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hofelina

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Re: Saints Of The Day
« Reply #720 on: March 21, 2012, 02:57:44 pm »
Blessed John of Parma
(1209-1289)


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The seventh general minister of the Franciscan Order, John was known for his attempts to bring back the earlier spirit of the Order after the death of St. Francis of Assisi.

He was born in Parma, Italy, in 1209. It was when he was a young philosophy professor known for his piety and learning that God called him to bid good-bye to the world he was used to and enter the new world of the Franciscan Order. After his profession John was sent to Paris to complete his theological studies. Ordained to the priesthood, he was appointed to teach theology at Bologna, then Naples and finally Rome.

In 1245, Pope Innocent IV called a general council in the city of Lyons, France. Crescentius, the Franciscan minister general at the time, was ailing and unable to attend. In his place he sent Father John, who made a deep impression on the Church leaders gathered there. Two years later, when the same pope presided at the election of a minister general of the Franciscans, he remembered Father John well and held him up as the man best qualified for the office.

And so, in 1247, John of Parma was elected to be minister general. The surviving disciples of St. Francis rejoiced in his election, expecting a return to the spirit of poverty and humility of the early days of the Order. And they were not disappointed. As general of the Order John traveled on foot, accompanied by one or two companions, to practically all of the Franciscan convents in existence. Sometimes he would arrive and not be recognized, remaining there for a number of days to test the true spirit of the brothers.

The pope called on John to serve as legate to Constantinople, where he was most successful in winning back the schismatic Greeks. Upon his return he asked that someone else take his place to govern the Order. St. Bonaventure, at John's urging, was chosen to succeed him. John took up a life of prayer in the hermitage at Greccio.

Many years later, John learned that the Greeks, who had been reconciled with the Church for a time, had relapsed into schism. Though 80 years old by then, John received permission from Pope Nicholas IV to return to the East in an effort to restore unity once again. On his way, John fell sick and died.

He was beatified in 1781.


Comment:

In the 13th century, people in their 30s were middle-aged; hardly anyone lived to the ripe old age of 80. John did, but he didn’t ease into retirement. Instead he was on his way to try to heal a schism in the Church when he died. Our society today boasts a lot of folks in their later decades. Like John, many of them lead active lives. But some aren’t so fortunate. Weakness or ill health keeps them confined and lonely—waiting to hear from us.



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Re: Saints Of The Day
« Reply #721 on: March 22, 2012, 06:56:09 am »
St. Nicholas Owen
(d. 1606)


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Nicholas, familiarly known as "Little John," was small in stature but big in the esteem of his fellow Jesuits.

Born at Oxford, this humble artisan saved the lives of many priests and laypersons in England during the penal times (1559-1829), when a series of statutes punished Catholics for the practice of their faith. Over a period of about 20 years he used his skills to build secret hiding places for priests throughout the country. His work, which he did completely by himself as both architect and builder, was so good that time and time again priests in hiding were undetected by raiding parties. He was a genius at finding, and creating, places of safety: subterranean passages, small spaces between walls, impenetrable recesses. At one point he was even able to mastermind the escape of two Jesuits from the Tower of London. Whenever Nicholas set out to design such hiding places, he began by receiving the Holy Eucharist, and he would turn to God in prayer throughout the long, dangerous construction process.

After many years at his unusual task, he entered the Society of Jesus and served as a lay brother, although—for very good reasons—his connection with the Jesuits was kept secret.

After a number of narrow escapes, he himself was finally caught in 1594. Despite protracted torture, he refused to disclose the names of other Catholics. After being released following the payment of a ransom, "Little John" went back to his work. He was arrested again in 1606. This time he was subjected to horrible tortures, suffering an agonizing death. The jailers tried suggesting that he had confessed and committed suicide, but his heroism and sufferings soon were widely known.

He was canonized in 1970 as one of the 40 Martyrs of England and Wales.


Comment:

Nicholas was a clever builder and architect who used his skills to protect endangered priests. Without his help, hundreds of English Catholics would have been deprived of the sacraments. His gift for spotting unlikely places to hide priests was impressive, but more impressive was his habit of seeking support for his work in prayer and the Eucharist. If we follow his example, we may also discover surprising ways to put our skills to God’s service.


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Re: Saints Of The Day
« Reply #722 on: March 23, 2012, 02:44:14 pm »
St. Turibius of Mogrovejo
(1538-1606)


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Together with Rose of Lima, Turibius is the first known saint of the New World, serving the Lord in Peru, South America, for 26 years.

Born in Spain and educated for the law, he became so brilliant a scholar that he was made professor of law at the University of Salamanca and eventually became chief judge of the Inquisition at Granada. He succeeded too well. But he was not sharp enough a lawyer to prevent a surprising sequence of events.

When the archdiocese of Lima in Peru required a new leader, Turibius was chosen to fill the post: He was the one person with the strength of character and holiness of spirit to heal the scandals that had infected that area.

He cited all the canons that forbade giving laymen ecclesiastical dignities, but he was overruled. He was ordained priest and bishop and sent to Peru, where he found colonialism at its worst. The Spanish conquerors were guilty of every sort of oppression of the native population. Abuses among the clergy were flagrant, and he devoted his energies (and suffering) to this area first.

He began the long and arduous visitation of an immense archdiocese, studying the language, staying two or three days in each place, often with neither bed nor food. He confessed every morning to his chaplain, and celebrated Mass with intense fervor. Among those to whom he gave the Sacrament of Confirmation was St. Rose of Lima, and possibly St. Martin de Porres. After 1590 he had the help of another great missionary, St. Francis Solanus.

His people, though very poor, were sensitive, dreading to accept public charity from others. Turibius solved the problem by helping them anonymously.


Comment:

The Lord indeed writes straight with crooked lines. Against his will, and from the unlikely springboard of an Inquisition tribunal, this man became the Christlike shepherd of a poor and oppressed people. God gave him the gift of loving others as they needed it.


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Re: Saints Of The Day
« Reply #723 on: March 24, 2012, 02:38:05 pm »
St. Catherine of Genoa
(1447-1510)


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Going to confession one day was the turning point of Catherine’s life.

When Catherine was born, many Italian nobles were supporting Renaissance artists and writers. The needs of the poor and the sick were often overshadowed by a hunger for luxury and self-indulgence.

Catherine’s parents were members of the nobility in Genoa. At 13 she attempted to become a nun but failed because of her age. At 16 she married Julian, a nobleman who turned out to be selfish and unfaithful. For a while she tried to numb her disappointment by a life of selfish pleasure.

One day in confession she had a new sense of her own sins and how much God loved her. She reformed her life and gave good example to Julian, who soon turned from his self-centered life of distraction.

Julian’s spending, however, had ruined them financially. He and Catherine decided to live in the Pammatone, a large hospital in Genoa, and to dedicate themselves to works of charity there. After Julian’s death in 1497, Catherine took over management of the hospital.

She wrote about purgatory which, she said, begins on earth for souls open to God. Life with God in heaven is a continuation and perfection of the life with God begun on earth.

Exhausted by her life of self-sacrifice, she died September 15, 1510, and was canonized in 1737.


Comment:

Regular confessions and frequent Communion can help us see the direction (or drift) of our life with God. People who have a realistic sense of their own sinfulness and of the greatness of God are often the ones who are most ready to meet the needs of their neighbors. Catherine began her hospital work with enthusiasm and was faithful to it through difficult times because she was inspired by the love of God, a love which was renewed in her by the Scriptures and the sacraments.

Quote:

Shortly before Catherine’s death she told her goddaughter: "Tomasina! Jesus in your heart! Eternity in your mind! The will of God in all your actions! But above all, love, God’s love, entire love!" (Marion A. Habig, O.F.M., The Franciscan Book of Saints, p. 212).


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Re: Saints Of The Day
« Reply #724 on: March 25, 2012, 12:59:08 pm »
Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord



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The feast of the Annunciation, now recognized as a solemnity, goes back to the fourth or fifth century. Its central focus is the Incarnation: God has become one of us. From all eternity God had decided that the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity should become human. Now, as Luke 1:26-38 tells us, the decision is being realized. The God-Man embraces all humanity, indeed all creation, to bring it to God in one great act of love. Because human beings have rejected God, Jesus will accept a life of suffering and an agonizing death: “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13).

Mary has an important role to play in God’s plan. From all eternity God destined her to be the mother of Jesus and closely related to him in the creation and redemption of the world. We could say that God’s decrees of creation and redemption are joined in the decree of Incarnation. Because Mary is God’s instrument in the Incarnation, she has a role to play with Jesus in creation and redemption. It is a God-given role. It is God’s grace from beginning to end. Mary becomes the eminent figure she is only by God’s grace. She is the empty space where God could act. Everything she is she owes to the Trinity.

She is the virgin-mother who fulfills Isaiah 7:14 in a way that Isaiah could not have imagined. She is united with her son in carrying out the will of God (Psalm 40:8-9; Hebrews 10:7-9; Luke 1:38).

Together with Jesus, the privileged and graced Mary is the link between heaven and earth. She is the human being who best, after Jesus, exemplifies the possibilities of human existence. She received into her lowliness the infinite love of God. She shows how an ordinary human being can reflect God in the ordinary circumstances of life. She exemplifies what the Church and every member of the Church is meant to become. She is the ultimate product of the creative and redemptive power of God. She manifests what the Incarnation is meant to accomplish for all of us.


Comment:

Sometimes spiritual writers are accused of putting Mary on a pedestal and thereby discouraging ordinary humans from imitating her. Perhaps such an observation is misguided. God did put Mary on a pedestal and has put all human beings on a pedestal. We have scarcely begun to realize the magnificence of divine grace, the wonder of God’s freely given love. The marvel of Mary—even in the midst of her very ordinary life—is God’s shout to us to wake up to the marvelous creatures that we all are by divine design.

