Sunday, January 15, 2017

Life, Novena, Prayer to Saint Sebastian

Life and history: Saint Sebastian was born in Narbonne, France, in the year 256. His family went to Milan and Rome, where he was a Christian and wanted to become a soldier to approach Christians who were imprisoned and martyred. 
Soldier: He was a great soldier. The emperors Diocletian and Maximian elected him captain of his personal guard, the Praetorian Guard. He fulfilled all the duties of a soldier in the city, but in his heart was faith in Jesus Christ and love for his brothers, always seeking to live the Gospel. In his work, he practiced the Word of God helping to bring peace to the city. He consoled many people with soldier relief, many fights separated and peace settled. Christians were persecuted and martyred in different ways. Holy Masses were celebrated in the catacombs and other hidden places.  
Help to Christians: As a soldier, Sebastian never told his emperors that he was a Christian. The Christians were arrested and they awaited martyrdom in prison. As a soldier, Sebastiao took advantage of this and visited and comforted them in prison. On so many occasions, he encouraged the Christians in prison to overcome their martyrdom by telling them they would soon go to Paradise. Sebastian was a consolation to the martyrs during these difficult times. He probably took the Eucharist to the Christians in prison and the priests' words that they could not go there. Probably the priests made him a sacristan and acolyte in order to bring the Eucharist to the needy and the sick. Sebastian also wanted to be a martyr someday. And that day would come.  
Conversion of other residents of Rome: Around the year 288, the Christian brothers Mark and Marceliano were arrested in Rome and subjected to whipping. Sebastian visited them daily. They did not give up or deny their faith in Jesus. The Roman administrator Chromacus gave the family time to change their minds and deny their faith. They were chained to the home of the scribe Nicostratus and while family and friends tried to persuade them to deny their faith. But Sebastiao encouraged them in this moment and it increased their faith even more. Zoë, the wife of the scribe, upon seeing the holiness of Sebastiao, bowed to his feet and asked for the sickness in his speech. Sebastian made the Sign of the Cross in Zoé's mouth and immediately she began to speak normally, praising Jesus. Her husband Nicostratus asked the pardoned brothers for forgiveness and offered to die in their place. They forgave him, but refused to forsake his testimony before everybody. Because of Sebastião's testimony on this day, 68 Roman residents converted and were baptized by Saint Polycarp: Nicostratus, his wife Zoe, the family of Nicostratus, his brother Castor, the gaoler Claudius with two sons and his wife Sinforosa the father Of the twins, named Tranquilino, with his wife Márcia and 6 friends, the wives of the twins, and 16 others imprisoned. All this large group of people were joyful in faith, willing to do everything for Jesus. The mayor of Rome arrived to see if Mark and Marceliano had denied their faith. He called his father Tranquilino and invited him to offer perfume to the gods. Tranquilino said he had been cured of an incurable disease that the mayor also possessed. The mayor offered him money to buy medicine for this disease, but Tranquilino laughed saying that only Jesus can heal it. Tranquilino showed the mayor how his faith and the greatness of Jesus Christ and also ordered that many statues of the gods and objects of astrology used earlier by his family were destroyed. The number of new converted Christians has reached 1400 people because to the testimony of all these families. Everybody was very happy.  
Martyrdom and testimony: Emperor Diocletian, who was so fond of Sebastian, suspected that he too was a Christian and he did not deny it. Diocletian was very sad and offered opportunities and wealth so that Sebastian deny his faith. But Sebastian did not want nothing and testified his faith and love for Jesus. He ordered to the soldiers to be tied Sebastian to a tree and kill him by arrows. The shooters abandoned him thinking he was dead. But a widow who lived nearby, Saint Irene, saw that he was alive and cared for him until he recovered. A few days later, Sebastian returned to the emperor, who was very surprised to find him alive again, and again witnessed his faith and censured the persecution of Christians. The emperor ordered so that Sebastian to be killed by violent blows and whipping. The event occurred on January 20, 288. Sebastian had 32 years. His body was thrown into the sewers of Rome. Santa Luciana rescued him, cleaned him and buried him in one of the catacombs which bears his name and on which the Basilica of San Sebastiano was built on the Via Appia.
Protector: Saint Sebastian is the protector of soldiers, military, police, against wars, hunger and plagues. 

Novena to Saint Sebastian:  

Prayer to Saint Sebastian: (For all days) "Glorious Saint Sebastian, you who had great courage, help us to be witnesses of Jesus before this unbelieving world as you have brought others to Christ. Help us to have the love of neighbor that you had and to give our lives for our brothers, even in difficulties and dangers. Help us to have faith in the pains of life as you endured cruel martyrdom. Protect all soldiers, military and police against every danger in their work. Protect all nations against wars, hunger and pestilence. Intercede for the grace that I need... (make the request). Amen."

First day: (Psalm 17, 6-9) “I call upon you, God, for you a
nswer me; turn your ear to me, hear what I say. Show the evidence of your faithful love, saviour of those who hope in your strength against attack. Guard me as the pupil of an eye, shelter me in the shadow of your wings from the presence of the wicked who would maltreat me; deadly enemies are closing in on me.” 

Last prayer: Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory.  

