Wednesday, January 16, 2019

The first step to loving Jesus

If you really want to love Jesus, first
learn to suffer, because
suffering teaches you to love.

St. Gemma Galgani

St. Honoratus of Arles

Honoratus was born into a patrician Roman family that had settled in Gaul, present-day France. As a young man, he renounced paganism and won his elder brother Venantius over to Christ.

Although their father objected and placed obstacles before them, the two brothers decided to leave the world. Under the tutelage of the hermit St. Caprasius they sailed from Marseilles with the intention of leading a secluded life in a Grecian desert.

In Greece, illness struck and Venantius died in peace. Also ill, Honoratus was obliged to return to Gaul with his instructor. At first, he lived as a hermit in the mountains near Fréjus.  Later, he settled on the island of Lérins off the southern coast of France. Followed by others, he founded a monastery on the island about the year 400. The monastic community is active to this day. St. Patrick, the great apostle of Ireland is said to have studied at Lérins.

In 426 Honoratus was pressed upon to accept the bishopric of Arles, where he reestablished Catholic orthodoxy, challenged by the Arian heresy. He died three years later exhausted from his apostolic labors.
The island of Lérins, today the island of Saint Honorat just south of Cannes, is home to Cistercian monks who live in a majestic monastery and produce fine wines and liqueurs which are well-known throughout the world.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Why God sends us trials and afflictions

God sends us trials and afflictions
to exercise us in patience and
teach us sympathy with the sorrows of others.

St. Vincent de Paul

St. Ita of Killeedy

Among the women saints of Ireland, St. Ita holds the most prominent place after St. Brigid. She is sometimes called Deirdre.

Though her life is overlaid with a multitude of legendary and mythical folklore, there is no reason to doubt her historical existence.

She is said to have been of royal descent and that she had been born near Waterford in the southeastern Irish province of Munster.

There was a royal suitor but through prayer and fasting she was able to convince her father to let her live a consecrated life of virginity. She migrated to Hy Conaill, in the western part of County Limerick where, at Killeedy, she founded a community of maidens.

It appears that St. Ida also led a school for small boys, and that St. Brendan was her student there for five years.

St. Ida died, probably in the year 570.
Photo by: Andreas F. Borchert

Monday, January 14, 2019

People will notice

Be sure that you first preach
by the way you live.
If you do not, people will notice that … 

St. Charles Borromeo

St. Sava of the Serbs

Sava, born in 1174, was the youngest of the three sons of Stephen I, founder of the Nemanyde dynasty, of the independent Serbian State. At the age of seventeen he became a monk on Mount Athos, on the Greek peninsula. Abdicating the throne in 1196, his father joined him and together they established the thriving monastery of Khilandari.

Sava returned to Serbia in 1207 to help settle an inheritance dispute between his two brothers.

As his brother Stephen took the throne, Sava set to work to revamp the faith in his country which was lax and mixed up with paganism.

With the help of missionary monks from Khilandari, he established several important monasteries in Serbia. He also convinced the Eastern Emperor Theodore II, a relative, to establish Serbia’s own bishopric in order that its clergy might be better managed. The emperor established the prince-monk Sava as Serbia’s first Metropolitan of the new hierarchy.

Under Sava, his brother, Stephen II was duly recognized by the Holy See and though already crowned by a papal legate in 1217, was again crowned by his brother as Archbishop in 1222 with a crown sent by Pope Honorius III.

Thus, the retiring young prince, who left home to become a monk, succeeded before the age of fifty in consolidating, both civilly and religiously, the country founded by his father.

St. Sava died with a smile on his face on January 14, 1237 and is the patron saint of Serbia.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

No matter how sinful

No matter how sinful one may have been,
if he has devotion to Mary,
it is impossible that he be lost.

St. Hilary of Poitiers

St. Hilary of Poitiers

Hilary was born into an illustrious family in Poitiers, Gaul, in present-day France. Although he was brought up in idolatry, its tenets and beliefs did not satisfy his spiritual thirst. Chancing upon a copy of the Sacred Scriptures one day, after years of searching and studying, Hilary opened the Book of Exodus to God's words to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM"
"I was frankly amazed at such a clear definition of God, which expressed the incomprehensible knowledge of the divine nature in words most suited to human intelligence," he wrote later.

The pursuit of meaning for his own existence, which had consumed all his thoughts up until then, had found its answer and he converted to Christianity. By this time he was married and had a daughter named Apra.

His eminent qualities attracted not only the attention of Gaul but of the Church, and in 350, against his humble protests, he was chosen, by clergy and laity alike, and consecrated Bishop of Poitiers.

He went on to wisely and valiantly combat the Arian heresy. The Arians did not believe in the divinity of Christ and they exerted much power and enjoyed the support of the emperor. This led to many persecutions. When Hilary refused to support the Arians in their condemnation of St. Athanasius in 356, he was himself exiled by Emperor Constantius. However, he continued his courageous fight from exile. "Although in exile we shall speak through these books, and the word of God, which cannot be bound, shall move about in freedom," he challenged them. Doctrinal works flowed from his pen during this period, the most renowned and esteemed of these being On the Holy Trinity. The earliest writing of Latin hymns is also attributed to him.