Quote:

“Enriched from the first instant of her conception with the splendor of an entirely unique holiness, the virgin of Nazareth is hailed by the heralding angel, by divine command, as ‘full of grace’ (cf. Luke 1:28). To the heavenly messenger she replies: ‘Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to thy word’ (Luke 1:38). Thus the daughter of Adam, Mary, consenting to the word of God, became the Mother of Jesus. Committing herself wholeheartedly and impeded by no sin to God’s saving will, she devoted herself totally, as a handmaid of the Lord, to the person and work of her Son, under and with him, serving the mystery of redemption, by the grace of Almighty God” (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, 56).


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Re: Saints Of The Day
« Reply #725 on: April 11, 2012, 10:17:36 am »
St. Magdalen of Canossa
(1774-1835)


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Wealth and privilege did nothing to prevent today’s saint from following her calling to serve Christ in the poor. Nor did the protests of her relatives, concerned that such work was beneath her.

Born in northern Italy in 1774, Magdalen knew her mind—and spoke it. At age 15 she announced she wished to become a nun. After trying out her vocation with the cloistered Carmelites, she realized her desire was to serve the needy without restriction. For years she worked among the poor and sick in hospitals and in their homes, and also among delinquent and abandoned girls.

In her mid-twenties Magdalen began offering lodging to poor girls in her own home. In time she opened a school, which offered practical training and religious instruction. As other women joined her in the work, the new Congregation of the Daughters of Charity emerged. Over time, houses were opened throughout Italy.

Members of the new religious congregation focused on the educational and spiritual needs of women. Magdalen also founded a smaller congregation for priests and brothers. Both groups continue to this day.

She died in 1835. Pope John Paul II canonized her in 1988.




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Re: Saints Of The Day
« Reply #726 on: April 16, 2012, 06:41:31 pm »
St. Bernadette Soubirous
(1844-1879)


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Bernadette Soubirous was born in 1844, the first child of an extremely poor miller in the town of Lourdes in southern France. The family was living in the basement of a dilapidated building when on February 11,1858, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to Bernadette in a cave above the banks of the Gave River near Lourdes. Bernadette, 14 years old, was known as a virtuous girl though a dull student who had not even made her first Holy Communion. In poor health, she had suffered from asthma from an early age.

There were 18 appearances in all, the final one occurring on the feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, July 16. Although Bernadette's initial reports provoked skepticism, her daily visions of "the Lady" brought great crowds of the curious. The Lady, Bernadette explained, had instructed her to have a chapel built on the spot of the visions. There the people were to come to wash in and drink of the water of the spring that had welled up from the very spot where Bernadette had been instructed to dig.

According to Bernadette, the Lady of her visions was a girl of 16 or 17 who wore a white robe with a blue sash. Yellow roses covered her feet, a large rosary was on her right arm. In the vision on March 25 she told Bernadette, "I am the Immaculate Conception." It was only when the words were explained to her that Bernadette came to realize who the Lady was.

Few visions have ever undergone the scrutiny that these appearances of the Immaculate Virgin were subject to. Lourdes became one of the most popular Marian shrines in the world, attracting millions of visitors. Miracles were reported at the shrine and in the waters of the spring. After thorough investigation Church authorities confirmed the authenticity of the apparitions in 1862.

During her life Bernadette suffered much. She was hounded by the public as well as by civic officials until at last she was protected in a convent of nuns. Five years later she petitioned to enter the Sisters of Notre Dame. After a period of illness she was able to make the journey from Lourdes and enter the novitiate. But within four months of her arrival she was given the last rites of the Church and allowed to profess her vows. She recovered enough to become infirmarian and then sacristan, but chronic health problems persisted. She died on April 16, 1879, at the age of 35.

She was canonized in 1933.


Comment:

Millions of people have come to the spring Bernadette uncovered for healing of body and spirit, but she found no relief from ill health there. Bernadette moved through life, guided only by blind faith in things she did not understand—as we all must do from time to time.


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Re: Saints Of The Day
« Reply #727 on: April 18, 2012, 02:25:53 pm »
Blessed James Oldo
(1364-1404)


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You’ve heard rags-to-riches stories. Today, we celebrate the reverse.

James of Oldo was born into a well-to-do family near Milan in 1364. He married a woman who, like him, appreciated the comforts that came with wealth. But an outbreak of plague drove James, his wife and their three children out of their home and into the countryside. Despite those precautions, two of his daughters died from the plague, James determined to use whatever time he had left to build up treasures in heaven and to build God’s realm on earth.

He and his wife became Secular Franciscans. James gave up his old lifestyle and did penance for his sins. He cared for a sick priest, who taught him Latin. Upon the death of his wife, James himself became a priest. His house was transformed into a chapel where small groups of people, many of them fellow Secular Franciscans, came for prayer and support. James focused on caring for the sick and for prisoners of war. He died in 1404 after contracting a disease from one of his patients.

James Oldo was beatified in 1933.

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Re: Saints Of The Day
« Reply #728 on: April 19, 2012, 02:06:39 pm »
Blessed Luchesio and Buonadonna
(d.1260)


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Luchesio and his wife Buonadonna wanted to follow St. Francis as a married couple. Thus they set in motion the Secular Franciscan Order.

Luchesio and Buonadonna lived in Poggibonzi where he was a greedy merchant. Meeting Francis—probably in 1213—changed his life. He began to perform many works of charity.

At first Buonadonna was not as enthusiastic about giving so much away as Luchesio was. One day after complaining that he was giving everything to strangers, Buonadonna answered the door only to find someone else needing help. Luchesio asked her to give the poor man some bread. She frowned but went to the pantry anyway. There she discovered more bread than had been there the last time she looked. She soon became as zealous for a poor and simple life as Luchesio was. They sold the business, farmed enough land to provide for their needs and distributed the rest to the poor.

In the 13th century some couples, by mutual consent and with the Church’s permission, separated so that the husband could join a monastery (or a group such as Francis began) and his wife could go to a cloister. Conrad of Piacenza and his wife did just that. This choice existed for childless couples or for those whose children had already grown up. Luchesio and Buonadonna wanted another alternative, a way of sharing in religious life, but outside the cloister.

To meet this desire, Francis set up the Secular Franciscan Order. Francis wrote a simple Rule for the Third Order (Secular Franciscans) at first; Pope Honorius III approved a more formally worded Rule in 1221.

The charity of Luchesio drew the poor to him, and, like many other saints, he and Buonadonna seemed never to lack the resources to help these people.

One day Luchesio was carrying a crippled man he had found on the road. A frivolous young man came up and asked, "What poor devil is that you are carrying there on your back?" "I am carrying my Lord Jesus Christ," responded Luchesio. The young man immediately begged Luchesio’s pardon.

Luchesio and Buonadonna both died on April 28, 1260. He was beatified in 1273. Local tradition referred to Buonadonna as "blessed" though the title was not given officially.


Comment:

It is easy to mock the poor, to trample on their God-given dignity. Mother Teresa of Calcutta often referred to poverty as Christ’s "distressing disguise." Since it is so easy to make people feel unwanted—the poor, the sick, the mentally or physically handicapped, the aged, the unemployed— resisting that temptation indicates the level of generosity in our lives. If the followers of Francis see Christ in the poor as Luchesio and Buonadonna did, they enrich the Church and keep it faithful to its Lord.

Quote:

Francis used to say, "Whoever curses a poor man does an injury to Christ, whose noble image he wears, the image of him who made himself poor for us in this world" (1 Celano, #76).


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Re: Saints Of The Day
« Reply #729 on: April 20, 2012, 02:42:01 pm »
St. Conrad of Parzham
(1818-1894)


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Conrad spent most of his life as porter in Altoetting, Bavaria, letting people into the friary and indirectly encouraging them to let God into their lives.

His parents, Bartholomew and Gertrude Birndorfer, lived near Parzham, Bavaria. In those days this region was recovering from the Napoleonic wars. A lover of solitary prayer and a peacemaker as a young man, Conrad joined the Capuchins as a brother. He made his profession in 1852 and was assigned to the friary in Altoetting. That city’s shrine to Mary was very popular; at the nearby Capuchin friary there was a lot of work for the porter, a job Conrad held for 41 years.

At first some of the other friars were jealous that such a young friar held this important job. Conrad’s patience and holy life overcame their doubts. As porter he dealt with many people, obtaining many of the friary supplies and generously providing for the poor who came to the door. He treated them all with the courtesy Francis expected of his followers.

Conrad’s helpfulness was sometimes unnerving. Once Father Vincent, seeking quiet to prepare a sermon, went up the belltower of the church. Conrad tracked him down when someone wanting to go to confession specifically requested Father Vincent.

Conrad also developed a special rapport with the children of the area. He enthusiastically promoted the Seraphic Work of Charity, which aided neglected children.

Conrad spent hours in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. He regularly asked the Blessed Mother to intercede for him and for the many people he included in his prayers. The ever-patient Conrad was canonized in 1934.


Comment:

As we can see from his life as well as his words, Conrad of Parzham lived a life that attracted others because of a special quality, something Chesterton alluded to when he wrote, "The moment we have a fixed heart we have a free hand" (Orthodoxy, p. 71). If we want to understand Conrad, we have to know where he fixed his heart. Because he was united to God in prayer, everyone felt at ease in Conrad’s presence.

Quote:

"It was God’s will that I should leave everything that was near and dear to me. I thank him for having called me to religious life where I have found such peace and joy as I could never have found in the world. My plan of life is chiefly this: to love and suffer, always meditating upon, adoring and admiring God’s unspeakable love for his lowliest creatures" (Letter of Saint Conrad).


