Thursday, 20 September 2018

Saint Andrew Kim Taegon

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The 20th of September is the feast day of Saint Andrew Kim Taegon (21 August 1821 – 16 September 1846). He is the patron saint of Korea and the Korean clergy.

Saint Andrew Kim Taegon lived between 1821 to 1846 and was born in Korea to a noble family. His parents converted to the Catholic faith and he was baptised at the age of 15. His father, great-grandfather, and great-uncle were martyred due to the government’s persecution against Christianity. This left the remaining family in poverty. He later travelled to China to be trained for the priesthood and was ordained in Shanghai and became the first native Korean priest. He had to return to Korea in secrecy to avoid detection by the authorities. In his hometown, he started to catechise the faithful until the bishop asked him to come to Seoul to help smuggle French missionaries from China into Korea with the help of Chinese fishermen. However, he was caught and imprisoned by the border patrol and charged as a traitor, was tortured and finally beheaded on September 16, 1846, at the age of 25. On May 6, 1984, Fr Andrew Kim Taegon and 102 Korean martyrs were canonised by Pope Saint John Paul II.

Image: A statue of Saint Andrew Kim Taegon, the first Korean Catholic priest

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Saint Januarius

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The 19th of September is the feast day of Saint Januarius (d. 305 A.D.). He is the patron saint of blood banks; Naples; and volcanic eruptions.

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

MANY centuries ago, St. Januarius died for the Faith in the persecution of Diocletian, and to this day God confirms the faith of His Church, and works a continual miracle, through the blood which Januarius shed for Him. The Saint was Bishop of Beneventum, and on one occasion he travelled to Misenum in order to visit a deacon named Sosius. During this visit Januarius saw the head of Sosius, who was singing the gospel in the church, girt with flames, and took this for a sign that ere long Sosius would wear the crown of martyrdom. So it proved. Shortly after Sosius was arrested, and thrown into prison. There St. Januarius visited and encouraged him, till the bishop also was arrested in turn. Soon the number of the confessors was swollen by some of the neighboring clergy. They were exposed to the wild beasts in the amphitheatre. The beasts, however, did them no harm; and at last the Governor of Campania ordered the Saints to be beheaded. Little did the heathen governor think that he was the instrument in God’s hand of ushering in the long succession of miracles which attest the faith of Januarius. The relics of St. Januarius rest in the cathedral of Naples, and it is there that the liquefaction of his blood occurs. The blood is congealed in two glass vials, but when it is brought near the martyr’s head it melts and flows like the blood of a living man.

Reflection.—Thank God Who has given you superabundant motives for your faith; and pray for the spirit of the first Christians, the spirit which exults and rejoices in belief.

Image: Traditional portrait of Saint Januarius

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Saint Joseph of Cupertino

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The 18th of September is the feast day of Saint Joseph of Cupertino (1603-1663). He is the patron saint of The City of Osimo, aviation, astronauts, mental handicaps, examinations, and students.

The following is from Catholic Encyclopedia:

Mystic, born 17 June, 1603; died at Osimo 18 September, 1663; feast, 18 September. Joseph received his surname from Cupertino, a small village in the Diocese of Nardo, lying between Brindisi and Otranto in the Kingdom of Naples. His father Felice Desa, a poor carpenter, died before Joseph was born and left some debts, in consequence of which the creditors drove the mother, Francesca Panara, from her home, and she was obliged to give birth to her child in a stable. In his eighth year Joseph had an ecstatic vision while at school and this was renewed several times; so that the children, seeing him gape and stare on such occasions, lost to all things about him, gave him the sobriquet “Bocca Aperta”. At the same time he had a hot and irascible temper which his strict mother strove hard to overcome. He was apprenticed to a shoemaker, but at the age of seventeen he tried to be admitted to the Friars Minor Conventuals and was refused on account of his ignorance. He then applied to the Capuchins at Martino near Tarento, where he was accepted as a lay-brother in 1620, but his continual ecstasies unfitted him for work and he was dismissed. His mother and his uncles abused him as a good-for-nothing, but Joseph did not lose hope. By his continued prayers and tears he succeeded in obtaining permission to work in the stable as lay help or oblate at the Franciscan convent of La Grotella near Cupertino. He now gave evidence of great virtues, humility, obedience, and love of penance to such an extent that he was admitted to the clerical state in 1625, and three years later, on 28 March he was raised to the priesthood. Joseph was but little versed in human knowledge, for his biographers relate that he was able to read but poorly, yet infused by knowledge and supernatural light he not only surpassed all ordinary men in the learning of the schools but could solve the most intricate questions.

