St.Ignatius of Loyola~Founder of the Society of Jesus 


Feast of St.Ignatius of Loyola 

Born Inigo Lopez de Loyola in 1491, the man known as Ignatius of Loyola entered the world in Loiola, Spain. At the time, the name of the village was spelled “Loyola,” hence the discrepancy. Inigo came of age in Azpeitia, in northern Spain. Loyola is a small village at the southern end of Azpeitia.

Inigio was the youngest of thirteen children. His mother died when he was just seven, and he was then raised by Maria de Garin, who was the wife of a blacksmith. His last name, “Loyola” was taken from the village of his birth.

Despite the misfortune of losing his mother he was still a member of the local aristocracy and was raised accordingly. Inigio was an ambitious young man who had dreams of becoming a great leader. He was influenced by stories such as The Song of Roland and El Cid.

At the age of sixteen, he began a short period of employment working for Juan Velazquez, the treasurer of Castile. By the time he was eighteen, he became a soldier and would fight for Antonio Manrique de Lara, Duke of Nájera and Viceroy of Navarre.

Seeking wider acclaim, he began referring to himself as Ignatius. Ignatius was a variant of Inigio. The young Ignatius also gained a reputation as a duelist. According to one story, he killed a Moor with whom he argued about the divinity of Jesus.

Ignatius fought in several battles under the leadership of the Duke of Najera. He had a talent for emerging unscathed, despite participating in many battles. His talent earned him promotions and soon he commanded his own troops.

In 1521, while defending the town of Pamplona against French attack, Ignatius was struck by a cannonball in the legs. One leg was merely broken, but the other was badly mangled. To save his life and possibly his legs, doctors performed several surgeries. There were no anesthetics during this time, so each surgery was painful. Despite their best efforts, Ignatius’ condition deteriorated. After suffering for a month, his doctors warned him to prepare for death.

On June 29, 1521, on the feast of Saints Peter and Paul, Ignatius began to improve. As soon as he was healthy enough to bear it, part of one leg was amputated which while painful, sped his recovery.

During this time of bodily improvement, Ignatius began to read whatever books he could find. Most of the books he obtained were about the lives of the saints and Christ. These stories had a profound impact on him, and he became more devout.

One story in particular influenced him, “De Vita Christi” (The life of Christ). The story offers commentary on the life of Christ and suggested a spiritual exercise that required visualizing oneself in the presence of Christ during the episodes of His life. The book would inspire Ignatius’ own spiritual exercises.

As he lay bedridden, Ignatius developed a desire to become a working servant of Christ. He especially wanted to convert non-Christians.

Among his profound realizations, was that some thoughts brought him happiness and others sorrow. When he considered the differences between these thoughts, he recognized that two powerful forces were acting upon him. Evil brought him unpleasant thoughts while God brought him happiness. Ignatius discerned God’s call, and began a new way of life, following God instead of men.

By the spring of 1522, Ignatius had recovered enough to leave bed. On March 25, 1522, he entered the Benedictine monastery, Santa Maria de Montserrat. Before an image of the Black Madonna, he laid down his military garments. He gave his other clothes away to a poor man.

He then walked to a hospital in the town of Manresa. In exchange for a place to live, he performed work around the hospital. He begged for his food. When he was not working or begging, he would go into a cave and practice spiritual exercises.

His time in prayer and contemplation helped him to understand himself better. He also gained a better understanding of God and God’s plan for him.

The ten months he spent between the hospital and the cavern were difficult for Ignatius. He suffered from doubts, anxiety and depression. But he also recognized that these were not from God.

Ignatius began recording his thoughts and experiences in a journal. This journal would be useful later for developing new spiritual exercises for the tens of thousands of people who would follow him. Those exercises remain invaluable today and are still widely practiced by religious and laity alike.

The next year, in 1523, Ignatius made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. His goal was to live there and convert non-believers. However, the Holy Land was a troubled place and Church officials did not want Ignatius to complicate things further. They asked him to return after just a fortnight.

Ignatius realized he needed to obtain a complete education if he wanted to convert people. Returning to Barcelona, Ignatius attended a grammar school, filled with children, to learn Latin and other beginning subjects. He was blessed with a great teacher during this time, Master Jeronimo Ardevol.

After completing his primary education, Ignatius traveled to Alcala, then Salamanca, where he studied at universities. In addition to studying, Ignatius often engaged others in lengthy conversations about spiritual matters.

These conversations attracted the attention of the Inquisition.

In Spain, the Inquisition was responsible for ferreting out religious dissent and combating heresy. The Inquisition was not as it has long been depicted in the media.

The Inquisition accused Ignatius of preaching without any formal education in theology. Without this training, it was likely that Ignatius could introduce heresy by way of conversation and misunderstanding.

Ignatius was questioned three times by the Inquisition, but he was always exonerated.

Ignatius eventually decided he needed more education, so he traveled north, seeking better schools and teachers. He was 38 years old when he entered the College of Saint Barbe of the University of Paris. This education was very structured and formalized. Later, Ignatius would be inspired to copy this model when establishing schools. The ideas of prerequisites and class levels would arise from the Jesuit schools, which here heavily inspired by Ignatius’ experience in Paris.

Ignatius earned a master’s degree at the age of 44. When he subsequently applied for his doctorate, he was passed over because of his age. He also suffered from ailments, which the school was concerned could impact his studies.

While at school in Paris, Ignatius roomed with Peter Faber and Francis Xavier. Faber was French and Xavier was Basque. The men became friends and Ignatius led them in his spiritual exercises. Other men soon joined their exercises and became followers of Ignatius. The group began to refer to themselves as “Friends in the Lord,” an apt description.

