Monday, November 25, 2013

The Catholic Defender: St. Clement of Rome

St. Clement of Rome is one of the great early Catholic Popes who served as the Bishop of Rome from 88 to 97 A.D.

He was the 3rd successor of St. Peter and the 4th Pope overall.

St. Paul writes Philippians 4:2-3 stating, "I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to come to a mutual understanding in the Lord.  Yes, and I ask you also, my true yokemate, to help them, for they have struggled at my side in promoting the gospel, along with Clement and my other coworkers, whose names are in the book of life".

It is interesting to note that St. Paul is clearly speaking of the unity of the Church.  Notice that Euodia and Syntyche are urged to work together as one.  St. Clement is a coworker with St. Paul spreading the gospel for the kingdom of God.  

This is the basis and foundation of that apostolic tradition.  This is a great example of that apostolic authority being exercised through that apostolic ministry.  They are one team.

As Pope, St. Clement would stress the importance on this foundation writing to the Corinthians stating "You were sincere and uncorrupted, and forgetful of injuries between one another. Every kind of faction and schism was abominable in your sight. You mourned over the transgressions of your neighbors: their deficiencies you deemed your own.” (First Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians 90 A.D.)

St. Clement defends the apostolic authority writing, "For you did all things without respect of persons, and walked in the commandments of God, being obedient to those who had the rule over you, and giving all fitting honor to the presbyters among you."

Hebrews 13:17 states, "Obey your leaders and defer to them, for they keep watch over you and will have to give an account, that they may fulfill their task with joy and not with sorrow, for that would be no advantage to you".  This is the apostolic tradition.

St. Clement writes to the Corinthians giving an early example of the Bishop of Rome interceding on behalf of the Christian unity.  The Church at this time was suffering from massive persecution by the Roman.

Despite this persecution, St. Clement is strong on his defense of the Ministers of the Church writing, "Our Apostles knew through our Lord Jesus Christ that there would be strife for the office of bishop. For this reason, therefore, having received perfect knowledge, they appoint those who have already been mentioned, and afterwards added the further provision that, if they should die, other approved men should succeed to their ministry. As for these, then, who were appointed by them, or who afterwards appointed by other illustrious men with the consent of the whole Church, and who have ministered to the flock of Christ without blame, humbly, peaceably and with dignity, and who have for many years received the commendations of all, we consider it unjust that they be removed from the ministry.

St. Clement interchanges the usage of the title of bishops and presbyters as above the order of deacons.  St. Peter writes, "So I exhort the presbyters among you, as a fellow presbyter and witness to the sufferings of Christ and one has a share in the glory to be revealed.  Tend the flock of God in your midst, overseeing not by constraint but willingly, as God would have it, not for shameful profit but eagerly.  Do not lord it over those assigned to you, but be examples to the flock." (1 Peter 5:1-3)

What is important is that the apostolic tradition is clearly shown from through the scriptures and the authority of the Apostles and their successors.  As St. Peter was martyred for the Faith, so too was St. Clement.  

The Roman Emperor Trajan captured St. Clement sending him to Chersonesus (Ancient city in Greece) to work in the stone quarry.  

According to early accounts St. Clement became a voice for his fellow prisoners.  Because of the lack of water and the sufferings being levied upon Christians, St. Clement knelt down to pray when the Lord Jesus gives him a vision.  The Lord appeared to him as a Lamb on a hill. 

St. Clement responded to the vision running to the scene where the Lamb was and he struck the ground with a pickaxe and out came a stream of water.  This story reminds me of the miracle of St. Bernadette who dug a spring miraculously where the Virgin Mary had instructed her.  

The Lord Jesus was able to reach many people through St. Clement with many conversions of the local Pagan population.

St. Clement was blamed for the many conversions and was taken out on a boat into the Black Sea where the Pagans tied an anchor to him and threw him into the sea.  

He gave his life as a testimony and witness for the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  St. Clement's Feast day is November 23rd.

Today, St. Clement's remains are honored in Rome at the Basilica of San Clemente along with St. Ignatius of Antioch.  Recently, Deepertruth members, Ross Hoffman and Margie Sindelar were among others who visited this site.

 People go to the holy sites of the martyrs in Rome and how powerful it is to see the historic evidence of the Catholic Faith.  Jesus said, "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." (Acts 1:8)

What a great blessing it is to know that the Catholic Faith has safeguarded the apostolic witness, through the witness of the Saints, giving us the fullness of Truth.

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