Prayer to Saint Sebastian


O God, who, by thy most blessed Martyr Sebastian, hast infused courage into the hearts of Thy faithful, since Thou didst make him, while concealed under the service of an earthly commander, a perfect soldier of thine own: grant, that we may ever fight for the securing Thy praise; arm our mouth with the teachings of thy justice; enlighten our heart with the love of Thy love, and, having freed our flesh from its concupiscence, secure it to Thyself with the nails of Thy cross. Amen

Brave Soldier of our Emmanuel! Thou art now sweetly reposing at the foot of His throne. Thy wounds are closed, and thy rich palm-branch delights all heaven by the freshness of its unfading beauty. Look down upon the Church on earth, that tires not in singing thy praise. Each Christmas, we find thee near the Crib of the Divine Babe, its brave and faithful sentinel. The office thou didst once fill in an earthly prince's court, is still thine, but it is in the palace of the King of kings. Into that palace, we beseech thee, lead us by thy prayers, and gain a favourable hearing to our own unworthy petitions.

With what a favourable ear must not our Jesus receive all thy requests, who didst love Him with such a brave love! Thirsting to shed thy blood in His service, thou didst scorn a battle-field where danger was not sure, and Rome, that Babylon which, as St. John says, was drunk with the blood of the Martyrs, Rome alone was worthy of thee. And there, it was not thy plan to cull a palm, and hurry on to heaven; the courage of some of thy fellow-christians had wavered, and the thought of their danger troubled thee. Rushing into their prisons, where they lay mutilated by the tortures they had endured, thou didst give them back the fallen laurel, and teach them how to secure it in the grasp of holy defiance. It seemed as though thou wast commissioned to form a pretorian band for the King of heaven, and that thou couldst not enter heaven unless marshalling thither a troop of veterans for Jesus.

Thy turn came at last; the hour of thy confession was at hand, and thou hadst to think of thine own fair crown. But, for such a soldier as thou, Sebastian, one martyrdom is not enough. The archers have faithfully done their work--not an arrow is left in their quivers; and yet, their victim lives, ready for a second sacrifice. Such were the Christians of the early times, and we are their children!

Look, then, O Soldier of Christ! upon us, and pity us, as thou didst thy brethren, who once faltered in the combat. Alas! we let everything frighten and discourage us; and, oftentimes, we are enemies of the Cross, even while professing that we love it. We too easily forget that we cannot be companions of the martyrs, unless our hearts have the generosity of the martyrs. We are cowardly in our contest with the world and its pomps; with the evil propensities of our nature, and the tyranny of our senses--and thus we fall. And when we have made an easy peace with God, and sealed it with the sacrament of his love, we behave as though we had now nothing more to do than to go on quietly to heaven, without further trials or self-imposed sacrifices. Rouse us, great Saint! from these illusions, and waken us from our listless life. Our love of God is asleep, and all must needs go wrong.

Preserve us from the contagion of bad example, and of those worldly maxims which gain currency even with christian minds, because christian lips call them rules of christian prudence. Pray for us, that we may be ardent in the pursuit of our sanctification, watchful over our inclinations, zealous for the salvation of others, lovers of the Cross, and detached from earthly things. Oh! by the arrows which pierced thee, we beseech thee shield us from those hidden darts, which satan throws against us.

Pray for us, that we may be clad with the armour of God, described to us by the great Apostle. May we have on the breast-plate of justice, which will defend us from sin; the helmet of salvation, that is, the hope of gaining heaven, which will preserve us from both despair and presumption; the shield of faith, which will ward off the darts of the enemy, who seeks to corrupt the heart by leading the mind into error; and lastly, the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, whereby we may put all false doctrines to flight, and vanquish all our vices; for heaven and earth pass away, but the word of God abides forever, and is given us as our rule and the pledge of our salvation.

Defender of the Church! as the Vicar of Christ called thee, lift up thy sword and defend her now. Prostrate her enemies, and frustrate the plots they have laid for her destruction. Let her enjoy one of those rare periods of peace, during which she prepares for fresh combats. Obtain for christian soldiers, engaged in just wars, the blessing of the God of Hosts. Protect the Holy City of Rome, where thy Tomb is honoured. Avert from us, by thy intercession, the scourge of pestilence and contagion. Hear the prayers, which, each year, are addressed to thee for the preservation of the creatures, given by God to man to aid him in his daily labour. Secure to us, by thy prayers, peace and happiness in this present life, and the good things of the life to come. Amen 

The Liturgical Year. 1904. Abbot Dom Gueranger, O.S.B. Translated from the French by Dom Laurence Shepherd, O.S.B. Imprimatur, 1910.
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