The circle of friends, shared Ignatius’ dream of traveling to the Holy Land, but conflict between Venice and the Turks made such a journey impossible. Denied the opportunity to travel there, the group then decided to visit Rome. There, they resolved to present themselves to the Pope and to serve at his pleasure.

Pope Paul III received the group and approved them as an official religious order in 1540. The band attempted to elect Ignatius as their first leader, but he declined, saying he had not lived a worthy life in his youth. He also believed others were more experienced theologically.

The group insisted however, and Ignatius accepted the role as their first leader. They called themselves the Society of Jesus. Some people who did not appreciate their efforts dubbed them “Jesuits” in an attempt to disparage them. While the name stuck, by virtue of their good work the label lost its negative connotation.

Ignatius imposed a strict, almost military rule on his order. This was natural for a man who spent his youth as a soldier. It might be expected that such rigor would dissuade people from joining, but it had the opposite effect. The order grew.

The Society of Jesus soon found its niche in education. Before Ignatius died in 1556, his order established 35 schools and boasted 1,000 members. The order was responsible for much of the work of stopping the spread of the Protestant Reformation. The Society advocated the use of reason to persuade others and combat heresy.

Today, the Society of Jesus is known for its work in educating the youth around the world. Several universities have been founded in the name of Ignatius and in the traditional Jesuit spirit. The Jesuits also perform many other important works around the globe.

Ignatius’ passed away on July 31, 1556, at the age of 64. He was beatified by Pope Paul V on July 27, 1609 and canonized on March 12, 1622. His feast day is July 31. He is the patron saint of the Society of Jesus, soldiers, educators and education.

Source:catholiconline.org

St.Christopher~Patron Saint of Travelers

To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, thatis all.

 

Saint Christopher is one of the most popular Catholic Christian heroes of the Faith. He is a saint, indeed listed as a martyr. He may have also been named Reprobus. He apparently died under the Roman Emperor Decius, in 251 AD. Most Catholics refer to him as Saint Christopher anyway, and his medals and the popular devotions to him are among the most common in Catholic piety.

Other than his listing as a martyr, there are no primary sources referring to St. Christopher, only stories and traditions which have been passed down.

According to these accounts, St. Christopher was extremely tall, and by some accounts he was even a giant! He was surely a man of significant physical stature. But, more importantly, he was a spiritual giant and a sure model and inspiration for the Christian faithful.

Christopher decided one day that he wanted to serve the greatest king he could. He presented himself before his local ruler and entered service, until he noticed the king cross himself at the mention of the devil, revealing that the king believed the Devil to have more power.

St. Christopher then decided to serve the Devil. During his search, he encountered a band of thieves, whose leader referred to himself as the Devil. But when this leader avoided a Christian cross out of fear, St. Christopher learned there was someone even more powerful than the Devil.

St. Christopher found a hermit who taught him all about Christ, the King of Kings. The hermit suggested that he spend his life in prayer and fasting, a thing which St. Christopher, a large and probably often hungry man found difficult, he objected. The hermit suggested he then find something else that would please Christ. St. Christopher offered to work at a nearby river, and help travelers across. The fording was dangerous and many with less strength people had drowned. The hermit advised St. Christopher this would please Christ.

One day, a child approached St. Christopher by the river and asked to be helped across. St. Christopher obliged. However, as he entered midstream, the river rose and the child’s weight grew and became extremely heavy. It was only by great exertion that St. Christopher safely delivered the child to the other side.

When St. Christopher asked the child why he was so heavy, the child explained that He was the Christ and when St. Christopher carried Him, he also carried the weight of the whole world on his shoulders. The child then vanished.

St. Christopher traveled after this experience and evangelized thousands of people. Arriving in Lycia in Asia Minor, and witnessing to Christians there who were being martyred. At that time, St. Christopher was detained and ordered to offer a sacrifice to the emperor. When he refused, it was decided to attempt to persuade him with money and women. Two women were sent to seduce him, but instead he converted them to Christianity.

After this, it was decided to have him killed, but various attempts to assassinate him failed. Eventually, he was arrested and beheaded.

St. Christopher is the patron saint of travelers and of children. His feast day is July 25.

 

Prayer to Saint Christopher (Patron of Travelers)
Dear Saint Christopher,
you have inherited a beautiful name – Christbearer
as a result of a wonderful legend
that while carrying people across a raging stream
you also carried the Child Jesus.
Teach us to be true Christbearers
to those who do not know him.
Protect all drivers
who often transports those
who bear Christ within them. Amen

St.Vincent de Paul~Patron of Charitable Societies

Sip (1)

St. Vincent de Paul was born to a poor peasant family in the French village of Pouy on April 24, 1581. His first formal education was provided by the Franciscans. He did so well, he was hired to tutor the children of a nearby wealthy family. He used the monies he earned teaching to continue his formal studies at the University of Toulose where he studied theology.

He was ordained in 1600 and remained in Toulose for a time. In 1605, while on a ship traveling from Marseilles to Narbone, he was captured, brought to Tunis and sold as a slave. Two years later he and his master managed to escape and both returned to France.

St. Vincent went to Avignon and later to Rome to continue his studies. While there he became a chaplain to the Count of Goigny and was placed in charge of distributing money to the deserving poor. He became pastor of a small parish in Clichy for a short period of time, while also serving as a tutor and spiritual director.

From that point forward he spent his life preaching missions to and providing relief to the poor. He even established hospitals for them. This work became his passion. He later extended his concern and ministry to convicts. The need to evangelize and assist these souls was so great and the demands beyond his own ability to meet that he founded the Ladies of Charity, a lay institute of woman, to help, as well as a religious institute of priests – the Congregation of Priests of the Mission, commonly referred to now as the Vincentians.