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Re: Saints Of The Day
« Reply #730 on: April 21, 2012, 04:15:46 am »
St. Anselm
(1033-1109)


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Indifferent toward religion as a young man, Anselm became one of the Church's greatest theologians and leaders. He received the title "Father of Scholasticism" for his attempt to analyze and illumine the truths of faith through the aid of reason.

At 15, Anselm wanted to enter a monastery, but was refused acceptance because of his father's opposition. Twelve years later, after careless disinterest in religion and years of worldly living, he finally fulfilled his desire to be a monk. He entered the monastery of Bec in Normandy, three years later was elected prior and 15 years later was unanimously chosen abbot.

Considered an original and independent thinker, Anselm was admired for his patience, gentleness and teaching skill. Under his leadership, the abbey of Bec became a monastic school, influential in philosophical and theological studies.

During these years, at the community's request, Anselm began publishing his theological works, comparable to those of St. Augustine. His best-known work is the book Cur Deus Homo ("Why God Became Man").

At 60, against his will, Anselm was appointed archbishop of Canterbury in 1093. His appointment was opposed at first by England's King William Rufus and later accepted. Rufus persistently refused to cooperate with efforts to reform the Church.

Anselm finally went into voluntary exile until Rufus died in 1100. He was then recalled to England by Rufus's brother and successor, Henry I. Disagreeing fearlessly with Henry over the king's insistence on investing England's bishops, Anselm spent another three years in exile in Rome.

His care and concern extended to the very poorest people; he opposed the slave trade. Anselm obtained from the national council at Westminster the passage of a resolution prohibiting the sale of human beings.


Comment:

Anselm, like every true follower of Christ, had to carry his cross, especially in the form of opposition and conflict with those in political control. Though personally a mild and gentle man and a lover of peace, he would not back off from conflict and persecution when principles were at stake.

Quote:

"No one will have any other desire in heaven than what God wills; and the desire of one will be the desire of all; and the desire of all and of each one will also be the desire of God" (St. Anselm, Letter 112).



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Re: Saints Of The Day
« Reply #731 on: April 23, 2012, 02:12:09 pm »
St. George



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If Mary Magdalene was the victim of misunderstanding, George is the object of a vast amount of imagination. There is every reason to believe that he was a real martyr who suffered at Lydda in Palestine, probably before the time of Constantine. The Church adheres to his memory, but not to the legends surrounding his life.

That he was willing to pay the supreme price to follow Christ is what the Church believes. And it is enough.

The story of George's slaying the dragon, rescuing the king's daughter and converting Libya is a 12th-century Italian fable. George was a favorite patron saint of crusaders, as well as of Eastern soldiers in earlier times. He is a patron saint of England, Portugal, Germany, Aragon, Catalonia, Genoa and Venice.


Comment:

Human nature seems to crave more than cold historical data. Americans have Washington and Lincoln, but we somehow need Paul Bunyan, too. The life of St. Francis of Assisi is inspiring enough, but for centuries the Italians have found his spirit in the legends of the Fioretti, too. Santa Claus is the popular extension of the spirit of St. Nicholas. The legends about St. George are part of this yearning. Both fact and legend are human ways of illumining the mysterious truth about the One who alone is holy.

Quote:

"When we look at the lives of those who have faithfully followed Christ, we are inspired with a new reason for seeking the city which is to come" (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, 50).

Patron Saint of:

Boy Scouts
England
Germany
Portugal
Soldiers


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Re: Saints Of The Day
« Reply #732 on: April 24, 2012, 01:47:18 pm »
St. Fidelis of Sigmaringen
(1577-1622)


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If a poor man needed some clothing, Fidelis would often give the man the clothes right off his back. Complete generosity to others characterized this saint's life.

Born in 1577, Mark Rey (Fidelis was his religious name) became a lawyer who constantly upheld the causes of the poor and oppressed people. Nicknamed "the poor man's lawyer," Fidelis soon grew disgusted with the corruption and injustice he saw among his colleagues. He left his law career to become a priest, joining his brother George as a member of the Capuchin Order. His wealth was divided between needy seminarians and the poor.

As a follower of Francis, Fidelis continued his devotion to the weak and needy. During a severe epidemic in a city where he was guardian of a friary, Fidelis cared for and cured many sick soldiers.

He was appointed head of a group of Capuchins sent to preach against the Calvinists and Zwinglians in Switzerland. Almost certain violence threatened. Those who observed the mission felt that success was more attributable to the prayer of Fidelis during the night than to his sermons and instructions.

He was accused of opposing the peasants' national aspirations for independence from Austria. While he was preaching at Seewis, to which he had gone against the advice of his friends, a gun was fired at him, but he escaped unharmed. A Protestant offered to shelter Fidelis, but he declined, saying his life was in God's hands. On the road back, he was set upon by a group of armed men and killed.

He was canonized in 1746. Fifteen years later, the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith, which was established in 1622, recognized him as its first martyr.


Comment:

Fidelis's constant prayer was that he be kept completely faithful to God and not give in to any lukewarmness or apathy. He was often heard to exclaim, "Woe to me if I should prove myself but a halfhearted soldier in the service of my thorn-crowned Captain." His prayer against apathy, and his concern for the poor and weak make him a saint whose example is valuable today. The modern Church is calling us to follow the example of "the poor man's lawyer" by sharing ourselves and our talents with those less fortunate and by working for justice in the world.

Quote:

"Action on behalf of justice and participation in the transformation of the world fully appear to us as a constitutive dimension of the preaching of the Gospel, or, in other words, of the Church's mission for the redemption of the human race and its liberation from every oppressive situation" ("Justice in the World," Synod of Bishops, 1971).



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Re: Saints Of The Day
« Reply #733 on: April 25, 2012, 03:51:57 am »
April 25
St. Mark



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Most of what we know about Mark comes directly from the New Testament. He is usually identified with the Mark of Acts 12:12. (When Peter escaped from prison, he went to the home of Mark's mother.)

Paul and Barnabas took him along on the first missionary journey, but for some reason Mark returned alone to Jerusalem. It is evident, from Paul's refusal to let Mark accompany him on the second journey despite Barnabas's insistence, that Mark had displeased Paul. Because Paul later asks Mark to visit him in prison, we may assume the trouble did not last long.

The oldest and the shortest of the four Gospels, the Gospel of Mark emphasizes Jesus' rejection by humanity while being God's triumphant envoy. Probably written for Gentile converts in Rome—after the death of Peter and Paul sometime between A.D. 60 and 70—Mark's Gospel is the gradual manifestation of a "scandal": a crucified Messiah.

Evidently a friend of Mark (Peter called him "my son"), Peter is only one of the Gospel sources, others being the Church in Jerusalem (Jewish roots) and the Church at Antioch (largely Gentile).

Like one other Gospel writer, Luke, Mark was not one of the 12 apostles. We cannot be certain whether he knew Jesus personally. Some scholars feel that the evangelist is speaking of himself when describing the arrest of Jesus in Gethsemane: "Now a young man followed him wearing nothing but a linen cloth about his body. They seized him, but he left the cloth behind and ran off naked" (Mark 14:51-52).

Others hold Mark to be the first bishop of Alexandria, Egypt. Venice, famous for the Piazza San Marco, claims Mark as its patron saint; the large basilica there is believed to contain his remains.

A winged lion is Mark's symbol. The lion derives from Mark's description of John the Baptist as a "voice of one crying out in the desert" (Mark 1:3), which artists compared to a roaring lion. The wings come from the application of Ezekiel's vision of four winged creatures (Ezekiel, chapter one) to the evangelists.


Comment:

Mark fulfilled in his life what every Christian is called to do: proclaim to all people the Good News that is the source of salvation. In particular, Mark's way was by writing. Others may proclaim the Good News by music, drama, poetry or by teaching children around a family table.

Quote:

There is very little in Mark that is not in the other Gospels—only four passages. One is: “...This is how it is with the kingdom of God; it is as if a man were to scatter seed on the land and would sleep and rise night and day and the seed would sprout and grow, he knows not how. Of its own accord the land yields fruit, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. And when the grain is ripe, he wields the sickle at once, for the harvest has come” (Mark 4:26-29).

Patron Saint of:

Notaries



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Re: Saints Of The Day
« Reply #734 on: April 26, 2012, 01:26:44 pm »
St. Pedro de San José Betancur
(1626-1667)


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Central America claimed its first saint with the canonization of Pedro de San José Betancur by Pope John Paul II in Guatemala City on July 30, 2002. Known as the "St. Francis of the Americas," Pedro de Betancur is the first saint to have worked and died in Guatemala.

Calling the new saint an “outstanding example” of Christian mercy, the Holy Father noted that St. Pedro practiced mercy “heroically with the lowliest and the most deprived.” Speaking to the estimated 500,000 Guatemalans in attendance, the Holy Father spoke of the social ills that plague the country today and of the need for change.

“Let us think of the children and young people who are homeless or deprived of an education; of abandoned women with their many needs; of the hordes of social outcasts who live in the cities; of the victims of organized crime, of prostitution or of drugs; of the sick who are neglected and the elderly who live in loneliness,” he said in his homily during the three-hour liturgy.

Pedro very much wanted to become a priest, but God had other plans for the young man born into a poor family on Tenerife in the Canary Islands. Pedro was a shepherd until age 24, when he began to make his way to Guatemala, hoping to connect with a relative engaged in government service there. By the time he reached Havana, he was out of money. After working there to earn more, he got to Guatemala City the following year. When he arrived he was so destitute that he joined the bread line that the Franciscans had established.

