Friday, 27 March 2020

Saint John of Egypt

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The 27th of March is the feast day of Saint John of Egypt (d. 394). He is also known as John the Hermit or John the Anchorite.

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

TILL he was twenty-five, John worked as a carpenter with his father. Then feeling a call from God, he left the world and committed himself to a holy solitary in the desert. His master tried his spirit by many unreasonable commands, bidding him roll the hard rocks, tend dead trees, and the like. John obeyed in all things with the simplicity of a child. After a careful training of sixteen years he withdrew to the top of a steep cliff to think only of God and his soul. The more he knew of himself, the more he distrusted himself. For the last fifty years, therefore, he never saw women, and seldom men. The result of this vigilance and purity was threefold: a holy joy and cheerfulness which consoled all who conversed with him; perfect obedience to superiors; and, in return for this, authority over creatures, whom he had forsaken for the Creator. St. Augustine tells us of his appearing in a vision to a holy woman, whose sight he had restored, to avoid seeing her face to face. Devils assailed him continually, but John never ceased his prayer. From his long communings with God, he turned to men with gifts of healing and prophecy. Twice each week he spoke through a window with those who came to him, blessing oil for their sick and predicting things to come. A deacon came to him in disguise, and he reverently kissed his hand. To the Emperor Theodosius he foretold his future victories and the time of his death. The three last days of his life John gave wholly to God: on the third he was found on his knees as if in prayer, bud his soul was with the blessed. He died in 394.

Reflection.—The Saints examine themselves by the perfections of God, and do penance. We judge our conduct by the standard of other men, and rest satisfied with it. Yet it is by the divine holiness alone that we shall be judged when we die.

Thursday, 26 March 2020

Medjugorje Message from Our Lady March 25, 2020

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March 25, 2020 Message to Marija

"Dear children! I am with you all these years to lead you to the way of salvation. Return to my Son; return to prayer and fasting. Little children, permit God to speak to your heart, because Satan is reigning and wants to destroy your lives and the earth on which you walk. Be courageous and decide for holiness. You will see conversion in your hearts and families; prayer will be heard; God will hear your cries and give you peace. I am with you and am blessing you all with my motherly blessing. Thank you for having responded to my call."


The Assumption of the Virgin with Busts of the Archangel Gabriel and the Virgin of the Annunciation by Paolo di Giovanni Fei (c. 1400-1405)

Saint Margaret Clitherow

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Saint Margaret Clitherow

The 26th of March is the feast day of Saint Margaret Clitherow (1556 – 25 March 1586). She is also known as Margaret of York. She is the patron saint of businesswomen, converts, martyrs, Catholic Women’s League, and Latin Mass Society.

The following is from Catholic Encyclopedia:

Clitherow, Margaret, Venerable, Martyr, called the “Pearl of York”, born about 1556; died 25 March 1586. She was a daughter of Thomas Middleton, Sheriff of York (1564-5), a wax-chandler; married John Clitherow, a wealthy butcher and a chamberlain of the city, in St. Martin’s church, Coney St., 8 July, 1571, and lived in the Shambles, a street still unaltered. Converted to the Faith about three years later, she became most fervent, continually risking her life by harbouring and maintaining priests, was frequently imprisoned, sometimes for two years at a time, yet never daunted, and was a model of all virtues. Though her husband belonged to the Established Church, he had a brother a priest, and Margaret provided two chambers, one adjoining her house and a second in another part of the city, where she kept priests hidden and had Mass continually celebrated through the thick of the persecution. Some of her priests were martyred, and Margaret who desired the same grace above all things, used to make secret pilgrimages by night to York Tyburn to pray beneath the gibbet for this intention. Finally arrested on 10 March, 1586, she was committed to the castle. On 14 March, she was arraigned before Judges Clinch and Rhodes and several members of the Council of the North at the York assizes. Her indictment was that she had harboured priests, heard Mass, and the like; but she refused to plead, since the only witnesses against her would be her own little children and servants, whom she could not bear to involve in the guilt of her death. She was therefore condemned to the peine forte et dure, i.e. to be pressed to death. “God be thanked, I am not worthy of so good a death as this”, she said. Although she was probably with child, this horrible sentence was carried out on Lady Day, 1586 (Good Friday according to New Style). She had endured an agony of fear the previous night, but was now calm, joyous, and smiling. She walked barefooted to the tolbooth on Ousebridge, for she had sent her hose and shoes to her daughter Anne, in token that she should follow in her steps. She had been tormented by the ministers and even now was urged to confess her crimes. “No, no, Mr. Sheriff, I die for the love of my Lord Jesu”, she answered. She was laid on the ground, a sharp stone beneath her back, her hands stretched out in the form of a cross and bound to two posts. Then a door was placed upon her, which was weighted down till she was crushed to death. Her last words during an agony of fifteen minutes, were “Jesu! Jesu! Jesu! have mercy on me!” Her right hand is preserved at St. Mary’s Convent, York, but the resting-place of her sacred body is not known. Her sons Henry and William became priests, and her daughter Anne a nun at St. Ursula’s, Louvain.

