May 22, 2017

Holy Martyrs Castus and Aimilius of Carthage

Sts. Castus and Aimilius (Feast Day - May 22)

Saints Castus and Aimilius were praised by Saints Cyprian of Carthage and Augustine of Hippo. When they were imprisoned in Carthage in the year 250 during the persecution of Decius, Castus and Aimilius denied that they were Christians under torture and were released. When they were arrested a second time, they refused to abjure Christianity and were burned to death.

Saint Cyprian wrote of them:

"At one time the Lord forgave Castus and Aimilius; thus, overcome in the first encounter, they were made victors in the second battle. So that they who had formerly given way to the fires became stronger than the fires, and in that in which they had been vanquished they were conquerors. They entreated not for pity of their tears, but of their wounds; nor with a lamentable voice alone, but with laceration and suffering of body. Blood flowed instead of weeping; and instead of tears, gore poured forth from their half-scorched entrails" (Treatise 3).

Saint Augustine wrote:

"Perhaps [Castus and Aimilius] too, to begin with, relied presumptuously on their own powers, and that's why they fell away. [The Lord] showed them who they really were, in themselves, and who He really was. He squashed them in their self-assurance, He called them in their faith; He came to their aid as they fought, He crowned them when they won. In a nutshell, the enemy was rejoicing over them in their first encounter, when they gave in to their pains. He reckoned they were on his side; he was already gleefully rubbing his hands, he already had them as his own - but only to the extent he was allowed to, in the Lord's merciful plan. Other martyrs conquered the devil, as he tested them; these two conquered him in his very triumph.

And so, my brothers and sisters, let us remember what celebrities we are celebrating today; and let us desire to imitate them, not insofar as they were defeated, but insofar as they were victorious. That's why the fall of great men has not been hushed up, so that those who have had the presumption just to rely on themselves may learn to be afraid. On every side the humility of the Good Master is being most assiduously impressed upon us, seeing that our very salvation in Christ consists in the humility of Christ. There would have been no salvation for us, after all, if Christ had not been prepared to humble Himself for our sakes. Let us remember that we shouldn't have too much confidence in ourselves. Let us entrust to God whatever good qualities we have; what we have rather less of, let us implore from Him" (Sermon 285).