Soon, Pedro enrolled in the local Jesuit college in hopes of studying for the priesthood. No matter how hard he tried, however, he could not master the material; he withdrew from school. In 1655 he joined the Secular Franciscan Order. Three years later he opened a hospital for the convalescent poor; a shelter for the homeless and a school for the poor soon followed. Not wanting to neglect the rich of Guatemala City, Pedro began walking through their part of town ringing a bell and inviting them to repent.

Other men came to share in Pedro's work. Out of this group came the Bethlehemite Congregation, which won papal approval after Pedro's death. A Bethlehemite sisters' community, similarly founded after Pedro's death, was inspired by his life of prayer and compassion.

He is sometimes credited with originating the Christmas Eve posadas procession in which people representing Mary and Joseph seek a night's lodging from their neighbors. The custom soon spread to Mexico and other Central American countries.

Pedro was canonized in 2002.


Comment:

As humans, we often pride ourselves on our ability to reason. But, as Pedro’s life shows, other skills may be an even more crucial element of our humanity than a clever mind: compassion, imagination, love. Unable to master studies for the priesthood despite his efforts, Pedro responded to the needs of homeless and sick people; he provided education to the poor and salvation to the rich. He became holy—as fully human as any of us can ever be.

Quote:

Speaking of Pedro and the four others beatified with him in 1980, Pope John Paul II said: "God lavished his kindness and his mercy on them, enriching them with his grace; he loved them with a fatherly, but demanding, love, which promised only hardships and suffering. He invited and called them to heroic holiness; he tore them away from their countries of origin and sent them to other lands to proclaim the message of the gospel, in the midst of inexpressible toil and difficulties" (L'Osservatore Romano).


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Re: Saints Of The Day
« Reply #735 on: April 27, 2012, 01:54:57 pm »
St. Louis Mary de Montfort
(1673-1716)


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Louis's life is inseparable from his efforts to promote genuine devotion to Mary, the mother of Jesus and mother of the Church. Totus tuus (completely yours) was Louis's personal motto; Karol Wojtyla chose it as his episcopal motto.

Born in the Breton village of Montfort, close to Rennes (France), as an adult Louis identified himself by the place of his Baptism instead of his family name, Grignion. After being educated by the Jesuits and the Sulpicians, he was ordained as a diocesan priest in 1700.

Soon he began preaching parish missions throughout western France. His years of ministering to the poor prompted him to travel and live very simply, sometimes getting him into trouble with Church authorities. In his preaching, which attracted thousands of people back to the faith, Father Louis recommended frequent, even daily, Holy Communion (not the custom then!) and imitation of the Virgin Mary's ongoing acceptance of God's will for her life.

Louis founded the Missionaries of the Company of Mary (for priests and brothers) and the Daughters of Wisdom, who cared especially for the sick. His book, True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, has become a classic explanation of Marian devotion.

Louis died in Saint-Laurent-sur-Sèvre, where a basilica has been erected in his honor. He was canonized in 1947.


Comment:

Like Mary, Louis experienced challenges in his efforts to follow Jesus. Opposed at times in his preaching and in his other ministries, Louis knew with St. Paul, “Neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who causes the growth” (1 Corinthians 3:7). Any attempt to succeed by worldly standards runs the risk of betraying the Good News of Jesus. Mary is “the first and most perfect disciple,” as the late Raymond Brown, S.S., described her.

Quote:

“Mary is the fruitful Virgin, and in all the souls in which she comes to dwell she causes to flourish purity of heart and body, rightness of intention and abundance of good works. Do not imagine that Mary, the most fruitful of creatures who gave birth to a God, remains barren in a faithful soul. It will be she who makes the soul live incessantly for Jesus Christ, and will make Jesus live in the soul” (True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin).



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Re: Saints Of The Day
« Reply #736 on: April 28, 2012, 01:58:47 pm »
St. Peter Chanel
(1803-1841)


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Anyone who has worked in loneliness, with great adaptation required and with little apparent success, will find a kindred spirit in Peter Chanel.

As a young priest he revived a parish in a "bad" district by the simple method of showing great devotion to the sick. Wanting to be a missionary, he joined the Society of Mary (Marists) at 28. Obediently, he taught in the seminary for five years. Then, as superior of seven Marists, he traveled to Western Oceania where he was entrusted with a vicariate. The bishop accompanying the missionaries left Peter and a brother on Futuna Island in the New Hebrides, promising to return in six months. He was gone five years.

Meanwhile, Pedro struggled with this new language and mastered it, making the difficult adjustment to life with whalers, traders and warring natives. Despite little apparent success and severe want, he maintained a serene and gentle spirit and endless patience and courage. A few natives had been baptized, a few more were being instructed. When the chieftain's son asked to be baptized, persecution by the chieftain reached a climax. Father Chanel was clubbed to death, his body cut to pieces.

Within two years after his death, the whole island became Catholic and has remained so. Peter Chanel is the first martyr of Oceania and its patron.


Comment:

Suffering for Christ means suffering because we are like Christ. Very often the opposition we meet is the result of our own selfishness or imprudence. We are not martyrs when we are "persecuted" by those who merely treat us as we treat them. A Christian martyr is one who, like Christ, is simply a witness to God's love, and brings out of human hearts the good or evil that is already there.

Quote:

"No one is a martyr for a conclusion, no one is a martyr for an opinion; it is faith that makes martyrs" (Cardinal Newman, Discourses to Mixed Congregations).

Patron Saint of:

Oceania

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Re: Saints Of The Day
« Reply #737 on: April 30, 2012, 01:24:47 am »
St. Catherine of Siena
(1347-1380)


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The value Catherine makes central in her short life and which sounds clearly and consistently through her experience is complete surrender to Christ. What is most impressive about her is that she learns to view her surrender to her Lord as a goal to be reached through time.

She was the 23rd child of Jacopo and Lapa Benincasa and grew up as an intelligent, cheerful and intensely religious person. Catherine disappointed her mother by cutting off her hair as a protest against being overly encouraged to improve her appearance in order to attract a husband. Her father ordered her to be left in peace, and she was given a room of her own for prayer and meditation.

She entered the Dominican Third Order at 18 and spent the next three years in seclusion, prayer and austerity. Gradually a group of followers gathered around her—men and women, priests and religious. An active public apostolate grew out of her contemplative life. Her letters, mostly for spiritual instruction and encouragement of her followers, began to take more and more note of public affairs. Opposition and slander resulted from her mixing fearlessly with the world and speaking with the candor and authority of one completely committed to Christ. She was cleared of all charges at the Dominican General Chapter of 1374.

Her public influence reached great heights because of her evident holiness, her membership in the Dominican Third Order, and the deep impression she made on the pope. She worked tirelessly for the crusade against the Turks and for peace between Florence and the pope

In 1378, the Great Schism began, splitting the allegiance of Christendom between two, then three, popes and putting even saints on opposing sides. Catherine spent the last two years of her life in Rome, in prayer and pleading on behalf of the cause of Urban VI and the unity of the Church. She offered herself as a victim for the Church in its agony. She died surrounded by her "children."

Catherine ranks high among the mystics and spiritual writers of the Church. In 1939, she and Francis of Assisi were declared co-patrons of Italy. Paul VI named her and Teresa of Avila doctors of the Church in 1970. Her spiritual testament is found in The Dialogue.


Comment:

Though she lived her life in a faith experience and spirituality far different from that of our own time, Catherine of Siena stands as a companion with us on the Christian journey in her undivided effort to invite the Lord to take flesh in her own life. Events which might make us wince or chuckle or even yawn fill her biographies: a mystical experience at six, childhood betrothal to Christ, stories of harsh asceticism, her frequent ecstatic visions. Still, Catherine lived in an age which did not know the rapid change of 21st-century mobile America. The value of her life for us today lies in her recognition of holiness as a goal to be sought over the course of a lifetime.

Quote:

Catherine's book Dialogue contains four treatises—her testament of faith to the spiritual world. She wrote, "No one should judge that he has greater perfection because he performs great penances and gives himself in excess to the staying of the body than he who does less, inasmuch as neither virtue nor merit consists therein; for otherwise he would be an evil case, who for some legitimate reason was unable to do actual penance. Merit consists in the virtue of love alone, flavored with the light of true discretion without which the soul is worth nothing."

Patron Saint of:

Europe
Italy

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Re: Saints Of The Day
« Reply #738 on: April 30, 2012, 02:52:37 pm »
St. Pius V
(1504-1572)


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This is the pope whose job was to implement the historic Council of Trent. If we think popes had difficulties in implementing Vatican Council II, Pius V had even greater problems after Trent than four centuries earlier.

During his papacy (1566-1572), Pius V was faced with the almost overwhelming responsibility of getting a shattered and scattered Church back on its feet. The family of God had been shaken by corruption, by the Reformation, by the constant threat of Turkish invasion and by the bloody bickering of the young nation-states. In 1545 a previous pope convened the Council of Trent in an attempt to deal with all these pressing problems. Off and on over 18 years, the Church Fathers discussed, condemned, affirmed and decided upon a course of action. The Council closed in 1563.

Pius V was elected in 1566 and was charged with the task of implementing the sweeping reforms called for by the Council. He ordered the founding of seminaries for the proper training of priests. He published a new missal, a new breviary, a new catechism and established the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD) classes for the young. Pius zealously enforced legislation against abuses in the Church. He patiently served the sick and the poor by building hospitals, providing food for the hungry and giving money customarily used for the papal banquets to poor Roman converts. His decision to keep wearing his Dominican habit led to the custom of the pope wearing a white cassock.

