joy and Hope, the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World), 48
“Merciful love is supremely indispensable between those who are closest to one another: between husbands and wives, between parents and children, between friends and it is indispensable in education and in pastoral work.”
“The future of humanity passes by way of the family. It is therefore indispensable and urgent, that every person of good will should endeavour to save and foster the values and requirements of the family. I feel that I must ask for a particular effort in this field, from the sons and daughters of the Church. Faith gives them full knowledge of God’s wonderful plan, they, therefore, have an extra reason for caring for the reality that is the family in this time of trial and of grace. They must show the family special love. This is an injunction that calls for concrete action.”
St Pope John Paul (1920-2005)
“We speak a lot about behavioural problems, mental health, the well-being of the child, the anxiety of the parents and the children— but do we even know what a wound of the soul is? Do we feel the weight of the mountain that crushes the soul of a child in those families, where members mistreat and hurt one another to the point of breaking the bonds of marital fidelity? What effect do our choices — often poor choices— have on the souls of children?”
24 June 2015
“During these days, we will reflect in particular on the family, which is the fundamental cell of society. From the beginning the Creator blessed man and woman, so that they might be fruitful and multiply and so the family then, is an image of the Triune God in the world.”
Thought for the Day – 8 July – The Memorial of Sts Priscilla and Aquila
It is appropriate that today, on the Memorial of Saints Priscilla and Aquila that we remember the parents of “the Little Flower”, the first married couple to be formally canonised together, Louis and Zelie Martin.
Louis and Zélie Martin, parents of St Thérèse of Lisieux (“The Little Flower”), were the first married couple to be canonised together and just three weeks after the annual feast day of Thérèse. Their canonisation coincided with the Ordinary Synod on the Family in Rome.
Though the Martins were known as a typical French family of their time, Louis and Zélie espoused and upheld a rare and unblemished love for God, each other and their children.
Although Louis intended to become a monk, wishing to enter the Augustinian Great St Bernard Monastery, he was rejected because he did not succeed at learning Latin. Later he decided to become a watchmaker and studied his craft in Rennes and in Strasbourg.
Zélie wanted to become a nun but was turned away by the Sisters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul due to respiratory difficulties and recurrent headaches. She then prayed for God to give her many children and that they would be consecrated to God. She later decided to become a lacemaker, manufacturing Alençon lace. She fell in love with the watchmaker Louis Martin in 1858 and married him, only three months later, on 12 July 1858, at the Basilica of Notre-Dame in Alençon. Zélie’s business became so successful that, in 1870, Louis sold his watchmaking business to go into partnership with her.
The couple nurtured their marriage and maintained a joyful Catholic home, while balancing the demands of business and day-to-day life with their children. Mr and Mrs Martin exemplified the multi-faceted vocation of being married Catholics and astute parents – putting God first; mentoring, educating and disciplining their children; being honourable business owners and employers; helping local families destitute and in need; and persevering in faith through loss of children, Zélie’s breast cancer and her early death.
As a father, Louis loved nature with a deep sentimental enthusiasm . It was from him that Thérèse inherited her passion for flowers and meadows and for her native landscape, clouds, thunderstorms, the sea and the stars. He made pilgrimages to Chartres and Lourdes, went to Germany and Austria, travelled twice to Rome and even to Constantinople and planned but did not live to carry out, a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Along with this desire for adventure was an impulse towards withdrawal; in Lisieux Louis arranged a little den for himself high up in the attic, a true monastic cell for praying, reading and meditation. Even his daughters were allowed to enter it only if they wished spiritual converse and self-examination. As in a monastery, he divided the day into worship, garden work and relaxation. As a jeweller and watchmaker, Louis loved the precious things with which he dealt. To his daughters he gave touching and naïve pet names: Marie was his “diamond”, Pauline his “noble pearl”, Céline “the bold one” and “the guardian angel”. Thérèse was his “little queen … to whom all treasures belonged”
On 18 October 2015, Louis and Azélie-Marie Martin were canonised as saints by Pope Francis.
“The holy spouses Louis Martin and Marie-Azélie Guérin practised Christian service in the family, creating day by day an environment of faith and love which nurtured the vocations of their daughters, among whom was Saint Therese of the Child Jesus.
