Tag Archives: St. Augustine

Saint Abel the Just; His was the first recorded death in Human History; Feast Day, January 3

Ivory-Cain and Abel Louvre                                                       commons.wikimedia.org

By Larry Peterson

The holy people from the Old Testament are not usually called saints. We do not say, “St. Abraham”, or “St. Moses” as we do for St. Joseph or St John. But the church does allow for them to be called saints one day during the year. That day is their acknowledged feast day. There are forty-two different Old Testament saints that have designated feast days. The first one during the year belongs to St. Abel. His feast day is January 3.

The very first human to die was none other than Adam and Eve’s son, Abel. Ironically, since a natural cause of death had not yet occurred, the first recorded death in all of human history was the result of a murder. And the man who was murdered is also a saint. The evil that precipitated and was involved in the killing is referred to in the New Testament by Christ Himself.

Abel is considered part of the Six Ages by St. Augustine; First Age of the World  (this is also covered in the CCC; 282-284). This age is considered the time from the beginning of the human race up until Noah. The Ages reflect the seven days of creation and the last day is the day of rest which we call the Sabbath.

We rarely talk of or ask for intercession from Saint Abel. But Abel is mentioned in the Roman Canon when, after the Consecration, we tell God how pleased we are with His accepting “the gifts of Abel the just, the sacrifice of Abraham, our father in faith, and the offering of the high priest, Melchizedek.”

The story of Cain and Abel is pretty straightforward. Cain was the first born of Adam and Eve. Abel was their second son and Cain’s true brother. Cain tilled the soil while Abel tended to the flocks. When Cain’s crops had been harvested, he brought some of them as an offering to the Lord. Abel brought the best of his flock to the Lord as an offering. Genesis Ch 4: 4-5 “—the Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not. Cain greatly resented this and was crestfallen.”

This is where pride comes into play. Adam and Eve succumbed to pride when Satan convinced them that they could be “like” God if they ate from the Tree in the Garden of Eden.  Cain’s pride was hurt, and he became jealous of his brother. Genesis Ch 4: 8  Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let us go out in the field.” When they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.

The offerings of Cain and Abel are an important part of the Bible narrative because they lead us to the New Testament and to the ongoing battle between Good and Evil. St. John gives us the real reason why God rejected Cain’s offering and accepted Abel’s. In 1 John 3:11-12  For this is the message you have heard from the beginning: we should love one another, unlike Cain who belonged to the evil one and slaughtered his brother. Why did he slaughter him? Because his own works were evil and those of his brother righteous.

The importance of Abel in our Catholic/Christian world is shown in the Gospel of Matthew. In Chapter 23, Jesus was speaking to the Scribes and Pharisees and, for the most part, denouncing them as hypocrites. Then we come to Ch 23: 34-35  Therefore, behold, I send to you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and pursue from town to town, so that there may come upon you all the righteous blood shed upon earth, from the righteous blood of Abel—-”

This is none other than Jesus Christ, invoking the name of Abel as one who was righteous. The church Fathers include Abel among the martyrs and St. John Chrysostom associates Abel’s death comparable with St. John the Baptist’s. Abel is considered the first in a long line of martyrs who were killed not so much for the words they spoke, but for the example they set.

St. Abel’s feast day is January 3 and he is invoked in the prayers for the dying.

St. Abel, pray for us

©Larry Peterson 2019

A Mother's Prayers are answered giving us Two Great Saints and a new Marian Feast Day

By Larry Peterson

Most of us know the story of St. Augustine. He was born in North Africa in the year 354. His father, Patricius, was a pagan landowner and his mother, Monica, a Christian. Monica prayed fervently for her wayward boy to become a Christian too. Eventually, her prayers were answered and her boy did embrace Christianity becoming a great Doctor of the Church.

 

However, many of us do not know of the influence of the Blessed Virgin in this transformation. It is because of the conversion of St. Augustine that one of the many titles she is venerated under is Our Lady of Consolation. And this never would have happened without his mom faithfully praying for her boy, a woman who would one day be known as St. Monica.

 

Monica is honored for her unyielding Christian virtues which included; dealing with the pain and suffering brought on by her husband’s chronic acts of adultery and her own son’s immoral ways. It was said she cried herself to sleep virtually every night. But she did not despair. Rather, she turned her heartache over to the Blessed Virgin asking for her help. And help she received. Our Lady appeared to Monica and gave her the sash she was wearing. The Virgin assured Monica that whoever wore the sash would receive her special consolation and protection.  It was given to her son and ultimately became part of the Augustinian habit.

 

Eventually, the Augustinian monks founded the Confraternity of the Holy Cincture (belt) of Our Lady of Consolation. The statues of Mary as Our Lady of Consolation depict her and the Christ child dressed in elaborate vestments. Mary’s halo has twelve, small stars and her tunic is held in place by a black cincture.  The three patrons of the Augustinians are St. Augustine, St. Monica and Our Lady of Consolation. In addition, the devotion to Our Lady of Consolation inspired what is known as the “Augustinian Rosary” which is sometimes called the “Corona of Our Mother of Consolation.”

 

During the early 1700s, the devotion to Our Lady of Consolation was introduced to Malta. It was here that people began asking for a special blessing invoking Our Lady of Consolation for the dying. It became such a popular custom that monks could leave the monastery without asking permission to confer this blessing.  Eventually, devotion to Our Lady of Consolation spread all over the world.

 

In the United States, the Basilica and National Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation are located in Carey, Ohio. The church was first built in 1868 and named St. Edward. When Father Joseph Growden was given the responsibility of caring for the church he asked the faithful in Carey to pray to Mary, Our Lady of Consolation for her help in getting a new church built. He promised to name the church “Our Lady of Consolation”.

 

On May 24, 1875, a statue of Our Lady of Consolation, having been procured by Father Joseph from the Cathedral of Luxembourg, was carried from St. Nicholas church to the new church in Carey. News reports tell of the tremendous rains that fell that day and, during the seven-mile procession, not a drop fell on the statue or the people bringing the statue to its new home. Upon arriving in the new church the rain fell once again—everywhere.

 

Today devotion* to Our Lady of Consolation is of great importance in such places as Luxembourg, England, France, Japan, Manila, Turin, Malta, Australia, Venezuela and other places. Pope St. John Paul II visited the shrine in Germany. Our Lady of Consolation has certainly made herself available in many places so her children can quickly come to her if need be. The Blessed Mother is certainly a protective Mom, isn’t she? You just have to love being Catholic.

 

St. Augustine, pray for us; St. Monica, pray for us; and

Our Lady of Consolation, please pray for us all.

 

*Feast Days for Our Lady of Consolation are varied. The Augustinians celebrate it on September 4; the Benedictines on July 7. In the USA it is usually on October 22 or the last Sunday in October.

Image of Our Lady of Consolation            courtesy  en.wikipedia.org

Copyrght©Larry Peterson 2017