Friday, 28 April 2017

Saint Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort


The 28th of April is the feast day of Saint Louis de Montfort.

The following is from Catholic Encyclopedia:

Missionary in Brittany and Vendee; born at Montfort, 31 January, 1673; died at Saint Laurent sur Sevre, 28 April, 1716.
From his childhood, he was indefatigably devoted to prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, and, when from his twelfth year he was sent as a day pupil to the Jesuit college at Rennes, he never failed to visit the church before and after class. He joined a society of young men who during holidays ministered to the poor and to the incurables in the hospitals, and read for them edifying books during their meals. At the age of nineteen, he went on foot to Paris to follow the course in theology, gave away on the journey all his money to the poor, exchanged clothing with them, and made a vow to subsist thenceforth only on alms. He was ordained priest at the age of twenty-seven, and for some time fulfilled the duties of chaplain in a hospital. In 1705, when he was thirty-two, he found his true vocation, and thereafter devoted himself to preaching to the people. During seventeen years he preached the Gospel in countless towns and villages. As an orator he was highly gifted, his language being simple but replete with fire and divine love. His whole life was conspicuous for virtues difficult for modern degeneracy to comprehend: constant prayer, love of the poor, poverty carried to an unheard-of degree, joy in humiliations and persecutions.
The following two instances will illustrate his success. He once gave a mission for the soldiers of the garrison at La Rochelle, and moved by his words, the men wept, and cried aloud for the forgiveness of their sins. In the procession which terminated this mission, an officer walked at the head, barefooted and carrying a banner, and the soldiers, also barefooted, followed, carrying in one hand a crucifix, in the other a rosary, and singing hymns.
Grignion's extraordinary influence was especially apparent in the matter of the calvary at Pontchateau. When he announced his determination of building a monumental calvary on a neighbouring hill, the idea was enthusiastically received by the inhabitants. For fifteen months between two and four hundred peasants worked daily without recompense, and the task had just been completed, when the king commanded that the whole should be demolished, and the land restored to its former condition. The Jansenists had convinced the Governor of Brittany that a fortress capable of affording aid to persons in revolt was being erected, and for several months five hundred peasants, watched by a company of soldiers, were compelled to carry out the work of destruction. Father de Montfort was not disturbed on receiving this humiliating news, exclaiming only: "Blessed be God!"
This was by no means the only trial to which Grignion was subjected. It often happened that the Jansenists, irritated by his success, secure by their intrigues his banishment form the district, in which he was giving a mission. At La Rochelle some wretches put poison into his cup of broth, and, despite the antidote which he swallowed, his health was always impaired. On another occasion, some malefactors hid in a narrow street with the intention of assassinating him, but he had a presentiment of danger and escaped by going by another street. A year before his death, Father de Montfort founded two congregations — the Sisters of Wisdom, who were to devote themselves to hospital work and the instruction of poor girls, and the Company of Mary, composed of missionaries. He had long cherished these projects but circumstances had hindered their execution, and, humanly speaking, the work appeared to have failed at his death, since these congregations numbered respectively only four sisters and two priests with a few brothers. But the blessed founder, who had on several occasions shown himself possessed of the gift of prophecy, knew that the tree would grow. At the beginning of the twentieth century the Sisters of Wisdom numbered five thousand, and were spread throughout every country; they possessed forty-four houses, and gave instruction to 60,000 children. After the death of its founder, the Company of Mary was governed for 39 years by Father Mulot. He had at first refused to join de Montfort in his missionary labours. "I cannot become a missionary", said he, "for I have been paralysed on one side for years; I have an affection of the lungs which scarcely allows me to breathe, and am indeed so ill that I have no rest day or night." But the holy man, impelled by a sudden inspiration, replied, "As soon as you begin to preach you will be completely cured." And the event justified the prediction. Grignion de Montfort was beatified by Leo XIII in 1888.
[Note: Louis de Montfort was canonized by Pius XII in 1947.]
CRUIKSHANK, Blessed Grignion, etc. (London, 1892); JAC, Vie, etc. (Paris, 1903); LAVEILLE, Vic, etc. (Paris, 1907).
AUSTIN POULAIN
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Thursday, 27 April 2017

Saint Zita of Lucca

Miracle of Saint Zita by Bernardo Strozzi
The 27th of April is the feast day of Saint Zita of Lucca. She is the patron saint of domestic servants, homemakers, lost keys, people ridiculed for their piety, rape victims, single laywomen, waiters, waitresses, Italian City of Lucca.

