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Saint Matthew

8 hours 23 min ago
<em>St Matthew and the Angel</em> | Guido ReniImage: St Matthew and the Angel | Guido Reni Saint Matthew Saint of the Day for September 21 (c. 1st Century) https://wp.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODSep21.mp3

 

Saint Matthew’s Story

Matthew was a Jew who worked for the occupying Roman forces, collecting taxes from other Jews. The Romans were not scrupulous about what the “tax farmers” got for themselves. Hence the latter, known as “publicans,” were generally hated as traitors by their fellow Jews. The Pharisees lumped them with “sinners” (see Matthew 9:11-13). So it was shocking to them to hear Jesus call such a man to be one of his intimate followers.

Matthew got Jesus in further trouble by having a sort of going-away party at his house. The Gospel tells us that many tax collectors and “those known as sinners” came to the dinner. The Pharisees were still more badly shocked. What business did the supposedly great teacher have associating with such immoral people? Jesus’ answer was, “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. Go and learn the meaning of the words, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ I did not come to call the righteous but sinners” (Matthew 9:12b-13). Jesus is not setting aside ritual and worship; he is saying that loving others is even more important.

No other particular incidents about Matthew are found in the New Testament.

Reflection

From such an unlikely situation, Jesus chose one of the foundations of the Church, a man others, judging from his job, thought was not holy enough for the position. But Matthew was honest enough to admit that he was one of the sinners Jesus came to call. He was open enough to recognize truth when he saw him. “And he got up and followed him” (Matthew 9:9b).

Saint Matthew is the Patron Saint of:

Accountants
Actors
Bankers
Bookkeepers
Tax collectors
Taxi Drivers

Saints Andrew Kim Taegon, Paul Chong Hasang, and Companions

09/20/2017 - 12:00am
Saint Andrew Kim Taegon and Companions | CNS PhotoImage: Saint Andrew Kim Taegon and Companions | CNS Photo Saints Andrew Kim Taegon, Paul Chong Hasang, and Companions Saint of the Day for September 20 (August 21, 1821 – September 16, 1846; Companions d. between 1839 – 1867)

 

https://wp.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODSep20.mp3

 

Saints Andrew Kim Taegon, Paul Chong Hasang, and Companions’ Story

The first native Korean priest, Andrew Kim Taegon was the son of Christian converts. Following his baptism at the age of 15, Andrew traveled 1,300 miles to the seminary in Macao, China. After six years, he managed to return to his country through Manchuria. That same year he crossed the Yellow Sea to Shanghai and was ordained a priest. Back home again, he was assigned to arrange for more missionaries to enter by a water route that would elude the border patrol. He was arrested, tortured, and finally beheaded at the Han River near Seoul, the capital.

Andrew’s father Ignatius Kim, was martyred during the persecution of 1839, and was beatified in 1925. Paul Chong Hasang, a lay apostle and married man, also died in 1839 at age 45.

Among the other martyrs in 1839 was Columba Kim, an unmarried woman of 26. She was put in prison, pierced with hot tools and seared with burning coals. She and her sister Agnes were disrobed and kept for two days in a cell with condemned criminals, but were not molested. After Columba complained about the indignity, no more women were subjected to it. The two were beheaded. Peter Ryou, a boy of 13, had his flesh so badly torn that he could pull off pieces and throw them at the judges. He was killed by strangulation. Protase Chong, a 41-year-old nobleman, apostatized under torture and was freed. Later he came back, confessed his faith and was tortured to death.

Christianity came to Korea during the Japanese invasion in 1592 when some Koreans were baptized, probably by Christian Japanese soldiers. Evangelization was difficult because Korea refused all contact with the outside world except for taking taxes to Beijing annually. On one of these occasions, around 1777, Christian literature obtained from Jesuits in China led educated Korean Christians to study. A home Church began. When a Chinese priest managed to enter secretly a dozen years later, he found 4,000 Catholics, none of whom had ever seen a priest. Seven years later there were 10,000 Catholics. Religious freedom came to Korea in 1883.

Besides Andrew and Paul, Pope John Paul II canonized 98 Koreans and three French missionaries who had been martyred between 1839 and 1867, when he visited Korea in 1984. Among them were bishops and priests, but for the most part they were lay persons: 47 women and 45 men.