In striving to reform both Church and state, Pius encountered vehement opposition from England's Queen Elizabeth and the Roman Emperor Maximilian II. Problems in France and in the Netherlands also hindered Pius's hopes for a Europe united against the Turks. Only at the last minute was he able to organize a fleet which won a decisive victory in the Gulf of Lepanto, off Greece, on October 7, 1571.

Pius's ceaseless papal quest for a renewal of the Church was grounded in his personal life as a Dominican friar. He spent long hours with his God in prayer, fasted rigorously, deprived himself of many customary papal luxuries and faithfully observed the spirit of the Dominican Rule that he had professed.


Comment:

In their personal lives and in their actions as popes, Pius V and Paul VI (d. 1978) both led the family of God in the process of interiorizing and implementing the new birth called for by the Spirit in major Councils. With zeal and patience, Pius and Paul pursued the changes urged by the Council Fathers. Like Pius and Paul, we too are called to constant change of heart and life.

Quote:

"In this universal assembly, in this privileged point of time and space, there converge together the past, the present, and the future. The past: for here, gathered in this spot, we have the Church of Christ with her tradition, her history, her councils, her doctors, her saints; the present: we are taking leave of one another to go out toward the world of today with its miseries, its sufferings, its sins, but also with its prodigious accomplishments, values, and virtues; and the future is here in the urgent appeal of the peoples of the world for more justice, in their will for peace, in their conscious or unconscious thirst for a higher life, that life precisely which the Church of Christ can give and wishes to give to them" (from Pope Paul's closing message at Vatican II).


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Re: Saints Of The Day
« Reply #739 on: May 01, 2012, 11:14:21 am »
St. Joseph the Worker




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Apparently in response to the “May Day” celebrations for workers sponsored by Communists, Pius XII instituted the feast of St. Joseph the Worker in 1955. But the relationship between Joseph and the cause of workers has a much longer history.

In a constantly necessary effort to keep Jesus from being removed from ordinary human life, the Church has from the beginning proudly emphasized that Jesus was a carpenter, obviously trained by Joseph in both the satisfactions and the drudgery of that vocation. Humanity is like God not only in thinking and loving, but also in creating. Whether we make a table or a cathedral, we are called to bear fruit with our hands and mind, ultimately for the building up of the Body of Christ.


Comment:

“The Lord God then took the man and settled him in the garden of Eden, to cultivate and care for it” (Genesis 2:15). The Father created all and asked humanity to continue the work of creation. We find our dignity in our work, in raising a family, in participating in the life of the Father’s creation. Joseph the Worker was able to help participate in the deepest mystery of creation. Pius XII emphasized this when he said, “The spirit flows to you and to all men from the heart of the God-man, Savior of the world, but certainly, no worker was ever more completely and profoundly penetrated by it than the foster father of Jesus, who lived with Him in closest intimacy and community of family life and work. Thus, if you wish to be close to Christ, we again today repeat, ‘Go to Joseph’” (see Genesis 41:44).

Quote:

In Brothers of Men, René Voillaume of the Little Brothers of Jesus speaks about ordinary work and holiness: “Now this holiness (of Jesus) became a reality in the most ordinary circumstances of life, those of word, of the family and the social life of a village, and this is an emphatic affirmation of the fact that the most obscure and humdrum human activities are entirely compatible with the perfection of the Son of God....this mystery involves the conviction that the evangelical holiness proper to a child of God is possible in the ordinary circumstances of someone who is poor and obliged to work for his living.”



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Re: Saints Of The Day
« Reply #740 on: May 02, 2012, 02:33:05 pm »
St. Athanasius
(295?-373)


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Athanasius led a tumultuous but dedicated life of service to the Church. He was the great champion of the faith against the widespread heresy of Arianism, the teaching by Arius that Jesus was not truly divine. The vigor of his writings earned him the title of doctor of the Church.

Born of a Christian family in Alexandria, Egypt, and given a classical education, Athanasius became secretary to Alexander, the bishop of Alexandria, entered the priesthood and was eventually named bishop himself. His predecessor, Alexander, had been an outspoken critic of a new movement growing in the East—Arianism.

When Athanasius assumed his role as bishop of Alexandria, he continued the fight against Arianism. At first it seemed that the battle would be easily won and that Arianism would be condemned. Such, however, did not prove to be the case. The Council of Tyre was called and for several reasons that are still unclear, the Emperor Constantine exiled Athanasius to northern Gaul. This was to be the first in a series of travels and exiles reminiscent of the life of St. Paul.

After Constantine died, his son restored Athanasius as bishop. This lasted only a year, however, for he was deposed once again by a coalition of Arian bishops. Athanasius took his case to Rome, and Pope Julius I called a synod to review the case and other related matters.

Five times Athanasius was exiled for his defense of the doctrine of Christ’s divinity. During one period of his life, he enjoyed 10 years of relative peace—reading, writing and promoting the Christian life along the lines of the monastic ideal to which he was greatly devoted. His dogmatic and historical writings are almost all polemic, directed against every aspect of Arianism.

Among his ascetical writings, his Life of St. Anthony (January 17) achieved astonishing popularity and contributed greatly to the establishment of monastic life throughout the Western Christian world.


Comment:

Athanasius suffered many trials while he was bishop of Alexandria. He was given the grace to remain strong against what probably seemed at times to be insurmountable opposition. Athanasius lived his office as bishop completely. He defended the true faith for his flock, regardless of the cost to himself. In today’s world we are experiencing this same call to remain true to our faith, no matter what.

Quote:

The hardships Athanasius suffered in exile, hiding, fleeing from place to place remind us that Paul said his ministry took him: “
  • n frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my own race, dangers from Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers at sea, dangers among false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many sleepless nights, through hunger and thirst, through frequent fastings, through cold and exposure. And apart from these things, there is the daily pressure upon me of my anxiety for all the churches” (2 Corinthians 11:26-28).
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Re: Saints Of The Day
« Reply #741 on: May 04, 2012, 01:54:09 pm »
Blessed Michael Giedroyc
(d. 1485)


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A life of physical pain and mental torment didn’t prevent Michael Giedroyc from achieving holiness.

Born near Vilnius, Lithuania, Michael suffered from physical and permanent handicaps from birth. He was a dwarf who had the use of only one foot. Because of his delicate physical condition, his formal education was frequently interrupted. But over time, Michael showed special skills at metalwork. Working with bronze and silver, he created sacred vessels, including chalices.

He traveled to Kraków, Poland, where he joined the Augustinians. He received permission to live the life of a hermit in a cell adjoining the monastery. There Michael spent his days in prayer, fasted and abstained from all meat and lived to an old age. Though he knew the meaning of suffering throughout his years, his rich spiritual life brought him consolation. Michael’s long life ended in 1485 in Kraków.

Five hundred years later, Pope John Paul II visited the city and spoke to the faculty of the Pontifical Academy of Theology. The 15th century in Kraków, the pope said, was “the century of saints.” Among those he cited was Blessed Michael Giedroyc.

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Re: Saints Of The Day
« Reply #742 on: May 05, 2012, 01:53:06 pm »
St. Hilary of Arles
(400-449)


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It’s been said that youth is wasted on the young. In some ways, that was true for today’s saint.

Born in France in the early fifth century, Hilary came from an aristocratic family. In the course of his education he encountered his relative, Honoratus, who encouraged the young man to join him in the monastic life. Hilary did so. He continued to follow in the footsteps of Honoratus as bishop. Hilary was only 29 when he was chosen bishop of Arles.

The new, youthful bishop undertook the role with confidence. He did manual labor to earn money for the poor. He sold sacred vessels to ransom captives. He became a magnificent orator. He traveled everywhere on foot, always wearing simple clothing.

That was the bright side. Hilary encountered difficulty in his relationships with other bishops over whom he had some jurisdiction. He unilaterally deposed one bishop. He selected another bishop to replace one who was very ill–but, to complicate matters, did not die! Pope St. Leo the Great kept Hilary a bishop but stripped him of some of his powers.

Hilary died at 49. He was a man of talent and piety who, in due time, had learned how to be a bishop.

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Re: Saints Of The Day
« Reply #743 on: May 06, 2012, 02:42:49 pm »
Sts. Marian and James
(d. 259)


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Often, it’s hard to find much detail from the lives of saints of the early Church. What we know about the third-century martyrs we honor today is likewise minimal. But we do know that they lived and died for the faith. Almost 2,000 years later, that is enough reason to honor them.

Born in North Africa, Marian was a lector or reader; James was a deacon. For their devotion to the faith they suffered during the persecution of Valerian.

Prior to their persecution, Marian and James were visited by two bishops who encouraged them in the faith not long before they themselves were martyred. A short time later, Marian and James were arrested and interrogated. The two readily confessed their faith and, for that, were tortured. While in prison they are said to have experienced visions, including one of the two bishops who had visited them earlier.

On the last day of their lives, Marian and James joined other Christians facing martyrdom. They were blindfolded and then put to death. Their bodies were thrown into the water. The year was 259.



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Re: Saints Of The Day
« Reply #744 on: May 07, 2012, 02:36:19 pm »
St. Rose Venerini
(1656-1728)


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Rose was born at Viterbo in Italy, the daughter of a doctor. Following the death of her fiancé she entered a convent, but soon returned home to care for her newly widowed mother. Meanwhile, Rose invited the women of the neighborhood to recite the rosary in her home, forming a sort of sodality with them.

As she looked to her future, Rose, under the spiritual guidance of a Jesuit priest, became convinced that she was called to become a teacher in the world rather than a contemplative nun in a convent. Clearly, she made the right choice: She was a born teacher, and the free school for girls she opened in 1685 was well received.

