October 1:

St. Thérèse of Lisieux (1873-1897)
       "I prefer the monotony of obscure sacrifice to all ecstasies. To pick up a pin for love can convert a soul." St Therese Of Lisieux
St Therese Of LisieuxThese are the words of Theresa of the Child Jesus, a Carmelite nun called the "Little Flower," who lived a cloistered life of obscurity in the convent of Lisieux, France. In French-speaking areas, she is known as Thérèse of Lisieux. And her preference for hidden sacrifice did indeed convert souls. Few saints of God are more popular than this young nun. Her autobiography, The Story of a Soul, is read and loved throughout the world. Thérèse Martin entered the convent at the age of 15 and died in 1897 at the age of 24. Life in a Carmelite convent is indeed uneventful and consists mainly of prayer and hard domestic work. But Thérèse possessed that holy insight that redeems the time, however dull that time may be. She saw in quiet suffering redemptive suffering, suffering that was indeed her apostolate. Thérèse said she came to the Carmel convent "to save souls and pray for priests." And shortly before she died, she wrote: "I want to spend my heaven doing good on earth."
       On October 19, 1997, Pope John Paul II proclaimed her a Doctor of the Church, the third woman to be so recognized in light of her holiness and the influence of her teaching on spirituality in the Church. All her life St. Thérèse suffered from illness. As a young girl she underwent a three-month malady characterized by violent crises, extended delirium and prolonged fainting spells. Afterwards she was ever frail and yet she worked hard in the laundry and refectory of the convent. Psychologically, she endured prolonged periods of darkness when the light of faith seemed all but extinguished. The last year of her life she slowly wasted away from tuberculosis. And yet shortly before her death on September 30 she murmured, "I would not suffer less."
(AmericanCatholic.org)

Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus, virgin and doctor of the Church (1873-1898)
               Few Saints have aroused so much admiration and enthusiasm immediately after their death; few have acquired a more astonishing popularity everywhere on earth; few have been so rapidly raised to the altars as was this holy young
Carmelite. Marie Françoise Thérèse Martin, known as the Little Flower of Jesus, was born January 2, 1873 at Alençon in Normandy, France, of very Christian parents. The Martins, who lost four of their little ones in early infancy or childhood, regarded their children as gifts from heaven and offered them to God before their birth. Thérèse was the last flower of this blessed stem, which gave four Sisters to the Carmel of Lisieux, still another to the Visitation of Caen. The five sisters were left without their mother, a victim of cancer, when Thérèse was only four years old; but her two oldest sisters were of an age to take excellent care of the household and continue the Christian character formation of the younger ones, which their mother had initiated. Their saintly father was soon to see his little flock separated, however, when one after the other they left to enter religious life. He blessed each one and gave them all back to God, with humble gratitude to God for having chosen his daughters.
From childhood Thérèse had manifested a tender piety which her naturally lively temperament could not alter. Her mother’s death affected her profoundly, however, and at the age of nine she was visited with a severe trial in the form of an illness the doctors could not diagnose, and which seemed incurable. She was instantly restored to her ordinary good health by the Virgin Mary, in answer to her desolate sisters’ prayers; Thérèse saw Her statue become animated, to smile at her with an ineffable tenderness as she lay on her bed of suffering. Before the age of fifteen Thérèse already desired to enter the Carmel of Lisieux, where her two eldest sisters were already nuns; a trip to Rome and a petition at the knees of the Holy Father Leo XIII gave her the inalterable answer that her Superiors would regulate the matter. Many prayers finally obtained an affirmative reply to her ardent request, and four months after her fifteenth birthday she entered Carmel with an ineffable joy. She could say then, “I no longer have any desire but to love Jesus even to folly.”
She adopted flowers as the symbol of her love for her Divine Spouse and offered all her little daily sacrifices and works as rose petals at the feet of Jesus. Divine Providence gave to the world the autobiography of this true Saint, whose little way of spiritual childhood was described in her own words in her Story of a Soul. She could not offer God the macerations of the great soldiers of God, only her desires to love Him as they had loved Him, and to serve Him in every way possible, not only as a cloistered nun, but as a missionary, a priest, a hero of the faith, a martyr. She chose “all” in spirit, for her beloved Lord. Later she would be named patroness of missions. Her spirituality does not imply only sweetness and light, however; this loving child of God passed by a tunnel of desolate spiritual darkness, yet never ceased to smile at Him, wanting to serve Him, if it were possible, without His even knowing it. When nine years had passed in the Carmel, the little flower was ready to be plucked for heaven; and in a slow agony of consumption, Thérèse made her final offering to God. She suffered so severely that she said she would never have believed it possible, and could only explain it by her desire to save souls for God. She died in 1897, was beatified in 1923 and canonized in 1925. And now, as she foretold, she is spending her heaven in doing good upon earth. Countless miracles have been attributed to her intercession.

 

 

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October 2:

Feast of the Guardian Angels
Guardian Angel Pietro Da Cortona Perhaps no aspect of Catholic piety is as comforting to parents as the belief that an angel protects their little ones from dangers real and imagined. Yet guardian angels are not just for children. Their role is to represent individuals before God, to watch over them always, to aid their prayer and to present their souls to God at death. The concept of an angel assigned to guide and nurture each human being is a development of Catholic doctrine and piety based on Scripture but not directly drawn from it. Jesus' words in Matthew 18:10 best support the belief: "See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my heavenly Father." Devotion to the angels began to develop with the birth of the monastic tradition. St. Benedict gave it impetus and Bernard of Clairvaux, the great 12th-century reformer, was such an eloquent spokesman for the guardian angels that angelic devotion assumed its current form in his day. A feast in honour of the guardian angels was first observed in the 16th century. In 1615, Pope Paul V added it to the Roman calendar.
"May the angels lead you into paradise;
may the martyrs come to welcome you
and take you to the holy city,
the new and eternal Jerusalem." (Rite for Christian Burial)
(AmericanCatholic.org)

 

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October 3:

Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos (1819-1867)
   Zeal as a preacher and a confessor led Father Seelos to works of compassion as well. Born in Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos southern Bavaria, he studied philosophy and theology in Munich. On hearing about the work of the Redemptorists among German-speaking Catholics in the United States, he came to this country in 1843. Ordained at the end of 1844, he was assigned for six years to St. Philomena’s Parish in Pittsburgh as an assistant to St. John Neumann [whose feast is observed on January 5]. The next three years Father Seelos was superior in the same community and began his service as novice master. Several years in parish ministry in Maryland followed, along with responsibility for training Redemptorist students. During the Civil War, he went to Washington, D.C., and appealed to President Lincoln that those students not be drafted for military service. For several years he preached in English and in German throughout the Midwest and in the Middle Atlantic states. Assigned to St. Mary of the Assumption Church community in New Orleans, he served his Redemptorist confreres and parishioners with great zeal. In 1867 he died of yellow fever, having contracted that disease while visiting the sick. He was beatified in 2000.
    “To the abandoned and the lost he preached the message of Jesus Christ, ‘the source of eternal salvation’ (Hebrews 5:9), and in the hours spent in the confessional he convinced many to return to God. Today, Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos invites the members of the Church to deepen their union with Christ in the Sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist” (John Paul II, beatification homily).
(AmericanCatholic.org)
                    Further Reading: Father Francis Seelos

 

Saint Gerard of Brogne     Born c.895 at Staves, Namur, Belgium. Died 3 October 959 at Brogne, Belgium,  son of Stance and Plectrude. Belgian noblility. Raised in a military atmosphere. Courtier to the Count of Namur. Disappointed by court life, and ashamed of the many privileges he received from his family and military post, Gerard realized that he was called to the monastic life. He found Belgian monasteries too lax in their discipline. While visiting France in 917 on a mission from the Count, Gerard decided the life of the monks of Saint Denis was right for him. He settled his worldly affairs, and took vows at the monastery. There Gerard became an example to other monks in following the Rule, and in his devotion to prayer. His life, and his encouragement of the brothers, helped Saint Denis becoming an example for monasteries throughout Europe. Ordained, but wrestled with feelings of inadequacy as a priest. After 11 years, the abbot asked Gerard to return home to form a monastery there. Abbot of the new monastery, he soon gained renown for his strict observance of the Benedictine Rule. This led many religious and political leaders to request that he reform monasteries throughout Flanders, Lorraine, and Champagne. Near the end of his life Gerard returned to the monastery he built, and spent the rest of his life there in solitude and prayer.

 

St. Mother Theodore Guérin (1798-1856)
     Trust in God’s Providence enabled Mother Theodore to leave her homeland, sail halfway around the world and to found a new St Mother Theodore Guerinreligious congregation. Born in Etables, France, Anne-Thérèse’s life was shattered by her father’s murder when she was 15. For several years she cared for her mother and younger sister. She entered the Sisters of Providence in 1823, taking the name Sister St. Theodore. An illness during novitiate left her with lifelong fragile health; that did not keep her from becoming an accomplished teacher. At the invitation of the bishop of Vincennes, she and five sisters were sent in 1840 to Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana, to teach and to care for the sick poor. She was to establish a motherhouse and novitiate. Only later did she learn that her French superiors had already decided the sisters in the United States should form a new religious congregation under her leadership. She and her community persevered despite fires, crop failures, prejudice against Catholic women religious, misunderstandings and separation from their original religious congregation. She once told her sisters, “Have confidence in the Providence that so far has never failed us. The way is not yet clear. Grope along slowly. Do not press matters; be patient, be trustful.” Another time, she asked, “With Jesus, what shall we have to fear?” She is buried in the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana, and was beatified in 1998. Eight years later she was canonized.
    During his homily at the beatification Mass, Pope John Paul II said that Blessed Mother Theodore “continues to teach Christians to abandon themselves to the providence of our heavenly Father and to be totally committed to doing what pleases him. The life of Blessed Theodore Guérin is a testimony that everything is possible with God and for God.”
(AmericanCatholic.org)

 

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October 4:

St. Francis of Assisi (1182-1226)
           Francis of Assisi was a poor little man who astounded and inspired the Church by taking the gospel literally—not in a narrow fundamentalist sense, but by actually following all that Jesus said and St Francis Of Assisi did, joyfully, without limit and without a mite of self-importance. Serious illness brought the young Francis to see the emptiness of his frolicking life as leader of Assisi's youth. Prayer — lengthy and difficult — led him to a self-emptying like that of Christ, climaxed by embracing a leper he met on the road. It symbolized his complete obedience to what he had heard in prayer: "Francis! Everything you have loved and desired in the flesh it is your duty to despise and hate, if you wish to know my will. And when you have begun this, all that now seems sweet and lovely to you will become intolerable and bitter, but all that you used to avoid will turn itself to great sweetness and exceeding joy." From the cross in the neglected field-chapel of San Damiano, Christ told him, "Francis, go out and build up my house, for it is nearly falling down." Francis became the totally poor and humble workman. He must have suspected a deeper meaning to "build up my house." But he would have been content to be for the rest of his life the poor "nothing" man actually putting brick on brick in abandoned chapels. He gave up every material thing he had, piling even his clothes before his earthly father (who was demanding restitution for Francis' "gifts" to the poor) so that he would be totally free to say, "Our Father in heaven." He was, for a time, considered to be a religious "nut," begging from door to door when he could not get money for his work, bringing sadness or disgust to the hearts of his former friends, ridicule from the unthinking. But genuineness will tell. A few people began to realize that this man was actually trying to be Christian. He really believed what Jesus said: "Announce the kingdom! Possess no gold or silver or copper in your purses, no travelling bag, no sandals, no staff" (see Luke 9:1-3). Francis' first rule for his followers was a collection of texts from the Gospels. He had no idea of founding an order, but once it began he protected it and accepted all the legal structures needed to support it. His devotion and loyalty to the Church were absolute and highly exemplary at a time when various movements of reform tended to break the Church's unity. He was torn between a life devoted entirely to prayer and a life of active preaching of the Good News. He decided in favour of the latter, but always returned to solitude when he could. He wanted to be a missionary in Syria or in Africa, but was prevented by shipwreck and illness in both cases. He did try to convert the sultan of Egypt during the Fifth Crusade. During the last years of his relatively short life (he died at 44) he was half blind and seriously ill. Two years before his death, he received the stigmata, the real and painful wounds of Christ in his hands, feet and side. On his deathbed, he said over and over again the last addition to his Canticle of the Sun, "Be praised, O Lord, for our Sister Death." He sang Psalm 141, and at the end asked his superior to have his clothes removed when the last hour came and for permission to expire lying naked on the earth, in imitation of his Lord.
  "We adore you and we bless you, Lord Jesus Christ, here and in all the churches which are in the whole world, because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world" (St. Francis).
(AmericanCatholic.org)

 

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October 5:

