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Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary

8 hours 43 min ago
Detail | Ceiling of the <em>Assumption of Mary</em> in Santa Maria Immacolata a via Veneto, Rome | photo by LivioandronicoImage: Detail | Ceiling of the Assumption of Mary in Santa Maria Immacolata a via Veneto, Rome | photo by Livioandronico Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary Saint of the Day for August 15 https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODAug15.mp3

 

The Story of the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary

On November 1, 1950, Pope Pius XII defined the Assumption of Mary to be a dogma of faith: “We pronounce, declare and define it to be a divinely revealed dogma that the immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul to heavenly glory.” The pope proclaimed this dogma only after a broad consultation of bishops, theologians and laity. There were few dissenting voices. What the pope solemnly declared was already a common belief in the Catholic Church.

We find homilies on the Assumption going back to the sixth century. In following centuries, the Eastern Churches held steadily to the doctrine, but some authors in the West were hesitant. However by the 13th century there was universal agreement. The feast was celebrated under various names—Commemoration, Dormition, Passing, Assumption—from at least the fifth or sixth century. Today it is celebrated as a solemnity.

Scripture does not give an account of Mary’s Assumption into heaven. Nevertheless, Revelation 12 speaks of a woman who is caught up in the battle between good and evil. Many see this woman as God’s people. Since Mary best embodies the people of both Old and New Testaments, her Assumption can be seen as an exemplification of the woman’s victory.

Furthermore, in 1 Corinthians 15:20, Paul speaks of Christ’s resurrection as the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.

Since Mary is closely associated with all the mysteries of Jesus’ life, it is not surprising that the Holy Spirit has led the Church to believe in Mary’s share in his glorification. So close was she to Jesus on earth, she must be with him body and soul in heaven.

Reflection

In the light of the Assumption of Mary, it is easy to pray her Magnificat (Luke 1:46–55) with new meaning. In her glory she proclaims the greatness of the Lord and finds joy in God her savior. God has done marvels to her and she leads others to recognize God’s holiness. She is the lowly handmaid who deeply reverenced her God and has been raised to the heights. From her position of strength she will help the lowly and the poor find justice on earth, and she will challenge the rich and powerful to distrust wealth and power as a source of happiness.

For more on the Assumption of Mary, click here!

Mother Mary by Franciscan Media

Saint Maximilian Mary Kolbe

08/14/2018 - 12:00am
Stained glass in Our Lady of Czestochowa Grotto (Sorrowful Mother Shrine) | photo by NheyobImage: Stained glass in Our Lady of Czestochowa Grotto (Sorrowful Mother Shrine) | photo by Nheyob Saint Maximilian Mary Kolbe Saint of the Day for August 14 (January 8, 1894 – August 14, 1941) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODAug14.mp3

 

Saint Maximilian Mary Kolbe’s Story

“I don’t know what’s going to become of you!” How many parents have said that? Maximilian Mary Kolbe’s reaction was, “I prayed very hard to Our Lady to tell me what would happen to me. She appeared, holding in her hands two crowns, one white, one red. She asked if I would like to have them—one was for purity, the other for martyrdom. I said, ‘I choose both.’ She smiled and disappeared.” After that he was not the same.

He entered the minor seminary of the Conventual Franciscans in Lvív–then Poland, now Ukraine– near his birthplace, and at 16 became a novice. Though Maximilian later achieved doctorates in philosophy and theology, he was deeply interested in science, even drawing plans for rocket ships.

Ordained at 24, Maximilian saw religious indifference as the deadliest poison of the day. His mission was to combat it. He had already founded the Militia of the Immaculata, whose aim was to fight evil with the witness of the good life, prayer, work, and suffering. He dreamed of and then founded Knight of the Immaculata, a religious magazine under Mary’s protection to preach the Good News to all nations. For the work of publication he established a “City of the Immaculata”—Niepokalanow—which housed 700 of his Franciscan brothers. He later founded another one in Nagasaki, Japan. Both the Militia and the magazine ultimately reached the one-million mark in members and subscribers. His love of God was daily filtered through devotion to Mary.

In 1939, the Nazi panzers overran Poland with deadly speed. Niepokalanow was severely bombed. Kolbe and his friars were arrested, then released in less than three months, on the feast of the Immaculate Conception.

In 1941, Fr. Kolbe was arrested again. The Nazis’ purpose was to liquidate the select ones, the leaders. The end came quickly, three months later in Auschwitz, after terrible beatings and humiliations.

A prisoner had escaped. The commandant announced that 10 men would die. He relished walking along the ranks. “This one. That one.”

As they were being marched away to the starvation bunkers, Number 16670 dared to step from the line.

“I would like to take that man’s place. He has a wife and children.”
“Who are you?”
“A priest.”

No name, no mention of fame. Silence. The commandant, dumbfounded, perhaps with a fleeting thought of history, kicked Sergeant Francis Gajowniczek out of line and ordered Fr. Kolbe to go with the nine. In the “block of death” they were ordered to strip naked, and their slow starvation began in darkness. But there was no screaming—the prisoners sang. By the eve of the Assumption, four were left alive. The jailer came to finish Kolbe off as he sat in a corner praying. He lifted his fleshless arm to receive the bite of the hypodermic needle. It was filled with carbolic acid. They burned his body with all the others. Fr. Kolbe was beatified in 1971 and canonized in 1982.

Reflection

Father Kolbe’s death was not a sudden, last-minute act of heroism. His whole life had been a preparation. His holiness was a limitless, passionate desire to convert the whole world to God. And his beloved Immaculata was his inspiration.

Saint Maximilian Mary Kolbe is the Patron Saint of:

Addicts
Drug addiction

Click here to read more about Saint Maximilian Kolbe!

The Franciscan Saints

Saints Pontian and Hippolytus

08/13/2018 - 12:00am
 Photo of Il Tempio Civico della Beata Vergine Incoronata | photo by Giovanni NovaraImage: Photo of Il Tempio Civico della Beata Vergine Incoronata | photo by Giovanni Novara Saints Pontian and Hippolytus Saint of the Day for August 13 (d. 235) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODAug13.mp3

 

Saints Pontian and Hippolytus’ Story

Two men died for the faith after harsh treatment and exhaustion in the mines of Sardinia. One had been pope for five years, the other an antipope for 18. They died reconciled.

Pontian. Pontian was a Roman who served as pope from 230 to 235. During his reign he held a synod in Alexandria which confirmed the excommunication of the great theologian Origen. Pontian was banished to exile by the Roman emperor in 235, and resigned so that a successor could be elected in Rome. He was sent to the “unhealthy” island of Sardinia, where he died that same year of harsh treatment. With him was Hippolytus with whom he was reconciled. The bodies of both were brought back to Rome and buried as martyrs with solemn rites.

