As Iron Sharpens Iron

An ongoing and online discussion between: an Orthodox informed Ecumaniac without a denominational home, an ordained Baptist youth pastor with an open mind, a Calvinist worship leader/seminarian with a staggering vocabulary and ability to make a point, and a cradle Catholic with a love/hate relationship to Rome.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

St. Marcellus, St. Martin and Pacificsm

During the consulship of Faustus and Gallus [298], on the 5th day before the kalends of August [28 July], when the former centurion of the first cohort had been brought in, the praeses Fortunatus said, "What were you thinking to discard your belt and hurl down your sword and staff ?"
Marcellus replied, "I have already told you on 21 July, loudly and in public, before the standards of this legion, when you were celebrating the anniversary of your emperor, that I am a Christian and cannot observe this oath unless to Jesus Christ the Son of the Living God."
The praeses Fortunatus said, "I cannot conceal your rash behaviour and so I will report these things to the ears of our lords the Augusti and Caesars. You, of course, will be sent to the court of my lord Aurelius Agricolanus, the vice-praetorian prefect, under armed guard by the consular official Cecilius.
Manilius Fortunatus sends greetings to his lord Agricolanus. On the anniversary most happy and blessed throughout the whole world of our same lords the Augusti and Caesars, when we were willingly celebrating the festival, lord Aurelius Agricolanus, the centurio ordinarius Marcellus, seized by what madness I do not know, wantonly disgirded himself of belt and sword and decided to hurl down the staff which he was carrying before the very headquarters of our lords. I have decided that it was necessary to report what was done to your power, even for him to have been sent to you also.
During the consulship of Faustus and Gallus, at Tingis, on the third day before the kalends of November, when Marcellus, the former centurion of the first cohort, had been brought in, an official announced, "The praeses Fortunatus has sent him to your power. There is here for your greatness also a letter concerning his case which I
will read out if you so direct."
Agricolanus said, "Let it be read out.". When it had been read out, Agricolanus said, "Did you say those
things which are recorded in the praeses' record ?"
Marcellus said, "I did."
Agricolanus said, "Were you serving as a centurio ordinarius ?"
Marcellus said, "I was."
Agricolanus said, "What madness possessed you to cast aside aside your oath and say such things ?"
Marcellus said, "No madness possesses him who fears God."
Agricolanus said, "Did you make these separate statements which are recorded in the praeses' record ?"
Marcellus said, "I did."
Agricolanus said, "Did you hurl down your weapons ?"
Marcellus said, "I did. It is not proper for a Christian man, one who fears the Lord Christ, to engage in earthly military service."
Agricolanus said, "Marcellus' actions are such that they ought to be disciplined." And so he stated, "It pleases (the court) that Marcellus, who defiled the office of centurion which he held by his public rejection of the oath and, furthermore, according to the praeses' records, gave in testimony words full of madness, should be executed by the sword."

St. Martin Renounces His Weapons by Simone Martini (1317)

In this fresco we see St. Martin, as an officer in the Roman army face to face with the enemy, announcing his decision:
I am a soldier of Christ and I cannot fight.
To the left, in the Roman camp with Emperor Julian, we see a group of soldiers and the treasurer distributing money to the mercenaries. To the right, waiting for the battle, behind the hill, we see the barbarian army with their armour and their spears. St. Martin (still a knight, but carrying a cross and shown in the act of blessing) is looking towards the Emperor but walking towards the enemy. His battle is the struggle against paganism, and his only weapon is the word of Christ.

WASTE of Muscle, waste of Brain,
Waste of Patience, waste of Pain,
Waste of Manhood, waste of Health,
Waste of Beauty, waste of Wealth,

Waste of Blood, and waste of Tears,
Waste of Youth's most precious years,
Waste of ways the Saints have trod,
Waste of Glory, waste of God,--