Neither are the souls of the pious dead separated from the Church which even now is the kingdom of Christ. Otherwise there would be no remembrance of them at the altar of God in the communication of the Body of Christ. -- Saint Augustine of Hippo from “The City of God

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Goffine's Devout Instructions: Feast of Saint Stephen, First Martyr For Christ


December 26

The epistle of today contains a short account of the life and sufferings of this saint. It only remains to be added that, on account of his virtues, his wisdom, and his zeal for the faith, the apostles thought him worthy to be chosen the first of the seven deacons, whose office it was, in addition to the preaching of the word of God, to serve the poor, and properly to distribute the alms of the faithful.

The Introit says:

"Princes sat and spoke against me, and the wicked persecuted me;
                  help me, O Lord my God, for Thy servant was employed in Thy justifications.
       Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord."

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Prayer

Grant us, we beseech Thee, O Lord, to imitate what we honor, that we also may learn to love our neighbors, as we celebrate the feast of Him Who knew how to beseech even for Hili persecutors, Our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who, etc. Amen.

Epistle: Acts 6:8-10; 7:54-59

In those days Stephen full of grace and fortitude did great wonders and signs among the people. Now there arose some of that which is called the synagogue of the Libertines, and of the Cyrenians, and of the Alexandrians, and of them that were of Cilicia and Asia, disputing with Stephen. And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit that spoke. Now hearing these things they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed with their teeth at him. But he being full of the Holy Ghost, looking up steadfastly to heaven, saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God. And he said: Behold I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. And they crying out with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and with one accord ran violently npon him. And casting him forth without the city, they stoned him, and the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man whose name was Saul. And they stoned Stephen, invoking, and saying: Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And falling on his knees, he cried with a loud voice, saying: Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep in the Lord.

Instruction

Stephen is unjustly persecuted, yet he prays for his persecutors. Can we excuse ourselves if we do not love our enemies? Were not Stephen, and others who have imitated him, men like ourselves? With the grace of God, could not we do what they have done? Could we call ourselves Christians were we not to do this? No; for the love of our neighbor, and of our enemy also, is the chief token of the Christian; since it is only by this love that we become like Christ, and resemble our heavenly Father, Who makes His sun to shine upon the evil and the good, and sendeth rains upon the just and upon the unjust (Matthew 5:45). Let us, therefore, imitate the love of God, of Christ, and of Saint Stephen, and then we may one day be able to give up our souls with calmness into the hands of our Maker.

Gospel: Matthew 23:34-39

At that time Jesus said to the scribes and Pharisees: Behold I send to you prophets, and wise men, and scribes; and some of them you will put to death aud crucify, and some you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city; that upon you may come all the just blood that hath been shed upon the earth, from the blood of Abel the just, even unto the blood of Zacharias the son of Barachias, whom you killed between the temple and the altar. Amen I say to you, all these things shall come upon this generation. Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered together thy children, as the hen doth gather her chickens under her wings, and thou wouldst not! Behold your house shall be left to you desolate. For I say to you, you shall not see Me henceforth till you say: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.

Those in our days who stone and kill the prophets and preachers are those who, by their evil backbiting, defame their pastors, who mock at and despise preachers and sermons; for to the servants of God this is a great torment and source of grief; it destroys their courage and paralyzes their efficiency. On this account it provokes the anger of God, as through the prophets He often told the Jews.

Supplication to Saint Stephen

O Saint Stephen, first of the martyrs, who wast filled with fortitude, grace, and love, whose guiltless face shone like the face of a pure angel, I beseech thee, by the grace which rendered them worthy to see heaven opened and Jesus sitting at the rigbt hand of the Father, that thou wouldst, by thy prayers, procure for me from God a pure conscience, and a holy, meek love, that like thee I may readily forgive those who injure me; may pray for them; may not only desire for them whatever is good, but may do them good indeed, and thereby merit the grace of a happy death. Through Jesus Christ, our Lord, etc. Amen.

--  Goffine's Devout Instructions



Monday, November 11, 2013

Saint Martin of Tours

"The Charity of St. Martin" -- by Louis Anselme Longa
"The Charity of St. Martin" -- by Louis Anselme Longa

Saint Martin of Tours (also known as Martin the Merciful; The Glory of Gaul) was born around 316 A.D. at Upper Pannonia (in modern Hungary) of pagan parents. His father was a Roman military officer and tribune.

Saint Martin was raised in Pavia, Italy. He discovered Christianity, and became a catechumen in his early teens. He was baptized into the Church at the age of 18.

He joined the Roman imperial army at the age of 15, serving in a ceremonial unit that acted as the emperor's bodyguard, and was rarely exposed to combat. He became a cavalry officer, and was assigned to garrison duty in Gaul (modern France).

Once, while on horseback in Amiens in Gaul , he encountered a beggar. Having nothing to give but the clothes on his back, he cut his officer's cloak in half, and gave it to the beggar. He later had a vision of Christ wearing the cloak.

Just before a battle, Martin announced that he was Christian, and that his faith prohibited him from fighting. This resulted in his being charged with cowardice, he was jailed, and his superiors planned to put him in the front of the battle. The invaders sued for peace, the battle never occurred, and Martin was released from military service at Worms.

After he was released he journeyed to Poitiers to labor under Saint Hilary, Bishop of Poitiers. There he organized a community of monks, erected the monastery of Liguge, and in 371 became Bishop of Tours. He later founded the monastery of Marmoutier and resided there. He was an opponent of Arianism.

After a last visit to Rome, Martin went to Candes, one of the religious centers created by him in his diocese, where he died in 397. By his request, he was buried in the Cemetery of the Poor on 11 November 397 and his relics rested in the basilica of Tours until 1562 when the cathedral and the saints relics were destroyed by militant Protestants.

Some fragments of his tomb were found during construction excavation in 1860.

An extensive biography of Martin was written by Saint Sulpicius Severus. Martin of Tours was the first non-martyr to receive the cultus of a saint.

*        *       *        *        *        *        *

Below is an excerpt from a letter by Saint Sulpicius Severus on Saint Martin of Tours:

Martin knew long in advance the time of his death and he told his brethren that it was near. Meanwhile, he found himself obliged to make a visitation of the parish of Candes. The clergy of that church were quarreling, and he wished to reconcile them.

Although he knew that his days on earth were few, he did not refuse to undertake the journey for such a purpose, for he believed that he would bring his virtuous life to a good end if by his efforts peace was restored in the church.

He spent some time in Candes, or rather in its church, where he stayed. Peace was restored, and he was planning to return to his monastery when suddenly he began to lose his strength. He summoned his brethren and told them he was dying. All who heard this were overcome with grief. In their sorrow they cried to him with one voice: “Father, why are you deserting us? Who will care for us when you are gone? Savage wolves will attack your flock, and who will save us from their bite when our shepherd is struck down? We know you long to be with Christ, but your reward is certain and will not be any less for being delayed. You will do better to show pity for us, rather than forsake us.”

Thereupon he broke into tears, for he was a man in whom the compassion of our Lord was continually revealed. Turning to our Lord, he made this reply to their pleading: “Lord, if your people still need me, I am ready for the task; your will be done.”