Reflection

We marvel at the fact that the Korean Church was strictly a lay Church for a dozen years after its birth. How did the people survive without the Eucharist? It is no belittling of this and other sacraments to realize that there must be a living faith before there can be a truly beneficial celebration of the Eucharist. The sacraments are signs of God’s initiative and response to faith already present. The sacraments increase grace and faith, but only if there is something ready to be increased.

Saint of the Day by Franciscan Media

Saint Januarius

09/19/2017 - 12:00am
<em>The Martyrdom of Saint Januarius</em> | Neri di BicciImage: The Martyrdom of Saint Januarius | Neri di Bicci Saint Januarius Saint of the Day for September 19 (c. 300) https://wp.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODSep19.mp3

 

Saint Januarius’ Story

Little is known about the life of Januarius. He is believed to have been martyred in the Emperor Diocletian’s persecution of 305. Legend has it that Januarius and his companions were thrown to the bears in the amphitheater of Pozzuoli, but the animals failed to attack them. They were then beheaded, and Januarius’ blood ultimately brought to Naples.

“A dark mass that half fills a hermetically sealed four-inch glass container, and is preserved in a double reliquary in the Naples cathedral as the blood of St. Januarius, liquefies 18 times during the year…Various experiments have been applied, but the phenomenon eludes natural explanation….” [From the Catholic Encyclopedia]

Reflection

It is defined Catholic doctrine that miracles can happen and are recognizable. Problems arise, however, when we must decide whether an occurrence is unexplainable in natural terms, or merely unexplained. We do well to avoid an excessive credulity but, on the other hand, when even scientists speak about “probabilities” rather than “laws” of nature, it is something less than imaginative for Christians to think that God is too “scientific” to work extraordinary miracles to wake us up to the everyday miracles of sparrows and dandelions, raindrops and snowflakes.

Saint Januarius is the Patron Saint of:

Blood Banks
Naples

Franciscan Saints by Robert Ellsberg

Saint Joseph of Cupertino

09/18/2017 - 12:00am
 Saint Joseph of Cupertino. Engraving after F.A. Lorenzini | Wellcome ImagesImage: Saint Joseph of Cupertino. Engraving after F.A. Lorenzini | Wellcome Images Saint Joseph of Cupertino Saint of the Day for September 18 (June 17, 1603 – September 18, 1663) https://wp.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODSep18.mp3

 

Saint Joseph of Cupertino’s Story

Joseph of Cupertino is most famous for levitating at prayer. Already as a child, Joseph showed a fondness for prayer. After a short career with the Capuchins, he joined the Conventual Franciscans. Following a brief assignment caring for the friary mule, Joseph began his studies for the priesthood. Though studies were very difficult for him, Joseph gained a great deal of knowledge from prayer. He was ordained in 1628.

Joseph’s tendency to levitate during prayer was sometimes a cross; some people came to see this much as they might have gone to a circus sideshow. Joseph’s gift led him to be humble, patient, and obedient, even though at times he was greatly tempted and felt forsaken by God. He fasted and wore iron chains for much of his life.

The friars transferred Joseph several times for his own good and for the good of the rest of the community. He was reported to and investigated by the Inquisition; the examiners exonerated him.

Joseph was canonized in 1767. In the investigation preceding the canonization, 70 incidents of levitation are recorded.

Reflection

While levitation is an extraordinary sign of holiness, Joseph is also remembered for the ordinary signs he showed. He prayed even in times of inner darkness, and he lived out the Sermon on the Mount. He used his “unique possession”–his free will–to praise God and to serve God’s creation.

Saint Joseph of Cupertino is the Patron Saint of:

Air Travelers
Astronauts
Pilots

Click here for a closer look at Joseph of Cupertino and other saints. 

Franciscan Saints by Robert Ellsberg

Saint Robert Bellarmine

09/17/2017 - 12:00am
Detail | Stained glass window in Saint Anthony of Padua Catholic Church, Dayton, Ohio | photo by NheyobImage: Detail | Stained glass window in Saint Anthony of Padua Catholic Church, Dayton, Ohio | photo by Nheyob Saint Robert Bellarmine Saint of the Day for September 17 (October 4, 1542 – September 17, 1621) https://wp.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODSep17.mp3

 

Saint Robert Bellarmine’s Story

When Robert Bellarmine was ordained in 1570, the study of Church history and the fathers of the Church was in a sad state of neglect. A promising scholar from his youth in Tuscany, he devoted his energy to these two subjects, as well as to Scripture, in order to systematize Church doctrine against the attacks of the Protestant Reformers. He was the first Jesuit to become a professor at Louvain.