St. Faustina (1905-1938)
St Faustina KowalskaSt. Mary Faustina's name is forever linked to the annual feast of the Divine Mercy (celebrated on the  Second Sunday of Easter), the divine mercy chaplet and the divine mercy prayer recited each day by many people at 3 p.m. Born in what is now west-central Poland (part of Germany before World War I), Helena was the third of 10 children. After age 16 she worked as a housekeeper in three cities before joining the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy in 1925. She worked as a cook, gardener and porter in three of their houses. In addition to carrying out her work faithfully, generously serving the needs of the sisters and the local people, she also had a deep interior life. This included receiving revelations from the Lord Jesus, messages that she recorded in her diary at the request of Christ and of her confessors. At a time when some Catholics had an image of God as such a strict judge that they might be tempted to despair about the possibility of being forgiven, Jesus chose to emphasize his mercy and forgiveness for sins acknowledged and confessed. “I do not want to punish aching mankind,” he once told St. Mary Faustina, “but I desire to heal it, pressing it to my merciful heart” (Diary 1588). The two rays emanating from Christ's heart, she said, represent the blood and water poured out after Jesus' death (Gospel of John 19:34) Because Sister Mary Faustina knew that the revelations she had already received did not constitute holiness itself, she wrote in her diary: “Neither graces, nor revelations, nor raptures, nor gifts granted to a soul make it perfect, but rather the intimate union of the soul with God. These gifts are merely ornaments of the soul, but constitute neither its essence nor its perfection. My sanctity and perfection consist in the close union of my will with the will of God” (Diary 1107). Sister Mary Faustina died of tuberculosis in Krakow, Poland, on October 5, 1938. Pope John Paul II beatified her in 1993 and canonized her in 2000.
      Devotion to God's Divine Mercy bears some resemblance to devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. In both cases, sinners are encouraged not to despair, not to doubt God's willingness to forgive them if they repent. As Psalm 136 says in each of its 26 verses, “God's love [mercy] endures forever.”
      Four years after Faustina's beatification, Pope John Paul II visited the Sanctuary of Divine Mercy at Lagiewniki (near Krakow) and addressed members of her congregation. He said: “The message of divine mercy has always been very close and precious to me. It is as though history has written it in the tragic experience of World War II. In those difficult years, this message was a particular support and an inexhaustible source of hope, not only for those living in Krakow, but for the entire nation. This was also my personal experience, which I carried with me to the See of Peter and which, in a certain sense, forms the image of this pontificate. I thank divine providence because I was able to contribute personally to carrying out Christ's will, by instituting the feast of Divine Mercy. Here, close to the remains of Blessed Faustina, I thank God for the gift of her beatification. I pray unceasingly that God may have 'mercy on us and on the whole world' (chaplet of Divine Mercy).”
(AmericanCatholic.org)

 

Saint Flora of Beaulieu. Virgin.
                Patron of the abandoned, of converts, single laywomen, and victims of betrayal — Flora was born in France about the year 1309. She was a devout child and later resisted all attempts on the part of her parents to find a husband for her. In 1324, she entered the Priory of Beaulieu of the Hospitaller nuns of St. John of Jerusalem. Here she was beset with many and diverse trials, fell into a depressed state, and was made sport of by some of her religious sisters. However, she never ceased to find favour with God and was granted many unusual and mystical favours. One year on the feast of All Saints, she fell into an ecstasy and took no nourishment until three weeks later on the feast of St. Cecelia. On another occasion, while meditating on the Holy Spirit, she was raised four feet from the ground and hung in the air in full view of many onlookers. She also seemed to be pierced with the arms of Our Lord's cross, causing blood to flow freely at times from her side and at others, from her mouth. Other instances of God's favouring of his servant were also reported, concerning prophetic knowledge of matters of which she could not naturally know. Through it all, St. Flora remained humble and in complete communion with her Divine Master, rendering wise counsel to all who flocked to her because of her holiness and spiritual discernment. In 1347, she was called to her eternal reward and many miracles were worked at her tomb.

 

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October 6:

St. Bruno (1030?-1101)
This saint has the honour of having founded a religious order which, as the saying goes, has never had to be reformed because it was never deformed. No doubt both the founder and the members would reject such high praise, but it is an indication of the saint's intense love of a penitential life in solitude. He was born in Cologne, Germany, became a famous teacher at Rheims and was appointed chancellor of the archdiocese at the age of 45. He supported Pope Gregory VII in his fight against the decadence of the clergy and took part in the removal of his own scandalous archbishop, Manasses. Bruno suffered the plundering of his house for his pains. He had a dream of living in solitude and prayer, and persuaded a few friends to join him in a hermitage. After a while he felt the place unsuitable and, through a friend, was given some land which was to become famous for his foundation "in the Chartreuse" (from which comes the word Carthusians). The climate, desert, mountainous terrain and inaccessibility guaranteed silence, poverty and small numbers. Bruno and his friends built an oratory with small individual cells at a distance from each other. They met for Matins and Vespers each day, and spent the rest of the time in solitude, eating together only on great feasts. Their chief work was copying manuscripts. The pope, hearing of Bruno's holiness, called for his assistance in Rome. When the pope had to flee Rome, Bruno pulled up stakes again, and spent his last years (after refusing a bishopric) in the wilderness of Calabria. He was never formally canonized, because the Carthusians were averse to all occasions of publicity. Pope Clement extended his feast to the whole Church in 1674.
   “Members of those communities which are totally dedicated to contemplation give themselves to God alone in solitude and silence and through constant prayer and ready penance. No matter how urgent may be the needs of the active apostolate, such communities will always have a distinguished part to play in Christ's Mystical Body...” (Decree on the Renewal of Religious Life, 7). 
(AmericanCatholic.org)

 

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October 7:

Our Lady of the Rosary
     Pope St. Pius V established this feast in 1573. The purpose was to thank God for the Our Lady Iconvictory of  Christians over the Turks at Lepanto — a victory attributed to the praying of the rosary. Clement XI extended the feast to the universal Church in 1716. The development of the rosary has a long history. First, a practice developed of praying 150 Our Fathers in imitation of the 150 Psalms. Then there was a parallel practice of praying 150 Hail Marys. Soon a mystery of Jesus' life was attached to each Hail Mary. Though Mary's giving the Our Lady Of The Rosaryrosary to St. Dominic is recognized as unhistorical, the development of this prayer form owes much to the followers of St. Dominic. One of them, Alan de la Roche, was known as "the apostle of the rosary." He founded the first Confraternity of the Rosary in the 15th century. In the 16th century the rosary was developed to its present form — with the 15 mysteries (joyful, sorrowful and glorious). In 2002, Pope John Paul II added the Mysteries of Light to this devotion.
    The purpose of the rosary is to help us meditate on the great mysteries of our salvation. Pius XII called it a compendium of the gospel. The main focus is on Jesus — his birth, life, death and resurrection. The Our Fathers remind us that Jesus' Father is the initiator of salvation. The Hail Marys remind us to join with Mary in contemplating these mysteries. They also make us aware that Mary was and is intimately joined with her Son in all the mysteries of his earthly and heavenly existence. The Glorys remind us that the purpose of all life is the glory of the Trinity.
  “[The rosary] sets forth the mystery of Christ in the very way in which it is seen by St. Paul in the celebrated ‘hymn’ of the Epistle to the Philippians — kenosis [self-emptying], death and exaltation (2:6-11).... By its nature the recitation of the rosary calls for a quiet rhythm and a lingering pace, helping the individual to meditate on the mysteries of the Lord’s life as grasped by the heart of her who was closer to the Lord than all others” (Paul VI, Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, 45, 47).
(AmericanCatholic.org)

Our Lady of the Rosary
                      When the heresy of the Albigensians was growing in the district of Toulouse and striking deeper roots day by day, St. Dominic, who had just laid the foundations of the Order of Preachers, threw himself whole-heartedly into the task of destroying this heresy. That he might be the better able to overcome it, he implored with earnest prayers the aid of the Blessed Virgin. She instructed Dominic to preach the Rosary to the people as Rosarya unique safeguard against heresy and vice, and he carried out this commission with wonderful ardour of soul and with great success. From that time, then, St. Dominic began to promulgate and promote this method of praying. And the fact that he was its founder and originator has from time to time been stated in papal encyclicals.
         From this salutary practice countless fruits have flowed to Christendom. Among these, we should especially mention the victory over the powerful tyranny of the Turks won at the battle of Lepanto by St. Pius V and the Christian princes he had aroused. For, as this victory was won on the very day on which the sodalities of the most holy Rosary throughout the world had been offering their accustomed supplications and carrying out the prescribed prayers, it was rightly attributed to these prayers. Gregory XIII testified to this fact when he decreed that for such a unique benefit thanks should always be offered everywhere throughout the world to the Blessed Virgin under the title of the Rosary. Other Popes have granted almost innumerable indulgences to the recitation of the Rosary and to Rosary societies.Mary
      Clement XI, noting the circumstances of the equally famous victory of Charles VI, the emperor-elect, over the innumerable forces of the Turks in Hungary in the year 1716, held that this victory was to be attributed to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin. The victory occurred on the feast of the Dedication of Our Lady of the Snows; and, at almost the time of the battle, the confraternity of the Most Holy Rosary was offering a public and solemn supplication in the city of Rome, with a great crowd of people pouring out fervent prayers to God with great devotion for the overthrow of the Turks and humbly imploring the powerful aid of the Virgin Mother of God to help the Christians. Looking also with the eyes of faith at the raising of the Turks' siege of the island of Corcyra shortly afterwards, he held that this victory too must be ascribed to the patronage of the Blessed Virgin. To keep alive, therefore, the memory of these great benefits and to assure a perpetual thanksgiving for them, Clement extended the feast of the Most Holy Rosary to the universal Church. Benedict XIII decreed that all these things be written into the Roman Breviary. Leo XIII in repeated encyclicals strongly urged all the faithful throughout the world to recite the Rosary especially during the month of October, raised the rank of the feast, and added to the Litany of Loretto the invocation "Queen of the Most Holy Rosary." He also granted a special Office to be recited by the universal Church on this feast. The Popes over the last century have repeatedly stressed the great importance of devotion to Mary through the Rosary.

 

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October 8:

St. John Leonardi (1541?-1609)
   "I am only one person! Why should I do anything? What good would it do?" Today, as in any age, people seem plagued with the dilemma of getting involved. In his own way John Leonardi answered these questions.
Saint Jean LeonardiHe chose to become a priest. After his ordination, he became very active in the works of the ministry, especially in hospitals and prisons. The example and dedication of his work attracted several young laymen who began to assist him. They later became priests themselves. John lived in a time of reform after the Reformation and the Council of Trent. He and his followers projected a new congregation of diocesan priests. For some reason the plan, which was ultimately approved, provoked great political opposition and he was an exile from his home town of Lucca, Italy, for almost the entire remainder of his life. He received encouragement and help from St. Philip Neri [whose feast is May 26], who gave him his quarters—along with the care of his cat! In 1579 he formed the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, and published a compendium of Christian doctrine that remained in use until the 19th century. Father Leonardi and his priests became a great power for good in Italy, and their congregation was confirmed by Pope Clement in 1595. He died at the age of 68 from a disease caught when tending those stricken by the plague. By the deliberate policy of the founder, the Clerks Regular of the Mother of God have never had more than 15 churches and today form only a very small congregation.
   "Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your belongings and give alms. Provide money bags for yourselves that do not wear out, an inexhaustible treasure in heaven that no thief can reach nor moth destroy" (Luke 12:32-33).
(AmericanCatholic.org)

 

Saint Pelagia, more often called Margaret, on account of the magnificence of the pearls for which she had so often sold herself, was an actress of Antioch, equally celebrated for her beauty, her wealth and the disorder of her life.  During a synod at Antioch, she passed Bishop St. Nonnus of Edessa, who was struck with her beauty; the next day she went to hear him preach and was so moved by his sermon that she asked him to baptize her which he did. She gave her wealth to Nonnus to aid the poor and left Antioch dressed in men's clothing. She became a hermitess in a cave on Mount of Olivette in Jerusalem, where she lived in great austerity, performing penances and known as "the beardless monk" until her sex was discovered at her death. Though a young girl of fifteen did exist and suffer martyrdom at Antioch in the fourth century, the story here told is a pious fiction, which gave rise to a whole set of similar stories under different names. Her feast day is October 8th.

 

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October 9:

St. Denis and Companions (d. 258?)

This martyr and patron of France is traditionally held to have been the first bishop of Paris. His popularity is due to a series of legends, especially those connecting him with the great abbey church of St. Denis in Paris. He was for a time confused with the writer now called Pseudo-Dionysius. The best hypothesis contends that Denis was sent to Gaul from Rome in the third century and beheaded in the persecution under Valerius in 258. According to one of the legends, after he was martyred on Montmartre (literally, "mountain of martyrs") in Paris, he carried his head to a village northeast of the city. St. Genevieve built a basilica over his tomb at the beginning of the sixth century.

