A Week of Saints: November 18-24, 2019

Monday, November 18:  Dedication of the Basilicas of Sts. Peter and Paul

St Peter’s is located in the Vatican City State, surrounded by Rome, Italy.  It’ built on the tomb of St Pater. Constantine built the original structure that stood for more than a thousand years in 319.  It was losing its stability, so Pope Julius II reconstructed it, but it took 200 years for it’s completion. 

St Paul’s Outside the Walls the largest church in Rome, until St Peters was rebuilt.  It is built on the site that St Paul was beheaded.  Until the empire crumbled under “barbarian” invasions, the two churches, although miles apart, were linked by a roofed colonnade of marble columns.

Tuesday, November 19:  St. Agnes of Assisi, religious (1197-1253)

Agnes was St. Clare’s sister, and her first follower. When she left her family for the monastery, they tried o drag her out.  Her body became so heavy that several knights were unsuccessful at moving her.  When her uncle tried to hit her, he was temporarily paralyzed.  Agnes, like her sister was very devoted.  She was sent to be abbess to a group of Benedictine nuns, who wanted to be Poor Clares.  Agnes wanted to be with Clare and the other sisters, and after establishing the monasteries returned to San Damiano, when Clare was dying

“I come, O Lord, unto Thy sanctuary to see the life and food of my soul. As I hope in Thee,”

Wednesday, November 20:  St. Rose Philippine Duchesne, religious (1769-1852)

St Rose learned political skills from her father and love of the poor from her mother in Grenoble, France.  Her prevailing characteristic was her strong will. She entered the convent at 19, and during the French Revolution began taking care of the poor, sick, and children.  She risked her life helping Priests in the underground.  She came to America to be a missionary with several nuns. “In her first decade in America, Mother Duchesne suffered …poor lodging, shortages of food, drinking water, fuel and money, forest fires and blazing chimneys, the vagaries of the Missouri climate, cramped living quarters and the privation of all privacy, and the crude manners of children reared in rough surroundings.” (Louise Callan, R.S.C.J., Philippine Duchesne )

In poor health she got her lifelong wish, at 72, a mission, among the Potawatomi.

“You may dazzle the mind with a thousand brilliant discoveries of natural science; you may open new worlds of knowledge which were never dreamed of before; yet, if you have not developed in the soul of the pupil strong habits of virtue which will sustain her in the struggle of life, you have not educated her, but only put in her hand a powerful instrument of self-destruction”

Patron:  perseverance amid adversity,

Thursday, November 21:  The Presentation Of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Mary’s presentation was celebrated in Jerusalem in the sixth century. The Protoevangelium of James tells us that Anna and Joachim offered Mary to God in the Temple when she was three years old. Though it cannot be proven historically, Mary’s presentation emphasizes that the holiness conferred on Mary from the beginning of her life on earth continued through her early childhood and beyond.

Friday, November 22:  St Cecelia, Martyr (3rd century)

Although Cecilia is one of the most famous of the Roman martyrs, there is little known about her. In the late fourth century  a church was named after her, and her feast was celebrated at least in 545. Legend has it that Cecilia was a young high rank Christian betrothed to a Roman and because of her influence he was converted, and martyred. The legend about Cecilia’s death says that after being struck three times on the neck with a sword, she lived for three days, and asked the pope to convert her home into a church. Since the time of the Renaissance she has usually been portrayed with a viola or a small organ.

“Death and hell combine to distract man with a thousand useless cares, and to engage his thoughts with a multitude of imaginary wants.” 

Patron:  musicians, poets

Saturday, November 23: St Columban (543-615)

Columban was one of the greatest of the Irish missionaries. As a young man who was greatly tormented by temptations of the flesh.  After many years of seclusion and prayer, he traveled to Gaul with 12 companion missionaries. They won wide respect for their dedication to the faith and rigors of their lives. Columban established several monasteries. His writings include a treatise on penance and against Arianism, sermons, poetry, and his monastic rule. The Liturgical Feast of Saint Columban is November 23.

“Seek then the highest wisdom, not by arguments in words but by the perfection of your life, not by speech but by the faith that comes from simplicity of heart”

Patron:  motorcyclist 

Sunday November 24:  Feast of Christ The King of the Universe

Pope Pius XI in response to the growing secularism in the West stated how he hoped the feast would impact the laity.

