Thought for the Day – 7 August – the Memorial of St Pope Sixtus II (Died 258) Martyr
On 6 August 258, Sixtus was presiding over a clandestine liturgy in the cemetery of Praetextatus when Roman officials burst in and captured the pontiff and four deacons. An epitaph placed on Sixtus’ tomb a century later by St Pope Damasus I (305-384) recounts the scene:
“At the time when the sword pierced the bowels of the Mother, I, buried here, taught as Pastor the Word of God; when suddenly the soldiers rushed in and dragged me from the chair.
The faithful offered their necks to the sword but as soon as the Pastor saw the ones who wished to rob him of the palm (of martyrdom) he was the first to offer himself and his own head, not tolerating that the (pagan) frenzy should harm the others.
Christ, who gives recompense, made manifest the Pastor’s merit, preserving unharmed the flock.”
St Pope Damasus I (305-384)
The Holy Father, embodying our Lord’s command in John 15:13, willingly laid down his very life for his friends, the flock he was called to protect at all costs. Such a gesture is especially poignant for us as we navigate an increasingly hostile Western society.
The story of Sixtus II and his holy companions should not only stir within us a zeal for our own faith but should teach us the value of staying hope-filled amidst a fallen world. Hope, we ought to remember, isn’t simply bland optimism, but is rather, as Archbishop Charles Chaput put it recently, “Having confidence that the future is in God’s hands.”
Who are we beholden to in this life and just how serious are we about defending them with our own lives? More to it, when the going gets particularly tough, are we hopeful in our prayer that we’ll have the courage to persevere? Do we recognise that the Lord is the Divine Ruler of all things and thus will help us through those moments when the situation is bleakest? Even especially when things look the worst? (excerpt – Matthew Sewell NC Register)