Returning to Gaul from exile, Hilary strengthened the weak in the Faith and convoked a synod to condemn that of Rimini in 359. He fought Arianism to his very death in 368.

St. Hilary was proclaimed Doctor of the Church by Blessed Pius IX in 1851.
Photo by: Wolfgang Sauber

Saturday, January 12, 2019

How to fight spiritual desolation

Though in desolation
we must never change our former resolutions,
it will be very advantageous to intensify
our activity against the desolation.
We can insist more
upon prayer, upon meditation, and on much examination of ourselves.
We can make an effort in a suitable way to do some penance.

St. Ignatius of Loyola

St. Marguerite Bourgeoys

Marguerite Bourgeoys was born the sixth child of twelve children in Troyes, France in 1620. At the age of twenty, touched by a special grace from Our Lady, and feeling called to the religious life, she applied to the Carmelites and the Poor Clares but was unsuccessful in both ventures.  A priest friend suggested that perhaps God had other plans for her.

When Marguerite was thirty-four, she was invited by the visiting governor of the French settlement in Canada to start a school at Ville-Marie, today Montreal. She generously accepted and traveled to the French colony then numbering two hundred people. Ville-Marie also had a hospital and a Jesuit mission chapel.

Marguerite started a school, but soon realized her need for help. Returning to Troyes, she recruited a friend, Catherine Crolo, and two other young women. In 1667 they added classes in their school for Indian children.  Six years later, on a second trip to France, Marguerite was joined by six other young women, and had her school approved by King Louis XIV.

The congregation of Notre Dame de Montreal was established in 1676 but their rule and constitutions were only approved in 1698, as orders of non-cloistered religious sisters were then a novelty.

Marguerite and her sisters worked untiringly for the establishment and growth of the French settlement, and when she died in 1700 she was known as “Mother of the Colony”. Marguerite Bourgeoys was canonized in 1982.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Even if it scandalizes them...

We must not stop doing good
even if it scandalizes the Pharisees.

St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina

St. Theodosius the Cenobiarch

Theodosius was born in Garissus, Cappadocia in 423. He took to the road as a pilgrim, and, in his travels visited the famous St. Simeon the Stylite on his pillar.

Eventually, he retired as a hermit to a cave on a mountain near Bethlehem, but his sanctity and miracles attracted many who wished to serve God under his direction. A spacious monastery was built on a place called Cathismus, which became a haven of saints in the desert.

Persecuted by Emperor Anastasius who favored the Eutychian heresy, Theodosius traveled extensively through Palestine exhorting the faithful to remain strong in the faith of the four general councils. The Emperor ordered the saint’s banishment, which was executed, but Theodosius died soon after in 529 at the advanced age of one hundred and five.

His funeral was honored by miracles, and he was buried in his first cell, called the Cave of the Magi, because the wise men who visited the Infant Christ were said to have lodged in it.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

When the devil wishes to make himself master

When the devil
wishes to make himself master of a soul, he
seeks to make it give up devotion to Mary.

St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori

St. Peter Orseolo

St. Peter Orseolo’s is an unusual life. He was born in 928 of a prominent Venetian family. At twenty he was appointed to the command of the city’s fleet and defeated the Dalmatian pirates who infested the Adriatic Sea.

In 976 there was a revolution in Venice that ended with the violent death of Doge Peter Candiani IV and the partial burning of the city. Although there are allegations that Orseolo was involved in the popular outbreak, the testimonies are inconclusive.

Peter Orseolo was elected doge in place of Candiani and, reputedly, ruled with energy and tact. Still, one night in 978, he secretly left Venice and sought admittance to the Benedictine Abbey of Cuxa, in Rousillon, on the border of France and Spain. Though married for thirty-two years and having an only son who was destined to become one of the greatest Venetian doges, there is early evidence that Peter and his wife had lived as brother and sister since their son’s birth.  As early as 968 there is also evidence that he wished to become a monk.

At Cuxa, Peter Orseolo led a life of the strictest asceticism, and then wishing for an even greater solitude, built a hermitage for himself. He died in 987 and many miracles were said to have taken place at his tomb.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Their last chance?

The deeds you do may be
the only sermon some persons will hear today.

St. Francis of Assisi

St. Adrian of Canterbury

St. Adrian was North African Berber by birth.  Known for his virtue and learning, while Abbot of Nerida, near Naples, he was twice invited by Pope St. Vitalian to travel to England as the new Archbishop of Canterbury. In his humility, he first proposed a fellow monk for the position. When it was again offered to him, he recommended Theodore of Tarsus in his stead, finally accepting the Pope's condition that he accompany Theodore as his assistant and adviser.

St. Theodore made St. Adrian Abbot of the Monastery of Sts. Peter and Paul, later known as the Abbey of St. Augustine at Canterbury. Under his influence, the monastic school became a center of learning and virtue with far-reaching influence. Greek, Latin, Roman law and the ecclesiastical sciences were taught there.

