Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Saint Ignatius of Antioch

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The 17th of October is the feast day of Saint Ignatius of Antioch (Greek: Ἰγνάτιος Ἀντιοχείας, Ignátios Antiokheías; c. 35 – c. 107). He is also known as Ignatius Theophorus (Ιγνάτιος ὁ Θεοφόρος, Ignátios ho Theophóros, lit. “the God-bearing”) or Ignatius Nurono (lit. “The fire-bearer”). He is the patron saint of the Church in eastern Mediterranean; and the Church in North Africa.

The following is from Butler’s Lives of the Saints:

ST. IGNATIUS, Bishop of Antioch, was the disciple of St. John. When Domitian persecuted the Church, St. Ignatius obtained peace for his own flock by fasting and prayer. But for his part he desired to suffer with Christ, and to prove himself a perfect disciple. In the year 107, Trajan came to Antioch, and forced the Christians to choose between apostasy and death. “Who art thou, poor devil,” the emperor said when Ignatius was brought before him, “who settest our commands at naught?” “Call not him ‘poor devil,'” Ignatius answered, “who bears God within him.” And when the emperor questioned him about his meaning, Ignatius explained that he bore in his heart Christ crucified for his sake. Thereupon the emperor condemned him to be torn to pieces by wild beasts at Rome. St. Ignatius thanked God, Who had so honored him, “binding him in the chains of Paul, His apostle.”

He journeyed to Rome, guarded by soldiers, and with no fear except of losing the martyr’s crown. He was devoured by lions in the Roman amphitheatre. The wild beasts left nothing of his body, except a few bones, which were reverently treasured at Antioch, until their removal to the Church of St. Clement at Rome, in 637. After the martyr’s death, several Christians saw him in vision standing before Christ, and interceding for them.

Reflection.—Ask St. Ignatius to obtain for you the grace of profiting by all you have to suffer, and rejoicing in it as a means of likeness to your crucified Redeemer.

Image: Fresco of St. Ignatius from Hosios Loukas Monastery, Boeotia, Greece 

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque

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The 16th of October is the feast day of Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque (French: Marguerite-Marie Alacoque, 1647–1690). She is the patron saint of those suffering with polio, devotees of the Sacred Heart, and loss of parents.

The following is from Catholic Encyclopedia:

Religious of the Visitation Order. Apostle of the Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, born at Lhautecour, France, 22 July, 1647; died at Paray-le-Monial, 17 October, 1690.

Her parents, Claude Alacoque and Philiberte Lamyn, were distinguished less for temporal possessions than for their virtue, which gave them an honourable position. From early childhood Margaret showed intense love for the Blessed Sacrament, and preferred silence and prayer to childish amusements. After her first communion at the age of nine, she practised in secret severe corporal mortifications, until paralysis confined her to bed for four years. At the end of this period, having made a vow to the Blessed Virgin to consecrate herself to religious life, she was instantly restored to perfect health. The death of her father and the injustice of a relative plunged the family in poverty and humiliation, after which more than ever Margaret found consolation in the Blessed Sacrament, and Christ made her sensible of His presence and protection. He usually appeared to her as the Crucified or the Ecce Homo, and this did not surprise her, as she thought others had the same Divine assistance. When Margaret was seventeen, the family property was recovered, and her mother besought her to establish herself in the world. Her filial tenderness made her believe that the vow of childhood was not binding, and that she could serve God at home by penance and charity to the poor. Then, still bleeding from her self-imposed austerities, she began to take part in the pleasures of the world. One night upon her return from a ball, she had a vision of Christ as He was during the scourging, reproaching her for infidelity after He had given her so many proofs of His love. During her entire life Margaret mourned over two faults committed at this time—the wearing of some superfluous ornaments and a mask at the carnival to please her brothers.

On 25 May, 1671, she entered the Visitation Convent at Paray, where she was subjected to many trials to prove her vocation, and in November, 1672, pronounced her final vows. She had a delicate constitution, but was gifted with intelligence and good judgement, and in the cloister she chose for herself what was most repugnant to her nature, making her life one of inconceivable sufferings, which were often relieved or instantly cured by our Lord, Who acted as her Director, appeared to her frequently and conversed with her, confiding to her the mission to establish the devotion to His Sacred Heart. These extraordinary occurrences drew upon her the adverse criticism of the community, who treated her as a visionary, and her superior commanded her to live the common life. But her obedience, her humility, and invariable charity towards those who persecuted her, finally prevailed, and her mission, accomplished in the crucible of suffering, was recognized even by those who had shown her the most bitter opposition.

