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Saturday, April 02, 2011

Saturday of the Third Week of Lent

Saturday of the Third Week of Lent.
Station at St. Susanna, the ancient titulus Gaii.
(S. Susanna.)

The High Altar and Confession of S. Susanna.

The Church of St. Susanna
had originally been the house of St. Gabinus,
brother of the martyred Pope Caius
who consecrated it
and after whom it was called (Titulus Gaii).
St. Gabinus dwelt here with his daughter Susanna,
belonging to the highest astocracy of Rome.

Here both were martyred
because Susanna refused to break her vow of virginity
by marriage
with the pagan prince Maximianus Galerius,
the adopted son of Diocletian.

The bodies of the martyrs, SS. Caius, Gabinus, Susanna,

also St. Felicitas, the mother of the seven martyred brother,

and her younger son St. Silanus
lie in the confession under the high altar.

Depiction of Susanna and the Elders above a catacomb niche.

The story of Susanna described in the Book of Daniel (13: 1-62)
was loved by the early Christians,

for it was often represented in the catacombs.

St Hippolytus,
a martyr of the third century says that
Susanna is a figure of the Church,
solicited by the pagans to evil,
but remained faithful to her divine Spouse,
even though death was the punishment for resistance.

Susanna is a type of the Roman martyrs perferring death to apostasy;
betrothed to their divine Spouse by Baptism,
apostasy is called adultery in the Holy Scriptures.

The choice of this passage for the Lesson at Mass
was evidently suggested by the name of St. Susanna

to whom the stational basilica is dedicated.

The Gospel is that of the woman taken in adultery and brought before Christ.

Human justice is inflexible towards certain sins

for which the world has not pity.
How much more gentle is the grace of the Holy Ghost.

Why did Christ say to the adulteress: "Neither will I condemn thee"?
Does His law then not condemn sins of impurity?
It does condemn them,

and as long as the sinner cherishes an affection for sin,
God will not receive him,

but when he repents and detests his wrongdoing,

his contrition brings him back to God,
who no longer condemns him but grants him pardon and reconciliation.
How great a consolation it is to the fallen ones,

to those who can never hope to regain the esteem of their fellowmen,

to hear the voice of God within them saying:

"Neither will I condemn thee."

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