Soon the cardinal invited her to oversee the training of teachers and the administration of schools in his Diocese of Montefiascone. As Rose's reputation grew, she was called upon to organize schools in many parts of Italy, including Rome. Her disposition was right for the task as well, for Rose often met considerable opposition but was never deterred.

She died in Rome in 1728, where a number of miracles were attributed to her. She was beatified in 1952 and canonized in 2006. The sodality, or group of women she had invited to prayer, was ultimately given the rank of a religious congregation. Today, the so-called Venerini Sisters can be found in the United States and elsewhere, working among Italian immigrants.


Comment:

Whatever state of life God calls us to, we bring with us an assortment of experiences, interests and gifts—however small they seem to us. Rose’s life stands as a reminder that all we are is meant to be put to service wherever we find ourselves.



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Re: Saints Of The Day
« Reply #745 on: May 08, 2012, 02:25:15 pm »
St. Peter of Tarentaise
(c. 1102-1174)


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There are two men named St. Peter of Tarentaise who lived one century apart. The man we honor today is the younger Peter, born in France in the early part of the 12th century. (The other man with the same name became Pope Innocent the Fifth.)

The Peter we’re focusing on became a Cistercian monk and eventually served as abbot. In 1142, he was named archbishop of Tarentaise, replacing a bishop who had been deposed because of corruption. Peter tackled his new assignment with vigor. He brought reform into his diocese, replaced lax clergy and reached out to the poor. He visited all parts of his mountainous diocese on a regular basis.

After about a decade as bishop Peter “disappeared” for a year and lived quietly as a lay brother at an abbey in Switzerland. When he was “found out,” the reluctant bishop was persuaded to return to his post. He again focused many of his energies on the poor.

Peter died in 1175 on his way home from an unsuccessful papal assignment to reconcile the kings of France and England.




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Re: Saints Of The Day
« Reply #746 on: May 09, 2012, 02:31:16 pm »
St. Catharine of Bologna
(1413-1463)


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Some Franciscan saints led fairly public lives; Catharine represents the saints who served the Lord in obscurity.

Catharine, born in Bologna, was related to the nobility in Ferrara and was educated at court there. She received a liberal education at the court and developed some interest and talent in painting. In later years as a Poor Clare, Catharine sometimes did manuscript illumination and also painted miniatures.

At the age of 17, she joined a group of religious women in Ferrara. Four years later the whole group joined the Poor Clares in that city. Jobs as convent baker and portress preceded her selection as novice mistress.

In 1456, she and 15 other sisters were sent to establish a Poor Clare monastery in Florence. As abbess Catharine worked to preserve the peace of the new community. Her reputation for holiness drew many young women to the Poor Clare life. She was canonized in 1712.


Comment:

Appreciating Catharine’s life in a Poor Clare monastery may be hard for us. "It seems like such a waste," we may be tempted to say. Through prayer, penance and charity to her sisters, Catharine drew close to God. Our goal is the same as hers even if our paths are different.

Quote:

Catharine wrote a book on the seven spiritual weapons to be used against temptation. "Jesus Christ gave up his life that we might live," she said. "Therefore, whoever wishes to carry the cross for his sake must take up the proper weapons for the contest, especially those mentioned here. First, diligence; second, distrust of self; third, confidence in God; fourth, remembrance of the Passion; fifth, mindfulness of one’s own death; sixth, remembrance of God’s glory; seventh, the injunctions of Sacred Scripture following the example of Jesus Christ in the desert" (On the Seven Spiritual Weapons).

Patron Saint of:

Art
Artists


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Re: Saints Of The Day
« Reply #747 on: May 10, 2012, 06:44:01 pm »
St. Damien Joseph de Veuster of Moloka'i
(1840-1889)


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When Joseph de Veuster was born in Tremelo, Belgium, in 1840, few people in Europe had any firsthand knowledge of leprosy (Hansen's disease). By the time he died at the age of 49, people all over the world knew about this disease because of him. They knew that human compassion could soften the ravages of this disease.

Forced to quit school at age 13 to work on the family farm, Joseph entered the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary six years later, taking the name of a fourth-century physician and martyr. When his brother Pamphile, a priest in the same congregation, fell ill and was unable to go to the Hawaiian Islands as assigned, Damien quickly volunteered in his place. In May 1864, two months after arriving in his new mission, Damien was ordained a priest in Honolulu and assigned to the island of Hawaii.

In 1873, he went to the Hawaiian government's leper colony on the island of Molokai, set up seven years earlier. Part of a team of four chaplains taking that assignment for three months each year, Damien soon volunteered to remain permanently, caring for the people's physical, medical and spiritual needs. In time, he became their most effective advocate to obtain promised government support.

Soon the settlement had new houses and a new church, school and orphanage. Morale improved considerably. A few years later he succeeded in getting the Franciscan Sisters of Syracuse, led by Mother Marianne Cope (January 23), to help staff this colony in Kalaupapa.

Damien contracted Hansen's disease and died of its complications. As requested, he was buried in Kalaupapa, but in 1936 the Belgian government succeeded in having his body moved to Belgium. Part of Damien's body was returned to his beloved Hawaiian brothers and sisters after his beatification in 1995.

Damien was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI on October 11, 2009.

When Hawaii became a state in 1959, it selected Damien as one of its two representatives in the Statuary Hall at the U.S. Capitol.


Comment:

Some people thought Damien was a hero for going to Molokai and others thought he was crazy. When a Protestant clergyman wrote that Damien was guilty of immoral behavior, Robert Louis Stevenson vigorously defended him in an "Open Letter to Dr. Hyde."

Quote:

During the beatification homily, Pope John Paul II said: "Holiness is not perfection according to human criteria; it is not reserved for a small number of exceptional persons. It is for everyone; it is the Lord who brings us to holiness, when we are willing to collaborate in the salvation of the world for the glory of God, despite our sin and our sometimes rebellious temperament."


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Re: Saints Of The Day
« Reply #748 on: May 11, 2012, 02:05:53 pm »
St. Ignatius of Laconi
(1701-1781)


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Ignatius is another sainted begging brother.

He was the second of seven children of peasant parents in Sardinia. His path to the Franciscans was unusual. During a serious illness, Ignatius vowed to become a Capuchin if he recovered. He regained his health but ignored the promise. A riding accident prompted him to renew the pledge, which he acted on the second time; he was 20 then. Ignatius’s reputation for self-denial and charity led to his appointment as the official beggar for the friars in Cagliari. He fulfilled that task for 40 years; he was blind the last two years.

While on his rounds, Ignatius would instruct the children, visit the sick and urge sinners to repent. The people of Cagliari were inspired by his kindness and his faithfulness to his work. He was canonized in 1951.


Comment:

Why did the people of Cagliari support the friars? These followers of Francis worked hard but rarely at jobs that paid enough to live on. Under these conditions St. Francis allowed them to beg. The life of Ignatius reminds us that everything God considers worthwhile does not have a high-paying salary attached to it.

Quote:

"And I used to work with my hands, and I [still] desire to work; and I firmly wish that all my brothers give themselves to honest work. Let those who do not know how [to work] learn, not from desire of receiving wages for their work but as an example and in order to avoid idleness. And when we are not paid for our work, let us have recourse to the table of the Lord, seeking alms from door to door" (St. Francis, Testament).


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Re: Saints Of The Day
« Reply #749 on: May 12, 2012, 02:07:49 pm »
Sts. Nereus and Achilleus
(1st century)


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Devotion to these two saints goes back to the fourth century, though almost nothing is known of their lives. They were praetorian soldiers of the Roman army, became Christians and were removed to the island of Terracina, where they were martyred. Their bodies were buried in a family vault, later known as the cemetery of Domitilla. Excavations by De Rossi in 1896 resulted in the discovery of their empty tomb in the underground church built by Pope Siricius in 390.

Two hundred years after their death, Pope Gregory the Great delivered his 28th homily on the occasion of their feast. “These saints, before whom we are assembled, despised the world and trampled it under their feet when peace, riches and health gave it charms.”


Comment:

As in the case of many early martyrs, the Church clings to its memories though the events are clouded in the mists of history. It is a heartening thing for all Christians to know that they have a noble heritage. Our brothers and sisters in Christ have stood in the same world in which we live—militarist, materialist, cruel and cynical—yet transfigured from within by the presence of the Living One. Our own courage is enlivened by the heroes and heroines who have gone before us marked by the sign of faith and the wounds of Christ.

Quote:

Pope Damasus wrote an epitaph for Nereus and Achilleus in the fourth century. The text is known from travelers who read it while the slab was still entire, but the broken fragments found by De Rossi are sufficient to identify it: “The martyrs Nereus and Achilleus had enrolled themselves in the army and exercised the cruel office of carrying out the orders of the tyrant, being ever ready, through the constraint of fear, to obey his will. O miracle of faith! Suddenly they cease from their fury, they become converted, they fly from the camp of their wicked leader; they throw away their shields, their armor and their blood-stained javelins. Confessing the faith of Christ, they rejoice to bear testimony to its triumph. Learn now from the words of Damasus what great things the glory of Christ can accomplish.”


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Re: Saints Of The Day
« Reply #750 on: May 13, 2012, 03:35:23 pm »
Our Lady of Fatima



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Between May 13 and October 13, 1917, three Portuguese children received apparitions of Our Lady at Cova da Iria, near Fatima, a city 110 miles north of Lisbon. (See February 20 entry for Blessed Jacinta and Francisco Marto). Mary asked the children to pray the rosary for world peace, for the end of World War I, for sinners and for the conversion of Russia. The third visionary, Lucia dos Santos, became a Carmelite nun and died in 2005 at the age of 97.

