St. Catherine of Alexandria, Virgin, Martyr Nov. 25

Catherine of Alexandria_RAFFAELLO SanzioSt. Catherine was a noble virgin of Alexandria Egypt who united a zeal tor the liberal arts with an ardent faith. When she saw many Christians given up to torture by Maximin, she went to him and strongly stated the necessity of faith in Christ for salvation. Wondering at her wisdom, the tyrant commanded her to be held, and, assembling the most learned men from all sides, he tried to persuade her to turn to the worship of idols. But the opposite happened; many of those men were convinced by Catherine’s wise reasoning and embraced the faith of Christ and did not hesitate to die for it. Because of this, Maximim tried promises first and then threats to win Catherine from her conviction; but, when nothing succeeded, he had her beheaded with an axe.

St. John Of The Cross Nov. 24

John of the Cross2“St. John of the Cross was born of devout parents at Fontiveros in Spain. In his earliest years it became known how dear he would be to the Virgin Mother of God; for, when he was five years old, he fell into a well and, lifted out by her hand, escaped unharmed. As a young man he made himself a most loving servant to the sick poor in the hospital of Medina del Campo. Then he entered the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel and, ordained priest out of obedience, professed the primitive rule. Burning with zeal to promote the stricter discipline, he was given by God as a companion to St. Teresa, who considered him among the purest and best souls in the Church of God at that time, to restore the primitive Carmelite observance among the brethren. When he had laboured earnestly at this task and suffered many things, he was asked by Christ what reward he would ask for so many toils, and he answered: Lord, to suffer and be despised for thee. He wrote books of mystical theology, full of heavenly wisdom. At length, having most patiently endured a severe illness, he fell asleep in the Lord at Ubeda in 1591, in the forty-ninth year of his age. Pius XI, on the advice of the Congregation of Sacred Rites, declared him a Doctor of the universal Church.” 1960 Roman Breviary

Advent Cleaning To Have A Clean Heart Full Of Grace To Welcome Jesus

We need to take advantage of every opportunity that we have to grow in holiness.  There are always ample influences working on us every second to get us away from God and the holy way of life.

Advent_Rorate Mass_high altar

Advent is one of those times that God has put into our Catholic faith to again, give us an opportunity to let go of things that do not please Him and to put into real practice those things that do please Him.

If we could just remind ourselves each day in Advent of the hard hitting truth; MY SINS offends God greatly.  Every one of our actions, that is contrary to God’s loving rules, is very offensive to God.

All of us are rightfully disturbed when someone else offends us with mean actions or words.  But, most of the time, we could care less about offending the AUTHOR of our LIFE, just because we love ourselves and the instantaneous pleasures we get from SIN.

In order to prepare for Christmas, which will be here much quicker than we can imagine, we need to take TIME to reflect on these actions and attitudes that we have accepted as normal in our lives, but yet are loathsome in the eyes God.

IMG_3317Then we need to work on truly admitting how evil these sins are, no matter how much we or the world have justify them.  Then we need to do everything we can do to root them permanently out of our lives.

Advent is that time of GRACE when God gives us an extra shove, and extra light, to help us PERMANENTLY remove these rotting vices from our souls.  But we have to avail ourselves to these graces by praying, being truly sorry and avoiding things, places or persons that tempt us, (avoiding ALL near occasions of sin).

Please, for once, be perfectly honest with yourselves.  Remember, we are not fooling God, ourselves or others when we pretend that sin is alright.  Deep in our souls we know what is good and what is evil.  But we have worked hard over a long period of time to cleverly developed thought patterns that “justify” continuing in sin.  This list that we have concocted, to not mind sinning, is endless;

  1. Everyone is doing it.
  2. I am lonely, depressed, so I need some “pornography”, “sex”, “drugs”, “alcohol”.
  3. There is nothing wrong with this.
  4. Its not that sinful.
  5. My spouse left me, so I am normal and need intimacy and sex.
  6. I can go to confession.  (Grave sin of presumption).
  7. I tried and cannot stop sinning.
  8. I am addicted.
  9. It just happens.
  10. It is what other people do that causes me to sin.
  11. The Bible is old fashion.
  12. The Catholic Church is wrong.
  13. I am human and it is human to sin.

fr-kenneth-walker1Some things which will help us stop sinning are;

  1. Honestly admit you are offending God greatly by every sin.
  2. Honestly admit that these are sins.
  3. Stop fooling yourself by watering down the gravity of ONE mortal sin; Death to your soul and eternal punishment in hell.
  4. Immediately turn to God and Mary for help through prayer.
  5. Keep busy doing good for God and others.
  6. Do everything possible to help others know what is sin and to stop sinning.
  7. Open your eyes to the consequences of sin throughout the whole world.
  8. Reflect on the suffering you have experienced from other people’s sins.
  9. Read the Holy Bible to have the grace of knowing the truth about the gravity of sin.
  10. Remember the effect of sin, that horrible separation from God, the guilt, the depression, the shame, that you experience after sinning.

It takes a great amount of prayer and effort to stop habitually sinning.  But each minute, each hour, each day, each week, each month, it becomes easier and easier, with God’s help and your determination.

st-john-vianney-confessionTake time to go to Confession.  But before you do, be prepared:

  1. Take time to read a good examination of conscience.
  2. Be sure you are extremely sorry for rebelling against God.
  3. Be sure you are extremely sorry for offending God.
  4. Have a period of time you have stopped doing the habitual sin before you go.
  5. Humbly listen to the priest’s admonition.
  6. Do the penance given.
  7. Read over before hand the Act of Contrition and be sure you can really put into practice what you will pray before God and the priest.
  8. Humbly admit you are a weak sinner in need of God’s help to be holy.