This was at a time when there were not many priests in France and what priests there were, were neither well-formed nor faithful to their way of life. Vincent helped reform the clergy and the manner in which they were instructed and prepared for the priesthood. He did this first through the presentation of retreats and later by helping develop a precursor to our modern day seminaries. At one point his community was directing 53 upper level seminaries. His retreats, open to priests and laymen, were so well attended that it is said he infused a “Christian spirit among more than 20,000 persons in his last 23 years.”

The Vincentians remain with us today with nearly 4,000 members in 86 countries. In addition to his order of Vincentian priests, St. Vincent cofounded the Daughters of Charity along with St. Louise de Marillac. There are more than 18,000 Daughters today serving the needs of the poor in 94 countries. He was eighty years old when he died in Paris on September 27, 1660.He had “become the symbol of the successful reform of the French Church”. St. Vincent is sometimes referred to as “The Apostle of Charity” and “The Father of the Poor”.

His incorrupt heart can be found in the Convent of the Sisters of Charity and his bones have been embedded in a wax effigy of the Saint located at the Church of the Lazarist Mission. Both sites are located in Paris, France.

Two miracles have been attributed to St Vincent – a nun cured of ulcers and a laywoman cured of paralysis. As a result of the first, Pope Benedict XIII beatified him on August 13, 1729. Less than 8 years later (on June 16, 1737) he was canonized by Pope Clement XIII. The Bull of Canonization recognized Vincent for his charity and reform of the clergy, as well as for his early role in opposing Jansenism.

It has been reported that St. Vincent wrote more than 30,000 letters in his lifetime and that nearly 7,000 had been collected in the 18th century. There are at least five collections of his letters in existence today.

St.Camillus de Lellis~Patron Saint of Nurses

Patron Saint  of Nurses (1)

Born at Bucchianico, Abruzzo, 1550; died at Rome, 14 July, 1614.

He was the son of an officer who had served both in the Neapolitan and French armies. His mother died when he was a child, and he grew up absolutely neglected. When still a youth he became a soldier in the service of Venice and afterwards of Naples, until 1574, when his regiment was disbanded. While in the service he became a confirmed gambler, and in consequence of his losses at play was at times reduced to a condition of destitution. The kindness of a Franciscan friar induced him to apply for admission to that order, but he was refused. He then betook himself to Rome, where he obtained employment in the Hospital for Incurables. He was prompted to go there chiefly by the hope of a cure of abscesses in both his feet from which he had been long suffering. He was dismissed from the hospital on account of his quarrelsome disposition and his passion for gambling. He again became a Venetian soldier, and took part in the campaign against the Turks in 1569. After the war he was employed by the Capuchins at Manfredonia on a new building which they were erecting. His old gambling habitstill pursued him, until a discourse of the guardian of the convent so startled him that he determined to reform. He was admitted to the order as a lay brother, but was soon dismissed on account of his infirmity. He betook himself again to Rome, where he entered the hospital in which he had previously been, and after a temporary cure of his ailment became a nurse, and winning the admiration of the institution by his piety and prudence, he was appointed director of the hospital.

While in this office, he attempted to found an order of lay infirmarians, but the scheme was opposed, and on the advice of his friends, among whom was his spiritual guide, St. Philip Neri, he determined to become a priest. He was then thirty-two years of age and began the study of Latin at the Jesuit College in Rome. He afterwards established his order, the Fathers of a Good Death (1584), and bound the members by vow to devote themselves to the plague-stricken; their work was not restricted to the hospitals, but included the care of the sick in their homes. Pope Sixtus V confirmed the congregation in 1586, and ordained that there should be an election of a general superior every three years. Camillus was naturally the first, and was succeeded by an Englishman, named Roger. Two years afterwards a house was established in Naples, and there two of the community won the glory of being the first martyrs of charity of the congregation, by dying in the fleet which had been quarantined off the harbour, and which they had visited to nurse the sick. In 1591 Gregory XIV erected the congregation into a religious order, with all the privileges of the mendicants. It was again confirmed as such by Clement VIII, in 1592. The infirmity which had prevented his entrance among the Capuchins continued to afflict Camillus for forty-six years, and his other ailments contributed to make his life one of uninterrupted suffering, but he would permit no one to wait on him, and when scarcely able to stand would crawl out of his bed to visit the sick. He resigned the generalship of the order, in 1607, in order to have more leisure for the sick and poor. Meantime he had established many houses in various cities of Italy. He is said to have had the gift of miracles and prophecy. He died at the age of sixty-four while pronouncing a moving appeal to his religious brethren. He was buried near the high altar of the church of St. Mary Magdalen, at Rome, and, when the miracles which were attributed to him were officially approved, his body was placed under the altar itself. He was beatified in 1742, and in 1746 was canonized by Benedict XIV.

st camillus

Carmelite Martyrs of Compeigne~They sang all the way to the Guillotine

Hey, Pops! (15)

In the choir of virgin-martyrs, who forever sing the praises of the Lamb of God whom they followed unto the very end of sacrifical love, are our Carmelite Nuns of Compiengne, France. The cultural and civil conflicts of their time were centered in the time of the French Revolution which began in July of 1789, with the fall of the Bastille. The new governmental Assembly of anti-religious hostility was the beginning of this great “Reign of Terror” as this time in world history is often referred to.

The community of Carmelite Nuns at Compiegne had been established in 1641, a daughter house of the monastery of Amiens. The community rapidly flourished and was renowned for its fervor and fidelity to the spirit of St. Teresa of Jesus, the Mother of the Discalced Carmelite Order. From its beginnings it enjoyed the affection and esteem of the French court, until the fatal turn of the French Revolution, when they then became, along with all other religious groups, the object of hatred and scorn. The anti-religious views of the new regime was proved by their proclaiming the vows taken by religious as null and void. Despite growing hostility, the nuns of Compiengne continued to live their religious life and refused to abandon their religious habit. Rumors of riots and orgies taking place in Paris continued to reach the nuns, which warned them of the growing and dire situation at hand. Officials of the newly appointed local government visited the Carmelite monastery of Compiengne with the intention of inspecting the monastery grounds and interviewing each of the nuns, while soldiers kept guard outside. The nuns were offered full freedom from the ‘so called vows’ with a suitable pension should they wish to leave the convent. They one and all refused this offer.