Again we have the case of a saint about whom almost nothing is known, yet one whose cult has been a vigorous part of the Church's history for centuries. We can only conclude that the deep impression the saint made on the people of his day must have resulted from a life of unusual holiness. In all such cases, there are two fundamental facts: A great man gave his life for Christ, and the Church has never forgotten him — a human symbol of God's eternal mindfulness. (AmericanCatholic.org)

 

Blessed John Henry Newman

Bl John Henry NewmanBlessed John Henry Newman was beatified by Pope Benedict XVI at a Mass in Cofton Park, Birmingham on Sunday 19 September 2010. At the request of the Bishops he has been included in the National Calendar for England on 9 October as an optional memorial.

Pope Benedict in his homily at the Mass of Beatification said: Cardinal Newman's motto, Cor ad cor loquitur, or "Heart speaks unto heart", gives us an insight into his understanding of the Christian life as a call to holiness, experienced as the profound desire of the human heart to enter into intimate communion with the Heart of God. He reminds us that faithfulness to prayer gradually transforms us into the divine likeness. As he wrote in one of his many fine sermons, "a habit of prayer, the practice of turning to God and the unseen world in every season, in every place, in every emergency — prayer, I say, has what may be called a natural effect in spiritualizing and elevating the soul. A man is no longer what he was before; gradually — he has imbibed a new set of ideas, and become imbued with fresh principles" (Parochial and Plain Sermons, iv, 230-231). Today's Gospel tells us that no one can be the servant of two masters (cf. Lk 16:13), and Blessed John Henry's teaching on prayer explains how the faithful Christian is definitively taken into the service of the one true Master, who alone has a claim to our unconditional devotion (cf. Mt 23:10). Newman helps us to understand what this means for our daily lives: he tells us that our divine Master has assigned a specific task to each one of us, a "definite service", committed uniquely to every single person: "I have my mission", he wrote, "I am a link in a chain, a bond of connexion between persons. He has not created me for naught. I shall do good, I shall do his work; I shall be an angel of peace, a preacher of truth in my own place — if I do but keep his commandments and serve him in my calling" (Meditations and Devotions, 301-2).

A note on the date It is customary for a Saint or a Blessed to be celebrated on the day of their death unless it is impeded by another celebration. Blessed John Henry Newman died on 11 August 1890. The Church across the world celebrates St Clare on August 11 and so another date was sought. One of the reasons that 9 October was chosen was because it falls at the beginning of the University year; an area in which Newman had a particular interest.  (litergyoffice.org.uk)

 

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October 10:

St. Francis Borgia (1510-1572)
St Francis BorgiaToday's saint grew up in an important family in 16th-century Spain, serving in the imperial court and quickly advancing in his career. But a series of events — including the death of his beloved wife — made Francis Borgia rethink his priorities. He gave up public life, gave away his possessions and joined the new and little-known Society of Jesus. Religious life proved to be the right choice. He felt drawn to spend time in seclusion and prayer, but his administrative talents also made him a natural for other tasks. He helped in the establishment of what is now the Gregorian University in Rome. Not long after his ordination he served as political and spiritual adviser to the emperor. In Spain, he founded a dozen colleges. At 55, Francis was elected head of the Jesuits. He focused on the growth of the Society of Jesus, the spiritual preparation of its new members and spreading the faith in many parts of Europe. He was responsible for the founding of Jesuit missions in Florida, Mexico and Peru. Francis Borgia is often regarded as the second founder of the Jesuits. He died in 1572 and was canonized 100 years later.
(AmericanCatholic.org)

 

SAINT FRANCIS BORGIA  General of the Jesuits (1510-1572)    Saint Francis Borgia, named for Francis of Assisi at his birth in 1510, was placed under the tutelage of his uncle, Archbishop of Saragossa, after the death of his mother when he was ten years old. Soon he had to go to the court St Francis Borgiaof Spain, as he was destined to be one of the great lords of that nation. There he remained Christian, modest and virtuous. His noble and beautiful appearance soon brought upon him snares which he succeeded in escaping, setting for himself regimes of prayer and study to escape from the dangers. He wore a hair shirt, and never would enter into any of those games of chance which cause the loss not only of money but of time, the spirit of devotion, and peace of soul. The Empress arranged for him to marry Eleanor de Castro of Portugal, who like himself was very pious. They were blessed with eight children, five sons and three daughters, who continued to practice the virtue of their parents.
     Having become the Duke of Gandia after his father's death, he became one of the richest and most honoured nobles in Spain. In 1539, there was laid upon him the sad duty of escorting the mortal remains of his once beautiful sovereign, the Empress Isabella, who had died still young, to the royal burial ground at Granada. The coffin had to be opened for him, that he might verify the body before it was placed in the tomb; and so unrecognizable, so astonishing a sight met his eyes that he vowed never again to serve any earthly sovereign, subject to so drastic and terrible a change.
     It was many years before he could follow the call of his Lord; the emperor named him Captain-General of Catalonia, and sent him to bring to justice a group of bandits who had ravaged the countryside. The poor found in him strong protection against oppression. Vices were banished by his ordinances; he endowed poor girls and assisted families ruined by misery and reversals; he delivered debtors from prisons by paying what they owed. He was in effect the very Christian Viceroy of the Emperor. Saint Francis was relieved of this duty when he asked the Emperor, after the death of his father, to return and govern his subjects at Gandia. In Gandia he again did much public good; he built monasteries, founded hospitals, helped the poor in every possible way. But suddenly, his wife was taken from him. He was told by God that this loss was for both his and her own advantage, and amid his tears he offered his own life and that of his children, if that would please the Eternal Master.
    After making a retreat according to the Exercises of Saint Ignatius, under Blessed Peter Favre, he made the vows of a Jesuit privately until he could see to the establishment of his children. When he went to Rome with one of them, it was rumoured he would be made a cardinal like two of his brothers. But he wished to avoid all dignities, and succeeded in doing so by leaving Rome as soon as possible. Saint Ignatius made him his Vicar General for Spain, Portugal, and the East Indies, and there was scarcely a city of Spain and Portugal where he did not establish colleges or houses of the Company of Jesus. At the death of Saint Ignatius two years later, the Order chose him to be its General. Then his journeys became countless; to narrate them all would be an impossibility.
    The Turks were threatening Christendom, and Pope Saint Pius V commissioned two cardinal-legates to go and assemble the European Christian princes into a league for its defence. The holy Pope chose Francis to accompany one of the Cardinals and, worn out as he was, the Saint obeyed at once. The fatigues of the embassy exhausted what little life was left to him. Saint Francis died in the same year as Saint Pius V, happy to do so in the service of God and the Church, when he returned to Rome in October, 1572.

 

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October 11:

Blessed Angela Truszkowska (1825-1899)
Blessed Angela TruszkowskaToday we honour a woman who submitted to God's will throughout her life — a life filled with pain and suffering. Born in 1825 in central Poland and baptized Sophia, she contracted tuberculosis as a young girl. The forced period of convalescence gave her ample time for reflection. Sophia felt called to serve God by working with the poor, including street children and the elderly homeless in Warsaw's slums. In time, her cousin joined her in the work. In 1855, the two women made private vows and consecrated themselves to the Blessed Mother. New followers joined them. Within two years they formed a new congregation, which came to be known as the Felician Sisters. As their numbers grew, so did their work, and so did the pressures on Mother Angela (the new name Sophia took in religious life). Mother Angela served as superior for many years until ill health forced her to resign at the age of 44. She watched the order grow and expand, including missions to the United States among the sons and daughters of Polish immigrants. Pope John Paul II beatified her in 1993.
(AmericanCatholic.org)

 

Saint Firmin, son of a senator, was a native of Pampeluna in Navarre. With his father he was taught the Christian faith by Honestus, a disciple of Saint Saturninus, the bishop of Toulouse, himself the disciple of Saint Peter the Apostle. Firmin, Saint Ferminwho had been confided by his father to Honestus for his education and had accompanied him on his apostolic journeys, was eventually consecrated bishop by Saint Honoratus, successor to Saint Saturninus at Toulouse. Firmin received the mission to preach the Gospel in the remoter parts of the Occident, or Gaul; thus he preached in the regions of Agen, Angers, and Beauvais. In what is now Clement-Ferrand, after long discussions with two ardent idolaters, he won them over. Error, wherever he passed, seemed to flee before him, as if the infernal powers feared to undertake a combat with this formidable adversary who was sure to defeat them.
    He had not yet suffered persecution. Desiring martyrdom, he decided to go to a centre of paganism in the north, in what is now Normandy, near Lisieux. There he was arrested and imprisoned for a time by the pagans. When delivered, he continued on towards the north, to a region where Saint Denys of Paris had baptized many. He confirmed the Christians in their faith, and went wherever a soul might have need of him. The Roman authorities heard of him and arrested him; the Saint generously confessed Jesus Christ in their presence. Again he was imprisoned, but released when the prefect and his successor both died suddenly. He was obliged, however, to flee secretly.
     When he arrived at Amiens, he placed his residence there and founded a large church of faithful disciples. Amiens conserves the memory of the day he arrived and preached fearlessly there beside a temple of Jupiter, at a site where now the Basilica of Our Lady stands. He taught aloud the salutary doctrine of Christianity to all who came to listen. Many conversions followed, even among the authorities of the city, including the senator. He continued his preaching in that region for a number of years, while the pagan temples became literally deserted. And then two Roman officials, Longulus and Sebastian, heard of him and came to the city.
     The pagan priests saw their opportunity, when all the city residents were convoked to appear before the visitors. The two officials explained that the capital penalty was decreed for those who did not obey the imperial edicts, not offering incense to the gods and honouring them. The pagan priests then told them of one who always refused to do so, and Saint Firmin, after an eloquent defence of the religion of Christ, was imprisoned. He finally saw his most ardent desire fulfilled when certain soldiers decided on their own to accomplish the imperial orders, and came with swords to his prison at night, where they decapitated the bishop. He died, filled with joy at their coming. This occurred under the reign of Trajan in the first years of the second century. The holy bishop remains in the greatest honour in the city of Amiens.
   (Source: Les Petits Bollandistes: Vies des Saints, by Msgr. Paul Guérin (Bloud et Barral: Paris, 1882), Vol. 11.)

 

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October 12:

St. Seraphin of Montegranaro (1540-1604)
   Born into a poor Italian family, young Seraphin lived the life of a shepherd and spent much of his time in prayer. Mistreated for a time by his older brother after the two of them had been orphaned, Seraphin became a Capuchin Franciscan at age 16 and impressed everyone with his humility and generosity. Serving as a lay brother, Seraphin imitated St. Francis in fasting, St Seraphin Montegranaroclothing and courtesy to all. He even mirrored Francis' missionary zeal, but Seraphin's superiors did not judge him to be a candidate for the missions. Faithful to the core, Seraphin spent three hours in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament daily. The poor who begged at the friary door came to hold a special love for him. Despite his uneventful life, he reached impressive spiritual heights and has had miracles attributed to him. Seraphin died on October 12, 1604, and was canonized in 1767.
    For many people these days, work has no significance beyond providing the money they need to live. How many share the belief expressed in the Book of Genesis that we are to cooperate with God in caring for the earth? The kind of work Seraphin did may not strike us as earth-shattering. The work was ordinary; the spirit in which he did it was not.
   In Brothers of Men, Rene Voillaume of the Little Brothers of Jesus speaks about ordinary work and holiness: "Now this holiness [of Jesus] became a reality in the most ordinary circumstances of life, those of work, of the family and the social life of a village, and this is an emphatic affirmation of the fact that the most obscure and humdrum human activities are entirely compatible with the perfection of the Son of God." Christians are convinced, he says, "that the evangelical holiness proper to a child of God is possible in the ordinary circumstances of a man who is poor and obliged to work for his living."
(AmericanCatholic.org)

 

Saint Wilfrid, Archbishop of York (634-709) (Picture: 11th century manuscript life of St Wilfrid) It was the glory of the great Saint Wilfrid to fasten securely the happy links which bound England to Rome. He was born about the year 634 of an excellent Christian family; at that time a brightly burning torch was seen over the house of his father, shedding light all along the street where the house was, without doing any damage. Life Of St WilfridThis was regarded as a presage that the newborn babe would one day be a brilliant light in the Church. Wilfrid was brought up by the Celtic monks at Lindisfarne in the rites and usages of the British Church. Yet even as a boy Wilfrid longed for perfect conformity with the Holy See in discipline as well as in doctrine, and at the first opportunity he set out for Rome. When his devotion and his desire for instruction in the difficulties of the liturgy were satisfied, he was ready to return to England. On his way he visited the archbishop of Lyons, Saint Chamond, who had very kindly received him on his route to Rome. Before re-embarking for England, Wilfrid received the tonsure and remained with him for three years, until his death. At home once more, he built a monastery at Stamford, and made of another one at Ripon a strictly Roman monastery under the rule of Saint Benedict. There he was ordained a priest, and after having governed it as Abbot for five years, he was consecrated a bishop in France. He again remained for a time across the Channel, and then found, when he returned to England, that another had replaced him in his newly assigned see of York. That bishop, whose position was more than doubtful, was persuaded to retire when the Archbishop of Canterbury visited Northumbria; Wilfrid was thereby reinstated in 669. He enforced the Roman obedience in his see and founded many monasteries of the Benedictine Order.
    As Bishop of York he had to combat the passions of wicked kings, the cowardice of worldly prelates, the errors of holy men. He was twice exiled and once imprisoned; finally the difficulties were settled with the aid of Roman authority. In 686 he was called back to his diocese of York, where eventually he swept away the abuses of many years and a too national system, and substituted instead a vigorous Catholic discipline, modeled and dependent on Rome. When the large see of York was definitively divided and suffragan dioceses established, Saint Wilfrid was given two smaller sees but not York. He decided to accept the settlement reached with other British ecclesiastics, since the principle of Roman authority had been vindicated. He died October 12, 709, amid the monks of Ripon and was buried in this monastery. A monk of the monastery of Ripon who had worked with Saint Wilfrid for forty years wrote the first biography of the former Abbot and Archbishop. The greater part of his relics were transferred to the cathedral of Canterbury in the year 959.
                         Trust in the Vicar of Christ is an instinct planted in us for the preservation of the Faith. It follows necessarily upon the reign of our Saviour’s divine love in our hearts.
    Sources: Les Petits Bollandistes: Vies des Saints, by Msgr. Paul Guérin (Bloud et Barral: Paris, 1882), Vol. 12; Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butler’s Lives of the Saints and other sources by John Gilmary Shea (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894); The Catholic Encyclopedia, edited by C. G. Herbermann with numerous collaborators (Appleton Company: New York, 1908).