Mary gave the children three secrets. Since Francisco died in 1919 and Jacinta the following year, Lucia revealed the first secret in 1927, concerning devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The second secret was a vision of hell.

Pope John Paul II directed the Holy See's Secretary of State to reveal the third secret in 2000; it spoke of a "bishop in white" who was shot by a group of soldiers who fired bullets and arrows into him. Many people linked this to the assassination attempt against Pope John Paul II in St. Peter's Square on May 13, 1981.

The feast of Our Lady of Fatima was approved by the local bishop in 1930; it was added to the Church's worldwide calendar in 2002.


Comment:

The message of Fatima is simple: Pray. Unfortunately, some people—not Sister Lucia—have distorted these revelations, making them into an apocalyptic event for which they are now the only reliable interpreters. They have, for example, claimed that Mary's request that the world be consecrated to her has been ignored. Sister Lucia agreed that Pope John Paul II's public consecration in St. Peter's Square on March 25, 1984, fulfilled Mary's request. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith prepared a June 26, 2000, document explaining the “third secret” (available at www.vatican.va).

Mary is perfectly honored when people generously imitate her response “Let it be done to me as you say” (Luke 1:38). Mary can never be seen as a rival to Jesus or to the Church's teaching authority, as exercised by the college of bishops united with the bishop of Rome.


Quote:

“Throughout history there have been supernatural apparitions and signs which go to the heart of human events and which, to the surprise of believers and non-believers alike, play their part in the unfolding of history. These manifestations can never contradict the content of faith and must, therefore, have their focus in the core of Christ's proclamation: the Father's love which leads men and women to conversion and bestows the grace required to abandon oneself to him with filial devotion. This too is the message of Fatima which, with its urgent call to conversion and penance, draws us to the heart of the Gospel” (The Message of Fatima, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, June 26, 2000).


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Re: Saints Of The Day
« Reply #751 on: May 14, 2012, 02:14:28 pm »
St. Matthias



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According to Acts 1:15-26, during the days after the Ascension, Peter stood up in the midst of the brothers (about 120 of Jesus’ followers). Now that Judas had betrayed his ministry, it was necessary, Peter said, to fulfill the scriptural recommendation that another should take his office. “Therefore, it is necessary that one of the men who accompanied us the whole time the Lord Jesus came and went among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day on which he was taken up from us, become with us a witness to his resurrection” (Acts 1:21-22).

They nominated two men: Joseph Barsabbas and Matthias. They prayed and drew lots. The choice fell upon Matthias, who was added to the Eleven.

Matthias is not mentioned by name anywhere else in the New Testament.


Comment:

What was the holiness of Matthias? Obviously he was suited for apostleship by the experience of being with Jesus from his baptism to his ascension. He must also have been suited personally, or he would not have been nominated for so great a responsibility. Must we not remind ourselves that the fundamental holiness of Matthias was his receiving gladly the relationship with the Father offered him by Jesus and completed by the Holy Spirit? If the apostles are the foundations of our faith by their witness, they must also be reminders, if only implicitly, that holiness is entirely a matter of God’s giving, and it is offered to all, in the everyday circumstances of life. We receive, and even for this God supplies the power of freedom.

Quote:

Jesus speaks of the apostles’ function of being judges, that is, rulers. He said, “Amen, I say to you that you who have followed me, in the new age, when the Son of Man is seated on his throne of glory, will yourselves sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Matthew 19:28).



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Re: Saints Of The Day
« Reply #752 on: May 15, 2012, 02:03:58 pm »
St. Isidore the Farmer
(1070-1130)


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Isidore has become the patron of farmers and rural communities. In particular he is the patron of Madrid, Spain, and of the United States National Rural Life Conference.

When he was barely old enough to wield a hoe, Isidore entered the service of John de Vergas, a wealthy landowner from Madrid, and worked faithfully on his estate outside the city for the rest of his life. He married a young woman as simple and upright as himself who also became a saint—Maria de la Cabeza. They had one son, who died as a child.

Isidore had deep religious instincts. He rose early in the morning to go to church and spent many a holiday devoutly visiting the churches of Madrid and surrounding areas. All day long, as he walked behind the plow, he communed with God. His devotion, one might say, became a problem, for his fellow workers sometimes complained that he often showed up late because of lingering in church too long.

He was known for his love of the poor, and there are accounts of Isidore’s supplying them miraculously with food. He had a great concern for the proper treatment of animals.

He died May 15, 1130, and was declared a saint in 1622 with Ignatius of Loyola, Francis Xavier, Teresa of Avila and Philip Neri. Together, the group is known in Spain as “the five saints.”


Comment:

Many implications can be found in a simple laborer achieving sainthood: Physical labor has dignity; sainthood does not stem from status; contemplation does not depend on learning; the simple life is conducive to holiness and happiness. Legends about angel helpers and mysterious oxen indicate that his work was not neglected and his duties did not go unfulfilled. Perhaps the truth which emerges is this: If you have your spiritual self in order, your earthly commitments will fall into order also. “eek first the kingdom [of God] and his righteousness,” said the carpenter from Nazareth, “and all these things will be given you besides” (Matthew 6:33).

Quote:

“God blessed them, saying: ‘Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it.... See, I give you every seed-bearing plant all over the earth and every tree that has seed-bearing fruit on it to be your food; and to all the animals of the land, all the birds of the air, and all the living creatures that crawl on the ground, I give all the green plants for food’” (Genesis 1:28a, 29–30a).

Patron Saint of:

Farmers
Laborers


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Re: Saints Of The Day
« Reply #753 on: May 16, 2012, 01:44:38 pm »
St. Margaret of Cortona
(1247-1297)


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Margaret was born of farming parents in Laviano, Tuscany. Her mother died when Margaret was seven; life with her stepmother was so difficult that Margaret moved out. For nine years she lived with Arsenio, though they were not married, and she bore him a son. In those years, she had doubts about her situation. Somewhat like St. Augustine she prayed for purity—but not just yet.

One day she was waiting for Arsenio and was instead met by his dog. The animal led Margaret into the forest where she found Arsenio murdered. This crime shocked Margaret into a life of penance. She and her son returned to Laviano, where she was not well received by her stepmother. They then went to Cortona, where her son eventually became a friar.

In 1277, three years after her conversion, Margaret became a Franciscan tertiary. Under the direction of her confessor, who sometimes had to order her to moderate her self-denial, she pursued a life of prayer and penance at Cortona. There she established a hospital and founded a congregation of tertiary sisters. The poor and humble Margaret was, like Francis, devoted to the Eucharist and to the passion of Jesus. These devotions fueled her great charity and drew sinners to her for advice and inspiration. She was canonized in 1728.


Comment:

Seeking forgiveness is sometimes difficult work. It is made easier by meeting people who, without trivializing our sins, assure us that God rejoices over our repentance. Being forgiven lifts a weight and prompts us to acts of charity.

Quote:

"Let us raise ourselves from our fall and not give up hope as long as we free ourselves from sin. Jesus Christ came into this world to save sinners. ‘O come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker!’ (Psalm 95:6). The Word calls us to repentance, crying out: ‘Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens and I will give you rest’ (Matthew 11:28). There is, then, a way to salvation if we are willing to follow it" (Letter of Saint Basil the Great).



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Re: Saints Of The Day
« Reply #754 on: May 18, 2012, 01:56:51 pm »
St. John I
(d. 526)


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Pope John I inherited the Arian heresy, which denied the divinity of Christ. Italy had been ruled for 30 years by an emperor who espoused the heresy, though he treated the empire’s Catholics with toleration. His policy changed at about the time the young John was elected pope.

When the eastern emperor began imposing severe measures on the Arians of his area, the western emperor forced John to head a delegation to the East to soften the measures against the heretics. Little is known of the manner or outcome of the negotiations—designed to secure continued toleration of Catholics in the West.

When John returned to Rome, he found that the emperor had begun to suspect his friendship with his eastern rival.

On his way home, John was imprisoned when he reached Ravenna because the emperor suspected a conspiracy against his throne. Shortly after his imprisonment, John died, apparently from the treatment he had received.


Comment:

We cannot choose the issues for which we have to suffer and perhaps die. John I suffered because of a power-conscious emperor. Jesus suffered because of the suspicions of those who were threatened by his freedom, openness and powerlessness. “If you find that the world hates you, know it has hated me before you” (John 15:18).

Quote:

“Martyrdom makes disciples like their Master, who willingly accepted death for the salvation of the world, and through it they are made like him by the shedding of blood. Therefore, the Church considers it the highest gift and supreme test of love. And while it is given to few, all however must be prepared to confess Christ before humanity and to follow him along the way of the cross amid the persecutions which the Church never lacks” (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, 42, Austin Flannery translation).



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Re: Saints Of The Day
« Reply #755 on: May 19, 2012, 02:36:28 pm »
St. Theophilus of Corte
(1676-1740)


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If we expect saints to do marvelous things continually and to leave us many memorable quotes, we are bound to be disappointed with St. Theophilus. The mystery of God's grace in a person's life, however, has a beauty all its own.

Theophilus was born in Corsica of rich and noble parents. As a young man he entered the Franciscans and soon showed his love for solitude and prayer. After admirably completing his studies, he was ordained and assigned to a retreat house near Subiaco. Inspired by the austere life of the Franciscans there, he founded other such houses in Corsica and Tuscany. Over the years, he became famous for his preaching as well as his missionary efforts.

Though he was always somewhat sickly, Theophilus generously served the needs of God's people in the confessional, in the sickroom and at the graveside. Worn out by his labors, he died on June 17, 1740. He was canonized in 1930.