Realizing the gravity of this situation in which they were now in, their dynamic and discerning Prioress, Mother Teresa of St. Augustine, read the signs of the times accurately and was inspired to prepare the community for the supreme sacrifice should the need arise. They then sent in a formal document to the District Directory, stating that they wished to live and die as professed Carmelite nuns. As a community, in Easter of the year 1792, the nuns of Compiengne (numbering 21 at the time) offered themselves to God as a holocaust “to placate the anger of God, so that divine peace brought on earth by His Beloved Son would return to the Church and to the state.”

Hearing of the eviction of many religious from their monasteries, Mother Teresa decided to make preparations for a similar emergency. She rented rooms in friendly houses and paid for them in advance. She also obtained secular outfits for the nuns in case they were obliged to discard their religious dress. These precautions were taken none too soon as on September 12, 1792, local officials systematically searched the house and took whatever valuables they could find. On September 14, the property was confiscated and the nuns forced to adopt secular dress.

With apartments rented in four houses, the community divided into four separate groups, where they did their best to remain faithful to the Carmelite life in the situation in which they found themselves. Secretly they were provided with a new chaplain in the person of Fr. de la Marche, S.J. Dressed in disguise, he would meet the nuns secretly at the parish church and offer Holy Mass for them. The Mass, more than anything else, prepared them for their personal sacrifice in union with the Crucified Savior.

In July of 1794, sixteen nuns of the Community of the Carmel of Compiegne were arrested and brought to Paris in carriages, which proved to be mere carts while the floors were covered with dirty straw. They travelled in discomfort all day and all night on the evening of July 13th which was a Sunday. In Paris the group was imprisoned in the Conciergerie, nick-named the ‘Morge,’ since no one remained there for long. One of the aged nuns of the community, unable to descend from the cart, was roughly handled by attendants and fell heavily to the ground. After lying for some time motionless on the ground she was helped to her feet, her face covered with blood. Turning to the attendants she assured then that she bore them no ill-will and would indeed pray for them. After spending two nights in the Conciergerie, on July 17th, the nuns were brought to trial and condemned to be executed a few hours later. The reason given by the judge was this: “You are to die because you insist on remaining in your convent in spite of the liberty we gave you to abandon all such nonsense.” “We have now heard the true reason for our arrest and condemnation,” one nun spoke out. “It is because of our religious beliefs that we are to die. . . .”

In the interval between their condemnation and execution the nuns asked for a pail of hot water to wash their soiled clothing. They removed their civilian garb and put on their religious habits which was to give witness to their religious profession. With a roll of the drums the cart bearing the condemned nuns to execution emerged from the prison courtyard. As they awaited the guillotine, each Sister knelt before the Prioress and asked her permission to die. They kissed her scapular and a little statue of Our Lady which she held out to each one as they renewed their vows for the last time on earth. Then they began chanting the Laudate Dominun, the Salve Regina, and the Magnificat.

Each of the Sisters, one by one, beginning with the youngest willingly placed themselves on the block of the scaffold, making an offering to God of their lives on behalf of the people and in union with the Sacrifice of Jesus. The Prioress was given the option of being the last to die. After she had encouraged each of her community and received their vows she knelt down and renewed her religious profession in a clear voice and kissed the statue of Our Lady as the others had done. With heroic courage she mounted the scaffold chanting the Salve Regina until her voice was silenced on earth . Then began the eternal canticle in heaven!

Within ten days of the execution of the Carmelites, many of those who had sat in judgement of them and had them condemned to death were themselves brought before a tribunal and sentenced to death. By the end of August the reign of the guillotine had come to an end. Without a doubt it was the victorious offering and martyrdom of the Carmelite nuns of Compiegne which ended this “Reign of Terror.” As Mother Teresa of St. Augustine was wont to say: “Love will always be victorious. The one who loves can do everything.” The feast of the Carmelite Martyrs of Compiegne is celebrated on July 17th, the day of their martyrdom.

Our Lady of Mt Carmel~Patroness of the Carmelite Order 

This feast was instituted by the Carmelites between 1376 and 1386 under the title “Commemoratio B. Marif Virg”to celebrate the victory of their order over its enemies on obtaining the approbation of its name and constitution from Honorius III on 30 Jan., 1226 The feast was assigned to 16 July, because on that date in 1251, according to Carmelite traditions, the scapular was given by the Blessed Virgin to St. Simon Stock ; it was first approved by Sixtus V in 1587. After Cardinal Bellarmine had examined the Carmelite traditions in 1609, it was declared the patronal feast of the order, and is now celebrated in the Carmelite calendar as a major double of the first class with a vigil and a privileged octave (like the octave of Epiphany, admitting only a double of the first class) under the title “Commemoratio solemnis B.V.M. de Monte Carmelo”. By a privilege given by Clement X in 1672, some Carmelite monasteries keep the feast on the Sunday after 16 July, or on some other Sunday in July. In the seventeenth century the feast was adopted by several dioceses in the south of Italy, although its celebration, outside of Carmelite churches, was prohibited in 1628 by a decree contra abusus . On 21 Nov., 1674, however, it was first granted by Clement X to Spain and its colonies, in 1675 to Austria, in 1679 to Portugal and its colonies, and in 1725 to the Papal States of the Church, on 24 Sept., 1726, it was extended to the entire Latin Church by Benedict XIII. The lessons contain the legend of the scapular ; the promise of the Sabbatine privilege was inserted into the lessons by Paul V about 1614. The Greeks of southern Italy and the Catholic Chaldeans have adopted this feast of the “Vestment of the Blessed Virgin Mary “. The object of the feast is the special predilection of Mary for those who profess themselves her servants by wearing her scapular 

St.Bonaventure~Seraphic Doctor

I'm so happy you're my dad!