After being a true beacon of sanctity and knowledge to England for thirty-nine years, St. Adrian died on January 9, 710.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

The Sheer Power of Mary's Name

At the name of Mary, the angels rejoice and the demons scramble.
Thomas a Kempis, author of the famous Imitation of Christ, affirms that:
“The devils fear the queen of heaven so much that by just hearing her name pronounced they fly from the person who utters it like from a burning fire”.
St. Ambrose compares her name to a sweet ointment, because whenever pronounced, it is a healing balm to our sinful souls.
“The name of Mary heals sinners, rejoices hearts and inflames them with God’s love”, says St. Alphonsus Liguori in his Glories of Mary.
Our Blessed Lady revealed to St. Bridget that there is not on earth a sinner, no matter how far he may be from God’s love who, on invoking her name with the resolution to repent, does not cause the devil to flee from him or her. No matter how imprisoned a sinner may be in the devil’s grip, as soon as the latter hears this sinner pronounce the sweet name of Mary, he is obliged to release him or her.
Our Lady also revealed to St. Bridget that in the same way as the devils fly from a person invoking her name, so do the angels approach pious souls that pronounce her name with devotion.
So, fellow sinners, this Lent let us invoke this “air-clearing” sweet and powerful name of Mary often! We and our loved ones will be the better, the freer and the happier for it!
Taken from The Glories of Mary by Saint Alphonsus Liguori

Why was Our Lord baptized?

Our Lord was baptized
not that He might be cleansed by the waters, but to cleanse them: 
that, being purified by the flesh of Christ, Who knew no sin,
they might possess the power of Baptism.

St. Ambrose of Milan

St. Thorfinn of Hamar

Some saints only come to light after their death. St. Thorfinn is one of these.

A Norwegian bishop, he lived the last years of his life at the Cistercian Monastery of Ter Doerst in Flanders, Belgium.

In this Flemish monastery the foreign bishop remained hidden and unknown until some fifty years after his death. It was in the course of some building operations within the monastery that his tomb was opened and his remains were found to exude a strong and sweet perfume.

Ruins of the Cathedral of Hamar, Norway
On inquiry, a monk by the name of Walter, remembered the exiled bishop as a person who had a quiet, kind, yet strong presence. He was then asked to write his recollections of him.

Still, little is known of St. Thorfinn except that he was Bishop of Hamar in Norway and had been outlawed, along with two other bishops, by King Eric of Norway over a dispute regarding rights granted to the clergy by the previous king.

After numerous hardships, including shipwreck, the holy bishop had made his way to the Abbey of Ter Doerst in Belgium.  St. Thorfinn died on Janurary 8, 1285.

Monday, January 7, 2019

What did the Magi seek?

If the Magi had come in search of an earthly King, they would have been disconcerted
at finding that they had taken the trouble to come such a long way for nothing. 
Consequently they would have neither adored nor offered gifts. 
But since they sought a heavenly King,  
though they found in Him so signs of royal pre-eminence, yet,
content with the testimony of the star alone, they adored:
for they saw a man, and they acknowledged a God.

St. John Chrysostom

St. Raymond of Peñafort

Raymond of Peñafort was born in 1175 in Spain and was a relative of the king of Aragon.

By the age of twenty he was already a teacher of philosophy, and in his early thirties earned a doctorate in both Canon and Civil Law. At forty-one he joined the Dominican Order and was later called to Rome to be confessor to Pope Gregory IX.

At the Pontiff’s instance Raymond compiled all the laws and decrees of the popes and the Church Councils. For this work he is known as the patron of canon lawyers.

At the age of sixty, he was appointed Archbishop of Tarragona, but resigned within two years after becoming ill. He was thunderstruck when he was elected the third Superior General of the Dominicans. As such, he visited all the Dominicans on foot and reorganized their constitutions.

With King James of Aragon and St. Peter Nolasco he founded the Order of Our Lady of Ransom dedicated to rescuing Christian prisoners from their Muslim captors.

St. Raymond is often pictured sailing over water using his cloak as a sail. When accompanying King James to the island of Majorca, the latter, despite his qualities, was giving scandal. At the saint’s rebuke, the king promised to send the woman away but did not follow through on his word. On hearing of the saint’s threat to leave the island, the king forbade every captain in Majorca to grant him passage.
Laying his cloak upon the waves and holding one end of it over a staff, the saint prayed, made the sign of the cross, stepped onto his cloak and sailed for six hours back to the Spanish mainland – which fact converted the king.

St. Raymond was known as a great devotee of Our Lady, an ascetic, contemplative, lawyer, preacher, opposer of heresies and apostle to Muslims.

He died in 1275 at the age of one hundred.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

No jealousy

We ought to be pleased to hear
that others are advancing in the service of God, especially
if they are our relations or friends; and
we ought to rejoice that
they share in whatever spiritual good we may have ourselves.

