Died c. 400. Bishop Asterius of Amasea in Pontus, Asia Minor, was renowned
as a preacher: 21 of his sermons are still extant. From his writings we know
that he studied rhetoric and law in his youth. Although he practiced as a
barrister for a time, he could not long ignore his calling to the
priesthood, which eventually led to his elevation to the see of Amasea.
Saint Gregory the Great describes this good pastor as overflowing with the
His sermons highly recommend charity to the poor, revealing his own favorite
virtue. His place in time is known because of the references he makes in his
sermons to Julian the Apostate and the Consul Eutropius. They also show that
the Church already kept the feasts of Christmas, Easter, Epiphany, and
martyrs. His reflections are just and solid; the expression natural,
elegant, and animated. They abound with lively images and descriptions both
of persons and things.
In his homily on Saints Peter and Paul, Saint Asterius repeatedly teaches
the pre-eminent jurisdiction Saint Peter received over all Christians. His
panegyric to Saint Phocas encourages the invocation of saints, the
veneration of their relics, and pilgrimages to pray before them.
The following passage is from his sermon, "On the Holy Martyrs":
"We keep through every age their bodies decently enshrined, as most precious
pledges; vessels of benediction, the organs of their blessed souls, the
tabernacles of their holy minds. We put ourselves under their protection.
The martyrs defend the church, as soldiers guard a citadel. The people flock
in crowds from all quarters, and keep great festivals to honor their tombs.
"All who labor under the heavy load of afflictions fly to them for refuge.
We employ them as intercessors in our prayers and suffrages. In these
refuges the hardships of poverty are eased, diseases cured, the threats of
princes appeased. A parent, taking a sick child in his arms, postpones
physicians, and runs to one of the martyrs, offering by him his prayer to
the Lord, and addressing him whom he employs for his mediator in such word
"'You, who have suffered for Christ, intercede for one who suffers by
sickness. By that great power and confidence you have, offer a prayer on
behalf of fellow-servants. Though you are now removed from us, you know what
men on earth feel in their sufferings and diseases. You formerly prayed to
martyrs, before you were yourself a martyr. You then obtained your request
by asking; now you are possessed of what you asked, in your turn assist me.
By your crown ask what may be our advancement. If another is going to be
married, he begins his undertaking by soliciting the prayers of the martyrs.
Who, putting to sea, weighs anchor before he has invoked the Lord of the sea
by the martyrs?'"
The saint describes with what magnificence and concourse of people the
feasts of martyrs were celebrated over the whole world. He says, the
Gentiles and the Eunomian heretics, whom he calls New Jews, condemned the
honors paid to martyrs, and their relics; to whom he answers:
"We by no means adore the martyrs, but we honor them as the true adorers of
God. We lay their bodies in rich shrines and sepulchers, and erect stately
tabernacles of their repose, that we may be stirred up to an emulation of
their honors. Nor is our devotion to them without its recompense; for we
enjoy their patronage with God."
He says the Eunomians, do not honor the martyrs, because they
blaspheme the King of martyrs, making Christ unequal to his Father. He tells
them that they ought at least to respect the voice of the devils, who are
forced to confess the power of the martyrs:
"Those whom we have seen bark like dogs, and who were seized with frenzy,
and are now come to their senses, prove by their cure how effectual the
intercession of martyrs is." He closes this sermon with a devout and
confident address to the martyrs (Benedictines, Husenbeth).
In the same way a powerful medicine cures an illness, so illness itself is a
to cure passion. And there is much profit of soul in bearing illness quietly
thanks to God.
-St. Amma Syncletice
Thus saith the Lord: Stand ye on the ways, and see. And ask for the old
paths, which is the good way, and walk ye in it, and you shall find
refreshment for your souls. (Jeremias 6:16)
Prayer to Our Lady of the Sacred Heart:
Our Lady of the Sacred Heart,
what ineffable power thy divine Son hath given thee
over His own adorable Heart.
Full of trust in thy merits,
we come before thee and beg thy protection.
O heavenly Treasurer of the Heart of Jesus,
that Heart which is the inexhaustible source
of all graces,
which thou mayest open to us at thy good pleasure,
in order that from it may flow forth upon mankind
the riches of love and mercy,
light and salvation,
that are contained therein;
grant unto us,
we beseech thee,
the favors which we seek. . . .
We can never, never be refused by thee,
and since thou art our Mother,
O our Lady of the Sacred Heart,
graciously hear our prayers and grant our request. Amen.