The parish where I grew up was St. Clement’s. All I knew about the saint was that his name was mentioned in the Roman Canon, AKA the first Eucharistic Prayer – you know, the long one. Thus does a child process church history.
I’ve since learned more about the people listed by name in that Prayer, and I understand what I lost during the years when I tuned out any Eucharistic Prayer that took more than three minutes to recite. Parents, be patient; I’m living proof that inattentive kids come around eventually.
Today is St. Clement’s feast day. I now know that he was one of the early popes, back in the days when that meant certain persecution. He knew Peter and Paul, and he learned from them what Christian ministry looked like. He saw their sufferings, and he accepted the post of Bishop of Rome anyway. It’s right that we remember and honor him.
My trusty Laudate app provides me today with a portion of a letter from Clement to the Corinthians, the same fractious people that St. Paul had to admonish.
It was through jealousy and envy that the greatest and most upright pillars of the Church were persecuted and struggled unto death. Let us set before our eyes the good apostles. First of all, Peter, who because of unreasonable jealousy, suffered not merely once or twice but many times, and, having thus given his witness,went to the place of glory that he deserved. It was through jealousy and conflict that Paul showed the way to the prize for perseverance….We are writing this, beloved, not only for your admonition but also as a reminder to ourselves; for we are placed in the same arena, and the same contest lies before us. Hence we ought to put aside vain and useless concerns and should consider what is good, pleasing and acceptable in the sight of him who made us. Let us fix our gaze on the blood of Christ, realizing how precious it is to his Father, since it was shed for our salvation and brought the grace of repentance to all the world.