St. Philip Neri

We Three Kings



by Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira

January 6th, we celebrate the arrival of the Three Kings to adore the Infant King and to offer Him their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
Through the centuries,  others will also come to venerate Thy crib: from India,  Ancient Nubia,  Macedonia,  Rome,  Carthage, and Spain;  Gauls,  Franks,  Germans, Angles,  Saxons,  and Normans.
Both pilgrims and crusaders will come from the West to kiss the ground of the cave where Thou were born. Your manger will be venerated all over  the earth.  In the great Gothic or Romanesque cathedrals,  multitudes will gather around Thee,  offering Thee presents of gold,  silver,  incense,  and above all the piety and sincerity of their hearts.
Then will come the period of the Western discoveries in which the benefits of Thy Redemption will reach new lands.
Incas, Aztecs, natives of various tribes, blacks from African shores or further inland, bronze-skinned Indians, slender and pensive Chinese, short and agile Nipponese,  all will gather around Thy crib and adore Thee.
The star of Bethlehem now shines over the whole world.  The angelic promise has been heard by all peoples, and all across the earth hearts of goodwill have found the inestimable treasure of Thy peace. 
Overcoming all obstacles,  the gospel has finally spread to people all over the world. 
In the midst of contemporary desolation, this great gathering of people from all nations and races around Thee is our only consolation,  indeed our only hope. We are among them,  kneeling before Thee.  See us,  Lord,  and have pity on us.  There is something we would like to say.
Who are we?  We are those who will not kneel before the modern Baal. We carry Thy law engraved upon the bronze of our hearts and we do not allow the errors of our times to become engraved upon this bronze sanctified by Thy Redemption.

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We love the immaculate purity of orthodoxy above all else and reject any pact whatsoever with heresy, its wiles and infiltrations. We are merciful to the repentant sinner, and since - due to our unworthiness and infidelity - we count ourselves among that number, we implore Thy mercy.  We spare no criticism, either, of insolent and conceited impiety or of strutting vice that scorns virtue.
We pity all men,  particularly the blessed who suffer persecution for love of the Church,  who are oppressed everywhere because they hunger and thirst for virtue, who are abandoned,  ridiculed,  betrayed,  and disdained because they remain faithful to Thy commandments.
Many are those whose suffering is not celebrated in contemporary literature: the Christian mother who will pray alone before Thy crib because her children no longer practice the Faith;  the strong yet austere husband who is misunderstood or even loathed by his own due to his fidelity to Thy teachings;  the faithful wife who bears the solitude of both heart and soul because frivolous habits have led to adultery he who should be her support, her "other half";  the pious son or daughter who - while Christian homes are celebrating - sense how in their own home,  family life has been stifled by egotism,  hedonism,  and secularism;  the student who is shunned and mocked by his colleagues because of his fidelity to Thee;  the professor who is eschewed by fellow staff because he will not condone their errors;  the parish priest or bishop around whom a menacing wall of misunderstanding or indifference has been raised because he refuses to compromise the integrity of the doctrine entrusted to his care;  the honest man made penniless for refusing to swindle.
All of these isolated people,  scattered across the globe, ignorant of each other,  now gather around Thee with the Three Kings to offer Thee a gift and a prayer.
Their gift exceeds the sun and the stars,  the oceans with all its riches,  and the earth in all its splendour: they give themselves entirely and faithfully.
By preferring complete orthodoxy over approval, purity over popularity among the impure, honesty over gold;  by remaining faithful to Thy law even when this entails sacrificing career and fame,  they attain perfection in their spiritual life by practicing love of God above all things,  which is a sincere and lasting love.
Such love differs greatly from love as it is understood nowadays,  which predominantly consists of gushy and illogical feelings, senseless and blurry affections, obscure self-condescension and trite justifications to appease one's conscience.  Instead theirs is true love,  enlightened by Faith,  justified by reason,  serious,  chaste, upright and persevering - in a word,  theirs is love of God.
They also offer a prayer. Before all else - because they love it above all else in this world - for Thy holy and immaculate Church:  for both the pastors and the flock; foremost,  for the pastor of the pastors of the flock,  that is for Peter,  whom today we call Benedict.
May the Church,  which now moans as a captive in the dungeons of this anti-Christian "civilization",  finally triumph over this era of sin and implant a new civilization for Thy greater glory.
May the saints become ever holier,  may the good be sanctified,  may sinners become good,  and may the impious convert.  May the impenitent who have rejected grace and are jeopardising souls be dispersed,  humbled,  and their efforts frustrated.  May the souls in purgatory rise to heaven straight away.
They also pray for themselves:  may their orthodoxy be ever purer,  their purity ever more rigorous.
May they be more faithful amidst adversity,  stand ever taller amidst humiliations,  be more energetic in their struggles.
May they be more terrible to the impious,  yet more compassionate towards those who are ashamed of their sins,  seriously strive to overcome them and publicly acclaim virtue.
Finally,  they pray for Thy Grace,  without which no will can durably persevere in good,  and no soul can be saved;  may it be more abundant in proportion to the number of their miseries and infidelities.


 Originally published in O Legionário, Nº 750 - 12-22-46,  slightly adapted,  by Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira


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St. André Bessette

André Bessette was born in 1845 in the province of Quebec, Canada, the eighth of ten children. An orphan at twelve, he was taken in by an aunt and uncle. Set to various trades, he was unable to hold a job for very long because of his frail health. For thirteen years he worked at various occupations: shoemaker, baker, blacksmith, and once at a factory in the United States during the Civil War.