Margaret Mary was inspired by Christ to establish the Holy Hour and to pray lying prostrate with her face to the ground from eleven till midnight on the eve of the first Friday of each month, to share in the mortal sadness He endured when abandoned by His Apostles in His Agony, and to receive holy Communion on the first Friday of every month. In the first great revelation, He made known to her His ardent desire to be loved by men and His design of manifesting His Heart with all Its treasures of love and mercy, of sanctification and salvation. He appointed the Friday after the octave of the feast of Corpus Christi as the feast of the Sacred Heart; He called her “the Beloved Disciple of the Sacred Heart”, and the heiress of all Its treasures. The love of the Sacred Heart was the fire which consumed her, and devotion to the Sacred Heart is the refrain of all her writings. In her last illness she refused all alleviation, repeating frequently: “What have I in heaven and what do I desire on earth, but Thee alone, O my God”, and died pronouncing the Holy Name of Jesus.

The discussion of the mission and virtues of Margaret Mary continued for years. All her actions, her revelations, her spiritual maxims, her teachings regarding the devotion to the Sacred Heart, of which she was the chief exponent as well as the apostle, were subjected to the most severe and minute examination, and finally the Sacred Congregation of rites passed a favourable vote on the heroic virtues of this servant of God. In March, 1824, Leo XII pronounced her Venerable, and on 18 September, 1864, Pius IX declared her Blessed. When her tomb was canonically opened in July, 1830, two instantaneous cures took place. Her body rests under the altar in the chapel at Paray, and many striking favours have been obtained by pilgrims attracted thither from all parts of the world. Her feast is celebrated on 17 October. [Editor’s Note: St. Margaret Mary was canonized by Benedict XV in 1920.]

SISTER MARY BERNARD DOLL

Image: Margaretha Maria Alacoque, Montauban Cathedral

Monday, 15 October 2018

Saint Teresa of Ávila

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The 15th of October is the feast day of Saint Teresa of Ávila (28 March 1515 – 4 October 1582). She is also known as Saint Teresa of Jesus, and was baptised as Teresa Sánchez de Cepeda y Ahumada. She is the patron saint against bodily illnesses; headaches; chess; lacemakers; of laceworkers; loss of parents; people in need of grace; people in religious orders; people ridiculed for their piety; Požega, Croatia; sick people; sickness; Spain; and Talisay City, Cebu.

The following is from Butler’s Lives of the Saints:

WHEN a child of seven years, Teresa ran away from her home at Avila in Spain, in the hope of being martyred by the Moors. Being brought back and asked the reason of her flight, she replied, “I want to see God, and I must die before I can see Him.” She then began with her brother to build a hermitage in the garden, and was often heard repeating “Forever, forever” Some years later she became a Carmelite nun. Frivolous conversations checked her progress towards perfection, but at last, in her thirty-first year, she gave herself wholly to God. A vision showed her the very place in hell to which her own light faults would have led her, and she lived ever after in the deepest distrust of self. She was called to reform her Order, favored with distinct commands from Our Lord, and her heart was pierced with divine love; but she dreaded nothing so much as delusion, and to the last acted only under obedience to her confessors, which both made her strong and kept her safe. She died on October 4, 1582.

Reflection.—”After all I die a child of the Church.” These were the Saint’s last words. They teach us the lesson of her life—to trust in humble, childlike obedience to our spiritual guides as the surest means of salvation.

Image: Saint Teresa of Ávila by Peter Paul Rubens

Sunday, 14 October 2018

Pope Saint Callixtus I

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The 14th of October is the feast day of Pope Saint Callixtus I also known as Callistus (died 222). He is the patron saint of cemetery workers.

