was born near Ravenna in northern Italy to parents who took great pride
in him. Primarily to give them pleasure, he was meticulous in his dress
and personal appearance. Still, one day during a festival, realizing
the vanity of this way of being, and taken with deep compunction, he
stripped himself of his fine garments and gave them all away to the
To his parents’ further mortification, their son donned shabby garments and departed for Rome, where he received the tonsure.
his return, he placed himself under the direction of a hermit named
Martin, who lived alone on a small island in the River Po. After three
years of directing Guy, the hermit sent him to the Abbey of Pomposa to
learn the ways of monastic life.
There Guy so advanced in virtue
that he quickly rose to high office, and was elected abbot. Such was his
reputation and so many flocked to the abbey that he was obliged to
build another. Even his father and his brother joined the monastery.
certain times of the year Abbot Guy would retire into solitude a few
miles from his monastery and there would submit his body to severe
austerities. Particularly during the forty days of Lent the austerities
were such as to resemble tortures, and yet, he was extraordinarily
tender toward his monks who were devoted to him.
Guy did not
escape the persecution which often comes to those seeking holiness. For
unknown reasons, the Archbishop of Ravenna had developed a hatred for
the holy abbot and determined to destroy his monasteries. When Guy
learned of the imminent attack, he fasted for three days, joined in this
mortification by the entire community of monks. When the archbishop
arrived with his soldiers, he was met by Guy with such humility and
respect, that he was overwhelmed and asked the abbot's pardon.
the close of his life Guy again withdrew to his solitary hermitage. The
Emperor Henry III, who had come to Italy to consult with the holy
abbot, summoned him to Piacenza. Though he was unwilling to do so, the
aged abbot obeyed, taking a tender farewell from his brothers whom he
said he would see no more. Attacked by a sudden illness in Borgo San
Donnino near Parma, he died three days later.
Both Parma and
Pomposa claimed his relics, but the emperor settled the dispute by
having his body translated to the Church of St. John the Evangelist at
Speyer in Germany.
Murialdo was born in 1828 into a wealthy, but religious, family in
Turin, Italy. The eighth child in a large family, he was only four years
old when he lost his father.
During his adolescent years,
Leonard went through a profound spiritual crisis and an interior
conversion during which period he discovered his vocation to the
priesthood. He received an excellent education and seminary formation,
completed his studies in philosophy and theology at the University of
Turin, and was ordained a priest in 1851.
As a seminarian he had
begun assisting his cousin, Don Roberto Murialdo, at the Guardian Angels
Oratory in Turin and it was through him that he came to work closely
with two other saints: St. Joseph Cafasso and St. John Bosco. For a
time, at the latter’s request, the young priest took charge of the
Oratory of St. Louis, one of Don Bosco’s educational centers for boys at
the edge of the city.
He went on to take charge of a college for
young working men founded by another exemplary priest, Don Giovanni
Cocchi, and although taking on the daunting assignment hesitantly, and
only “provisionally”, he remained at this post for the next thirty-seven
years. Partly to fund the college, he founded the Pious Association of
St. Joseph. From Turin this association spread throughout Italy and then
to America. Leonard also founded agricultural centers for young
delinquents, another field in which he was an innovator.
He was a
great proponent of true social justice, and was ecclesiastical
assistant to the Catholic Workers’ Union, a forerunner of Catholic
Action. He was equally dedicated to the spread of piety, particularly
devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
He died on March 30, 1900 and his remains rest in the Church of St. Barbara in Turin.
I pray and pray, but I feel as if God is not listening. We always had a
good, peaceful family life, but these last years have been tough. We
don’t seem to be getting along and our finances have taken a turn for
I am so anxious about this situation that, not having anyone to turn to, I turned to God.
But God seems to remain deaf to me. Why is that? In addition, what do
I say to certain people, agnostics and atheists, who laugh at prayer,
saying it is nonsensical and only a figment of the imagination with no
God is faithful to His promises, and God promised to answer our
prayers. “And I tell you, ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you
will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For every one who asks
receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be
opened” (Luke 11:9–10).
If God promises to answer our prayers, He will do so infallibly. But
in prayer there are two sides: he who asks and He Who gives.
Our part is to ask. How must we ask?
Saint Alphonsus Liguori, a Doctor of the Church, teaches in his book Prayer, the Great Means of Salvation that prayer must be persevering and humble.
So many times we hear people saying: “Oh, I used to ask God for this
and that and the other, but He never gave it to me. Now, ten years
later, how glad I am that He didn’t!”
One thing is certain: God will not fail to answer a humble and
perseverance prayer. Whether He chooses to grant what we ask immediately
or make us wait, we must trust that He, regardless of appearances, is
doing us good. What we think is good and what He thinks is good may be
two different things: “My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor your ways
My ways” (Isa. 55:8), but here is where we must abandon ourselves to His
beneficent will. Our part is to be patient, calm and, above all,
faithful, because this is the time for testing and later will come the
time for full enjoyment. Answering Atheists and AgnosticsAs
for atheists and agnostics, their skepticism proceeds from the fact that
they, respectively, deny God’s existence or deny men’s capacity to know
In this case, we can only express our regret over their ignorance of
this Supreme Being, our omnipotent Creator and loving Savior.
We may direct them to a few sources that may help in their search for
the truth of His existence. Atheism and agnosticism can only be
sustained in ignorance or ill will because the evidence of God’s
existence is overwhelming.
Moreover, God will not hide Himself from those who seek Him sincerely and unconditionally.
Another consideration pertaining to non-believers is this: If God
were to grant us absolutely everything we ask at a moment’s notice, such
people might start believing purely out of self-interest.