From an early age he exhibited signs of a deep spirituality with a marked devotion to Saint Joseph, the foster father of Jesus.

Though he had little education, at twenty-five he applied to the Congregation of the Holy Cross, an order of educators. After a year’s novitiate his frail health again came between him and permanent admittance, but at Bishop Bourget’s urging, he was received and assigned the humble post of porter at Notre Dame College, Montreal. Later, he would say, “When I joined this community, the superiors showed me the door, and I remained forty years.”

In his small room near the entrance he spent much of the nights on his knees. As he kindly received people, listened to their life’s woes and heard of their physical complaints, he began to lightly rub sick persons with oil from a lamp burning in the college chapel before a statue of St. Joseph. Word of healings began to spread. “I do not heal,” he said simply, “St. Joseph heals”. A gentle man, he became enraged when people ascribed healings to him.

As the influx of pilgrims to Brother André’s door grew, he was allowed to build a chapel on Mount Royal with money he raised. There he continued his ministry. His reputation grew and soon he was known as the “Miracle Worker of Mount Royal”.

In 1924 construction for St. Joseph’s Oratory began on the side of the mountain near Brother André’s chapel. This shrine, the largest church outside of Rome was funded by Brother André’s supporters around the world.

Brother André died in 1937 at the age of ninety-one. He was beatified in 1982 and canonized in 2010. Pope Benedict XVI said of St. André that he “lived the beatitude of the pure of heart.”

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Real love?

Christian love bears evil, but it does not tolerate it.
It does penance for the sins of others, but
it is not broadminded about sin.
Real love involves real hatred:
whoever has lost the power of moral indignation and
the urge to drive the sellers from the temples
has also lost a living, fervent love of Truth.

Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

St. John Neumann

John Nepomucene Neumann was born on March 28, 1811 in Prachatitz, in the Kingdom of Bohemia, then part of the Austrian Empire, now in the Czech Republic. He received the sacrament of Baptism the same day.

He entered the seminary in 1831 and was ready to be ordained in 1835 when the bishop temporarily suspended ordinations due to an excess of priests in the country. As a seminarian, John had been deeply inspired by the accounts of the missionaries among the German immigrants in North America, particularly by those of Father Barraga, who later became the first Bishop of Marquette. At the invitation of Bishop John DuBois of the diocese of New York, young Neumann sailed to the New World where he was ordained in what is now the old St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City.

Until the age of twenty-nine, the young priest dedicated himself to missionary work in New York. At this time, with the permission of Bishop DuBois, he joined the Redemptorist Order becoming its first member to profess religious vows in America.

In 1852 Fr. John Neumann was consecrated the fourth Bishop of Philadelphia. His ease with languages, of which he would come to know as many as eight, endeared him to the many immigrants arriving in the city. He not only tended to immigrants in his native German, but speaking fluent Italian as well, he personally ministered to Italian newcomers in his private chapel, and went on to establish the first ethnic church for Italians in the country. For the Irish, he studied enough Gaelic to be able to hear the confessions of those who spoke no English, an act of charity which the Irish government officially recognized by a posthumous award.

Gifted with great organizing ability, he drew into the city many teaching communities. He was the first bishop in the country to organize a diocesan school system, and during his tenure increased the schools in his diocese from one to one hundred. His apostolic endeavors encompassed every facet of spiritual need: schools, catechesis, and apologetics, in short, all that involved the spiritual guidance of souls, their sacramental nourishment and their zealous defense against error. He instituted the first Forty Hours devotion throughout his vast diocese, from whence it was taken up by others, spreading beyond the confines of the American continent. Intensely devoted to the Virgin Mother of God, the “little bishop”, as he was sometimes affectionately referred to, was called upon for a singular privilege in her honor. On December 8, 1854 when Pope Pius IX read the declaration defining the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, John Neumann held the book from which the pope read. Thus, his 5' 2" frame became the podium upon which rested the illustrious document describing the future patroness of the United States: the Immaculate Conception.

His efforts to expand Catholicism in America were not without opposition. On at least two occasions he wrote to Rome asking to be relieved of his bishopric but Blessed Pius IX insisted that he continue. And, like the Divine Master he so faithfully served, he persevered “until all [his] strength was exhausted, until the insupportable weight of the wood [of the cross] hurled [him] to the ground”. While running errands on January 5, 1860, Bishop John Neumann collapsed and died in the streets of Philadelphia from a stroke. He was forty-eight.

He was beatified by Pope Paul VI on October 13, 1963 and canonized by the same pope on June 19, 1977. His remains rest in the church of St. Peter the Apostle in Philadelphia where they are venerated by countless devotees.