Hippolytus. As a priest in Rome, Hippolytus—the name means “a horse turned loose”—was at first “holier than the Church.” He censured the pope for not coming down hard enough on a certain heresy—calling him a tool in the hands of one Callistus, a deacon—and coming close to advocating the opposite heresy himself. When Callistus was elected pope, Hippolytus accused him of being too lenient with penitents, and had himself elected antipope by a group of followers. He felt that the Church must be composed of pure souls uncompromisingly separated from the world: Hippolytus evidently thought that his group fitted the description. He remained in schism through the reigns of three popes. In 235, he also was banished to the island of Sardinia. Shortly before or after this event, he was reconciled to the Church, and died in exile with Pope Pontian.

Hippolytus was a rigorist, a vehement and intransigent man for whom even orthodox doctrine and practice were not purified enough. He is, nevertheless, the most important theologian and prolific religious writer before the age of Constantine. His writings are the fullest source of our knowledge of the Roman liturgy and the structure of the Church in the second and third centuries. His works include many Scripture commentaries, polemics against heresies, and a history of the world. A marble statue dating from the third century, representing the saint sitting in a chair, was found in 1551. On one side is inscribed his table for computing the date of Easter; on the other, a list of how the system works out until the year 224. Pope John XXIII installed the statue in the Vatican library.

Reflection

Hippolytus was a strong defender of orthodoxy, and admitted his excesses by his humble reconciliation. He was not a formal heretic, but an overzealous disciplinarian. What he could not learn in his prime as a reformer and purist, he learned in the pain and desolation of imprisonment. It was a fitting symbolic event that Pope Pontian shared his martyrdom.

When the Church was Young

Saint Jane Frances de Chantal

08/12/2018 - 12:00am
Stained glass window in Église Saint-Honoré-d'Eylau, Paris | photo by Mbzt's Image: Stained glass window in Église Saint-Honoré-d’Eylau, Paris | photo by Mbzt’s Saint Jane Frances de Chantal Saint of the Day for August 12 (January 28, 1572 – December 13, 1641) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODAug12.mp3

 

Saint Jane Frances de Chantal’s Story

Jane Frances was wife, mother, nun, and founder of a religious community. Her mother died when she was 18 months old, and her father, head of parliament at Dijon, France, became the main influence on her education. Jane developed into a woman of beauty and refinement, lively and cheerful in temperament. At 21, she married Baron de Chantal, by whom she had six children, three of whom died in infancy. At her castle, she restored the custom of daily Mass, and was seriously engaged in various charitable works.

Jane’s husband was killed after seven years of marriage, and she sank into deep dejection for four months at her family home. Her father-in-law threatened to disinherit her children if she did not return to his home. He was then 75, vain, fierce, and extravagant. Jane Frances managed to remain cheerful in spite of him and his insolent housekeeper.

When she was 32, Jane met Saint Francis de Sales who became her spiritual director, softening some of the severities imposed by her former director. She wanted to become a nun but he persuaded her to defer this decision. She took a vow to remain unmarried and to obey her director.

After three years, Francis told Jane of his plan to found an institute of women that would be a haven for those whose health, age, or other considerations barred them from entering the already established communities. There would be no cloister, and they would be free to undertake spiritual and corporal works of mercy. They were primarily intended to exemplify the virtues of Mary at the Visitation—hence their name the Visitation nuns—humility and meekness.

The usual opposition to women in active ministry arose and Francis de Sales was obliged to make it a cloistered community following the Rule of Saint Augustine. Francis wrote his famous Treatise on the Love of God for them. The congregation consisting of three women began when Jane Frances was 45. She underwent great sufferings: Francis de Sales died; her son was killed; a plague ravaged France; her daughter-in-law and son-in-law died. She encouraged the local authorities to make great efforts for the victims of the plague, and she put all her convent’s resources at the disposal of the sick.

During a part of her religious life, Jane Frances had to undergo great trials of the spirit—interior anguish, darkness, and spiritual dryness. She died while on a visitation of convents of the community.

Reflection

It may strike some as unusual that a saint should be subject to spiritual dryness, darkness, interior anguish. We tend to think that such things are the usual condition of “ordinary” sinful people. Some of our lack of spiritual liveliness may indeed be our fault. But the life of faith is still one that is lived in trust, and sometimes the darkness is so great that trust is pressed to its limit.

Treasury of Women Saints

Saint Clare of Assisi

08/11/2018 - 12:00am
<em>Saint Clare</em> | Monastery of Saint Clare, Cincinnati, OHImage: Saint Clare | original painting for the Poor Clares in Cincinnati, OH Saint Clare of Assisi Saint of the Day for August 11 (July 16, 1194 – August 11, 1253) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODAug11.mp3

 

Saint Clare of Assisi’s Story

One of the more sugary movies made about Francis of Assisi pictures Clare as a golden-haired beauty floating through sun-drenched fields, a sort of one-woman counterpart to the new Franciscan Order.

The beginning of her religious life was indeed movie material. Having refused to marry at 15, Clare was moved by the dynamic preaching of Francis. He became her lifelong friend and spiritual guide.

At 18, Clare escaped from her father’s home one night, was met on the road by friars carrying torches, and in the poor little chapel called the Portiuncula received a rough woolen habit, exchanged her jeweled belt for a common rope with knots in it, and sacrificed her long tresses to Francis’ scissors. He placed her in a Benedictine convent, which her father and uncles immediately stormed in rage. Clare clung to the altar of the church, threw aside her veil to show her cropped hair, and remained adamant.

Sixteen days later her sister Agnes joined her. Others came. They lived a simple life of great poverty, austerity, and complete seclusion from the world, according to a Rule which Francis gave them as a Second Order. At age 21, Francis obliged Clare under obedience to accept the office of abbess, one she exercised until her death.

The Poor Ladies went barefoot, slept on the ground, ate no meat, and observed almost complete silence. Later Clare, like Francis, persuaded her sisters to moderate this rigor: “Our bodies are not made of brass.” The greatest emphasis, of course, was on gospel poverty. They possessed no property, even in common, subsisting on daily contributions. When even the pope tried to persuade Clare to mitigate this practice, she showed her characteristic firmness: “I need to be absolved from my sins, but I do not wish to be absolved from the obligation of following Jesus Christ.”

