As Jesus was speaking, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said, ‘Happy the womb that bore you and the breasts you sucked!’ But he replied, ‘Still happier those who hear the word of God and keep it!’
Source: Jerusalem Bible
Catechism of the Catholic Church
Our participation in Christ’s sacrifice
618 The cross is the unique sacrifice of Christ, the “one mediator between God and men”. But because in his incarnate divine person he has in some way united himself to every man, “the possibility of being made partners, in a way known to God, in the paschal mystery” is offered to all men.453 He calls his disciples to “take up [their] cross and follow [him]”, for “Christ also suffered for [us], leaving [us] an example so that [we] should follow in his steps.” In fact Jesus desires to associate with his redeeming sacrifice those who were to be its first beneficiaries. This is achieved supremely in the case of his mother, who was associated more intimately than any other person in the mystery of his redemptive suffering.
Apart from the cross there is no other ladder by which we may get to heaven.
Sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth.
Sing to the LORD, bless his name; announce his salvation day after day.
Tell God’s glory among the nations; among all peoples, God’s marvelous deeds.
For great is the LORD and highly to be praised, to be feared above all gods.
For the gods of the nations all do nothing, but the LORD made the heavens.
Splendor and power go before him; power and grandeur are in his holy place.
Give to the LORD, you families of nations, give to the LORD glory and might;
give to the LORD the glory due his name! Bring gifts and enter his courts;
bow down to the LORD, splendid in holiness. Tremble before God, all the earth;
say among the nations: The LORD is king. The world will surely stand fast, never to be moved. God rules the peoples with fairness.
Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice; let the sea and what fills it resound;
let the plains be joyful and all that is in them. Then let all the trees of the forest rejoice
before the LORD who comes, who comes to govern the earth, To govern the world with justice and the peoples with faithfulness.
Source: The New American Bible
Pope Callixtus I (died circa 223), also called Callistus I, was the Bishop of Rome (according to Sextus Julius Africanus) from c. 218 to his death c. 223. He lived during the reigns of the Roman Emperors Elagabalus and Alexander Severus. Eusebius and the Liberian catalogue gave him five years of episcopate (217–222). He was martyred for his Christian faith and is venerated as a saint by the Catholic Church.
His contemporaries and enemies, Tertullian and Hippolytus of Rome the author of Philosophumena, relate that Callixtus, as a young slave from Rome, was put in charge of collected funds by his master Carpophorus, funds which were given as alms by other Christians for the care of widows and orphans; Callixtus lost the funds and fled from the city, but was caught near Portus. According to the tale, Callixtus jumped overboard to avoid capture but was rescued and taken back to his master. He was released at the request of the creditors, who hoped he might be able to recover some of the money, but was rearrested for fighting in a synagogue when he tried to borrow money or collect debts from some Jews.
Philosophumena claims that, denounced as a Christian, Callixtus was sentenced to work in the mines of Sardinia. He was released with other Christians at the request of Hyacinthus, a eunuch presbyter, who represented Marcia, the favourite mistress of Emperor Commodus. At this time his health was so weakened that his fellow Christians sent him to Antium to recuperate and he was given a pension by Pope Victor I.
In 199, Callixtus was ordained a deacon by Pope Zephyrinus and appointed superintendent of the Christian cemetery on the Appian Way. That place, which is to this day called the Catacombs of St. Callixtus, became the burial-ground of many popes and was the first land property owned by the Church. Emperor Julian the Apostate, writing to a pagan priest, said:
Christians have gained most popularity because of their charity to strangers and because of their care for the burial of their dead.
In the third century, nine Bishops of Rome were interred in the Catacomb of Callixtus, in the part now called the Capella dei Papi. These catacombs were rediscovered by the archaeologist Giovanni Battista de Rossi in 1849.
In 217, when Callixtus followed Zephyrinus as Bishop of Rome, he started to admit into the church converts from sects or schisms who had not done penance. He fought with success the heretics, and established the practice of absolution of all sins, including adultery and murder. Hippolytus found Callixtus’s policy of extending forgiveness of sins to cover sexual transgressions shockingly lax and denounced him for allowing believers to regularize liaisons with their own slaves by recognizing them as valid marriages. As a consequence also of doctrinal differences, Hippolytus was elected as a rival bishop of Rome, the first antipope.
The Basilica di Santa Maria in Trastevere was a titulus of which Callixtus was the patron. In an apocryphal anecdote in the collection of imperial biographies called the Augustan History, the spot on which he had built an oratory was claimed by tavern keepers, but Alexander Severus decided that the worship of any god was better than a tavern, hence the structure’s name. The 4th-century basilica of Ss Callixti et Iuliani was rebuilt in the 12th century by Pope Innocent II and rededicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The 8th-century Chiesa di San Callisto is close by, with its beginnings apparently as a shrine on the site of his martyrdom, which is attested in the 4th-century Depositio martyrum and so is likely to be historical.
It is possible that Callixtus was martyred around 222 or 223, perhaps during a popular uprising, but the legend that he was thrown down a well has no historical foundation, though the church does contain an ancient well. According to the apocryphal Acts of Saint Callixtus, Asterius, a priest of Rome, recovered the body of Callixtus after it had been tossed into a well and buried Callixtus’ body at night. Asterius was arrested for this action by the prefect Alexander and then killed by being thrown off a bridge into the Tiber River.
He was buried in the cemetery of Calepodius on the Aurelian Way and his anniversary is given by the 4th-century Depositio Martirum and by subsequent martyrologies on 14 October. The Roman Catholic Church celebrates his optional memorial on 14 October. His relics were transferred in the 9th century to Santa Maria in Trastevere.