Her life, written by her confessor, John Mush, exists in two versions. The earlier has been edited by Father John Morris, S.J., in his “Troubles of our Catholic Forefathers”, third series (London, 1877). The later manuscript, now at York Convent, was published by W. Nicholson, of Thelwall Hall, Cheshire (London, Derby, 1849), with portrait: “Life and Death of Margaret Clitherow the martyr of York”. It also contains the “History of Mr. Margaret Ward and Mrs. Anne Line, Martyrs”.

Bede Camm.

Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Saint Dismas

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The Good Thief, after Michelangelo's 'The Last Judgment' fresco in the Sistine Chapel,1580 Cherubino Alberti (Zaccaria Mattia)

The 25th of March is the feast day of Saint Dismas (death c. 30–33 AD). He is also known as the Penitent Thief, the Good Thief or the Thief on the Cross. He is the patron saint of Prisoners (especially condemned), funeral directors, repentant thieves, Merizo, Guam and San Dimas, Mexico.

Saint Dismas the traditional name of the "Good Thief," who was one of the two criminals crucified with Jesus on Good Friday. What we know of Saint Dismas is what is mentioned in the Gospels.

39 And one of those robbers who were hanged, blasphemed him, saying: If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. 40 But the other answering, rebuked him, saying: Neither dost thou fear God, seeing thou art condemned under the same condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this man hath done no evil. 42 And he said to Jesus: Lord, remember me when thou shalt come into thy kingdom. (Luke 23:39-42)

The Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

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The Annunciation by Murillo, 1655–1660, Hermitage MuseumSaint Petersburg
The 25th of March is the feast of the Annunciation. 

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

THIS great festival takes its name from the happy tidings brought by the angel Gabriel to the Blessed Virgin, concerning the Incarnation of the Son of God. It commemorates the most important embassy that was ever
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known: an embassy sent by the King of kings, performed by one of the chief princes of His heavenly court; directed, not to the great ones of this earth, but to a poor, unknown virgin, who, being endowed with the most angelic purity of soul and body, being withal perfectly humble and devoted to God, was greater in His eyes than the mightiest monarch in the world. When the Son of God became man, He could have taken upon Him our nature without the cooperation of any creature; but He was pleased to be born of a woman. In the choice of her whom He raised to this most sublime of all dignities, He pitched upon the one who, by the riches of His grace and virtues, was of all others the most holy and the most perfect. The design of this embassy of the archangel is to give a Saviour to the world, a victim of propitiation to the sinner, a model to the just, a son to this Virgin, remaining still a virgin, and a new nature to the Son of God, the nature of man, capable of suffering pain and anguish in order to satisfy God's justice for our transgressions.
When the angel appeared to Mary and addressed her, the Blessed Virgin was troubled: not at the angel's appearance, says St. Ambrose, for heavenly visions and a commerce with the blessed spirits had been familiar to her; but what alarmed her, he says, was the angel's appearing in human form, in the shape of a young man. What might add to her fright on the occasion was his addressing her in words of praise. Mary, guarded by her modesty, is in confusion at expressions of this sort, and dreads the least appearance of deluding flattery. Such high commendations make her cautious how she answers, till in silence she has more fully considered of the matter: "She revolved in her mind," says St. Luke, "what manner of salutation this should be." Ah, what numbers of innocent souls have been corrupted for want of using the like precautions!
The angel, to calm her, says: "Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found favor before God." He then informs her that she is to conceive and bring forth a Son Whose name shall be Jesus, Who shall be great, and the Son of the Most High, and possessed of the throne of David, her illustrious ancestor. Mary, out of a just concern to know how she
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may comply with the will of God without prejudice to her vow of virginity, inquires, "How shall this be?" Nor does she give her consent till the heavenly messenger acquaints her that it is to be a work of the Holy Ghost, who, in making her fruitful, will not intrench in the least upon her virginal purity.
In submission, therefore, to God's will, without any further inquiries, she expresses her assent in these humble but powerful words: "Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to Thy word" What faith and confidence does her answer express! what profound humility and perfect obedience!
Reflection.—From the example of the Blessed Virgin in this mystery, how ardent a love ought we to conceive of purity and humility! The Holy Ghost is invited by purity to dwell in souls, but is chased away by the filth of the contrary vice. Humility is the foundation of a spiritual life. By it Mary was prepared for the extraordinary graces and all virtues with which she was enriched, and for the eminent dignity of Mother of God.