Contemporary accounts glow with admiration of Clare’s life in the convent of San Damiano in Assisi. She served the sick and washed the feet of the begging nuns. She came from prayer, it was said, with her face so shining it dazzled those about her. She suffered serious illness for the last 27 years of her life. Her influence was such that popes, cardinals, and bishops often came to consult her—Clare herself never left the walls of San Damiano.

Francis always remained her great friend and inspiration. Clare was always obedient to his will and to the great ideal of gospel life which he was making real.

A well-known story concerns her prayer and trust. Clare had the Blessed Sacrament placed on the walls of the convent when it faced attack by invading Saracens. “Does it please you, O God, to deliver into the hands of these beasts the defenseless children I have nourished with your love? I beseech you, dear Lord, protect these whom I am now unable to protect.” To her sisters she said, “Don’t be afraid. Trust in Jesus.” The Saracens fled.

Reflection

The 41 years of Clare’s religious life are scenarios of sanctity: an indomitable resolve to lead the simple, literal gospel life as Francis taught her; courageous resistance to the ever-present pressure to dilute the ideal; a passion for poverty and humility; an ardent life of prayer; and a generous concern for her sisters.

Saint Clare is the Patron Saint of:

Eye disorders
Television

Click here for Fr. Don Miller’s thoughts on Saint Clare!

Saint Clare of Assisi

Saint Lawrence

08/10/2018 - 12:00am
<em>Saint Lawrence</em> | Bernardo CavallinoImage: Saint Lawrence | Bernardo Cavallino Saint Lawrence Saint of the Day for August 10 (c. 225 – August 10, 258) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODAug10.mp3

 

Saint Lawrence’s Story

The esteem in which the Church holds Lawrence is seen in the fact that today’s celebration ranks as a feast. We know very little about his life. He is one of those whose martyrdom made a deep and lasting impression on the early Church. Celebration of his feast day spread rapidly.

He was a Roman deacon under Pope Saint Sixtus II. Four days after this pope was put to death, Lawrence and four clerics suffered martyrdom, probably during the persecution of the Emperor Valerian.

Legendary details of Lawrence’s death were known to Damasus, Prudentius, Ambrose, and Augustine. The church built over his tomb became one of the seven principal churches in Rome and a favorite place for Roman pilgrimages.

A well-known legend has persisted from earliest times. As deacon in Rome, Lawrence was charged with the responsibility for the material goods of the Church, and the distribution of alms to the poor. When Lawrence knew he would be arrested like the pope, he sought out the poor, widows, and orphans of Rome and gave them all the money he had on hand, selling even the sacred vessels of the altar to increase the sum. When the prefect of Rome heard of this, he imagined that the Christians must have considerable treasure. He sent for Lawrence and said, “You Christians say we are cruel to you, but that is not what I have in mind. I am told that your priests offer in gold, that the sacred blood is received in silver cups, that you have golden candlesticks at your evening services. Now, your doctrine says you must render to Caesar what is his. Bring these treasures—the emperor needs them to maintain his forces. God does not cause money to be counted: He brought none of it into the world with him—only words. Give me the money, therefore, and be rich in words.”

Lawrence replied that the Church was indeed rich. “I will show you a valuable part. But give me time to set everything in order and make an inventory.” After three days he gathered a great number of blind, lame, maimed, leprous, orphaned, and widowed persons and put them in rows. When the prefect arrived, Lawrence simply said, “These are the treasure of the Church.”

The prefect was so angry he told Lawrence that he would indeed have his wish to die—but it would be by inches. He had a great gridiron prepared with coals beneath it, and had Lawrence’s body placed on it. After the martyr had suffered the pain for a long time, the legend concludes, he made his famous cheerful remark, “It is well done. Turn me over!”

Reflection

Once again we have a saint about whom almost nothing is known, yet one who has received extraordinary honor in the Church since the fourth century. Almost nothing—yet the greatest fact of his life is certain: He died for Christ. We who are hungry for details about the lives of the saints are again reminded that their holiness was after all, a total response to Christ, expressed perfectly by a death like this.

Saint Lawrence is the Patron Saint of:

Cooks
Poor

The Franciscan Saints

 

Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross

08/09/2018 - 12:00am
Portrait of Edith Stein in the student chapel of the Hochschulgemeinde Wien im Edith-Stein-Haus | photo by BraveheartImage: Portrait of Edith Stein in the student chapel of the Hochschulgemeinde Wien im Edith-Stein-Haus | photo by Braveheart Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross Saint of the Day for August 9 (October 12, 1891 – August 9, 1942) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODAug09.mp3

 

Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross’ Story

A brilliant philosopher who stopped believing in God when she was 14, Edith Stein was so captivated by reading the autobiography of Teresa of Avila that she began a spiritual journey that led to her baptism in 1922. Twelve years later she imitated Saint Teresa by becoming a Carmelite, taking the name Teresa Benedicta of the Cross.

Born into a prominent Jewish family in Breslau, Germany—now Wroclaw, Poland—Edith abandoned Judaism in her teens. As a student at the University of Göttingen, she became fascinated by phenomenology, an approach to philosophy. Excelling as a protégé of Edmund Husserl, one of the leading phenomenologists, Edith earned a doctorate in philosophy in 1916. She continued as a university teacher until 1922 when she moved to a Dominican school in Speyer; her appointment as lecturer at the Educational Institute of Munich ended under pressure from the Nazis.

After living for four years in the Cologne Carmel, Sister Teresa Benedicta moved to the Carmelite monastery in Echt, Netherlands, in 1938. The Nazis occupied that country in 1940. In retaliation for being denounced by the Dutch bishops, the Nazis arrested all Dutch Jews who had become Christians. Teresa Benedicta and her sister Rosa, also a Catholic, died in a gas chamber in Auschwitz on August 9, 1942.

Pope John Paul II beatified Teresa Benedicta of the Cross in 1987, and canonized her 12 years later.

Reflection

The writings of Edith Stein fill 17 volumes, many of which have been translated into English. A woman of integrity, she followed the truth wherever it led her. After becoming a Catholic, Edith continued to honor her mother’s Jewish faith. Sister Josephine Koeppel, O.C.D. , translator of several of Edith’s books, sums up this saint with the phrase, “Learn to live at God’s hands.”

Click here for a meditation on Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross!

Treasury of Women Saints

Saint Dominic

08/08/2018 - 12:00am
Stained glass | <em>St. Dominic sends out the Friars</em> | photo by Lawrence, OP | flickrImage: Stained glass | St. Dominic sends out the Friars | photo by Lawrence, OP | flickr Saint Dominic Saint of the Day for August 8 (August 8, 1170 – August 6, 1221) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODAug08.mp3

 

Saint Dominic’s Story

If he hadn’t taken a trip with his bishop, Dominic would probably have remained within the structure of contemplative life; after the trip, he spent the rest of his life being a contemplative in active apostolic work.