His life was now one long succession of visions and other heavenly favours. Everything that in any way had reference to God or holy things would bring on an ecstatic state: the sound of a bell or of church music, the mention of the name of God or of the Blessed Virgin or of a saint, any event in the life of Christ, the sacred Passion, a holy picture, the thought of the glory in heaven, all would put Joseph into contemplation. Neither dragging him about, buffeting, piercing with needles, nor even burning his flesh with candles would have any effect on him — only the voice of his superior would make him obey. These conditions would occur at any time or place, especially at Mass or during Divine Service. Frequently he would be raised from his feet and remain suspended in the air. Besides he would at times hear heavenly music. Since such occurrences in public caused much admiration and also disturbance in a community, Joseph for thirty-five years was not allowed to attend choir, go to the common refectory, walk in procession or say Mass in church, but was ordered to remain in his room, where a private chapel was prepared for him. Evil-minded and envious men even brought him before the Inquisition, and he was sent from one lonely house of the Capuchins or Franciscans to another, but Joseph retained his resigned and joyous spirit, submitting confidently to Divine Providence. He practised mortification and fasting to such a degree, that he kept seven Lents of forty days each year, and during many of them tasted no food except on Thursdays and Sundays. His body is in the church at Osimo. He was beatified by Benedict XIV in 1753, and canonized 16 July 1767 by Clement XIII; Clement XIV extended his office to the entire Church. His life was written by Robert Nuti (Palermo, 1678). Angelo Pastrovicchi wrote another in 1773, and this is used by the Bollandist “Acta SS.”, V, Sept., 992.

FRANCIS MERSHMAN

Image: St. Joseph of Cupertino is lifted in flight at the site of the Basilica of Loreto, by Ludovico Mazzanti (18th century)

Monday, 17 September 2018

Saint Hildegard of Bingen

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The 17th of September is the feast day of Saint Hildegard of Bingen (1098–1179).

Saint Hildegard of Bingen lived between 1098-1179 and belonged to a large noble German family. At the age of 3, she began having mystical visions which continued throughout her life. At the age of 8 years old, she was sent to be educated at the Benedictine Abbey by an Anchoress as her parents promised to give her to the service of God. When she was 14 years old, she became a consecrated nun and became the new leader of the group of nuns at the age of 38 after the Anchoress’ death. She wrote many books on theology, natural medicine, natural science, poems, plays and composed sacred music and liturgy. When she was 42 she began writing down her visions. Her works were read even by the Pope and she became famous as a mystic and prophetess, gaining the name of “Sibyl of the Rhine.” As her group of nuns became larger, Saint Hildegard created a new monastery at Rupertsberg. She was declared to be a Doctor of the Church in 2012 by Pope Benedict XVI, due to her writings on how man needed to live in balance with nature with the love of God. She is regarded as the founder of scientific natural history in Germany.

Image: Illumination from the Liber Scivias showing Hildegard receiving a vision and dictating to her scribe and secretary

Sunday, 16 September 2018

Pope Saint Cornelius

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The 16th of September is the feast day of Pope Saint Cornelius (d. 253 A.D.).

During the reign of Roman Emperor Decius, Pope Saint Fabian was martyred after which the Church was left without a Pope for 14 months. Saint Cornelius, a Roman citizen and priest, was elected to the position becoming the 21st Pope. During his brief 2 year reign as Pope, controversy arose about Catholics who apostatised from the faith due to persecution. Novatian, a priest who became an anti-pope, led the charge that those who had apostatise can only receive the sacraments if they were re-baptised. Pope Saint Cornelius, in a synod of bishops, confirmed his position as Pope, and had Novatian excommunicated and declared the doctrine of re-baptism as heretical. Pope Saint Cornelius confirmed that after true contrition and penance, apostates were able to be forgiven by the Church and were able to receive the sacraments. A new persecution against the Christians began, and Pope Saint Cornelius was sent to exile in Centumcellae, Italy, and was martyred in 253 A.D.


