Sunday, 20 January 2019

Saint Sebastian

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The 20th of January is the feast day of Saint Sebastian (d. c. 288 A.D.). He is the patron saint of soldiers, plague-stricken, archers, holy Christian death, athletes, Negombo, Roman Catholic Diocese of Tarlac, and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bacolod.

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

ST. SEBASTIAN was an officer in the Roman army, esteemed even by the heathen as a good soldier, and honored by the Church ever since as a champion of Jesus Christ. Born at Narbonne, Sebastian came to Rome about the year 284, and entered the lists against the powers of evil. He found the twin brothers Marcus and Marcellinus in prison for the faith, and, when they were near yielding to the entreaties of their relatives, encouraged them to despise flesh and blood, and to die for Christ. God confirmed his words by miracle: light shone around him while he spoke; he cured the sick by his prayers; and in this divine strength he led multitudes to the faith, among them the Prefect of Rome, with his son Tiburtius. He saw his disciples die before him, and one of them came back from heaven to tell him that his own end was near. It was in a contest of fervor and charity that St. Sebastian found the occasion of martyrdom. The Prefect of Rome, after his conversion, retired to his estates in Campania, and took a great number of his fellow-converts with him to this place of safety. It was a question whether Polycarp the priest or St. Sebastian should accompany the neophytes. Each was eager to stay and face the danger at Rome, and at last the Pope decided that the Roman church could not spare the services of Sebastian. He continued to labor at the post of danger till he was betrayed by a false disciple. He was led before Diocletian, and, at the emperor’s command, pierced with arrows and left for dead. But God raised him up again, and of his own accord he Went before the emperor and conjured him to stay the persecution of the Church. Again sentenced, he was at last beaten to death by clubs, and crowned his labors by the merit of a double martyrdom.

Reflection.—Your ordinary occupations will give you opportunities of laboring for the faith. Ask help from St. Sebastian. He was not a priest nor a religious, but a soldier.

Saturday, 19 January 2019

Blessed Alvaro of Cordoba

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The 19th of February is the feast day of Blessed Alvaro of Cordoba. He is also known as Alvarez of Cordova.

He lived between 1350 and 1430 and was born to a noble family in Zamora, Spain. He became a Dominican and preached throughout Spain, serving at the court of Queen Catherine. He made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and started to preach the crusades against the Muslims when he returned. The priory of Scala Caeli (Ladder of Heaven) at Cordova was founded by him, legend says that the angels helped in providing its building materials. He placed pictures of the holy places in Jerusalem in the gardens and help to make the Stations of the Cross popular. He begged for alms, though he could have obtained what he needed from the royal court. Another legend says that he found a dying beggar, whom he wrapped in a blanket and carried back to the convent. When he unwrapped the cloth, he found a crucifix only. He helped to spread devotion to the Way of the Cross in Western Europe and led a resistance against the anti-pope and help to bring Spain under the allegiance of the true Pope in Rome.

Saint Canute IV of Denmark

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The 19th of January is the feast day of Saint Canute IV of Denmark (c. 1042 – 10 July 1086). He is also known as Canute the Holy.

The following is from Catholic Encyclopedia:

Also spelled CNUT.

Martyr and King of Denmark, date of birth uncertain; d. 10 July 1086, the third of the thirteen natural sons of Sweyn II surnamed Estridsen. Elected king on the death of his brother Harold about 1080, he waged war on his barbarous enemies and brought Courland and Livonia to the faith. Having married Eltha, daughter of Robert, Count of Flanders, he had a son Charles, surnamed the good. He was a strong ruler, as is proved by his stern dealing with the pirate Eigill of Bornholm. The happiness of his people and the interests of the Church were the objects he had most at heart. To the cathedral of Roskilde, still the royal burying-place, he gave his own diadem. His austerity was equalled by his assiduity in prayer. An expedition to England, in favour of the Saxons against William the Conqueror, planned by him in 1085, failed through the treachery of his brother Olaf. His people having revolted on account of the cruelties of certain tax-collectors, Canute retired to the island of Funen. There, in the church of St. Alban, after due preparation for death, the king, his brother Benedict, and seventeen others were surrounded and slain, 10 July, 1086. His feast is 19 January, translation, 10 July; his emblems, a lance or arrows, in memory of the manner of his death.