They would look at God as a wand-wielding wizard. And God Our Lord is
infinitely more than that. He wants us to know, love, and serve Him for
Himself so that He can treat us as children and heirs and grant us
unending happiness in Heaven. "My impression is that the Rosary is of the greatest value not
only according to the words of Our Lady of Fatima, but according to the
effects of the Rosary one sees throughout history. My impression is that
Our Lady wanted to give ordinary people, who might not know how to
pray, this simple method of getting closer to God." Sister Lucia, one of the seers of Fatima.
origins are obscure, though there are strong indications that he was a
Frenchman, and, according to a certain tradition, a scion of the old
Frankish Merovingian family – and certainly a contemporary of Childebert
III, king of the Franks.
was already a bishop and known for his great virtue, when he was
invited by Duke Theodo of Bavaria, himself still a pagan, to evangelize
his people. Although the Gospel had already been preached in Bavaria,
its people were, for all intents and purposes, but nominally Catholic,
as pagan practices and Arian heretical beliefs persisted in their midst,
adulterating the purity of the Christian doctrine.
his companions were warmly received in the ancient town of Ratisbon. The
Duke Theodo presently received Baptism and with him a number of his
With no serious opposition to the missionaries’ work,
Christianity flourished under the apostolate of Bishop Rupert and his
companions who proceeded to confirm the faith of some, to evangelize
many, Christianize pagan temples, and build churches. In the course of
his work the saintly bishop worked countless miracles.
generosity, Theodo gave Rupert the region of Juvavum, present-day
Salzburg in Austria, for his apostolic see. Returning to France, the
abbot-bishop convinced another twelve men, as well as his niece St.
Erentrudis, to join him in his mission. With his niece he founded a
Benedictine monastery for women in Nonnberg, and with the twelve men a
Benedictine monastery for men, St. Peter at Salzburg. The saint spent
his life dedicated to the work of not only evangelizing and guiding his
flock, but also of civilizing his people. He also did much to promote
the salt mines in the region for which he renamed the city Salzburg.
died in Salzburg around the year 710. Many churches in the region are
named after this Apostle of Austria and Bavaria, and the first
Abbot-Bishop of Salzburg.
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.
On March 25th, the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the
Annunciation: an important moment for us to pause to recall what
suddenly happened in the history of mankind, so that man could be
changed profoundly and saved. In order to honor the Annunciation all
throughout the year, the Church has given the faithful the Angelus
prayer, the name of which is derived from the first word of its Latin
form. To say it is to replay the drama of the Annunciation once more,
placing it vividly before our eyes and within our hearts.
V. The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary, R. And she conceived of the Holy Spirit. Hail Mary, etc...
V. Behold the handmaid of the Lord. R. Be it done unto me according to Your Word. Hail Mary, etc...
V. And the Word was made flesh, R. And dwelt among us. Hail Mary, etc...
V. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God. R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Let us pray:
Pour forth, we beseech You, O Lord, Your Grace into our hearts; that as we have known the incarnation of Christ, your Son by the message of an angel, so by His passion and cross we may be brought to the glory of His Resurrection. Through the same Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Medieval custom of triple Hail Mary in the evening
The Angelus as we know it sprung organically from an even more ancient tradition. The practice of reciting the Hail Mary
three times in a row dates at least to the 12th century, and Saint
Anthony of Padua (1195-1231) strongly recommended it. This devout
practice was a great favorite also of Saint Mechtilde of Helfta
(1241-1298) in her Revelations. Saint Bonaventure, in a Chapter of the
Order of the Friars Minor in 1269, proposed they recite three Hail Mary's
in the evening after Compline, meditating on the mystery of Christ's
Incarnation, urging at the same time that the recitation be preceded
always by the ringing of a bell so that the brothers and all the
faithful nearby would know that it was time for the triple Hail Mary.
The morning Angelus
Shortly after the recital of the three Hail Mary’s
at evening had become familiar, a custom established itself of ringing a
bell in the morning and of saying the Ave thrice. It was the town bell
which was rung in this case, for the preservation of peace, whence it was called "the peace bell." The same designation was also applied elsewhere to the evening bell.
In a culture in which the activities of the Church and those of her
children were intertwined, it seems probable enough that this morning
bell was also an imitation of the monastic triple peal for the morning
prayers. The morning Angelus soon became a familiar custom in all the countries of Europe and was almost as generally observed as that of the evening.
The Angelus Today
In most Franciscan and contemplative monasteries, the Angelus
continues to be prayed three times a day. In the United States and
Canada, some Catholic radio stations run by laity broadcast the Angelus daily.
In Ireland, the Angelus is currently broadcast every night
at 6:00 pm on the main national TV channel, RTÉ One, and on the
broadcaster's sister radio station, Radio 1, at noon and 6:00 pm. RTÉ
Audience Research finds that a clear majority of Irish viewers still
favors keeping the Angelus broadcasts, chimes and all. Its
appeal is summarized by one audience member as follows, "To the person
of faith, it's a moment of grace; to the person without faith, it's a
moment of peace. What's not to like?"
In the Philippines, radio and television stations run by the Catholic Church and some religious orders broadcast the Angelus
at 6:00 am, noon, and 6:00 pm. The devotion is also broadcast over the
public address system at noon and 6:00 pm in some shopping malls, and in
many Catholic educational institutions mostly at noon on schooldays
(some only ring bells at 6:00 pm).
Could there be a connection between these two countries continuing to
honor the moment when “the Word became Flesh” and the fact that unborn
children still find protection in the laws of both Ireland and the
Incorporate the Angelus into Your Day
The Angelus should be recited three times a day: as early in
the morning as possible (at 6:00 a.m., or upon awakening), again at
noon, and once more at 6:00 p.m. It may be said privately, of course,
but whenever recited with others, one person leads it by saying aloud
the verses and the first half of the Hail Mary—that is, until “blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.” The others make the responses and say the second part of the Hail Mary;—then all join in to say the closing prayer. (see below)
It is common practice that during the recital of the Angelus
prayer, for the lines "And the Word was made flesh/And dwelt among us,"
those reciting the prayer bow or genuflect. Either of these actions
draws attention to the moment of the Incarnation of Christ into human
Jesus loved us enough to die for us so that we might live with Him eternally! When we pray the Angelus
with humility and love, we are emulating Mary’s faith in His goodness.
We are blessed in that we can ask both God and His Blessed Mother for
their assistance on our journey towards Eternal Life!
