SEPTEMBER 26 – SS. CYPRIAN AND JUSTINA, MARTYRS.
THE detestable superstition of St. Cyprian’s idolatrous parents devoted him from his infancy to the devil, and he was brought up in all the impious mysteries of idolatry, astrology, and the black art. When Cyprian had learned all the extravagances of these schools of error and delusion, he hesitated at no crimes, blasphemed Christ, and committed secret murders. There lived at Antioch a young Christian lady called Justina, of high birth and great beauty. A pagan nobleman fell deeply in love with her, and finding her modesty inaccessible, and her resolution invincible, he applied to Cyprian for assistance. Cyprian, no less smitten with the lady, tried every secret with which he was acquainted to conquer her resolution. Justina, perceiving herself vigorously attacked, studied to arm herself by prayer, watchfulness, and mortification against all his artifices and the power of his spells. Cyprian finding himself worsted by a superior power, began to consider the weakness of the infernal spirits, and resolved to quit their service and become a Christian. Agladius, who had been the first suitor to the holy virgin, was likewise converted and baptized. The persecution of Diocletian breaking out, Cyprian and Justina were seized, and presented to the same judge. She was inhumanly scourged, and Cyprian was torn with iron hooks. After this they were both sent in chains to Diocletian, who commanded their heads to be struck off, which sentence was executed.
REFLECTION: If the errors and disorders of St. Cyprian show the degeneracy of human nature corrupted by sin, and enslaved to vice, his conversion displays the power of grace and virtue to repair it. Let us beg of God to send us grace to resist temptation, and to do His holy will in all things.
WORD OF THE DAY
UNBAPTIZED INFANTS. Children, whether born or unborn, who die without baptism of water. The difficult question of whether they can attain the beatific vision in heaven has been discussed for centuries and has become especially grave since abortion is now legalized in so many countries. There is no unqualified answer to this question from the Church’s magisterium. But there are two principles of Catholic doctrine that must be reconciled.
On the one hand, the Church teaches that even those who die with only original sin on their souls cannot reach the beatific vision. The Second Council of Lyons (1274) and the Council of Florence (1438-45) explicitly define that those who die with “only original sin” (Peccato vel solo originali) do not reach heaven. There is also the Church’s condemnation of the Jansenists, who claimed that it is a myth to hold there is a place “which the faithful generally designate by the name of the limbo of children,” for the souls of those who depart this life with only the guilt of original sin (Pius VI, Errors of the Synod of Pistoia, Proposition 26, August 28, 1794).
On the other hand, we also know that, according to God’s universal salvific will, somehow he gives all persons the opportunity of reaching heaven. This is authoritatively expressed by the Second Vatican Council in its Dogmatic Constitution on the Church: “Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do His will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience–those too can achieve eternal salvation” (Lumen Gentium, 16). By implication, their children who die before the age of reason can also be saved.
Saying all of this, one should emphasize how deeply the Church is concerned that children be baptized as soon after birth as possible. “As for the time of Baptism,” the Roman ritual states, “the first consideration is the welfare of the child, that it may not be deprived of the benefit of the sacrament.” Therefore, “if the child is in danger of death, it is to be baptized without delay.”Modern Catholic Dictionary, Fr. John Hardon SJ (Get the real one at Eternal Life — don’t accept an abridged or edited version of this masterpiece!)
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