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

ZITA lived for forty-eight years in the service of Fatinelli, a citizen of Lucca. During this time she rose each morning, while the household were asleep, to hear Mass, and then toiled incessantly till night came, doing the work of others as well as her own. Once Zita, absorbed in. prayer, remained in church past the usual hour of her bread-making. She hastened home, reproaching herself with neglect of duty, and found the bread made and ready for the oven. She never doubted that her mistress or one of her servants had kneaded it, and going to them, thanked them; but they were astonished. No human being had made the bread. A delicious perfume rose from it, for angels had made it during her prayer. For years her master and mistress treated her as a mere drudge, while her fellow-servants, resenting her diligence as a reproach to themselves, insulted and struck her. Zita united these sufferings with those of Christ her Lord, never changing the sweet tone of her voice, nor forgetting her gentle and quiet ways. At length Fatinelli, seeing the success which attended her undertakings, gave her charge of his children and of the household. She dreaded this dignity more than the worst humiliation, but scrupulously fulfilled her trust. By her holy economy her master's goods were multiplied, while the poor were fed at his door. Gradually her unfailing patience conquered the jealousy of her fellow-servants, and she became their advocate with their hot-tempered master, who dared not give way to his anger before Zita. In the end her prayer and toil sanctified the whole house, and drew down upon it the benediction of Heaven. She died in 1272, and in the moment of her death a bright star appearing above her attic showed that she had gained eternal rest.
Reflection.—"What must I do to be saved?" said a certain one in fear of damnation. "Work and pray, pray and work," a voice replied, "and thou shalt be saved." The whole life of St. Zita teaches us this truth.


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Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Saints Cletus and Marcellinus

The 26th of April is the feast day of Saints Cletus and Marcellinus.

The following is from Butler's Lives of the Saints:
ST. CLETUS was the third Bishop of Rome, and succeeded St. Linus, which circumstance alone shows his eminent virtue among the first disciples of St. Peter in the West. He sat twelve years, from 76 to 89. The canon of the Roman Mass, Bede, and other martyrologists, style him a martyr. He was buried near St. Linus, in the Vatican, and his relics still remain in that church.
St. Marcellinus succeeded St. Coins in the bishopric of Rome in 296, about the time that Diocletian set himself up for a deity, and impiously claimed divine honors. In those stormy times of persecution Marcellinus acquired great glory. He sat in St. Peter's chair eight years, three months, and twenty-five days, dying in 304, a year after the cruel persecution broke out, in which he gained much honor. He has been styled a martyr, though his blood was not shed in the cause of religion.
Reflection.—It is a fundamental maxim of the Christian morality, and a truth which Christ has established in the clearest terms and in innumerable passages of the Gospel, that the cross or sufferings and mortification are the road to eternal bliss. They, therefore, who lead not here a crucified and mortified life are unworthy ever to possess the unspeakable joys of His kingdom. Our Lord Himself, our model and our he-ad, walked in this path, and His great Apostle puts us in mind that He entered into bliss only by His blood and by the cross.
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Saint Mark the Evangelist

Miniature of Saint Mark from the Grandes Heures of Anne of Brittany (1503–8) by Jean Bourdichon


The 25th of April was the feast day of Saint Mark the Evangelist. He is the patron saint of  Barristers, Venice, Egypt, Mainar.

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

ST. MARK was converted to the Faith by the Prince of the Apostles, whom he afterwards accompanied to Rome, acting there as his secretary or interpreter. When St. Peter was writing his first epistle to the churches of Asia, he affectionately joins with his own salutation that of his faithful companion, whom he calls "my son Mark." The Roman people entreated St. Mark to put in writing for them the substance of St. Peter's frequent discourses on Our Lord's life. This the Evangelist did under the eye and with the express sanction of the apostle, and every page of his brief but graphic gospel so bore the impress of St. Peter's character, that the Fathers used to name it "Peter's Gospel" St. Mark was now sent to Egypt to found the Church of Alexandria. Here his disciples became the wonder of the world for their piety and asceticism, so that St. Jerome speaks of St. Mark as the father of the anchorites, who at a later time thronged the Egyptian deserts. Here, too, he set up the first Christian school, the fruitful mother of many illustrious doctors and bishops. After governing his see for many years, St. Mark was one day seized by the heathen, dragged by ropes over stones, and thrown into prison. On the morrow the torture was repeated, and having been consoled by a vision of angels and the voice of Jesus, St. Mark went to his reward.
It is to St. Mark that we owe the many slight touches which often give such vivid coloring to the Gospel scenes, and help us to picture to ourselves the very gestures and looks of our blessed Lord. It is he alone who notes that in the temptation Jesus was "with the beasts;" that He slept in the boat "on a pillow;" that He "embraced" the little children. He alone preserves for us the commanding words "Peace, be still!" by which the storm was quelled; or even the very sounds of His voice, the "Ephpheta" and "Talitha cumi," by which the dumb were made to speak and the dead to rise. So, too, the "looking round about with anger," and the "sighing deeply," long treasured in the memory of the penitent apostle, who was himself
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converted by his Saviour's look, are here recorded by his faithful interpreter.
Reflection.—Learn from St. Mark to keep the image of the Son of man ever before your mind, and to ponder every syllable which fell from His lips.
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Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Monday, 24 April 2017

Saint Fidelis of Sigmaringen

The 24th of April is the feast day of Saint Fidelis of Sigmaringen.

