A Week of Saints: May 27- June 2, 2019

Monday, May 27:  Augustine Of Canterbury, Monk, Martyr (died c 606)

Augustine was a monk and friend to Pope Gregory the Great.  He was sent with 30 missionaries, by Pope Gregory to evangelize the fierce tribes of England.  They spoke no English, and were challenged with the crossing of the English Channel.  King Ethelbert of Kent was married to a Christian princess from Paris, so he allowed them to preach and gave them housing. From the advice of Pope Gregory the missionaries respected local customs, while giving witness by their own lives.  King Ethelbert converted to Christianity, but Augustine died after seven years there, and never saw Christianity take root.

Tuesday, May 28: St Bernard of Montjoux,  Priest (923-1008)

Bernard was a priest in the mountainous part of France. He visited homes, built churches, celebrated Mass in the area, but heard of travelers, who had been lost or ambushed in the mountains.  He built two hospices for travelers, where they could find, food, shelter and safety. The were built along two of the most frequently traveled routes.  These routes were eventually named the Great St. Bernard Pass and the Little St. Bernard Pass.  Bernard brought in monks to run the hospices and patrol for travelers in need.  They bred dogs to help rescue loss travelers, can you guess their names…St Bernards.

Patron: Skiers, Alpine Travelers

Wednesday, May 29:  St. Madeleine Sophie Barat (1779-1865)

During the French , Christian schools were suppressed.  Madeleine, who was highly educated by her seminarian brother, found her vocation in religious life, and had a desire to educate, especially women in all areas of study.  She founded the Society of the Sacred Heart.  These schools had their focus for the poor as well as boarding schools for young women of means.  She died on the feast of the Ascension.

“Your example, even more than your words, will be an eloquent lesson to the world.“

Patron: school girls

Thursday, May 30: 

The Ascension of Our Lord (see below) 

St. Joan of Arc, Martyr (1412-1431) 

In a vision St Joan was told by St. Michael, St. Catherine, and St. Margaret to go the the king of France to help him reconquer his kingdom.  In spite of much opposition this seventeen year old girl was given a small army to siege Orleans.  She had several more military successes, and had won favor with the king. While trying to relieve Compiegne she was captured by Burgundians and sold to English.  With no help from the French to save her, she sentenced to death for refusing to retract her profession that the saints had ordered her to fight for France.

She was condemned to death as a heretic, sorceress, and adulteress, and burned at the stake.  About thirty years later, she was exonerated of all guilt.

Patron: soldiers, France

Friday, May 31:  The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary 

Now at this time Mary arose and went in a hurry to the hill country, to a city of Judah, and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. And she cried out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!  And how has it happened to me, that the mother of my Lord would come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord.”

“She immediately set out with haste for the house of her cousin, the Evangelist notes (cf. Lk 1: 39), to offer her help at a time of special need. How can we fail to see that the hidden protagonist in the meeting between the young Mary and the by-then elderly Elizabeth is Jesus? Mary bears him in her womb as in a sacred tabernacle and offers him as the greatest gift to Zechariah, to Elizabeth, his wife, and also to the infant developing in her womb. “Behold”, the Mother of John the Baptist says, “when the voice of your greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leaped for joy”

Pope Benedict 

Saturday, June 1, St. Justin, Martyr, (c 100-165)

Justin, born in Palestine was searching for truth.  After reading the Old Testament prophets, he saw that the Christian religion was truth. at the start of the second century, searched everywhere for truth. He traveled to big cities, where he talked and studied with wise teachers. One day, a stranger told Justin to read the Old Testament prophets, who had foretold the coming of Christ. He did this, and it led him to see that the Christian religion taught the truth. He was baptized.  He wrote several books in defense of Christianity. In one of them he described the ceremony of Baptism, similar to what is common today. In another place, he wrote that the Sunday meetings of the Christian community included readings from Scripture, a homily, offering of bread and wine, and giving Holy Communion.  When brought before a judge for his beliefs, the judge asked him, “Do you have an idea that you will go to heaven and receive some suitable rewards?” Justin answered, “It is not an idea that I have; it is something that I know well and hold to be most certain.” The judge ordered him killed.

“We used to hate and destroy one another and refused to associate with people of another race or country. Now, because of Christ, we live together with such people and pray for our enemies.”

“To yield and give way to our passions is the lowest slavery, even as to rule over them is the only liberty.”

June 2:  The Ascension Of Our Lord

Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”

He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.

They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”

“Out Of compassion for us he descended from heaven, and although he ascended alone, we also ascend, because we are in him by grace.”

St Augustine

Jousting With Humility

There is a line from the movie “Camelot”, when Queen Guinevere asks Sir Lancelot, the “perfect” male, “Have you jousted with humility lately?”  Perfection can’t come without humility; Jesus showed us that. He is God, but became man.  The Christ hung on the cross a man, because our salvation needed Him to.  Our greatest example, Jesus, chose humility.  The Perfect, chose to joust with humility. 