It is 3:00 on the afternoon of March
twenty-fifth; it is a Friday. Taking on the appearance of a man, the
Archangel Gabriel, whose name means Strength of God, leaves heaven for
earth; he has a divine proposal to deliver—and a reply to receive.
His destination? A certain little house
on a quiet street in the tiny Galilean town of Nazareth, for there she
lives, whose coming God has anticipated from all eternity. She has
ravished the Heart of God with her love for Him and her humility before
Him, and in her we find the only perfect source of consolation that God
has reserved for Him-self on earth-the only perfect refuge of comfort He
has allowed Himself. Having remained faultless of any offence against
God—never by one thought, word or deed did she fail to measure up to the
supreme and consummate perfection of a creature conformed to the Will
of God—her purity and sinlessness is beyond utterance. Her vocation was
so select and sublime and divine that He created her soul free from
Original Sin, the sin of Adam.
Thus at this moment her glorious title
is that of the Immaculate Conception—but, kneeling in prayer, she is
soon to be offered another…
“And the angel being come in, said unto her: ‘Hail,
full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among
women…Behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb and shalt bring forth a
Son: and thou shalt call his name Jesus.’ ”
The Virgin of virgins asks, “How shall this be done, because I know not man?”
“And the angel answering said to her: ‘The
Holy Ghost shall come upon thee and the power of the Most High shall
overshadow thee. And therefore the Holy which shall be born of thee
shall be called the Son of God.’ ”
Having thus made known to her His desire-and only after receiving her sweet and meek consent:
“V.Behold the handmaid of the Lord:
R.Be it done to me according to thy word.”—did
God effect an event greater than that of the creation of the universe
and the dawn of time. For within the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary was
conceived a God-Man—the Savior of the human race.
V. And the Word was made flesh,
R. And dwelt among us.
Lo! Eternity and time have met, the Word
has been made flesh! The Lord has become Our Lord—Jesus Christ. This
holiest of names, Jesus, means Savior, Christ means the Anointed One;
and now indeed the Redemption of the world is at hand. Oh, can we not
feel the very trembling of the angels? It is the Incarnation that has
finally come to pass! Although 2,017 years old, It is a Beauty ever new.
Jesus said: “Abraham rejoiced that he might see My day;”—even the holy ones of the Old Law may now rest, satiated—”he saw it and was glad.” (John 8:56) Emmanuel—God—is with us, and He shall not be taken away.
Now may we say:
V. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God,
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Lucy was born in 1672 in Tarquinia in Tuscany. Orphaned early in life, she was raised by her aristocratic aunt and uncle.
early inclination to piety was strengthened by a great seriousness of
purpose and her remarkable gifts attracted the attention of the
Cardinal-Bishop of the diocese, Marcantonio Barbarigo, who persuaded the
young lady to take advantage of an institute for training teachers in
Montefiasconi. Lucy excelled in the institute and won all hearts by her
modesty and charity, her intense conviction of spiritual things, her
common sense and her courage.
At the teachers' institute, Lucy
met Blessed Rose Venerini, whose educational experience Cardinal
Barbarigo had likewise recruited. In Montefiascone the two holy women
trained schoolmistresses and co-founded the Maestre Pie or the
Pious Matrons. Together they trained girls in the art of running a good
home, weaving, embroidery, reading and Christian doctrine. Their work
prospered. Both shared a tremendous gift for effective communication.
In 1707, at the express desire of Pope Clement XI, Lucy went to Rome and founded the first school of the Maestre Pie.
The school flourished and children flocked to it from all over the
region. Though only able to remain in Rome for six months, when Lucy
left the Eternal City she was known as the “Maestra Santa”, the Holy
Unfortunately, the task sapped Lucy’s strength
and she became seriously ill in 1726. Though she had good medical care,
she never quite regained her health and died a most holy death on March
25, 1732, the day she had predicted.
This is a reflection on
Saint Gabriel and the Annunciation. It discusses both since the feast of
Saint Gabriel the Archangel is on March 24th, the vigil of the
A comment on a passage taken from Saint Luke:
And in the sixth month, the angel
Gabriel was sent from God into a city of Galilee, called Nazareth, to a
virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David;
and the virgin's name was Mary. And the angel came to her and said:
"Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee". Who having heard, was
troubled at his saying, and thought to herself what manner of salutation
this might be. And the angel said to her: "Fear not, Mary, for thou
hast found grace with God."
"Behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb,
and shalt bring forth a son; and thou shalt call his name Jesus. He
shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the most High; and the
Lord God shall give unto him the throne of David his father; and he
shall reign in the house of Jacob for ever. And of his kingdom there
shall be no end."
And Mary said to the angel: "How shall this be done, because I know not man?"
And the angel answering, said to her: "The Holy Ghost shall come upon
thee, and the power of the most High shall overshadow thee. And
therefore also the Holy which shall be born of thee shall be called the
Son of God."
"And behold thy cousin Elizabeth, she also hath conceived a son in
her old age; and this is the sixth month with her that is called barren:
Because no word shall be impossible with God."
And Mary said: "Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her."
As far as I can recall, the only thing we know of Saint Gabriel, the
Archangel is found in this episode. He was sent by God to deliver this
magnificent message to Our Lady. We can have some idea of what this
archangel is like by looking at the nature of the task he was given.
There is a correlation between the angel and his virtue on the one
hand, and the mission he receives from God, on the other. Through one,
we can make conjectures about the other.
Thus, what was the message that Saint Gabriel, which means "the
strength of God," took to Our Lady? It is a message that affirms the
Incarnation of the Word and therefore the greatest act of power and
domination that God could exercise upon the world.
the Incarnation of the Word, God was preparing to rescue the world. In
doing this, He, who is king of the world by right, also became king by
conquest. Thus, He – the second Person of the
Blessed Trinity – entered the earth to conquer on the cross, in this
special way, He established His kingship upon the world.
"Behold the king has come! He is going to reign!"