Born in old Castile, Spain, Dominic was trained for the priesthood by a priest-uncle, studied the arts and theology, and became a canon of the cathedral at Osma, where there was an attempt to revive the apostolic common life described in Acts of the Apostles.

On a journey through France with his bishop, Dominic came face to face with the then virulent Albigensian heresy at Languedoc. The Albigensians–or Cathari, “the pure ones”–held to two principles—one good, one evil—in the world. All matter is evil—hence they denied the Incarnation and the sacraments. On the same principle, they abstained from procreation and took a minimum of food and drink. The inner circle led what some people regarded as a heroic life of purity and asceticism not shared by ordinary followers.

Dominic sensed the need for the Church to combat this heresy, and was commissioned to be part of the preaching crusade against it. He saw immediately why the preaching crusade was not succeeding: the ordinary people admired and followed the ascetical heroes of the Albigenses. Understandably, they were not impressed by the Catholic preachers who traveled with horse and retinues, stayed at the best inns and had servants. Dominic therefore, with three Cistercians, began itinerant preaching according to the gospel ideal. He continued this work for 10 years, being successful with the ordinary people but not with the leaders.

His fellow preachers gradually became a community, and in 1215 Dominic founded a religious house at Toulouse, the beginning of the Order of Preachers or Dominicans.

Dominic’s ideal, and that of his Order, was to organically link a life with God, study, and prayer in all forms, with a ministry of salvation to people by the word of God. His ideal: contemplata tradere: “to pass on the fruits of contemplation” or “to speak only of God or with God.”

Reflection

The Dominican ideal, like that of all religious communities, is for the imitation, not merely the admiration, of the rest of the Church. The effective combining of contemplation and activity is the vocation of truck driver Smith as well as theologian Aquinas. Acquired contemplation is the tranquil abiding in the presence of God, and is an integral part of any full human life. It must be the wellspring of all Christian activity.

Saint Dominic is the Patron Saint of:

Astronomers
Dominican Republic

Minute Meditations

Saint Cajetan

08/07/2018 - 12:00am
Saint Cajetan statueImage: Saint Cajetan \ sculptor: Pedro Alonso de los Ríos Saint Cajetan Saint of the Day for August 7 (October 1, 1480 – August 7, 1547) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODAug07.mp3

 

Saint Cajetan’s Story

Like most of us, Cajetan seemed headed for an “ordinary” life—first as a lawyer, then as a priest engaged in the work of the Roman Curia.

His life took a characteristic turn when he joined the Oratory of Divine Love in Rome, a group devoted to piety and charity, shortly after his ordination at 36. When he was 42 he founded a hospital for incurables at Venice. At Vicenza, he joined a “disreputable” religious community that consisted only of men of the lowest stations of life—and was roundly censured by his friends, who thought his action was a reflection on his family. He sought out the sick and poor of the town and served them.

The greatest need of the time was the reformation of a Church that was “sick in head and members.” Cajetan and three friends decided that the best road to reformation lay in reviving the spirit and zeal of the clergy. Together they founded a congregation known as the Theatines—from Teate [Chieti] where their first superior-bishop had his see. One of the friends later became Pope Paul IV.

They managed to escape to Venice after their house in Rome was wrecked when Emperor Charles V’s troops sacked Rome in 1527. The Theatines were outstanding among the Catholic reform movements that took shape before the Protestant Reformation. Cajetan founded a monte de pieta—“mountain or fund of piety”—in Naples, one of many charitable, nonprofit credit organizations that lent money on the security of pawned objects. The purpose was to help the poor and protect them against usurers. Cajetan’s little organization ultimately became the Bank of Naples, with great changes in policy.

Reflection

If Vatican II had been summarily stopped after its first session in 1962, many Catholics would have felt that a great blow had been dealt to the growth of the Church. Cajetan had the same feeling about the Council of Trent, held from 1545 to 1563. But as he said, God is the same in Naples as in Venice, with or without Trent or Vatican II. We open ourselves to God’s power in whatever circumstances we find ourselves, and God’s will is done. God’s standards of success differ from ours.

Another Saint of the Day for August 7 is Saint Sixtus II and Companions.

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Transfiguration of the Lord

08/06/2018 - 12:00am
Stained glass window, Mielno, Poland | photo by TineauImage: Stained glass window, Mielno, Poland | photo by Tineau Transfiguration of the Lord Saint of the Day for August 6 https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODAug06.mp3

 

The Story of the Transfiguration of the Lord

All three Synoptic Gospels tell the story of the Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-8; Mark 9:2-9; Luke 9:28-36). With remarkable agreement, all three place the event shortly after Peter’s confession of faith that Jesus is the Messiah and Jesus’ first prediction of his passion and death. Peter’s eagerness to erect tents or booths on the spot suggests it occurred during the week-long Jewish Feast of Booths in the fall.

According to Scripture scholars, in spite of the texts’ agreement it is difficult to reconstruct the disciples’ experience, because the Gospels draw heavily on Old Testament descriptions of the Sinai encounter with God, and prophetic visions of the Son of Man. Certainly Peter, James, and John had a glimpse of Jesus’ divinity strong enough to strike fear into their hearts. Such an experience defies description, so they drew on familiar religious language to describe it. And certainly Jesus warned them that his glory and his suffering were to be inextricably connected—a theme John highlights throughout his Gospel.

Tradition names Mount Tabor as the site of the revelation. A church first raised there in the fourth century was dedicated on August 6. A feast in honor of the Transfiguration was celebrated in the Eastern Church from about that time. Western observance began in some localities about the eighth century.

On July 22, 1456, Crusaders defeated the Turks at Belgrade. News of the victory reached Rome on August 6, and Pope Callistus III placed the feast on the Roman calendar the following year.

Reflection

One of the Transfiguration accounts is read on the second Sunday of Lent each year, proclaiming Christ’s divinity to the Elect and baptized alike. The Gospel for the first Sunday of Lent, by contrast, is the story of the temptation in the desert—affirmation of Jesus’ humanity. The two distinct but inseparable natures of the Lord were a subject of much theological argument at the beginning of the Church’s history; it remains hard for believers to grasp.

Another Saint of the Day for August 6 is Venerable Anthony Margil.