Here was a man words cannot describe. Death could not defeat him nor toil dismay him. He was quite without a preference of his own; he neither feared to die nor refused to live. With eyes and hands always raised to heaven he never withdrew his unconquered spirit from prayer. It happened that some priests who had gathered at his bedside suggested that he should give his poor body some relief by lying on his other side. He answered: “Allow me, brothers, to look toward heaven rather than at the earth, so that my spirit may set on the right course when the time comes for me to go on my journey to the Lord.”

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Vatican plans first-ever display of relics of St. Peter : News Headlines - Catholic Culture

Saint Peter the Apostle by James Tissot

The following excerpts are from Catholic Culture's Catholic World News:

  • The Vatican is planning an unprecedented public display of the relics of St. Peter, as the Year of Faith comes to a close.
  • The display was announced by Archbishop Rino Fisichella, the president of Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization, in an article appearing in the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano. The archbishop did not supply any details of the plans.


Read more by clicking below:
Vatican plans first-ever display of relics of St. Peter : News Headlines - Catholic Culture

Friday, November 01, 2013

Feast of All Souls Day (From Goffine's Devout Instructions)



November 2

ALL SOULS' DAY is the annual commemoration of all those souls who departed this life in the grace and favor of God but who are still detained in purgatory. Purgatory is that third place in the other world in which the souls of the departed suffer the temporal punishment of those sins for which in life they have not sufficiently atoned, and in which they are purified until they are worthy to appear in the presence of God.
Is there a purgatory?
Yes; it is a doctrine of our faith. 1. Even under the Old Law the Jews held to this belief, and accordingly Judas Machabeus sent twelve thousand silver drachmas to Jerusalem to procure the offering of sacrifices for the dead. 2. Under the New Law Jesus Christ seems to point to such a place (Matthew 5:26, 12:32). The apostle Paul writes to the Corinthians:
"The fire shall try every man's work, of what sort it is. If any man's work abide, which he hath built thereupon [upon Christ], he shall receive a reward; if any man's work burn, he shall suffer loss [by the fire of purgatory], but he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire." (1st Corinthians 3:13-15)
A fire from which a man may be saved cannot be the fire of hell; for from hell there is no redemption. The words of Saint Paul, therefore, can only be understood of purgatory.
What souls are they that go to purgatory?
The souls of all those who, though dying in the grace of God, have yet something to atone for. Those persons dying in the grace of God are still friends of God, and certainly God does not cast those who are His friends into hell. It is, therefore, as suitable to the idea of God's mercy as it is consonant to reason that such souls should be first purified in purgatory.
How can we assist the souls suffering in purgatory?
1. By our prayers. The Holy Scripture says: "It is a holy and a wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins." (2nd Machabees 12:46) The Catholic Church has therefore always taught that the prayer of the faithful for the departed is holy and wholesome. 2. By the holy sacrifice of the Mass, the fruits of which are most beneficial to the souls in purgatory. For this reason holy Church has always, from the time of the apostles, remembered the dead in the holy Mass. 3. By gaining indulgences, and other good works, by which we supplicate God to show mercy to the souls of the suffering, to accept what is performed by us in satisfaction for the punishment to be endured by them, and to bring them into the kingdom of everlasting peace and light. (Ecclesiasticus 7:37)
When and how was this yearly commemoration of the departed introduced?
The time of the introduction of this commemoration cannot be determined; for as early as the time of Tertullian he mentions that the Christians of his day held a yearly commemoration of the dead. Towards the end of the tenth century Saint Odo, abbot of the Benedictines, at Cluny, directed this feast to be celebrated yearly, on the 2d of November, in all the convents of his Order, which usage was afterwards enjoined upon the whole Christian world by Pope John XVI. The feast of this day was probably established in order that, after having one day before rejoiced over the glory of the saints in heaven, we should this day remember in love those who are sighing in purgatory for deliverance.
Prayer

O God, the Creator and Redeemer of all the faithful, grant to the souls of Thy servants departed the remission of all their sins, that, by our pious supplications, they may obtain the pardon which they have always desired. Who livest and reignest, now and forever, Amen.

Epistle: I Corinthians 15:51-57

Brethren: Behold I tell you a mystery: we shall all indeed rise again, but we shall not all be changed. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall rise again incorruptible; and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. And when this mortal hath put on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting? Now the sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, Who hath given us the victory through Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Gospel: John 5:25-29

At that time Jesus said to the multitude of the Jews: Amen, amen, I say unto you, that the hour cometh, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live. For as the Father hath life in Himself, so He hath given to the Son also to have life in Himself, and He hath giveth Him power to do judgment, because He is the Son of man. Wonder not at this, for the hour cometh wherein all that are in the graves shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that have done good things shall come forth unto the resurrection of life, but they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of judgment.

--Goffine's Devout Instructions

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Feast of All Saints Day (From Goffine's Devout Instructions)


November 1
Why has the Church appointed this feast?
  1. To honor God in His saints, in whom He has shown Himself so wonderful, and to thank Him, as the author of all sanctity, for the benefits He has bestowed upon them.
  2. To put us in lively remembrance of the communion of saints; that is, of all true children of the Church, whether they belong to the Church militant on earth, to the Church suffering in purgatory, or to the Church triumphant in heaven; but more particularly to cause us to consider, with earnestness, the communion of the saints in heaven with us, who are yet combating on earth.
  3. To encourage us to strive for the like sanctity with them, and to teach us that it is by no means impossible; for if thousands of men could become saints, why should not we, who can do all things through Him Who strengthens us, and has sent the Holy Ghost for our sanctification?
  4. To pay honor to those saints to whom no particular day in the year is dedicated.
  5. That, in consideration of so many intercessors, God may grant us perfect reconciliation, may give us a share in their merits, and may grant us the grace of one day sharing in their joy in heaven.

By whom was this feast instituted?
By Pope Boniface IV, who, in the year 610, appropriated the Pantheon (that is, the temple of all gods) to the divine service of Christians, dedicated it to the Blessed Virgin and an saints, and commanded this feast in honor of all saints to be celebrated at Rome every year. Gregory IV, in the year 840, extended this feast to the whole Church, and transferred it to the 1st of November.

Prayer

O Almighty God, Who hast granted us to venerate in one, solemnity the merits of an Thy saints, we beseech Thee that, as our intercessors are multiplied, Thou wouldst bestow upon us the desired abundance of mercy. Through Christ our Lord, Amen.