Or, how about the Mother Of God, the forever Virgin Mary, the chosen and pure, giving her fiat to appear an unwed mother, then giving birth in a dirty stable. She knew herself without sin, but chose humility.

I have gifts and talents.  Humility isn’t denying them, no it’s being fully aware of them, and knowing that they are gifts….it’s knowledge of something bigger…it’s unattatchment to the glory from them….it’s the Perfect, the Omnipotent God hanging on a cross, because He could love outside of himself.  

The Pieta

Pieta means, “pity” and is traditionally depicted by the Virgin Mary holding the dead body of her Son. Although there are many art forms that express the Pieta, the carving by Michelango is probably the best known. This image of Our Lady embracing the lifeless body of her Son is moving in so many ways.  This time, what was jumping out at me, were the two figures.  The created Images of God.  I have reflected on the new Adam and the new Eve, but this time it all sat with me differently.

Here before me is the restoration.  The Blessed Mother is sinless, and Jesus, wholly human, defeated satan himself.  In the Pieta, I find God’s vision of creation restored, carved into the Immaculate Conception and the Incarnate Savior. They are who God created humanity to be, within Himself.  Mary and Jesus are the two Fiats that destroyed the disobedience of the Adam and Eve.  God has restored us, to who we once were within Himself….a reality chiseled into the vision of the Pieta.  

The Pieta inspires me toward the image of God:  Purity’s (Mary’s) love for her God, for the Son she holds, and the sacrificial Love of God for our purity.  The peaceful look of a soul, who blindly trusts the lifeless body in her arms, to still be Savior.  She trusted God, even though in her arms would seem to be, an unsuccessful Messiah.  The Son, who became man, to walk this earth as we do, and show us how, even in death, in fact lying there, He had no breath within Him. 

The Pieta to me, though, is Hope.  Hope that we can be restored, by the lives of Mother Mary and Jesus Christ to the new Adam and new Eve….as we were created to be.  Children of hope, love and trust in the image of our Creator.  This is the image of God…male and female, as our Creator intended…sinless and worthy of life eternal with Him.  Restored!

The Pieta speaks this to me, through the inspiration and  artistry of a 24 year old man, who saw it in a piece of marble, and passionately gave it to me….and I am grateful for the help.

A Week of Saints (May 13-19, 2019)

Monday, May 13:  Our Lady of Fatima

Between May 13 and October 13, 1917, three Portuguese children received apparitions of Our Lady near Fatima. Mary asked the children to pray the rosary for world peace, the end of World War I, for sinners and the conversion of Russia.  She gave the children three secrets. The first was regarding the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the second was a vision of hell, and the third was about a “bishop in white” who was shot by a group of soldiers who fired bullets and arrows into him. Many people linked this vision to the assassination attempt against Pope John Paul II in St. Peter’s Square on May 13, 1981.Mary gave the children three secrets. Lucia revealed the first secret in 1927. It concerned devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The second secret was a vision of hell..

Tuesday, May 14:  St. Matthias, Apostle, Martyr (death c 80)

St Mathias is the Apostle that was chosen by the eleven Apostles after the resurrection.  Peter said “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).  Matthias is not mentioned by name anywhere else in the New Testament.  He is thoughtto have been stoned to death in what is now Georgia.

Patron:  alcoholics, carpenters, tailors, smallpox, hope, perseverance 

Wednesday, May 15:  St. Isidore, farmer, laborer (1070-1130)

Isidore started working the land as a child, and did 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.  As he worked, he communed with God. 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.  It is said that the angels sometimes helped him with his work.

Patron:  farmers, rural communities, laborers

Thursday, May 16:  St Brendan the Voyager, Priest, monk (c 577)

Possibly born in Tralee, Ireland, and instructed by St. Ita, he became a monk and founded a the monastery at Clonfert. There is not much known about him, but fantastic voyages have been attributed to Brendan.  His journeys searching for the Isles of the Blessed, has him possibly in  the Canaries, and even discovering America. He may have made visits to Scotland and Wales.

Patron:  boatmen; divers; mariners; sailors; travellers; whales; portaging canoes

Friday, May 17: St Paschal Baylon, lay brother (1540-1592)

As a young boy, he was a shepherd and very devout.  Choosing the life of a monk, he was in  charge of answering the door.  Hie generosity was so great to the poor, who came, his friars sometimes tried to moderate his generosity.  Paschal spent his spare time with the Blessed Sacrament. Many miracles were realized at his death.  

“God is as really present in the consecrated Host as He is in the glory of Heaven.”

 Patron:  Eucharistic congresses and Eucharistic associations,cooks

Saturday, May 18:  St. John I, Pope (d 526)

Italy’s emperor believed the Arian heresy, but tolerated Catholics. St John I was Pope during this time. When John returned to Rome, he found that the emperor had begun to suspect his friendship with his eastern rival.  He was put in prison in Ravenna and died, possibly from the treatment he received there.