“Acta SS., July, III, 118-149, containing the life (written in 1105) by Aelnoth, a monk of Canterbury, and also that by SAXO GRAMMATICUS; BOLLANDISTS, “Bibliotheca Hagiographica Latina”, (Brussels, 1898), 232; CHEVALIER. “Repertoire des sources historiques du moyen age” (Paris, 1905); I, col. 771; BUTLER, “Lives of the Saints”, 19 January.

PATRICK RYAN

Friday, 18 January 2019

Saint Margaret of Hungary

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The 18th of January is the feast day of Saint Margaret of Hungary (1242–1271). She was a Dominican nun and her parents were King Béla IV of Hungary and Maria Laskarina. Her older siblings were St. Kinga of Poland (Kunegunda) and the Blessed Yolanda of Poland and, the niece of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary through her father.

The following is from Catholic Encyclopedia:

Daughter of King Bela I of Hungary and his wife Marie Laskaris, born 1242; died 18 Jan., 1271. According to a vow which her parents made when Hungary was liberated from the Tatars that their next child should be dedicated to religion, Margaret, in 1245 entered the Dominican Convent of Veszprem. Invested with the habit at the age of four, she was transferred in her tenth year to the Convent of the Blessed Virgin founded by her parents on the Hasen Insel near Buda, the Margareten Insel near Budapest today, and where the ruins of the convent are still to be seen. Here Margaret passed all her life, which was consecrated to contemplation and penance, and was venerated as a saint during her lifetime. She strenuously opposed the plans of her father, who for political reasons wished to marry her to King Ottokar II of Bohemia. Margaret appears to have taken solemn vows when she was eighteen. All narratives call special attention to Margaret’s sanctity and her spirit of earthly renunciation. Her whole life was one unbroken chain of devotional exercises and penance. She chastised herself unceasingly from childhood, wore hair garments, and an iron girdle round her waist, as well as shoes spiked with nails; she was frequently scourged, and performed the most menial work in the convent.

Shortly after her death, steps were taken for her canonization, and in 1271-1276 investigations referring to this were taken up; in 1275-1276 the process was introduced, but not completed. Not till 1640 was the process again taken up, and again it was not concluded. Attempts which were made in 1770 by Count Ignatz Batthyanyi were also fruitless; so that the canonization never took place, although Margaret was venerated as a saint shortly after her death; and Pius VI consented on 28 July, 1789, to her veneration as a saint. Pius VII raised her feast day to a festum duplex. The minutes of the proceedings of 1271-1272 record seventy-four miracles; and among those giving testimony were twenty-seven in whose favour the miracles had been wrought. These cases refer to the cure of illnesses, and one case of awakening from death. Margaret’s remains were given to the Poor Clares when the Dominican Order was dissolved; they were first kept in Pozsony and later in Buda. After the order had been suppressed by Joseph II, in 1782, the relics were destroyed in 1789; but some portions are still preserved in Gran, Gyor, Pannonhalma. The feast day of the saint is 18 January. In art she is depicted with a lily and holding a book in her hand.

NEMETHY-FRAKNOI, Arpadhazi b. Margit tortenetehez (Budapest, 1885), being contributions on the history of Blessed Margaret of the House of Arpaden; DEMKO, Arpadhazi b. Margit elete (Budapest, 1895), a life of the saint. Further bibliographical particulars in Arpad and the Arpaden, edited by CSANKI (Budapest, 1908), 387-388; minutes of the proceedings of 1271-72, published in Monumenta Romana Episcopotus Vesprimiensis, I (Budapest, 1896).

