was an Irish man who, while visiting the renowned Benedictine Abbey of
St. Gall in present-day Switzerland, delayed his departure – and stayed
his whole life.
Said to have been a large, powerful, handsome and
quick-witted Irishman, Tutilo was also genial in that he was a teacher,
an orator, a poet, an architect, a painter, a sculptor, an accomplished
illuminator, a musician, even a mathematician and astronomer. His
numerous talents and gifts led to his being much in demand and, by
permission of his abbot, he fulfilled many artistic commissions outside
the monastery. One of these was his sculpture of the Blessed Virgin Mary
for the Cathedral at Metz, considered to be a masterpiece.
was a member of the abbey at the zenith of its influence throughout all
of Europe. Many of the Gregorian chant manuscripts that survive to this
day, and some of the most authentic, are undoubtedly Tutilo’s own work.
all his many talents, the one Tutilo loved the most was music.
According to tradition, he could play and teach all of the instruments
in the monastery and had a fine musical voice.
Charles had a great admiration for the gifted monk and remarked that it
was a great pity for so much talent to be hidden away in a monastery.
But the saint himself shrank from publicity and when obliged to go to
the great cities he strove to avoid notice and compliments. All he
wanted was to use his gifts for the service of God. Though Tutilo was
the epitome of today's "Renaissance man", sanctity was his real crown.
of Egypt was born in present-day area of Asyut and was trained as a
carpenter. At the age twenty-five he submitted himself to the direction
of a hermit who spent several years training him in the virtues of
obedience and self-denial.
came to love obedience and obeyed unquestioningly no matter how
unreasonable the task thrust upon him. At the command of his spiritual
director, he once spent an entire year watering a dry stick, thrust into
the mud, as if it were a flowering plant.
As a reward for his
humility and prompt obedience the Lord granted John extraordinary gifts
such as the gift of prophecy, the power of reading thoughts, and
After spending four or five years visiting various
monasteries, John retired to the top of a steep hill in which he opened
three small cells: one for a bedroom, one for a workroom and living
room, and another for an oratory. He then walled himself in leaving a
small window through which he received necessaries and spoke to
During five days of the week he conversed with God, but
on Saturdays and Sundays he received visitors, men only – no women –
who wished to consult him on spiritual and temporal matters. He
predicted future military victories to Emperor Theodosius the Great.
Though he founded no religious community he is considered as a father of ascetics.
before his death he was visited by Palladius to whom he prophesied that
he would become a bishop. Palladius left an interesting account of
The holy recluse died at the age of ninety. Three
days before his death he shut the small window to his cell, and demanded
to be left alone. He was found dead in a position of prayer.
There is no danger if our prayer is without words or reflection because the good success of prayer depends neither on words nor on study. It depends upon the simple raising of our minds to God, and the more simple and stripped of feeling it is, the surer it is.
was a brilliant scholar and a pupil of St. Isidore, who founded a
university in Seville, Spain. He eventually became a mentor to his
mentor, and went on to advise not only ecclesiasts but kings.
the death of his brother, Bishop John of Zaragoza, Braulio was nominated
as his successor, a dignity he accepted. As bishop, he labored with
zeal for his people, and also to extirpate the last vestiges of
Arianism, still festering among them despite the conversion of King
He took part in the Council of Toledo, and was charged
by the same council to write a response to Pope Honorius I who had
accused the Spanish bishops of pastoral negligence. His defense was both
dignified and convincing.
The good bishop spent many a night in
prayer in the Church of Our Lady of the Pilar, which houses a miraculous
statue delivered to St. James, the first apostle of Spain, by Our Lady
He abhorred luxuries of all kinds, wore a hair shirt
beneath the vestments of his office, and led a simple, austere life. An
ardent preacher and a keen apologist, Braulio's deep sincerity was as
convincing as his clear arguments. His generosity to the poor was only
matched by the care he took of his flock.
Towards the end of his
life he was afflicted by the loss of his sight, a heavy cross for anyone
but especially burdensome to a scholar. As death approached, he gave up
his spirit to his Lord while reciting the Psalms.
Shortly before the outbreak of World War II, Saint Maximilian Kolbe wrote a letter to his followers.
The purpose of this letter was to exhort his disciples to prepare
themselves for the approaching feast of the Immaculate Conception,
But it also showed them how to receive forgiveness for sin in the
coming war, where priests were scarce and it was hard to receive
"Whoever can, should receive the Sacrament of Penance. Whoever
cannot, because of prohibiting circumstances, should cleanse his soul by
acts of perfect contrition: i.e., the sorrow of a loving child who does
not consider so much the pain or reward as he does the pardon from his
father and mother to whom he has brought displeasure."
This is a magnificent formula and lesson on how to make an act of perfect contrition. As most people know, there are two types of contrition:
- perfect: out of love of God;
- imperfect: out of fear of Hell.
Catholic teaching distinguishes a twofold hatred of sin; one, perfect
contrition, rises from the love of God Who has been grievously
offended; the other, imperfect contrition, arises principally from some
other motives, such as loss of heaven, fear of hell, the heinousness of
sin, etc. (Council of Trent, Sess. XIV, ch. iv de Contritione). (The
Catholic Encyclopedia, "Contrition")
When we go to confession, imperfect contrition is sufficient to receive the pardon of our sins.
However, in extraordinary circumstances where [when] we cannot get to
confession, we can make an act of perfect contrition, which is
sufficient to have our sins forgiven.
Important: The act of perfect contrition includes the desire
for the sacrament of Penance (or Reconciliation) and the intention to
receive sacramental confession at the very first opportunity.
NOTE: One who is conscious of mortal sin may not receive the Holy Eucharist without prior sacramental confession.
The fact that we can always make an act of perfect contrition, in any
circumstance, and at any time, is very consoling and very important to
Especially when we think of our troops who are in harm's way. They
may not have a chaplain in their battalion before entering battle. In
that case, they should always say an act of perfect contrition.
Actually, not only in extraordinary circumstances should we make acts
of perfect contrition. At any time, if we have the misfortune of
committing a mortal sin, we should seek to reconcile ourselves with God
as soon as possible by an act of perfect contrition, before going to
Furthermore, even not being guilty of serious sin, we should make
frequent acts of perfect contrition to ask forgiveness for the serious
sins of the past, and for the venial sins of the present.
In doing so, we show our love for God. And we prove our aversion to
sin, which offends Him. In doing so, we surely receive more abundant
graces to sin no more. A highly recommended practice is to include an
act of contrition in our "before bed" prayers.
Act of Contrition
O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest
all my sins, because I dread the loss of heaven, and the pains of hell;
but most of all because they offend Thee, my God, Who are all good and
deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace,
to confess my sins, to do penance, and to amend my life.