Today, 20 January, is the feast of early martyrs, St. Fabian, who became Pope and St. Sebastian, a soldier who had risen through the ranks at the time of Diocletian. When the Emperor learned that Sebastian was a Christian, the soldier was pressed with dire threats to apostasize. He refused. Sebastian was tied up and shot full of arrows, but he lived on, nursed to health by St. Irene. Having regained his health, he went to Diocletian and admonished him for his sins. He was then beaten to death with rods, fustuarium, a punishment of the legions. St. Ambrose preached about Sebastian, saying that the saint was originally from Milan. In the medieval period he was increasingly invoked against Plague, probably because of the association of disease striking people like arrow from the blue. Also, in 680 Sebastian was invoked against a plague and it remitted.
Hence, it is not a surprise that Sebastian is invoked in the Rituale Romanum against disease in the first of the three orations declared by the priest.
Exáudi nos, Deus salutáris noster: et intercedénte beáta et gloriósa Dei genitríce María semper vírgine, et beáto Sebastiáno mártyre tuo, et ómnibus Sanctis, pópulum tuum ab iracúndiae tuae terróribus líbera, et misericórdiae tuae fac largitáte secúrum.
Vouchsafe to hear us, O God, our salvation: and, the glorious and blessed Mary, Mother of God and ever Virgin, of Thy martyr Saint Sebastian and all the saints interceding, free Thy people from the terrors of Thy wrath, and make them tranquil by the abundance of Thy mercy.
And apt prayer for evil times and on a pivotal day.
Preaching about Sebastian, St. Ambrose says (Exp. Ps. 118. ch. 20):
The persecutors who are visible are not the only ones. There are also invisible persecutors, much greater in number. This is more serious. Like a king bent on persecution, sending orders to persecute to his many agents, and establishing different persecutors in each city or province, the devil directs his many servants in their work of persecution, whether in public or in the souls of individuals.
Of this kind of persecution Scripture says: All who wish to live a holy life in Christ Jesus suffer persecution. “All” sufffer persecution; there is no exception. Who can claim exemption if the Lord himself endured the testing of persecution? How many there are today who are secret martyrs for Christ, giving testimony to Jesus as Lord! The Apostle knew this kind of martyrdom, this faithful witnessing to Christ; he said: This is our boast, the testimony of our conscience.
In our nation, persecution of individuals by the Left is on the rise. They are doing Satan’s work. It is right to pray against them using all our spiritual tools. Fathers! Take note! Recite Ch. 3 Title XI of the Rituale Romanum privately if you must. But say it. Do not give in to the darkness by either running from it, or by descending into hatred.
The pandemic may very well be something that God has given us to wake us all up. So too with the way many currents in the country are rapidly shifting to the Left. When people forget about God, God will provide wake up calls. Is the pandemic one of the them? Are our elected and appointed leaders, secular and sacred, wake up calls?
Pray to St. Sebastian that God will treat us better than we deserve. Ask Him for miracle. Beg God for the sudden, complete and lasting elimination of the COVID-1984, the Wuhan Devil and all its variants. Ask God to remove this scourge from us in such a sudden way that people will wake up and recognize that, by its sudden and complete disappearance, many will have to acknowledge that it was indeed God who did it.
I would so much rather that the peoples of the earth wake up to God by a great miracle than that they wake up because of a cataclysm.
I would so much rather that our persecutors wake up to their evils than that they eventually, unrepentant, go to Hell.
Let us pray.
And I send out my thanks to the many “Irenes” who have lately been of aid to me.