 

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October 13:

St. Margaret Mary Alacoque (1647-1690)    (Picture on left: face of St Margaret Mary)
St Margaret Mary Alacoque    We learn compassion from allowing our lives to be influenced by compassionate people, by seeing life from their perspective and reconsidering our own values. Born in Varennes, Canada, Marie Marguerite Dufrost de Lajemmerais had to interrupt her schooling at the age of 12 to help her widowed mother. Eight years later she married Francois d'Youville; they had six children, four of whom died young. St Margaret Mary AlacoqueDespite the fact that her husband gambled, sold liquor illegally to Native Americans and treated her indifferently, she cared for him compassionately in the two years before his death in 1730. Even though she was caring for two small children and running a store to help pay off her husband's debts, Marguerite still helped the poor. Once her children were grown, she and several companions rescued a Quebec hospital which was in danger of failing. She called her community the Institute of the Sisters of Charity of Montreal; the people called them the "Grey Nuns" because of the colour of their habit. In time, a proverb arose among the poor people of Montreal, "Go to the Grey Nuns; they never refuse to serve." In time, five other religious communities traced their roots to the Grey Nuns. The General Hospital in Montreal became known as the Hotel Dieu (House of God) and set a standard for medical care and Christian compassion. When the hospital was destroyed by fire in 1766, she knelt in the ashes, led the Te Deum (a hymn to God's providence in all circumstances) and began the rebuilding process. She fought the attempts of government officials to restrain her charity and established the first foundling home in North America. Pope John XXIII, who beatified her in 1959, called her the "Mother of Universal Charity." She was canonized in 1990.
   Saints deal with plenty of discouragement, plenty of reasons to say, "Life isn't fair" and wonder where God is in the rubble of their lives. We honour saints like Marguerite because they show us that, with God's grace and their cooperation, suffering can lead to compassion rather than to bitterness. "More than once the work which Marguerite undertook was hindered by nature or people. In order to work to bring that new world of justice and love closer, she had to fight some hard and difficult battles" (John Paul II, canonization homily).
(AmericanCatholic.org)

 

St Margaret Mary Alacoque, virgin (1647-1690) Saint Margaret Mary, a soul of divine predilection, was born at Terreau in Burgundy, on July 22, 1647. During her infancy she showed a wonderfully St Margaret Mary Alacoquesensitive revulsion to the very idea of sin, and while still a young child always recited the entire Rosary every day. She lost her father at the age of eight years, and her mother placed her with the Poor Clares. She was often sick and for four years was bedridden, losing almost entirely the use of her members. She made a vow to Our Lady to become one of Her daughters if She cured her, and was suddenly entirely well. She was of a gay temperament and her heart became easily attached to human affections. God began her purification when the charge of her mother’s house was confided to persons who reduced the family to a sort of servitude. Margaret Mary turned to God for strength and consolation when she was accused of various crimes she had not committed. In short, the Saint of the Sacred Heart learned to suffer for Christ, with patience, what innocence can suffer in such situations. She desired to be a religious, but her mother could not bear to hear a word of that desire. Finally God came to her assistance through a Franciscan priest, who told her brother that he would answer to God for the vocation of his sister. In 1671 she entered the Order of the Visitation of Mary, at Paray-le-Monial, and was professed the following year. She followed all the practices of the monastery in perfect obedience, spending as much time as she could in the chapel with her Lord. After sanctifying her by many trials, Jesus appeared to her in numerous visions, displaying to her His Sacred Heart, sometimes burning as a furnace, and sometimes torn and bleeding on account of the coldness and sins of men. “Behold this Heart which has so loved men, and been so little loved by them in return!” In 1675, she was told by Our Lord that she, with the aid of Father Claude de la Colombiere of the Society of Jesus, was to be His instrument for instituting the feast of the Sacred Heart, and for spreading that devotion everywhere. This was not accomplished without great sufferings. The good Jesuit did all in his power to make known and loved the Heart of Jesus, but when it seemed all obstacles were about to disappear, his credit diminished, and his Superiors sent him to England. He returned to France exhausted and soon died. Saint Margaret Mary was for a time Mistress of Novices, and in this office exercised a true apostolate, working to win for the Heart of Jesus the hearts of the young girls who were aspiring to religious consecration. She was persecuted when she sent one of them home, not having seen in her the indications of a genuine vocation; the family attempted to have her deposed. She remained in the charge but was deprived of Holy Communion on the First Friday of the month. This practice was one of Our Lord’s specific requests; for souls who communicate nine First Fridays in succession, He promised the most wonderful graces. The demons also persecuted her visibly; nonetheless her entire Community was finally won over to devotion to the Divine Heart. Saint Margaret Mary died at the age of forty-two years, on October 17, 1690, and everywhere was heard in the city: “The Saint is dead! The Saint is dead!” She was beatified in 1864 by Pope Pius IX, and canonized in 1920 by Pope Benedict XV.

 

Saint Edward the Confessor, King of England (1001-1066)
        Saint Edward, son of King Ethelred, whose kingdom of England fell to the Danish invaders, was unexpectedly raised to the throne of England in 1041, at the age of forty years. God had shown Edward toSt Edward The Confessor a pious bishop in a vision, as England’s King, anointed by Saint Peter: “Behold the one who will be King through My favour; he will be cherished by heaven, agreeable to men, terrible to his enemies, loving to his subjects, very useful to the Church of God.” The English people, tired of being governed by a foreign domination, decided in 1041 to reinstate the surviving son of their legitimate sovereign, and under the leadership of three noblemen, succeeded in crowning Edward on Easter Sunday of the year 1042. Edward had spent twenty-seven years of his forty in exile in Normandy, in the palace of his maternal uncle. When he was raised to the throne, the virtues of his earlier years, simplicity, gentleness, humility and a tender charity, but above all his angelic purity, shone with new brightness. By a rare inspiration of God, though he married to content his nobles and people, he preserved perfect chastity in the wedded state. So little did he set his heart on riches, that three times when he saw a servant robbing his treasury, he let him escape, saying the poor man needed the gold more than he. He loved to stand at his palace-gate, speaking kindly to the poor beggars and lepers who crowded about him, and many of whom he healed of their diseases. The people rejoiced in having a Saint for their king. Long wars had brought the kingdom to a sad state, but Edward’s zeal and sanctity soon wrought a great change. His reign of twenty-four years was one of almost unbroken peace. He undertook only one war, which was victorious, to reinstate Malcolm, legitimate king of Scotland. The country grew prosperous, the ruined churches rose again under his hand, the weak lived secure, and for ages afterwards men spoke with affection of the “laws of good Saint Edward.” The holy king delighted in building and enriching churches; Westminster Abbey was his last and noblest work. He had a particular devotion to the holy Apostles Saint Peter and Saint John the Evangelist, and had made a promise never to refuse an alms asked in the name of the latter. One day when he had no money with him, a poor man reached out his hand in the name of the Apostle, and the king gave him a valuable ring he was wearing. Some time later, Saint John appeared to two pilgrims returning from the Holy Land. He gave them a ring and said: “Take it to the king; he gave it to me one day when I asked for an alms in the habit of a pilgrim. Tell him that in six months I will visit him and take him with me, to follow the unblemished Lamb.” The King received it from them after hearing their relation of this incident, and broke into tears. And Edward did indeed die six months later, on January 5, 1066. Many miracles occurred at his tomb. In 1102 his body was exhumed and found intact and flexible, with its habits perfectly preserved also, appearing to be new. He was canonized in 1161 by Pope Alexander III.
        Sources: Les Petits Bollandistes: Vies des Saints, by Msgr. Paul Guérin (Bloud et Barral: Paris, 1882), Vol. 12; Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butler’s Lives of the Saints and other sources by John Gilmary Shea (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894).

 

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October 14:

St Callistus I, pope and martyr (died 222 or 223).
                    Early in the third century, it was to Callistus, then a deacon, that Pope Saint Zephyrinus confided the government of the clergy, as well as the creation and maintenance of the Christian cemeteries, which at that time St Callistus Iwere the catacombs of Rome. At the death of the Sovereign Pontiff, Callistus succeeded him as Head of the Church. It is he who made obligatory for the entire Church, the fast of the Ember Days which the Apostles had instituted, to bring down blessings on each season of the year.
St Callistus IDuring his time, the Christians began to build churches, which though destroyed during the various persecutions, were eventually rebuilt. Among the catacombs owed to his government, is the one on the Appian Way which bears his name. Many precious memories are conserved there; in it are found the tomb of Saint Cecilia, the crypts of several popes, and paintings which attest the perfect conformity of the primitive Faith with that of the present-day Church. During the pontificate of Saint Callistus, several very striking conversions occurred among the very officers of the persecuting emperor Alexander Severus. At one time an officer, his family and household, forty-two persons in all, were baptized by the Pope on the same day. Many others asked him for Baptism; among them a Senator and sixty-eight persons of his household, and a guardian of the saintly Pope, whose name was Privatus, after the prayers of the Holy Father had cured him of an ulcer. All these new Christians were martyred, and their heads were exposed at the various gates of Rome to discourage any who would propagate the Faith of Christ in that city. Despite the continuing pursuits and his constant solicitude for all the churches, Saint Callistus found the means to have a diligent search made by fishermen for the body of a priest of his clergy, which had been cast into the Tiber after his martyrdom. When it was found he was filled with joy, and buried it with hymns of praise. During the persecution Saint Callistus was obliged to take shelter in the poor and populous quarters of the city. The martyred priest, Calipodius, appeared to him soon afterwards, saying: “Father, take courage; the hour of the reward is approaching; your crown will be proportionate to your sufferings.” Soon afterwards he was discovered there, and the house was guarded by soldiers who received the order to allow no food to enter it for several days. And Saint Callistus was martyred in his turn. With a rock suspended from his neck, he was thrown from a window into a well on October 14, 223. The priest Asterius recovered and buried his body in the catacomb named for Calipodius. A week later Asterius too was arrested and thrown into the Tiber. The Christians interred this martyr also. 

St. Callistus I (d. 223?)

  The most reliable information about this saint comes from his enemy St. Hippolytus, an early antipope, later a martyr for the Church. A negative principle is used: If some worse things had happened, Hippolytus would surely have mentioned them. Callistus was a slave in the imperial Roman household. Put in charge of the bank by his master, he lost the money deposited, fled and was caught. After serving time for a while, he was released to make some attempt to recover the money. Apparently he carried his zeal too far, being arrested for brawling in a Jewish synagogue. This time he was condemned to work in the mines of Sardinia. He was released through the influence of the emperor's mistress and lived at Anzio (site of a famous World War II beachhead). He won his freedom and was made superintendent of the public Christian burial ground in Rome (still called the cemetery of St. Callistus), probably the first land owned by the Church. The pope ordained him a deacon and made him his friend and adviser. He was himself elected pope by a majority vote of the clergy and laity of Rome, and thereafter was bitterly attacked by the losing candidate, St. Hippolytus, who let himself be set up as the first antipope in the history of the Church. The schism lasted about 18 years. Hippolytus is venerated as a saint. He was banished during the persecution of 235 and was reconciled to the Church. He died from his sufferings in Sardinia. He attacked Callistus on two fronts—doctrine and discipline. Hippolytus seems to have exaggerated the distinction between Father and Son (almost making two gods) possibly because theological language had not yet been refined. He also accused Callistus of being too lenient, for reasons we may find surprising: (1) Callistus admitted to Communion those who had already done public penance for murder, adultery, fornication; (2) he held marriages between free women and slaves to be valid—contrary to Roman law; (3) he authorized the ordination of men who had been married two or three times; (4) he held that mortal sin was not a sufficient reason to depose a bishop; (5) he held to a policy of leniency toward those who had temporarily apostatized during persecution. Callistus was martyred during a local disturbance in Trastevere, Rome, and is the first pope (except for Peter) to be commemorated as a martyr in the earliest martyrology of the Church. Some are of the opinion that, even from the little we know about him, Callistus may rank among the greatest popes.