Tuesday, 24 March 2020

Saint Catherine of Sweden

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The 24th of March is the feast day of Saint Catherine of Sweden. She is the patron saint against abortions and miscarriages.

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

ST. CATHARINE was daughter of Ulpho, Prince of Nericia in Sweden, and of St. Bridget. The love of God seemed almost to prevent in her the use of her reason. At seven years of age she was placed in the nunnery of Risburgh, and educated in piety under the care of the holy abbess of that house. Being very beautiful, she was, by her father, contracted in marriage to Egard, a young nobleman of great virtue; but the virgin persuaded him to join with her in making a mutual vow of perpetual chastity. By her discourser he became desirous only of heavenly graces, arid, to draw them down upon his soul more abundantly, he readily acquiesced in the proposal. The happy couple, having but one heart and one desire, by a holy emulation excited each other to prayer, mortification, and works of charity. After the death of her father, St. Catharine, out of devotion to the Passion of Christ and to the relics of the martyrs, accompanied her mother in her pilgrimages and practices of devotion and penance. After her mother's death at Rome, in 1373, Catharine returned to Sweden, and died abbess of Vadzstena, or Vatzen, on the 24th of March in 1381. For the last twenty-five years of her life she every day purified her soul by a sacramental confession of her sins.
Reflection.—Whoever has to dwell in the world stands in need of great prudence; the Holy Scripture itself assures us that "the knowledge of the holy is prudence."

Monday, 23 March 2020

Saint Rafqa (Rebecca)

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St Rafka ill in bed in her latter days
The 23rd of March is the feast day of Saint Rafqa (Arabic for Rebecca). She is the patron saint of sick people, bodily ills and loss of parents.

She was born in Himlaya, a Maronite village in the mountains of Lebanon. An only child, her mother died when she was only seven years old. Her father then remarried. Later there was a family discord to whom Rafqa should be married to. However, Rafqa did not wish to marry any of the men and she entered religious life at 21 years old.  She was greatly devoted to Our Lady, through her mother and studied as a teacher. She witnessed and survive a Christian massacre and decided to become a cloistered contemplative nun at the age of 39. Rafqa prayed that she might share the sufferings of Christ and she became blind and paralysed. She died at the age of 82.

Sunday, 22 March 2020

Saint Nicholas Owen

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The torture of Saint Nicholas Owen, S.J.
an engraving by Melchior Küsel (17th century)
The 22nd of March is the feast day of Saint Nicholas Owen (c. 1562 – 1/2 March 1606). He was a Jesuit lay brother and was the principal builder of priest holes during the reigns of Queen Elizabeth I and James I of England and was martyred.

The following is from Catholic Encyclopedia:

A Jesuit lay-brother, martyred in 1606. There is no record of his parentage, birthplace, date of birth, or entrance into religion. Probably a carpenter or builder by trade, he entered the Society of Jesus before 1580, and had previously been the trusty servant of the missionary fathers. More (1586-1661) associates him with the first English lay-brothers. He was imprisoned on the death of Edmund Campion for openly declaring that martyr’s innocence, but afterwards served Fathers Henry Garnett and John Gerard for eighteen years, was captured again with the latter, escaped from the Tower, and is said to have contrived the escape of Father Gerard. He was finally arrested at Hindlip Hall, Worcestershire, while impersonating Father Garnett. “It is incredible”, writes Cecil, “how great was the joy caused by his arrest . . . knowing the great skill of Owen in constructing hiding places, and the innumerable quantity of dark holes which he had schemed for hiding priests all through England.” Not only the Secretary of State but Waade, the Keeper of the Tower, appreciated the importance of the disclosures which Owen might be forced to make. After being committed to the Marshalsea and thence removed to the Tower, he was submitted to most terrible “examinations” on the Topcliffe rack, with both arms held fast in iron rings and body hanging, and later on with heavy weights attached to his feet, and at last died under torture. It was given out that he had committed suicide, a calumny refuted by Father Gerard in his narrative. As to the day of his death, a letter of Father Garnett’s shows that he was still alive on 3 March; the “Menology” of the province puts his martyrdom as late as 12 Nov. He was of singularly innocent life and wonderful prudence, and his skill in devising hiding-places saved the lives of many of the missionary fathers.