How wonderful it will be to have a pure heart full of the light of grace to receive Jesus into this Christmas.

St. Clement Pope, Martyr Nov. 23

SaintclementmartyrPope St. Clement I

“Pope Clement I (called CLEMENS ROMANUS to distinguish him from the Alexandrian), is the first of the successors of St. Peter of whom anything definite is known, and he is the first of the “Apostolic Fathers”. His feast is celebrated 23 November. He has left one genuine writing, a letter to the Church of Corinth, and many others have been attributed to him.


According to Tertullian, writing c. 199, the Roman Church claimed that Clement was ordained by St. Peter (De Praescript., xxxii), and St. Jerome tells us that in his time “most of the Latins” held that Clement was the immediate successor of the Apostle (De viris illustr., xv). St. Jerome himself in several other places follows this opinion, but here he correctly states that Clement was the fourth pope. The early evidence shows great variety. The most ancient list of popes is one made by Hegesippus in the time of Pope Anicetus, c. 160 (Harnack ascribes it to an unknown author under Soter, c. 170), cited by St. Epiphanius (Haer., xxvii, 6). It seems to have been used by St. Irenaeus (Haer., III, iii), by Julius Africanus, who composed a chronography in 222, by the third- or fourth-century author of a Latin poem against Marcion, and by Hippolytus, who see chronology extends to 234 and is probably found in the “Liberian Catalogue” of 354. That catalogue was itself adopted in the “Liber Pontificalis”. Eusebius in his chronicle and history used Africanus; in the latter he slightly corrected the dates. St. Jerome’s chronicle is a translation of Eusebius’s, and is our principal means for restoring the lost Greek of the latter; the Armenian version and Coptic epitomes of it are not to be depended on. The varieties of order are as follows:

  1. Linus, Cletus, Clemens (Hegesippus, ap. Epiphanium, Canon of Mass).
    Linus, Anencletus, Clemens (Irenaeus, Africanus ap. Eusebium).
    Linus, Anacletus, Clemens (Jerome).
  2. Linus, Cletus, Anacletus, Clemens (Poem against Marcion),
  3. Linus, Clemens, Cletus, Anacletus [Hippolytus (?), “Liberian Catal.”- “Liber. Pont.”].
  4. Linus, Clemens, Anacletus (Optatus, Augustine).

At the present time no critic doubts that Cletus, Anacletus, Anencletus, are the same person. Anacletus is a Latin error; Cletus is a shortened (and more Christian) form of Anencletus. Lightfoot thought that the transposition of Clement in the “Liberian Catalogue” was a mere accident, like the similar error “Anicetus, Pius” for “Pius Anicetus”, further on in the same list. But it may have been a deliberate alteration by Hippolytus, on the ground of the tradition mentioned by Tertullian. St. Irenaeus (III, iii) tells us that Clement “saw the blessed Apostles and conversed with them, and had yet ringing in his ears the preaching of the Apostles and had their tradition before his eyes, and not he only for many were then surviving who had been taught y the Apostles “. Similarly Epiphanius tells us (from Hegesippus) that Clement was a contemporary of Peter and Paul. Now Linus and Cletus had each twelve years attributed to them in the list. If Hippolytus found Cletus doubled by an error (Cletus XII, Anacletus XII), the accession of Clement would appear to be thirty-six years after the death of the Apostles. As this would make it almost impossible for Clement to have been their contemporary, it may have caused Hippolytus to shift him to an earlier position. Further, St. Epiphanius says (loc. cit. ): “Whether he received episcopal ordination from Peter in the life-time of the Apostles, and declined the office, for he says in one of his epistles ‘I retire, I depart, let the people of God be in peace’, (for we have found this set down in certain Memoirs), or whether he was appointed by the Bishop Cletus after he had succeeded the Apostles, we do not clearly know.” The “Memoirs” were certainly those of Hegesippus. It seems unlikely that he is appealed to only for the quotation from the Epistle, c. liv; probably Epiphanius means that Hegesippus stated that Clement had been ordained by Peter and declined to be bishop, but twenty-four years later really exercised the office for nine years. Epiphanius could not reconcile these two facts; Hippolytus seems to have rejected the latter.

St Clement of Rome_stational churchChronology

The date intended by Hegesippus is not hard to restore. Epiphanius implies that he placed the martyrdom of the Apostles in the twelfth year of Nero. Africanus calculated the fourteenth year (for he had attributed one year too little to the reigns of Caligula and Claudius), and added the imperial date for the accession of each pope; but having two years too few up to Anicetus he could not get the intervals to tally with the years of episcopate given by Hegesippus. He had a parallel difficulty in his list of the Alexandrian bishops.