Saint Gabriel must be seen, therefore, as announcing the victorious
entry of Our Lord Jesus Christ into humanity. He was like a herald that
goes before a victorious king overcoming all obstacles in his way and
announcing: "Behold the king has come! He is going to reign!" This is a
first view that we have of this archangel.
Another view we must have is that of the devotee of Mary par
excellence. He was the one who made the first Hail Mary; he was the one
who gave Our Lady a message that revealed to her who she was. For up
until that moment, according to all the interpretations I have read, she
did not know she was to become the Mother of God.
She prayed for the Messias to come soon to the earth and also that
she might become the servant of His Mother so as to render her some
small services. That was her great ambition.
When Gabriel the Archangel came and announced that she herself was
going to be the Mother of the Messias, he made her, so to speak,
understand who she was. His message explained to her why she had
continuously received an immense river of graces throughout her life.
She understood the depth of the sanctity for which she was called. The
angel's announcement made her comprehend her own mission.
Hence, when he made this revelation to Mary, he rendered Her this
outstanding service, which was an act of supreme nobility ordered by
God. As a result, this act established a very special bond between Saint
Gabriel and Our Lady. In this sense, he was a kind of prophet who
manifested to Our Lady what her whole life would be like and what her
mission would be. Thus, another aspect of this archangel's personality
is a great union with Our Lady and a great devotion to her.
Finally, we can consider another side, which is the manner in which
he gave his message. It was impregnated with a great purity. No message
is more chaste than this one, which announced the virginal maternity. It
showed such a love for purity on the part of God, that, in order to
safeguard Our Lady's virginal chastity, He decided on a way to conceive
Our Lord Jesus Christ that involved no work of man: She would be the
Spouse of the Holy Ghost.
the Annunciation, the archangel is particularly protective of her
purity and chastity. If we were to see him, he would inspire in us a
thousand desires and acts of admiration and longing to possess purity to
a eminent degree.
From this, we can draw some applications for the prayers we can still
address to him today. Saint Gabriel announced the coming and triumph of
the Messias to Our Lady and thus to all men. We should ask that he now
announce the recovery of God's effective kingship upon the earth through
the coming of the fulfillment of the Fatima message.
Today we are in a situation that is even worse than that of the
ancient world before Our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, we can ask that
Our Lord Jesus Christ reign once again, that He establish His reign on
earth in Mary and through Mary, and that this period of darkness in
which we find ourselves come to an end. He has done one thing, let Him
do the other.
He had the key to do it to close the era of antiquity, and thus
opened a new epoch. Let Him close this era and open the Reign of Mary. Second: we should ask Saint Gabriel
for an enormous, superabundant devotion to Our Lady and that this
devotion grows every instant until the end of our lives.
Third: we should ask him for a most ardent, intransigent, vigilant
and therefore most militant love of purity; and to have every form of
revulsion and disdain for impurity in every way and degree. This is
what we should ask him. May he thus protect us and bring us closer to
The above text was
taken from an informal lecture given by Professor Plinio Corrêa de
Oliveira. It has been translated and adapted for publication without his
Detail of the painting by Blessed Fra Angelico of the Archangel Gabriel.
“Fortitudo Dei”, one of the three archangels mentioned in the Bible. Only four appearances of Gabriel are recorded:
In Dan., viii, he explains the vision of the horned ram as
portending the destruction of the Persian Empire by the Macedonian
Alexander the Great, after whose death the kingdom will be divided up
among his generals, from one of whom will spring Antiochus Epiphanes.
In chapter ix, after Daniel had prayed for Israel, we read that “the
man Gabriel . . . . flying swiftly touched me” and he communicated to
him the mysterious prophecy of the “seventy weeks” of years which should
elapse before the coming of Christ. In chapter x, it is not clear
whether the angel is Gabriel or not, but at any rate we may apply to him
the marvelous description in verses 5 and 6.
In the New Testament he foretells to Zachary the birth of the Precursor, and
to Mary that of the Savior.
Thus he is throughout the angel of the Incarnation and of
Consolation, and so in Christian tradition Gabriel is ever the angel of
mercy while Michael is rather the angel of judgment. At the same time,
even in the Bible, Gabriel is, in accordance with his name, the angel of
the Power of God, and it is worthwhile noting the frequency with which
such words as “great”, “might”, “power”, and “strength” occur in the
passages referred to above. The Jews indeed seem to have dwelt
particularly upon this feature in Gabriel’s character, and he is
regarded by them as the angel of judgment, while Michael is called the
angel of mercy. Thus they attribute to Gabriel the destruction of Sodom
and of the host of Sennacherib, though they also regard him as the angel
who buried Moses, and as the man deputed to mark the figure Tau on the
foreheads of the elect (Ezech., 4). In later Jewish literature the names
of angels were considered to have a peculiar efficacy, and the British
Museum possesses some magic bowls inscribed with Hebrew, Aramaic, and
Syriac incantations in which the names of Michael, Raphael, and Gabriel
occur. These bowls were found at Hillah, the site of Babylon, and
constitute an interesting relic of the Jewish captivity. In apocryphal
Christian literature the same names occur, cf. Enoch, ix, and the
Apocalypse of the Blessed Virgin.
As remarked above, Gabriel is mentioned only twice in the New
Testament, but it is not unreasonable to suppose with Christian
tradition that it is he who appeared to St. Joseph and to the shepherds,
and also that it was he who “strengthened” Our Lord in the garden (cf.
the Hymn for Lauds on 24 March). Gabriel is generally termed only an
archangel, but the expression used by St. Raphael, “I am the angel
Raphael, one of the seven, who stand before the Lord” (Tob., xii, 15)
and St. Gabriel’s own words, “I am Gabriel, who stand before God” (Luke
1, 19), have led some to think that these angels must belong to the
highest rank; but this is generally explained as referring to their rank
as the highest of God’s messengers, and not as placing them among the
Seraphim and Cherubim (cf. St. Thomas, I, Q. cxii, a.3; III, Q. xxx,
a.2, ad 4um).
then the capital of Pannonia, is in present-day Serbia. Apart from his
position as bishop, Irenaeus seems to have been a man of local
importance. Arrested during the terrible persecution of Diocletian,
Irenaeus was brought before the governor, and commanded to offer
sacrifice to the gods. At his refusal, he was stretched on the rack, but
did not relent. His mother, wife (at that time the laws of celibacy
were different) and children hung about his neck begging him to save
himself and not to abandon them.
