Pope Fabian (+250) was put to death on this day in the persecution of Emperor Decius, for refusing to offer idolatrous sacrifice, and this after a rather long reign of 14 years characterized by its rather amicable relations with Caesar, which allowed the good Pontiff to set up the hierarchical structure of the Church in Rome.
Perhaps Fabian is better known for the manner of his being chosen: A simple layman, he went to Rome after the death of Pope Anterus, to see the man whom the Holy Spirit would choose as the next Vicar of Christ, as still happens with the crowds outside conclaves. Well, poor Fabian, for the Holy Spirit quite literally descended upon him, a dove alighting on his head, upon which the crowds chanted “Fabian for Pope! Fabian for Pope!” with some degree of enthusiasm for this apparently heavenly sign (keeping in mind that choosing a Pope back then was was a more widely democratic affair, and would not be relegated to the cardinals until 1059 under Nicholas II).
As Pope Benedict, as Cardinal Ratzinger, once quipped, the choice of a Pope is not always the one the Holy Spirit may have chosen – although we do what we might with prayer adn sacrifice – this time, it seems, the choice was propitious, and, fortunately for the Church, Fabian acquiesced to being so chosen, in freedom. In the mysterious gift of freedom which makes us like Him, God allows us to make bad decisions, so that we may repent, and later make better ones. We must discern the spirits, to follow those which are of God, and our way through those that are not, always freely choosing the better part.
Ah, yes, lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
So the U.S. government has ‘shut down’, which really means not much, as most operations will stay open, and this will affect only ‘unnecessary’ services, which makes one wonder whether they should be funded at all. Things will keep rolling along for now, until, well, until the time that God, as manifested in His Holy Spirit, so chooses. The bloated bureaucracy, consuming vast resources of the poor common man, will truckle along like the behemoth it has become. A good read is this article by Mark Steyn the last time the government ‘shut down‘ under Barack Obama, and ponder how many such resources were used up in maintaining that ‘shut down’ in the most frivolous and authoritarian of ways, demonstrating how subtly and imperceptibly we can lose, even give up, the very freedoms for which our forefathers fought, and died, so valiantly (see Dunkirk).
True freedom requires effort, vigilance, virtue, and courage, the whole notion of ‘self-reliance’ that we modern millennial men so easily hand over to a coddling, but suffocating, State.
I just wish more of the government would shut down more often, and we could get back to getting back on our own two feet, as the pagan Sea Wolf taught his land-lubbing, inept protégé Humphrey in the stormy seas of the Atlantic, in the wind, the waves and the stiff salt air. We could use a few more Catholic Sea Wolfs, when men were men, who cared not for a far-off squabbling political class.
For truly, it is for freedom Christ has set us free. (Gal 5:1).
Speaking of sailing the open seas, I have an article published in Crisis magazine, on the metaphysical implications of Darwin’s theory. Feel free to peruse, and I will post it on these pages in a few days.
Pope Fabian and all holy martyrs, orate pro nobis!