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Monday, September 15, 2014

Sts Cornelius and Cyprian, Bishops and Martyrs

"For he is good, the LORD, whose kindness endures forever, and his faithfulness, to all generations." Ps 10:5
We often forget that in the middle of the 3rd century the See of Peter was vacant for 14 months because of the persecution of Christians. It must have been a chaotic time. Governed by a group of priests, the church was careful both to affirm its belief in Jesus and to avoid undue agitation with the Roman authorities.

St Cornelius was elected Pope at a time of great turmoil inside and outside of the church. The persecution of Christians was bad enough, but the refusal of some bishops to consider reconciling Christians, who because of fear, denied their faith during the persecution was a more vexing problem for Cornelius.

Challenged by an important bishop, Novatian, who wanted nothing to do with those who rejected their faith, Cornelius sided with his friend from North Africa, Cyprian, who insisted the Jesus was always willing to forgive and that the church had no choice. The welcoming back of sinners to full communion was something that Jesus insisted upon. Though Cornelius only served as Pope for 2 years and was exiled at the end of his life, his witness to a forgiving Christ and Church remains an essential dimension of the contemporary church.

Today, forgive someone from whom you have been too long separated.

How do you think you would react during a time of church persecution?

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