1st Friday and 1st Saturday Devotions


 
NINE FIRST FRIDAYS DEVOTION

When Our Lord appeared to Saint Margaret Mary in 1673, He promised to grant the following favors to all those who practiced devotion to His Sacred Heart:

12 Promises of the Sacred Heart to St. Margaret Mary:
1)  I will give them all the graces necessary for their state of life.
2)  I will give peace in their families.
3)  I will console them in all their troubles.
4)  I will be their refuge in life and especially in death.
5)  I will abundantly bless all their undertakings.
6)  Sinners shall find in my Heart the source and infinite ocean of mercy.
7)  Tepid souls shall become fervent.
8)  Fervent souls shall rise speedily to great perfection.
9)  I will bless those places wherein the image of my Sacred Heart shall be exposed and venerated.
10) I will give to priests the power to touch the most hardened hearts.
11) Persons who propagate this devotion shall have their names eternally written in my Heart.
12) In the excess of the mercy of my heart, I promise you that my all powerful love will grant to all those who will receive Communion on the First Fridays, for nine consecutive months, the grace of final repentance: they will not die in my displeasure, nor without receiving the sacraments; and my Heart will be their secure refuge in that last hour.

A veritable treasure chest of spiritual gems! And what does He ask of us in return?

How to complete the Nine First Fridays Devotion:
On the first Friday of nine consecutive months:
1. Receive Holy Communion on each of the First Fridays;
2. The nine first Fridays must be consecutive;
3. They must be made in honor of and in reparation to His Sacred Heart.



 FIVE FIRST SATURDAYS DEVOTION

In December of 1925, Our Lady appeared to Sister Lucia, giving her the following guaranty of salvation for those who complete the First Five Saturdays Devotion:
“I promise to assist them at the hour of death with all the graces necessary for the salvation of their souls."

Why Five Saturdays?
The five first Saturdays correspond to the five kinds of offenses and blasphemies committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary:
1) Blasphemies against the Immaculate Conception.
2) Blasphemies against her virginity.
3) Blasphemies against her divine maternity, at the same time the refusal to accept her as the Mother of all men.
4) Instilling indifference, scorn and even hatred towards this Immaculate Mother in the hearts of children.
5) Direct insults against Her sacred images.

How to complete the Five First Saturdays Devotion:
On the first Saturday of five consecutive months:
1. Go to confession;
2. Receive Holy Communion;
3. Say five decades of the Rosary;
4. Keep Our Lady company for 15 minutes, meditating on the mysteries of the Rosary;
5. Have the intention of making reparation to Our Lady for the offenses listed above.


Friday, January 4, 2019

The Marvelous Story of Our Lady of the Pillar

Venerable Maria of Agreda who was shown the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary in detail, writes in her Mystical City of God that St. James, brother of St. John, whom Our Lord called “Sons of Thunder”, had a special devotion to the Blessed Mother.
Becoming the apostle of what today is Spain, Saint James was having a hard time evangelizing the northern region of Zaragoza. One night, as he prayed asking help for his plight, he suddenly beheld a great light in the midst of which he saw Our Lady surrounded by a multitude of angels.
The interesting thing is that Mary was still living in Jerusalem at the time. But as queen of the Church, she was given to see all that concerned her Son’s work, and being shown the prayer of her devotee, had obtained from Jesus to help him in a special way.
On learning of their lady’s wishes, the angels in her retinue promptly built a throne of luminous clouds on which they sat their queen, and swiftly carried her across the Mediterranean, serenading her all the way.
Our Lady of the PillarSo now, the Blessed Mother consoled her son James, and assured him help for his endeavors. She asked him to build a shrine on the spot she appeared, and as a token of her help to the region, left a marble column or pillar topped by a small statue of herself holding her Infant Son.
By the pillar, she left an angel to ensure the safety of the holy image until the end of time.  According to ancient Spanish tradition, this apparition occurred on January 2nd, 40AD.  Her Feast day is celebrated on October 12th.
St. James indeed built the first shrine on that hallowed spot, around which grew the present-day Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar of Zaragoza.
Not long after, St. James was recalled to Jerusalem where he was the first apostle to suffer martyrdom. As he prepared to endure death by beheading, Our Lady and her angels again were visibly present to him fortifying and consoling him.
Returned to Spain, St. James’ body rests in Compostela, a place of famous pilgrimages.
This author was able to visit the Basilica of Our Lady of Zaragossa and touch the heavenly pillar. One of the marvels concerning this pillar is that it plunges into the earth, so that none have ever been able to find its end. I was also told that the statue never gathers dust.
As to the angel that was left on guard at the spot, he must be still on watch. As one peruses the architectural marvels of the football-field-sized building, head tilting ever upwards, eyes come to a dead halt at what looks like…bombs…hanging from the ceiling?
On alarmed inquiry, one is told that, O yes, these hit the basilica during Spain’s civil war but never detonated…
But no worries, they are defused now.
By Andrea F. Phillips

The accidents of life

The accidents of life separate us from our dearest friends, but
let us not despair.
God is like a looking glass in which souls see each other.
The more we are united to Him by love,
the nearer we are to those who belong to Him.

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton

Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton is America’s first beatified and canonized saint. The second child of a socially prominent New York City family, she was born on August 28, 1774, two years before the Declaration of Independence. By birth and marriage she was linked to the most illustrious families of New York.

She lost her mother and sister early in life, and her father, Dr. Richard Bayley remarried. From both her mother and step-mother, staunch Episcopalians, Elizabeth learned a love of Scripture and the value of prayer. From her father, a great humanitarian, she learned to serve others.