The life of this man is another reminder that the course of Church history, like that of true love, never did run smooth. The Church had to (and still must) go through the agonizing struggle to state the mysteries of the faith in language that, at the very least, sets up definite barriers to error. On the disciplinary side, the Church had to preserve the mercy of Christ against rigorism while still upholding the gospel ideal of radical conversion and self-discipline. Every pope — indeed every Christian — must walk the difficult path between "reasonable" indulgence and "reasonable" rigorism. His contemporaries, Jesus said, were "like children who sit in marketplaces and call to one another, 'We played the flute for you, but you did not dance, we sang a dirge but you did not mourn.' For John [the Baptist] came neither eating nor drinking, and they said, 'He is possessed by a demon.' The Son of Man came eating and drinking and they said, 'Look, he is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners'" (Matthew 11:16b-19a). (AmericanCatholic.org)

 

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October 15:

St. Teresa of Avila (1515-1582)
St Teresa Of AvilaTeresa lived in an age of exploration as well as political, social and religious upheaval. It was the 16th century, a time of turmoil and reform. Her life began with the culmination of the Protestant Reformation, and ended shortly after the Council of Trent. The gift of God to Teresa in and through which she became holy and left her mark on the Church and the world is threefold: She was a woman; she was a contemplative; she was an active reformer. As a woman, Teresa stood on her own two feet, even in the man's world of her time. She was "her own woman," entering the Carmelites despite strong opposition from her father. She is a person wrapped not so much in silence as in mystery. Beautiful, talented, outgoing, adaptable, affectionate, courageous, enthusiastic, she was totally human. Like Jesus, she was a mystery of paradoxes: wise, yet practical; intelligent, yet much in tune with her experience; a mystic, yet an energetic reformer. A holy woman, a womanly woman. Teresa was a woman "for God," a woman of prayer, discipline and compassion. Her heart belonged to God. Her own conversion was no overnight affair; it was an arduous lifelong struggle, involving ongoing purification and suffering. She was misunderstood, misjudged, opposed in her efforts at reform. Yet she struggled on, courageous and faithful; she struggled with her own mediocrity, her illness, her opposition. And in the midst of all this she clung to God in life and in prayer. Her writings on prayer and contemplation are drawn from her experience: powerful, practical and graceful. A woman of prayer; a woman for God. Teresa was a woman "for others." Though a contemplative, she spent much of her time and energy seeking to reform herself and the Carmelites, to lead them back to the full observance of the primitive Rule. She founded over a half-dozen new monasteries. She travelled, wrote, fought — always to renew, to reform. In her self, in her prayer, in her life, in her efforts to reform, in all the people she touched, she was a woman for others, a woman who inspired and gave life. In 1970 the Church gave her the title she had long held in the popular mind: Doctor of the Church. She and St. Catherine of Siena were the first women so honoured.
Teresa knew well the continued presence and value of suffering (physical illness, opposition to reform, difficulties in prayer), but she grew to be able to embrace suffering, even desire it: "Lord, either to suffer or to die." Toward the end of her life she exclaimed: "Oh, my Lord! How true it is that whoever works for you is paid in troubles! And what a precious price to those who love you if we understand its value."
(AmericanCatholic.org)

Saint Teresa of Avila  Virgin, Reformer of the Carmelite Order (1515-1582)
  “By their fruits you will know them,” says Our Lord of those who claim to be His followers. The fruits which remain of the life, labours and prayer of Saint Teresa of Avila bear to her virtue a living and enduring testimony which none can refuse to admit. She herself wrote her life and many other celebrated spiritual works, and much more can still be said of this soul of predilection, whose writings and examples have led so many souls to high sanctity. Born in 1515 in the kingdom of Castile in Spain, she was the youngest child of a virtuous nobleman. When she was seven years old, Teresa fled from her home with one of her young brothers, in the hope of going to Africa and receiving the palm of martyrdom. Brought back and asked the reason for her flight, she replied: “I want to see God, and I must die before I can see Him.” She then began, with her same brother, Rodriguez, to build a hermitage in the garden, and was often heard repeating: “Forever, forever!” She lost her mother at the age of twelve years, and was led by worldly companions into various frivolities. Her father decided to place her in a boarding convent, and she obeyed without any inclination for this kind of life. Grace came to her assistance with the good guidance of the Sisters, and she decided to enter religion in the Carmelite monastery of the Incarnation at Avila. For a time frivolous conversations there, too, checked her progress toward perfection, but finally in her thirty-first year, she abandoned herself entirely to God. A vision showed her the very place in hell to which her apparently light faults would have led her, and she was told by Our Lord that all her conversation must be with heaven. Ever afterwards she lived in the deepest distrust of herself. When she was named Prioress against her will at the monastery of the Incarnation, she succeeded in conciliating even the most hostile hearts by placing a statue of Our Lady in the seat she would ordinarily have occupied, to preside over the Community.
    God enlightened her to understand that He desired the reform of her Order, and her heart was pierced with divine love. The Superior General gave her full permission to found as many houses as might become feasible. She dreaded nothing so much as delusion in the decisions she would make in difficult situations; we can well understand this, knowing she founded seventeen convents for the Sisters, and that fifteen others for the Fathers of the Reform were established during her lifetime, with the aid of Saint John of the Cross. To the end of her life she acted only under obedience to her confessors, and this practice both made her strong and preserved her from error. Journeying in those days was far from comfortable and even perilous, but nothing could stop the Saint from accomplishing the holy Will of God. When the cart was overturned one day and she had a broken leg, her sense of humor became very evident by her remark: “Dear Lord, if this is how You treat Your friends, it is no wonder You have so few!” She died October 4, 1582, and was canonized in 1622.
    The history of her mortal remains is as extraordinary as that of her life. After nine months in a wooden coffin, caved in from the excess weight above it, the body was perfectly conserved, though the clothing had rotted. A fine perfume it exuded spread throughout the entire monastery of the nuns, when they reclothed it. Parts of it were later removed as relics, including the heart showing the marks of the Transverberation, and her left arm. At the last exhumation in 1914, the body was found to remain in the same condition as when it was seen previously, still recognizable and very fragrant with the same intense perfume.

 

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October 16:

St. Marguerite d’Youville (1701-1771)
St Marguerite D'Youville  We learn compassion from allowing our lives to be influenced by compassionate people, by seeing life from their perspective and reconsidering our own values. Born in Varennes, Canada, Marie Marguerite Dufrost de Lajemmerais had to interrupt her schooling at the age of 12 to help her widowed mother. Eight years later she married Francois d'Youville; they had six children, four of whom died young. Despite the fact that her husband gambled, sold liquor illegally to Native Americans and treated her indifferently, she cared for him compassionately before his death in 1730. Even though she was caring for two small children and running a store to help pay off her husband's debts, Marguerite still helped the poor. Once her children were grown, she and several companions rescued a Quebec hospital that was in danger of failing. She called her community the Institute of the Sisters of Charity of Montreal; the people called them the "Grey Nuns" because of the colour of their habit. In time, a proverb arose among the poor people of Montreal, "Go to the Grey Nuns; they never refuse to serve." In time, five other religious communities traced their roots to the Grey Nuns. The General Hospital in Montreal became known as the Hotel Dieu (House of God) and set a standard for medical care and Christian compassion. When the hospital was destroyed by fire in 1766, she knelt in the ashes, led the Te Deum (a hymn to God's providence in all circumstances) and began the rebuilding process. She fought the attempts of government officials to restrain her charity and established the first foundling home in North America.
   Pope John XXIII, who beatified her in 1959, called her the "Mother of Universal Charity." She was canonized in 1990. "More than once the work which Marguerite undertook was hindered by nature or people. In order to work to bring that new world of justice and love closer, she had to fight some hard and difficult battles" (John Paul II, at canonization).
(AmericanCatholic.org)

 

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October 17:

St. Ignatius of Antioch (d. 107?)
Ignatius Of Antioch       Born in Syria, Ignatius converted to Christianity and eventually became bishop of Antioch. In the year 107, Emperor Trajan visited Antioch and forced the Christians there to choose between death and apostasy. Ignatius would not deny Christ and thus was condemned to be put to death in Rome. Ignatius is well known for the seven letters he wrote on the long journey from Antioch to Rome. Five of these letters are to Churches in Asia Minor; they urge the Christians there to remain faithful to God and to obey their superiors. He warns them against heretical doctrines, providing them with the solid truths of the Christian faith. The sixth letter was to Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna, who was later martyred for the faith. The final letter begs the Christians in Rome not to try to stop his martyrdom. "The only thing I ask of you is to allow me to offer the libation of my blood to God. I am the wheat of the Lord; may I be ground by the teeth of the beasts to become the immaculate bread of Christ." Ignatius bravely met the lions in the Circus Maximus.
     Ignatius's great concern was for the unity and order of the Church. Even greater was his willingness to suffer martyrdom rather than deny his Lord Jesus Christ. Not to his own suffering did Ignatius draw attention, but to the love of God which strengthened him. He knew the price of commitment and would not deny Christ, even to save his own life.
   "I greet you from Smyrna together with the Churches of God present here with me. They comfort me in every way, both in body and in soul. My chains, which I carry about on me for Jesus Christ, begging that I may happily make my way to God, exhort you: persevere in your concord and in your community prayers" (Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to the Church at Tralles).
(AmericanCatholic.org)

Saint Ignatius of Antioch, bishop and martyr (†107)
        Saint Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch, was the disciple of Saint John the Evangelist. Believing that the Church on earth should resemble that of the heavenly Jerusalem of which Saint John wrote in his Apocalypse, he established singing in choirs in his church at Antioch, after a vision of the celestial choirs who sang in that manner. When the emperor Domitian persecuted the Church, Saint Ignatius obtained peace for his own flock by fasting and prayer, although for his own part he desired to suffer with Christ, and to prove himself a perfect disciple.
Ignatius Of Antioch        The Roman emperors often visited Antioch, one of the cities of first importance of the empire. In 107, the eighth year of the reign of the emperor Trajan, he came to Antioch and forced the Christians to choose between apostasy and death. Saint Ignatius, who had already governed that church for forty years, continued to fortify it against apostasy, and did not flee. Arrested and brought before the emperor, the latter addressed him: “Who are you, poor devil, to set our commands at naught?” “Call not poor devil,” Ignatius answered, “one who bears God within him.” And when the emperor asked him what he meant by that, Ignatius explained that he bore in his heart Christ, crucified for his sake. “Change your ideas, and I will make you a priest of the great Jupiter, and you will be called ‘father’ by the Senate.” “What could such honours matter to me, a priest of Christ, who offer Him every day a sacrifice of praise, and am ready to offer myself to Him also?” “To whom? To that Jesus who was crucified by Pontius Pilate?” “Yes, and with whom sin was crucified, and the devil, its author, vanquished.”
        The questions and the courageous replies continued for a time that day and also on the following one. Saint Ignatius said, “I will not sacrifice; I fear neither torments nor death, because I desire to go quickly to God.” Thereupon the emperor condemned him to be torn to pieces by wild beasts in Rome. Saint Ignatius blessed God, who had so honoured him, “binding him in the same chains as Paul, His apostle.” When his people wept, he told them to place their hope in the sovereign Pastor, who never abandons His flock. On passing through the city of Smyrna, he exhorted the faithful, who were grieved at his fate, to remain true to Christ until death, and he gave some of them who were going to Rome a letter for the Christians of the capital of the Christian world. This letter is still extant. He writes: “I fear your charity, I fear you have an affection too human for me. You might prevent me from dying, but by so doing, you would oppose my happiness. Suffer me to be immolated while the altar is ready; give thanks to God... If when I arrive among you I should have the weakness to seem to have other sentiments, do not believe me; believe only what I am writing to you now.” This letter of Saint Ignatius has encouraged all generations of Christians in their combats.
        He journeyed to Rome, guarded by soldiers, and with no fear but of losing the martyr’s crown. Three of his disciples, who accompanied him and were eyewitnesses of the spectacle, wrote the acts of his martyrdom: His face shining with joy, he reassured them as the lions were released, saying: “I am the wheat of Christ, I will be ground by the teeth of the beasts and made into flour to be a good bread for my Lord Jesus Christ!” He was devoured by lions in the Roman amphitheatre. The wild beasts left nothing of his body except a few bones, which were reverently treasured at Antioch until their removal in the year 637 to the Church of Saint Clement in Rome. After the martyr’s death, several Christians saw him in vision, in prayer to Christ, and interceding for them.
        Reflection. Ask Saint Ignatius to obtain for you the grace of profiting by all you have to suffer, and rejoicing in it as a means of likeness to your crucified Redeemer.  (magnificat.ca)