Steeling himself against their
entreaties, the holy prelate maintained silence, and was again
imprisoned, willingly submitting himself to the cruelty of the torments
by which the pagans hoped to shake him. Publicly interrogated a second
time – once more without effect – Bishop Irenaeus was sentenced to death
by drowning for disobedience to the imperial edict.
protest that death by drowning was unworthy of a confessor of Christ, he
begged to face the cruelest torments. He was finally beheaded.
When we appeal to the throne of grace we do so through Mary, honoring God by honoring His Mother, imitating Him by exalting her, touching the most responsive chord in the Sacred Heart of Christ with the sweet name of Mary.
in Mayorga de Campos near Valladolid of a noble Spanish family, and
named for the fifth-century saint, Turibius of Astorga, Toribio did not
intend to be a priest though his family was notably religious. For his
professional career he chose the law in the practice of which he shone.
As professor of law at the University of Salamanca, he attracted the
attention of King Phillip II who appointed him General Inquisitor.
the seat for the Archbishopric of Lima in Peru, became vacant, the king
turned to Judge Toribio de Mogrovejo as the only man with enough
strength of character to rein in the scandals in the colony. Shocked at
the prospect, he prayed, and in writing to the king pleaded his own
incapacity and other canonical impediments, among them the canon
forbidding laymen from being promoted to such dignities. Finally,
compelled by obedience, Toribio accepted the charge. After a suitable
time of preparation, he was ordained to the priesthood, consecrated
bishop, and immediately nominated for the Archdiocese of Lima. He was
forty-three years of age.
Arriving in the Peruvian capital in
1581, he soon took in the arduous nature of the task thrust upon him by
Divine Providence. The attitude of the Spanish conquerors toward the
natives was abusive, and the clergy were often the most notorious
His first initiative was to restore ecclesiastical
discipline, proving himself inflexible in regard to clerical scandals.
Without respect to persons or rank, Toribio reproved vice and injustice
and championed the cause of the natives. He succeeded in eradicating
some of the worst abuses, and founded many churches, convents and
hospitals as well as the first seminary in the New World.
the local dialects, he traveled throughout his enormous diocese
(170,000 sq. miles), often on foot and alone, traversing the difficult
Andes, facing all sorts of obstacles from nature and men. He baptized
and confirmed half a million souls including St. Rose of Lima, St.
Martin de Porres and St. John Massias.
From 1590 onwards he had the great help of another zealous missionary, St. Francis Solano.
before he died, he had predicted his own death. In Pacasmayo he
contracted fever but labored to the very end. Dragging himself to the
sanctuary in Sana, he received Holy Viaticum and died soon after on
March 23, as those around him sang the psalm, “I rejoiced at the things
that were said to me: We shall go into the house of the Lord".
no single person did more for the preservation of the Catholic Faith
when its practice was forbidden in England than Nicholas Owen.
“diminutive man” according to one report, and called “Little John” on
that account, Nicholas Owen was possibly a builder by trade. He worked
for eighteen years with the clandestine Jesuit missionaries Fathers
Henry Garnet and John Gerard and built expertly concealed hiding places
for priests and Catholic fugitives.
In an age of license,
Nicholas led a singularly innocent life, untainted by the allurements of
the world. His confessor affirms that he preserved his baptismal
innocence unto death.
Every time Nicholas was about to design a
hiding place, he began the work by receiving the Holy Eucharist,
accompanied the project by continuous prayer and offered the completion
of the work to God alone. No wonder his hiding places were nearly
impossible to discover.
After working in this fashion for some
years, he was received into the Society of Jesus by Father Garnet as one
of England’s first lay brothers. For reasons of concealment, his
association with the Jesuits was kept a secret.
He was arrested
with Father John Gerard on St. George’s day in 1584. Despite terrible
torture, he never revealed the least information about the whereabouts
of other Catholics. He was released on a ransom paid by a Catholic
gentleman, as his services in contriving hiding places were
unique and successful escape of Father Gerard from the Tower of London
was most certainly planned by Owen, although the escape itself was
carried out by two others.
Finally, on January 27, 1606, after a
faithful service of twenty years, Nicholas Owen fell once more into the
hands of his enemies. Closely pursued by government officials, he and
three other Jesuits successfully avoided detection for eight days,
hidden in a couple of priest holes at Hindlip Hall in Worcester- shire.
Concealed in the two small cramped spaces in which they could neither
stand upright nor stretch their legs, they received nourishment through
small drinking straws hidden in the building’s own structure. Attempting
to protect the two priests by drawing attention to himself, Owen left
his hiding place first. His fellow lay brother was arrested with him as
soon as he emerged from hiding; Fathers Garnet and Oldcorne were seized
His enemies exulted when they realized they finally
had their hands on the great builder of hiding places. Father Gerard
wrote of him: "I verily think no man can be said to have done more good
of all those who labored in the English vineyard. He was the immediate
occasion of saving the lives of many hundreds of persons, both
ecclesiastical and secular.”
Brother Nicholas was hung upon a
wall; during “interrogation” periods, iron gauntlets were fastened about
his wrists from which he hung for hours on end, day after day. When
this torture proved insufficient to make him talk, weights were added to
his feet. Finally, the pressure caused his entrails to burst forth,
causing his death. He revealed nothing. First Photo by: Quodvultdeus
the land evangelized by St. Patrick, there emerged in subsequent
centuries a number of saints, who by the sanctity of their lives firmly
established Christianity in Ireland. Among these is to be numbered the
great St. Enda of Aran.
Enda was born in the sixth century to
Oriel of Ulster, son of Conall Derg of Ergall, to whose principality he
succeeded upon his death. One of his sisters was married to Oengus the
king of Munster; another, the holy Fanchea, was abbess of a monastery.