 

Next to God we owe a debt of gratitude to St Francis for the great Doctor of the Church and minister general of the Franciscan order, Saint Bonaventure.

Saint Bonaventure was born at Bagnorea in the Papal States in 1221, and was given the name John in baptism. As a child of four years he became seriously ill and was given up by the physicians. Then his mother hastened to St Francis, who was preaching in the vicinity just then, and begged him to come and heal her child. The saint acceded to her request; he prayed over the child, and immediately he was cured. St Francis is said then to have uttered the prophetic words: “O buona ventura – O blessed things to come!” For that reason the child was called Bonaventure.

Endowed with most remarkable gifts of nature and grace and reared in the fear of God, Saint Bonaventure entered the Order of St Francis as a young man. Completing his year of probation with honor, he continued his studies under the great Alexander of Hales. The latter did not know what he should admire most, the talent or the virtues of the young religious. He used to say it appeared that Adam had not sinned in this young man.

During his student years, Saint Bonaventure devoted many an hour to the contemplation of Christ’s suffering and he was a zealous client of our Blessed Lady. It is reported that once when Bonaventure abstained from Holy Communion for several days from a sense of humility, an angel placed the consecrated Host on his tongue. After his ordination to the priesthood he devoted himself with extraordinary zeal to the salvation of souls.

Due to his extensive and profound knowledge, Saint Bonaventure was appointed professor of theology at the University of Paris at the early age of 27. Bonaventure and Thomas Aquinas, of the Order of St Dominic, at that time shed the greatest luster on that institution. Garson, the great chancellor, remarked that the University of Paris had perhaps never had a greater teacher than Bonaventure. He grasped theology with his heart as well as with his mind, and it shed its radiance on his conduct as well as his words.

Saint Thomas Aquinas once visited Saint Bonaventure while he was engaged in writing the life of St Francis. He found Saint Bonaventure raised in ecstasy above the earth. Reverently he withdrew, saying to his companion: “Let us leave a saint to write about a saint.”

On another occasion St Thomas asked St Bonaventure from which books he obtained his unparalleled knowledge. Saint Bonaventure pointed to the crucifix as his library.

In 1257, when Blessed John of Parma resigned the office of minister general, Saint Bonaventure was unanimously chosen, at the recommendation of Blessed John, to fill this position. He governed the order for 18 years, and regulated everything that pertained to convent life and the external activity of the friars with such circumspection and prudence that he has quite generally been considered the second founder of the order.

Both by word and deed he defended the order against great and learned opponents. Franciscan convents had already been established in all parts of the world; Saint Bonaventure divided them now into provinces. He also composed ordinances for the faithful observance of the rule which formed the basis for all future constitutions of the order. At the same time he patiently gave audience to the simplest brother and sometimes performed some of the lowliest duties in the convent. He prescribed that the Angelus bell be rung daily in all Franciscan churches. This beautiful custom soon spread throughout the Catholic world.

In spite of all the duties of this important position, the saint still found time to preach and to write books of great learning and holy unction. He had steadfastly declined all ecclesiastical distinctions. In 1273, however, Pope Gregory X obliged him to accept the bishopric of Albano and the dignity of the Cardinalate. The pope himself consecrated him bishop and then entrusted him with the direction of the Council of Lyons.

To the great satisfaction of the pope and the fathers of the Council, the schismatic Greeks also attended the Council of Lyons. At their arrival Bonaventure delivered an address, which he opened with the text: “Arise, O Jerusalem, and stand on high: and look about towards the east, and behold thy children gathered together from the rising to the setting sun.” (Bar. 5:5). Due to his efforts, the Orientals were reunited to the Church of Rome.

Worn out by the heavy strain, he fell ill after the third session. The end came very rapidly; the pope himself administered extreme unction. With his eyes directed toward the crucifix, Bonaventure died during the night between the 14th and 15th of July, 1274. Seldom if ever was there a grander funeral. The pope and all the members of the Council attended.

Pope Sixtus IV canonized Saint Bonaventure in 1482. Sixtus V gave him the title of Doctor of the Church in 1587. He is called the Seraphic Doctor because of the ardent love which marks his writings.

*from: The Franciscan Book of Saints, ed. by Marion Habig, ofm.

 

St.Kateri Tekakwitha~Patron of Native Americans

Hey, Pops! (14)

St. Kateri Tekakwitha is the first Native American to be recognized as a saint by the Catholic Church. She was born in 1656, in the Mohawk village of Ossernenon. Her mother was an Algonquin, who was captured by the Mohawks and who took a Mohawk chief for her husband.

She contracted smallpox as a four-year-old child which scarred her skin. The scars were a source of humiliation in her youth. She was commonly seen wearing a blanket to hide her face. Worse, her entire family died during the outbreak. Kateri Tekakwitha was subsequently raised by her uncle, who was the chief of a Mohawk clan.

Kateri was known as a skilled worker, who was diligent and patient. However, she refused to marry. When her adoptive parents proposed a suitor to her, she refused to entertain the proposal. They punished her by giving her more work to do, but she did not give in. Instead, she remained quiet and diligent. Eventually they were forced to relent and accept that she had no interest in marriage.

At age 19, Kateri Tekakwitha converted to Catholicism, taking a vow of chastity and pledging to marry only Jesus Christ. Her decision was very unpopular with her adoptive parents and their neighbors. Some of her neighbors started rumors of sorcery. To avoid persecution, she traveled to a Christian native community south of Montreal.