Hegesippus Africanus (from Eusebius) Interval Real Dates A.D.
Linus 12 Nero 14 12 Nero 12 66
Cletus 12 Titus 2 12 Vesp 10 78
Clemens 9 Dom 12 (7) Dom 10 80
Euaristus 8 Trajan 2 (10) Tajan 2 99
Alexander 10 Trajan 12 10 Trajan 10 107
Sixtus 10 Hadrian 3 (9) Hadrian 1 117
Telesphorus 11 Hadrian 12 (10) Hadrian 11 127
Hyginus 4 Anton 1 4 Anton 1 138
Pius 15 Anton 5 15 Anton 5 142
Anicetus Anton 20 Anton 20 157

If we start, as Hegesippus intended, with Nero 12 (see last column), the sum of his years brings us right for the last three popes. But Africanus has started two years wrong, and in order to get right at Hyginus he has to allow one year too little to each of the preceding popes, Sixtus and Telesphorus. But there is one inharmonious date, Trajan 2, which gives seven and ten years to Clement and Euaristus instead of nine and eight. Evidently he felt bound to insert a traditional date — and in fact we see that Trajan 2 was the date intended by Hegesippus. Now we know that Hegesippus spoke about Clement’s acquaintance with the Apostles, and said nothing about any other pope until Telesphorus, “who was a glorious martyr.” It is not surprising, then, to find that Africanus had, besides the lengths of episcopate, two fixed dates from Hegesippus, those of the death of Clement in the second year of Trajan, and of the martyrdom of Telesphorus in the first year of Antoninus Pius. We may take it, therefore, that about 160 the death of St. Clement was believed to have been in 99.

Clement_fresco from San Clemente, RomeIdentity

Origen identifies Pope Clement with St. Paul’s fellow-labourer, Phil., iv, 3, and 80 do Eusebius, Epiphanius, and Jerome — but this Clement was probably a Philippian. In the middle of the nineteenth century it was the custom to identity the pope with the consul of 95, T. Flavius Clemens, who was martyred by his first cousin, the Emperor Domitian, at the end of his consulship. But the ancients never suggest this, and the pope is said to have lived on till the reign of Trajan. It is unlikely that he was a member of the imperial family. The continual use of the Old Testament in his Epistle has suggested to Lightfoot, Funk, Nestle, and others that he was of Jewish origin. Probably he was a freedman or son of a freedman of the emperor’s household, which included thousands or tens of thousands. We know that there were Christians in the household of Nero (Phil., iv, 22). It is highly probable that the bearers of Clement’s letter, Claudius Ephebus and Valerius Vito, were of this number, for the names Claudius and Valerius occur with great frequency in inscriptions among the freedmen of the Emperor Claudius (and his two predecessors of the same gens) and his wife Valeria Messalina. The two messengers are described as “faithful and prudent men, who have walked among us from youth unto old age unblameably”, thus they were probably already Christians and living in Rome before the death of the Apostles about thirty years earlier. The Prefect of Rome during Nero’s persecution was Titus Flavius Sabinus, elder brother of the Emperor Vespasian, and father of the martyred Clemens. Flavia Domitilla, wife of the Martyr, was a granddaughter of Vespasian, and niece of Titus and Domitian; she may have died a martyr to the rigours of her banishment The catacomb of Domitilla is shown by existing inscriptions to have been founded by her. Whether she is distinct from another Flavia Domitilla, who is styled “Virgin and Martyr”, is uncertain. (See FLAVIA DOMITILLA and NEREUS AND ACHILLEUS) The consul and his wife had two sons Vespasian and Domitian, who had Quintilian for their tutor. Of their life nothing is known. The elder brother of the martyr Clemens was T. Flavius Sabinus, consul in 82, put to death by Domitian, whose sister he had married. Pope Clement is rep resented as his son in the Acts of Sts. Nereus and Achilleus, but this would make him too young to have known the Apostles.

Clement I_adoring Trinity_TIEPOLO, Giovanni BattistaMartyrdom

Of the life and death of St, Clement nothing is known. The apocryphal Greek Acts of his martyrdom were printed by Cotelier in his “Patres Apost.” (1724, I, 808; reprinted in Migne, P. G., II, 617, best edition by Funk, “Patr. Apost.”, II, 28). They relate how he converted Theodora, wife of Sisinnius, a courtier of Nerva, and (after miracles) Sisinnius himself and four hundred and twenty-three other persons of rank. Trajan banishes the pope to the Crimea, where he slakes the thirst of two thousand Christian confessors by a miracle. The people of the country are converted, seventy-five churches are built. Trajan, in consequence, orders Clement to be thrown into the sea with an iron anchor. But the tide every year recedes two miles, revealing a Divinely built shrine which contains the martyr’s bones. This story is not older than the fourth century. It is known to Gregory of Tours in the sixth. About 868 St. Cyril, when in the Crimea on the way to evangelize the Chazars, dug up some bones in a mound (not in a tomb under the sea), and also an anchor. These were believed to be the relics of St. Clement. They were carried by St. Cyril to Rome, and deposited by Adrian II with those of St. Ignatius of Antioch in the high altar of the basilica of St. Clement in Rome. The history of this translation is evidently quite truthful, but there seems to have been no tradition with regard to the mound, which simply looked a likely place to be a tomb. The anchor appears to be the only evidence of identity but we cannot gather from the account that it belonged to the scattered bones. (See Acta SS., 9 March, II, 20.) St. Clement is first mentioned as a martyr by Rufinus (c. 400). Pope Zozimus in a letter to Africa in 417 relates the trial and partial acquittal of the heretic Caelestius in the basilica of St. Clement; the pope had chosen this church because Clement had learned the Faith from St. Peter, and had given his life for it (Ep. ii). He is also called a martyr by the writer known as Praedestinatus (c. 430) and by the Synod of Vaison in 442. Modern critics think it possible that his martyrdom was suggested by a confusion with his namesake, the martyred consul. But the lack of tradition that he was buried in Rome is in favour of his having died in exile.