Second day: (Psalm 18, 2-7) “Yahweh is my rock and my fortress, my deliverer is my God. I take refuge in him, my rock, my shield, my saving strength, my stronghold, my place of refuge. I call to Yahweh who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my foes. With Death's breakers closing in on me, Belial's torrents ready to swallow me, Sheol's snares every side of me, Death's traps lying ahead of me, I called to Yahweh in my anguish, I cried for help to my God; from his Temple he heard my voice, my cry came to his ears. Then the earth quaked and rocked, the mountains' foundations shuddered, they quaked at his blazing anger.”  

Third day: (Psalm 40, 2-10) “He pulled me up from the seething chasm, from the mud of the mire. He set my feet on rock, and made my footsteps firm. He put a fresh song in my mouth, praise of our God. Many will be awestruck at the sight, and will put their trust in Yahweh. How blessed are those who put their trust in Yahweh, who have not sided with rebels and those who have gone astray in falsehood. How much you have done, Yahweh, my God your wonders, your plans for us, you have no equal. I will proclaim and speak of them; they are beyond number. You wanted no sacrifice or cereal offering, but you gave me an open ear, you did not ask for burnt offering or sacrifice for sin; then I said, 'Here I am, I am coming.' In the scroll of the book it is written of me, my delight is to do your will; your law, my God, is deep in my heart. I proclaimed the saving justice of Yahweh in the great assembly. See, I will not hold my tongue, as you well know. I have not kept your saving justice locked in the depths of my heart, but have spoken of your constancy and saving help. I have made no secret of your faithful and steadfast love, in the great assembly.” 

Fourth day: (Psalm 25, 2-13) “I offer, Yahweh, to you, my God. BUT in my trust in you do not put me to shame, let not my enemies gloat over me. CALLING to you, none shall ever be put to shame, but shame is theirs who groundlessly break faith. DIRECT me in your ways, Yahweh, and teach me your paths. ENCOURAGE me to walk in your truth and teach me since you are the God who saves me. FOR my hope is in you all day long such is your generosity, Yahweh. GOODNESS and faithful love have been yours for ever, Yahweh, do not forget them. HOLD not my youthful sins against me, but remember me as your faithful love dictates. INTEGRITY and generosity are marks of Yahweh for he brings sinners back to the path. JUDICIOUSLY he guides the humble, instructing the poor in his way. KINDNESS unfailing and constancy mark all Yahweh's paths, for those who keep his covenant and his decrees. LET my sin, great though it is, be forgiven, Yahweh, for the sake of your name. 12 MEN who respect Yahweh, what of them? He teaches them the way they must choose. NEIGHBOURS to happiness will they live, and their children inherit the land.”  

Fifth day: (Psalm 25, 14-22) “ONLY those who fear Yahweh have his secret and his covenant, for their understanding. PERMANENTLY my eyes are on Yahweh, for he will free my feet from the snare. QUICK, turn to me, pity me, alone and wretched as I am! RELIEVE the distress of my heart, bring me out of my constraint. SPARE a glance for my misery and pain, take all my sins away. TAKE note how countless are my enemies, how violent their hatred for me. UNLESS you guard me and rescue me I shall be put to shame, for you are my refuge. VIRTUE and integrity be my protection, for my hope, Yahweh, is in you. Ransom Israel, O God, from all its troubles.” 

Sixth day: (Psalm 40, 12-18) “For troubles surround me, until they are beyond number; my sins have overtaken me; I cannot see my way. They outnumber the hairs of my head, and my heart fails me. Be pleased, Yahweh, to rescue me, Yahweh, come quickly and help me! Shame and dismay to all who seek to take my life. Back with them, let them be humiliated who delight in my misfortunes. Let them be aghast with shame, those who say to me, 'Aha, aha!' But joy and happiness in you to all who seek you! Let them ceaselessly cry, 'Great is Yahweh' who love your saving power. Poor and needy as I am, the Lord has me in mind. You, my helper, my Saviour, my God, do not delay.”  

Seventh day: (Psalm 119, 33-40) “Teach me, Yahweh, the way of your will, and I will observe it. Give me understanding and I will observe your Law, and keep it wholeheartedly. Guide me in the way of your commandments, for my delight is there. Bend my heart to your instructions, not to selfish gain. Avert my eyes from pointless images, by your word give me life. Keep your promise to your servant so that all may hold you in awe. Avert the taunts that I dread, for your judgements are generous. See how I yearn for your precepts; in your saving justice give me life.”  

Eighth day: (Psalm 130, 2-8) “Lord, hear my cry. Listen attentively to the sound of my pleading! If you kept a record of our sins, Lord, who could stand their ground? But with you is forgiveness, that you may be revered. I rely, my whole being relies, Yahweh, on your promise. My whole being hopes in the Lord, more than watchmen for daybreak; more than watchmen for daybreak let Israel hope in Yahweh. For with Yahweh is faithful love, with him generous ransom; and he will ransom Israel from all its sins.” 

Ninth day: (Psalm 22, 15-22) “My mouth is dry as earthenware, my tongue sticks to my jaw. You lay me down in the dust of death. A pack of dogs surrounds me, a gang of villains closing in on me as if to hack off my hands and my feet. I can count every one of my bones, while they look on and gloat; they divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing. Yahweh, do not hold aloof! My strength, come quickly to my help, rescue my soul from the sword, the one life I have from the grasp of the dog! Save me from the lion's mouth, my poor life from the wild bulls' horns! I shall proclaim your name to my brothers, praise you in full assembly.”