According to legend, Kateri was very devout and would put thorns on her sleeping mat. She often prayed for the conversion of her fellow Mohawks. According to the Jesuit missionaries that served the community where Kateri lived, she often fasted and when she would eat, she would taint her food to diminish its flavor. On at least one occasion, she burned herself. Such self-mortification was common among the Mohawk.

Kateri was very devout and was known for her steadfast devotion. She was also very sickly. Her practices of self-mortification and denial may not have helped her health. Sadly, just five years after her conversion to Catholicism, she became ill and passed away at age 24, on April 17, 1680.

Her name, Kateri, is the Mohawk form of Catherine, which she took from St. Catherine of Siena.

St. Kateri Tekakwitha was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI on Oct. 21, 2012. She is the patroness of ecology and the environment, people in exile and Native Americans.

Saints Zelie and Louis Martin

Hey, Pops! (13)

THE WATCHMAKER – Louis Martin

Louis Martin (1823 – 1894) was a watchmaker by trade, and quite a successful one. He also skillfully managed his wife’s lace business. But, as with so many men, Louis’ life had not turned out at all the way he had planned.

Born into a family of soldiers, Louis spent his early years at various French military posts. He absorbed the sense of order and discipline that army life engenders. His temperament, deeply influenced by the peculiar French connection between the mystical and the military, tended toward things of the spirit.
Eventually, Louis settled down in Alencon, a small city in France, and pursued his watchmaking trade. He loved Alencon. It was a quiet place and he was a quiet man. It even had a lovely trout stream nearby, offering him the opportunity to pursue his favorite recreation.

At twenty-two, young Louis sought to enter religious life at the monastery of the Augustinian Canons of the Great St. Bernard Hospice in the Alps. The blend of courage and charity the monks and their famous dogs manifested in rescuing travelers in Alpine snows appealed powerfully to Louis Martin.

Unfortunately, the Abbot insisted the young candidate learn Latin. Louis, whose bravery would have carried him to the heights of the Alps in search of a lost pilgrim, got himself lost among the peaks and valleys of Latin syntax and grammar. His most determined efforts failed. He became ill and dispirited, and abandoned his hopes for the monastic life.

THE LACE MAKER –  Zelie Guerin

Zelie Guerin (1831 – 1877) was one of Alencon’s more talented lace makers. Born into a military family, Zelie described her childhood and youth as “dismal.” Her mother and father showed her little affection.

As a young lady, she sought unsuccessfully to enter the religious order of the sisters of the Hotel-Dieu. Zelie then learned the Alencon lace-making technique and soon mastered this painstaking craft. Richly talented, creative, eager, and endowed with common sense, she started her own business and became quite successful.

Notable as these achievements were, Zelie was yet to reveal the depths of the strength, faith, and courage she possessed.Most famous of Alencon’s thirteen thousand inhabitants were its lace makers. French people greatly admired the skill and talent required to produce the exquisite lace known throughout the nation as Point d’ Alencon.

Louis-Zelie-Martin

THE MARTINS

Louis Martin and Zelie Guerin met in Alencon while walking on the same bridge  on July 13, 1858.As Louis caught Zelie’s eye at the end of the bridge walking toward her,she heard an interior voice in her soul say:”This is the one I have prepared for you”.Louis, 34, and Zelie, 26, married and began their remarkable voyage through life.Louis asked Zelie to live celibate as brother and sister and even though Zelie desired children,she was so impressed by Louis’ zeal and love for God that she wholeheartedly agreed.Zelie and Louis Martin lived chastely together for the first 10 months of their marriage but a priest guiding them told them that God desired them to be parents and in  the next fifteen years, Zelie bore nine children, seven girls and two boys. “We lived only for them,” Zelie wrote; “they were all our happiness.”

The Martins’ delight in their children turned to shock and sorrow as tragedy relentlessly and mercilessly stalked their little ones. Within three years, Zelie’s two baby boys, a five year old girl, and a six-and-a-half week old infant girl all died.

Zelie was left numb with sadness. “I haven’t a penny’s worth of courage,” she lamented. But her faith sustained her through these terrible ordeals.

In a letter to her sister-in-law who had lost an infant son, Zelie remembered: “When I closed the eyes of my dear little children and buried them, I felt sorrow through and through…People said to me, ‘It would have been better never to have had them.’ I couldn’t stand such language. My children were not lost forever; life is short and full of miseries, and we shall find our little ones again up above.”

While pregnant with her last child,Zelie was repeatedly physically attacked by the devil who pushed her down repeatedly.Zelie called out to God and the attacks were put to a stop.Even before St.Therese was born the devil knew what a threat St Therese would be to him stealing hundreds of thousands maybe even millions of souls from his grasp.St.Therese was born January 2, 1873. She was weak and frail, and doctors feared for the infant’s life. The family, so used to death, was preparing for yet another blow. Zelie wrote of her three month old girl: “I have no hope of saving her. The poor little thing suffers horribly….It breaks your heart to see her.”

But the baby girl proved to be much tougher than anyone realized. She survived the illness. A year later she was a “big baby, browned by the sun.” “The baby,” Zelie noted, “is full of life, giggles a lot, and is sheer joy to everyone.”

Death seemed to grant a reprieve to the Martin household. Although suffering had left its mark on mother and father, it was not the scar of bitterness. Louis and Zelie had already found relief and support in their faith.

The series of tragedies had intensified the love of Louis and Zelie Martin for each other. They poured out their affection on their five surviving daughters; Marie, 12, Pauline, 11, Leonie 9, Celine, 3, and their new-born.