The following is from Butler’s Lives of the Saints:

EARLY in the third century, Callistus, then a deacon, was intrusted by Pope St. Zephyrinus with the rule of the clergy, and set by him over the cemeteries of the Christians at Rome; and, at the death of Zephyrinus, Callistus, according to the Roman usage, succeeded to the Apostolic See. A decree is ascribed to him appointing the four fasts of the Ember seasons, but his name is best known in connection with the old cemetery on the Appian Way, which was enlarged and adorned by him, and is called to this day the Catacomb of St. Callistus. During the persecution under the Emperor Severus, St. Callistus was driven to take shelter in the poor and populous quarters of the city; yet, in spite of these troubles, and of the care of the Church, he made diligent search for the body of Calipodius, one of his clergy who had suffered martyrdom shortly before, by being cast into the Tiber. When he found it he was full of joy, and buried it, with hymns of praise. Callistus was martyred October 14, 223.

Reflection.—In the body of a Christian we see that which has been the temple of the Holy Ghost, which even now is precious in the eyes of God, Who will watch over it, and one day raise it up in glory to shine forever in His kingdom. Let our actions bear witness to our belief in these truths.

Image: Pope Callixtus institutes the fasts

Saturday, 13 October 2018

Saint Edward the Confessor

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The 13th of October is the feast day of Saint Edward the Confessor (c. 1003 – 5 January 1066). He is the patron saint of difficult marriages; England (before 1347); English Royal Family; and Kings.

The following is from Butler’s Lives of the Saints:

EDWARD was unexpectedly raised to the throne of England at the age of forty years, twenty-seven of which he had passed in exile. On the throne, the virtues of his earlier years, simplicity, gentleness, lowliness, but above all his angelic purity, shone with new brightness. By a rare inspiration of God, though he married to content his nobles and people, he preserved perfect chastity in the wedded state. So little did he set his heart on riches, that thrice when he saw a servant robbing his treasury he let him escape, saying the poor fellow needed the gold more than he. He loved to stand at his palace-gate, speaking kindly to the poor beggars and lepers who crowded about him, and many of whom he healed of their diseases. The long wars had brought the kingdom to a sad state, but Edward’s zeal and sanctity soon wrought a great change. His reign of twenty-four years was one of almost unbroken peace, the country grew prosperous, the ruined churches rose under his hand, the weak lived secure, and for ages afterwards men spoke with affection of the “laws of good St. Edward.” The holy king had a great devotion to building and enriching churches. Westminster Abbey was his latest and noblest work. He died January 5, 1066.

Reflection.—David longed to build a temple for God’s service. Solomon reckoned it his glory to accomplish the work. But we, who have God made flesh dwelling in our tabernacles, ought to think no time, no zeal, no treasures too much to devote to the splendor and beauty of a Christian church.

Image: Saint Edward the Confessor

Friday, 12 October 2018

Saint Edwin of Northumbria

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The 12th of October is the feast day of Saint Edwin of Northumbria (Old English: Ēadwine, c. 586 – 12 October 632/633). He is also known as Eadwine or Æduinus.

The following is from Catholic Encyclopedia:

EDWIN, Aeduini or Edwine (585–633), king of Northumbria, was the son of Ella of Deira. On the seizure of Deira by Æthelfrith of Bernicia (probably 605), Edwin was expelled and is said to have taken refuge with Cadfan, king of Gwynedd. After the battle of Chester, in which Æthelfrith defeated the Welsh, Edwin fled to Roedwald, the powerful king of East Anglia, who after some wavering espoused his cause and defeated and slew Æthelfrith at the river Idle in 617. Edwin thereupon succeeded to the Northumbrian throne, driving out the sons of Æthelfrith. There is little evidence of external activity on the part of Edwin before 625. It is probable that the conquest of the Celtic kingdom of Elmet, a district in the neighbourhood of the modern Leeds, ruled over by a king named Cerdic (Ceredig) is to be referred to this period, and this may have led to the later quarrel with Cadwallon, king of Gwynedd. Edwin seems also to have annexed Lindsey to his kingdom by 625. In this year he entered upon negotiations with Eadbald of Kent for a marriage with his sister Æthelberg. It was made a condition that Christianity should be tolerated in Northumbria, and accordingly Paulinus was consecrated bishop by Iustus in 625, and was sent to Northumbria with Æthelberg; According to Bede, Edwin was favourably disposed towards Christianity owing to a vision he had seen at the court of Rœdwald, and in 626 he allowed Eanfled, his daughter by Æthelberg, to be baptized. On the day of the birth of his daughter, the king’s life had been attempted by Eomer, an emissary of Cwichelm, king of Wessex. Preserved by the devotion of his thegn Lilla, Edwin vowed to become a Christian if victorious over his treacherous enemy. He was successful in the ensuing campaign, and abstained from the worship of the gods of his race. A letter of Pope Boniface helped to decide him, and after consulting his friends and counsellors, of whom the priest Coifi afterwards took a prominent part in destroying the temple at Goodmanham, he was baptized with his people and nobles at York, at Easter 627. In this town he granted Paulinus a see, built a wooden church and began one of stone. Besides York, Yeavering and Maelmin in Bernicia, and Catterick in Deira, were the chief scenes of the work of Paulinus. It was the influence of Edwin which led to the conversion of Eorpwald of East Anglia. Bede notices the peaceful state of Britain at this time, and relates that Edwin was preceded on his progresses by a kind of standard like that borne before the Roman emperors. In 633 Cadwallon of North Wales and Penda of Mercia rose against Edwin and slew him at Hatfield near Doncaster. His kinsman Osric succeeded in Deira, and Eanfrith the son of /Ethelfrith in Bernicia. Bede tells us that Edwin had subdued the islands of Anglesey and Man, and the Annales Cambriae record that he besieged Cadwallon (perhaps in 632) in the island of Glannauc (Pufiin Island). He was definitely recognized as overlord by all the other Anglo-Saxon kings of his clay except Eadbald of Kent.