Epistle: Apocalypse 7:2-12

In those days: Behold I John saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, having the sign of the living God; and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, saying: Hurt not the earth, nor the sea, nor the trees, till we sign the servants of our God in their foreheads. And I heard the number of them that were signed, an hundred forty-four thousand were signed, of every tribe of the children of Israel. Of the tribe of Juda, were twelve thousand signed. Of the tribe of Ruben, twelve thousand signed. Of the tribe of Gad, twelve thousand signed. Of the tribe of Aser, twelve thousand signed. Of the tribe of Nephthali, twelve thousand signed. Of the tribe of Manasses, twelve thousand signed. Of the tribe of Simeon, twelve thousand signed. Of the tribe of Levi, twelve thousand signed. Of the tribe of Issachar, twelve thousand signed. Of the tribe of Zabulon, twelve thousand signed. Of the tribe of Joseph, twelve thousand signed. Of the tribe of Benjamin, twelve thousand signed. After this, I saw a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and tribes, and peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne, and in sight of the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; and they cried with a loud voice, saying: Salvation to our God, Who sitteth upon the throne, and to the Lamb. And all the angels stood round about the throne, and the ancients, and the four living creatures; and they fell down before the throne upon their faces, and adored God, saying: Amen. Benediction, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, honor, and power, and strength to our God forever and ever. Amen.


Gospel: Matthew 5:1-12

At that time: Jesus seeing the multitudes, went up into a mountain, and when He was set down, His disciples came unto Him. And opening His mouth, He taught them, saying: Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are the meek, for they shall possess the land. Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice, for they shall have their fill. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peace-makers, for they shall be called the children of God. Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye when they shall revile you, and persecute you, and speak all that is evil against you, untruly, for My sake; be glad and rejoice, for your reward is very great in heaven. This gospel is read to-day because it is by practising what it contains that the saints have gained the eternal kingdom.

Explanation of the Eight Beatitudes
  1. "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." The poor in spirit are:
    1. Those who, like the apostles, readily forsake all earthly things, and for Christ's sake become poor.
    2. Those who, happening to Jose their property by misfortune or in justice, suffer the Joss patiently, in resignation to the will of God.
    3. Those who, like Jesus (Matthew 8:20), are content with theiE poor and humble position, seek no higher or happier one, and would rather suffer want than enrich themselves by unlawful acts, by fraud or theft.
    4. The rich and noble who set not their hearts upon the riches and greatness of the world (Psalm 61:11; I Corinthians 7:30), but who use their riches and influence to relieve the misery of the needy and oppressed.
    5. Finally, the truly humble, who, convinced of their weakness, their helplessness and misery, think lowly of themselves, and regard themselves but as beggars, who are always in need of the grace of God.

    To all these, therefore, in whose hearts the world has no place, there is assured, as their inheritance, the kingdom of heaven; here the kingdom of grace, there the kingdom of glory.
  2. "Blessed are the meek, for they shall possess the land." That man is meek who does not murmur against God for sending afflictions upon him, who is not angry at men who do him injury, but who rather suppresses impatience, anger, envy, and revenge, nay, who seeks to recompense the evil done him by his neighbor with good. Such a one is greater than he who takes by storm fortified cities (Proverbs 16:32); he possesses an unfailing fountain of peace, quiet, and cheerfulness; by his meekness prevails over the most hostile minds, is by such means truly a ruler upon earth, and will one day, for his portion, obtain heaven, the land of the living, there to enjoy eternal peace.
  3. "Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted." By them that mourn we are not to understand such as grieve and lament over a death, a misfortune, a loss of worldly goods, or the like; but those who are grieved that God should be in so many ways offended by themselves and by others that His Church should be so heavily oppressed, and thereby so many souls lost that have been redeemed with the precious blood of Christ. The only evil really to be grieved for is sin, and the tears shed on account of sin are the only tears that are profitable, for they shall be recompensed with everlasting joy.
  4. "Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice, for they shall have their fill." Hunger and thirst denote the most ardent longing after those virtues which constitute Christian perfection; such as humility, meekness, the love of God and of our neighbor, penance. Whoever longs for these virtues as the hungry man does for food and drink, and prays to God for them with perseverance and earnestness, shall have his fill; that is, he shall be enriched with them, and one day shall be satisfied with eternal happiness.
  5. "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy." The merciful here spoken of are: 1. Those who willingly forgive the injuries done to them. 2. Those who have compassion on their poor neighbors, and, according to their ability, sustain them by alms. These shall obtain mercy; that is, God will forgive them their sins and endow them abundantly with the goods of this world and of the world to come. Thus God deals with us as we deal with others. (Matthew 7:2)
  6. "Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God." The clean of heart are those who preserve with care the innocence with which they are invested at holy Baptism, or seek to regain it, when lost, by penance; those who keep their hearts and consciences unspotted from all sinful thoughts, particularly from all unchaste thoughts, desires, words, and acts, and who endeavor in all things to have a pure intention directed to God alone. They shall see God, that is, they shall know Him even here upon earth, for as the eye that is to see must be clean, so only souls that are pure and unstained can behold God. But further, our knowledge is like our hearts; the purer the heart the clearer and greater is the knowledge of God. But in the world above they shall see, know, and possess Him as He is. What blessedness! Strive, therefore, to keep your heart clean.
  7. "Blessed are the peace-makers, for they shall be called the children of God." By peace-makers we are to understand those who have peace with themselves, that is, a quiet conscience, and who endeavor to maintain peace among others, or to restore it when broken. Such are called the children of God, because they follow God, Who is a God of peace (Romans 15:33), and Who even gave His only Son to reconcile the world with Him (Romans 5:10), and to bring down upon earth that peace which the world itself could not give (Luke 2:14; John 14:27).
  8. "Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Hereby all those are declared blessed who, on account of the true faith, of virtue, of the fear of God, of purity, are persecuted, calumniated, and even put to death, and who bear all this with Christian patience and constancy, nay, with joy. Thus have the saints done, and thereby they have gained the heavenly crown. Do we desire to be crowned with them, we must also suffer with them. And in truth, if we would apply ourselves zealously to virtue, occasions will not be wanting to us, for all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. (II Timothy 3:12)

Prayer

How lovely, O God, are Thy tabernacles! My soul longeth and fainteth for Thy courts, O living God, Who art the crown and reward of the saints, and repayest their sufferings and sorrows in this world with eternal joy. How blessed are all they who, in this life, have served Thee faithfully! They behold Thee and the Lamb of God face to face; they bear Thy name on their foreheads, and reign with Thee forever. We therefore beseech Thee, O God, through their intercessor, to grant us Thy grace to serve Thee after their example, in sanctity and justice; to follow them in poverty, humility, meekness, repentance, in ardent longing for all virtues, in peace-making and patience, and one day, like them, to share in the joys of heaven. Amen.

--Goffine's Devout Instructions

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Feast of Saints Simon and Jude, Apostles (Goffine's Devout Instructions)

"Saint Jude the Apostle" (left) and "Saint Simon the Apostle" --  by James Tissot
"Saint Jude the Apostle" (left) and "Saint Simon the Apostle" --  by James Tissot
October 28


SAINT SIMON and SAINT JUDE were probably brothers; the former received the surname Canaanite, to distinguish him from Simon Peter, either because he was a native of Cana, or because of his zeal for Christ (Luke 6:15; Acts 1:13). Judas was surnamed Thaddeus, or Lebbeus, to distinguish him from Judas Iscariot. Both were chosen apostles by Christ, and were constant witnesses of His life and deeds. It is related of them in the Martyrology that the light of faith was communicated to Egypt and other countries of Africa by Simon, and to Palestine, Syria, Mesopotamia, and Greater Armenia by Thaddeus. Meeting in Persia, and propagating the Christian faith there by their preaching and miracles, they both gained the crown of martyrdom. There is extant an epistle of Saint Jude which the Church has incorporated into the Holy Scriptures. From these two apostles learn to have zeal for the glory of God, for your own salvation and for that of your neighbor.


