Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Saint Martin's Day

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARTIN. From an old breviary, for the Office of Matins of this day:
Martínus, Sabáriæ in Pannónia natus, cum décimum attigísset annum, invítis paréntibus ad ecclésiam confúgiens, in catechumenórum númerum adscríbi vóluit. Quíndecim annos natus in milítiam proféctus, primum in Constántii, deínde Juliáni exércitu militávit. Qui, cum nihil habéret præter arma et vestiméntum quo tegebátur, Ambiáni, páuperi ac nudo, ab eo peténti ut Christi nómine sibi eleemósynam tribúeret, partem chlámydis dedit. Cui sequénti nocte Christus, dimidiáta illa veste indútus, appáruit, hanc mittens vocem : Martínus catechúmenus hac me veste contéxit.
Martin was born at Sabaria in Pannónia. When he was ten years old he went to the Church, in spite of his heathen father and mother, and by his own will was numbered among the Catechumens. At fifteen years of age he joined the army, and served as a soldier first under Constantius and then under Julian. Once at the gate of Amiens a poor man asked him for an alms for Christ's name's sake, and since he had nothing to his hand but his arms and his clothes, he gave him half of his cloak. In the night following Christ appeared to him clad in the half of his cloak, and saying : While Martin is yet a Catechumen, he hath clad me in this garment.
Martin of Tours is venerated throughout the ancient Apostolic Churches in East and West, and is a patron to soldiers, among many others. He founded a monastic community long before Saint Benedict. He also is known for begging the Emperor to show mercy on a group of heretics, as they deserved evangelization rather than execution.

Martinmass was once a great feast day, and the forty days of fasting and penance that followed eventually became Advent.

Veneration of Saint Martin is long established among the French; Clovis credited Saint Martin with his victories and eventual founding of his capitol city in Paris. French Kings possessed the cloak of Saint Martin, and this relic would be carried into battle. The priest who would bear this reliquary was called the cappellanu; based on this usage, military priests are now called chaplains.

Following the atheism of the French Revolution, the practice of Catholicism was severely restricted among the people, and the practice of religion became increasingly feminized. A resurgence of devotion to Saint Martin by men helped reverse this trend; the example of Saint Martin showed that patriotism and public service by faithful Catholics was indeed possible even under a hostile and atheistic regime, such as we have today. The French Republic's hatred of the Church was greatly diminished after the First World War, where 5000 French chaplain-priests were killed in the trenches.

On Saint Martin's Day, the hostile powers in the First World War signed an armistice, ending the fighting on the Western Front. In memory of this event, many countries now observe Remembrance Day, which honors those who sacrificed their lives in times of war (and particularly the Great War) in service of their country. In the United States, this is observed as Veterans' Day, which honors all those who have served in the armed forces.

The prayer of Saint Martin of Tours:
Lord, if Your people still have need of my services, I will not avoid the toil. Your will be done. I have fought the good fight long enough. Yet if You bid me continue to hold the battle line in defense of Your camp, I will never beg to be excused from failing strength. I will do the work You entrust to me. While You command, I will fight beneath Your banner.
Prayer to Saint Martin:
Dear well-beloved Saint, you were first a soldier like your father. Converted to the Church, you became a soldier of Christ, a priest and then a Bishop of Tours. Lover of the poor, and model for pagans and Christians alike, protect our soldiers at all times. Make them strong, just, and charitable, always aiming at establishing peace on earth. Amen.
Saint Martin, the Faithful are disconcerted over what to do in these times, where our political leaders are faithless and are determined to persecute Christ. By your example and patronage, may we follow Christ's command to “render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's,” for all power on earth comes from the Lord. May we prove our love for our neighbor through our service, and by this service may we be a lamp unto the world.

Click here for my old photos of Saint Martin's Church, in Starkenberg, Missouri.

No comments:

Post a Comment