San ClementeThe Basilica

The church of St. Clement at Rome lies in the valley between the Esquiline and Coelian hills, on the direct road from the Coliseum to the Lateran. It is now in the hands of the Irish Province of Dominicans. With its atrium, its choir enclosed by a wall, its ambos, it is the most perfect model of an early basilica in Rome, though it was built as late as the first years of the twelfth century by Paschal II, after the destruction of this portion of the city by the Normans under Robert Guiscard. Paschal II followed the lines of an earlier church, on a rather smaller scale, and employed some of its materials and fittings The marble wall of the present choir is of the date of John II (533-5). In 1858 the older church was unearthed, below the present building, by the Prior Father Mulooly, O. P. Still lower were found chambers of imperial date and walls of the Republican period. The lower church was built under Constantine (d. 337) or not much later. St. Jerome implies that it was not new in his time: “nominis eius [Clementis] memoriam usque hodie Romae exstructa ecclesia custodit” (De viris illustr., xv). It is mentioned in inscriptions of Damasus (d. 383) and Siricius (d. 398). De Rossi thought the lowest chambers belonged to the house of Clement, and that the room immediately under the altar was probably the original memoria of the saint. These chambers communicate with a shrine of Mithras, which lies beyond the apse of the church, on the lowest level. De Rossi supposed this to be a Christian chapel purposely polluted by the authorities during the last persecution. Lightfoot has suggested that the rooms may have belonged to the house of T. Flavius Clemens the consul, being later mistaken for the dwelling of the pope; but this seems quite gratuitous. In the sanctuary of Mithras a statue of the Good Shepherd was found.


Many writings have been falsely attributed to Pope St. Clement I:

  1. The “Second Clementine Epistle to the Corinthians”, discussed under III.
  2. Two “Epistles to Virgins”, extant in Syriac in an Amsterdam MS. of 1470. The Greek originals are lost. Many critics have believed them genuine, for they were known in the fourth century to St. Epiphanius (who speaks of their being read in the Churches) and to St. Jerome. But it is now admitted on all hands that they cannot be by the same author as the genuine Epistle to the Corinthians. Some writers, as Hefele and Westcott, have attributed them to the second half Or the second century, but the third is more probable (Harnack, Lightfoot). Harnack thinks the two letters were originally one. They were first edited by Wetstein, 1470, with Latin translation, reprinted by Gallandi, “Bibl. vett. Patr.”, I, and Migne, P. G., I. They are found in Latin only in Mansi, “Concilia”, I, and Funk “Patres Apost.”, II. See Lightfoot, “Clement of Rome” (London, 1890), I Bardenhewer, “Gesch. der altkirchl. Litt.” (Freiburg im Br., 1902), I; Harnack in “Sitzungsber. der k. preuss. Akad. der Wiss.” (Berlin, 1891), 361 and “Chronol.” (1904), II, 133.
  3. At the head of the Pseudo-Isidorian decretals stand five letters attributed to St. Clement. The first is the letter of Clement to James translated by Rufinus (see III); the second is another letter to James, found in many MSS. of the “Recognitions”. The other three are the work of Pseudo-Isidore (See FALSE DECRETALS.)
  4. Ascribed to Clement are the “Apostolical Constitutions”, “Apostolic Canons”, and the “Testament of Our Lord”, also a Jacobite Anaphora (Renaudot, Liturg. Oriental. Coll., Paris, 1716, II; Migne, P.G., II). For other attributions see Harnack, “Gesch. der altchr. Lit.” I, 777-80. The “Clementines’ or Pseudo-Clementines. (q.v.)


The Church of Corinth had been led by a few violent spirits into a sedition against its rulers. No appeal seems to have been made to Rome, but a letter was sent in the name of the Church of Rome by St. Clement to restore peace and unity. He begins by explaining that his delay in writing has been caused by the sudden calamities which, one after another, had just been falling upon the Roman Church. The reference is clearly to the persecution of Domitian. The former high reputation of the Corinthian Church is recalled, its piety and hospitality, its obedience and discipline. Jealousy had caused the divisions; it was jealousy that led Cain, Esau, etc., into sin, it was jealousy to which Peter and Paul and multitudes with them fell victims. The Corinthians are urged to repent after the example of the Patriarchs, and to be humble like Christ himself. Let them observe order, as all creation does. A curious passage on the Resurrection is somewhat of an interruption in the sequence: all creation proves the Resurrection, and so does the phoenix, which every five hundred years consumes itself, that its offspring may arise out of its ashes (23-6). Let us, Clement continues, forsake evil and approach God with purity, clinging to His blessing, which the Patriarchs so richly obtained, for the Lord will quickly come with His rewards, let us look to Jesus Christ, our High-Priest, above the angels at the right hand of the Father (36). Discipline and subordination are necessary as in an army and in the human body, while arrogance is absurd for man is nothing. The Apostles foresaw feuds, and provided for a succession of bishops and deacons; such, therefore cannot be removed at pleasure. The just have always been persecuted. Read St. Paul’s first epistle to you, how he condemns party spirit. It is shocking that a few should disgrace the Church of Corinth. Let us beg for pardon- nothing is more beautiful than charity; it was shown by Christ when He gave His Flesh for our flesh, His Soul-for our souls; by living in this love, we shall be in the number of the saved through Jesus Christ, by Whom is glory to God for ever and ever, Amen (58). But if any disobey, he is in great danger; but we will pray that the Creator may preserve the number of His elect in the whole world.–Here follows a beautiful Eucharistic prayer (59-61). The conclusion follows: “We have said enough, on the necessity of repentance, unity, peace, for we have been speaking to the faithful, who have deeply studied the Scriptures, and will understand the examples pointed out, and will follow them. We shall indeed be happy if you obey. We have sent two venerable messengers, to show how great is our anxiety for peace among you” (62-4). “Finally may the all-seeing God and Master of Spirits and Lord of all flesh, who chose the Lord Jesus Christ and us through Him for a peculiar people, grant unto every soul that is called after His excellent and holy Name faith, fear, peace, patience, long-suffering, temperance, chastity, and soberness, that they may be well-pleasing unto His Name through our High Priest and Guardian. Jesus Christ, through whom unto Him be glory and majesty, might and honour, both now and for ever and ever, Amen. Now send ye back speedily unto us our messengers Claudius Ephebus and Valerius Bito, together with Fortunatus also, in peace and with joy, to the end that they may the more quickly report the peace and concord which is prayed for and earnestly desired by us, that we also may the more speedily rejoice over your good order. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you and with all men in all places who have been called by God and through Him, through whom is glory and honour, power and greatness and eternal dominion, unto Him, from the ages past and for ever and ever. Amen.” (64-5.)

