Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Saint Titus, Bishop and Confessor

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We are to celebrate today, the Feast of a holy Bishop of the Apostolic Age—a Disciple of the Apostle St. Paul. Little is known of his life; but, by addressing to him one of his inspired Epistles, the Apostle of the Gentiles has immortalized his memory. Wheresoever the Faith of Christ has been or shall be preached, Titus’ name has been venerated by the Faithful; and as long as the world lasts, the holy Church will read to her children this Epistle, which was written, indeed, to a simple Bishop fo the Isle of Crete, but was dictated by the Holy Ghost, and therefore destined to be a part of those Sacred Scriptures, which contain the word of God. The counsels and directions given in this admirable Letter, were the rule of the holy Bishop, for whom St. Paul entertained a very strong affection. St. Titus had the honor of establishing the Christian Religion in that famous Island, which was one of the strong-holds of Paganism. He survived his master, who was put to death by Nero. Like St. John, he sweetly slept in Christ at a very advanced age, respected and loved by the Church he had founded. As we have already observed, his life left but few traces behind it; but these few are sufficient to prove him to have been one of those wonderful men, whom God chose as the directors of his infant Church.

Titum Cretensium Episcopum vix Pauli Apostoli verbo christianæ fidei sacramentis, mysteriisque excultum, ea sanctitatis luce Ecclesiæ tunc vagienti effulsisse compertum est, ut inter ejusdem Doctoris Gentium discipulos meruerit cooptari. Adacitus in partem oneris prædicationis adeo evangelizandi ardore et fidelitate Paulo exstitit carus, ut ipse cum venisset Troadem propter Evangelium Christi testatus sit, non habuisse requiem spiritui suo, eo quod Titum fratrem suum ibi non invenerit. Et paulo post Macedoniam petens, rursus suam in eum charitatem ita exprimit: Sed qui consolatur humiles, consolatus est nos Deus in adventu Titi.

Titus, Bishop of Crete, was initiated into the mysteries of the christian faith by Paul the Apostle; and being prepared by the sacraments, he shed so bright a light of sanctity on the infant Church, that he merited to be chosen as one of the Disciples of the Doctor of the Gentiles. Being called to bear the burden of preaching the Gospel, so ardent and persevering was he in the discharge of that duty, that he endeared himself to St. Paul so much, as to make the Apostle say in one of his Epistles, that being come to Troas, to preach the faith in that city, he found no rest for his heart, because he found not there his brother Titus. And having, a short time after this, gone to Macedonia, he thus expresses his affection for his disciple in these terms: But God who comforteth the humble, comforted us by the coming of Titus.

Quamobrem Corinthum ab Apostolo missus, ea sapientia et lenitate legationis hujus munere functus est, quæ præsertim de fidelium pietate eleemosynas colligendas ad sublevandam Ecclesiæ Hebræorum inopiam spectabat, ut Corinthios non solum in Christi fide continuerit, sed etiam desiderium, fletum, æmulationem inter eos pro Paulo qui illos primum instituit, excitaverit. Ad effundendum interim inter gentes linguis, locisque distinctas, divini verbi semen, pluribus terra, marique itineribus relectis, magnaque animi firmitate pro Crucis trophæo curis laboribusque exantlatis, una cum duce Paulo Cretæ insulam appulit. Cum porro huic Ecclesiæ Episcopus ab ipso Apostolo delectus esset, dubitandum non est, quin in eo munere ita versatus sit, ut juxta ipsius Pauli præceptoris monita, seipsum pr&aelib;buerit exemplum bonorum operum in doctrina, in integritate, in gravitate.

Being sent to Corinth by the Apostle, he acquitted himself in this mission (which mainly consisted in collecting the alms given by the piety of the faithful towards alleviating the distress of the Hebrew Church) with so much prudence and patience, that he not only confirmed the Corinthians in the faith of Christ, but made them so desirous of a visit from Paul, who had been their first teacher in the faith, that they shed tears of longing affection. After having undertaken several journeys, both by sea and land, in order to sow the seed of the divine word among people of various tongues and countries; and after having supported, with great firmness of soul, countless anxieties and fatigues, in order to plant the standard of the Cross;—he landed at the island of Crete in company with his master St. Paul. The Apostle made him Bishop of the Church which he had founded in that island; and it is not to be doubted but that Titus so discharged his duty as that he became a model to the Faithful, according to the advice given to him by his master, in good works, in doctrine, in integrity, in gravity.

Itaque tamquam lucerna inter eos qui in idololatriæ et mendaciorum tenebris, veluti in umbra mortis, sedebant, religionis jubar diffudit. Traditur eum inter Dalmatas, ut Crucis vexillum explicaret, strenue consudasse. Tandem meritorum et dierum plenus quarto supra nonagesimum anno, pridie Nonas Januarii, pretiosa justorum morte obdormivit in Domino, et sepultus est in Ecclesia, ubi ab Apostolo Minister fuerat constitutus. Hujus nomen a sancto Joanne Chrisostomo et a sancto Hieronymo præcipue commendatum, Martyrologio Romano eadem die inscriptum legitur; verum pro ejus die festo cum Officio et Missa in catholico orbe recolendo ab utroque Clero, primam insequentem diem liberam Summus Pontifex Pius Nonus assignavit.

Thus did he become a shining light, pouring forth the rays of christian faith on them that were sitting in the darkness of idolatry and lies, as in the shadow of death. Tradition tells us that he passed into Dalmatia, where he labored with extraordinary zeal to enlist that people under the banner of the Cross. At length, full of days and merit, in the ninety-fourth year of his age, he slept in the Lord the death of the just, on the vigil of the nones of January (January 4th), and was buried in the Church in which the Apostle had appointed him Minister of the word. St. John Chrysostom and St. Jerome pass great eulogium upon this holy Bishop, and his name is inscribed in the Roman Martyrology on the day above mentioned; but in establishing his Feast to be celebrated, with an Office and Mass, throughout the catholic world, by the clergy secular and regular, the Sovereign Pontiff Pius the Ninth ordered it to be kept on the first vacant day following the anniversary of the saint’s death.

Favored Disciple of the great Apostle! the holy Church has decreed that one of the days of the ecclesiastical year should be spent in celebrating thy virtues, and presenting thee our prayers. Look down with love upon the Faithful who glorify the Holy Spirit that gave thee thy rich graces. Thou didst discharge thy Pastoral duties with untiring zeal. Every quality enumerated in the Epistle addressed to thee by St. Paul, as required in a Bishop, was possessed by thee; and thou shinest in the crown of Jesus, the Prince of Pastors, as one of the brightest of its gems. Forget not the Church militant, of which thou wast one of the first guides. Eighteen hundred years have passed away since thou was taken from her. During this long period, she has had sufferings and trials without end; but she has triumphed over every obstacle, and she continues her glorious path, saving souls and offering them to her heavenly Spouse; and this will she persevere doing, until her Jesus comes to stop the course of time, and open the gates of eternity. Meanwhile, O glorious Saint! she counts on the aid of thy prayers, in the great work of the salvation of souls. Ask of Jesus, that he send us Pastors like unto thee. Pray for that Island, which thou didst convert to the true faith, but which is now buried in the darkness of infidelity and schism. Pray, too, for the Greek Church, that it may regain its ancient glory by union with the See of Peter.

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