Jesus

Saint John Vianney

08/04/2018 - 12:00am
Stained glass window of Curé d'Ars | Luant, France | photo by François GoglinsImage: Stained glass window of Curé d’Ars | Luant, France | photo by François Goglins Saint John Vianney Saint of the Day for August 4 (May 8, 1786 – August 4, 1859) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODAug04.mp3

 

Saint John Vianney’s Story

A man with vision overcomes obstacles and performs deeds that seem impossible. John Vianney was a man with vision: He wanted to become a priest. But he had to overcome his meager formal schooling, which inadequately prepared him for seminary studies.

His failure to comprehend Latin lectures forced him to discontinue. But his vision of being a priest urged him to seek private tutoring. After a lengthy battle with the books, John was ordained.

Situations calling for “impossible” deeds followed him everywhere. As pastor of the parish at Ars, John encountered people who were indifferent and quite comfortable with their style of living. His vision led him through severe fasts and short nights of sleep.

With Catherine Lassagne and Benedicta Lardet, he established La Providence, a home for girls. Only a man of vision could have such trust that God would provide for the spiritual and material needs of all those who came to make La Providence their home.

His work as a confessor is John Vianney’s most remarkable accomplishment. In the winter months he was to spend 11 to 12 hours daily reconciling people with God. In the summer months this time was increased to 16 hours. Unless a man was dedicated to his vision of a priestly vocation, he could not have endured this giving of self day after day.

Many people look forward to retirement and taking it easy, doing the things they always wanted to do but never had the time. But John Vianney had no thoughts of retirement. As his fame spread, more hours were consumed in serving God’s people. Even the few hours he would allow himself for sleep were disturbed frequently by the devil.

Who, but a man with vision, could keep going with ever-increasing strength? In 1929, Pope Pius XI named him the patron of parish priests worldwide.

Reflection

Indifference toward religion, coupled with a love for material comfort, seem to be common signs of our times. A person from another planet observing us would not likely judge us to be pilgrim people, on our way to somewhere else. John Vianney on the other hand, was a man on a journey, with his goal before him at all times.

Saint John Vianney is the Patron Saint of:

Priests

For more on Saint John Vianney, click here! Called by Casey Cole

Saint Peter Julian Eymard

08/03/2018 - 12:00am
 Stained glass window of Saint Peter Julian Eymard | Santa Clara de Montefalco Parish Church, Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Manila | photo by JudgeflorooImage: Stained glass window of Saint Peter Julian Eymard | Santa Clara de Montefalco Parish Church, Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Manila | photo by Judgefloroo Saint Peter Julian Eymard Saint of the Day for August 3 (February 4, 1811 – August 1, 1868) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODAug03.mp3

 

Saint Peter Julian Eymard’s Story

Born in La Mure d’Isère in southeastern France, Peter Julian’s faith journey drew him from being a priest in the Diocese of Grenoble in 1834, to joining the Marists in 1839, to founding the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament in 1856.

In addition to those changes, Peter Julian coped with poverty, his father’s initial opposition to Peter’s vocation, serious illness, a Jansenistic overemphasis on sin, and the difficulties of getting diocesan and later papal approval for his new religious community.

His years as a Marist, including service as a provincial leader, saw the deepening of his Eucharistic devotion, especially through his preaching of Forty Hours in many parishes. Inspired at first by the idea of reparation for indifference to the Eucharist, Peter Julian was eventually attracted to a more positive spirituality of Christ-centered love. Members of the men’s community which Peter founded alternated between an active apostolic life and contemplating Jesus in the Eucharist. He and Marguerite Guillot founded the women’s Congregation of the Servants of the Blessed Sacrament.

Peter Julian Eymard was beatified in 1925, and canonized in 1962, one day after Vatican II’s first session ended.

Reflection

In every century, sin has been painfully real in the life of the Church. It is easy to give in to despair, to speak so strongly of human failings that people may forget the immense and self-sacrificing love of Jesus, as his death on the cross and his gift of the Eucharist make evident. Peter Julian knew that the Eucharist was key to helping Catholics live out their baptism and preach by word and example the Good News of Jesus Christ.

We are all called to be saints. Click here to find out how!

Minute Meditations

Saint Eusebius of Vercelli

08/02/2018 - 12:00am
<em>Santo Eusébio Ressuscitando Três Pessoas</em> | Raphael Image: Santo Eusébio Ressuscitando Três Pessoas | Raphael Saint Eusebius of Vercelli Saint of the Day for August 2 (c. 300 – August 1, 371) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODAug02.mp3

 

Saint Eusebius of Vercelli’s Story

Someone has said that if there had been no Arian heresy denying Christ’s divinity, it would be very difficult to write the lives of many early saints. Eusebius is another of the defenders of the Church during one of its most trying periods.

Born on the isle of Sardinia, he became a member of the Roman clergy, and is the first recorded bishop of Vercelli in Piedmont in northwest Italy. Eusebius was also the first to link the monastic life with that of the clergy, establishing a community of his diocesan clergy on the principle that the best way to sanctify his people was to have them see a clergy formed in solid virtue and living in community.

He was sent by Pope Liberius to persuade the emperor to call a council to settle Catholic-Arian troubles. When it was called at Milan, Eusebius went reluctantly, sensing that the Arian block would have its way, although the Catholics were more numerous. He refused to go along with the condemnation of Saint Athanasius; instead, he laid the Nicene Creed on the table and insisted that all sign it before taking up any other matter. The emperor put pressure on him, but Eusebius insisted on Athanasius’ innocence and reminded the emperor that secular force should not be used to influence Church decisions. At first the emperor threatened to kill him, but later sent him into exile in Palestine. There the Arians dragged him through the streets and shut him up in a little room, releasing him only after his four-day hunger strike. They resumed their harassment shortly after.

His exile continued in Asia Minor and Egypt, until the new emperor permitted him to be welcomed back to his see in Vercelli. Eusebius attended the Council of Alexandria with Athanasius and approved the leniency shown to bishops who had wavered. He also worked with Saint Hilary of Poitiers against the Arians.

Eusebius died peacefully in his own diocese at an advanced age.

Reflection

Catholics in the U.S. have sometimes felt penalized by an unwarranted interpretation of the principle of separation of Church and state, especially in the matter of Catholic schools. Be that as it may, the Church is happily free today from the tremendous pressure put on it after it became an “established” Church under Constantine. We are happily rid of such things as a pope asking an emperor to call a Church council, Pope John I being sent by the emperor to negotiate in the East, or the pressure of kings on papal elections. The Church cannot be a prophet if it’s in someone’s pocket.

Another Saint of the Day for August 2 is the Dedication of the Chapel of Our Lady of the Angels.

