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SS. RUFUS AND ZOZIMUS, MM.
From St. Polycarp’s Epistle, n. 9, p. 94.
A. D. 116.
FROM the eminent spirit of sanctity which the actions and writings of the great St. Ignatius breathe, we are to form a judgment of that with which these holy martyrs were animated. They had the happiness to share in his chains and sufferings for Christ, and likewise glorified God by martyrdom under Trajan, about the year 116. St. Polycarp says of them, “They have not run in vain, but in faith and righteousness; and they are gone to the place that was due to them from the Lord, with whom they also suffered. For they loved not the present world, but Him who died, and was raised again by God for us.” Whether Antioch or Philippi, where they seem to have preached, or what other city of the East was the theatre of their triumph, is uncertain. St. Polycarp, writing to the Philippians, says:—“Wherefore I exhort all of you that ye obey the word of righteousness, and exercise all patience, which ye have seen set forth before your eyes, not only in the blessed Ignatius, and Zozimus, and Rufus, but in others that have been among you; and in Paul himself, and the rest of the apostles.”
The primitive martyrs rejoiced exceedingly in being called to suffer for Christ. If faith was as lively and active in us, and if the divine love exerted its power in our hearts, we should rejoice at all occasions of practising meekness and patience which we should look upon as our greatest happiness and gain. To forgive an injury, to bear well an affront, or to suffer with perfect resignation, patience, and humility, is a glorious victory gained over ourselves, by which we vanquish our passions, and improve in our souls the habits of those divine virtues in which consists the spirit of Christ, and the resemblance we are commanded to bear to him. Occasions occur in almost all our actions; yet we lose them, and even suffer our passions to reign in them to the offence of God, the scandal of our holy religion, and the infinite prejudice of our souls. Do we consider that the least exertion of meekness, humility, or charity, is something much greater and more advantageous than the conquest of empires and the whole world could be? For Alexander to have once curbed his anger on ever so small an occasion, would have been a far more glorious victory than all his conquests, even if his wars had been just. For nothing is so heroic as for a man to vanquish his passions, and learn to govern his own soul. Why then do not we take all necessary precautions to watch and to arm ourselves for these continual occasions? Why are not we prepared, and upon our guard to check all sudden sallies of our passions, and, under provocations, to show by silence, meekness, and patience, that we study truly to prove ourselves disciples of Christ?