Comment:

There is a certain dynamism in all the saints that prompts them to find ever more selfless ways of responding to God's grace. As time went on, Theophilus gave more and more singlehearted service to God and to God's sons and daughters. Honoring the saints will make no sense unless we are thus drawn to live as generously as they did. Their holiness can never substitute for our own.

Quote:

Francis of Assisi used to say, "Let us begin, brothers, to serve the Lord God, for up to now we have made little or no progress" (1 Celano, #193).

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Re: Saints Of The Day
« Reply #756 on: May 21, 2012, 02:05:11 pm »
St. Cristóbal Magallanes and Companions
(d. 1915-1928)


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Like Blessed Miguel Agustín Pro, S.J., Cristóbal and his 24 companion martyrs lived under a very anti-Catholic government in Mexico, one determined to weaken the Catholic faith of its people. Churches, schools and seminaries were closed; foreign clergy were expelled. Cristóbal established a clandestine seminary at Totatiche, Jalisco. Magallanes and the other priests were forced to minister secretly to Catholics during the presidency of Plutarco Calles (1924-28).

All of these martyrs except three were diocesan priests. David, Manuel and Salvador were laymen who died with their parish priest, Luis Batis. All of these martyrs belonged to the Cristero movement, pledging their allegiance to Christ and to the Church that he established to spread the Good News in society—even if Mexico's leaders once made it a crime to receive Baptism or celebrate the Mass.

These martyrs did not die as a single group but in eight Mexican states, with Jalisco and Zacatecas having the largest number. They were beatified in 1992 and canonized eight years later.


Comment:

Every martyr realizes how to avoid execution but refuses to pay the high price of doing so. A clear conscience was more valuable than a long life. We may be tempted to compromise our faith while telling ourselves that we are simply being realistic, dealing with situations as we find them. Is survival really the ultimate value? Do our concrete, daily choices reflect our deepest values, the ones that allow us to “tick” the way we do? Anyone can imagine situations in which being a follower of Jesus is easier than the present situation. Saints remind us that our daily choices, especially in adverse circumstances, form the pattern of our lives.

Quote:

During his homily at the canonization Mass on May 21, 2000, Pope John Paul II addressed the Mexican men, women and children present in Rome and said: “After the harsh trials that the Church endured in Mexico during those turbulent years, today Mexican Christians, encouraged by the witness of these witnesses to the faith, can live in peace and harmony, contributing the wealth of gospel values to society. The Church grows and advances, since she is the crucible in which many priestly and religious vocations are born, where families are formed according to God's plan, and where young people, a substantial part of the Mexican population, can grow with the hope of a better future. May the shining example of Cristóbal Magallanes and his companion martyrs help you to make a renewed commitment of fidelity to God, which can continue to transform Mexican society so that justice, fraternity and harmony will prevail among all.”



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Re: Saints Of The Day
« Reply #757 on: May 22, 2012, 06:21:44 pm »
St. Rita of Cascia
(1381-1457)


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Like Elizabeth Ann Seton, Rita of Cascia was a wife, mother, widow and member of a religious community. Her holiness was reflected in each phase of her life.

Born at Roccaporena in central Italy, Rita wanted to become a nun but was pressured at a young age into marrying a harsh and cruel man. During her 18-year marriage, she bore and raised two sons. After her husband was killed in a brawl and her sons had died, Rita tried to join the Augustinian nuns in Cascia. Unsuccessful at first because she was a widow, Rita eventually succeeded.

Over the years, her austerity, prayerfulness and charity became legendary. When she developed wounds on her forehead, people quickly associated them with the wounds from Christ's crown of thorns. She meditated frequently on Christ's passion. Her care for the sick nuns was especially loving. She also counseled lay people who came to her monastery.

Beatified in 1626, Rita was not canonized until 1900. She has acquired the reputation, together with St. Jude, as a saint of impossible cases. Many people visit her tomb each year.


Comment:

Although we can easily imagine an ideal world in which to live out our baptismal vocation, such a world does not exist. An “If only ….” approach to holiness never quite gets underway, never produces the fruit that God has a right to expect.

Rita became holy because she made choices that reflected her Baptism and her growth as a disciple of Jesus. Her overarching, lifelong choice was to cooperate generously with God's grace, but many small choices were needed to make that happen. Few of those choices were made in ideal circumstances—not even when Rita became an Augustinian nun.


Quote:

For the Baptism of adults and for all the baptized at the Easter Vigil, three questions are asked: “Do you reject sin so as to live in the freedom of God's children? Do you reject the glamor of evil, and refuse to be mastered by sin? Do you reject Satan, father of sin and prince of darkness?”

Patron Saint of:

Difficult marriages
Impossible causes
Infertility
Parenthood

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Re: Saints Of The Day
« Reply #758 on: May 23, 2012, 05:45:01 am »
St. Felix of Cantalice
(1515-1587)


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Felix was the first Capuchin Franciscan ever canonized. In fact, when he was born, the Capuchins did not yet exist as a distinct group within the Franciscans.

Born of humble, God-fearing parents in the Rieti Valley, Felix worked as a farmhand and a shepherd until he was 28. He developed the habit of praying while he worked.

In 1543 he joined the Capuchins. When the guardian explained the hardships of that way of life, Felix answered: "Father, the austerity of your Order does not frighten me. I hope, with God’s help, to overcome all the difficulties which will arise from my own weakness."

Three years later Felix was assigned to the friary in Rome as its official beggar. Because he was a model of simplicity and charity, he edified many people during the 42 years he performed that service for his confreres.

As he made his rounds, he worked to convert hardened sinners and to feed the poor–as did his good friend, St. Philip Neri, who founded the Oratory, a community of priests serving the poor of Rome. When Felix wasn’t talking on his rounds, he was praying the rosary. The people named him "Brother Deo Gratias" (thanks be to God) because he was always using that blessing.

When Felix was an old man, his superior had to order him to wear sandals to protect his health. Around the same time a certain cardinal offered to suggest to Felix’s superiors that he be freed of begging so that he could devote more time to prayer. Felix talked the cardinal out of that idea. Felix was canonized in 1712.


Comment:

Grateful people make good beggars. St. Francis told his friars that if they gave the world good example, the world would support them. Felix’s life proves the truth of that advice. In referring all blessings back to their source (God), Felix encouraged people to works of charity for the friars and for others.

Quote:

"And let us refer all good to the most high and supreme lord God, and acknowledge that every good is His, and thank Him for everything, [He] from Whom all good things come. And may He, the Highest and Supreme, Who alone is true God, have and be given and receive every honor and reverence, every praise and blessing, every thanks and glory, for every good is His, He Who alone is good. And when we see or hear an evil [person] speak or act or blaspheme God, let us speak well and act well and praise God (cf. Rm 12:21), Who is blessed forever (Romans 1:25)" (St. Francis, Rule of 1221, Ch. 17).


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Re: Saints Of The Day
« Reply #759 on: May 24, 2012, 01:44:09 pm »
St. Mary Magdalene de' Pazzi
(1566-1607)


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Mystical ecstasy is the elevation of the spirit to God in such a way that the person is aware of this union with God while both internal and external senses are detached from the sensible world. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi was so generously given this special gift of God that she is called the "ecstatic saint."

She was born into a noble family in Florence in 1566. The normal course would have been for Catherine de Pazzi to have married wealth and enjoyed comfort, but she chose to follow her own path. At nine she learned to meditate from the family confessor. She made her first Communion at the then-early age of 10 and made a vow of virginity one month later. When 16, she entered the Carmelite convent in Florence because she could receive Communion daily there.

Catherine had taken the name Mary Magdalene and had been a novice for a year when she became critically ill. Death seemed near so her superiors let her make her profession of vows from a cot in the chapel in a private ceremony. Immediately after, she fell into an ecstasy that lasted about two hours. This was repeated after Communion on the following 40 mornings. These ecstasies were rich experiences of union with God and contained marvelous insights into divine truths.

As a safeguard against deception and to preserve the revelations, her confessor asked Mary Magdalene to dictate her experiences to sister secretaries. Over the next six years, five large volumes were filled. The first three books record ecstasies from May of 1584 through Pentecost week the following year. This week was a preparation for a severe five-year trial. The fourth book records that trial and the fifth is a collection of letters concerning reform and renewal. Another book, Admonitions, is a collection of her sayings arising from her experiences in the formation of women religious.

The extraordinary was ordinary for this saint. She read the thoughts of others and predicted future events. During her lifetime, she appeared to several persons in distant places and cured a number of sick people.

It would be easy to dwell on the ecstasies and pretend that Mary Magdalene only had spiritual highs. This is far from true. It seems that God permitted her this special closeness to prepare her for the five years of desolation that followed when she experienced spiritual dryness. She was plunged into a state of darkness in which she saw nothing but what was horrible in herself and all around her. She had violent temptations and endured great physical suffering. She died in 1607 at 41, and was canonized in 1669.


Comment:

Intimate union, God's gift to mystics, is a reminder to all of us of the eternal happiness of union he wishes to give us. The cause of mystical ecstasy in this life is the Holy Spirit, working through spiritual gifts. The ecstasy occurs because of the weakness of the body and its powers to withstand the divine illumination, but as the body is purified and strengthened, ecstasy no longer occurs. On various aspects of ecstasy, see Teresa of Avila, Interior Castle, Chapter 5, and John of the Cross, Dark Night of the Soul, 2:1-2.

Quote:

There are many people today who see no purpose in suffering. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi discovered saving grace in suffering. When she entered religious life she was filled with a desire to suffer for Christ during the rest of her life. The more she suffered, the greater grew her desire for it. Her dying words to her fellow sisters were: "The last thing I ask of you—and I ask it in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ—is that you love him alone, that you trust implicitly in him and that you encourage one another continually to suffer for the love of him."


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