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Sunday, May 19:  St Celestine, hermit, Pope (1210-1296)

In order that the devil would not find him idle Peter (St Celestine) became a hermit and spent his time praying, reading, copying books, or some hard work to avoid temptation.  When he was eighty-four years old, he was made Pope, in a quick decision from the Cardinals, who were unable to decide on anyone else.  Peter wept bitterly at the news, but accepted the role of Pope and took the name Celestine V.  We wasn’t a very efficient pope, since he had a hard time saying “no” to anyone, causing great confusion and he was easily taken advantage of.  After 5 months, he resigned as pope, and was hoping to return to his life as a hermit, but the new pope thought it was safer to keep him close to protect him from wicked people.  He was put in a cell and died there. Yet he was cheerful and close to God. “You wanted a cell, Peter,” he would repeat to himself, “and a cell you have.

“The bishops and clergy should be distinguished from the common people by our learning, bot  by our clothes; by our conduct, not by our dress; by our cleanliness of mind, not by the care we spend upon our person”

Patron:  bookbinders

A Week of Saints (May 6-12, 2019

Monday, May 6:  Bl Fancis de Laval Priest, Bishop (1623-1708)

Francis was the first Roman Catholic bishop of Quebec and was one of the most influential men of his day.  He was ordained by the Jesuits.  His job was to organize the Catholic Churches in Canada.  He set up parishes fo the French inhabitants and organized a seminary.  He was a faithful and caring leader.  He is considered the father of the Canadian Roman Catholic Church.

Patron:  bishops of Canada

Tuesday, May 7:  St Rose of Viterbo, Virgin and Recluse (1233-1251)

Rose was born at Viterbo.  She entered a convent after the death of her fiancé, but then came home to care for her widowed mother.  She felt called to become a teacher, rather than live a contemplative life, consequently she opened a free school. She was soon to oversee teacher and administrators in her diocese in Italy.  Many miracles have been attributed to her.

“Live so as not to fear death. For those who live well in the world, death is not frightening, but sweet and precious.”

Patron: people in exile, people rejected by religious orders

Wednesday, May 8: St. Juliana of Norwich, Mystic (1342-1413)

 She was a Benedictine mystic in England.  She lived a reclusive life outside of the church walls.  Because of her “Revelations of Divine Love” she  is considered one to the most important writers in England.  She wrote about the love of God, the Incarnation, redemption, sin and divine consolation.  She drew people from all over Europe.

“There is no creature made, who can realize how much, how sweetly, and how tenderly our Maker loves us.  And therefore we can with His grace and His help, stand in spirit, gazing with endless wonder at His lofty, immeasurable love, beyond human scope, that the Almighty In His goodness has for us.”

Patron: of the anxious

Thursday, May 9:  St Catharine Of Bologna (1413-1463)

Catharine served the Lord in obscurity.  She was born in nobility and was well educated. As a Poor Clare she did manuscript illumination and miniatures. Her holiness drew many women to the Poor Clares.

“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 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.”

Patron: of the Arts

Friday, May 10: St Damien Of Molokai, Priest, (1840-1889)

In Joseph de Veuster”s lifetime leprosy went from obscurity to common knowledge.  He went to the leprosy colony on the island Molokai Hawaii to care for the sick there.  Damien was ordained a priest in Honolulu. 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,  St Damien contracted the disease himself and died of its complications.

“Without the Blessed Sacrament a position like mine would be intolerable.”

Patron:  people with leprosy

Saturday, May 11:  St Ignatius Of Laconi, Monk (1701-1781)

Ignatius is another sainted begging brother. 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.  Because of his practice of self denial, he was appointed the official beggar or the order. He was blind the last two years.

Patron:  students, beggars

Sunday, May 12:  St’s Nereus, Achilleus, Pancras, Martyrs (early church)

“These saints, before whom we are assembled, despised the world and trampled it under their feet when peace, riches and health gave it charms”

They were soldiers of the Roman army, became Christians and were removed to the island of Terracina, where they were martyred. Pope Gregory the Great delivered his 28th homily on the occasion of their feast. 

Pope Gregory the Great

 “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.” 

Pope Damasus


The Mary Month Of May

When my son was about four or five years old, he had in his imagination an entire galaxy complete with a language, laws, super heroes, and super villains.  Everyone in our family had a super power, but I was given the “most powerful” super gift of all.  My super power was love.  This little boy valued love, above any talent his imagination could conjure, and made it the unbeatable weapon.  

In this month of May, as Catholics, our attention is drawn to Our Lady.  Reflecting on my son’s creation, I couldn’t help but see the parallel to Mother Mary.  Our Creator made her sinless, but her love for Him kept her pure, and able to withstand the greatest evil ever.  The Theotokus (God Bearer) couldn’t be tempted away from the love she had for God’s will, and gave that Love, for God, to the world in her Fiat.  Jesus knew her super power, and the really cool thing is that he gave her to us.  He gave her to us, while His Love was conquering sin, as if to say, …you are clean and here is My mother, the Immaculate Conception… Help of Christians…Refuge of Sinners, who gave the greatest fiat throughout eternity…. and, now her super power is our grace.