A reflection from Deacon Keith Fournier:
On January 23 on the Roman Catholic Liturgical Calendar we have an optional memorial for St. Vincent, the Deacon and Martyr. It is an ancient Feast which is celebrated in the Orthodox Church as well, though on a different day.
Vincent was born in the Third Century in Huesca, Spain and born again to eternal life only four days into the fourth century. He lived in Saragossa where he served the holy Bishop Valerius as a Deacon.
He was one of the scores of Christians who suffered brutal persecution under the evil Roman emperor named Diocletian. Diocletian is associated with the last of the ten persecutions of the nascent undivided Christian Church of the first millennium of our history.
Like many early deacons of the undivided Church such as Stephen, Lawrence and Ephrem, the hagiography which has been passed down through the Church records his holiness of life and heroic virtue. He lived the way he died, as a sign of the power of the Gospel and the truth of the presence of the Risen Jesus Christ in our midst.
In his holy life and martyrs death Vincent has inspired – and continues to inspire – Christians whose eyes are opened to the continued work of the Holy Spirit in and through Christ’s Church as she continues His redemptive mission in a world waiting to be born again.
Hagiography, a word which refers to the stories of the great heroes and saints of the Church, puts legs on the Gospel, making it walk into our own daily lives and challenge us, no matter what our state in life or vocation, to live heroic and holy lives. Or, at least it should, of we pay attention. We are all called to bear witness to Jesus Christ.
Vincent was a man like us who encountered the same Risen Lord Jesus whom we have encountered. He struggled with the choices which always accompany living the Christian life in the midst of a culture which has squeezed God and His truth out of the center of its daily life. A culture much like our own. .
Vincent shows us the power of the Gospel. He beckons us to rededicate our own lives to heroic virtue and service to Jesus Christ and His Church in this Third Christian Millennium, a new missionary age.We must remember, we are all called to be saints.The same power of the Holy Spirit which was at work in both the life and death of Vincent the Deacon is at work within us.
…As a Deacon of the Catholic Church of the Third Millennium, a time with increasing parallels to the first millennium, the Deacon/Martyr Saints are a great inspiration to me. The older I get the more their heroic witness gives me great comfort and helps me to focus my life and service.
I do not believe it is an accident that the last Council of the Church, Vatican II, which ushered in an age of the lay faithful and reminded all Christians of the universal call to holiness, also restored the Order of Deacon to permanent role of ordained service in the Church.
This is a new missionary age and we need Deacon saints, missionaries and martyrs. We need saints, missionaries and martyrs from among all of the vocations in the one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church. St Vincent the Deacon, please pray for us all.
St. Vincent, pray for us!