Prayer


O God, Who, by means of Thy blessed apostles Simon and Jude, hast granted us to come to the knowledge of Thy name, grant that we may celebrate their eternal glory by making progress in virtue and improve by this celebration. Through Our Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.


Epistle: Ephesians 4:7-13


Brethren: To everyone of us is given grace according to the measure of the giving of Christ. Wherefore He saith: Ascending on high He led captivity captive; He gave gifts to men. Now that He ascended, what is it, but because He also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended above all the heavens, that He might fill all things. And He gave some apostles, and some prophets, and other some evangelists, and other some pastors and doctors, for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, until we all meet into the unity of faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the age of the fulness of Christ.
Gospel: John 15:17-25
At that time Jesus said to His disciples: These things command you, that you love one another. If the world hate you, know ye that it hath hated Me before you. If you had been of the world, the world would love its own, but because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember My word that I said to you: The servant is not greater than his master. If they have persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name's sake; because they know not Him that sent Me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. He that hateth Me, hateth My Father also. If I had not done among them the works that no other man hath done, they would not have sin; but now they have both seen and hated both Me and My Father. But that the word may be fulfilled which is written in their law: They hated Me without cause.
Explanation
From the fact that Christ and His disciples were hated and persecuted by the world the greatest consolation and encouragement may be derived by those who are obliged to suffer mockery, contempt, and persecution because they are not of the world; that is, because they do not follow its foolish principles and sinful customs. But they who, to escape the derision and hatred of the world, side with it, rather than with Christ, may learn to be ashamed of their cowardice and baseness. For as it is an honor to the servant to be treated like his master, so it is a great disgrace to him to be treated better than his master; if, then, the master is pleased to submit to the hatred and persecution of the world, why do his servants refuse to do so?
When Christ says that the Jews could not excuse themselves on the ground that they did not know Him, but had hated and persecuted Him when it was easy for them to have known Him by His works, He teaches us that ignorance is not in every case an excuse for sin. Those Christians, therefore, are in the highest degree culpable who, like the Jews, might easily learn what they ought to believe and do, but who fail to do so either through maliciousness or neglect, and accordingly remain in ignorance by their own fault. Acting in this kind of ignorance, they become guilty of sin, and will be justly condemned forever. It is otherwise with men who, without any fault of theirs, hear nothing of Christ or of the true faith, on account of which they are not punishable, but who will be condemned for such sins as they commit against that natural law which is inscribed on the heart of every man.
Goffine's Devout Instructions




Friday, October 18, 2013

Saint Luke the Evangelist (From Saint Jerome)

"Saint Luke" -- by James Tissot

Luke a physician of Antioch, as his writings indicate, was not unskilled in the Greek language. An adherent of the apostle Paul, and companion of all his journeying, he wrote a Gospel, concerning which the same Paul says, “We send with him a brother whose praise in the gospel is among all the churches” and to the Colossians “Luke the beloved physician salutes you,” and to Timothy “Luke only is with me.” He also wrote another excellent volume to which he prefixed the title Acts of the Apostles, a history which extends to the second year of Paul’s sojourn at Rome, that is to the fourth year of Nero, from which we learn that the book was composed in that same city. Therefore the Acts of Paul and Thecla and all the fable about the lion baptized by him we reckon among the apocryphal writings, for how is it possible that the inseparable companion of the apostle in his other affairs, alone should have been ignorant of this thing. Moreover Tertullian who lived near those times, mentions a certain presbyter in Asia, an adherent of the apostle Paul, who was convicted by John of having been the author of the book, and who, confessing that he did this for love of Paul, resigned his office of presbyter. Some suppose that whenever Paul in his epistle says “according to my gospel” he means the book of Luke and that Luke not only was taught the gospel history by the apostle Paul who was not with the Lord in the flesh, but also by other apostles. This he too at the beginning of his work declares, saying “Even as they delivered unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word.” So he wrote the gospel as he had heard it, but composed the Acts of the apostles as he himself had seen. He was buried at Constantinople to which city, in the twentieth year of Constantius, his bones together with the remains of Andrew the apostle were transferred.

-- Saint Jerome from his "
Lives of Illustrious Men"




Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Saint Maximilian Kolbe



Priest and Martyr

The name of Maximilian Kolbe is synonymous with courage. When we think of the great heroes who died in the savage holocaust brought on by the rabid hatred of the Nazi's one man stands above the others, and that is the life we will now take a closer look at.

Raymond was born in the year 1894 to very devout but poor parents, Jules and Maria Kolbe in the region of Lodz Poland, his parents made their living by weaving. Times were difficult for the Kolbe family as they felt the weight of Russian oppression. But as the Polish people are renowned for their stoic natures and their long suffering perseverance in the face of adversity, this fact would hold the young Raymond in good stead!

As a young boy Raymond always felt an inclination to prayer in solitude, but this is not to say that he was perfect, in that like many of his age he too could be precocious. But there was one singular difference in the young Raymond when at only 10 years old; he was graced with an appearance of the Blessed Mother. It was during this vision that the Blessed Mother offered Raymond a choice of two crowns one which was white which stood for purity and the other was red which stood for martyrdom. Raymond was never one to hold back so he immediately responded to this most beautiful lady that he chose both!

Raymond would certainly live out what our Lady had offered him in his short but very holy life. This vision made a big difference to the choices Raymond would make in life, for he took our Lady's word seriously and lived to be obedient, from this time forward Raymond had a burning desire to enter the Priesthood. But due to the poverty of the family this was thought to be an impossible dream, as his parents relied on their children to help them survive during this difficult period in Polish history.

But Raymond did not give up hope, and because of his obvious devoutness a business man took Raymond under his wing and helped tutor him, which was also a preparation for his long held dream to become a Priest.

Being that both Jules and Maria had set a good example all three of their sons exhibited a wish to enter Holy Orders. At first the parents were perturbed as to what would become of them once they could no longer provide a living for themselves. But being so very devout they entrusted their futures to God just as they did their son's.

Soon both Francis and Raymond would enter the Seminary run by the Franciscan Order, a few years later they were joined by their youngest brother. But Francis would eventually leave the Order much to the sorrow of his younger brother Raymond. Being that all their children had entered the Seminary, both Jules and Maria Kolbe decided that they too would embrace the Religious life.

And as Raymond completed his studies in physics and mathematics, he was then accepted into the novitiate of Conventual Franciscans in the year 1910 and upon taking his first Vows he then took the name Maximilian, and proceeded to study philosophy in Krakow, which he then completed in Rome.