A. ALDASY

Thursday, 17 January 2019

Saint Anthony the Great

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The 17th of January is the feast day of Saint Anthony the Great (January 12, 251 – January 17, 356). He is also known as Anthony of Egypt, Anthony the Abbot, Anthony of the Desert, Anthony the Anchorite, and Anthony of Thebes. He is the patron saint of skin diseases, basket makers, brushmakers, gravediggers, Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, and Rome.

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

ST. ANTONY was born in the year 251, in Upper Egypt. Hearing at Mass the words, “If thou wilt be perfect, go, sell what thou hast, and give to the poor,” he gave away all his vast possessions. He then begged an aged hermit to teach him the spiritual life. He also visited various solitaries, copying in himself the principal virtue of each. To serve God more perfectly, Antony entered the desert and immured himself in a ruin, building up the door so that none could enter. Here the devils assaulted him most furiously, appearing as various monsters, and even wounding him severely; but his courage never failed, and he overcame them all by confidence in God and by the sign of the cross. One night, whilst Antony was in his solitude, many devils scourged him so terribly that he lay as if dead. A friend found him thus, and believing him dead carried him home. But when Antony came to himself he persuaded his friend to carry him, in spite of his wounds, back to his solitude. Here, prostrate from weakness, he defied the devils, saying, “I fear you not; you cannot separate me from the love of Christ.” After more vain assaults the devils fled, and Christ appeared to Antony in glory. His only food was bread and water, which he never tasted before sunset, and sometimes only once in two, three, or four days. He wore sackcloth and sheepskin, and he often knelt in prayer from sunset to sunrise. Many souls flocked to him for advice, and after twenty years of solitude he consented to guide them in holiness—thus founding the first monastery. His numerous miracles attracted such multitudes that he fled again into solitude, where he lived by manual labor. He expired peacefully at a very advanced age. St. Athanasius, his biographer, says that the mere knowledge of how St. Antony lived is a good guide to virtue.

Reflection.—The more violent were the assaults of temptation suffered by St. Antony, the more firmly did he grasp his weapons, namely, mortification and prayer. Let us imitate him in this if we wish to obtain victories like his.
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Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Saint Priscilla of Rome

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The 16th of January is the feast day of Saint Priscilla of Rome (1st c.).

The following is from Catholic Encyclopedia:

(Or Prisca.)

Jewish tentmakers, who left Rome (Aquila was a native of Pontus) in the Jewish persecution under Claudius, 49 or 50, and settled in Corinth, where they entertained St. Paul, as being of their trade, on his first visit to the town (Acts, 18:1f.). The time of their conversion to the Faith is not known. They accompanied St. Paul to Ephesus (Acts, 18:18-19), instructed the Alexandrian Apollo, entertained the Apostle Paul at Ephesus for three years, during his third missionary journey, kept a Christian church in their house (I Cor., 16:19), left Ephesus for Rome, probably after the riot stirred up by the silversmith Demetrius (Acts, 19:24-40), kept in Rome also a church in their house (Rom., 16:3-5), but soon left that city, probably on account of the persecution of Nero, and settled again at Ephesus (II Tim., 4:l9). The Roman Martyrology commemorates them on 8 July. It is not known why Scripture several times names Priscilla before Aquila; the different opinions are given by Cornely, (Rom., 772). A number of modern difficulties based on the frequent change of residence of Aquila and Priscilla are treated by Cornely, (Rom., 16:3-5).

HAGEN, Lexicon Biblicum (Paris, 1905); LE CAMUS in VIG., Dict. de la Bible (Paris, 1895); KLOSS and KAULEN in Kirchenlex. (Freiburg, 1882).

A. J. MAAS

Image Credit: Wellcome Library, London. St. Paul is staying in the house of Aquila and his wife Priscilla, the family are making tents and St. Paul is writing. Engraving by J. Sadeler after Jodocus Winghe. Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Saint Arnold Janssen

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The 15th of January is the feast day of Saint Arnold Janssen S.V.D. (5 November 1837 – 15 January 1909). He was a GErman-Dutch Roman Catholic Priest and missionary.