The style of the Epistle is earnest and simple, restrained and dignified, and sometimes eloquent. The Greek is correct, though not classical. The quotations from the Old Testament are long and numerous. The version of the Septuagint used by Clement inclines in places towards that which appears in the New Testament, yet presents sufficient evidence of independence; his readings are often with A, but are less often opposed to B than are those in the New Testament; occasionally he is found against the Septuagint with Theodotion or even Aquila (see H. B. Swete, Introd. to the 0. T. in Greek, Cambridge 1900). The New Testament he never quotes verbally. Sayings of Christ are now and then given, but not in the words of the Gospels. It cannot be proved, therefore, that he used any one of the Synoptic Gospels. He mentions St. Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians, and appears to imply a second. He knows Romans and Titus, and apparently cites several other of St. Paul’s Epistles. But Hebrews is most often employed of all New Testament books. James, probably, and I Peter, perhaps, are referred to. (See the lists of citations in Funk and Lightfoot, Westcott and Zahn on the Canon, Introductions to Holy Scripture, such as those of Cornely, Zahn, etc., and “The New Test. in the Apost. Fathers”, by a Committee of the Oxford Society of Hist. Theology, Oxford, 1906.) The tone of authority with which the letter speaks is noteworthy, especially in the later part (56, 58, etc.): “But if certain persons should be disobedient unto the words spoken by Him through us let them understand that they will entangle themselves in no slight transgression and danger; but we shall be guiltless of this sin” (59). “It may, perhaps, seem strange”, writes Bishop Lightfoot, “to describe this noble remonstrance as the first step towards papal domination. And yet undoubtedly this is the case.” (I, 70.)


There is little intentional dogmatic teaching in the Epistle, for it is almost wholly hortatory. A passage on the Holy Trinity is important. Clement uses the Old Testament affirmation “The Lord liveth”, substituting the Trinity thus: “As God liveth, and the Lord Jesus Christ liveth and the Holy Spirit — the faith and hope of the elect, so surely he that performeth”, etc. (58). Christ is frequently represented as the High-Priest, and redemption is often referred to. Clement speaks strongly of justification by works. His words on the Christian ministry have given rise to much discussion (42 and 44): “The Apostles received the Gospel for us from the Lord Jesus Christ; Jesus Christ was sent from God. So then Christ is from God, and the Apostles from Christ. Both [missions] therefore came in due order by the will of God….. So preaching everywhere in country and town, they appointed their first-fruits, having proved them by the Spirit, to be bishops and deacons for those who should believe. And this in no new fashion, for it had indeed been written from very ancient times about bishops and deacons; for thus saith the Scripture: ‘I will appoint their bishops in justice and their deacons in faith”‘ (a strange citation of Is., lx, 17). . . . “And our Apostles knew through our Lord Jesus Christ that there would be strife over the name of the office of bishop. For this cause therefore, having received complete foreknowledge, they appointed the aforesaid persons, and afterwards they have given a law, so that, if these should fall asleep, other approved men should succeed to their ministration.” Rothe, Michiels (Origines de l’episcopat, Louvain, 1900, 197), and others awkwardly understand “if they, the Apostles, should fall asleep”. For epinomen dedokasin, which the Latin renders legem dederunt, Lightfoot reads epimonen dedokasin, “they have provided a continuance “. In any case the general meaning is clear, that the Apostles provided for a lawful succession of ministers. Presbyters are mentioned several times, but are not distinguished from bishops. There is absolutely no mention of a bishop at Corinth, and the ecclesiastical authorities there are always spoken of in the. plural. R. Sohm thinks there was as yet no bishop at Corinth when Clement wrote (so Michiels and many other Catholic writers; Lightfoot leaves the question open), but that a bishop must have been appointed in consequence of the letter; he thinks that Rome was the origin of all ecclesiastical institutions and laws (Kirchenrecht 189). Harnack in 1897 (Chronol., I) upheld the paradox that the Church of Rome was so conservative as to be governed by presbyters until Anicetus; and that when the list of popes was composed, c. 170, there had been a bishop for less than twenty years; Clement and others in the list were only presbyters of special influence.