“If to Christ our Lord is given all power in heaven and on earth; if all men, purchased by his precious blood, are by a new right subjected to his dominion; if this power embraces all men, it must be clear that not one of our faculties is exempt from his empire. He must reign in our minds, which should assent with perfect submission and firm belief to revealed truths and to the doctrines of Christ. He must reign in our wills, which should obey the laws and precepts of God. He must reign in our hearts, which should spurn natural desires and love God above all things, and cleave to him alone. He must reign in our bodies and in our members, which should serve as instruments for the interior sanctification of our souls, or to use the words of the Apostle Paul, as instruments of justice unto God.”

Darkness My Old Friend

I recently watched a movie about St Ignatius of Loyola, where he suffered from the memory of his sinful past.  He accused himself relentlessly over and over, while he heard lies of despair instead of Hope in his head.  He later identified the voice of despair as satan.

My confessor directed me to find were the lies were that satan was speaking to me in my life.  I found sins that I would revisit and feel bad about, or times where I could only see injustice, and not the Light.  Although placed there as temptations to despair, I could admit my cooperation with this way of thinking, and confess it.  

I know that my Father is Love, and satan wants to separate me from the Love of my God.  I think it fair to say that if there is something that makes me feel unloved by God, then the fault is mine.  So I was motivated to revisit these difficult memories and find God in them.  If its a forgiven sin, who am I to hold onto it.  If its an injustice done to me, then I need to look for how God was present to me through that experience.  I need to replace the negative feelings associated with these things, with the Truth. I have to stop listening to the mantra of evil.  I can’t linger in the darkness of satan’s suggestion.  I need to find these little seeds of demise, and quickly bring Light to the darkness.  I need to exercise vigilance.

The movie can be found on “Formed”, and is titled “Ignatius of Loyola”.

Week of Saints November 4-10, 2019

Monday, November 4:  St. Charles Borromeo, Cardinal (1538-1584)

Charles was born in Italy and a son of  Count Gilbert Borromeo and Margaret Medici, sister of Pope. he was made Bishop of Milan. He was intent to improve the morals and manners of the clergy and laity, established seminaries for the education of the clergy, founded a Confraternity of Christian Doctrine for the religious instruction of children. He founded a society of secular priests, Oblates of St. Ambrose (now Oblates of St. Charles). Although he achieved a position of great power, he used it with humility.

Be sure that you first preach by the way you live. If you do not, people will notice that you say one thing, but live otherwise, and your words will bring only cynical laughter and a derisive shake of the head.

Patron:  agains ulcers, appole orchards catechists, catechumens, colic; intestinal disorders;

Tuesday, November 5: Zachariah and Elizabeth Early Christian (time of Christ)

Elizabeth is a cousin to the Virgin Mary.  Zachariah, desiring a child, went to pray in the temple and was told by the angel Gabriel, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John… he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born.” (Luke 1:13-15).

Zachariah was skeptical because both himself and his wife were elderly. For his skepticism, Zachariah was rendered mute until the prophecy had been fulfilled.

Elizabeth became pregnant shortly thereafter and she rejoiced.

Gabriel then visited the Virgin Mary at Nazareth, telling her that she would conceive of the Holy Spirit and become the mother of Jesus.  Elizabeth was visited by Mary, at which time Mary spoke the hymn of praise now known at the Magnificat, and after John’s birth, Zachary’s speech was restored

Wednesday, November 6:  St. Joseph Khang (d-1861)

Martyr of Vietnam. The servant of St. Jerome Hermosilla, Joseph tried to deliver St. Jerome from prison. He was caught in the attempt, lashed, and beheaded.

Thursday, November 7:  St. Didacus, Religious Brother(1400-1463)

He lived for some time as a hermit. After Didacus became a Franciscan brother, he developed a reputation for great insight into God’s ways. He volunteered for the missions in the Canary Islands.  In 1450 he was sent to Rome to attend the canonization of St. Bernardine of Siena. Didacus stayed in Rome for three months to nurse the friars, who had become ill. After he returned to Spain, he pursued a life of contemplation full-time.

