Sunday, October 9, 2011

Feast of Sts. Dionysius the Areopagite and Abraham, another plug for the Roman Martyrology


St. Denis, Bishop and Martyr

October 9th, Feast of Sts. Denis and Abraham
At Paris, the birthday of the holy martyrs Denis the Areopagite (Bishop), Rusticus (Priest), and Eleutherius (Deacon). Of these, Denis having been baptized by Paul the Apostle, was ordained first Bishop of the Athenians; then, coming to Rome, he was sent to France by blessed Clement the Roman Pontiff, to fulfill the office of preaching, and arrived at Paris. After he had faithfully carried out there for some years the work committed to him, at last he suffered martyrdom, being slain with the sword with his companions after most severe torments by the prefect Fescennius.
On the same day, the memory of St. Abraham, Patriarch and father of all believers.
(Taken from the Roman Martyrology)
Today is one of those days when I am reminded how good the Roman Martyrology is. [see my earlier post on the Martyrology, here]

St. Denis of Paris, or Dionysius the Areopagite
Setting aside the historical questions about the identity of this great mystic and saint, we intend here simply to discuss the manner in which the Roman Martyrology recalls the memory of the saints, using St. Denis as an example.
The above text comes from the Martyrology of October 9th, but this text would in fact be read on the 8th – either at the prayer time of prime or at the principal meal. This is the custom of the Martyrology: The saints of the coming day are recalled, so that the soul may be well disposed for the coming feasts.
 “At Paris” – The Martyrology begins by recalling the place of death.
“The birthday of the holy martyrs” – Notice that the Martyrology often speaks of “birthdays” when recalling the memories of martyrs. These are not “birthdays” according to the common understanding, but are rather what we would call the day of death. On the day that the saints die in the eyes of the world, they are finally born into the glory of heaven.
Then usually follows a brief and pious description of the life of the saint (in this case, of St. Denis) which gives special attention to the manner and circumstances of death.
St. Abraham, Patriarch and father of all believers
Finally, it is good to point out that the Roman Martyrology includes also the saints of the Old Testament. Today is traditionally honored as the day in which Abraham died. Hence, his memory is recalled briefly.
There are many other Old Testament saints who are recorded in the Roman Martyrology, to name a few:
Jeremiah, prophet and martyr, in Egypt – May 1st.
Elisha, prophet, in Samaria, June 14th.
Isaiah, prophet and martyr, in Jerusalem – July 6th.
Elijah, prophet, on Mount Carmel – July 20th.
Daniel, prophet, at Babylon – July 21st.
Samuel, prophet, in Judea – August 20th.
Moses, lawgiver and prophet, on Mount Nebo, September 4th.
David, king and prophet, at Jerusalem – December 29th.

Sts. Denis and Abraham, Pray for us!

NOTE: As I will be on vacation from October 3rd through the 14th, the comment box will be closed. They will be opened from the 15th.

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