The pontificate of this first third-century pope was to see a storm of heresy rage around the pontiff, who had to keep a firm hand on the tiller of Peter’s bark.
According to the “Liber Pontificalis,” Zephyrinus was a Roman, the son of Habundius. He ordered that all ordinations, whether of priests, deacons, or simple clerics, should take place before the assembled clergy and laity.
The storm which agitated Christian thought in the time of Pope Zephyrinus was due to a double heresy. On the one hand, Theodotus the Tanner, though excommunicated by Pope St. Victor, was still teaching that Christ was not the true Son of God. On the other hand, a certain Praxeas came to Rome to tell Pope Zephyrinus that the old idea of the Trinity was all wrong, that really there were not three Persons in one Divine Nature, but only three modes of one substance.
Pope Zephyrinus, who was no philosopher, clung firmly to the traditional doctrine handed down from the Apostles. In the midst of these metaphysical storms, he also had a good strong adviser in Calixtus, who succeeded him as Pope.
Eusebius in his “Ecclesiastical History” has an interesting story about the heretics in the pontificate of Pope Zephyrinus. Theodotus the Tanner, far from being silenced by Pope Victor’s excommunication, had set up his own church. He had found backers in another Theodotus (a banker) and Asclepediotus. The heretics found a man of some prestige to be bishop for them. This was Natalius, who had been a confessor of the faith and had suffered tortures for it. They paid him a yearly stipend–150 denarii, about $25 in prewar money. But as Eusebius tells the story, Jesus, not wishing that one who had suffered for him should go out of the church, sent angels in visions to bring Natalius to a better frame of mind. Natalius, blinded by the pinchbeck glory of being a heretical bishop, at first paid the visions little attention. But one night the angels gave the stubborn fellow a sound whipping. This brought him to his senses. He put on sack- cloth, covered himself with ashes and hastened to throw himself before Pope Zephyrinus and plead for pardon.
Besides heresy, Pope Zephyrinus had to cope with renewed persecution. Septimius Severus, friendly at the start of his reign, became decidedly hostile. During the pontificate of Zephvrinus the Emperor issued his famous decree forbidding anyone to become a Christian.
INTROIT Ecclesiasticus 45: 30
The Lord made to him a covenant of peace, and made him a prince: that the dignity of priesthood should be to him for ever. (Ps. 131: 1) O Lord, remember David: and all his meekness. v. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen. Repeat, The Lord made to him a covenant of peace…
Be pleased to watch over thy flock, eternal Shepherd, and keep it under thy continual protection, through thy martyr and supreme pontiff, blessed Zephyrinus whom thou didst establish as chief shepherd of the whole Church. Through Jesus Christ our Lord, Who livest and reignest, with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, Forever and ever. R. Amen
Collect of the Souls
From all perils of soul and body defend us, O Lord, we beseech thee, and by the intercession of blessed and gloriosus ever Virgin Mary, Mother of God, of blessed Joseph, of thy blessed apostles Peter and Paul, and of blessed N. and all the Saints, graciously grant us safety and peace that all adversities and errors being overcome, thy Church may serve thee in security and freedom. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. R. Amen.
Collect for God’s Holy Church
Let us pray. Graciously hear, O Lord, the prayers of Thy Church that, having overcome all adversity and every error, she may serve Thee in security and freedom. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, Forever and ever. R. Amen.
EPISTLE James 1:12-18
Lesson from the Epistle of blessed James. Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. Do not err, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first-fruits of his creatures.
GRADUAL/ALLELUIA Psalm 88:21-23
The man I have found is my servant David, on him my consecrating oil has been poured my hand shall strengthen him, my arm shall give him courage. V. No enemy shall have his way with him, no emissary of wickedness shall have power to injure him. Alleluia, allelluia. v. Ps 109:4 Thou art a priest forever in the line of Melchisedech. Alleluia.
GOSPEL Luke 14:26-33
At this time, Jesus said to the multitude: If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace. So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.
OFFERTORY ANTIPHON Psalm 88:25
My faithfulness and mercy shall go with him: as my champion he shall rise to greatness.
We have offered thee our gifts, and now we pray thee, Lord, graciously to enlighten thy Church, so that everywhere thy flock may prosper and its pastors, under thy guidance, be truly pleasing in thy sight. Through our Lord Jesus Christ Thy Son. Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God Forever and ever. R.Amen.
Of the souls
Hear us, O God, our salvation that through the power of this Sacrament thou mayest defend us from all enemies of soul and body and bestow upon us grace here and glory hereafter. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. R. Amen.
Secret for God’s Holy Church
Protect us, O Lord, who assist at Thy mysteries, that, cleaving to things divine, we may serve Thee both in body and in mind. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, Forever and ever.
PREFACE of the Apostles
It it truly meet and just, right and for our salvation, to entreat Thee humbly, O Lord, that Thou wouldst not desert Thy flock, O everlasting Shepherd, but, through Thy blessed Apostles, wouldst keep it under Thy constant protection; that it may be governed by those same rulers, whom as vicars of Thy work, Thou didst set over it to be its pastors. And therefore with Angels and Archangels, with Thrones and Dominations, and with all the hosts of the heavenly army, we sing the hymn of Thy glory, evermore saying:
COMMUNION ANTIPHON PSalm 88:36-38
Once for all I have pledged my inviolable word, his posterity shall continue forever; his royalty too, shall last on in my presence like the sun, like the moon’s eternal orb; the witness of heaven is unalterable.
Increase within thy Church, we pray thee, Lord, the spirit of grace which thou has bestowed, so that, through the prayers of thy martyr and supreme pontiff blessed Zephyrinus, the flock may be not wanting in obedience to their shepherd, nor the shepherd in watchfulness over his flock. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Who livest and reignest, with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God For ever and ever. R. Amen.
Of the souls
May the offering of this divine Sacrament cleanse and protect us, O Lord we beseech thee, and by the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, of blessed Joseph, of thy blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and of blessed N. and all the Saints, may it purify us from all sin, and free us from all adversity.Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. R. Amen.
Postcommunion for God’s Holy Church
Let us pray. O Lord our God, we pray Thee that Thou suffer not to succumb to human hazards those whom Thou hast been pleased to make sharers of divine mysteries. Through the same Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God Forever and ever. R. Amen.