 

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October 18:

St. Luke
 St Luke Evangelist   Luke wrote one of the major portions of the New Testament, a two-volume work comprising the third Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles. In the two books he shows the parallel between the life of Christ and that of the Church. He is the only Gentile Christian among the Gospel writers. Tradition holds him to be a native of Antioch, and Paul calls him "our beloved physician" (Colossians 4:14). His Gospel was probably written between A.D. 70 and 85. Luke appears in Acts during Paul’s second journey, remains at Philippi for several years until Paul returns from his third journey, accompanies Paul to Jerusalem and remains near him when he is imprisoned in Caesarea. During these two years, Luke had time to seek information and interview persons who had known Jesus. He accompanied Paul on the dangerous journey to Rome where he was a faithful companion. "Only Luke is with me," Paul writes (2 Timothy 4:11). Luke wrote as a Gentile for Gentile Christians. This Gospel reveals Luke's expertise in classic Greek style as well as his knowledge of Jewish sources.
     The character of Luke may best be seen by the emphases of his Gospel, which has been given a number of subtitles: (1) The Gospel of Mercy: Luke emphasizes Jesus' compassion and patience with the sinners and the suffering. He has a broadminded openness to all, showing concern for Samaritans, lepers, publicans, soldiers, public sinners, unlettered shepherds, the poor. Luke alone records the stories of the sinful woman, the lost sheep and coin, the prodigal son, the good thief. (2) The Gospel of Universal Salvation: Jesus died for all. He is the son of Adam, not just of David, and Gentiles are his friends too. (3) The Gospel of the Poor: "Little people" are prominent—Zechariah and Elizabeth, Mary and Joseph, shepherds, Simeon and the elderly widow, Anna. He is also concerned with what we now call "evangelical poverty." (4) The Gospel of Absolute Renunciation: He stresses the need for total dedication to Christ. (5) The Gospel of Prayer and the Holy Spirit: He shows Jesus at prayer before every important step of his ministry. The Spirit is bringing the Church to its final perfection. (6) The Gospel of Joy: Luke succeeds in portraying the joy of salvation that permeated the primitive Church.
  "Then [Jesus] led them [out] as far as Bethany, raised his hands, and blessed them. As he blessed them he parted from them and was taken up to heaven. They did him homage and then returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and they were continually in the temple praising God" (Luke 24:50-53).
(AmericanCatholic.org)

Saint Luke, evangelist
       Saint Luke, a physician at Antioch and a painter, was also an excellent rhetorician in Greek, his native language. He became a disciple of Saint Paul, the Apostle’s fellow-worker and his faithful friend during his two imprisonments,
St Luke Evangelistand is best known to us as the historian of the New Testament acts of both Christ and the Apostles. Though not an eye-witness of Our Lord’s life, the meticulous Evangelist diligently gathered information from those who had followed or listened to Jesus of Nazareth, and wrote, as he tells us, all things in order. His command of Greek is much admired. Saint Clement of Alexandria, Saint Jerome and Saint Thomas Aquinas state that it is he who translated Saint Paul’s famous Epistle to the Hebrews, written in the language of the Jerusalem Christians, into the admirable Greek which we presently possess as the only ancient version.
        The Acts of the Apostles were written by the Evangelist as a sequel to his Gospel, bringing the history of the Church down to the first imprisonment of Saint Paul in Rome, in the year 64. The humble historian never names himself, but by his occasional use of “we” instead of “he” or “they”, we are able to detect his presence in the scenes of Saint Paul’s life which he describes. We thus find that he sailed with Paul and Silas from Troas to Macedonia, where he remained behind, apparently, for seven years at Philippi. Finally, after remaining near Saint Paul during the time he was imprisoned in Palestine, he accompanied him, still a prisoner, when he was transported to Rome. Thus he shared the shipwreck and perils of that memorable voyage, narrated in Chapter 27 of Acts — which book no Christian should fail to read, along with the four Gospels. He then narrates the two years of Saint Paul’s first imprisonment, ending in his liberation.
        There his narrative ends, but from Saint Paul’s Epistles we learn that Saint Luke was his faithful companion to the last. His paintings of Our Lady are still conserved with care in a number of places in Europe. Saint Luke certainly learned from the Mother of Christ Herself, the story of the Annunciation, the Visitation, and the Angelic mission to the shepherds of Bethlehem. After the martyrdom of the Apostle to the Gentiles, Saint Epiphanus says that Saint Luke preached in Italy, Gaul, Dalmatia and Macedonia. Others say he went to Egypt and preached in the Thebaid, the region of the Fathers of the desert. Saint Hippolyte says he was crucified in Greece. His mortal remains were transferred to the Church of the Apostles, built by Constantine the Great at Constantinople, with those of Saint Andrew and Saint Timothy. Some of his relics remain in the Greek monastery of Mount Athos.

 

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October 19:

St. Isaac Jogues, John de Brébeuf and Companions
Jesuit Martyrs of North America   Isaac Jogues (1607-1646): Isaac Jogues and his companions were the first martyrs of the North American continent officially recognized by the Church. As a young Jesuit, Isaac Jogues, a man of learning and culture, taught literature in France. He gave up that career to work among the Huron Indians in the New World, and in 1636 he and his companions, under the leadership of John de Brébeuf, arrived in Quebec. The Hurons were constantly warred upon by the Iroquois, and in a few years Father Jogues was captured by the Iroquois and imprisoned for 13 months. His letters and journals tell how he and his companions were led from village to village, how they were beaten, tortured and forced to watch as their Huron converts were mangled and killed. An unexpected chance for escape came to Isaac Jogues through the Dutch, and he returned to France, bearing the marks of his sufferings. Several fingers had been cut, chewed or burnt off. Pope Urban VIII gave him permission to offer Mass with his mutilated hands: "It would be shameful that a martyr of Christ be not allowed to drink the Blood of Christ." Welcomed home as a hero, Father Jogues might have sat back, thanked God for his safe return and died peacefully in his homeland. But his zeal led him back once more to the fulfilment of his dreams. In a few months he sailed for his missions among the Hurons. In 1646 he and Jean de Lalande, who had offered his services to the missioners, set out for Iroquois country in the belief that a recently signed peace treaty would be observed. They were captured by a Mohawk war party, and on October 18 Father Jogues was tomahawked and beheaded. Jean de Lalande was killed the next day at Ossernenon, a village near Albany, New York. The first of the Jesuit missionaries to be martyred was René Goupil who, with Lalande, had offered his services as an oblate. He was tortured along with Isaac Jogues in 1642, and was tomahawked for having made the Sign of the Cross on the brow of some children.
Iroquois Five Nations   Jean de Brébeuf (1593-1649): Jean de Brébeuf was a French Jesuit who came to Canada at the age of 32 and laboured there for 24 years. He went back to France when the English captured Quebec (1629) and expelled the Jesuits, but returned to his missions four years later. Although medicine men blamed the Jesuits for a smallpox epidemic among the Hurons, Jean remained with them. He composed catechisms and a dictionary in Huron, and saw 7,000 converted before his death. North American MartyrsHe was captured by the Iroquois and died after four hours of extreme torture at Sainte Marie, near Georgian Bay, Canada.
     Father Anthony Daniel, working among Hurons who were gradually becoming Christian, was killed by Iroquois on July 4, 1648. His body was thrown into his chapel, which was set on fire. Gabriel Lalemant had taken a fourth vow—to sacrifice his life to the Indians. He was horribly tortured to death along with Father Brébeuf. Father Charles Garnier was shot to death as he baptized children and catechumens during an Iroquois attack. Father Noel Chabanel was killed before he could answer his recall to France. He had found it exceedingly hard to adapt to mission life. He could not learn the language, the food and life of the Indians revolted him, plus he suffered spiritual dryness during his whole stay in Canada. Yet he made a vow to remain until death in his mission. These eight Jesuit martyrs of North America were canonized in 1930.
        Faith and heroism planted belief in Christ's cross deep in our land. The Church in North America sprang from the blood of martyrs. Are we as eager to keep that cross standing in our midst? Do we bear witness to deep-seated faith in us, the Good News of the cross (redemption) into our home, our work, our social world?
       "My confidence is placed in God who does not need our help for accomplishing his designs. Our single endeavour should be to give ourselves to the work and to be faithful to him, and not to spoil his work by our shortcomings" (from a letter of Isaac Jogues to a Jesuit friend in France, September 12, 1646, a month before he died).
(AmericanCatholic.org)

 

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October 20:

St. Maria Bertilla Boscardin (1888-1922)
Maria Mertilla BoscardinIf anyone knew rejection, ridicule and disappointment, it was today’s saint. But such trials only brought Maria Bertilla Boscardin closer to God and more determined to serve him. Born in Italy in 1888, the young girl lived in fear of her father, a violent man prone to jealousy and drunkenness. Her schooling was limited so that she could spend more time helping at home and working in the fields. She showed few talents and was often the butt of jokes. In 1904 she joined the Sisters of St. Dorothy and was assigned to work in the kitchen, bakery and laundry. After some time Maria received nurses’ training and began working in a hospital with children suffering from diphtheria. There the young nun seemed to find her true vocation: nursing very ill and disturbed children. Later, when the hospital was taken over by the military in World War I, Sister Maria Bertilla fearlessly cared for patients amidst the threat of constant air raids and bombings. She died in 1922 after suffering for many years from a painful tumor. Some of the patients she had nursed many years before were present at her canonization in 1961.
(AmericanCatholic.org)

 

Saint Irene. She was the widow of Saint Castulus, who suffered martyrdom during the persecutions of the emperor Diocletian. Her claim to fame is that she healed the wounds of Saint Sebastian, who, shot with arrows, had been left for dead. Once healed, and despite Irene's exhortations to leave Rome, Sebastian continued his Christain teaching and was finally clubbed to death. There is a fine painting by the French artist Trophime Bigot (c.1579-c.1649?): 'St Sebastian healed by Irene', from the church of St Tommaso di Villanova, Castel Gandolfo, that can be now found in the XIII room of the Vatican Pinacoteca.

 

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October 21:

St. Hilarion (c. 291-371) Despite his best efforts to live in prayer and solitude, today’s saint found it difficult to achieve his deepest desire. People were naturally drawn to Hilarion as a source of spiritual wisdom and peace. He had reached such fame by the time of his death that his body had to be secretly removed so that a shrine would not be built in his honour. Instead, he was buried in his home village. St. Hilarion the Great, as he is sometimes called, was born in Palestine. After his conversion to Christianity he spent some time with St. Anthony of Egypt, another holy man drawn to solitude. Hilarion lived a life of hardship and simplicity in the desert, where he also experienced spiritual dryness that included temptations to despair. At the same time, miracles were attributed to him. As his fame grew, a small group of disciples wanted to follow Hilarion. He began a series of journeys to find a place where he could live away from the world. He finally settled on Cyprus, where he died in 371 at about age 80. Hilarion is celebrated as the founder of monasticism in Palestine. Much of his fame flows from the biography of him written by St. Jerome. (AmericanCatholic.org)

 

Saint Celine We have very few details about the life of this saint who is best known as the mother of St. Remigius, Bishop of Rheims at the time of the conversion of the people of Gaul under Clovis. St. Celine miraculously gave birth to St. Remigius when she was already at an advanced age. Immediately after giving birth, about 438, she also gave sight to the hermit Montanus who had three times foretold the birth of the saintly Bishop.  After a holy life filled with good works and assiduous prayer, this saintly woman attained the rewards of heaven about the year 458. She was buried near Lyons, probably at Cerny, where she had lived. Unfortunately her relics were destroyed during the French Revolution. (Catholic Online)

 

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October 22:

St. Peter of Alcantara (1499-1562)
Peter was a contemporary of well-known 16th-century Spanish saints, including Ignatius of Loyola and John of the Cross. He served as confessor to St. Teresa of Avila. Church reform was a major issue in Peter’s day, and he directed most
Peter Of Alcantaraof his energies toward that end. His death came one year before the Council of Trent ended. Born into a noble family (his father was the governor of Alcantara in Spain), Peter studied law at Salamanca University and, at 16, joined the so-called Observant Franciscans (also known as the discalced, or barefoot, friars). While he practised many penances, he also demonstrated abilities which were soon recognized. He was named the superior of a new house even before his ordination as a priest; at the age of 39, he was elected provincial; he was a very successful preacher. Still, he was not above washing dishes and cutting wood for the friars. He did not seek attention; indeed, he preferred solitude. Peter’s penitential side was evident when it came to food and clothing. It is said that he slept only 90 minutes each night. While others talked about Church reform, Peter’s reform began with himself. His patience was so great that a proverb arose: "To bear such an insult one must have the patience of Peter of Alcantara." In 1554, Peter, having received permission, formed a group of Franciscans who followed the Rule of St. Francis with even greater rigor. These friars were known as Alcantarines. Some of the Spanish friars who came to North and South America in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries were members of this group. At the end of the 19th century, the Alcantarines were joined with other Observant friars to form the Order of Friars Minor. As spiritual director to St. Teresa, Peter encouraged her in promoting the Carmelite reform. His preaching brought many people to religious life, especially to the Secular Franciscan Order, the friars and the Poor Clares. He was canonized in 1669.
     "I do not praise poverty for poverty's sake; I praise only that poverty which we patiently endure for the love of our crucified Redeemer and I consider this far more desirable than the poverty we undertake for the sake of poverty itself; for if I thought or believed otherwise, I would not seem to be firmly grounded in faith" (Letter of Peter to Teresa of Avila).
(AmericanCatholic.org)

 

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October 23:

St. John of Capistrano (1386-1456)
     It has been said the Christian saints are the world’s greatest optimists. Not blind to the existence and consequences of evil, they base their confidence on the power of Christ’s redemption. The power of conversion through Christ extends not only to sinful people but also to calamitous events. Imagine being born in the fourteenth century.St John Of Capistrano One-third of the population and nearly 40 percent of the clergy were wiped out by the bubonic plague. The Western Schism split the Church with two or three claimants to the Holy See at one time. England and France were at war. The city-states of Italy were constantly in conflict. No wonder that gloom dominated the spirit of the culture and the times. John Capistrano was born in 1386. His education was thorough. His talents and success were great. When he was 26 he was made governor of Perugia. Imprisoned after a battle against the Malatestas, he resolved to change his way of life completely. At the age of 30 he entered the Franciscan novitiate and was ordained a priest four years later. His preaching attracted great throngs at a time of religious apathy and confusion. He and 12 Franciscan brethren were received in the countries of central Europe as angels of God. They were instrumental in reviving a dying faith and devotion. The Franciscan Order itself was in turmoil over the interpretation and observance of the Rule of St. Francis. Through John’s tireless efforts and his expertise in law, the heretical Fraticelli were suppressed and the "Spirituals" were freed from interference in their stricter observance. He helped bring about a reunion with the Greek and Armenian Churches, unfortunately only a brief arrangement. When the Turks captured Constantinople in 1453, he was commissioned to preach a crusade for the defence of Europe. Gaining little response in Bavaria and Austria, he decided to concentrate his efforts in Hungary. He led the army to Belgrade. Under the great General John Junyadi, they gained an overwhelming victory, and the siege of Belgrade was lifted. Worn out by his superhuman efforts, Capistrano was an easy prey to the infection bred by the refuse of battle. He died October 23, 1456.
      John Hofer, a biographer of John Capistrano, recalls a Brussels organization named after the saint. Seeking to solve life problems in a fully Christian spirit, its motto was: "Initiative, Organization, Activity." These three words characterized John's life. He was not one to sit around, ever. His deep Christian optimism drove him to battle problems at all levels with the confidence engendered by a deep faith in Christ. On the saint's tomb in the Austrian town of Villach, the governor had this message inscribed: "This tomb holds John, by birth of Capistrano, a man worthy of all praise, defender and promoter of the faith, guardian of the Church, zealous protector of his Order, an ornament to all the world, lover of truth and religious justice, mirror of life, surest guide in doctrine; praised by countless tongues, he reigns blessed in heaven." That is a fitting epitaph for a real and successful optimist.
(AmericanCatholic.org)

 

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October 24:

St. Anthony Claret (1807-1870) (Picture)
     The "spiritual father of Cuba" was a missionary, religious founder, social reformer, queen’s chaplain, writer and publisher, archbishop and refugee. He was a Spaniard whose work took him to the Canary Islands, Cuba, Madrid, Paris and to the First Vatican St Anthony Mary ClaretCouncil. In his spare time as weaver and designer in the textile mills of Barcelona, he learned Latin and printing: the future priest and publisher was preparing. Ordained at 28, he was prevented by ill health from entering religious life as a Carthusian or as a Jesuit, but went on to become one of Spain’s most popular preachers. He spent 10 years giving popular missions and retreats, always placing great emphasis on the Eucharist and devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Her rosary, it was said, was never out of his hand. At 42, beginning with five young priests, he founded a religious institute of missionaries, known today as the Claretians. He was appointed to head the much-neglected archdiocese of Santiago in Cuba. He began its reform by almost ceaseless preaching and hearing of confessions, and suffered bitter opposition mainly for stamping out concubinage and giving instruction to black slaves. A hired assassin (whose release from prison Anthony had obtained) slashed open his face and wrist. Anthony succeeded in getting the would-be assassin’s death sentence commuted to a prison term. His solution for the misery of Cubans was family-owned farms producing a variety of foods for the family’s own needs and for the market. This invited the enmity of the vested interests who wanted everyone to work on a single cash crop — sugar. Besides all his religious writings are two books he wrote in Cuba: Reflections on Agriculture and Country Delights. He was called back to Spain for a job he did not relish — being chaplain for the queen. He went on three conditions: He would reside away from the palace, he would come only to hear the queen’s confession and instruct the children and he would be exempt from court functions. In the revolution of 1868, he fled with the queen’s party to Paris, where he preached to the Spanish colony. All his life Anthony was interested in the Catholic press. He founded the Religious Publishing House, a major Catholic publishing venture in Spain, and wrote or published 200 books and pamphlets. At Vatican I, where he was a staunch defender of the doctrine of infallibility, he won the admiration of his fellow bishops. Cardinal Gibbons of Baltimore remarked of him, "There goes a true saint." He died in exile near the border of Spain at the age of 63.
     Jesus foretold that those who are truly his representatives would suffer the same persecution as he did. Besides 14 attempts on his life, Anthony had to undergo such a barrage of the ugliest slander that the very name Claret became a byword for humiliation and misfortune. The powers of evil do not easily give up their prey. No one needs to go looking for persecution. All we need to do is be sure we suffer because of our genuine faith in Christ, not for our own whims and imprudences.
     Queen Isabella II once said to Anthony, "No one tells me things as clearly and frankly as you do." Later she told her chaplain, "Everybody is always asking me for favours, but you never do. Isn't there something you would like for yourself?" He replied, "Yes, that you let me resign." The queen made no more offers.
(AmericanCatholic.org)

 

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October 25:

Blessed Antônio de Sant’Anna Galvão (1739-1822)
     God’s plan in a person’s life often takes unexpected turns which become life-giving through cooperation with God’s grace. Born in Guarantingueta near São Paulo (Brazil), Antônio attended the Jesuit seminary in Saint Antonio Of St Anne GalvaoBelem but later decided to become a Franciscan friar. Invested in 1760, he made final profession the following year and was ordained in 1762. In São Paulo, he served as preacher, confessor and porter. Within a few years he was appointed confessor to the Recollects of St. Teresa, a group of nuns in that city. He and Sister Helena Maria of the Holy Spirit founded a new community of sisters under the patronage of Our Lady of the Conception of Divine Providence. Sister Helena Maria’s premature death the next year left Father Antônio responsible for the new congregation, especially for building a convent and church adequate for their growing numbers. He served as novice master for the friars in Macacu and as guardian of St. Francis Friary in São Paulo. He founded St. Clare Friary in Sorocaba. With the permission of his provincial and the bishop, he spent his last days at the "Recolhimento de Nossa Senhora da Luz," the convent of the sisters’ congregation he had helped establish. He was beatified in Rome on October 25, 1998.
    During the beatification homily, Pope John Paul II quoted from the Second Letter to Timothy (4:17), "The Lord stood by me and gave me strength to proclaim the word fully," and then said that Antônio "fulfilled his religious consecration by dedicating himself with love and devotion to the afflicted, the suffering and the slaves of his era in Brazil." The pope continued, "His authentically Franciscan faith, evangelically lived and apostolically spent in serving his neighbour, will be an encouragement to imitate this ‘man of peace and charity.’"
(AmericanCatholic.org)

 

Saint Gaudentius Born at Brescia, Italy and died 410 of natural causes. He studied under Saint Philastrius, Bishop of Brescia. Preached throughout Italy and in the East, respected for his life and oratory wherever he went. When Philastrius died near the end of the 4th century, the people of Brescia elected Gaudentius as bishop. Consecrated by Saint Ambrose in 387. Wrote many pastoral letters, and ten of his sermons have come down to us. They show his desire to educate his listeners, and present them with good examples for living. He left his diocese in 405 to join a delegation sent by Pope Innocent I to defend Saint John Chrysostom from charges brought by a heretic. The group was forced by John's enemies to return to Italy. Their ship sank near Lampsacus, but they finally safely reached home. Though the delegation did not achieve its mission, Saint John sent a letter of thanks to Saint Gaudentius.

 

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October 26:

Blessed Contardo Ferrini (1859-1902)
   Contardo Ferrini was the son of a teacher who went on to become a learned man himself, one acquainted with some dozen languages. Blessed Contardo FerriniToday he is known as the patron of universities. Born in Milan, he received a doctorate in law in Italy and then earned a scholarship that enabled him to study Roman-Byzantine law in Berlin. As a renowned legal expert, he taught in various schools of higher education until he joined the faculty of the University of Pavia, where he was considered an outstanding authority on Roman law. Contardo was learned about the faith he lived and loved. "Our life," he said, "must reach out toward the Infinite, and from that source we must draw whatever we can expect of merit and dignity." As a scholar he studied the ancient biblical languages and read the Scriptures in them. His speeches and papers show his understanding of the relationship of faith and science. He attended daily Mass and became a lay Franciscan, faithfully observing the Third Order rule of life. He also served through membership in the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. His death in 1902 at the age of 43 occasioned letters from his fellow professors that praised him as a saint; the people of Suna where he lived insisted that he be declared a saint. Pope Pius XII beatified Contardo in 1947.
   Thanks to people like Contardo, our Church long ago laid to rest the idea that science and faith are incompatible. We thank God for the many ways science has made our lives better. All that remains to us is to help ensure that the rest of the world, especially impoverished nations, gets to enjoy the fruits of scientific advance.
(AmericanCatholic.org)

 

St. Demetrius    Bishop of Alexandria from 188 to 231. Julius Africanus, who visited Alexandria in the time of Demetrius, places his accession as eleventh bishop after St. Mark in the tenth year of Commodus (tenth of Severus, Eus. His. Eccl., VI, ii, is a slip). A legendary history of him is given in the Coptic "Synaxaria", in an Abyssinian poem cited by the Bollandists, and in the "Chronicon Orientale" of Abraham Ecchellensis the Maronite. Three of their statements, however, may have some truth: one that he died at the age of 105 (born, therefore, in 126); another, found also in the Melchite Patriarch Eutychius [Sa'id Ibn Batrik, (d. about 940), Migne, P.G., CXI, 999], that he wrote about the calculation of Easter to Victor of Rome, Maximus (i.e. Maximinus) of Antioch and Gabius or Agapius (?) of Jerusalem (cf. Eus., H.E., V, xxv). Eutychius relates that from Mark to Demetrius there was but one see in Egypt, that Demetrius was the first to establish three other bishoprics, and that his successor Heraclas made twenty more.
                 At all events Demetrius is the first Alexandrian bishop of whom anything is known. St. Jerome has it that he sent Pantænus on a mission to India, but it is likely that Clement had succeeded Pantænus as the head of the famous Catechetical School before the accession of Demetrius. When Clement retired (c. 203-4), Demetrius appointed the young Origen, who was in his eighteenth year, in Clement's place. Demetrius encouraged Origen when blamed for his too literal execution of an allegorical counsel of our Lord, and is said to have shown him great favour. He sent Origen to the governor of Arabia, who had requested his presence in letters to the prefect of Egypt as well as to the bishop. In 215-16 Origen was obliged to take refuge in Caesarea from the cruelty of Caracalla. There he preached at the request of the bishops present. Demetrius wrote to him complaining that this was unheard of presumption in a layman. Alexander of Jerusalem and Theoctistus of Caesarea wrote to defend the invitation they had given, mentioning precedents; but Demetrius recalled Origen. In 230 Demetrius gave Origen a recommendation to take with him on his journey to Athens. But Origen was ordained priest at Caesarea without leave, and Demetrius with a synod of some bishops and a few priests condemned him to banishment, then from another synod sent a formal condemnation of him to all the churches. It is impossible to doubt that heresy, and not merely unauthorized ordination, must have been alleged by Demetrius for such a course. Rome accepted the decision, but Palestine, Phoenicia, Arabia, Achaia rejected it, and Origen retired to Caesarea, whence he sent forth letters in his own defence, and attacked Demetrius. The latter placed at the head of the Catechetical School the first pupil of Origen, Heraclas, who had long been his assistant. But the bishop died very soon, and Heraclas succeeding him, Origen returned to Alexandria.  (Catholic Encyclopedia)