The following is from Catholic Encyclopedia:

Founder and first superior-general of the Society of the Divine Word, b. at Goch in the Rhine Province, Germany, 5 Nov., 1837; d. at Steyl, Holland, 15 Jan., 1909. At a very tender age he manifested an inclination for the priesthood. After completing his Classical studies at the diocesan college of Gaesdonck in the northern Rhine Province, he took up the study of philosophy at the Academy of Munster, and then entered the University of Bonn. Having completed his theological studies at Bonn and at Munster, he was ordained, 15 Aug., 1861. He devoted some years to pastoral work and the teaching of Christian doctrine, in 1873 becoming chaplain and director at the Ursuline convent of Kempen. As diocesan president of the Apostleship of Prayer he laboured for the propagation of that association, and in this capacity felt called to found a missionary centre for Germany. The result was the establishment of the Mission House of St. Michael at Steyl, Holland, 8 Sept., 1875. Out of this grew the Society of the Divine Word, which received canonical approbation in 1901. The congregation now has flourishing missions in all parts of the world, and, besides that at Steyl, has four mission houses in Germany and Austria and two in the United States. The institution at Techny, Ill., called St. Mary’s Mission House, was opened 2 Feb., 1909, and was followed by another mission house, opened September, 1912, at Girard, Pa., the object of both institutions is to educate priests for the heathen missions in charge of the society. The spirit of the founder lives also in the many educational institutions conducted by the members of the Society of the Divine Word. In conjunction with his missionary work Father Janssen in 1889 founded the congregation of the Servant Sisters of the Holy Ghost, who assist the priests in their missionary undertakings. This congregation numbers some 600 sisters, who have a home for the aged at Techny, Ill. In 1912 Father Janssen’s society numbered 625 priests, 1250 students for the priesthood, and 800 lay brothers.

[Note: Arnold Janssen was beatified by Pope Paul VI in 1975.] HERM. RICHARZ

Monday, 14 January 2019

Saint Felix of Nola

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The 14th of January is the feast day of Saint Felix of Nola (d. ca. 250). He is the patron saint of Nola, Italy.

The following is from Catholic Encyclopedia:

Born at Nola, near Naples, and lived in the third century. After his father’s death he distributed almost all his goods amongst the poor, and was ordained priest by Maximum Bishop of Nola. In the year 250, when the Decian persecution broke out, Maximus was forced to flee. The persecutors seized on Felix and he was cruelly scourged, loaded with chains, and cast into prison. One night an angel appeared to him and bade him go to help Maximus. His chains fell off, the doors opened, and the saint was enabled to bring relief to the bishop, who was then speechless from cold and hunger. On the persecutors making a second attempt to secure Felix, his escape was miraculously effected by a spider weaving her web over the opening of a hole into which he had just crept. Thus deceived, they sought their prey elsewhere. The persecution ceased the following year, and Felix, who had lain hidden in a dry well for six months, returned to his duties. On the death of Maximus he was earnestly desired as bishop, but he persuaded the people to choose another, his senior in the priesthood. The remnant of his estate having been confiscated in the persecution, he refused to take it back,and for his subsistence rented three acres of land, which he tilled with his own hands. Whatever remained over he gave to the poor, and if he had two coats at any time he invariably gave them the better. He lived to a ripe old age and died 14 January (on which day he is commemorated), but the year of his death is uncertain. Five churches were built in his honour, outside Nola, where his remains are kept, but some relics are also at Rome and Benevento. St. Paulinus, who acted as porter to one of these churches, testifies to numerous pilgrimages made in honour of Felix. The poems and letters of Paulinus on Felix are the source from which St. Gregory of Tours, Venerable Bede, and the priest Marcellus have drawn their biographies (see PAULINUS OF NOLA). There is another Felix of Nola, bishop and martyr under a Prefect Martianus. He is considered by some to be the same as the above.