See Bede, Hist. Eccl. (ed. Plummer, Oxford, 1896), ii. 5, 9, 11, 12, 13, 15, 16, 18, 20; Nennius (ed. San Marte, 1844), § 63; Vita S. Oswaldi, ix. Simeon of Durham (ed. Arnold, London, 1882–1885, vol. i. R.S.).

Image: St. Edwin of Northumbria depiction at St Mary, Sledmere, Yorkshire.

Thursday, 11 October 2018

Pope Saint John XXIII

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The 11th of October is the feast day of Pope Saint John XXIII (25 November 1881 – 3 June 1963). He was born Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli. He is the patron saint of Papal delegates, Patriarchy of Venice, the Second Vatican Council, Christian unity, the Diocese of Bergamo, Sotto il Monte, Valsamoggia, and the Italian Army.

Pope Saint John XIII lived between 1881 till 1963. He was the third of thirteen children born to a poor sharecropping family who lived in Lombardy, Italy. At the age of 12, he entered the seminary, served a short stint in the Italian Army, and in 1904 was ordained a priest. He later became a military chaplain during World War I. Later he served in Rome and rose in ecclesiastical rank, becoming bishop and later cardinal-patriarch of Venice. He was unexpectedly elected as the 261st Pope when he was 76 years old and took the name of John, which had not been used for over 500 years. To the surprise of all, he called the Second Vatican Council and precided over its first session. However, he died of stomach cancer, reigning as Pope for less than 5 years. He had a special concern for the equal dignity of humanity, Christian unity and world peace. He was called the “Good Pope” or “il Papa buono” in Italian. He was canonised by Pope Francis who also canonised Pope John Paul II in 2014.

Image: Portrait of Pope Saint John XXIII

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Saint Francis Borgia

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The 10th of October is the feast day of Saint Francis Borgia (28 October 1510 – 30 September 1572). He is invoked against earthquakes; and the patron saint of Portugal; Gandía; and Rota, Marianas.

The following is from Butler’s Lives of the Saints:

FRANCIS BORGIA, Duke of Gandia and Captain-General of Catalonia, was one of the handsomest, richest, and most honored nobles in Spain, when, in 1539, there was laid upon him the sad duty of escorting the remains of his sovereign, Queen Isabella, to the royal burying-place at Granada. The coffin had to be opened for him that he might verify the body before it was placed in the tomb, and so foul a sight met his eyes that he vowed never again to serve a sovereign who could suffer so base a change. It was some years before he could follow the call of his Lord; at length he entered the Society of Jesus to cut himself off from any chance of dignity or preferment. But his Order chose him to be its head. The Turks were threatening Christendom, and St. Pius V. sent his nephew to gather Christian princes into a league for its defence. The holy Pope chose Francis to accompany him, and, worn out though he was, the Saint obeyed at once. The fatigues of the embassy exhausted what little life was left. St. Francis died on his return to Rome, October 10, 1572.

