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Kevin Patrick Braski

Ordination to the Diaconate

June 15, 2024 | 10 am
St. Joseph Church, Macon

Ziemowit Piotr Janaszek

The Diocese of Savannah is hosting this year’s meeting of the Ecclesiastical Province of Atlanta. Welcome to the bishops from Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina!
Today is the feast of St. Paulinus of Nola, Bishop. Pontius Meropius Anicius Paulinus, commonly called Paulinus, was born to a prominent family around 354 in the Roman province of Aquitania, near what is now Bordeaux, France. He was educated by the Roman poet and rhetorician Ausonius, who also tutored Emperor Gratian. His father was a prefect, and Paulinus became a lawyer. Gratian named him a suffect consul in Rome (finishing the term of a deceased or resigned consul), then governor of the region of Campania in what is now Italy. One of the cities in Campania was called Nola. The people there were devoted to St. Felix of Nola, a priest martyred around 255 during the persecution of Emperor Decius. A shrine had been built over his tomb. Inspired by their devotion, Paulinus had a road and hospice built so pilgrims could reach the shrine more easily and would have a place to stay. After Emperor Gratian was assassinated in 383 by a military officer of rival emperor Magnus Maximus, Paulinus began learning about Christianity, and may have studied under St. Ambrose. He then returned home to Bordeaux, where he married a Spanish Catholic woman named Therasia. She, along with St. Delphinus, Bishop of Bordeaux, and St. Martin, Bishop of Tours, converted Paulinus to Catholicism, and he was baptized. Therasia and Paulinus had a son, Celsus, but he died a week later. After their son's death, Therasia and Paulinus moved to Spain. They gave away much of their property and possessions and lived a monastic life. A few years later, the bishop of Barcelona ordained Paulinus a priest. Paulinus and Therasia moved to Nola, where they sold their remaining property, served the poor, and promoted devotion to St. Felix. Around 409, after Therasia died, Paulinus was made Bishop of Nola. For the next two decades, he continued his service to the poor, and wrote poetry and hymns. His former teacher Ausonius didn't understand his conversion, but many prominent Catholics supported him and wrote to him. By the time he died in 431, he was already considered a saint. St. Paulinus of Nola, pray for us!
Today is the feast of Sts. John Fisher, Bishop, and Thomas More, Martyrs. Henry VIII became king of England in 1509. He married his brother Arthur's widow, Catherine of Aragon, and had six children with her. All but Mary died. Henry VIII decided the only way to get a male heir was to marry someone else. John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, was tasked with determining the validity of Henry VIII's marriage in 1521. When Fisher declared it valid, Henry VIII went over his head to ask the pope directly. He claimed the marriage violated the bible's ban on marriage to your brother's widow. Catherine claimed the marriage was valid because she'd never consummated her marriage to Arthur. For several years, the pope avoided the issue, not wanting to upset Catherine's nephew, Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. During that time, in 1529, Henry VIII named Thomas More, a lawyer already in his service and a devout Catholic, the Lord Chancellor of England. At that time, the Lord Chancellor was head of the judiciary and speaker of the House of Lords, one of the highest-ranking government offices in England. In 1530, England's nobles and prelates wrote a letter to the pope on behalf of Henry VIII asking the pope to annul the king's marriage. The previous Lord Chancellor, Thomas Cardinal Wolsey, signed the letter, but More refused. He also refused to sign an oath acknowledging the king as head of the Church in England. In 1531, Henry VIII separated from Catherine. He then called a synod of English bishops, the Convocation of Canterbury, and convinced them to agree to his authority as head of the Church. More resigned as Lord Chancellor the next day. Events came to a head in 1533, when Henry secretly married Anne Boleyn and had the archbishop of Canterbury annul his marriage to Catherine five months later. He then passed laws which named him head of the English Church and made Mary illegitimate. Both More and Fisher refused to approve it and were imprisoned. The pope made Fisher a cardinal, hoping it would protect him, but both he and More were executed for treason in 1535. Anne Boleyn was executed a year later, and Henry VIII married his third wife. Sts. John and Thomas, pray for us!
Religious Freedom Week, Day 1: Pray that all people of faith would be free to gather in houses of worship without fear. Reflect: The very nature of a sacred space is that it is set apart from other spaces as a place to seek communion with the divine and thus should be treated with respect. In a pluralistic society such as ours, respect for sacred spaces is especially vital for the sake of civil peace, which is part of the common good. In recent years, a wave of vandalism and arson has hit Catholic churches and statues. There have been over 320 attacks so far, and that number steadily continues to grow. Christians are not alone in defending their sacred spaces. The terrorist attacks against Israel and ensuing outbreak of war caused antisemitic incidents in the U.S. to skyrocket, including shocking displays of open hatred, with acts of anti-Muslim hatred committed as well. There is no greater threat to religious liberty than for one’s house of worship to become a place of danger, and the country sadly finds itself in a place where that danger is real. We Catholics can express our solidarity with the whole human family by working to build a culture where all houses of worship are treated with respect. Act: Religious communities express their faith through their sacred art and architecture. Sacred spaces and devotional art all testify to the strength and hope of these diverse communities. How has this legacy affected you? Share an image of your favorite church building or other house of worship, devotional art, or other sacred sign of faith with USCCB on Twitter (now X)! @USCCBFreedom (We'd love to see them on DioSav Facebook and Instagram, too!) #ReligiousFreedomWeek
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