“O faithful wood, O precious nails! You have borne an exceedingly sweet burden, for you have been judged worthy to bear the Lord and King of heaven”

Patron

Friday, November 8: Four Crowned Martyrs Death: 305

Two separate groups who suffered for the faith, called Sancti Quatuor Coronati, “the Four Holy Crowned Ones. Castorius, Claudius, Nicostratus, and Symphorian were tortured and slain in Pannonia, having been carvers from Sirmium. They refused to carve a pagan statue and were martyred by Emperor Diocletian. A martyr named Simplicius died with them. The second group of Four Holy Crowned Ones died at Albano, Italy. They were Carpophorus, Secundius, Severian, and Victorinus. A basilica was erected in honor of these martyrs in Rome. 

Saturday, November 9:  Dedication of St. John Lateran

St. John Lateran is the pope’s church, the cathedral of the Diocese of Rome where the Bishop of Rome presides.

The first structure and its successors suffered fire, earthquake and the ravages of war, but the Lateran remained the church where popes were consecrated until 14th century.

Pope Innocent X commissioned the present structure in 1646. One of Rome’s most imposing churches, the Lateran’s towering facade is crowned with 15 colossal statues of Christ, John the Baptist, John the Evangelist and 12 doctors of the Church. Beneath its high altar rest the remains of the small wooden table on which tradition holds St. Peter himself celebrated Mass.

Sunday, November 10:  St. Leo the Great, Pope (d. 461)

St Leo was elected Pope in 440, he worked guiding his fellow bishops as “equals in the episcopacy and infirmities.”

Leo is known as one of the best administrative popes of the ancient Church. He worked to control heresies, and to secure true Christian beliefs. He led the defense of Rome against barbarian attack, taking the role of peacemaker.

He is known for his spiritually profound sermons.

“Christian, remember your dignity, and now that you share in God’s own nature, do not return by sin to your former base condition. Bear in mind who is your head and of whose body you are a member. Do not forget that you have been rescued from the power of darkness and brought into the light of God’s kingdom”

Mother Thomas

 It was with such joy in her heart that she greeted me. She had just come from Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, and her excitement as she told me, was like a child on Christmas morning. On the front of her habit is depicted the Eucharist in a Monstrance, the God of her devotion that is, and has been, central to her life for 60 years.  Her talents, love, and humility are so understated in her brown habit and black veil, as is her stature, now bent at her waist.  

When she was young, she studied art in Chicago, Mexico and Rome.  It was an Easter Vigil at the Vatican, that she received her vocation.  She received Communion, and she knew that her life would be devoted to Adoration.  She said, “thats all I have to say, on that.”  She had been establishing a promising career in art.  Painting was her passion, and she was ready to give it up. to adore Christ in the Eucharist.  When she entered the Poor Clares, she didn’t paint for 10 years. 

Today she had a drawing of “The Incarnation” that she had been working on.  It was filled with so many nuances of faith in the details.  Her passion was still there  and expressed beautifully in this drawing.  Then she took me into the next room, and laying on the floor was a painting named, “Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament and the Communion of Saints.”  It took up the entire floor of this one time chapel.  She had painted it on her hands and knees.

It is inspiring to me that in one moment, this beautiful daughter of God laid down her paint brushes for His will in her life. She  wasn’t confused by this tremendous talent given to her, when God called her to something else.  She trusted that He knew what He was about.  She pursued art to Rome, but found her life in Adoration.  After she was influenced by her life in prayer, God called her back to her paintbrushes, and now her gifts are used to glorify God!  She takes each idea to prayer, then creates with her heart.  I shared my love of St Veronica, with her.  She listened with such engaged intensity, and I could see Mother Thomas taking Veronica into her heart, as I spoke.  Her method of prayer and heart, became evident in that moment.

I hope that I can do as Mother Thomas.  To be so open to the Spirit of God that I can abandon what seems to be God’s gifts to me, for His will.

“At once they left their nets and followed him.”

Mt 4:20

A Week of Saints (September 23-29, 2019)

Monday, September 23: St. Padre Pio, Priest (1887-1968)

Francesco joined the Capuchins and took the name of Pio, when he was fifteen. He was drafted during World War I, but had tuberculosis, and then discharged. In 1918, he was praying after Mass, and had a vision of Jesus. When the vision ended, he had the stigmata in his hands, feet and side.

Padre Pio rarely left the friary after he received the stigmata, but busloads of people soon began coming to see him. His confessional ministry would take 10 hours a day; many said that Padre Pio knew details of their lives that they had never mentioned.  St John Paul II honored him for his prayer and charity.