 

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October 27:

Blessed Bartholomew of Vicenza (c. 1200-1271)
Dominicans honour one of their own today, Blessed Bartholomew of Vicenza. This was a man who used his skills as a preacher to challenge the heresies of his day. Bartholomew was born in Vicenza around 1200. At 20 he entered the Dominicans. Following his ordination he served in various leadership positions. As a young priest he founded a military order whose purpose was to keep civil peace in towns throughout Italy. In 1248, Bartholomew was appointed a bishop. For most men, such an appointment is an honour and a tribute to their holiness and their demonstrated leadership skills. But for Bartholomew, it was a form of exile that had been urged by an antipapal group that was only too happy to see him leave for Cyprus. Not many years later, however, Bartholomew was transferred back to Vicenza. Despite the antipapal feelings that were still evident, he worked diligently — especially through his preaching — to rebuild his diocese and strengthen the people’s loyalty to Rome. During his years as bishop in Cyprus, Bartholomew befriended King Louis the Ninth of France, who is said to have given the holy bishop a relic of Christ’s Crown of Thorns. Bartholomew died in 1271. He was beatified in 1793.
(AmericanCatholic.org

 

St. Frumentius, (†383)  Bishop, Apostle of Ethiopia  Saint Frumentius was still a child when his uncle, a Christian philosopher of Tyre in Phoenicia, took him and his brother Edesius on a St Frumentiusvoyage to Ethiopia. In the course of their voyage the vessel anchored at a certain port, and the barbarians of that country slew with the sword all the crew and passengers, except the two children. Because of their youth and beauty they were taken to the king at Axuma, who, charmed with the wit and sprightliness of the two boys, took special care of their education, and later made Edesius his cup-bearer and Frumentius, who was a little older, his treasurer and secretary of state. The king, on his deathbed, thanked them for their services and in reward gave them their liberty. After his death the queen begged them to remain at court and assist her in the government of the state until the young prince came of age; this they did, using their influence to spread Christianity. When the young king reached his majority, Edesius desired to return to Tyre, and Frumentius accompanied him as far as Alexandria. There he begged Saint Athanasius, its Patriarch, to send a bishop to the country where they had spent many years; and the Patriarch, considering him the best possible candidate for this office, in the year 328 consecrated him bishop for the Ethiopians. Vested with this sacred character he gained great numbers to the Faith by his discourses and miracles, and the entire nation embraced Christianity with its young king, thus fulfilling a famous prophecy of Isaiah, uttered 800 years before Christ. (Isaiah 45:14) Saint Frumentius continued to feed and defend his flock until it pleased the Supreme Pastor to call him home and reward his fidelity and labours, in about the year 383.

 

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October 28:

Simon and Jude, Apostles
Sts Simon And Jude            Jude is so named by Luke and Acts. Matthew and Mark call him Thaddeus. He is not mentioned elsewhere in the Gospels, except, of course, where all the apostles are referred to. Scholars hold that he is not the author of the Letter of Jude. Actually, Jude had the same name as Judas Iscariot. Evidently because of the disgrace of that name, it was shortened to "Jude" in English. Simon is mentioned on all four lists of the apostles. On two of them he is called "the Zealot." The Zealots were a Jewish sect that represented an extreme of Jewish nationalism. For them, the messianic promise of the Old Testament meant that the Jews were to be a free and independent nation. God alone was their king, and any payment of taxes to the Romans — the very domination of the Romans — was a blasphemy against God. No doubt some of the Zealots were the spiritual heirs of the Maccabees, carrying on their ideals of religion and independence. But many were the counterparts of modern terrorists. They raided and killed, attacking both foreigners and "collaborating" Jews. They were chiefly responsible for the rebellion against Rome which ended in the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. 
            As in the case of all the apostles except for Peter, James and John, we are faced with men who are really unknown, and we are struck by the fact that their holiness is simply taken to be a gift of Christ. He chose some unlikely people: a former Zealot, a former (crooked) tax collector, an impetuous fisherman, two "sons of thunder" and a man named Judas Iscariot. It is a reminder that we cannot receive too often. Holiness does not depend on human merit, culture, personality, effort or achievement. It is entirely God's creation and gift. God needs no Zealots to bring about the kingdom by force. Jude, like all the saints, is the saint of the impossible: only God can create his divine life in human beings. And God wills to do so, for all of us.
           "Just as Christ was sent by the Father, so also he sent the apostles, filled with the Holy Spirit. This he did so that, by preaching the gospel to every creature (cf. Mark 16:15), they might proclaim that the Son of God, by his death and resurrection, had freed us from the power of Satan (cf. Acts 26:18) and from death, and brought us into the kingdom of his Father" (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy).
(AmericanCatholic.org)

 

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October 29:

St. Narcissus of Jerusalem (d. 215)
Life in second- and third-century Jerusalem couldn’t have been easy, but St. Narcissus managed to live well beyond 100. Some even speculate he lived to 160. Details of his life are sketchy, but there are many reports of his miracles. The miracle for which he is most remembered was turning water into oil for use in the church lamps on Holy Saturday when the deacons had forgotten to provide any. We do know that Narcissus became bishop of Jerusalem in the late second century. He was known for his holiness, but there are hints that many people found him harsh and rigid in his efforts to impose church discipline. One of his many detractors accused Narcissus of a serious crime at one point. Though the charges against him did not hold up, he used the occasion to retire from his role as bishop and live in solitude. His disappearance was so sudden and convincing that many people assumed he had actually died. Several successors were appointed during his years in isolation. Finally, Narcissus reappeared in Jerusalem and was persuaded to resume his duties. By then, he had reached an advanced age, so a younger bishop was brought in to assist him until his death.
(AmericanCatholic.org)

Saint Narcissus  Bishop of Jerusalem
                  St. Narcissus was born towards the close of the first century, and was almost fourscore years old when he was placed at the head of the church of Jerusalem, being the thirtieth bishop of that see. In 195, he and Theophilus, bishop of Caesarea in Palestine, presided in a council of the bishops of Palestine held at Caesarea, about the time of celebrating Easter; in which it was decreed that this feast is to be kept always on a Sunday, and not with the Jewish passover. Eusebius assures us, that the Christians of Jerusalem preserved in his time the remembrance of several miracles which God had wrought by this holy bishop; one of which he relates as follows. One year on Easter-eve the deacons were unprovided with oil for the lamps in the church, necessary at the solemn divine office that day. Narcissus ordered those who had care of the lamps to bring him some water from the neighbouring wells. This being done, he pronounced a devout prayer over the water; then bade them pour it into the lamps; which they did, and it was immediately converted into oil, to the great surprise of the faithful. Some of this miraculous oil was kept there as a memorial at the time when Eusebius wrote his history. The veneration of all good men for this holy bishop could not shelter him from the malice of the wicked. Three incorrigible sinners, fearing his inflexible severity in the observance of ecclesiastical discipline, laid to his charge a detestable crime, which Eusebius does not specify. They confirmed their atrocious calumny by dreadful oaths and imprecations; one wishing he might perish by fire, another, that he might be struck with a leprosy, and the third, that he might lose his sight, if what they alleged was not the truth. Notwithstanding these protestations, their accusation did not find credit; and, some time after, the divine vengeance pursued the calumniators. The first was burnt in his house, with his whole family, by an accidental fire in the night; the second was struck with a universal leprosy; and the third, terrified by these examples, confessed the conspiracy and slander, and by the abundance of tears which he continually shed for his sins, lost his sight before his death.    
           Narcissus, notwithstanding the slander had made no impression on the people to his disadvantage, could not stand the shock of the bold calumny, or rather made it an excuse for leaving Jerusalem, and spending some time in solitude, which had long been his wish. He spent several years undiscovered in his retreat, where he enjoyed all the happiness and advantage which a close conversation with God can bestow. That his church might not remain destitute of a pastor, the neighbouring bishops of the province, after some time, placed in it Pius, and after him Germanion, who, dying in a short time, was succeeded by Gordius. While this last held the see, Narcissus appeared again like one from the dead. The whole body of the faithful, transported at the recovery of their holy pastor, whose innocence had been most authentically vindicated, conjured him to reassume the administration of the diocese. He acquiesced; but afterwards, bending under the weight of extreme old age, made St. Alexander his coadjutor. This primitive example authorizes the practice of coadjutorships; which, nevertheless, are not allowable by the canons except in cases of the perpetual inability of a bishop through age, incurable infirmity, or other impediment as Marianus Victorius observes in his notes upon St. Jerome. St. Narcissus continued to serve his flock, and even other churches, by his assiduous prayers and his earnest exhortations to unity and concord, as St. Alexander testifies in his letter to the Arsinoites in Egypt, where he says that Narcisus was at that time about one hundred and sixteen years old. The Roman Martyrology honours his memory on the 29th of October.     The pastors of the primitive church, animated with the spirit of the apostles were faithful imitators of their heroic virtues, discovering the same fervent zeal. the same contempt of the world, the same love of Christ. If we truly respect the church as the immaculate spouse of our Lord, we will incessantly pray for its exaltation and increase, and beseech the Almighty to give it pastors according to his own heart, like those who appeared in the infancy of Christianity. And, that no obstacle on our part may prevent the happy effects of their zeal, we should study to regulate our conduct by the holy maxims which they inculcate, we should regard them as the ministers of Christ; we should listen to them with docility and attention; we should make their faith the rule of ours, and shut our ears against the language of profane novelty. O! that we could once more see a return of those happy days when the pastor and the people had but one heart and one soul; when there was no diversity in our belief; when the faithful seemed only to vie with each other in their submission to the church, and in their desire of sanctification.             (Catholic Online)

 

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October 30:

St. Alphonsus Rodriguez (c. 1533-1617)
    Tragedy and challenge beset today’s saint early in life, but Alphonsus Rodriguez found happiness and contentment through simple service and prayer. Born in Spain in 1533, Alphonsus inherited the family textile business at 23. Within the space of three years, his wife, daughter and mother died; meanwhile, business was poor. Alphonsus stepped back and reassessed his life. He sold the business and, with his young son, moved into his sisters’ home. There he learned the discipline of prayer and meditation. Years later, at the death of his son, Alphonsus, almost 40 by then, sought to join the Jesuits. He was not helped by his poor education. He applied twice before being admitted. For 45 years he served as doorkeeper at the Jesuits’ college in Majorca. When not at his post, he was almost always at prayer, though he often encountered difficulties and temptations. His holiness and prayerfulness attracted many to him, including St. Peter Claver, then a Jesuit seminarian. Alphonsus’s life as doorkeeper may have been humdrum, but he caught the attention of poet and fellow-Jesuit Gerard Manley Hopkins, who made him the subject of one of his poems. Alphonsus died in 1617. He is the patron saint of Majorca.
    We like to think that God rewards the good even in this life. But Alphonsus knew business losses, painful bereavement and periods when God seemed very distant. None of his suffering made him withdraw into a shell of self-pity or bitterness. Rather, he reached out to others who lived with pain, including enslaved blacks. Among the many notables at his funeral were the sick and poor people whose lives he had touched. May they find such a friend in us!
(AmericanCatholic.org)

 

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October 31:

St. Wolfgang of Regensburg (c. 924-994)
   Wolfgang was born in Swabia, Germany, and was educated at a school located at the abbey of Reichenau. There he encountered Henry, a young noble who went on to become Archbishop of Trier. Meanwhile, Wolfgang remained in close contact with the archbishop, teaching in his cathedral school and supporting his efforts to reform the clergy. At the death of the archbishop, Wolfgang chose to become a Benedictine monk and moved to an abbey in Einsiedeln, now part of Switzerland. Ordained a priest, he was appointed director of the monastery school there. Later he was sent to Hungary as a missionary, though his zeal and good will yielded limited results. Emperor Otto II appointed him Bishop of Regensburg (near Munich). He immediately initiated reform of the clergy and of religious life, preaching with vigour and effectiveness and always demonstrating special concern for the poor. He wore the habit of a monk and lived an austere life. The draw to monastic life never left him, including the desire for a life of solitude. At one point he left his diocese so that he could devote himself to prayer, but his responsibilities as bishop called him back. In 994 he became ill while on a journey; he died in Puppingen near Linz, Austria. His feast day is celebrated widely in much of central Europe. He was canonized in 1052.

 

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