It was while he was in Rome that Maximilian had the honour of attending a public audience with another future Saint, Pope Pius X. Maximilian then gained his degrees in both philosophy and theology, it would be four years later that Maximilian would be ordained into the Priesthood, whereupon he added the name Maria as part of his Religious name. For despite all the study Maximilian had a strong devotion to our Lady and also kept a strong prayer life in the solitude of his soul.

Maximilian and Pope Pius X also had another thing in common as both showed concerns towards the acceptance of 'modernism' within the Church; this was anathema to both of these holy men of God!

And it would be this trend towards modernism that fired the heart of Fr. Maximilian to combat it with all his might. It was here that the thought of beginning an army of fellow Priests to spread love and devotion to our most Holy Mother began to take affect. So began the Militia of the Immaculata, for Fr. Maximilian was not one to sit and do nothing, he was a man of fierce courage and conviction which showed in all he did as an obedient son of the Church.

Maximilian was never timid it was simply not in his nature and so he faced up to the challenges of those who were trying to erode the faithful by lies and deceit. Those who wished to join him in this crusade against heresies were asked to consecrate themselves to the Virgin Mary and to always wear the Miraculous Medal, it would not take long before this movement became world wide and lasts to the present day!

Due to Fr. Maximilian many duties and his total commitment to serving our Lady would soon take a heavy toll on the young Priests health and he was to spend time recuperating in hospitals. This was a difficult time for one so spiritually robust and with such a definite purpose in life.

So though Fr. Maximilian was recovering his health in hospital this did not stop him from sharing his ideals as a printing press was brought forth in order to print out his mission and make true his pledge to the Blessed Mother. To be her vigilant soldiers of the Faith so was born the periodical 'Knights of the Immaculate Mother', which soon gathered speed amongst the faithful.

One is amazed at the strength exhibited by this one man, his vision which was enormous but never grandiose. For all the work he did was in order to serve the Church and to make known the love of the Blessed Mother to all her children. His iron will and determination to forge ahead seemed indomitable to all those he came in contact with. Maximilian had always been a zealous soul, from a precious young lad to a determined and strong willed individual, he lived to do the Will of the Father just as Mary had done.

To further the cause of the Knights of the Immaculata, Maximilian would travel to Japan and India to raise awareness of the Saving Grace of Jesus Christ and the love of the Blessed Mother. In Japan Fr. Maximilian began a monastery of men who would devote their lives to serving God. But once again Fr. Maximilian was also beginning to feel the affects of an illness that had plagued him for many years and so in 1936 he had to return to his native Poland.

He returned to a Poland where rumours of war were beginning to gather speed. And so in 1939 war enveloped Poland and its people which would bring untold suffering and tragedy to an enormous amount of people. And as the Nazi's made their presence known the shadow of the red crown would follow Fr. Maximilian for the rest of his remaining days.

Soon Fr. Maximilian and his fellow friars would be hiding Jews and others on the run from the ever evil tentacles of the Nazi's whose blood lust knew no boundaries. When the Nazi's tried to make Fr. Maximilian print Pro-Nazi propaganda he adamantly refused to obey this directive! The Nazi officials took this to be a sign of further troubles they may have with this courageous man who had no fear of them or what they could do to him!

The Nazi's were incensed that they could not intimidate this fiercely loyal son of the Church, and so they arrested him and four other friars for hiding Jews and resistance fighters. Fr. Maximilian would be deported to the infamous concentration camp at Auschwitz in 1941.

Throughout this terrible ordeal Maximilian never lost hope nor became discouraged but instead faced true evil with complete love and self abandonment as he tried to help his fellow man. And though Fr. Maximilian's health was always frail still he would help out others as they struggled with the heavy workload. Once again we witness the enormous strength and will of this spiritual giant!

But in July a group of men had escaped this tomb of death that was Auschwitz, the Nazi's for retaliation then ordered the massacre of a group of men, and it was here that one man cried, "My wife, my children, I shall never see them again!" Father Maximilian upon hearing this piteous cry then stepped out and addressed the SS officer and asked to be exchanged so that the man with the children could live. What courage and what character, as Fr. Maximilian embraced the Red Crown of Martyrdom.

After suffering terrible torments in cell block 18, where the men who were chosen to die were consoled by this remarkable Priest as he read out prayers and encouraged the others to take heart and not to allow fear to override them. The voices of the tortured men soon turned from fear into love as they sang hymns and recited the Rosary as this brave Priest led them soon they all died as peacefully as possible surrounded by the loving voice of this remarkable Saint. Father Maximilian would be the last to die where upon the Nazi's who had grown frustrated with the waiting finally entered his cell and with a needle full of acid they injected this deadly poison into the veins of the gently smiling Priest.

Father Maximilian Maria Kolbe died in 1941.

Saint Maximilian Kolbe was canonized in 1982 by Pope John Paul II.

Some Quotes

"Courage, my sons, Don't you see that we are leaving on a mission? They pay our fare in the bargain. What a piece of good luck! The thing to do now is to pray well in order to win as many souls as possible. Let us, then, tell the Blessed Virgin that we are content, and that she can do with us anything she wishes."

"The most deadly poison of our times is indifference. And this happens, although the praise of God should know no limits. Let us strive, therefore, to praise Him to the greatest extent of our powers."

"No one in the world can change Truth. What we can do and should do is to seek truth and to serve it when we have found it. The real conflict is the inner conflict. Beyond armies of occupation and the hecatombs of extermination camps, there are two irreconcilable enemies in the depth of every soul: good and evil, sin and love. And what use are the victories on the battlefield if we ourselves are defeated in our innermost personal selves?"

"For Jesus Christ I am prepared to suffer still more." 


Franciszek Gajowniczek the man who was saved.



Thursday, August 08, 2013

Saint Edith Stein- Martyr



Saint Edith Stein

Edith Stein lived the true meaning of her chosen name Sister Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, for just as Jesus embraced The Cross so did Sister Teresa Benedicta. But let us take a closer and more intimate look at this great Saint and one of the great minds of The Catholic Church.

Edith was born into a very Traditional Jewish family she was the youngest of eleven children, unfortunately for her family Ediths Father died when she was not yet two years old, which left her Mother as the sole provider for the entire family. As Edith grew and matured she had a deep admiration and love for her Mother who struggled to support her large family and even though Edith herself had turned her back on God, Mrs Stein remained a staunch and Devout Jew, teaching her children the Traditions of the Jewish Faith.

One of the great blessings that Edith was born with was a curious mind and a thirst for knowledge, which led her to study Philosophy, and to become one of the first women to study this subject at University, she was accepted at University of Breslau before transferring to the University of Gottingen in order to study with Edmund Husserl, the founder of phenomenology. It was while studying this course and observing the Faith of those around her which led Edith on a course that would change her life forever and from which would also come The Way of The Cross, for herself.
 
It was whilst she was vacationing with friends that Edith happened by chance to see the book written by St. Teresa of Avila, her curiosity was aroused and so Edith began to read St Teresa's autobiography and was unable to put it down until she had read the last sentence, it was Edith's Epiphany moment. There was no turning back for Edith, for she believed without doubt what she had read within that most profound book, it also brought untold pain and anguish knowing in her heart that she must embrace Catholicism and leave behind her rich Jewish heritage, in the knowledge of what this news would bring to her beloved Mother. So in the end God answered Mrs. Steins prayer that would bring her daughter back to the Faith, but as always God answers prayer in the most unexpected of ways, in this case Mrs Steins beloved daughter, Edith.