The radiant witness of these new saints inspires us to persevere in joyful service to our brothers and sisters, trusting in the help of God and the maternal protection of Mary. From heaven may they now watch over us and sustain us by their powerful intercession.”…Pope Francis
Indeed we cry out to God, “Call down your mercy on marriage!
Sts Priscilla and Aquila, Louis and Zélie, pray for all married couples, pray for the sanctity of marriage and for us all!
Prayer for Marriage and Families By St Pope John Paul II (1920-2005)
Lord God, from You,
every family in heaven and on earth takes its name.
Father, You are Love and Life.
Through Your Son, Jesus Christ, born of woman
and through the Holy Spirit, fountain of divine charity,
grant that every family on earth may become,
for each successive generation, a true shrine of life and love.
Grant that Your grace may guide the thoughts and actions
of husbands and wives, for the good of their families
and of all the families in the world.
Grant that the young may find in the family,
solid support for their human dignity
and for their growth in truth and love.
Grant that love, strengthened by the grace
of the sacrament of marriage,
may prove mightier than all the weakness
and trials through which our families sometimes pass.
Through the intercession of the Holy Family of Nazareth,
grant that the Church
may fruitfully carry out her worldwide mission
in the family and through the family.
Through Christ our Lord,
who is the Way, the Truth and the Life
forever and ever.
One Minute Reflection – 8 July – – Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B – “He was not able to perform any mighty deed there because of their lack of faith”...Mark 6:4
And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands upon a few sick people and healed them. And he marvelled because of their unbelief...Mark 6:5-6
REFLECTION – “Father, Almighty God, keep, I pray, my faith undefiled and till my last breath, grant that I may always confess my deepest convictions. May I ever hold fast to everything which I professed in the creed of my new birth, when I was baptised in the Father and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. May I always adore You our Father and your Son who is one with You; give me always Your Holy Spirit, who proceeds from You, through Your Only-begotten Son.
For I have a convincing witness to my faith, who says, “Father, everything of mine is yours and everything of yours is mine” (Jn 17:10). This witness is my Lord Jesus Christ, forever God in You and from You and with You, who are blessed forever and ever. Amen”…Saint Hilary (c315-367) Bishop of Poitiers, Father & Doctor of the Church (De Trinitate, XII, final prayer)
PRAYER – Lord Holy God and Father of all, hold us always in Your Heart, keep us near to Your Son, that our faith may never fail us! Grant that by the prayers of Sts Aquila and Priscilla, we may hold fast to our Saviour, even in times of distress, hardship, persecution and humiliation, when this world assails us. Through Christ our Lord, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God forever amen.
Our Morning Offering – 8 July – Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B
Prayer before Holy Communion By Blessed John Henry Newman (1801-1890)
O my God, holiness becomes Your House,
and yet You make Your abode in my breast.
My Lord, my Saviour, to me You come,
hidden under the semblance of earthly things,
yet in that very flesh and blood
which You took from Mary,
You, who did first inhabit Mary’s breast,
come to me.
My God, You see me;
I cannot see myself…
You see how unworthy, so great a sinner is,
to receive the One Holy God,
whom the Seraphim adore with trembling…
My God, enable me to bear You,
for You alone can.
Cleanse my heart and mind from all that is past…
give me a true perception of things unseen,
and make me truly, practically,
and in the details of life,
prefer You to anything on earth,
and the future world,
to the present.
Saints of the Day – 8 July – Priscilla and Aquila – Continuing his catechesis on the early witnesses of the Christian faith, Pope Benedict XVI dedicated his 7 February 2007 General Audience Address to the Roman couple Priscilla and Aquila, who collaborated with St Paul in Corinth.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Taking a new step in this type of portrait gallery of the first witnesses of the Christian faith which we began some weeks ago, today we take into consideration a married couple.
The couple in question are Priscilla and Aquila, who take their place, as we already mentioned briefly last Wednesday, in the sphere of numerous collaborators who gravitated around the Apostle Paul. Based on the information in our possession, this married couple played a very active role in the post-Paschal origins of the Church.