His most famous work is his three-volume Disputations on the Controversies of the Christian Faith. Particularly noteworthy are the sections on the temporal power of the pope and the role of the laity. Bellarmine incurred the anger of monarchists in England and France by showing the divine-right-of-kings theory untenable. He developed the theory of the indirect power of the pope in temporal affairs; although he was defending the pope against the Scottish philosopher Barclay, he also incurred the ire of Pope Sixtus V.

Bellarmine was made a cardinal by Pope Clement VIII on the grounds that “he had not his equal for learning.” While he occupied apartments in the Vatican, Bellarmine relaxed none of his former austerities. He limited his household expenses to what was barely essential, eating only the food available to the poor. He was known to have ransomed a soldier who had deserted from the army and he used the hangings of his rooms to clothe poor people, remarking, “The walls won’t catch cold.”

Among many activities, Bellarmine became theologian to Pope Clement VIII, preparing two catechisms which have had great influence in the Church.

The last major controversy of Bellarmine’s life came in 1616 when he had to admonish his friend Galileo, whom he admired. He delivered the admonition on behalf of the Holy Office, which had decided that the heliocentric theory of Copernicus was contrary to Scripture. The admonition amounted to a caution against putting forward—other than as a hypothesis—theories not yet fully proven. This shows that saints are not infallible.

Robert Bellarmine died on September 17, 1621. The process for his canonization was begun in 1627, but was delayed until 1930 for political reasons, stemming from his writings. In 1930, Pope Pius XI canonized him, and the next year declared him a doctor of the Church.

Reflection

The renewal in the Church sought by Vatican II was difficult for many Catholics. In the course of change, many felt a lack of firm guidance from those in authority. They yearned for the stone columns of orthodoxy and an iron command with clearly defined lines of authority. Vatican II assures us in The Church in the Modern World, “There are many realities which do not change and which have their ultimate foundation in Christ, who is the same yesterday and today, yes, and forever” (#10, quoting Hebrews 13:8).

Robert Bellarmine devoted his life to the study of Scripture and Catholic doctrine. His writings help us understand that the real source of our faith is not merely a set of doctrines, but rather the person of Jesus still living in the Church today.

Saint Robert Bellarmine is the Patron Saint of:

Catechists
Catechumens

Saint of the Day by Franciscan Media

Saint Cornelius

09/16/2017 - 12:00am
 Stained glass window in Catholic Church of Saint-Corneille | photo by GFreihalterImage: Stained glass window in Catholic Church of Saint-Corneille | photo by GFreihalter Saint Cornelius Saint of the Day for September 16 (d. 253) https://wp.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODSep16.mp3

 

Saint Cornelius’ Story

There was no pope for 14 months after the martyrdom of Saint Fabian because of the intensity of the persecution of the Church. During the interval, the Church was governed by a college of priests. Saint Cyprian, a friend of Cornelius, writes that Cornelius was elected pope “by the judgment of God and of Christ, by the testimony of most of the clergy, by the vote of the people, with the consent of aged priests and of good men.”

The greatest problem of Cornelius’s two-year term as pope had to do with the Sacrament of Penance and centered on the readmission of Christians who had denied their faith during the time of persecution. Two extremes were finally both condemned. Cyprian, primate of North Africa, appealed to the pope to confirm his stand that the relapsed could be reconciled only by the decision of the bishop.

In Rome, however, Cornelius met with the opposite view. After his election, a priest named Novatian (one of those who had governed the Church) had himself consecrated a rival bishop of Rome—one of the first antipopes. He denied that the Church had any power to reconcile not only the apostates, but also those guilty of murder, adultery, fornication, or second marriage! Cornelius had the support of most of the Church (especially of Cyprian of Africa) in condemning Novatianism, though the sect persisted for several centuries. Cornelius held a synod at Rome in 251 and ordered the “relapsed” to be restored to the Church with the usual “medicines of repentance.”