A double blow would then strike Ediths mother when she found that her daughter not only would become a Catholic but also a Religious in The Order of Carmel, this was a troubling and most painful of times for both Mother and daughter, but Edith could not resist the Call of God. On October 15, just after her forty-second birthday, Edith Stein entered the Carmel of Cologne, taking the name Teresa Benedicta of the Cross.
Upon the death of her Mother, Edith would be joined by her sister Rosa who also converted and was Baptized into the Catholic Church. When the Nazi tyranny turned to untold violence in the infamous 'Kristillnacht', Edith's Superiors decided to transer Sister Teresa Benedicta to the Carmel in Echt, the Netherlands. Her sister Rosa later joined her there as a Third Order Carmelite, in which Rosa helped serve the Community there.

But unfortunately this was not enough to safeguard either Edith or her sister Rosa and both were arrested on August 2, 1942. When her sister reached a state of confusion Edith with much compassion and courage took her sister Rosa and led her with these words, "Come, Rosa. We go for our people." The sisters were deported to Auschwitz and executed just a week later. Edith Stein was fifty years old.
She was beatified by Pope John Paul II on May 1,1987.

Quotes from St. Edith Stein

"I have no other desire than that the will of God be accomplished in me and through me".
"One cannot desire freedom from the Cross when one is especially chosen for the Cross".
"Charity liberates the will from everything, imposing as a duty to love God above all else. This however is possible only when anxious desire for creatures is removed".

Copyright © 2005 Marie Smith. All rights reserved.



Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Saint Alphonsus Maria de Liguori, Bishop and Doctor of the Church


Saint Alphonsus Maria de Liguori was born in 1696 A.D. at Marianelli near Naples, Italy. He was of noble birth, and a child prodigy. 

He was well educated, and received his doctorate in law from the University of Naples at the age of 16. He had his own law practice by the age of 21, and was one of the leading lawyers in Naples. He never attended court without having attended Mass first. He practiced law for 8 years, and as he matured and learned more and more of the world, he liked it less and less. He was humiliated by the loss of an important case, and he felt a call to the religious life. He entered a missionary society of secular priests, the "Neapolitan Propaganda", and was ordained a priest in 1726 where he devoted his time to work among the poor. 

Alphonsus was noted for his simple, clear, direct style of preaching, and his gentle, understanding way in the confessional. He wrote on asceticism, history and was a master theologian. He was often opposed by Church officials for a perceived laxity toward sinners, and by government officials who opposed anything religious. Alphonsus founded the Redemptoristines women's order at Scala, Italy in 1730.

In 1732, with the help of Bishop Thomas Falcoia of Castellamare, he founded the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (Liguorians; Redemptorists) at Scala. 

Alphonsus was appointed bishop of Saint Agata dei Gotti by Pope Clement XIII in 1762. There he worked to reform the clergy and revitalize the faithful in a diocese with a bad reputation. 

He was afflicted with severe rheumatism, and often could barely move or raise his chin from his chest. In 1775 he resigned his see due to his health, and went into what he thought was a prayerful retirement. In 1777, the royal government threatened to disband his Redemptorists, claiming that they were covertly carrying on the work of the Jesuits, who had been suppressed in 1773. Calling on his knowledge of the Congregation, his background in theology, and his skills as a lawyer, Alphonsus defended the Redemptorists so well that they obtained the king's approval. However, by this time Alphonsus was nearly blind, and was tricked into giving his approval to a revised Rule for the Congregation, one that suited the king and the anti-clerical government. 

When Pope Pius VI saw the changes, he condemned it, and removed Alphonsus from his position as leader of the Order. This caused Alphonsus a crisis in confidence and faith that took years to overcome. However, by the time of his death he had returned to faith and peace. 

Saint Alphonsus Maria de Liguori died of natural causes at Nocera de' Pagani, Italy in 1787. Pope Pius IX declared him a Doctor of the Church in 1871.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Feast of Saints Joachim and Anne (From Goffine's Devout Instructions)

Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary
July 26

JOACHIM also called Heli, the happy father of Mary, came of the royal line of David, and was from his youth brought up in piety and the fear of God. His married life with the pious aud chaste Ann was childless until they had reached a great age. His continual prayer and other good works were theu rewarded by God with that blessed child whose birth was the beginning of our salvation. He reared her in the fear of the Lord, offered her in her tenderest years to God in the temple at Jerusalem, and soon after gave up his spirit into the hands of his Creator. Oh, that all Christian parents might learn from the parents of Mary to train up their children, not for the world, but for God, from Whom they have received them, and Who will one day require them again from their hands!

Prayer

O God, Who wast pleased that, before all Thy saints, blessed Joachim should be the father of her who bore Thy Son, grant, we beseech Thee, that we may ever experience his patronage whose festival we celebrate. Through the same Jesus Christ, Amen.

Epistle: Ecclesiasticus 31:8-11

Blessed is the man that is found without blemish, and that hath not gone after gold, nor put his trust in money nor in treasures. Who is he and we will praise him, for he hath done wonderful things in his life. Who hath been tried thereby, and made perfect, he shall have glory everlasting. He that could have transgressed, and hath not transgressed, could do evil things, and hath not done them; therefore are his goods established in the Lord.

Gospel: Matthew 1:1-16

The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Abraham begot Isaac. And Isaac begot Jacob. And Jacob, begot Judas and his brethren. And Judas begot Phares and Zara of Thamar. And Phares begot Esron. And Esron begot Aram. And Aram begot Aminadab. And Aminadab begot Naasson. And Nasson begot Salmon. And Salmon begot Booz of Rahab. And Booz begot Obed of Ruth. And Obed begot Jesse. And Jesse begot David the king. And David the king begot Solomon, of her that had been the wife of Unag. And Solomon begot Roboam. And Roboam begot Abias. And Abias begot Asa. And Asa begot Josaphat. And Josaphat begot Joram. And Joram begot Ozias. And Ozias begot Joatham. And Joatham begot Achaz. And Achaz begot Ezechias. And Ezechias begot Manasses. And Manasses begot Amon. And Amon begot Josias. And Josias begot Jechonias and his brethren in the transmigration of Babylon. And after the transmigration of Babylon, Jechonias begot Salathiel. And Salathiel begot Zorobabel. And Zorobabel begot Abiud. And Abiud begot Eliacim. And Eliacim begot Azor. And Azor begot Sadoc. And Sadoc begot Achim. And Achim begot Eliud. And Eliud begot Eleazar. And Eleazar begot Mathan. And Mathan begot Jacob. And Jacob begot Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.

Prayer

O blessed and happy pair, Joachim and Anne, to whom the Almighty gave for a daughter the immaculate Virgin, the Mother of Our Lord Jesus Christ, a grace which is a speaking evidence of your purity, and of your lives being perfectly ordered according to the will of God - oh, obtain for me grace, that I may serve God chastely. Procure also for an Christian parents the help of the Almighty, that they may bring up their children in piety, and thereby become worthy to partake of your happiness. Amen.