The names Aquila and Priscilla are Latin but the man and woman who bear them were of Hebrew origin. At least Aquila, however, geographically came from the diaspora of northern Anatolia, which faces the Black Sea – in today’s Turkey – while Priscilla was probably a Jewish woman from Rome (cf. Acts 18: 2).
However, it was from Rome that they reached Corinth, where Paul met them at the beginning of the 50s. There he became associated with them, as Luke tells us, practising the same trade of making tents or large draperies for domestic use and he was even welcomed into their home (cf. Acts 18: 3). The reason they came to Corinth was the decision taken by the Emperor Claudius to expel from Rome, the city’s Jewish residents. Concerning this event the Roman historian Suetonius tells us that the Hebrews were expelled because “they were rioting due to someone named Chrestus” (cf. “The Lives of the Twelve Caesars, Claudius”, n. 25).
One sees that he did not know the name well – instead of Christ he wrote “Chrestus” – and he had only a very confused idea of what had happened. In any case, there were internal discords within the Jewish community about the question if whether Jesus was the Christ. And for the Emperor, these problems were the reason to simply expel all Jews from Rome.
One can deduce that the couple had already embraced the Christian faith in the 40s and now they had found in Paul, someone who not only shared with them this faith – that Jesus is the Christ – but who was also an Apostle, personally called by the Risen Lord. Therefore, their first encounter is at Corinth, where they welcomed him into their house and worked together making tents.
In a second moment, they transferred to Ephesus in Asia Minor. There they had a decisive role in completing the Christian formation of the Alexandrian Jew Apollo, who we spoke about last Wednesday. Since he only knew the faith superficially, “Priscilla and Aquila… took him and expounded to him the way of God more accurately” (Acts 18: 26). When Paul wrote the First Letter to the Corinthians from Ephesus, together with his own greeting, he explicitly sent those of “Aquila and Prisca, together with the church in their house” (16: 19). Hence, we come to know the most important role that this couple played in the environment of the primitive Church: that of welcoming in their own house the group of local Christians when they gathered to listen to the Word of God and to celebrate the Eucharist. It is exactly this type of gathering that in Greek is called “ekklesìa” – the Latin word is “ecclesia”, the Italian “chiesa” – which means convocation, assembly, gathering. In the house of Aquila and Priscilla, therefore, the Church gathered, the convocation of Christ, which celebrates here the Sacred Mysteries.
Thus, we can see the very birth of the reality of the Church in the homes of believers. Christians, in fact, from the first part of the third century did not have their own places of worship. Initially it was the Jewish Synagogue, until the original symbiosis between the Old and New Testaments dissolved and the Church of the Gentiles was forced to give itself its own identity, always profoundly rooted in the Old Testament. Then, after this “break”, they gathered in the homes of Christians that thus become “Church”. And finally, in the third century, true and proper buildings for Christian worship were born. But here, in the first half of the first century and in the second century, the homes of Christians become a true and proper “Church”. As I said, together they read the Sacred Scripture and celebrate the Eucharist.
That was what used to happen, for example, at Corinth, where Paul mentioned a certain “Gaius, who is host to me and to the whole church” (Rom 16: 23), or at Laodicea, where the community gathered in the home of a certain Nympha (cf. Col 4: 15), or at Colossae, where the meeting took place in the house of a certain Archippus (cf. Phlm 2).
Having returned subsequently to Rome, Aquila and Priscilla continue to carry out this precious function also in the capital of the Empire. In fact, Paul, writing to the Romans, sends this precise greeting: “Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who risked their necks for my life, to whom not only I but also all the churches of the Gentiles, give thanks; greet also the church in their house” (Rom 16: 3-5).
What extraordinary praise for these two married persons in these words! And it is none other than Paul who extends it! He explicitly recognises in them, two true and important collaborators of his apostolate.
The reference made to having risked their lives for him is probably linked to interventions in his favour during some prison stay, perhaps in the same Ephesus (cf. Acts 19: 23; I Cor 15: 32; II Cor 1: 8-9). And to Paul’s own gratitude, even that of all the Churches of the Gentiles, is joined. Although considering the expression perhaps somewhat hyperbolic, it lets one intuit how vast their ray of action was and therefore, their influence for the good of the Gospel.