The friendship of Cornelius and Cyprian was strained for a time when one of Cyprian’s rivals made accusations about him. But the problem was cleared up.

A document from Cornelius shows the extent of organization in the Church of Rome in the mid-third century: 46 priests, seven deacons, seven subdeacons. It is estimated that the number of Christians totaled about 50,000.

Cornelius died as a result of the hardships of his exile in what is now Civitavecchia.

Reflection

It seems fairly true to say that almost every possible false doctrine has been proposed at some time or other in the history of the Church. The third century saw the resolution of a problem we scarcely consider—the penance to be done before reconciliation with the Church after mortal sin. Men like Cornelius and Cyprian were God’s instruments in helping the Church find a prudent path between extremes of rigorism and laxity. They are part of the Church’s ever-living stream of tradition, ensuring the continuance of what was begun by Christ, and evaluating new experiences through the wisdom and experience of those who have gone before.

Saint of the Day by Franciscan Media

Our Lady of Sorrows

09/15/2017 - 12:00am
Our Lady of Sorrows statue in Golgotha, Holy Sepulchre Jerusalem | photo by creisorImage: Our Lady of Sorrows statue in Golgotha, Holy Sepulchre Jerusalem | photo by creisor Our Lady of Sorrows Saint of the Day for September 15 https://wp.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODSep15.mp3

 

The Story of Our Lady of Sorrows

For a while there were two feasts in honor of the Sorrowful Mother: one going back to the 15th century, the other to the 17th century. For a while both were celebrated by the universal Church: one on the Friday before Palm Sunday, the other in September.

The principal biblical references to Mary’s sorrows are in Luke 2:35 and John 19:26-27. The Lucan passage is Simeon’s prediction about a sword piercing Mary’s soul; the Johannine passage relates Jesus’ words from the cross to Mary and to the beloved disciple.

Many early Church writers interpret the sword as Mary’s sorrows, especially as she saw Jesus die on the cross. Thus, the two passages are brought together as prediction and fulfillment.

Saint Ambrose in particular sees Mary as a sorrowful yet powerful figure at the cross. Mary stood fearlessly at the cross while others fled. Mary looked on her Son’s wounds with pity, but saw in them the salvation of the world. As Jesus hung on the cross, Mary did not fear to be killed, but offered herself to her persecutors.

Reflection

John’s account of Jesus’ death is highly symbolic. When Jesus gives the beloved disciple to Mary, we are invited to appreciate Mary’s role in the Church: She symbolizes the Church; the beloved disciple represents all believers. As Mary mothered Jesus, she is now mother to all his followers. Furthermore, as Jesus died, he handed over his Spirit. Mary and the Spirit cooperate in begetting new children of God—almost an echo of Luke’s account of Jesus’ conception. Christians can trust that they will continue to experience the caring presence of Mary and Jesus’ Spirit throughout their lives and throughout history.

Click here to read a meditation on the Seven Sorrows of Mary.

Mother Mary by Franciscan Media

Exaltation of the Holy Cross

09/14/2017 - 12:00am
<em>The Exaltation of the True Cross</em> | anonymous Russian icon painterImage: The Exaltation of the True Cross | anonymous Russian icon painter Exaltation of the Holy Cross Saint of the Day for September 14 https://wp.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODSep14.mp3

 

The Story of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross

Early in the fourth century, Saint Helena, mother of the Roman Emperor Constantine, went to Jerusalem in search of the holy places of Christ’s life. She razed the second-century Temple of Aphrodite, which tradition held was built over the Savior’s tomb, and her son built the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher on that spot. During the excavation, workers found three crosses. Legend has it that the one on which Jesus died was identified when its touch healed a dying woman.

The cross immediately became an object of veneration. At a Good Friday celebration in Jerusalem toward the end of the fourth century, according to an eyewitness, the wood was taken out of its silver container and placed on a table together with the inscription Pilate ordered placed above Jesus’ head: Then “all the people pass through one by one; all of them bow down, touching the cross and the inscription, first with their foreheads, then with their eyes; and, after kissing the cross, they move on.”

To this day the Eastern Churches, Catholic and Orthodox alike, celebrate the Exaltation of the Holy Cross on the September anniversary of the basilica’s dedication. The feast entered the Western calendar in the seventh century after Emperor Heraclius recovered the cross from the Persians, who had carried it off in 614, 15 years earlier. According to the story, the emperor intended to carry the cross back into Jerusalem himself, but was unable to move forward until he took off his imperial garb and became a barefoot pilgrim.