All that we know of Saint Ann is that she was married to Saint Joachim of the tribe of David, and lived with him in all virtue and piety, but for a long time was childless. This she bore with all patience, till at last the Lord heard her supplications, and made her the mother of the most blessed Virgin. This distinction on the part of God is praise enough for her. On this account the faithful have always shown great veneration for her, and continually invoke her intercession.

At the Introit of the Mass the Church sings:
"Let us all rejoice in the Lord, keeping festival in honor of Saint Ann, on whose solemnity the angels rejoice, and with one voice praise the Son of God. My heart hath uttered a good word; I speak my works to the King."
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Prayer

O God, Who wast pleased to confer upon Saint Ann the grace whereby she became the mother of her who brought forth Thine only-begotten Son, mercifully grant that we, who keep her festival, may, through her intercession, find help with Thee. Through the same Our Lord Jesus Christ, etc. Amen.

Epistle: Proverbs 31:10-31

Who shall find a valiant woman? the price of her is as of things brought from afar off and from the uttermost coasts. The heart of her husband trusteth in her, and he shall have no need of spoils. She will render him good; and not evil, all the days of her life. She hath sought wool and flax, and hath wrought by the counsel of her hands. She is like the merchant's ship, she bringeth her bread from afar. And she hath risen in the night, and given a prey to her household, and victuals to her maidens. She hath considered a field, and bought it with the fruit of her hands she hath planted a vineyard. She hath girded her loins with strength, and hath strengthened her arm. She hath tasted, and seen that her traffic is good; her lamp shall not be put out in the night. She hath put out her hand to strong things, and her fingers have taken hold of the spindle. She hath opened her hand to the needy, and stretched out her hand to the poor. She shall not fear for her house in the cold of snow; for all her domestics are clothed with double garments. She hath made for herself clothing of tapestry, fine linen, and purple is her covering. Her husband is honorable in the gates, when he sitteth among the senators of the land. She made fine linen, and sold it, and delivered a girdle to the Chananite. Strength and beauty are her clothing, and she shall laugh in the latter day. She hath opened her mouth to wisdom, and the law of clemency is on her tongue. She hath looked well to the paths of her house, and hath not eaten her bread idle, Her children rose up, and called her blessed; her husband, and he praised her. Many daughters have gathered together riches; thou hast surpassed them alL Favor is deceitful, and beauty is vain; the woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands: and let her works praise her in the gates.

Gospel: Matthew 13:44-52

At that time Jesus said to His disciples this parable: The kingdom of heaven is like unto a treasure hidden in a field. Which a man having found, hideth and for joy thereof goeth, and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field. Again the kingdom of heaven is like to a merchant seeking good pearls. Who when he had fouud one pearl of great price, went his way, and sold all that he had, and bought it. Again the kingdom of heaven is like to a net cast into the sea, and gathering together of all kind of fishes. Which, when it was filled, they drew out, and sitting by the shore, they chose out the good into vessels, but the bad they cast forth. So shall it be at the end of the world. The angels shall go out, and shall separate the wicked from among the just, and shall cast them into the furnace of fire; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Have ye understood all these things? They say to Him: Yes. He said unto them: Therefore every scribe instructed in the kingdom of heaven is like to a man that is a householder, who bringeth forth out of his treasure new things and old.

Explanation

The hidden treasure is faith in the Crucified, Who remains concealed from the wise of this world by reason of their pride; the hiding of the treasure denotes that faith is to be preserved only by humility; the selling of all that he hath teaches that, for the sake of the faith, we must sacrifice all things, do all things, suffer all things. The parable of the merchant furnishes the same lesson. By the parable of the net the Lord teaches that the universal visible Church of Christ, the kingdom of God upon earth, contains not only the elect, but those also who shall be condemned - the bad as well as the good. At the end of the world there will be a separation, and the bad shall be cast into everlasting fire.

Aspiration to Saint Anne

Hail, O blessed mother Anne! Blessed art thou, who, for our consolation, didst bear the Mother of our Redeemer. With the greatest, veneration, therefore, and full of confidence, we approach thee, beseeching thee that thou wouldst supplicate our divine Saviour to bestow upon us the graces which we need to follow thy ardent devotion, thy fear of God, and to render us worthy one day to behold in heaven the blessed fruit of thy virgin daughter's womb, Jesus, and to rejoice forever in the contemplation of Him. 


-- Goffine's Devout Instructions

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Feast of Saint Thomas the Apostle (From Goffine's Devout Instructions)



Feast of Saint Thomas the Apostle

July 3

THOMAS, also called Didymus, or the twin, was a fisherman of Galilee. After having been received among the apostles he accompanied Jesus in all His journeys, and uniformly showed docility, zeal, and love towards Him, particularly on the occasion of His going to Bethany to raise Lazarus from the dead. For when the apostles were afraid to go thither, because the Jews desired to kill Jesus, Thomas, full of courage, said, "Let us also go, that we may die with Him" (John 11:16). His faith, indeed, wavered for a moment in regard to the resurrection of Christ; but no sooner had Christ satisfied him thereof by showing His wounds, than he cried out with firm faith, "My Lord and my God." Saint Gregory thereupon says,
God overruled the doubting of Thomas to our good, since that very doubt has profited us more than the ready belief of the other disciples, inasmuch as thereby Christ was induced to give so much clearer proofs of His resurrection, in order to confirm us in the belief of it.
Thomas showed the firmness of his faith by the innumerable labors which he undertook, and by the sufferings that he endured for Christ. He traversed the most extensive and remote countries, and preached Jesus to the Armenians, Medes, Persians, Parthians, Hyrcanians, Bactrians, and other barbarous and wicked nations, enduring in the course of his labors, with astonishing firmness, the greatest sufferings for the honor of God and the salvation of men. Finally he came to Ilidia, when, in the city of Calamina, or Meliapor, he underwent a glorious martyrdom, being pierced through with lances, by order of the idolatrous priests, as he was praying at the foot of the cross. So much did the apostle do to repair a single fault; but we, who every day commit so many - what do we do to repair them?

In the Introit of the Mass the Church announces to us how greatly the apostles were exalted by God, Who made them teachers and fathers of the whole world. She cries out, therefore, "To me Thy friends, O God, are made exceedingly honorable; their principality is exceedingly strengthened. Lord, Thou hast proved me and known me; Thou hast known my sitting down and my rising up" (Psalm: 138). Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Prayer

Grant us, we beseech Thee, O Lord, to glory in the solemnity of Thy blessed apostle Thomas, that we may be ever assisted by his patronage, and follow his faith with suitable devotion. Through Christ, Our Lord, Amen.

Epistle: Ephesians 2:19-22

Brethren: Now you are no more strangers and foreigners, but you are fellow-citizens with the saints, and the domestics of God. Built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner-stone, in Whom all the building, being framed together, groweth up into a holy temple in the Lord, in Whom you also are built together into a habitation of God in the Spirit.