On January 25, 1794 the nineteen-year-old belle of New York married a handsome, wealthy business man, William Magee Seton. The couple had five children before his finances faltered and international political upheaval and tragic business losses combined to lead to William Seton’s bankruptcy. Plagued by tuberculosis for most of their married life, in the fall of 1803, William, accompanied by his wife and eldest daughter, sought some relief for his illness in the warmer climate of Italy, where he had business friends. Quarantined for a month by the Italian port authorities, who feared he had yellow fever, William Seton died of tuberculosis on December 27 leaving Elizabeth a penniless widow at the age of thirty.

While staying with her husband’s business partner’s family in Italy, Elizabeth was introduced to the Catholic Faith and closely observed the Filicchi family’s religious practices within the intimacy of their family home. She was especially attracted to the Holy Eucharist, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the fact that the apostolic succession could be traced back to the apostles and to Christ. Imperceptibly drawn to all that she witnessed first hand, she here began a process of conversion that ultimately led to her being received into the Catholic Church by the pastor of St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church in New York City on March 14, 1805.

At the invitation of the Bishop of Baltimore and to support her children, she opened a school that, from the very beginning, followed the lines of a religious establishment. Following some difficult years of trials and struggles, in 1809 Elizabeth moved to Emmitsburg, Maryland where she founded the first religious order for women in America, the Sisters of Charity. From this time on, she was to become known as "Mother Seton".

The many letters of Mother Seton reveal her progress in the spiritual life. She suffered great trials: sickness, the death of two daughters, misunderstandings, and the heartache of a wayward son, but persevered through it all advancing from ordinary virtue to heroic sanctity.

Mother Seton died on January 4, 1821, by which day her congregation numbered twenty communities across America.  Cardinal Gibbons, successor to her nephew Archbishop James R. Bayley of Baltimore, introduced her cause in 1907. She was canonized in 1975.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Deadly poison

The most deadly poison of our time is
INDIFFERENCE.
And this happens, although the praise of God should know no limits.
Let us strive, therefore, to praise Him to the greatest extent of our powers.

St. Maximilian Kolbe

The Most Holy Name of Jesus

The Apostle St. Paul was probably the first promoter of the name of Jesus, when he called it “a name which is above all names (Philippians 2:9).

Several saints honored the Holy Name of Jesus, but the devotion became widespread in the fifteenth century through St. Bernardine of Siena who, when preaching, held in his hand a plaque with the logo “IHS” surrounded by rays. The monogram is taken from the first three letters of the Greek spelling of the name of Jesus: IHSOYS. It is also customary though not historical to interpret “IHS” as Iesu Hominum Salvator, Jesus Savior of Mankind.

St. Bernardine worked countless miracles by blessing people with this logo as the visible manifestation of his faith and recommended that it be placed above the entrance of cities and homes; hence this symbol’s prevalence throughout Europe. The great preacher is also responsible for introducing the name of Jesus into the Hail Mary: Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.

Persons who had prominent roles in the history of salvation received their names from God. These names have a direct connection with whom they are and what their mission is. Thus, Adam means “man of the earth”; Eve means “mother of the living”; Peter means “rock”.

At the Annunciation, the Archangel Gabriel conveyed God’s express will concerning the name which the divine Son of the Virgin Mary was to bear: “You shall call His name Jesus’ – in Aramaic, Yeshua (Matthew 1:21).

To St. Joseph, the angel not only spoke the name of Jesus but explained its meaning: “…for He shall save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).

The feast of the Most Holy Name of Jesus is also meant to impress upon us Christians the dignity of the Holy Name, this name before which, “every knee should bow, of those that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth” (Philippians 2:10).

Several Popes have attached indulgences to the mere pronunciation of the name of Jesus. Pope Benedict XIII granted an indulgence of 50 days as often as the name of Jesus is pronounced devoutly, and a plenary indulgence at the time of death provided the name of Jesus is piously invoked at least in thought. Pope St. Pius X attached a 300 days indulgence to the pious pronunciation of the names of Jesus and Mary.