Saturday, 15 September 2018

Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows

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The 15th of September is the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows. She is also known as Our Lady of Dolours, the Sorrowful Mother or Mother of Sorrows (Latin: Mater Dolorosa), and Our Lady of Piety, Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows or Our Lady of the Seven Dolours. She is the patron saint of Slovakia, Hungary, Poland, Malta, Seven Sorrows of Mary, Mississippi, Ronda, Cebu, Tanawan Bustos, and Bulacan.


The following is from Catholic Encyclopedia:
 There are two such days:
  • Friday before Palm Sunday, major double;
  • third Sunday in September double of the second class.
The object of these feasts is the spiritual martyrdom of the Mother of God and her compassion with the sufferings of her Divine Son. (1) The seven founders of the Servite Order, in 1239, five years after they established themselves on Monte Senario, took up the sorrows of Mary, standing under the Cross, as the principal devotion of their order. The corresponding feast, however, did not originate with them; its celebration was enacted by a provincial synod of Cologne (1413) to expiate the crimes of the iconoclast Hussites; it was to be kept on the Friday after the third Sunday after Easter under the title: “Commemoratio angustix et doloris B. Marix V.”. Its object was exclusively the sorrow of Mary during the Crucifixion and Death of Christ. Before the sixteenth century this feast was limited to the dioceses of North Germany, Scandinavia, and Scotland. Being termed “Compassio” or “Transfixio”, Commendatio, Lamentatio B.M.V.”, it was kept at a great variety of dates, mostly during Eastertide or shortly after Pentacost, or on some fixed day of a month (18 July, Merseburg; 19 July, Halberstadt, Lxbeck, Meissen; 20 July, Naumberg; cf. Grotefend, “Zeitrechnung”, II, 2, 166). Dreves and Blume (Analecta hymnica) have published a large number of rhythmical offices, sequences and hymns for the feast of the Compassion, which show that from the end of the fifteenth century in several dioceses the scope of this feast was widened to commemorate either five dolours, from the imprisonment to the burial of Christ, or seven dolours, extending over the entire life of Mary (cf. XXIV, 122-53; VIII, 51 sq.; X, 79 sq., etc.). Towards the end of the end of the sixteenth century the feast spread over part of the south of Europe; in 1506 it was granted to the nuns of the Annunciation under the title “Spasmi B.M.V.”, Monday after Passion Sunday; in 1600 to the Servite nuns of Valencia, “B.M.V. sub pede Crucis”, Friday before Palm Sunday. After 1600 it became popular in France and was termed “Dominx N. de Pietate”, Friday before Palm Sunday. To this latter date the feast was assigned for the whole German Empire (1674). By a Decree of 22 April 1727, Benedict XIII extended it to the entire Latin Church, under the title “Septem dolorum B.M.V.”, although the Office and Mass retain the original character of the feast, the Compassion of Mary at the foot of the Cross. At both Mass and Office the “Stabat Mater” of Giacopone da Todi (1306) is sung.
(2) The second feast was grated to the Servites, 9 June and 15 September, 1668, double with an octave for the third Sunday in September. Its object of the seven dolours of Mary (according to the responsories of Matins: the sorrow
  1. at the prophecy of Simeon;
  2. at the flight into Egypt;
  3. having lost the Holy Child at Jerusalem;
  4. meeting Jesus on his way to Calvary;
  5. standing at the foot of the Cross;
  6. Jesus being taken from the Cross;
  7. at the burial of Christ.
This feast was extended to Spain (1735); to Tuscany (double of the second class with an octave, 1807). After his return from his exile in France Pius VII extended the feast to the Latin Church (18 September, 1814), major double); it was raised to the rank of a double of the second class, 13 May, 1908. The Servites celebrate it as a double of the first class with an octave and a vigil. Also in the Passionate Order, at Florence and Granada (N.S. de las Angustias), its rank is double of the first class with an octave. The hymns which are now used in the Office of this feast were probably composed by the Servite Callisto Palumbella (eighteenth century). On the devotion, cf. Kellner, “Heortology”, p. 271. The old title of the “Compassio” is preserved by the Diocese of Hildesheim in a simple feast, Saturday after the octave of Corpus Christi. A feast, “B.M.V. de pietate”, with a beautiful medieval office, is kept in honour of the sorrowful mother at Goa in India and Braga in Portugal, on the third Sunday of October; in the ecclesiastical province of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, last Sunday of May, etc. (cf. the corresponding calendars). A special form of devotion is practised in Spanish-speaking countries under the term of “N.S. de la Soledad”, to commemorate the solitude of Mary on Holy Saturday. Its origin goes back to Queen Juana, lamenting the early death of her husband Philip I, King of Spain (1506).
To the oriental churches these feasts are unknown; the Catholic Ruthenians keep a feast of the sorrowful Mother on Friday after the octave of Corpus Christi.
F.G. HOLWECK
Our Lady who softens evil hearts, Russian icon, 19th century