Paul with Priscilla and Aquila, 1857-60
Later hagiographic tradition has given a very singular importance to Priscilla, even if the problem of identifying her with the martyr Priscilla remains. In any case, here in Rome we have a Church dedicated to St Prisca on the Aventine Hill, near the Catacombs of Priscilla on Via Salaria. In this way, the memory of a woman who has certainly been an active person and of great value in the history of Roman Christianity is perpetuated. One thing is sure: together with the gratitude of the early Church, of which St Paul speaks, we must also add our own, since thanks to the faith and apostolic commitment of the lay faithful, of families, of spouses like Priscilla and Aquila, Christianity has reached our generation.
It could grow not only thanks to the Apostles who announced it. In order to take root in people’s land and develop actively, the commitment of these families, these spouses, these Christian communities, of these lay faithful was necessary in order to offer the “humus” for the growth of the faith. As always, it is only in this way that the Church grows.
This couple in particular demonstrates how important the action of Christian spouses is. When they are supported by the faith and by a strong spirituality, their courageous commitment for the Church and in the Church becomes natural. The daily sharing of their life prolongs and in some way is sublimated, in the assuming of a common responsibility, in favour of the Mystical Body of Christ, even if just a little part of it. Thus it was in the first generation and thus it will often be.
A further lesson we cannot neglect to draw from their example: every home can transform itself in a little church. Not only in the sense that in them must reign the typical Christian love made of altruism and of reciprocal care but still more in the sense that the whole of family life, based on faith, is called to revolve around the singular lordship of Jesus Christ.
Not by chance does Paul compare, in the Letter to the Ephesians, the matrimonial relationship to the spousal communion that happens between Christ and the Church (cf. Eph 5: 25-33). Even more, we can maintain that the Apostle indirectly models the life of the entire Church on that of the family. And the Church, in reality, is the family of God.
Therefore, we honour Aquila and Priscilla as models of conjugal life responsibly committed to the service of the entire Christian community. And we find in them the model of the Church, God’s family for all times.…by Pope Benedict XVI – General Audience Address 7 February 2007
St Abraham the Martyr
Bl Adolf IV of Schauenburg
St Pope Adrian III
St Ampelius of Milan
St Apollonius of Benevento
Sts Aquila & Priscilla – the Tentmakers
St Auspicius of Toul
St Auspicius of Trier
Brogan of Mothil
St Colman of Thuringia
St Edgar the Peaceful
Bl Pope Eugene III
St Glyceria of Heraclea
St Ioannes Wu Wenyin
St Ithier of Nevers
St Killian (c 640-689) Martyr
Bl Mancius Araki Kyuzaburo
St Pancras of Taormina
Bl Peter the Hermit
St Procopius of Ceasarea
St Sunniva of Bergen
St Thibaud de Marly
St Totnan of Thuringia
Abrahamite Monks/Martyrs of Constantinople: A group of monks in a monstery founded by Saint Abraham of Ephesus. Martyred in the iconoclast persecutions of emperor Theophilus. In c 835 in Constantinople.
Martyrs of Shanxi – 7 saints: In 1898 seven sisters of the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary were sent to the Shanxi diocese in China to serve the poor in hospitals and care for the unwanted or other destitutes in orphanages. They were –
• Anne-Catherine Dierks
• Anne-Francoise Moreau
• Clelia Nanetti
• Irma Grivot
• Jeanne-Marie Kuergin
• Marianna Giuliani
• Pauline Jeuris
There they all died in one of the periodic crackdowns against foreign missionaries.
They were beheaded on 9 July 1900 at Taiyuanfu, China- Beatified on 24 November 1946 by Pope Pius XII and Canonised on 1 October 2000 by Pope John Paul II.
Martyrs of Syrmium – 5 saints: Five Christians martyred together for their faith. We know nothing else about them but the names – Cecilia, Eperentius, Eraclius, Sostratus and Spirus. They were martyred in the 4th century in Syrmium, Pannonia (modern Serbia).