The liturgical character of parts of the Epistle is elaborately -discussed by Lightfoot. The prayer (59-61) already mentioned, which reminds us of the Anaphora of early liturgies, cannot be regarded, says Duchesne, “as a reproduction of a sacred formulary but it is an excellent example of the style of solemn prayer in which the ecclesiastical leaders of that time were accustomed to express themselves at meetings for worship” (Origines du culte chret., 3rd ed., 50; tr., 50). The fine passage about Creation, 32-3, is almost in the style of a Preface, and concludes by introducing the Sanctus by the usual mention of the angelic powers: “Let us mark the whole host of the angels, how they stand by and minister unto His Will. For the Scripture saith: Ten thousand times ten thousand stood by Him, and thousands of thousands ministered unto Him, and they cried aloud: Holy holy, holy is the Lord of Sabaoth; all creation is full of His glory. Yea, and let us ourselves then being gathered together in concord with intentness of heart, cry unto Him.” The combination of Daniel, Vii, 10, with Is., vi, 3, may be from a liturgical formula. It is interesting to note that the contemporary Apocalypse of St. John (iv, 8) shows the four living creatures, representing all creation, singing the Sanctus at the heavenly Mass.

The historical references in the letter are deeply interesting: “To pass from the examples of ancient days, let us come to those champions who lived very near to our time. Let us set before us the noble examples which belong to our generation. By reason of jealousy and envy the greatest and most righteous pillars of the Church were persecuted, and contended even until death. Let us set before our eyes the good Apostles. There was Peter, who by reason of unrighteous jealousy endured not one or two, but many labours, and thus having borne his testimony went to his appointed Place of glory. By reason of jealousy and strife Paul by his example pointed out the prize of patient endurance. After that he had been seven times in bonds, had been driven into exile, had been stoned, had preached in the East and in the West, he won the noble renown which was the reward of his faith having taught righteousness unto the whole world and having reached the farthest bounds of the West; and when he had borne his testimony before the rulers, so he departed from the world and went unto the holy place having been found a notable pattern of patient endurance (5). It is obvious that these two Apostles are mentioned because they suffered at Rome. It seems that St. Paul went to Spain as he intended (Rom., xv, 28) and as is declared by the spurious Acts of Peter and by the Muratorian fragment. “Unto these men of holy lives was gathered a vast multitude of the elect who through many indignities and tortures, being the victims of jealousy, set a brave example among ourselves. By reason of jealousy women being persecuted, after that they had suffered cruel and unholy insults as Danaids and Dircae, safely reached the goal in the race of faith, and received a noble reward, feeble though they were in body” (6). The “vast multitude” both of men and women “among ourselves” at Rome refers to the horrible persecution of Nero, described by Tacitus, “Ann.”, XV, xliv. It is in the recent past, and the writer continues: “We are in the same lists, and the same contest awaits us” (7)- he is under another persecution, that of Domitian, covertly referred to as a series of “sudden and repeated calamities and reverses”, which have prevented the letter from being written sooner. The martyrdom of the Consul Clement (probably patron of the pope’s own family) and the exile of his wife will be among these disasters.

Date and authenticity

The date of the letter is determined by these notices of persecution. It is strange that even a few good scholars (such as Grotius Grabe, Orsi, Uhlhorn, Hefele, Wieseler) should have dated it soon after Nero. It is now universally acknowledged, after Lightfoot, that it was written about the last year of Domitian (Harnack) or immediately after his death in 96 (Funk). The Roman Church had existed several decades, for the two envoys to Corinth had lived in it from youth to age. The Church of Corinth is called archai (47). Bishops and deacons have succeeded to bishops and deacons appointed by the Apostles (44). Yet the time of the Apostles is “quite lately” and “our own veneration” (5). The external evidence is in accord. The dates given for Clement’s episcopate by Hegesippus are apparently 90-99, and that early writer states that the schism at Corinth took place under Domitian (Eusebius, Hist. Eccl., III, xvi, for kata ton deloumenon is meaningless if it is taken to refer to Clement and not to Domitian; besides, the whole of Eusebius’s account of that emperor’s persecution, III, xvii-xx, is founded on Hegesippus). St. Irenaeus says that Clement still remembered the Apostles, and so did many others, implying an interval of many years after their death. Volkmar placed the date in the reign of Hadrian, because the Book of Judith is quoted, which he declared to have been written in that reign. He was followed by Baur, but not by Hilgenfeld. Such a date is manifestly impossible, if only because the Epistle of Polycarp is entirely modelled on that of Clement and borrows from it freely. It is possibly employed by St. Ignatius, c. 107, and certainly in the letter of the Smyrnaeans on the martyrdom of St. Polycarp, c. 156.

The Epistle is in the name of the Church of Rome but the early authorities always ascribe it to Clement. Dionysius, Bishop of Corinth, wrote c. 170 to the Romans in Pope Soter’s time: “To-day we kept the holy day, the Lord’s day, and on it we read your letter- and we shall ever have it to give us instruction, even as the former one written through Clement” (Eusebius, Hist. Eccl., IV, xxx). Hegesippus attributed the letter to Clement. Irenaeus, c. 180-5 perhaps using Hegesippus, says: “Under this Clement no small sedition took place among the brethren at Corinth and the Church of Rome sent a most sufficient letter to the Corinthians, establishing them in peace, and renewing their faith, and announcing the tradition it had recently received from the Apostles” (III, iii). Clement of Alexandria, c. 200, frequently quotes the Epistle as Clement’s, and so do Origen and Eusebius. Lightfoot and Harnack are fond of pointing out that we hear earlier of the importance of the Roman Church than of the authority of the Roman bishop. If Clement had spoken in his own name, they would surely have noted expressly that he wrote not as Bishop of Rome, but as an aged “presbyter” who had known the Apostles. St. John indeed was still alive, and Corinth was rather nearer to Ephesus than to Rome. Clement evidently writes officially, with all that authority of the Roman Church of which Ignatius and Irenaeus have so much to say.