Saint Catherine of Genoa

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The 15th of September is the feast day of Saint Catherine of Genoa (1447 – 15 September 1510). She is also known as Caterina Fieschi Adorno. She is the patron saint of brides, childless people, difficult marriages, people ridiculed for their piety, temptations, victims of adultery, victims of unfaithfulness, and widows.

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

NOBLE in birth, rich, and exceedingly beautiful, Catherine had as a child rejected the solicitations of the world, and begged her divine Master for some share in His sufferings. At sixteen years of age she found herself promised in marriage to a young nobleman of dissolute habits, who treated her with such harshness that, after five years, wearied out by his cruelty, she somewhat relaxed the strictness of her life and entered into the worldly society of Genoa. At length, enlightened by divine grace as to the danger of her state, she resolutely broke with the world and gave herself up to a life of rigorous penance and prayer. The charity with which she devoted herself to the service of the hospitals, undertaking the vilest of offices with joy, induced her husband to amend his evil ways and he died penitent. Her heroic fortitude was sustained by the constant thought of the Holy Souls, whose sufferings were revealed to her, and whose state she has described in a treatise full of heavenly wisdom. A long and grievous malady during the last years of her life only served to perfect her union with God, till, worn out in body and purified in soul, she breathed her last on September 14, 1510.

Reflection.—The constant thought of purgatory will help us not only to escape its dreadful pains, but also to avoid the least imperfection which hinders our approach to God.

Image: Saint Catherine of Genoa

Friday, 14 September 2018

Saint Albert of Jerusalem

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The 14th of September is the feast day of Saint Albert of Jerusalem (died 14 September 1214). He is also known as Albertus Hierosolymitanus, Blessed Albert, Albert of Vercelli or Alberto Avogadro.

The following is from Catholic Encyclopedia:

Patriarch of Jerusalem, one of the conspicuous ecclesiastics in the troubles between the Holy See and Federick Barbarossa; date of birth uncertain; died 14 September, 1215. He was in fact asked by both Pope and Emperor to act as umpire in their dispute and, as a reward, was made Prince of the Empire. He was born in the diocese of Parma, became a canon regular in the Monastery of Mortara (not Mortura, as Butler has it) in the Milanese, and after being Bishop of Bobbio, for a short time, was translated to the see of Vercelli. This was about 1184. At that time the Latins occupied Jerusalem and, the Patriarchate falling vacant, Albert was implored by the Christians of Palestine to accept the see. As it implied persecution and a prospect of martyrdom, he accepted, and was appointed by Innocent III, who at the same time made him Papal Legate. His sanctity procured him the veneration of even the Muslims. It was while here that he undertook a work with which his name is particularly and peculiarly associated. In Paslestine, at that time, the hermits of Mount Carmel lived in separate cells. One of their number gathered them into a community, and in 1209 their superior, Brocard, requested the Patriarch, though not a Carmelite, to draw up a rule for them. He assented, and legislated in the most rigorous fashion, prescribing perpetual abstinence from flesh, protracted fasts, long silence, and extreme seclusion. It was so severe that mitigations had to be introduced by Innocent IV in 1246.

The end of this great prelate was most tragic. Summoned by Innocent III to take part in the General Council of the Lateran, in 1215, he was assassinated before he left Palestine, while taking part in a procession, on the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. He is honoured among the saints by the Carmelites, on 8 April. The Bollandists call attention to this curious anomaly, that not at Vercelli, where he was Patriarch, not among the Canons Regular, to whom he properly belonged, but in the Order of the Carmelites, of which he was not a member, does he receive the honour of a saint. “That holy Order could not and ought not to lose the memory of him by whom it was ranked among the Orders approved by the Roman Church; in saying which”, adds the writer, “I in no way wish to impugn the Carmelite claim of descent from Elias.” At Vercelli Albert does not even figure as Blessed, and the Canons Regular honour him as a saint, but pay him no public cult.

T.J. CAMPBELL

Image: Statue of Albert in Madonna del Carmine, Milan.