The gospel and an explanation of it are to be found on the first Sunday after Easter, page 219.

Prayer

O most benign Jesus, Who didst permit the unbelieving Thomas to touch the prints of Thy holy wounds, and didst thereby deliver him from his unbelief, oh, heal the wounds of my heart; give me a living, firm, and enduring faith in Thee, such as may ever incite me to do what shall be pleasing to thee, and to shun whatever may displease Thee. I beseech it of Thee by Thy mercy to Thomas in showing the prints of Thy wounds to him.

--Goffine's Devout Instructions


Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Saint Boniface, Bishop and Martyr



Saint Boniface (also known as Winfrid; Wynfrith; Apostle of Germany) was born at Crediton, Devonshire, England in 675 A.D. He was educated at the Benedictine monastery at Exeter, England, and he joined the Benedictine Order at Nutshalling, and was ordained in 705.

In 716 he attempted a missionary journey to Friesland but had to abandon the effort due to political disturbances. He was offered the abbacy at Nutshalling, but declined and was sent to Germany east of the Rhine as missionary by Pope Gregory II in 719. There he was assisted by Saint Albinus, Saint Abel, and Saint Agatha. He destroyed pagan idols and temples and built churches on the temple sites.

He was called to Rome by Gregory II who consecrated him regional bishop in 722. Upon returning Boniface encountered a group worshipping at the sacred oak of the Norse thunder god, Thor, at Geismar. Boniface walked up to the tree, removed his shirt, took up an axe, and he hacked down the six foot wide wooden god. Boniface stood on the trunk, and asked, "How stands your mighty god? My God is stronger than he."

In 732 Pope Gregory III made Boniface Archbishop with no definite province. He founded or restored the dioceses of Bavaria, Thuringia, and Franconia. In 741 he was commissioned by Pope Zacharias to reform the whole Frankish church, after which success he was made Archbishop of Mainz in 748.

In 754 Saint Boniface resigned his see to accomplish his dream of missionary work in Friesland. He built a number of churches there, but, he was attacked by pagans, and he along with 52 of his converts were martyred at Friesland, Holland.

Saint Boniface is buried in the cathedral at Fulda.

Saint Boniface is the Patron Saint of brewers, file cutters, tailors, the diocese of Fulda, Germany, and the archdiocese of Saint-Boniface, Manitoba, Canada.



Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Saint Rita of Cascia



Rita Lotti was born in the year 1381, her parents, Antonio and Amata were very devout Catholics and taught Rita a love of God and the Church from a very young age. The young Rita was much loved by her parents and from them she learnt to have an intense devotion to our suffering Lord.

This would prove to be providential for throughout her life, Rita would be touched by tragedy and grief, it was if God Himself would pierce her soul in order to share in His suffering, this was an honour given to few, but Rita was one of those holy souls.

Rita though she longed to become a Religious instead bowed to her parents decision that she marry, being that she was an obedient daughter to both her parents and the Church, Rita consented in all humility to her parents wishes. This brought relief to both Antonio and Amata Lotti as they had worried that a Religious life would be too difficult for Rita to live, especially as the Church seemed to be under attack by certain political elements.

Rita married Paolo Mancini at a very young age and though Paolo would not prove to be an ideal husband, he tried through his wife's influence to overcome his fiery temper. They would be blessed with the birth of twin sons who seemed to have inherited their fathers tempestuous nature, but through it all Rita maintained her love for God and the Sacraments of the Church.

This was one very strong woman, who though her husband at times ill treated her, she bore him no ill will and instead returned only love to this volatile husband of hers. Rita grasped that in order to set a good and holy example she would have to excel at patience, fortitude , courage and humility, she did this with natural ease, as these very Gifts were inherent in her nature. This wife and mother lived an ordinary life of daily chores of cooking, cleaning, laundry and other sundry housework in order to maintain the upkeep of her home.

Though Rita would suffer at the hands of her volatile husband she never resented him but simply prayed that he would find the peace of heart that she had in abundance. Paolo did try to follow in his wife's lead but unlike Rita, he had a difficult time controlling his temper, and maintaining his decorum through the social upheavals in his region.

This inability to control his temper and mind his tongue may have led to an act of vengeance when Paolo was murdered as he was returning back home after his daily work was finished. The death of her husband in such an unfortunate and tragic way deeply grieved Rita, as she prayed for the soul of her husband and also the salvation of the man who had killed her beloved husband.

What also troubled Rita was the tradition of avenging a loved one's death and though Rita grieved her husbands untimely death, she herself wished no harm to come to his assailant, this position though was not shared by her sons. Though Rita had brought up her sons to love God and the Church, she was also fighting against a society that cultivated vengeance. Her boys themselves were heart sore at the death of their father, listened to the whispers of revenge rather than the loving and forgiving words of their mother.

It is here that Rita's real strength of character and her total Faith in God took over as her sons seemed bent on avenging their fathers death, and ignored all her entreaties to desist from this perilous path. The boys had closed their hearts to their mothers pleading, so began the boys decision to avenge their fathers death.


Rita as she always did, prayed with great zeal to God that He would not allow her beloved sons to have a mortal sin on their souls. And so it was that both her sons died, before they could complete their mission of avenging their fathers murder.

With the death of her family this left Rita alone in the world and though she grieved the loss of her husband and her beloved boys, she also had peace of heart knowing that her sons had not taken a life for a life. As the days, weeks and months rolled by Rita dedicated her life to prayer and good works.

Still, the longing to become a Religious had never left her and after she had tried to enter the Religious Community of the Augustinian Nuns, this caused some concern for the Superiors in that members of the man who had murdered her husband were living in the Convent walls. After being refused numerous times, Rita then approached the relatives of those who had murdered Paolo and also to her own in laws to request that both sides forgive as our Lord desired them too.

This would prove the last hurdle as Rita's love of God and her forgiveness of those who had wronged her left all with a deep imprint of this woman's strong Faith and love of God and her fellow man. Upon the warring families reconciliation with each other, this allowed Rita to enter the Community Augustinian Sisters.

From here on Sister Rita led a life of prayer, mortifications, self service to the poor and ill and also worked within the Convent attending to her daily duties as a Religious Sister. This most courageous Sister truly epitomised the meaning of self giving love for the sake of love itself.

Perhaps this is why our Lord blessed Sister Rita with the singular gift shared by only a few Holy souls, a wound of the stigmata, as a thorn pierced her head, as she knelt in prayer. Once again Rita bore out this pain in silence as she spent her days contemplating the Crucified Lord, and prayed for the salvation of souls.

This remarkable woman truly embodied what it is to live one's Faith irrespective of the conditions one lives in, as she had often been on the receiving end of her volatile husbands temper and endured the loss of her beloved sons. Through all this not once did Rita complain of her lot, but rather offered up all her pain and suffering to her Lord and Saviour.

Sister Rita died in 1457.

Saint Rita was canonized in 1900 by Pope Leo XIII.

Peace of Christ to ALL

Copyright © 2006 Marie Smith. All rights reserved.


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