Sunday, 25 June 2017

Saint Dominic Henares

Saint Dominic Henares lived between 1764 and 1838 and was born in Spain to a poor family. In 1790 he was ordained a priest in the Dominican Order. He was sent as a missionary to the Far East ten years after and went to Mexico the Philippines and then to North Vietnam. In 1804 he became a Bishop of Phunhay, Vietnam. However, the Vietnamese emperor prohibited Catholicism in 1841 and persecuted the Church where villages were sent to exile and priests tortured and then killed. People who assisted in catching priests were also rewarded. On June 25, 1848, Bishop Henares was arrested and beheaded in Nam Dinh. The soldiers and villagers who helped in his arrest received great compensation. The estimated amount of Catholic martyred in Vietnam between 15th and 20th centuries is between 130 000 to 300 000, which Saint Dominic Henares was one. Pope St. John Paul II canonised them in 1988. The collective memorial for 117 of the Vietnamese Martyrs is on November 24.
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Saturday, 24 June 2017

Immaculate Heart of Mary


The feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary follows the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.

The following is from Wikipedia:
The Immaculate Heart of Mary is a devotional name used to refer to the interior life of the Blessed Virgin Mary, her joys and sorrows, her virtues and hidden perfections, and, above all, her virginal love for God the Father, her maternal love for her son Jesus, and her compassionate love for all people.
The Eastern Catholic Churches occasionally utilize the image, devotion, and theology associated with the Immaculate Heart of Mary. However, this is a cause of some controversy, some seeing it as a form of liturgical latinisation. The Roman Catholic view is based on Mariology, as exemplified by Pope John Paul II's Apostolic Letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae.
Traditionally, the heart is depicted pierced with seven wounds or swords, in homage to the seven dolors of Mary. Also, roses or another type of flower may be wrapped around the heart.
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Nativity of Saint John the Baptist

Russian icon of the Nativity of John the Baptist
The 24th of June is the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist.

The following is from Butler's Lives of the Saints:
THE birth of St. John was foretold by an angel of the Lord to his father, Zachary, who was offering incense in the Temple. It was the office of St. John to prepare the way for Christ, and before he was born into the world he began to live for the Incarnate God. Even in the womb he knew the presence of Jesus and of Mary, and he leaped with joy at the glad coming of the son of man. In
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his youth he remained hidden, because He for Whom he waited was hidden also. But before Christ's public life began, a divine impulse led St. John into the desert; there, with locusts for his food and haircloth on his skin, in silence and in prayer, he chastened his own soul. Then, as crowds broke in upon his solitude, he warned them to flee from the wrath to come, and gave them the baptism of penance, while they confessed their sins. At last there stood in the crowd One Whom St. John did not know, till a voice within told him that it was his Lord. With the baptism of St. John, Christ began His penance for the sins of His people, and St. John saw the Holy Ghost descend in bodily form upon Him. Then the Saint's work was done. He had but to point his own disciples to the Lamb, he had but to decrease as Christ increased. He saw all men leave him and go after Christ. "I told you," he said, "that I am not the Christ. The friend of the Bridegroom rejoiceth because of the Bridegroom's voice. This my joy therefore is fulfilled." St. John had been cast into the fortress of Machærus by a worthless tyrant whose crimes be had rebuked, and he was to remain there till he was beheaded, at the will of a girl who danced before this wretched king. In this time of despair, if St. John could have known despair, some of his old disciples visited him. St. John did not speak to them of himself, but he sent them to Christ, that they might see the proofs of His mission. Then the Eternal Truth pronounced the panegyric of the Saint who had lived and breathed for Him alone: "Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist"
Reflection.—St. John was great before God because he forgot himself and lived for Jesus Christ, Who is the source of all greatness. Remember that you are nothing; your own will and your own desires can only lead to misery and sin. Therefore sacrifice every day some one of your natural inclinations to the Sacred Heart of Our Lord, and learn little by little to lose yourself in Him.