Reflection.—St. Francis Borgia learnt the worthlessness of earthly greatness at the funeral of Queen Isabella. Do the deaths of friends teach us aught about ourselves?

Image: Saint Francis Borgia, S.J., 4th Duke of Gandía

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Blessed John Henry Newman

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The 9th of October is the feast day of Blessed John Henry Newman (21 February 1801 – 11 August 1890). He is the patron saint of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham.

Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman lived between 1801 till 1890. He was the first of six children of Protestant parents in London, England. He loved to read the scriptures as a child, and had a conversion to Christianity when he was 15. He became an Anglican priest and was a very influential Oxford scholar. He led the Oxford movement which argued for the revival of traditional religious practice in the Church of England. As he became more influenced by the Church Fathers and other Catholic writers, he became also more aligned with the Catholic Church and opposed the Anglican doctrine. He then became unable to stay within the Protestant denomination when he studied Church history. In 1845 he converted to Catholicism and experienced much ridicule in the academic and religious fields. He became a Catholic priest 2 years later and was made a Cardinal in 1879. He wrote 40 books and 21000 letters which influenced the Second Vatican Council. He also founded the London Oratory. Apologia is his most famous work where he defends his conversion to the Catholic Church.

Image: Portrait of Newman by
John Everett Millais, 1881

Monday, 8 October 2018

Blessed Ambrose of Sienna

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The 8th of October is the feast day of Blessed Ambrose of Sienna (16 April 1220 – 1286).

The following is from Catholic Encyclopedia:

Born at Sienna, 16 April, 1220, of the noble family of Sansedoni; d. at Sienna, in 1286. When about one year old, Ambrose was cured of a congenital deformity, in the Dominican church of St. Mary Magdalene. As a child and youth he was noted for his love of charity, exercised especially towards pilgrims, the sick in hospitals, and prisoners. He entered the novitiate of the Dominican convent in his native city at the age of seventeen, was sent to Paris to continue his philosophical and theological studies under Albert the Great, and had for a fellow-student there St. Thomas Aquinas. In 1248 he was sent with St. Thomas to Cologne where he taught in the Dominican schools. In 1260 he was one of the band of missionaries who evangelized Hungary. In 1266 Sienna was put under an interdict for having espoused the cause of the Emperor Frederick II, then at enmity with the Holy See. The Siennese petitioned Ambrose to plead their cause before the Sovereign Pontiff, and so successfully did he do this that he obtained for his native city full pardon and a renewal of all her privileges. The Siennese soon cast off their allegiance; a second time Ambrose obtained pardon for them. He brought about a reconciliation between Emperor Conrad of Germany and Pope Clement IV. About his time he was chosen bishop of his native city, but he declined the office. For a time, he devoted himself to preaching the Crusade; and later, at the request of Pope Gregory X, caused the studies which the late wars had practically suspended to be resumed in the Dominican convent at Rome. After the death of Pope Gregory X he retired to one of the convents of his order, whence he was summoned by Innocent V and sent as papal legate to Tuscany. He restored peace between Venice and Genoa and also between Florence and Pisa. His name was inserted in the Roman Martyrology in 1577. His biographers exhibit his life as one of perfect humility. He loved poetry, and many legends are told of victories over carnal temptations. He was renowned as an apostolic preacher. His oratory, simple rather than elegant, was most convincing and effective. His sermons, although once collected, are not now extant.

Acta SS., March, III, 180-251; CROISSANT, Synopsis vit et miraculorum B. Ambrosii Senensis (Brussels, 1623); QUÉTIF ET ECHARD, SS. Ord. Proed. (Paris, 1719); RAYNALDUS, Annales (1648),ad ann. 1286; TOURON, Histoire des hommes illustres de l’ordre de S. Dominique (Paris, 1743).

E.G. FITZGERALD

Image: Blessed Ambrogio Sansedoni

Our Lady of Medjugorje

September 25, 2018 Message to Marija

Dear children! Also nature extends signs of its love to you through the fruits which it gives you. Also, you, by my coming, have received an abundance of gifts and fruits. Little children, how much you have answered to my call, God knows. I am calling you - it is not late - decide for holiness and a life with God, in grace and in peace. God will bless you and give to you a hundred-fold, if you trust in Him. Thank you for having responded to my call.

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