It was the pious exhortations of the latter that compelled him to leave
the world and embrace the monastic life. He embarked on a pilgrimage to
Rome to venerate the relics of the Apostles and was there ordained a
Upon his return to Ireland, he built a church in Drogheda
along the River Boyne and founded a religious community. From his
brother-in-law, King Oengus of Munster, he obtained the grant of the
wild and barren isle of Aran (Aranmore) in the Bay of Galway, where he
founded the famous Monastery of Killeaney. Such was the fame acquired by
this monastery and its abbot, that the island was called “Aran of the
Saints”. Many of the great Irish saints had some connection with Aran
and St. Enda: St. Brendan the Voyager, St. Kiaran of Clonmacnoise, St.
Columba of Iona, St. Finnian of Clonard and others. So numerous were the
pilgrims to Aran that St. Columba called it “The Rome of Pilgrims”.
divided the island into ten parts, in each of which he built a
monastery and over which he set superiors. His monastic settlement was
known for its austerity, holiness and learning, and became a burning
light of sanctity for centuries in Western Europe.
This father of Irish monasticism died in advanced old age and was buried on Aran Mor.
early in life, Cuthbert was brought up by a widow who loved him like a
son. According to St. Bede, he was a Briton. One night, while working as
a shepherd, he had a marvelous vision of angels carrying the soul of
St. Aidan to heaven. This occurrence seems to have impressed him deeply,
though he went on to soldiering and possibly fought against the
It was as a soldier that he knocked at the gate of
Melrose Abbey. As a monk, he went on to become prior of the abbeys of
Melrose and Lindisfarne. After some years at Lindisfarne, wishing to
grow even closer to God, he retired as a hermit first to Holy Island,
today named after him, and then to an even more remote location among
the Farne Islands. Still, people persisted in following him even to this
isolated place, and he graciously built a guest house near the landing
stage of the isle to accommodate them.
Illustrations taken from the Venerable St. Bede’s Life of Cuthbert
Later, at the insistence of the Abbess St. Elfleda, a daughter of
King Oswiu, he reluctantly accepted a bishopric and was consecrated
Bishop of Lindisfarne. The two years of his episcopate were spent
visiting his diocese preaching, teaching, distributing alms and working
so many miraculous cures that during his lifetime he was known as the
Wonderworker of Britain.
Weakened by his labors and austerities,
Cuthbert sensed death approaching and again retired to his beloved
retreat in the Farne Islands. He received the last sacraments and died
peacefully, seated, his hands uplifted and his eyes raised heavenward.
The Venerable St. Bede also records in his life of the saint that when
Cuthbert's sarcophagus was opened nine years after his death, his body
was found to have been perfectly preserved or incorrupt.
When sinners come to Him, Jesus hurries to meet them. Like the father of the prodigal son, He is waiting for the return of the ungrateful ones. Like the good shepherd, He seeks after the lost sheep; and when He finds it, He places it on His divine shoulders and restores it to the fold.
The Book of Confidence – Fr. Thomas de Saint-Laurent
a direct descendant of King David, Joseph was of royal lineage.
Although of noble birth and ancestry, this heir of the throne of David
was circumstantially poor and a carpenter by trade.
Chosen by God
as the husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the protector of her
honor, Joseph respected her vow of virginity as evidenced in the
Virgin’s response to the Archangel Gabriel when he announced that she
was to bear a son, “How shall this be done, because I know not
Though the Gospels reveal little about Joseph,
the simple eulogy of the Holy Scriptures, “being a just man,” (Matt.
1:19) encompasses his greatness.
It was this “just man” who
perceiving the expectant state of his wife, and knowing not the origin,
trusting in her holiness against the evidence of his eyes, refused to
denounce her. God rewarded his heroic faith: an angel appeared to Joseph
in the night and revealed to him that his holy spouse had conceived
“the expectation of nations” (Gen. 49:10) by the power of the Holy
We next read of this “just man,” now in the role of
protector of both the mother and the divine Son in Bethlehem, looking
for suitable lodgings for the birth of the incarnate Word, and being
systematically refused. We read of him offering two turtle doves, again
evidence of his poverty, as a ransom for the Child at the Temple. Then,
again, an angel appears in his dream and warns him of the envy of King
Herod. Immediately taking to the dusty road, this “just man” braves the
frightful desert on foot, leading a donkey bearing the Creator of the
Universe and His mother to safety in Egypt.
Though there is no
scriptural record of Saint Joseph’s death, we know he was absent at
Jesus’ crucifixion, which points to his having died before.
Roman Martyrology commemorates March 19 as the feast of St. Joseph.
Blessed Pope Pius IX, acceding to the universal desire and prayers of
the Catholic world declared the holy patriarch Patron of the Universal
Church. It is only fitting that he who protected the mother and the Son,
also protect the bride.
Although detailed accounts of St. Joseph's life remains scarce, we
learn from Scriptures and Sacred Tradition about his unshakeable faith,
his assiduous perseverance, his admirable purity and his exceptional
humility. The Church, in her wisdom, left the faithful with a legacy of a
series of beautiful invocations in his honor called the Litany of St.
Joseph. The vivid appellations found therein draw us closer to the saint
and remind us of his many virtues. We find a particularly intriguing
invocation full of meaning and truth, "Terror of Demons." Now, one
A Noble Vocation
Given the grandeur of his vocation – the protection, sustenance and
care of the Blessed Mother and Our Lord Jesus Christ as head of the Holy
Family - we can expect that God also endowed him with an equally
proportional grace to carry out such a lofty mission in life. And
certainly we can picture him as a sublime icon of manliness and a pillar
of strength that would sow terrible fear among the powers of darkness
given the noble task under his watch.
Commitment to Purity
In the writings of the venerable Mary of Agreda detailed in the City
of God, we read that St. Joseph was a native of Nazareth, was of comely
figure and agreeable countenance, very modest and incomparably genteel
in appearance. He was related to the Blessed Virgin in the third degree,
made a vow of perpetual chastity at age twelve, renewed and kept it in
marriage much to the delight and joy of the Most Holy Virgin who vowed
the same. He was thirty-three years old at that time.