The Second Letter to the Corinthians

An ancient homily by an anonymous author has come down to us in the same two Greek MSS. as the Epistle of Clement, and is called the Second Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians. It is first mentioned by Eusebius (Hist. Eccl., III, xxxvii), who considered it spurious, as being unknown to the ancients; he is followed (perhaps not independently) by Rufinus and Jerome. Its inclusion as a letter of Clement in the Codex Alexandrinus of the whole Bible in the fifth century is the earliest testimony to a belief in its authenticity; in the sixth century it is quoted by the Monophysite leaders Timothy of Alexandria and Severus of Antioch, and it was later known to many Greek writers. This witness is a great contrast to the very early veneration paid to the genuine letter. Hilgenfeld’s theory that it is the letter of Pope Soter to the Corinthians, mentioned by Dionysius in the fragment quoted above, was accepted by many critics, until the discovery of the end of the work by Bryennios showed that it was not a letter at all, but a homily. Still Harnack has again and again defended this view. An apparent reference to the Isthmian Games in ~7 suggests that the homily was delivered at Corinth; but this would be in character if it was a letter addressed to Corinth. Lightfoot and others think it earlier than Marcion, c. 140, but its reference to Gnostic views does not allow us to place it much earlier. The matter of the sermon is a very general exhortation, and there is no definite plan or sequence. Some citations from unknown Scriptures are interesting.” From the 1914 Catholic Encyclopedia

You Can Become A Good Tree – A Sermon From The Curé d’Ars

Consider now my dear brethren, the good works you have done. Have you done them for God alone, so that there was nothing worldly in them and so that you had no regrets when people sometimes proved ungrateful? Have you ever congratulated yourselves inwardly on the good you have done your neighbour? Because if you have done that, either you have done nothing or you may as well count it as nothing, since you have already lost your reward for it. Do you know, my dear brethren, the decision you have to make? If you have done nothing, or if what you have done has been fruitless because it was done for a human motive, begin immediately to do good works so that at death you will be able to find something to offer to Jesus Christ in order that He may give you eternal life. Perhaps you will say to me: “I have done nothing but evil all my whole life. I am just a bad tree which cannot bring forth good fruit.”

My dear brethren, that can very well be, as I am going to show you. Change this tree, moisten it with different water, treat it with some other fertiliser, and you will see that it will bear good fruit, even though it has been bearing bad fruit up to the present. If this tree, which is yourself, has been fruitful in pride, in avarice, in impurity, you can, with the grace of God, see to it that these fruits become abundant in humility, in charity, and in purity. Do yourself as did the earth, which, before the Deluge, drew from its own bosom the water to moisten itself, without having recourse to the clouds of heaven to give it fertility. In the same way, my dear brethren, draw from your own hearts that salutary water which will change your dispositions. You have watered this tree with the foul water of your passions.

Well, then, from now on, water it with the tears of repentance, of sorrow, and of love, and you will see that you will cease to be a bad tree and will become one which will bear fruit for life eternal. To show you, my dear brethren, that this can happen, consider the admirable example furnished in the person of St. Mary Magdalen. Remember how, according to Jesus Christ Himself, she was a bad tree, and then how grace made her into a good tree which brought forth good fruit in abundance. St. Luke tells us that she was a sinner and that she was well known as such in the whole city of Jerusalem. I recommend that you consider what significance those words, which came from the lips of Jesus Christ Himself, have for us. Here was a young girl born with the strongest passions, extraordinary beauty, great wealth — that is to say, with that which not merely kindles the passions but which nourishes and feeds them continually.

She was greatly attracted by the pleasures of the world, she had a very strong taste for fashion and a great desire to look beautiful, so that her thoughts and all her cares were employed towards that end. A far from modest air proclaimed openly that her innocence would suffer a speedy shipwreck. Vain and frivolous, the object of admiration by worldlings, she sought all the more to please them, either with provocative glances fired by an impure heart or with her seductive ways and the self-indulgent air which she displayed so brazenly. All of this told a tale of a tree that could only bear plenty of bad fruit. She received with incredible complaisance the gross glances of the worldlings. She accepted with much self-gratification the silly homage of men. She loved, with more than ordinary enjoyment, to move in the well-to-do social circles of her day.

Since she was of great beauty and possessed very considerable wealth, was young and graceful to behold, everyone had, it seemed, eyes and thought for her alone. Dances, spectacles, and the desire to attract and please everyone were all she cared about. If she appeared among the faithful, in the places chosen for prayer, she did so quite eagerly, not to weep for her sins, as she should have been doing, but, rather, to take her place there as the center of attraction that she usually was, to see and — even more — to be seen, and to be admired. Acting thus, it seemed as if she would like to contest with God Himself for men’s hearts and the honour which was due Him alone. She went so far that she finished by becoming a subject of scandal throughout the whole city of Jerusalem. The assignations with the young men, the embraces, the far from modest conversations, the depravities to which she surrendered herself, ended by making her come to be looked upon as a young woman of very evil life. She finished by being avoided and despised by all those of any standing. She was called a sinful and scandalous woman by everyone in the city. You will admit that here, indeed, was a bad tree.