“Have courage and do not fear the assaults of the Devil. Remember this forever; it is a healthy sign if the devil shouts and roars around your conscience, since this shows that he is not inside your will.”

Patron: stress relief, adolescents

Tuesday, September 24:  Blessed John Henry Newman Priest (1801–1890)

John Henry Newman, spent the first half of his life as an Anglican and the second half as a Roman Catholic. He was a priest, popular preacher, writer, and eminent theologian in both Churches. Catholic theology tended to ignore history, but instead was inclined to draw deductions from first principles. Newman taught that  lived experience of believers was recognized as a key part of theological reflection.  Newman eventually wrote 40 books and 21,000 letters that survive. After Newman died, a Newman Club for Catholic students began at the Universities.

“God has created me to do Him some definite service. He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have my mission. I may never know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next. I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons“

Wednesday, September 25:  St Cleophas (time of Christ)

One of two disciples who met Christ on the road to Emmaus. He was also identified as the father of Mary, one of whom stood with the Mother of God at the foot of the Cross. He has been identified as the father of St. James the Less and as brother of St. Joseph.

Thursday, September 26:  Ss. Cosmos & Damian, Martyrs (c287)

Sts. Cosmas and Damian were brothers, from Arabia, known for their knowledge of medicine.  Because of their faith, they never took money for their craft. Their reputation made them marked objects of persecution. They were apprehended, and beheaded.

Patron of Druggist

Friday, September 25:  St Vincent de Paul, Priest (1580-1660)

St. Vincent, known as The Apostle Of Charity, was born to a poor family in FranceFrance, about 1580. On  a sea voyage he was captured by African pirates and made a slave for two years, until he escaped. He returned to France, and began to preach missions.  His charity was extended, from children to old age. In spite of popularity, he remained deeply rooted in humility. 

“If the world takes something from us on the one hand, God will give us something on the other.”

patron:  charitable societies.

Saturday, September 28:  St. Wenceslaus, Martyr (907-935)

St. Wenceslaus was born near Prague, and was the son of a Duke. St. Ludmila, his grandmother taught him Christianity.  

After the death of his father and grandmother, at the hands of the Magyars, he was declared the new ruler.  He encouraged Christianity. His brother, invited Wenceslaus to a religious festival, trapped and killed him on the way to Mass.

Patron:  Bohemia, Prague

Sunday, September 29:  Ss. Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, Archangels

Saint Michael is the “Prince of the Heavenly Host,” the leader of all the angels. His name is Hebrew for “Who is like God?”  He cast down Lucifer and the evil spirits into Hell, and is invoked for protection against Satan. The four offices of Saint Michael are: to fight against Satan, to rescue the souls of the faithful from the power of the enemy,  to be the champion of God’s people, to call away from earth and bring men’s souls to judgment.

“Then war broke out in heaven; Michaeland his angels battled against the dragon. The dragon and its angels fought back, but they did not prevail.

Patron:  Guardian of the Catholic Church, Jewish People, police officers, military, grocers, mariners, paratroopers, firefighters, paramedics, sickness

Saint Gabriel, whose name means “God’s strength,” announced the birth of John the Baptist  and the at Incarnation of the Word to Mary.

He appeared to St. Joseph and to the shepherds, and also that it was he who “strengthened” Jesus during his agony in the garden of Gethsemane.

“Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus.He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High,* and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

Patron: grocers, soldiers, doctors, mariners, paratroopers, police, and sickness

Patron:  of messengers, telecommunication workers, postal workers

Saint Raphael, whose name means “God has healed” because of his healing of Tobias’ blindness in the Book of Tobit.  Tobit is the only book in which he is mentioned. His office is generally accepted by tradition to be that of healing and acts of mercy.

Raphael is also identified with the angel in John 5:1-4 who descended upon the pond and bestowed healing powers upon it so that the first to enter it after it moved would be healed of whatever infirmity he was suffering.

“I am the angel Raphael, one of the seven, who stand before the Lord”

Patron:  travelers, the blind, and bodily ills

A Week of Saints (September 16-22, 2019)

Monday, September 15th:  Sts. Cornelius, Priest, Pope and Cyprian, Priest, Bishop, Martyr (d. 253)

Because there was no pope for 14 months the Church was governed by a college of Priests.  Cornelius was elected pope “by the judgment of God and of Christ, by the testimony of most of the clergy, by the vote of the people, with the consent of aged priests and of good men.”