Zelie’s Calvary

In 1876, Zelie’s sister Marie-Louise, now Visitation Sister Marie-Dosithee, was dying of tuberculosis. Her imminent death shook Zelie out of the inertia caused by lack of confidence in the medical doctors available to her. For years she had resisted consulting anyone over the lingering pain in her breast. Headaches, eye-strain, and digestive problems also troubled her ). Shortly before the end of the year, she consulted Dr. Prevost. He diagnosed a “fibrous tumor”—cancer—and told Zelie an operation would be useless. At the urging of her brother and sister-in-law, she sought a second opinion from prominent surgeon Dr. Alphonse-Henri Notta in Lisieux. His conclusion was the same. It was too late to save Zelie’s life. The best doctors could do was prolong it.

Zelie wrote to Louis from Lisieux, telling him the shocking news. They tried to hide it from their children, but Pauline overheard her parents talking and insisted on knowing what was happening. Eventually, all the girls but Celine and Therese would know the truth.

Zelie strove to go on as she had before—except for the fervent prayers she and her loved ones offered for her healing. She continued working at her lace. Family duties also kept her busy, although she gave Marie the care of much of the housework.

But when her sister died on February 24, Zelie appears to have lost hope. Her health rapidly declined.

Lent came. Zelie fasted and abstained with the Church, despite her illness.

In June, Zelie, Marie, Pauline, and Leonie went on a pilgrimage to Lourdes. Before leaving, Zelie threw out the prescription Dr. Prevost had given her. She was praying for a miracle, knowing that no prescription could save her. The trip brought one trial after another. They missed a train, Leonie had swollen feet, Marie was tormented by dust in her eye, and both Pauline and Leonie had motion sickness. Marie lost her aunt’s rosary in Lourdes. Pauline lost her own, and her aunt’s medals. Zelie twisted her neck. On the way home, their bottles of Lourdes water leaked.

Never one to enjoy traveling, Zelie returned home in a worse condition than she had left. Nonetheless, she was glad she had gone. “[A]t least I have nothing to reproach myself with,” she wrote to her brother Isidore Guerin and his wife Celine. She had done all she could.

The final stages of her disease

Within days of returning home, Zelie experienced such pain at night that she could hardly sleep. Still, she rose early every morning to walk to 5:30 Mass, as she had done for years. Every few steps she had to stop and rest. The pain in her neck was excruciating.

Soon fever appeared.

Marie had been caring for Celine and Therese, the two youngest daughters. As Zelie entered the final stages of the disease, she sent them to spend their days with their cousin’s wife, Madame Leriche. Although no one had spoken to them about Zelie’s failing health, they knew she was far from well.

Zelie had no fear for the futures of her two little ones. She also knew that Pauline, the daughter most like herself, would ultimately be fine. But she had some concern over Marie, who was not drawn to either marriage or religious life at this time. And “poor Leonie,” as the final Martin sister was known, caused her much anxiety. Leonie affectionately spent every moment she could with her mother, often covering her with kisses, as though that could cure her. But it was finally clear that nothing could keep Zelie in this life long. No miracle occurred.

Anointing and death

On August 26, a priest gave Zelie the last sacraments. “I can still see the place where I stood next to Celine,” St. Therese wrote nearly twenty years later. “All five of us were in line according to age, and poor Papa was there too, sobbing.”

The Guerins were present the next day when Zelie passed away about 12:30. Before dying, Zelie looked intently at her sister-in-law Celine. Celine Guerin took this as a plea to look after the Martin children. After Zelie was laid to rest, Celine Guerin urged Louis to move his family to Lisieux to be closer to their relatives. He eagerly followed this advice.

 

Life After Zelie and A Holy Death in the Good God’s Service

Louis was deeply heartbroken by the loss of his beloved Zelie and grief consumed him.He raised his girls to the best of his ability to be saints.And one by one each one of Louis’ daughters as it were abandoned Louis to enter religious life.Both Zelie and Louis had desired religious life but that wasn’t in the divine plan.At each of their children’s births they had consecrated their children to God and all of their daughters became brides of Christ,a beautiful legacy of the fruits of a holy marriage and family life.Louis went back to the church of Our Lady where he had married Zelie in Alencon some 20 years prior and he knelt down in front of the blessed sacrament and offered himself as a victim soul.God accepted that offering from Louis and almost immeadiately Louis started suffering strokes one after another and his health detoriated very rapidly.When asked why God would make him suffer after having lived a good life,he responded,”Because I have had a good life,I loved the Good God but I have not had to suffer all that much.God has given me many benefits and it is very fitting that I suffer before I die that I may be like Christ the Saviour.”In 1889 Louis was placed in a hospital where he suffered for many years until his birth into paradise in July 1894.

 

Relics-Louis-Zélie-Martin

Relics of St.Zelie and Louis Martin in the Basilica of St.Therese in Lisieux,France

 

 

St.Benedict~Ora Et Labora

Hey, Pops! (12)

Saint Benedict was born at Norcia around 480 AD. That historical time frame, a mere four years before the Western Roman Empire formally fell by the deposition of the last Emperor, Romulus Augustulus, was quite difficult. The only authentic life of Saint Benedict is that which is contained in the second book of the Pope Saint Gregory’s Dialogues, probably written between 593-594 AD.

After attending primary schools in Norcia, Benedict went to Rome to broaden his knowledge of literature and law. However, since he was probably disgusted by the dissolute lifestyle of his peers and by Rome’s difficult political situation, he retired to Affile with a group of priests, taking his old nurse with him as a servant.

At Affile, Saint Benedict worked his first miracle, restoring to perfect condition an earthenware wheat sifter which his man-servant had accidentally broken. The notoriety which this miracle brought drove Benedict to withdraw further from social life. He took shelter in a cave in the ruins of Nero’s village, near Subiaco, where he began to live as a hermit. Immersed in loneliness, his only contact with the outside world was with a monk called Romanus, whose monastery was nearby. He gave Saint Benedict a monk’s habit and provided for his spiritual and material needs. Three solitary years followed. Some shepherds befriended Benedict. They began to follow his teachings and the pastoral and apostolic principles of the Benedictine Order took root.