It is beautiful to note here that when the holy priest Simeon
gathered all the young men of Jerusalem from the house of David at the
temple to choose who would be the rightful spouse of Our Lady, he was
inspired by God to give each man a dry rod. After a period of prayer
asking for the manifestation of the Divine Will, pure white lilies - the
symbol of purity - blossomed from St. Joseph's staff and a white dove,
most pure and brilliant, hovered over his head giving Simeon the sign
that he was the chosen one.
Hence, St. Joseph is the epitome of a pure man: pure in thought, pure
in heart; pure in body and soul – destined to be the most chaste spouse
of Mary Most Holy conceived without sin. In face of such sublime purity
and holiness, it would not be farfetched to believe that the ugly,
filthy infernal spirits would cower in petrified fear in his presence.
The success of Christ's mission depended on St. Joseph
And in his hands lay the unenviable yet most exalted duty of
protecting the Sacred Humanity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the pinnacle of
all creation. God became Man to redeem mankind and to endow it with the
most perfect and ultimate gift of Eternal Life through His Sacred Body
and Blood. To fulfill His Divine mission, God the Father deigned to
entrust His Son to the paternal care of St. Joseph. What a formidable
and powerful man St. Joseph must have been!
We can certainly attribute this plan to God's Eternal Wisdom which
has predestined us for Eternal Life through His Son. For this holy
cause, He granted His Son to be born of a most pure Mother unblemished
by the stain of Original Sin. And to ensure and preserve the integrity
of that Immaculate Mother, He betrothed her to a beloved and most chaste
Protector of the Church
And as the protector and guardian of Our Lord and Our Lady, St.
Joseph is also invoked as the Patron of the Universal Church in apt
recognition of his prowess and fortitude. The Catholic Church, born from
the water that gushed forth from Jesus' side, and nurtured by the
maternal love of Our Lady, sought comfort and protection from the snares
and malice of Satan and his followers in the hands of St. Joseph,
indeed, the terror of demons!. In recognition of this special place,
Holy Mother Church honors him with the highest veneration called
protodulia, higher than any given to angels and saints except for Mary
who receives a special veneration called hyperdulia.
Patron of a Good Death
While Our Lady enjoyed the most singular privilege of perfect beauty
of complexion and form even when she reached the age of seventy by
virtue of her sinless body, God denied this favor to St. Joseph. Thus,
he suffered bodily deterioration, pain and suffering with advancing age.
Ultimately, he ceased from working and accepted his fate with
resignation. Henceforth, he gave himself up entirely to the
contemplation of the mysteries of which he was the depositary, and to
the heroic practice of virtues.
Sacred Tradition tells us that Our Lord and Our Lady assisted him in
his dying moments and his death was surpassed in holiness by no other
saint – save by Jesus and Mary. By virtue of this, St. Joseph came to be
known as the Patron of the Dying. Through the ages, the Catholic
faithful lovingly prayed to him for the grace of a good and holy death.
St. Joseph died at the age of sixty years.
Signal Graces obtained through St. Joseph's intercession
Finally, again citing Mary of Agreda's City of God, we learn the following consoling revelations:
• "First, those who invoke him shall obtain from God, by his
intercession, the gift of chastity, and shall not be conquered by the
temptation of the senses;
• Secondly, they shall receive particular graces to deliver them from sin;
• Thirdly, they shall obtain a true devotion to the Blessed Virgin;
• Fourthly, they shall have a good and happy death, and in that
all-decisive moment be defended against the assaults of Satan;
• Fifthly, they shall be delivered when expedient for them, from bodily sufferings, and shall find help in their afflictions;
• Sixthly, if married, they shall be blessed with offspring;
• Seventhly, the demons shall have extreme dread of the glorious name of St. Joseph.
With so many graces to be obtained through his powerful intercession,
let us not tarry nor hesitate in asking humbly for the protection and
aid of dear St. Joseph, Terror of demons!
Cyril’s birthplace is unknown, he was certainly brought up in
Jerusalem. His parents, very probably Christians, gave him an excellent
St. Jerome relates that Cyril was ordained to the
priesthood by St. Maximus, the Bishop of Jerusalem, who thought so
highly of Cyril's teaching that he was charged with the important duty
of instructing the catechumens. Nineteen of these catechetical
discourses, delivered without a book, have come down to us. These are
invaluable as an exposition of the teaching and ritual of the Church in
the fourth century.
Upon the death of St. Maximus, Cyril was
elected to his episcopal see. Not long after his consecration as Bishop
of Jerusalem, however, misunderstandings arose between Cyril and Bishop
Acacius because of the latter’s leanings to Arianism – a heresy that
denied the divinity of Christ. He was summoned before a council convened
by Acacius but refused to appear. Accused of rebellion, and of
distributing Church goods to the poor – which he justifiably did – Cyril
entered a crucible of suffering through persecution.
His life as
bishop was plagued with charges by the Arians and consequent exiles by
Arian-supporting emperors. Sixteen of the thirty-five years of his
episcopate were spent in exile. With the accession of Emperor Theodosius
he was recalled and ruled undisturbed for the last eight years of his
Cyril participated in the great Council of Constantinople,
when the Nicene Creed was promulgated in its amended form. He is thought
to have died in 386 around the age of seventy. He was declared a Doctor
of the Church in 1882.
The beautiful prayer of St. Patrick, popularly known as "St. Patrick's Breastplate", is supposedto have been composed by him in 433 A.D. in preparation for his victory over Paganism.
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The following is a literal translation from the old Irish text:
I bind to myself today The strong virtue of the Invocation of the Trinity: I believe the Trinity in the Unity The Creator of the Universe.
I bind to myself today The virtue of the Incarnation of Christ with His Baptism, The virtue of His crucifixion with His burial, The virtue of His Resurrection with His Ascension, The virtue of His coming on the Judgement Day.
I bind to myself today The virtue of the love of seraphim, In the obedience of angels, In the hope of resurrection unto reward, In prayers of Patriarchs, In predictions of Prophets, In preaching of Apostles, In faith of Confessors, In purity of holy Virgins, In deeds of righteous men.