Feast of the Cross

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The 14th of September is the feast of the Cross.

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

CONSTANTINE was still wavering between Christianity and idolatry when a luminous cross appeared to him in the heavens, bearing the inscription, “In this sign shalt thou conquer.” He became a Christian, and triumphed over his enemies, who were at the same time the enemies of the Faith. A few years later, his saintly mother having found the cross on which Our Saviour suffered, the feast of the ” Exaltation” was established in the Church; but it was only at a later period still, namely, after the Emperor Heraclius had achieved three great and wondrous victories over Chosroes, King of Persia, who had possessed himself of the holy and precious relic, that this festival took a more general extension, and was invested with a higher character of solemnity. The feast of the “Finding” was thereupon instituted, in memory of the discovery made by St. Helena; and that of the “Exaltation” was reserved to celebrate the triumphs of Heraclius. The greatest power of the Catholic world was at that time centred in the Empire of the East, and was verging toward its ruin, when God put forth His hand to save it: the re-establishment of the great cross at Jerusalem was the sure pledge thereof. This great event occurred in 629.

Reflection.—Herein is found the accomplishment of the Saviour’s word: “If I be lifted up from the earth, I will draw all things to Myself.”

Image: Russian icon of Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross (icon from Yaroslavl by Gury Nikitin, 1680. Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow).

Thursday, 13 September 2018

Saint John Chrysostom

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The 13th of September is the feast day of Saint John Chrysostom. He is the patron saint of Constantinople, education, epilepsy, lecturers, orators, and preachers.

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

ST. JOHN was born at Antioch in 344. In order to break with a world which admired and courted him, he in 374 retired for six years to a neighboring mountain. Having thus acquired the art of Christian silence, he returned to Antioch, and there labored as priest, until he was ordained Bishop of Constantinople in 398. The effect of his sermons was everywhere marvellous. He was very urgent that his people should frequent the holy sacrifice, and in order to remove all excuse he abbreviated the long Liturgy until then in use. St. Nilus relates that St. John Chrysostom was wont to see, when the priest began the holy sacrifice, “many of the blessed ones coming down from heaven in shining garments, and with bare feet, eyes intent, and bowed heads, in utter stillness and silence, assisting at the consummation of the tremendous mystery.” Beloved as he was in Constantinople, his denunciations of vice made him numerous enemies. In 403 these procured his banishment; and although he was almost immediately recalled, it was not more than a reprieve. In 404 he was banished to Cucusus in the deserts of Taurus. In 407 he was wearing out, but his enemies were impatient. They hurried him off to Pytius on the Euxine, a rough journey of nigh 400 miles. He was assiduously exposed to every hardship, cold, wet, and semi-starvation, but nothing could overcome his cheerfulness and his consideration for others. On the journey his sickness increased, and he was warned that his end was nigh. Thereupon, exchanging his travel-stained clothes for white garments, he received Viaticum, and with his customary words, “Glory be to God for all things. Amen,” passed to Christ.

Reflection.—We should try to understand that the most productive work in the whole day, both for time and eternity, is that involved in hearing Mass. St. John Chrysostom felt this so keenly that he allowed no consideration of venerable usage to interfere with the easiness of hearing Mass.

Image: A Byzantine mosaic of John Chrysostom from the Hagia Sophia.

Our Lady of Medjugorje

September 02, 2018 Message to Mirjana

Dear cchildren, my words are simple but are filled with motherly love and care. My children, all the more the shadows of darkness and deception are being cast over you, and I am calling you to the light and truth - I am calling you to my Son. Only He can transform despair and suffering into peace and clarity; only He can give hope in the deepest pain. My Son is the life of the world. The more that you come to know Him - the more that you come close to Him - all the more you will love Him, because my Son is love. Love changes everything; it makes most beautiful also that which, without love, seems insignificant to you. That is why, anew, I am saying to you that you must love a lot if you desire to grow spiritually. I know, apostles of my love, that it is not always easy, but, my children, also the painful paths are paths which lead to spiritual growth, to faith, and to my Son. My children, pray - think of my Son. In all the moments of the day, raise your soul to Him, and I will gather your prayers as flowers from the most beautiful garden and give them as a gift to my Son. Be true apostles of my love; spread the love of my Son to everyone. Be gardens of the most beautiful flowers. With your prayers help your shepherds that they may be spiritual fathers filled with love for all people. Thank you.

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