Reflection

The cross is today the universal image of Christian belief. Countless generations of artists have turned it into a thing of beauty to be carried in procession or worn as jewelry. To the eyes of the first Christians, it had no beauty. It stood outside too many city walls, decorated only with decaying corpses, as a threat to anyone who defied Rome’s authority—including Christians who refused sacrifice to Roman gods. Although believers spoke of the cross as the instrument of salvation, it seldom appeared in Christian art unless disguised as an anchor or the Chi-Rho until after Constantine’s edict of toleration.

Saint of the Day by Franciscan Media

Saint John Chrysostom

09/13/2017 - 12:00am
<em>Chrysostemos</em> | Carl Christian PetersImage: Chrysostemos | Carl Christian Peters Saint John Chrysostom Saint of the Day for September 13 (c. 349 – September 14, 407) https://wp.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODSep13.mp3

 

Saint John Chrysostom’s Story

The ambiguity and intrigue surrounding John, the great preacher (his name means “golden-mouthed”) from Antioch, are characteristic of the life of any great man in a capital city. Brought to Constantinople after a dozen years of priestly service in Syria, John found himself the reluctant victim of an imperial ruse to make him bishop in the greatest city of the empire. Ascetic, unimposing but dignified, and troubled by stomach ailments from his desert days as a monk, John became a bishop under the cloud of imperial politics.

If his body was weak, his tongue was powerful. The content of his sermons, his exegesis of Scripture, were never without a point. Sometimes the point stung the high and mighty. Some sermons lasted up to two hours.

His lifestyle at the imperial court was not appreciated by many courtiers. He offered a modest table to episcopal sycophants hanging around for imperial and ecclesiastical favors. John deplored the court protocol that accorded him precedence before the highest state officials. He would not be a kept man.

His zeal led him to decisive action. Bishops who bribed their way into office were deposed. Many of his sermons called for concrete steps to share wealth with the poor. The rich did not appreciate hearing from John that private property existed because of Adam’s fall from grace any more than married men liked to hear that they were bound to marital fidelity just as much as their wives were. When it came to justice and charity, John acknowledged no double standards.

Aloof, energetic, outspoken, especially when he became excited in the pulpit, John was a sure target for criticism and personal trouble. He was accused of gorging himself secretly on rich wines and fine foods. His faithfulness as spiritual director to the rich widow, Olympia, provoked much gossip attempting to prove him a hypocrite where wealth and chastity were concerned. His actions taken against unworthy bishops in Asia Minor were viewed by other ecclesiastics as a greedy, uncanonical extension of his authority.

Theophilus, archbishop of Alexandria, and Empress Eudoxia were determined to discredit John. Theophilus feared the growth in importance of the Bishop of Constantinople and took occasion to charge John with fostering heresy. Theophilus and other angered bishops were supported by Eudoxia. The empress resented his sermons contrasting gospel values with the excesses of imperial court life. Whether intended or not, sermons mentioning the lurid Jezebel and impious Herodias were associated with the empress, who finally did manage to have John exiled. He died in exile in 407.

Reflection

John Chrysostom’s preaching, by word and example, exemplifies the role of the prophet to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable. For his honesty and courage, he paid the price of a turbulent ministry as bishop, personal vilification, and exile.

Saint John Chrysostom is the Patron Saint of:

Orators
Preachers
Speakers

Saint of the Day by Franciscan Media

Most Holy Name of the Blessed Virgin Mary

09/12/2017 - 12:00am
<em>The Virgin and Child (The Madonna of the Rose)</em> | Giovanni Antonio BoltraffioImage: The Virgin and Child (The Madonna of the Rose) | Giovanni Antonio Boltraffio Most Holy Name of the Blessed Virgin Mary Saint of the Day for September 12 https://wp.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODSep12.mp3

 

The Story of the Most Holy Name of the Blessed Virgin Mary

This feast is a counterpart to the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus; both have the possibility of uniting people easily divided on other matters.

