St. Fabian and the dove

Friends in Christ, today are the feasts of St. Sebastian and St. Fabian; these two martyrs have been celebrated together since ancient times.
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St. Fabian became Pope in the year 236. He governed the church for 14 years, and fought against a new heresy in Africa.
He was quite courageous; for example, when the Emperor requested to attend the Easter Vigil and to share in Holy Communion, the Pope told him that he would first have to admit his sins and become a member of the penitents; the penitents in those days were a group of people who were assigned penances, until they could be absolved of their sins. The Pope believed even Emperors had to live the Faith, just like everyone else.
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Fabian was concerned that as the years were passing, the records of the saints and the martyrs were not being written down. So he assigned 7 deacons to go out to all areas of the Church and collect the accounts and records of the martyrs. We are very indebted to him today for this effort.
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Pope Fabian established the practice of consecrating Chrism every year on Holy Thursday, which is still done today. He governed the Church during a time of relative peace, until a new Emperor appeared: Decius. Decius instituted a brutal persecution of the Church, and ordered the beheading of Pope Fabian. We still have today the stone that covered his tomb.
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His election as Pope is quite interesting. He was an ordinary citizen of Rome at the time, and when Pope Antherus died, and the people gathered for the election of the next Pope, Fabian went along with the crowd to see what the outcome might be. Lo and behold, a white dove flew in, and sat on Fabian’s head; this sign caused the clergy and the people to be filled with wonder, and so they chose him, though as a layman and a stranger they had no thought of him before. So he was ordained a priest, then bishop, then Pope!
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You and I do not know, on any given day or hour, when a ‘dove’ will land on our heads – that is, the Holy Spirit. The adventure of being a Christian is that God is full of surprises; would that we would be as docile to the surprises of the Holy Spirit as St. Fabian was. Therefore, when the Holy Spirit prompts us or surprises us, let us give him what he asks – and then he will ask for more!

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