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Monday, March 28, 2011

Monday of the Third Week of Lent.

Monday of the Third Week of Lent.
Station at St. Mark.


Today's Station is held at the church of St. Mark,
built by Pope St. Mark in honour of his patron saint, the Evangelist,
which dates from the fourth century
and is mentioned in the Acts of the council
held by Pope St. Symmachus in 499.

St. Mark, Evangelist
This is the only church in Rome sacred to the memory
of this devored disciple of St.Paul
and faithful interpreter of St. Peter,
who, besides sharing with these Apostles
the first evangelisation of the Eternal City,
wrote his Gospel after their death,
at the request of the faithful at Rome.

The Holy Martyrs Abdon and Sennen
as depicted in today's Station Church.

Under the high-altar of the Titular of St. Mark
rests the body of the founder
with the relics of the martyrs Abdon and Sennen.
We find ourselves here, as it were,
in an Eastern sanctuary in the very heart of the city,
with Mark the founder of the Patriarchate of Alexandria in the one hand
- for the Egyptian element was strong in Rome -
and the Persians Abdon and Sennen on the other.
Naaman the Syrian washes seven times
in the humble river Jordan
and is cleaned of his leprosy,
figure of Holy Baptism.

The scriptural passage read today has in mind
the Eastern origin of the titular patrons of the basilica,
and tells us therefore, of the Syrian Naaman, who,
rejecting the grander rivers of Damascus,
was cleansed from his leprosy in the lesser waters of the Jordan.
This extract is well adapted to the catechumens
who yesterday began theor course of instruction preparatory to baptism.
Peter, observes Tertullian, baptized in the Tiber,
and if the aspirants desire to be healed from the leprosy
of infidelity and original sin,
they must humble themselves, and,
abandoning the rivers of Damascus -that is,
the attractions of their former worldly life,
must wash themselves clean in the pure waters of holy baptism.

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