SS. JOHN AND PAUL, MM.
THEY were both officers in the army under Julian
the Apostate, and received the crown of martyrdom, probably in 362,
under Apronianus, prefect of Rome, a great enemy of the Christians.
These saints glorified God by a double victory: they despised the
honors of the world, and triumphed over its threats and torments.
They saw many wicked men prosper in their impiety, but were not
dazzled by their example. They considered that worldly prosperity
which attends impunity in sin is the most dreadful of all judgments;
and how false and short-lived was this glittering prosperity of
Julian, who in a moment fell into the pit which he himself had dug!
But the martyrs, by the momentary labor of their conflict, purchased
an immense weight of never-fading glory: their torments were, by
their heroic patience and invincible virtue and fidelity, a spectacle
worthy of God, who looked down upon them from the throne of his
glory, and held his arm stretched out to strengthen them, and to put
on their heads immortal crowns in the happy moment of their victory.
An old church in Rome, near that of SS. Peter and Paul, bore the name
of SS. John and Paul, as appears by the calendar published by F.
Fronto. They have a proper office and mass in the sacramentaries of
St. Gelasius and St. Gregory the Great; also in the ancient Gallican
Liturgy. In England the council of Oxford, in 1222, ordered their
festival to be kept of the third class; that is, with an obligation
of hearing mass before work. How famous the names of SS. John and
Paul have been in the church ever since the fifth century, is set
forth at large by Rondiuinus.1
The saints always accounted that they had done
nothing for Christ so long as they had not resisted to blood, and by
pouring forth the last drop completed their sacrifice. Every action
of our lives ought to spring from this fervent motive, and
consecration of ourselves to the divine service with our whole
strength; we must always bear in mind, that we owe to God by
innumerable titles all that we are; and after all we can do, are
unprofitable servants, and do only what we are bound to do. But how
base is our sloth and ingratitude, who in every action fall so much
short of this fervor and duty! How does the blood of the martyrs
reproach our lukewarmness!