St. Geneviève of Paris

Born about the year 422 in Nanterre, a small village outside of Paris, Geneviève was the daughter of respectable townsfolk. At the age of seven, she was singled out from a crowd of her fellow inhabitants by St. Germain of Auxerre who foretold to her parents their child’s future sanctity. The missionary prelate was on his way to Britain with St. Lupus of Troyes, commissioned by the bishops of Gaul to combat the heresy of Pelagian there. Before his departure, Geneviève renewed her consecration in his presence, received his blessing, and was given a medal engraved with a cross in remembrance of her dedication to Christ.
On the death of her parents she went to Paris, and lived with her godmother. She devoted herself to works of charity and practiced severe fasting and physical austerities. She continued these mortifications for over thirty years until her superiors compelled her to diminish them. Many of her neighbors accused Geneviève of being an impostor and a hypocrite. Her numerous visions and prophecies were treated as frauds and deceits. Driven by their envy and jealousy, her enemies eventually conspired to drown her. It was only through the intervention of St. Germain of Auxerre himself that their animosity was finally overcome. The bishop of the city appointed her to look after the welfare of the virgins dedicated to God, and by her instruction and example she led them to a high degree of sanctity.
In 451 as Attila and his Huns swept through Gaul, pillaging and destroying all in their path, the inhabitants of Paris prepared to flee. Geneviève prevailed upon them to place their trust in God and urged them to avert the scourge by prayer and penance, assuring them of the protection of Heaven. The advancing barbarian hordes inexplicably changed the course of their advance and headed towards Orléans, leaving Paris untouched. From henceforth, she was looked upon as the mother of the city of Paris and her prayers and intercession were universally sought in every malady and affliction.
Some years later, the city was again besieged and the people suffered greatly from sickness and famine. Geneviève was indefatigable in seeking relief for their needs, even calming a furious storm by her prayers when it threatened to overwhelm and sink the vessels loaded with provisions for the starving population. Through her influence, the new king and his successors displayed unwonted clemency towards the citizens. They regarded her with great veneration and respect and frequently pardoned malefactors and released prisoners, through her intercession. When King Clovis ascended the throne, he converted to Christianity and was baptized on Christmas Day, 496. He made Paris his capital and established an abbey dedicated to Saints Peter and Paul on the south bank of the Seine.
Geneviève died in the year 512 and when the church was completed, her body was placed in a solid stone tomb and interred there. The numerous miracles wrought at her tomb, caused the name of Sainte-Geneviève to be given to it. Kings, princes, and people enriched it with their gifts. This heroine who twice saved the capital of France by her courage and constancy is regarded as the Patroness of Paris. Her feast is kept on January 3.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Suffering? Why?

ADMIRE 
the goodness of the Creator,
Who causes the one to suffer
in order to free the other.

St. Lydwine of Schiedam

Sts. Basil the Great and Gregory Nazianzen

On January 2, the Church honors Sts. Basil the Great and Gregory Nazianzen, two friends who were pillars of orthodoxy during a period of chaos and confusion, namely the time in which the Church faced the far-reaching heresy of Arianism, which denied the divinity of Christ – an ordeal the Church has never forgotten. These two friends steered the barc of St. Peter safely through the dangerous and stormy seas of heresy.
St. Basil was born in Caesarea in Cappadocia - today, southeastern Turkey - in 329 A.D. of a family of saints. His grandfather died a martyr in the Roman persecution, and his grandmother, mother, sister and two brothers are all canonized saints.

Basil was becoming famous as a teacher when he decided to leave the world. He lived for a while as a hermit then founded what was probably the first monastery in Asia Minor. His monastic principles have influenced Eastern monasticism to this day. He was a gifted orator, and his writings place him among the great teachers of the Church.

In 370 he was made Bishop of Caesarea. He opposed the Emperor Valens when the latter pressured him to remain silent and admit heretics to Holy Communion. In the end, the Emperor backed down. When the great St. Athanasius died, the mantle of defender of the faith against Arianism fell to Basil. He was misunderstood, misinterpreted, accused of ambition and heresy. Seventy-two years after his death, the Council of Chalcedon called him “the great Basil, minister of grace who has expounded the truth to the whole earth.” He died on January 1, 379.

St. Gregory Nazianzen was born in 330 and received baptism at the age of thirty. For a while he joined St. Basil as a hermit, and was later ordained to the priesthood. Consecrated Bishop of Constantinople in 381, he presided over the Second Ecumenical Council of Constantinople which defined the Nicene Creed, and which is recited every Sunday throughout the Catholic Church.

With St. Basil, he valiantly opposed Arianism and rebuilt the Faith in Constantinople at the cost of much personal persecution. He is famous for his sermons on the Holy Trinity. St. Gregory’s last days were spent in austerity and solitude. He died on January 25, in the year 389 or 390.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

When love for Jesus becomes martyrdom

Our love for Jesus is truly great when we do not feel
its sweetness. It then becomes a martyrdom …
When, on the contrary, we begin to seek ourselves, true love dies away.
Unfortunately, many serve Jesus when He consoles them, but
few are willing to keep Him company when He is asleep.

St. Thérèse of Lisieux

Solemnity of Mary Mother of God

The Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God is an ancient feast first celebrated in the East before it was in the West. By the 7th century this feast was already celebrated in Rome. In the 13th and 14th centuries the feast of the Circumcision of Christ replaced the Marian feast and was expanded to the whole Roman Catholic Church when, in 1570, Pope St. Pius V promulgated the Roman Missal.

In 1974 Pope Paul VI removed the feast of the Circumcision of Christ from the liturgical calendar, and replaced it with the feast of the “Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God.”

The title of “Mary Mother of God”, in Greek “Theotokus”, was defended and defined by the Council of Ephesus in 431 A.D. against the heresy of Nestorian.

Nestorius, Bishop of Constantinople, refuted the title of “Theotokus” claiming that Christ had two loosely united natures, and therefore, Mary was only the mother of the human part of Him.

Catholic Theologians rejected this claim, and defined that Christ indeed has two natures, a divine nature and a human nature definitely united in one divine person, and since Christ’s two natures form one single person, Mary is the mother of the whole person of Christ.

Therefore, Mary can be properly called “Mother of God”, not in the sense that she came before God or is the source of God, but in the sense that the Person that she bore in her womb is indeed true God and true man.