If you have gone as far as she did, there are few who have passed her up. Alas, my friends, what a crop of pride was not borne by that head dressed and ornamented with so much care! What fruits of depravity were not produced in that corrupt heart consumed by an impure fire! And so equally with all the other passions which dominated her. I think, my dear brethren, that it would be difficult to find a more evil tree. Yet, my dear brethren, you shall see that, if we are willing to avail ourselves of the grace which is never lacking to us, any more than it was to Mary Magdalen, miserable though we may be, we can change our tree, which up to now has been bearing only bad fruit. We can make it bear good fruit if we will but make use of the grace which comes to our help. From being bad Christians, we can become good and bear fruit worthy of eternal life, as we shall see by the conversion of Mary Magdalen.

St. Jerome tells us that while Mary Magdalen was thus abandoned to all her passionate and undisciplined ways of living, the stories of so many miracles worked by our Saviour in curing the sick and raising the dead to life were filling all Judea with astonishment. Everyone was eager to see so extraordinary a man. Mary Magdalen, happily for herself, was one of this number. The first words which she heard falling from the ‘lips of our Saviour were those of the Parables of the Prodigal Son and of the Good Shepherd. She recognised herself exactly in this young man and she also recognised our Saviour as the Good Shepherd. The shafts of grace were so lively and so penetrating that she could not help but feel their effects. As the words continued, she felt herself moved to tears. The many miracles that she herself had seen and heard filled her with astonishment, and grace completed the work of changing her, of converting her from a really bad tree into a wonderfully good tree which would bring forth excellent fruit. But what completed the work of detaching her from herself and from sin, the work of breaking through all that held her to these, was the great generosity of God towards sinners.

Ah, my dear brethren, how powerful grace is when it finds a heart well disposed! Look at her who began by neither thinking nor acting, but grace pursued her, remorse of conscience tormented her, she felt her heart break with sorrow for her sins. Her eyes, which previously had been so bright with the fire of impurity, which she knew so well how to kindle in the hearts of others, began to shed bitter tears. Since her heart had first tasted the pleasures of the world, she wished it to be the first to feel all the regret for having done evil. From that time, the world of society, which hitherto had held all her pleasure and happiness, could now only weary and disgust her more and more. She discovered that her only happiness lay in being separated from the world and in retirement where she could reflect and shed tears freely. The more she thought upon the kind of life she had been leading up to then, the outrages she had committed against God, and the number of souls she had lost by her bad life, the more acutely was her heart pierced by sorrow.

Such self-love, such proud self-gratification as she had taken in her great beauty, all that worldly homage which had so flattered her-all that now was nothing more to her than a senseless vanity and a kind of idolatry. That vulgar luxury, the worldly amusements which she had always looked upon as the privileges of her age and of her sex, were now in her eyes only a pagan way of living and a real apostasy of her religion. Those passionate sentiments, those indecent liberties, those tender attachments, previously so dear to her heart, and all those mysteries of iniquity, now seemed but crimes and abominations. She realised, as she wept freely and abundantly, that if God had graced her with so many gifts, He had done so but to make her more pleasing to Him. She was therefore the more intensely ashamed of her ingratitude and rebellion. During these struggles with herself, she learned that a distinguished Pharisee was enjoying the good fortune of entertaining our Saviour at his house. She recalled all that she had heard our Lord saying. Yes, she said to herself, I can no longer doubt but that this is the good and charitable Shepherd and that I am but the lost sheep.

Ah, she cried, it was I that He meant when He spoke of that prodigal son. So I will rise up and I will go to find Him! Indeed, unable to contain herself, she started up at once, spurning all her finery and her vanities. She ran, or, rather, the grace with which her heart was already on fire hurried her along. Casting aside all human respect, she entered into the banqueting hall with a downcast air, her hair, previously so beautifully dressed and curled, now quite dishevelled, her eyes lowered and bathed in tears, her face blushing and ashamed. She threw herself at the feet of the Saviour, Who was at the table.” Ah, Magdalen, Magdalen!” cries a Father of the Church, “What are you doing and what have you become? Where are all those pleasures, that vanity and that worldly love?” No, no, my dear brethren, here no longer is Magdalen the sinner, but Magdalen the penitent and the faithful lover of our Lord.

Yes, my dear brethren, it was at this moment that everything changed within her. If she had lost so many souls by a life which had been so scandalous, she is now, by her penitent life, going to win even more than those she has lost. She has nothing of human respect left, she accuses herself publicly of her sins before a large assembly, she embraces the feet of our Saviour, bathes them with her tears, dries them with her hair. No, no, my dear brethren, Magdalen is no longer Magdalen but a holy lover of God! “No, no, my brethren,” St. Augustine says to us, “in Magdalen there is no more vanity, no more pleasure loving, no more worldly love, all is holy and pure in her.” “Yes, my dear brethren,” this great saint tells us, “those exquisite perfumes which she had given entirely to luxury, that magnificent head of hair so carefully dressed and ornamented, those beautiful eyes animated with such a dangerous fire, all that is now purified in her tears.” “Ah! my dear brethren,” he says to us, “who could tell us what passes in her heart? Everyone of those who were witnesses of this generous gesture turns it into ridicule, treats her as deranged, blames and condemns her, except Jesus Christ Himself, Who knows so well that it is His grace which has done all for her.” He is so touched by it that He says nothing to her of her sins.

But He takes a particular pleasure in praising her for the kindness she has done to Him, and that in front of all the assembled guests: “Go in peace,” He said to her tenderly, “thy sins are forgiven thee.” Since your soul is as precious in God’s eyes as that of Mary Magdalen’s, you can be quite sure, my dear brethren, that grace will never be wanting to you to convert you and to help you to persevere.