Saints resources

Saint Alphonsus Liguori

08/01/2018 - 12:00am
Stained glass window of Saint Alphonse Liguori | Carlow Cathedral | Franz Mayer &amp; Co. (Mayer &amp; Co. of Munich)Image: Stained glass window of Saint Alphonse Liguori | Carlow Cathedral | Franz Mayer & Co. (Mayer & Co. of Munich) Saint Alphonsus Liguori Saint of the Day for August 1 (September 27, 1696 – August 1, 1787) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODAug01.mp3

 

Saint Alphonsus Liguori’s Story

Moral theology, Vatican II said, should be more thoroughly nourished by Scripture, and show the nobility of the Christian vocation of the faithful and their obligation to bring forth fruit in charity for the life of the world. Alphonsus, declared patron of moral theologians by Pius XII in 1950, would rejoice in that statement.

In his day, Alphonsus fought for the liberation of moral theology from the rigidity of Jansenism. His moral theology, which went through 60 editions in the century following him, concentrated on the practical and concrete problems of pastors and confessors. If a certain legalism and minimalism crept into moral theology, it should not be attributed to this model of moderation and gentleness.

At the University of Naples, Alphonsus received a doctorate in both canon and civil law by acclamation, at the age of 16, but he soon gave up the practice of law for apostolic activity. He was ordained a priest, and concentrated his pastoral efforts on popular parish missions, hearing confessions, and forming Christian groups.

He founded the Redemptorist congregation in 1732. It was an association of priests and brothers living a common life, dedicated to the imitation of Christ, and working mainly in popular missions for peasants in rural areas. Almost as an omen of what was to come later, he found himself deserted after a while by all his original companions except one lay brother. But the congregation managed to survive and was formally approved 17 years later, though its troubles were not over.

Alphonsus’ great pastoral reforms were in the pulpit and confessional—replacing the pompous oratory of the time with simplicity, and the rigorism of Jansenism with kindness. His great fame as a writer has somewhat eclipsed the fact that for 26 years he traveled up and down the Kingdom of Naples preaching popular missions.

He was made bishop at age 66 after trying to reject the honor, and at once instituted a thorough reform of his diocese.

His greatest sorrow came toward the end of his life. The Redemptorists, precariously continuing after the suppression of the Jesuits in 1773, had difficulty in getting their Rule approved by the Kingdom of Naples. Alphonsus acceded to the condition that they possess no property in common, but with the connivance of a high Redemptorist official, a royal official changed the Rule substantially. Alphonsus, old, crippled and with very bad sight, signed the document, unaware that he had been betrayed. The Redemptorists in the Papal States then put themselves under the pope, who withdrew those in Naples from the jurisdiction of Alphonsus. It was only after his death that the branches were united.

At 71, Alphonsus was afflicted with rheumatic pains which left incurable bending of his neck. Until it was straightened a little, the pressure of his chin caused a raw wound on his chest. He suffered a final 18 months of “dark night” scruples, fears, temptations against every article of faith and every virtue, interspersed with intervals of light and relief, when ecstasies were frequent.

Alphonsus is best known for his moral theology, but he also wrote well in the field of spiritual and dogmatic theology. His Glories of Mary is one of the great works on that subject, and his book Visits to the Blessed Sacrament went through 40 editions in his lifetime, greatly influencing the practice of this devotion in the Church.

Reflection

Saint Alphonsus was known above all as a practical man who dealt in the concrete rather than the abstract. His life is indeed a practical model for the everyday Christian who has difficulty recognizing the dignity of Christian life amid the swirl of problems, pain, misunderstanding and failure. Alphonsus suffered all these things. He is a saint because he was able to maintain an intimate sense of the presence of the suffering Christ through it all.

Saint Alphonsus Liguori is the Patron Saint of:

Theologians
Vocations

Saint of the Day and Minute Meditations

Saint Ignatius of Loyola

07/31/2018 - 12:00am

<em>St. Ignatius of Loyola</em> | Peter Paul Rubens Image: St. Ignatius of Loyola | Peter Paul Rubens

Saint Ignatius of Loyola Saint of the Day for July 31 (October 23, 1491 – July 31, 1556) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODJul31.mp3

 

Saint Ignatius of Loyola’s Story

The founder of the Jesuits was on his way to military fame and fortune when a cannon ball shattered his leg. Because there were no books of romance on hand during his convalescence, Ignatius whiled away the time reading a life of Christ and lives of the saints. His conscience was deeply touched, and a long, painful turning to Christ began. Having seen the Mother of God in a vision, he made a pilgrimage to her shrine at Montserrat near Barcelona. He remained for almost a year at nearby Manresa, sometimes with the Dominicans, sometimes in a pauper’s hospice, often in a cave in the hills praying. After a period of great peace of mind, he went through a harrowing trial of scruples. There was no comfort in anything—prayer, fasting, sacraments, penance. At length, his peace of mind returned.

It was during this year of conversion that Ignatius began to write down material that later became his greatest work, the Spiritual Exercises.

He finally achieved his purpose of going to the Holy Land, but could not remain, as he planned, because of the hostility of the Turks. Ignatius spent the next 11 years in various European universities, studying with great difficulty, beginning almost as a child. Like many others, his orthodoxy was questioned; Ignatius was twice jailed for brief periods.

In 1534, at the age of 43, he and six others—one of whom was Saint Francis Xavier—vowed to live in poverty and chastity and to go to the Holy Land. If this became impossible, they vowed to offer themselves to the apostolic service of the pope. The latter became the only choice. Four years later Ignatius made the association permanent. The new Society of Jesus was approved by Pope Paul III, and Ignatius was elected to serve as the first general.

When companions were sent on various missions by the pope, Ignatius remained in Rome, consolidating the new venture, but still finding time to found homes for orphans, catechumens, and penitents. He founded the Roman College, intended to be the model of all other colleges of the Society.

Ignatius was a true mystic. He centered his spiritual life on the essential foundations of Christianity—the Trinity, Christ, the Eucharist. His spirituality is expressed in the Jesuit motto, Ad majorem Dei gloriam—“for the greater glory of God.” In his concept, obedience was to be the prominent virtue, to assure the effectiveness and mobility of his men. All activity was to be guided by a true love of the Church and unconditional obedience to the Holy Father, for which reason all professed members took a fourth vow to go wherever the pope should send them for the salvation of souls.

Reflection

Luther nailed his theses to the church door at Wittenberg in 1517. Seventeen years later, Ignatius of Loyola founded the Society that was to play so prominent a part in the Catholic Reformation. He was an implacable foe of Protestantism. Yet the seeds of ecumenism may be found in his words: “Great care must be taken to show forth orthodox truth in such a way that if any heretics happen to be present they may have an example of charity and Christian moderation. No hard words should be used nor any sort of contempt for their errors be shown.” One of the greatest ecumenists was the 20th-century German Jesuit, Cardinal Augustin Bea.

