September 26, 2012
Today the Church celebrates the more recent martyrs, St. Isaac Jogues and companions. But this day for centuries belonged, and still does, to Sts. Cyprian and Justina, martyrs under Diocletian (245-305). Although these two martyrs have faded from the view of many in the Church, perhaps in these days of glorification of the occult, wicca, and Satanism, we should take a closer look.
St. Cyprian’s parents consecrated him from infancy to the service of the god Apollo. From age seven he learned sorcery and demonic wisdom. At age ten he was sent to Mount Olympus to further his craft. In that place were many idols inhabited by demons. He advanced over the years by studying under various sorcerers at Memphis, Argos, Carthage, and Antioch. By the age of thirty, the kinds of powers he was able to call up seem fantastic to us today, but they were real and effective at harming others.
After his conversion he related a meeting he had with Satan himself and his many demonic servants in which Satan claimed him as a worthy follower and promised him great power and a place of high honor in hell when he died. The fervent Christian soul is terrified by such things, but Cyprian relished his powers and applied them well to create chaos, hate, illness, and all manner of evil to others. He was up for hire to anyone who wanted a spell cast on another and such was his relationship with Satan and his followers that he never failed.
St. Justina crossed the path of Cyprian through the lust of a pagan admirer. She and her parents were Christians and on the way to church one day, a wealthy scion of a well-known family saw her and lusted after her. As the weeks went by, he put great effort into stalking her and trying to seduce her, but to no avail. This continuous failure increasingly frustrated and angered him to the point that, after a failed kidnapping attempt, he sought Cyprian out for help.
Cyprian made several attempts to pollute Justina with lust by ordering a series of attacks on her by demons under his command. All failed because Justina, when suffering severe temptations against chastity, took refuge in prayer, fasting, wearing a hair shirt, and fleeing to the Cross. Even the strongest demon Cyprian sent failed and when rebuked by Cyprian revealed that his impotence was caused by the invoking of Christ and His cross.
For the first time Cyprian, with all his knowledge of the black arts and with direct service from Satan had failed. As he related after his conversion, this was the point where he knew and understood that the power of Jesus was greater than all the demons of hell. He had signed on with the losing army.
Cyprian took all of his books on sorcery and every evil art to the bishop and begged to be baptized. It would not be granted easily, however. Cyprian burned every one of his books and evil tools, and with many tears and lamentations, began attending church. He had been enveloped in the light of Truth and Mercy and saw the full wickedness of his ways.
So firm was his resolve to become Christian that the bishop finally baptized him, observing his complete commitment and conversion. Within a year, Cyprian became a priest, while Justina never ceased to pray for him throughout his full awakening to God’s love and plan for salvation. The man who had devoted nearly his entire life to Satan now was a most fervent and virtuous follower of Christ.
Not long after, a group of Christians, among whom were Cyprian and Justina, were rounded up by the authorities and dragged off to prison. The first few attempts to kill them failed as God worked miracles in the faces of their persecutors. Finally, however, they were transported to Nicomedia and beheaded, but not without converting a few pagans along the way.
I am struck by this story from these aspects:
- Parents have an huge influence over the direction their children take in life. A parent using his authority to dedicate a child to Satan and his service has to be one of the most abominable acts on this earth. How many practitioners of the occult, Satanism, and witchcraft have done this in these times? The sheer number of books on the occult in bookstores ought to make us think about this.
- The sign of the cross, true devotion to the Blessed Mother and Jesus, and the practice of self-denial are essential to overcoming temptation. I wear a scapular and the medal of St. Benedict as a sign to Satan to stay away.
- Prayers for the intercession of Sts. Cyprian and Justina are powerful for the conversion of those who practice the black arts today, or who have dabbled in the occult and astrology and have opened themselves up to demonic attack.
- If we are going through life trying to do everything on our own power, we are laying ourselves open to demonic attack. Purity of intention and seeking God’s help in everything, as well as sound spiritual practices will make us victorious in Christ.
Whew! Lord, keep the black arts practitioners away from me and shield me from the attacks of hell!
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R. Now and forever!
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