Saints Cornelius, Pope, and Cyprian, Bishop, Martyrs

Luke 7:31-35

‘We played the pipes, and you wouldn’t dance’

Jesus said to the people:

  ‘What description can I find for the men of this generation? What are they like? They are like children shouting to one another while they sit in the market-place:

‘“We played the pipes for you,

and you wouldn’t dance;

we sang dirges,

and you wouldn’t cry.”

‘For John the Baptist comes, not eating bread, not drinking wine, and you say, “He is possessed.” The Son of Man comes, eating and drinking, and you say, “Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.” Yet Wisdom has been proved right by all her children.’


1 Corinthians 12:31-13:13

The supremacy of charity

Be ambitious for the higher gifts. And I am going to show you a way that is better than any of them.

  If I have all the eloquence of men or of angels, but speak without love, I am simply a gong booming or a cymbal clashing. If I have the gift of prophecy, understanding all the mysteries there are, and knowing everything, and if I have faith in all its fullness, to move mountains, but without love, then I am nothing at all. If I give away all that I possess, piece by piece, and if I even let them take my body to burn it, but am without love, it will do me no good whatever.

  Love is always patient and kind; it is never jealous; love is never boastful or conceited; it is never rude or selfish; it does not take offence, and is not resentful. Love takes no pleasure in other people’s sins but delights in the truth; it is always ready to excuse, to trust, to hope, and to endure whatever comes.

  Love does not come to an end. But if there are gifts of prophecy, the time will come when they must fail; or the gift of languages, it will not continue for ever; and knowledge – for this, too, the time will come when it must fail. For our knowledge is imperfect and our prophesying is imperfect; but once perfection comes, all imperfect things will disappear. When I was a child, I used to talk like a child, and think like a child, and argue like a child, but now I am a man, all childish ways are put behind me. Now we are seeing a dim reflection in a mirror; but then we shall be seeing face to face. The knowledge that I have now is imperfect; but then I shall know as fully as I am known.

  In short, there are three things that last: faith, hope and love; and the greatest of these is love.


Psalm 32(33):2-5,12,22

Happy the people the Lord has chosen as his own.

Give thanks to the Lord upon the harp,

  with a ten-stringed lute sing him songs.

O sing him a song that is new,

  play loudly, with all your skill.

Happy the people the Lord has chosen as his own.

For the word of the Lord is faithful

  and all his works to be trusted.

The Lord loves justice and right

  and fills the earth with his love.

Happy the people the Lord has chosen as his own.

They are happy, whose God is the Lord,

  the people he has chosen as his own.

May your love be upon us, O Lord,

  as we place all our hope in you.

Happy the people the Lord has chosen as his own.

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

Faith

2087 Our moral life has its source in faith in God who reveals his love to us. St. Paul speaks of the “obedience of faith” as our first obligation. He shows that “ignorance of God” is the principle and explanation of all moral deviations. Our duty toward God is to believe in him and to bear witness to him.

2088 The first commandment requires us to nourish and protect our faith with prudence and vigilance, and to reject everything that is opposed to it. There are various ways of sinning against faith:

Voluntary doubt about the faith disregards or refuses to hold as true what God has revealed and the Church proposes for belief. Involuntary doubt refers to hesitation in believing, difficulty in overcoming objections connected with the faith, or also anxiety aroused by its obscurity. If deliberately cultivated doubt can lead to spiritual blindness.

2089 Incredulity is the neglect of revealed truth or the wilful refusal to assent to it. “Heresy is the obstinate post-baptismal denial of some truth which must be believed with divine and catholic faith, or it is likewise an obstinate doubt concerning the same; apostasy is the total repudiation of the Christian faith; schism is the refusal of submission to the Roman Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him.”

Pope Cornelius (16 January 180 – 25 June 253) was the Bishop of Rome from 6 or 13 March 251 to his martyrdom in 253.

Christian persecution

Emperor Decius, who ruled from 249 to 251 AD, persecuted Christians in the Roman Empire rather sporadically and locally, but starting January in the year 250, he ordered all citizens to perform a religious sacrifice in the presence of commissioners, or else face death. Many Christians refused and were martyred (possibly including the pope, St Fabian, on 20 January), while others partook in the sacrifices in order to save their own lives. Two schools of thought arose after the persecution. One side, led by Novatian, who was a priest in the diocese of Rome, believed that those who had stopped practising Christianity during the persecution could not be accepted back into the church even if they repented. Under this philosophy, the only way to re-enter the church would be re-baptism. The opposing side, including Cornelius and Cyprian the Bishop of Carthage, did not believe in the need for re-baptism. Instead they thought that the sinners should only need to show contrition and true repentance to be welcomed back into the church. In hopes that Christianity would fade away, Decius prevented the election of a new pope. However, soon afterwards Decius was forced to leave the area to fight the invading Goths and while he was away the elections for pope were held. In the 14 months without a pope, the leading candidate, Moses, had died under the persecution. Novatian believed that he would be elected, however Cornelius was unwillingly elected the twenty-first pope in March 251.

Papacy

Novatian was very angry not only that he was not elected pope, but that someone who did not believe in rebaptism was. He thus proclaimed himself the antipope to Cornelius, driving a schism through the church. After Cornelius’s appointment to the papacy, Novatian became more rigorous in his philosophy, convinced that bishops could not pardon the worst of sins, and that such sins could only be reconciled at the Last Judgment. Cornelius had the support of St. Cyprian, St. Dionysius, and most African and Eastern bishops while Novatian had the support of a minority of clergy and laymen in Rome who did not acknowledge Cornelius as pope. Cornelius’s next action was to convene a synod of 60 bishops to restate himself as the rightful pope and the council excommunicated Novatian as well as all Novatianists. Also addressed in the synod was that Christians who stopped practising during Emperor Decius’s persecution could receive communion only after doing penance.

The verdict of the synod was sent to the Christian bishops, most notably the bishop of Antioch, a fierce Novatian supporter, in order to convince him to accept Cornelius’s power. The letters that Cornelius sent to surrounding bishops provide knowledge of the size of the church during the period. Cornelius mentions that at the time, the Roman Church had, “forty six priests, seven deacons, seven sub-deacons, forty two acolytes, fifty two ostiarii, and over one thousand five hundred widows and persons in distress.”[6] His letters also inform that Cornelius had a staff of over 150 clergy members and the church fed over 1,500 people daily.[7][8] From these numbers, it has been estimated that there were at least 50,000 Christians in Rome during the papacy of Pope Cornelius.

Death and Letters

In June 251, Decius was killed in battle with the Goths; immediately following this Trebonianus Gallus became Emperor. Persecution began again in June 252, and Pope Cornelius was exiled to Centumcellae, Italy, where he died in June 253. The Liberian catalogue lists his death as being from the hardships of banishment; however, later sources claim he was beheaded. Cornelius is not buried in the chapel of the popes, but in a nearby catacomb, and the inscription on his tomb is in Latin, instead of the Greek of his predecessor Pope Fabian and successor Lucius I. It reads, “Cornelius Martyr.” The letters Cornelius sent while in exile are all written in the colloquial Latin of the period instead of the classical style used by the educated such as Cyprian, a theologian as well as a bishop, and Novatian, who was also a philosopher. This suggests that Cornelius did not come from an extremely wealthy family and thus was not given a sophisticated education as a child. A letter from Cornelius while in exile mentions an office of “exorcist” in the church for the first time.[9] Canon law has since then required each diocese to have an exorcist.

Source: Wikipedia