Saint Ignatius of Loyola is the Patron Saint of:

Retreats

Click here for Friar Jack’s thoughts on Ignatius of Loyola and three other Spanish saints!  Saints resources

Blessed Solanus Casey

07/30/2018 - 12:00am
Venerable Solanus Casey Shrine | Saint Mary Magdalen Church, Brighton, Michigan | photo by NheyobImage: Blessed Solanus Casey Shrine | Saint Mary Magdalen Church, Brighton, Michigan | photo by Nheyob Blessed Solanus Casey Saint of the Day for July 30 (November 25, 1875 – July 31, 1957) https://wp.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODJul30.mp3

 

Blessed Solanus Casey’s Story

Barney Casey became one of Detroit’s best-known priests even though he was not allowed to preach formally or to hear confessions!

Barney came from a large family in Oak Grove, Wisconsin. At the age of 21, and after he had worked as a logger, a hospital orderly, a streetcar operator, and a prison guard, he entered St. Francis Seminary in Milwaukee—where he found the studies difficult. He left there, and in 1896, joined the Capuchins in Detroit, taking the name Solanus. His studies for the priesthood were again arduous.

On July 24, 1904, Solanus was ordained, but because his knowledge of theology was judged to be weak, he was not given permission to hear confessions or to preach. A Franciscan Capuchin who knew him well said this annoying restriction “brought forth in him a greatness and a holiness that might never have been realized in any other way.”

During his 14 years as porter and sacristan in Yonkers, New York, the people there recognized Solanus as a fine speaker. James Derum, his biographer writes, “For, though he was forbidden to deliver doctrinal sermons, he could give inspirational talks, or feverinos, as the Capuchins termed them.” His spiritual fire deeply impressed his listeners.

Father Solanus served at parishes in Manhattan and Harlem before returning to Detroit, where he was porter and sacristan for 20 years at St. Bonaventure Monastery. Every Wednesday afternoon he conducted well-attended services for the sick. A co-worker estimates that on the average day 150 to 200 people came to see Father Solanus in the front office. Most of them came to receive his blessing; 40 to 50 came for consultation. Many people considered him instrumental in cures and other blessings they received.

Father Solanus’ sense of God’s providence inspired many of his visitors. “Blessed be God in all his designs” was one of his favorite expressions.

The many friends of Father Solanus helped the Capuchins begin a soup kitchen during the Depression. Capuchins are still feeding the hungry there today.

In failing health, Solanus was transferred to the Capuchin novitiate in Huntington, Indiana, in 1946,  where he lived for ten years until needing to be hospitalized in Detroit. Father Solanus died on July 31, 1957. An estimated 20,000 people passed by his coffin before his burial in St. Bonaventure Church in Detroit.

At the funeral Mass, the provincial Father Gerald said: “His was a life of service and love for people like me and you. When he was not himself sick, he nevertheless suffered with and for you that were sick. When he was not physically hungry, he hungered with people like you. He had a divine love for people. He loved people for what he could do for them—and for God, through them.”

In 1960, a Father Solanus Guild was formed in Detroit to aid Capuchin seminarians. By 1967, the guild had 5,000 members—many of them grateful recipients of his practical advice and his comforting assurance that God would not abandon them in their trials. Solanus Casey was declared Venerable in 1995, and beatified on November 18, 2017.

Reflection

His biographer James Patrick Derum writes that eventually Father Solanus was weary from bearing the burdens of the people who visited him. “Long since, he had come to know the Christ-taught truth that pure love of God and one’s fellowmen as children of God are in the final event all that matter. Living this truth ardently and continuously had made him, spiritually, a free man—free from slavery to passions, from self-seeking, from self-indulgence, from self-pity—free to serve wholly both God and man” (The Porter of St. Bonaventure’s, page 199).

Click here to visit our page devoted to Solanus Casey!

The Franciscan Saints

Blessed Stanley Rother

07/28/2018 - 12:00am
Blessed Stanley RotherImage: Blessed Stanley Rother | CNS photo/Charlene Scott Blessed Stanley Rother Saint of the Day for July 28 (March 27, 1935 – July 28, 1981) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODJul28.mp3 Blessed Stanley Rother’s Story

On May 25, 1963, Stanley Rother, a farmer from Okarche, Oklahoma, was ordained for his home diocese of Oklahoma City-Tulsa. Having flunked out of the area seminary due to his difficulty with Latin, Fr. Rother finally accepted an invitation to attend Mount St. Mary Seminary in Maryland, where he finished his studies and was approved for ordination.

After serving in his local diocese for five years, Fr. Rother joined five priests, three religious sisters, and three laypersons to staff a Guatemalan mission in Santiago Atitlán serving the Tz’utujil people. The Oklahoma City diocese heard the call of Pope John XXIII to send missionaries to foreign lands, especially Central America. These twelve individuals felt the call, and with their bishop’s approval, left the comforts of the United States to live and work in Guatemala.

By 1975, Fr. Rother was alone at his parish in Santiago Atitlán, the others having returned home for various reasons. He served the Tz’utujil people for 13 years and won their hearts and souls. Ever the farmer, and always unpretentious and mild mannered, Fr. Rother experimented with various crops as well as fulfilling his heavy pastoral duties which included as many as five Masses in four different locations on a given Sunday and as many as 1,000 baptisms a year.

Guatemala’s civil war reached the highlands and Lake Atitlán by 1980. Government troops camped on the parish farm and Fr. Rother witnessed the assassination of a number of his parishioners, including the parish deacon.

Warned of imminent danger, Fr. Rother returned to the United States for three months early in 1981, to visit with his family and friends. Against the advice of his family and the local bishop, Fr. Rother returned to Atitlán to be with his people. He remembered a Sisters’ community who had fled the country and later tried to return but the people asked, “Where were you when we needed you?”

On the evening of July 28, three masked men entered the rectory and shot Fr. Rother to death. His beloved parishioners mourned him repeatedly crying, “They have killed our priest.”

Pope Francis declared Stanley Rother a martyr on December 2, 2016. He was beatified in Oklahoma City on September 23, 2017.

Reflection

The declaration of a blessed or saint is always a celebration of the Church as the people of God. To single out an individual for his or her holiness and service builds up the entire community of faith. But this is doubly true for the Church in the United States and in Oklahoma, as one of our own is both declared a martyr for the faith and enrolled in the ranks of those declared Blessed by the Church. May the dedication, faith, and service of Blessed Stanley Rother be a source of strength for all in this country.

