Wednesday, 7 March 2012
Saints Felicity and Perpetua for children
This afternoon I celebrated Mass for year 5 at our school (Junior 3 in old money, 4th grade in US currency.) As it would be the feast of St Felicity and St Perpetua, I celebrated a votive Mass of these martyrs. (In the NO calendar, they only have an optional collect, hence the votive Mass.) Here is my sermon for the children:
You have heard the story of the brave martyrs Saints Felicity and Perpetua in class. I want to draw some lessons for us.
First we should be inspired by their courage. This did not come simply from their being brave people, it came from their faith in God and their holiness. They believed firmly that God exists and that Jesus Christ won us heaven through His death on the cross. Therefore they trusted completely in God, even during their terrible sufferings, and they looked forward to happiness for ever in heaven. God also gave them graces to strengthen them when they were thrown to the wild beasts.
Secondly, the saints pray for us. The names of St Felicity and St Perpetua are repeated in the most important prayer of the Mass because they were two of the most famous and revered saints in the early centuries of the Church when the Romans persecuted the Christians.
We should pray to our own patron saints. If you have the name of a saint, you should find out about your saint. If you don’t, you should try to choose a patron saint, find out about their life, and perhaps take their name when it comes to your Confirmation.
St Paul compared the prayers of the saints to a crowd in the stadium at a sporting event. We have the Olympics coming up: on the television, you will see masses of people cheering the runners in the races. When we try to love God, looking forward one day to heaven, the saints are cheering us on from heaven, pleading with God to help us. And he does, with His grace.
Thirdly, remembering the faith that was the bedrock of the courage of St Felicity and St Perpetua, we must ask Our Lord for His help, and call on the saints to assist us with their prayers, so that we grow in our faith and remain firm in it. Our Catholic faith is a great treasure and we must take care never to lose it. We need to find out more about our faith, ask questions, study the catechism, and always remember that our life is given to us to know, love and serve God in this world and to be happy with Him for ever in the next.
At the time they were arrested, St Perpetua had recently given birth to a baby, and St Felicity was expecting a baby. St Felicity gave birth to her baby in prison. Both of these courageous young mothers had to say goodbye to their babies, but knew that they would be well looked-after by their Christian families.
At Mass today, let us remember to pray for our extended families – for our grandparents, for our aunts and uncles, our cousins, our other relatives, and for all our good family friends. May God bless our families, keep them safe and reward them for all the good things that they have done for us.