AMBROSE COLEMAN

Sunday, 13 January 2019

Saint Hilary of Poitiers

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The 13th of January is the feast day of Saint Hilary of Poitiers (c. 310 – c. 367). He is also known as the “Hammer of the Arians” and the “Athanasius of the West.”

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

ST. HILARY was a native of Poitiers in Aquitaine. Born and educated a pagan, it was not till near middle age that he embraced Christianity, moved thereto mainly by the idea of God presented to him in the Holy Scriptures. He soon converted his wife and daughter, and separated himself rigidly from all un-Catholic company. In the beginning of his conversion St. Hilary would not eat with Jews or heretics, nor salute them by the way; but afterwards, for their sake, he relaxed this severity. He entered Holy Orders, and in 353 was chosen bishop of his native city. Arianism, under the protection of the Emperor Constantius, was just then in the height of its power, and St. Hilary found himself called upon to support the orthodox cause in several Gallic councils, in which Arian bishops formed an overwhelming majority. He was in consequence accused to the emperor, who banished him to Phrygia. He spent his three years and more of exile in composing his great works on the Trinity. In 359 he attended the Council of Seleucia, in which Arians, semi-Arians, and Catholics contended for the mastery. With the deputies of the council he proceeded to Constantinople, and there so dismayed the heads of the Arian party that they prevailed upon the emperor to let him return to Gaul. He traversed Gaul, Italy, and Illyria, wherever he came discomfiting the heretics and procuring triumph of orthodoxy. After seven or eight years of missionary travel he returned to Poitiers, where he died in peace in 368.

Reflection.—Like St. Hilary, we, too, are called to a lifelong contest with heretics; we shall succeed in proportion as we combine hatred of heresy, with compassion for its victims.

Saturday, 12 January 2019

Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys

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The 12th of January is the feast day of Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys C.N.D. (17th April 1620 – 12th January 1700). She is the patron saint against poverty; loss of parents; and people rejected by religious orders.

Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys lived between 1620 and 1700 and was born in France to a large middle-class Christian family. She had a religious experience when she was 20 years old and decided to dedicate her life to God through the Virgin Mary and entered an apostolate which taught underprivileged children. At the age of 32, she agreed to become a missionary in the New World as a lay teacher, teaching children of the colonists and the Native Americans. There Marguerite helped young ladies in preparing for marriage and family life as pioneer women. She was known as the “Mother of the Colony” as she signed and witness many marriage certificates of early settlers. Besides this, she also helped built the first church and school and founded the Congregation of Notre Dame of Montreal which is still active today. Now, she is considered the co-foundress of Montreal for all her efforts in apostolic and missionary work. She is the first canonised woman saint in Canada.

Our Lady of Medjugorje

January 2, 2019 Message to Mirjana

Dear children, sadly, among you, my children, there is so much battle, hatred, personal interests and selfishness. My children, so easily you forget my Son, His words, His love. Faith is being extinguished in many souls, and hearts are being grasped by material things of the world. But my motherly heart knows that there are still those who believe and love, who are seeking how to draw all the closer to my Son, who are tirelessly seeking my Son - then, in this way, they are also seeking me. These are the humble and the meek with their pain and suffering which they carry in silence with their hopes and, above all, with their faith. These are the apostles of my love. My children, apostles of my love, I am teaching you that my Son is not only asking for continuous prayers, but also for works and feelings - that you believe, that you pray, that with your personal prayers you grow in faith, that you grow in love. To love each other is what He asks for - that is the way to eternal life. My children, do not forget that my Son brought the light to this world, and He brought it to those who wanted to see it and receive it. You be those, because this is the light of truth, peace and love. I am leading you in a motherly way to adore my Son; that you love my Son with me; that your thoughts, words and actions may be directed to My Son - that they may be in His name. Then my heart will be fulfilled. Thank you.

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