Saint Anacletus Pope and Martyr

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Saint Anacletus Pope and Martyr

Anacletus was an Athenian who governed the Church in the time of the Emperor Trajan. He ordained that a Bishop should be consecrated by three Bishops and no less, that clerks should be publicly ordained to Holy Orders by their own Bishop, and that in the Mass, after the Consecration, all should afterwards communicate. He adorned the grave of Blessed Peter, and ordered a place for burying the Popes in. He held two ordinations in the month of December, wherein he ordained five Priests, three Deacons, and six Bishops. He sat as Pope nine years, three months, and ten days. He received the crown of his testimony, and was buried on the Vatican Hill.

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The Lesson is taken from the Exposition of Psalm 118 by St. Ambrose the Bishop

Princes have persecuted me without cause, but my heart standeth in awe of thy word. Thus might a Martyr speak of himself, for in that he is punished unjustly, he is persecuted. He hath committed no robbery, oppressed none by violence, shed no blood, defiled the bed of no man, is debtor to the laws in nothing; yet he is punished more grievously than any malefactor. A Martyr speaketh righteousness, and there is none that will hear. He proclaimeth salvation, and men fight against him. Thus he well might say: When I speak unto them of peace, they make them ready to battle; they fought against me without a cause. Yea, they fought against him without a cause, for they could lay no sin to his charge. They fought against him as an evildoer, albeit in his confession of God he is worthy of praise. They fought against him as a sorcerer, and behold, he glorieth in the Name of the Lord, the love whereof is the source of all well-doing.

But certain also it is that they do fight against him in vain when they the ungodly accuse him of ungodliness, or when he who was a master of faith is accused of faithlessness. Verily, him that is fought against without a cause it behoveth to be stedfast and fearless. Wherefore then saith he: My heart standeth in awe of thy word? Awe is sometimes a mark of the weak, the timid, and the fearful. But there is also a weakness unto salvation, and a fear which is an holy fear, as it is written: O fear the Lord, all ye his Saints. Or again: Blessed is the man that feareth the Lord. And wherefore is he blessed? Because he hath great delight in his commandments.

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A Homily by St. Leo the Pope

When the Lord, as we read in the Gospel, asked his disciples who did men, amid their divers speculations, believe him the Son of Man to be, blessed Peter answered and said: Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And the Lord answered and said unto him: Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father, which is in heaven: and I say also unto thee: That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it; and I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. But the dispensation of truth perdures, and blessed Peter, persevering in the strength of the rock which he hath received, hath not relinquished the position he assumed at the helm of the Church.

In the universal Church it is as if Peter were still saying every day: Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. For every tongue which confesseth the Lord is taught that confession by the teaching of Peter. This is the Faith that overcometh the devil and looseth the bonds of his prisoners. This is the Faith which maketh men free of the world and bringeth them to heaven, and the gates of hell are impotent to prevail against it. This is the rock which God hath fortified with such ramparts of salvation, that the contagion of heresy will never be able to infect it, nor idolatry and unbelief to overcome it. And therefore, dearly beloved, we celebrate today's festival with reasonable obedience, that in my humble person he may be acknowledged and honoured who doth continue to care for all the shepherds as well as sheep entrusted unto him, and who doth lose none of his dignity even in an unworthy successor.

When, therefore, we address our exhortations to your godly ears, believe ye that ye are hearing him speak whose office we are discharging. Yea, it is with his love for you that we warn you. And we preach unto you no other thing than that which he taught, entreating you as did he: Gird up the loins of your mind; be sober; be ye holy in all manner of living; pass the time of your sojourning here in the fear of God. My disciples, dearly beloved, ye are to me as the disciples of the Apostle Paul were to him, namely: My crown and joy; if so be that your faith, abide, still in all lowliness and holiness, like unto the first times of the Gospel. For although the whole Church, which is in all the world, should indeed abound in all the virtues, it becometh especially you among all others to excel in acts of piety, founded as ye be on the very citadel of the Apostolic Rock, ye who have not only been redeemed with the rest of men by our Lord Jesus Christ, but who have been instructed by the blessed Apostle Peter far beyond all others


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