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Friday, 23 June 2017

Feast of the Sacred Heart


The 23rd of June 2017 is the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

The following is from Wikipedia:

The Feast of the Sacred Heart (properly the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Latin: Sollemnitas Sacratissimi Cordis Iesu) is a solemnity in the liturgical calendar of the Roman Catholic Church. It falls 19 days after Pentecost, on a Friday. The earliest possible date is 29 May, as in 1818 and 2285. The latest possible date is 2 July, as in 1943 and 2038. The devotion to the Sacred Heart is one of the most widely practiced and well-known Roman Catholic devotions, taking Jesus Christ's physical heart as the representation of his divine love for humanity.
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Saint Joseph Cafasso




The 23rd of June is the feast day of Saint Joseph Cafasso. He is the patron saint of Italian prisons, prison chaplains, prisoners and those condemned to death.

Saint Joseph Cafasso lived between 1811 to 1860 and was born in Castelnuovo d'Asti, Italy to a family of peasants. He had a physical deformity of the spine which meant he was stunted and crippled. He entered the seminary in Turin where he met Saint John Bosco. Saint Joseph taught Saint John Bosco and encouraged his mission to minister to the town's street youth. Saint Joseph became a professor of moral theology and was a famed preacher and confessor. He did his job well and was known as the "Priest's Priest." Entire days were spent preaching in prisons, hearing the prisoner's confessions and he advocated for improvement to the poor conditions of the prisons. He then earned the name of "Priest of the Gallows."

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Thursday, 22 June 2017

Saint Thomas More

Sir Thomas More,
by Hans Holbein the Younger, 1527

The 22nd of June is the feast day of Saint Thomas More. He is the patron saint of statesman, politicians, lawyers, civil servants, and large families.

Saint Thomas More lived between 1478 and 1535 and was born in London to a lawyer and a judge. Educated in the finest schools, he became an English statesman. He served in many positions in public administration, including in the King'sCouncill and as a diplomat. A Catholic, husband and a father, he was known for his moral integrity, humour and learning. He became a Lord Chancellor, as he was promoted by King Henry VIII. However, he resigned from his high post when the king divorced from his wife and declared himself sovereign of the Church in England. Saint Thomas More was then imprisoned in the Tower of London by King Henry, after he refused to to approve of the king's decision to defy the Catholic Church. More testified that the Church had autonomy over the state, that the Pope is the head of the Church and that marriage was indissoluble in the eyes of God. He was condemned and beheaded, a martyr for the faith.



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Saint Aloysius Gonzaga


The 21st of June is the feast day of Saint Aloysius Gonzaga. He is the patron saint of young students, Christian youth, Jesuit scholastics, the blind, AIDS patients, AIDS care-givers.

The following is from Butler's Lives of the Saints:
ALOYSIUS, the eldest son of Ferdinand Gonzaga, Marquis of Castiglione, was born on the 9th of March, 1568. The first words he pronounced were the holy names of Jesus and Mary. When he was nine years of age he made a vow of perpetual virginity, and by a special grace was ever exempted from temptations against purity. He received his first Communion at the hands of St. Charles Borromeo. At an early age he resolved to leave the world, and in a vision was directed by our blessed Lady to join the Society of Jesus. The Saint's mother rejoiced on learning his determination to become a religious, but his father for three years refused his consent. At length St. Aloysius obtained permission to enter the novitiate on the 25th of November, 1585. He took his vows after two years, and went through the ordinary course of philosophy and theology. He was wont to say he doubted whether without penance grace would continue to make head against I nature, which, when not afflicted and chastised, tends gradually to relapse into its old state, losing the habit of suffering
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acquired by the labor of years. "I am a crooked piece of iron," he said, "and am come into religion to be made straight by the hammer of mortification and penance." During his last year of theology a malignant fever broke out in Rome; the Saint offered himself for the service of the sick, and he was accepted for the dangerous duty. Several of the brothers caught the fever, and Aloysius was of the number. He was brought to the point of death, but recovered, only to fall, however, into slow fever, which carried him off after three months. He died, repeating the Holy Name, a little after midnight between the 20th and 21st of June, on the octave-day of Corpus Christi, being Prather more than twenty-three years of age.
Reflection.—Cardinal Bellarmine, the Saint's confessor, testified that he had never mortally offended God. Yet he chastised his body rigorously, rose at night to pray, and shed many tears for his sins. Pray that, not having followed his innocence, you may yet imitate his penance.