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

FIDELIS was born at Sigmaringen in 1577, of noble parents. In his youth he frequently approached the sacraments, visited the sick and the poor, and spent moreover many hours before the altar. For a time he followed the legal profession, and was remarkable for his advocacy of the poor and his respectful language towards his opponents. Finding it difficult to become both a rich lawyer and a good Christian, Fidelis entered the Capuchin. Order, and embraced a life of austerity and prayer. Hair shirts, iron-pointed girdles, and disciplines were penances too light for his fervor; and being filled with a desire of martyrdom, he rejoiced at being sent to Switzerland by the newly-founded Congregation of Propaganda, and braved every peril to rescue souls from the diabolical heresy of Calvin. When preaching at Sevis he was fired at by a Calvinist, but the fear of death could not deter him from proclaiming divine truth. After his sermon he was waylaid by a body of Protestants headed by a minister, who attacked him and tried to force him to embrace their so-called. reform. But he said, "I came to refute your errors, not to embrace them; I will never renounce Catholic doctrine, which is the truth of all ages, and I fear not death." On this they fell upon him with their poignards, and the first martyr of Propaganda went to receive his palm.
Reflection.—We delight in decorating the altars of God with flowers, lights, and jewels, and it is right to do so; but if we wish to offer to God gifts of higher value, let us, in imitation of St. Fidelis, save the souls who but for us would be lost; for so we shall offer Him, as it were, the jewels of paradise.
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Saint George

Portrait by Hans von Kulmbach (circa 1510).


 
The 23rd of April is the feast day of Saint George. He is the patron saint of of skin disease sufferers and syphilitic people. He is also the patron saint of many countries. See this page for all his patronages.
 
The following is from Butler's Lives of the Saints:
ST. GEORGE was born in Cappadocia, at the close of the third century, of Christian parents. In early youth he chose a soldier's life, and soon obtained the favor of Diocletian, who advanced him to the grade of tribune. When, however, the emperor began to persecute the Christians, George rebuked him at once sternly and openly for his cruelty, and threw up his commission. He was in consequence subjected to a lengthened series of torments, and finally beheaded. There was something so inspiriting in the defiant cheerfulness of the young soldier, that every Christian felt a personal share in this triumph of Christian fortitude; and as years rolled on St. George became a type of successful combat against evil, the slayer of the dragon, the darling theme of camp song and story, until "so thick a shade his very glory round him made" that his real lineaments became hard to trace. Even beyond the circle of Christendom he was held in honor, and invading Saracens taught themselves to except from desecration the image of him they hailed as the "White-horsed Knight." The devotion to St. George is one of the most ancient and widely spread in the Church. In the East, a church of St. George is ascribed to Constantine, and his name is invoked in the most ancient liturgies; whilst in the West, Malta, Barcelona, Valencia, Arragon, Genoa, and England have chosen him as their patron.
Reflection.—"What shall I say of fortitude, without which neither wisdom nor justice is of any worth? Fortitude is not of the body, but is a constancy of soul; wherewith we are conquerors in righteousness, patiently bear all adversities, and in prosperity are not puffed up. This fortitude he lacks who is overcome by pride, anger, greed, drunkenness, and the like. Neither have they fortitude who when in adversity make shift to escape at their souls’ expense; wherefore the Lord saith, 'Fear not those who kill the body, but cannot kill the soul.' In like manner those who are puffed up in prosperity and abandon themselves to excessive joviality cannot be called strong. For
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how can they be called strong who cannot hide and repress the heart's emotion? Fortitude is never conquered, or if conquered, is not fortitude."—St. Bruno.

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Saturday, 22 April 2017

Saint Pope Soter

The 22nd of April is the feast day of Saint Pope Soter.

The following is from Butler's Lives of the Saint:

ST. SOTER was raised to the papacy upon the death of St. Anicetus, in 173. By the sweetness of his discourses he comforted all persons with the tenderness of a father, and assisted the indigent with liberal alms, especially those who suffered for the faith. He liberally extended his charities, according to the custom of his predecessors, to remote churches, particularly to that of Corinth, to which he addressed an excellent letter, as St. Dionysius of Corinth testifies in his letter of thanks, who adds that his letter was found worthy to be read for their edification on Sundays at their assemblies to celebrate the divine mysteries, together with the letter of St. Clement, pope. St. Soter vigorously opposed the heresy of Montanus, and governed the Church to the year 177.
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Saint Anselm of Canterbury

The 21st of April is the feast day of Saint Anselm of Canterbury.

Saint Anselm lived between 1033 and 1109, he was borned to a noble family in the Lombardy region of Italy. After the example of his mother, he was led to great faith and enquired to enter the monastery at the young age of 15. The abbot refused him entry due to Anselm's stern father. He then left home and settled in Normandy to study after his mother's death. He studied under the famed monk Lanfranc. When his father died, Anselm became a Benedictine monk at the age of 27. He became a teacher in the abbey's school and the prior of the monastery. He was appointed as Archbishop of Canterbury in England and corrected abuses against the Church at the hands of the English kings. He was banished twice from the island while he was appealing to Rome for assistance and in both times he returned to Canterbury to continue his duties until his death. He continued his monastic lifestyle and intellectual pursuits as archbishop. He composed philosophical and theological treatises, prayers and meditations and was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church by Pope Cement XI in 1720.
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