I bind to myself today The power of Heaven, The light of the sun, The brightness of the moon, The splendour of fire, The flashing of lightning, The swiftness of wind, The depth of sea, The stability of earth, The compactness of rocks.
I bind to myself todayGod's Power to guide me, God's Might to uphold me, God's Wisdom to teach me, God's Eye to watch over me, God's Ear to hear me, God's Word to give me speech, God's Hand to guide me, God's Way to lie before me, God's Shield to shelter me, God's Host to secure me, Against the snares of demons, Against the seductions of vices, Against the lusts of nature, Against everyone who meditates injury to me, Whether far or near, Whether few or with many.
I invoke today all these virtues Against every hostile merciless power Which may assail my body and my soul, Against the incantations of false prophets, Against the black laws of heathenism, Against the false laws of heresy, Against the deceits of idolatry, Against the spells of women, and smiths, and druids, Against every knowledge that binds the soul of man.
Christ, protect me todayAgainst every poison, against burning, Against drowning, against death-wound, That I may receive abundant reward. Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ within me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ at my right, Christ at my left, Christ in the fort, Christ in the chariot seat, Christ in the poop [deck], Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me, Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks to me, Christ in every eye that sees me, Christ in every ear that hears me.
I bind to myself today The strong virtue of an invocation of the Trinity, I believe the Trinity in the Unity The Creator of the Universe.
Our Lady of Mercy! It is thus that the faithful people call upon Our Lady when they contemplate her seated with the divine corpse of her Son on her lap. Mercy, because her whole being is nothing but compassion: compassion for her Son, and compassion for her children, because she has not only one son. His Mother became the Mother of all men, and she has compassion not only on her Son, but also on her children. She sees our pains, our sufferings and our struggles. She smiles upon us in danger; she weeps with us in sorrow. She relieves our sadness and sanctifies our joy. Proper to the heart of a mother is the intimate participation in everything that stirs the hearts of her children. Our Lady is our Mother. She loves each of us individually – even the most miserable and sinful – much more than the combined love of all the mothers of the world.
Patrick of Irish fame was born in Kilpatrick, Scotland in 387 to
Christian parents of means and position. At the age of sixteen Patrick
was abducted and sold into slavery. In Ireland he worked as a shepherd
in the service of the chieftain Milchu of Dalriada, who was also a Druid
high priest. Alone with the sheep, young Patrick developed a deep
prayer life. Referring to this period of his life in his “Confessio” he writes: “… and the faith grew in me, and the spirit was roused …”
became acquainted with the Celtic language, and with the ways of the
Druids, a knowledge that was to be crucial to his effectiveness in
ridding Ireland of pagan Druidism.
Led by an angel, after six
years Patrick fled captivity, walked 200 miles to the sea and boarded a
ship, ultimately returning to his people. They begged him to remain,
but Patrick felt the call to dedicate his life to God. He spent time in
the monastery of St. Martin de Tours and on the island sanctuary of
Lérins and was ordained a priest by his mentor, the great St. Germain.
the “voices” of Ireland called out to Patrick to return. Commended to
Pope St. Celestine by St. Germain, Patrick received the commission to
bring the green isle into the fold of Christ.
to Ireland, Patrick proceeded to win over the pagan chieftains, druids
and ultimately the king by his daring, meekness, miracles and inspired
teaching. The tradition of a three-leafed shamrock originated in the
fact that he held the shamrock up before the Irish chieftains as he
explained the doctrine of the Holy Trinity of three divine Persons in
Before the apostle’s faith, ardent fervor and miracles,
druid magic melted away and druid strongholds succumbed. As Patrick and
his companions announced the glad tidings of Redemption, Ireland was
cloaked in the green mantle of new hope and faith.
wrestling with paganism, Patrick wrestled with God in prayer and
penance, obtaining from Him great blessings for Ireland and was granted
to be the judge of Ireland on the Last Day. Before his death, he was
also granted a vision in which he saw the light of the Catholic faith
shining in Ireland for many centuries, then dimming to the point of only
prevailing in certain areas, then growing and glowing again.
Patrick died on March 17 having spent forty years in preaching the Gospel in Ireland. First Photo by: Andreas F. Borchert Shamrock Emblem by: Setanta Saki
On the Way of the Cross, you see, my children, only the first step is painful. Our greatest cross is the fear of crosses … We have not the courage to carry our cross, and we are very much mistaken; for, whatever we do, the cross holds us tight – we cannot escape from it. What, then, have we to lose? Why not love our crosses, and make use of them to take us to heaven?
was born near Edessa in Mesopotamia, in present-day Iraq, into an
extremely wealthy family. Though he preferred the celibate life, his
parents chose a bride for him but on the seventh day of the customary
festivities preceding the marriage, Abraham disappeared.
searching for seventeen days the family found the fugitive groom in the
desert, leading a life of intense prayer. Oblivious to threats and
entreaties, he built a cell and walled himself in with only an orifice
through which food could be passed. After his parents’ death, Abraham
commissioned a friend to distribute his wealth among the poor.
people began to flock to Abraham for council and guidance, the Bishop
of Edessa ordained him a priest against his humble protests. He then
asked him to leave his hermitage to preach to the nearby colony of
Beth-Kiduna, a seat of idolaters who had resisted every attempt at
but obedient, the hermit settled in Beth-Kiduna where he built a church
and, after earnest prayer, set out to destroy pagan altars and topple
idols. Needless to say, the infuriated villagers beat him and expelled
him from their midst. In the morning he was back praying in his church
and from there went out to harangue the people urging them to give up
their superstitions and abominations. This time he was stoned and left
for dead, but recovering, again returned and bearing insults, isolation
and mistreatment, he persevered.
After three years, the
inhabitants of Beth-Kiduna realized that there was something to this
man’s meekness and patience, and began to listen to him. After
baptizing and confirming the many converts in the region, Abraham passed
his apostolic work onto another and returned to the desert where he
lived for many years until his death at the age of seventy.