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Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Saint Pope Silverius


The 20th of June is the feast day of Saint Pope Silverius.

The following is from Butler's Lives of the Saints:
SILVERIUS was son of Pope Hermisdas, who had been married before he entered the ministry. Upon the death of St. Agapetas, after a vacancy of forty-seven days, Silverius, then subdeacon, was chosen Pope, and ordained on the 8th of June, 536.
Theodora, the empress of Justinian, resolved to promote the sect of the Acephali. She endeavored to win Silverius over to her interest, and wrote to him, ordering that he should acknowledge Anthimus lawful bishop, or repair in person to Constantinople and reëxamine his cause on the spot. Without the least hesitation or delay, Silverius returned her a short answer, by which he peremptorily gave her to understand that he neither could nor would obey her unjust demands and betray the cause of the Catholic faith. The empress, finding that she could expect nothing from him, resolved to have him deposed. Vigilius, archdeacon of the Roman Church, a man of address, was then at Constantinople. To him the empress made her application, and finding him taken by the bait of ambition, promised to make him Pope, and to bestow on him seven hundred pieces of gold, provided he would engage himself to condemn the Council of Chalcedon and receive to Communion the three deposed Eutychian patriarchs, Anthimus of Constantinople, Severus of Antioch, and Theodosius of Alexandria. The unhappy Vigilius having assented to these conditions, the empress sent him to Rome, charged with a letter to the general Belisarius, commanding him to drive out Silverius and to contrive the election of Vigilius to the pontificate. Vigilius urged the general to execute the project. The more easily to carry out this project the Pope was accused of corresponding with the enemy and a letter was produced which was pretended to have been written
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by him to the king of the Goths, inviting him into the city, and promising to open the gates to him. Silverius was banished to Patara in Lycia. The bishop of that city received the illustrious exile with all possible marks of honor and respect; and thinking himself bound to undertake his defence, repaired to Constantinople, and spoke boldly to the emperor, terrifying him with the threats of the divine judgments for the expulsion of a bishop of so great a see, telling him, "There are many kings in the world, but there is only one Pope over the Church of the whole world." It must be observed that these were the words of an Oriental bishop, and a clear confession of the supremacy of the Roman See. Justinian appeared startled at the atrocity of the proceedings, and gave orders that Silverius should be sent back to Rome, but the enemies of the Pope contrived to prevent it, and he was intercepted on his road toward Rome and carried to a desert island, where he died on the 20th of June, 538.'

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Saints Gervasius and Protasius

"The martyrdom of Saints Gervase and Protase," from a 14th-century manuscript.

The 19th of June is the feast day of Saints Gervasius and Protasius. They are the patron saints of Milan; Breisach; haymakers; invoked for the discovery of thieves.