[Note: In 1970, Nicholas Owen was canonized by Pope Paul VI among the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales, whose joint feast day is kept on 25 October.]

Saturday, 21 March 2020

Saint Nicholas of Flüe

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Nicholas of Flüe, from the altar piece of the local parish church in Sachseln.

The 21st of March is the feast day of Saint Nicholas of Flue (1417 – 21 March 1487). He is the patron saint of Switzerland, and the Pontifical Swiss Guards.

The following is from Catholic Encyclopedia:

(DE RUPE).

Born 21 March, 1417, on the Flüeli, a fertile plateau near Sachseln, Canton Obwalden, Switzerland; died 21 March, 1487, as a recluse in a neighboring ravine, called Ranft. He was the oldest son of pious, well-to-do peasants and from his earliest youth was fond of prayer, practiced mortification, and conscientiously performed the labor of a peasant boy. At the age of 21 he entered the army and took part in the battle of Ragaz in 1446. Probably he fought in the battles near the Etzel in 1439, near Baar in the Canton of Zug in 1443, and assisted in the capture of Zürich in 1444. He took up arms again in the so-called Thurgau war against Archduke Sigismund of Austria in 1460. It was due to his influence that the Dominican Convent St. Katharinental, whither many Austrians had fled after the capture of Diessenhofen, was not destroyed by the Swiss confederates. Heeding the advice of his parents he married, about the age of twenty-five, a pious girl from Sachseln, named Dorothy Wyssling, who bore him five sons and five daughters. His youngest son, Nicholas, born in 1467, became a priest and a doctor of theology. Though averse to worldly dignities, he was elected cantonal councillor and judge. The fact that in 1462 he was one of five arbiters appointed to settle a dispute between the parish of Stans and the monastery of Engelberg, shows the esteem in which he was held. After living about twenty-five years in wedlock he listened to an inspiration of God and with the consent of his wife left his family on 16 October, 1467, to live as a hermit. At first he intended to go to a foreign country, but when he came into the neighborhood of Basle, a divine inspiration ordered him to take up his abode in the Ranft, a valley along the Melcha, about an hour’s walk from Sachseln. Here, known as “Brother Klaus”, he abode over twenty years, without taking any bodily food or drink, as was established through a careful investigation, made by the civil as well as the ecclesiastical authorities of his times. He wore neither shoes nor cap, and even in winter was clad merely in a hermit’s gown. In 1468 he saved the town of Sarnen from a conflagration by his prayers and the sign of the cross. God also favored him with numerous visions and the gift of prophecy. Distinguished persons from nearly every country of Europe came to him for counsel in matters of the utmost importance. At first he lived in a narrow hut, which he himself had built with branches and leaves, and came daily to Mass either at Sachseln or at Kerns. Early in 1469 the civil authorities built a cell and a chapel for him, and on 29 April of the same year the chapel was dedicated by the vicar-general of Constance, Thomas, Bishop of Ascalon. In 1479 a chaplain was put in charge of the chapel, and thenceforth Nicholas always remained in the Ranft. When in 1480 delegates of the Swiss confederates assembled at Stans to settle their differences, and civil war seemed inevitable, Henry Imgrund, the pastor of Stans, hastened to Nicholas, begging him to prevent the shedding of blood. The priest returned to the delegates with the hermit’s counsels and propositions, and civil war was averted. Nicholas was beatified by Pope Clement IX in 1669. Numerous pilgrims visit the chapel near the church of Sachseln, where his relics are preserved. His feast is celebrated on 21 March.

Friday, 20 March 2020

Daily Mass Online with Readings

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Daily Online Mass and Readings are now available here on this website.





Our Lady of Medjugorje

March 25, 2020 Message to Marija

Dear children! I am with you all these years to lead you to the way of salvation. Return to my Son; return to prayer and fasting. Little children, permit God to speak to your heart, because Satan is reigning and wants to destroy your lives and the earth on which you walk. Be courageous and decide for holiness. You will see conversion in your hearts and families; prayer will be heard; God will hear your cries and give you peace. I am with you and am blessing you all with my motherly blessing. Thank you for having responded to my call.

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