Cornelius’s two-year term as pope had to deal with the readmission of Christians during the time of persecution.  Novatian, a Priest was not in favor of this, and had appointed an antipope. This antipope not only denied the church to forgive these Christians, but also murder, adultery, and fornication.  Cornelius held a synod and ordered the “relapsed” to be restored to the Church with the usual “medicines of repentance.”

Cyprian (d. 258) . Cyprian was very educated and a famous orator.  He was generous to the poor and mad a vow of chastity before becoming a Priest.  A friend of Pope Cornelius, he followed him as pope and not the antipopes, although he was not completely on board with St Cornelius.  Cyprian was martyred standing firm in his faith.

Cornelius: “There is one God and one Christ and but one episcopal chair, originally founded on Peter, by the Lord’s authority. There cannot, therefore, be set up another altar or another priesthood. Whatever any man in his rage or rashness shall appoint, in defiance of the divine institution, must be a spurious, profane and sacrilegious ordinance”

Cyprian: “You cannot have God for your Father if you do not have the Church for your mother…. God is one and Christ is one, and his Church is one; one is the faith, and one is the people cemented together by harmony into the strong unity of a body…. If we are the heirs of Christ, let us abide in the peace of Christ; if we are the sons of God, let us be lovers of peace”

Tuesday, September 17:  St Robert Bellarmine, Priest (1542-1621)

He worked on church doctrine against the Protestant Reformers.  His most famous work is his three-volume Disputations on the Controversies of the Christian Faith. He incurred the anger of monarchists in England and France by showing the divine-right-of-kings theory untenable.  He used the hangings of his rooms to clothe poor people, remarking, “The walls won’t catch cold.”  Among many activities, he became theologian to Pope Clement VIII, 

“Love is a marvelous and heavenly thing. It never tires and never thinks that it has done enough“

Patron: canon lawyers, catechists

Wednesday, September 18:  St. Joseph of Cupertino, Priest (1603-1663)

Joseph is most famous for levitating at prayer.  Already as a child, he liked prayer. After a short time with the Capuchins, he joined the Conventuals. He cared for the friary mule, then Joseph began his studies for the priesthood. Though studies were very difficult for him, Joseph gained a great deal of knowledge from prayer.  He fasted and wore iron chains for much of his life.

Patron:  Air Travelers, Astronauts, Pilots

Thursday, September 19:  St. Januarius, Bishop, Martyr (c 305)

St. Januarius was born in Italy and was bishop of Benevento. He went to visit two deacons and two laymen in prison. He also was imprison. They were thrown to the wild beasts, but when the animals did not attack them, they were beheaded. What is believed to be Januarius’ blood is kept in Naples, as a relic. It liquifies and bubbles when exposed in the cathedral. Scientists have not been able to explain this miracle to date..

Patron:  blood banks, volcanic eruptions

Friday, September 20:  Ss. Andrew Kim Tae- gon and Paul Chong Ha-Sang and Companions, Martyrs (1821-1846)

This first native Korean priest was the son of Korean converts. After Baptism at the age of 15, Andrew traveled 1,300 miles to the seminary in Macao, China. After six years he managed to return to his country. That same year he crossed the Yellow Sea to Shanghai and was ordained a priest. Back home again, he was assigned to arrange for more missionaries to enter by a water route that would elude the border patrol. He was arrested, tortured and finally beheaded at the Han River near Seoul, the capital. Paul Chong Hasang was a lay apostle and married man, aged 45..

Saturday, September 21:  St. Matthew Apostle, Martyr (time of Christ)

Matthew was a Jew who collected Roman taxes. Tax collectors were generally hated as dishonest traitors by their fellow Jews. The Pharisees lumped them with “sinners”. So it was shocking to them to hear Jesus call such a man to be one of his intimate followers. Matthew got Jesus in further trouble by having a sort of going-away party at his house. The Gospel tells us that “many” tax collectors and “those known as sinners” came to the dinner. The Pharisees were still more badly shocked. Matthew is one of the twelve Apostles.

Sunday, September 22:  St Maurice, Martyr (3rd Century)

Maurice and his fellow legionnaires refused to sacrifice to the gods as ordered by the Emperor. The entire Legion of over six thousand men were put to death. To the end they were encouraged in their constancy by Maurice and two fellow officers, 

Patron: Vatican’s Swiss Guard, armies, weavers, cloth makers