The following is from Catholic Encyclopedia:
Martyrs of Milan, probably in the second century, patrons of the city of Milan and of haymakers; invoked for the discovery of thieves. Feast, in the Latin Church, 19 June, the day of the translation of the relics; in the Greek Church, 14 Oct., the supposed day of their death. Emblems: scourge, club, sword.
The Acts (Acta SS., June, IV, 680 and 29) were perhaps compiled from a letter (Ep. liii) to the bishops of Italy, falsely ascribed to St. Ambrose. They are written in a very simple style, but it has been found impossible to establish their age. According to these, Gervasius and Protasius were twins, children of martyrs. Their father Vitalis, a man of consular dignity, suffered martyrdom at Ravenna under Nero (?). The mother Valeria died for her faith at Milan. The sons are said to have been scourged and then beheaded, during the reign of Nero, under the presidency of Anubinus or Astasius, and while Cajus was Bishop of Milan. Some authors place the martyrdom under Diocletian, while others object to this time, because they fail to understand how, in that case, the place of burial, and even the names, could be forgotten by the time of St. Ambrose, as is stated. De Rossi places their death before Diocletian. It probably occurred during the reign of Antoninus (161-168).
St. Ambrose, in 386, had built a magnificent basilica at Milan. Asked by the people to consecrate it in the same solemn manner as was done in Rome, he promised to do so if he could obtain the necessary relics. In a dream he was shown the place in which such could be found. He ordered excavations to be made in the cemetery church of Sts. Nabor and Felix, outside the city, and there found the relics of Sts. Gervasius and Protasius. He had them removed to the church of St. Fausta, and on the next day into the basilica, which later received the name San Ambrogio Maggiore. Many miracles are related to have occurred, and all greatly rejoiced at the signal favour from heaven, given at the time of the great struggle between St. Ambrose and the Arian Empress Justina. Of the vision, the subsequent discovery of the relics and the accompanying miracles, St. Ambrose wrote to his sister Marcellina. St. Augustine, not yet baptized, witnessed the facts, and relates them in his "Confessions", IX, vii; in "De civ. Dei", XXII, viii; and in "Serm. 286 in natal. Ss. Mm. Gerv. et Prot.", they are also attested by St. Paulinus of Nola, in his life of St. Ambrose. The latter died 397 and, as he had wished, his body was, on Easter Sunday, deposited in his basilica by the side of these martyrs. In 835, Angilbert II, a successor in the See of Milan, placed the relics of the three saints in a porphyry sarcophagus, and here they were again found, January, 1864 (Civiltà Cattolica, 1864, IX, 608, and XII, 345).
A tradition claims that after the destruction of Milan by Frederick Barbarossa, his chancellor Rainald von Dassel had taken the relics from Milan, and deposited them at Altbreisach in Germany, whence some came to Soissons; the claim is rejected by Milan (Biraghi, "I tre sepoleri", etc. Milan, 1864). Immediately after the finding of the relics by St. Ambrose, the cult of Sts. Gervasius and Protasius was spread in Italy, and churches were built in their honour at Pavia, Nola, etc. In Gaul we find churches dedicated to them, about 400, at Mans, Rouen, and Soissons. At the Louvre there is now a famous picture of the saints by Lesueur (d. 1655), which was formerly in their church at Paris. According to the "Liber Pontificalis", Innocent I (402-417) dedicated a church to them at Rome. Later, the name of St. Vitalis, their father, was added to the title. Very early their names were inserted in the Litany of the Saints. The whole history of these saints has received a great deal of adverse criticism. Some deny their existence, and make them a Christianized version of the Dioscuri of the Romans. Thus Harris, "The Dioscuri in Christian Legend", but see "Analecta Boll." (1904), XXIII, 427.
STOKES in Dict. Christ. Biog., s.v.; KRIEG in Kirchenlex., s.v.; BUTLER, Lives of the Saints (19 June).
FRANCIS MERSHMAN


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Sunday, 18 June 2017

Saints Mark and Marcellian

Sts Marcus and Marcellianus (to the right) with Saint Sebastian. From a medieval French manuscript.
The 18th of June is the feast day of Saints Mark and Marcellian.

The following is from Butler's Lives of the Saints:
MARCUS AND MARCELLIANUS were twin brothers of an illustrious family in Rome, who had been converted to the Faith in their youth and were honorably married. Diocletian ascending the imperial throne in 284, the heathens raised persecutions. These martyrs were thrown into prison, and condemned to be beheaded. Their friends obtained a respite of the execution for thirty days, that they might prevail on them to worship the false gods, Tranquillinus and Martia, their afflicted heathen parents, in company with their sons’ own wives and their little babes, endeavored to move them by the most tender entreaties and tears. St. Sebastian, an officer of the emperor's household, coming to Rome soon after their commitment, daily visited and encouraged them. The issue of the conferences was the happy conversion of the father, mother, and wives, also of Nicostratus, the public register, and soon after of Chromatius, the judge, who set the Saints at liberty, and, abdicating the magistracy, retired into the country. Marcus and Marcellianus were hid by a Christian officer of the household in his apartments in the palace; but they were betrayed by an apostate, and retaken. Fabian, who had succeeded Chromatius, condemned them to be bound to two pillars, with their feet nailed to the same. In this posture they remained a day and a night, and on the following day were stabbed with lances.
Reflection.—We know not what we are till we have been tried. It costs nothing to say we love God above all things, and to show the courage of martyrs at a distance from the danger; but that love is sincere which has stood the proof. "Persecution shows who is a hireling, and who a true pastor," says St. Bernard.


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