Click here for a deeper look at Stanley Rother! Minute Meditations

Blessed Antonio Lucci

07/27/2018 - 12:00am

Blessed Antonio Lucci Saint of the Day for July 27 (August 2, 1682 – July 25, 1752) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODJul27.mp3

 

Blessed Antonio Lucci’s Story

Antonio studied with and was a friend of Saint Francesco Antonio Fasani, who after Antonio Lucci’s death, testified at the diocesan hearings regarding the holiness of Lucci.

Born in Agnone in southern Italy, a city famous for manufacturing bells and copper crafts, he was given the name Angelo at baptism. He attended the local school run by the Conventual Franciscans and joined them at the age of 16. Antonio completed his studies for the priesthood in Assisi, where he was ordained in 1705. Further studies led to a doctorate in theology and appointments as a teacher in Agnone, Ravello, and Naples. He also served as guardian in Naples.

Elected minister provincial in 1718, the following year he was appointed professor at St. Bonaventure College in Rome, a position he held until Pope Benedict XIII chose Antonio as bishop of Bovino in 1729. The pope explained, “I have chosen as bishop of Bovino an eminent theologian and a great saint.”

His 23 years as bishop were marked by visits to local parishes and a renewal of gospel living among the people of his diocese. He dedicated his episcopal income to works of education and charity. At the urging of the Conventual minister general, Bishop Lucci wrote a major book about the saints and blesseds in the first 200 years of the Conventual Franciscans.

Antonio Lucci was beatified in 1989, three years after his friend Francesco Antonio Fasani was canonized. His Liturgical Feast Day is July 25.

Reflection

As Pope Paul VI wrote in 1975, people today “are more impressed by witnesses than by teachers, and if they listen to these it is because they also bear witness” (Evangelization in the Modern World, #41).

Saint of the Day

Saints Joachim and Anne

07/26/2018 - 12:00am
Detail | <em>Abrazo de San Joaquín y Santa Ana ante la Puerta Dorada</em> | Ambrosius BensonImage: Detail | Abrazo de San Joaquín y Santa Ana ante la Puerta Dorada | Ambrosius Benson Saints Joachim and Anne Saint of the Day for July 26 (b. 1st century) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODJul26.mp3

 

Saints Joachim and Anne’s Story

In the Scriptures, Matthew and Luke furnish a legal family history of Jesus, tracing ancestry to show that Jesus is the culmination of great promises. Not only is his mother’s family neglected, we also know nothing factual about them except that they existed. Even the names Joachim and Anne come from a legendary source written more than a century after Jesus died.

The heroism and holiness of these people however, is inferred from the whole family atmosphere around Mary in the Scriptures. Whether we rely on the legends about Mary’s childhood or make guesses from the information in the Bible, we see in her a fulfillment of many generations of prayerful persons, herself steeped in the religious traditions of her people.

The strong character of Mary in making decisions, her continuous practice of prayer, her devotion to the laws of her faith, her steadiness at moments of crisis, and her devotion to her relatives—all indicate a close-knit, loving family that looked forward to the next generation even while retaining the best of the past.

Joachim and Anne—whether these are their real names or not—represent that entire quiet series of generations who faithfully perform their duties, practice their faith, and establish an atmosphere for the coming of the Messiah, but remain obscure.

Reflection

This is the “feast of grandparents.” It reminds grandparents of their responsibility to establish a tone for generations to come: They must make the traditions live and offer them as a promise to little children. But the feast has a message for the younger generation as well. It reminds the young that older people’s greater perspective, depth of experience, and appreciation of life’s profound rhythms are all part of a wisdom not to be taken lightly or ignored.

Saints Joachim and Anne are the Patron Saints of:

Grandparents

Saint Anne is the Patron Saint of:

Mothers
Women in Labor

Being a Grandparent

Saint James the Apostle

07/25/2018 - 12:00am
Detail | <em>Santiago apóstol con donante</em> | Jaime Baço Image: Detail | Santiago apóstol con donante | Jaime Baço Saint James the Apostle Saint of the Day for July 25 (d. 44) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODJul25.mp3

 

Saint James the Apostle’s Story

This James is the brother of John the Evangelist. The two were called by Jesus as they worked with their father in a fishing boat on the Sea of Galilee. Jesus had already called another pair of brothers from a similar occupation: Peter and Andrew. “He walked along a little farther and saw James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They too were in a boat mending their nets. Then he called them. So they left their father Zebedee in the boat along with the hired men and followed him” (Mark 1:19-20).

James was one of the favored three who had the privilege of witnessing the Transfiguration, the raising to life of the daughter of Jairus, and the agony in Gethsemani.

Two incidents in the Gospels describe the temperament of this man and his brother. Saint Matthew tells that their mother came—Mark says it was the brothers themselves—to ask that they have the seats of honor in the kingdom. “Jesus said in reply, ‘You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the cup that I am going to drink?’ They said to him, ‘We can’” (Matthew 20:22). Jesus then told them they would indeed drink the cup and share his baptism of pain and death, but that sitting at his right hand or left was not his to give—it “is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father” (Matthew 20:23b). It remained to be seen how long it would take to realize the implications of their confident “We can!”

The other disciples became indignant at the ambition of James and John. Then Jesus taught them all the lesson of humble service: The purpose of authority is to serve. They are not to impose their will on others, or lord it over them. This is the position of Jesus himself. He was the servant of all; the service imposed on him was the supreme sacrifice of his own life.

On another occasion, James and John gave evidence that the nickname Jesus gave them—“sons of thunder”—was an apt one. The Samaritans would not welcome Jesus because he was on his way to hated Jerusalem. “When the disciples James and John saw this they asked, ‘Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?’ Jesus turned and rebuked them…” (Luke 9:54-55).

James was apparently the first of the apostles to be martyred. “About that time King Herod laid hands upon some members of the church to harm them. He had James, the brother of John, killed by the sword, and when he saw that this was pleasing to the Jews he proceeded to arrest Peter also” (Acts 12:1-3a).

This James, sometimes called James the Greater, is not to be confused with James the Lesser or with the author of the Letter of James and the leader of the Jerusalem community.

Reflection

The way the Gospels treat the apostles is a good reminder of what holiness is all about. There is very little about their virtues as static possessions, entitling them to heavenly reward. Rather, the great emphasis is on the Kingdom, on God’s giving them the power to proclaim the Good News. As far as their personal lives are concerned, there is much about Jesus’ purifying them of narrowness, pettiness, fickleness.

Saint James the Apostle is the Patron Saint of:

Chile
Laborers
Nicaragua
Rheumatism
Spain

Saint of the Day and Minute Meditations