After resisting a strong temptation against chastity, Benedict prepared to live through a new experience, following the example of the ancient Fathers of Christian Monasticism. At first, the community of Vicovaro wanted him as its Abbot, but the failed attempt of a monk to poison him forced Benedict to return to his solitude. Afterwards, he founded twelve monasteries and assigned twelve monks to each of them. In addition, he founded a thirteenth monastery for novices and those needing education. Benedict’s fame spread so rapidly, even in Rome, that two illustrious men, Equizius and the nobleman Tertullus, entrusted him with their two sons, Maurus and Placidus. They were to become the first two gems of the Benedictine family.

During his life, Saint Benedict performed many miracles. He found water on a desolate mountaintop to quench the thirst of his monks. He retrieved a bill hook’s iron from the bottom of a lake and rejoined its handle. He prevented a monk from leading a dissolute life through intervention. In addition, he made Maurus walk on water to save the young Placidus from drowning.

Unfortunately, a priest called Florentius was envious of Benedict’s popularity and his envy forced the Saint to depart in spite of insistence from his disciples. After leaving Subiaco, Benedict went towards Cassino. In the period between 525 and 529 AD he founded the Abbey of Montecassino. It would become the most famous abbey in continental Europe. Under Benedict’s direction, the old acropolis-sanctuary towering above the declined Roman municipium of Casinum was turned into a monastery that was much bigger than those built at Subiaco. On the remains of the altar of Apollo he built a chapel dedicated to Saint John the Baptist, while the temple of Apollo itself was turned into an oratory for the monks which was dedicated to Saint Martin of Tours.

At Montecassino Saint Benedict displayed prodigious activity. He supervised the building of the monastery, established a monastic order and performed many miracles. He brought back from death a youngster, miraculously supplied the monastery with flour and oil in its time of need and displayed the gift of prophecy. In autumn of 542 AD, while the Goth King Totila was passing through Cassino en route to Naples to attack it, he decided to test Saint Benedict because he had already heard of his gifts and charisms. As a consequence, Totila sent his squire dressed as a king to greet the monk; but Saint Benedict soon unmasked him. When he finally met Totila, he warned him with a dire prediction: “You have hurt many and you continue to do it, now stop behaving badly! You will enter Rome, you will cross the vast sea, you will reign for nine years; however in the tenth year, you will die.” And that is exactly what happened. Saint Benedict showed the same virtue as he cried bitterly when confronted wiht the vision of the first destruction of his monastery. Notwithstanding, he received from God the grace to save all the monks.

Saint Benedict devoted himself to evangelizing the local population who practiced pagan worship. Shortly before he died, Saint Benedict saw the soul of his sister Saint Scholastica rising to heaven in the form of a dove. This vision happened a few days after their last talk together at the foot of Montecassino. In a vision, Benedict saw the soul of Bishop Germanus of Capua taken by angels in a fire globe. These visions, for Pope Saint Gregory the Great, showed a close union between Benedict and God, a union so intense that the Saint was given the share of an even more magnificent vision, the whole of creation as gathered in a sunbeam.

In the end, a life so noble was justifiably followed by a much-glorified death. According to tradition, Saint Benedict died on March 21, 547 AD. He foresaw his coming death, informing his close and faraway disciples that the end was near. Six days before dying, he had the grave which he was to share with his deceased sister Saint Scholastica, opened. Then, completely exhausted, he asked to be taken into his oratory where, after taking his last Holy Communion, he died supported by his monks.

Pictured below are the relics of St.Benedict and St.Scholastica venerated at Monte Cassiono,Italy

 

Quotes of St.Benedict


“Idleness is the enemy of the soul; and therefore the brethren ought to be employed in manual labor at certain times, at others, in devout reading.”

“The first degree of humility is prompt obedience.”

“And let them first pray together, that so they may associate in peace.”

“Listen and attend with the ear of your heart.”

“Ora et labora.”

“He should first show them in deeds rather than words all that is good and holy.”

“The sleepy like to make excuses.”

“Whatever good work you begin to do, beg of God with most earnest prayer to perfect it.”
“He should know that whoever undertakes the government of souls must prepare himself to account for them.”

“Wherefore let us consider how it behoveth us to be in the sight of God and the angels, and so let us take our part in the psalmody that mind and voice accord together.”

“The abbot ought ever to bear in mind what he is and what he is called; he ought to know that to whom more is entrusted, from him more is exacted.”

“The prophet shows that, for the sake of silence, we are to abstain even from good talk. If this be so, how much more needful is it that we refrain from evil words, on account of the penalty of the sin!”

“Almighty God, give me wisdom to perceive You, intelligence to understand You, diligence to seek You, patience to wait for You, eyes to behold You, a heart to meditate upon You and life to proclaim You, through the power of the Spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
“For at all times we must so serve Him with the good things He has given us, that he may not, as an angry Father, disinherit his children, nor as a dread Lord, provoked by our evil deeds, deliver us to everlasting punishment as wicked servants who refuse to follow Him to glory.”

“Now, brethren, that we have asked the Lord who it is that shall dwell in His tabernacle, we have heard the conditions for dwelling there; and if we fulfill the duties of tenants, we shall be heirs of the kingdom of heaven. Our hearts and our bodies must, therefore, be ready to do battle under the biddings of holy obedience; and let us ask the Lord that He supply by the help of His grace what is impossible to us by nature. And if, flying from the pains of hell, we desire to reach life everlasting, then, while there is yet time, and we are still in the flesh, and are able during the present life to fulfill all these things, we must make haste to do now what will profit us forever.”

 

 

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