The feast of the Most Holy Name of Mary began in Spain in 1513 and in 1671 was extended to all of Spain and the Kingdom of Naples. In 1683, John Sobieski, king of Poland, brought an army to the outskirts of Vienna to stop the advance of Muslim armies loyal to Mohammed IV of Constantinople. After Sobieski entrusted himself to the Blessed Virgin Mary, he and his soldiers thoroughly defeated the Muslims. Pope Innocent XI extended this feast to the entire Church.

Reflection

Mary always points us to God, reminding us of God’s infinite goodness. She helps us to open our hearts to God’s ways, wherever those may lead us. Honored under the title “Queen of Peace,” Mary encourages us to cooperate with Jesus in building a peace based on justice, a peace that respects the fundamental human rights of all peoples.

Enjoy this meditation on Mary from Fr. Don Miller, OFM.

 

Saint Cyprian

09/11/2017 - 12:00am
Head Reliquary of Saint Cyprian in the St. Kornelius chapel of the abbey church of Kornelimünster Abbey in Kornelimünster | photo by ACBahnImage: Head Reliquary of Saint Cyprian in the St. Kornelius chapel of the abbey church of Kornelimünster Abbey in Kornelimünster | photo by ACBahn Saint Cyprian Saint of the Day for September 11 (d. 258) https://wp.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODSep11.mp3

 

Saint Cyprian’s Story

Cyprian is important in the development of Christian thought and practice in the third century, especially in northern Africa.

Highly educated, a famous orator, he became a Christian as an adult. He distributed his goods to the poor, and amazed his fellow citizens by making a vow of chastity before his baptism. Within two years he had been ordained a priest and was chosen, against his will, as Bishop of Carthage.

Cyprian complained that the peace the Church had enjoyed had weakened the spirit of many Christians and had opened the door to converts who did not have the true spirit of faith. When the Decian persecution began, many Christians easily abandoned the Church. It was their reinstatement that caused the great controversies of the third century, and helped the Church progress in its understanding of the Sacrament of Penance.

Novatus, a priest who had opposed Cyprian’s election, set himself up in Cyprian’s absence (he had fled to a hiding place from which to direct the Church—bringing criticism on himself) and received back all apostates without imposing any canonical penance. Ultimately he was condemned. Cyprian held a middle course, holding that those who had actually sacrificed to idols could receive Communion only at death, whereas those who had only bought certificates saying they had sacrificed could be admitted after a more or less lengthy period of penance. Even this was relaxed during a new persecution.

During a plague in Carthage, Cyprian urged Christians to help everyone, including their enemies and persecutors.

A friend of Pope Cornelius, Cyprian opposed the following pope, Stephen. He and the other African bishops would not recognize the validity of baptism conferred by heretics and schismatics. This was not the universal view of the Church, but Cyprian was not intimidated even by Stephen’s threat of excommunication.

He was exiled by the emperor and then recalled for trial. He refused to leave the city, insisting that his people should have the witness of his martyrdom.

Cyprian was a mixture of kindness and courage, vigor and steadiness. He was cheerful and serious, so that people did not know whether to love or respect him more. He waxed warm during the baptismal controversy; his feelings must have concerned him, for it was at this time that he wrote his treatise on patience. Saint Augustine remarks that Cyprian atoned for his anger by his glorious martyrdom.

Reflection

The controversies about Baptism and Penance in the third century remind us that the early Church had no ready-made solutions from the Holy Spirit. The leaders and members of the Church of that day had to move painfully through the best series of judgments they could make in an attempt to follow the entire teaching of Christ and not be diverted by exaggerations to right or left.

The Liturgical Feast of Saint Cyprian is September 16. Saint Cyprian is the Patron Saint of:

North Africa

Another Saint of the Day for September 11 is Saint Jean-Gabriel Perboyre.

Saint Peter Claver

09/09/2017 - 12:00am
Stained glass window in the Church of St. Mary Magdalene and St. Andrew in Dormagen in Rhein-Kreis Neuss (Nordrhein-Westfalen) | photo by GFreihalterImage: Stained glass window in the Church of St. Mary Magdalene and St. Andrew in Dormagen in Rhein-Kreis Neuss (Nordrhein-Westfalen) | photo by GFreihalter Saint Peter Claver Saint of the Day for September 9 (June 26, 1581 – September 8, 1654) https://wp.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODSep09.mp3

 

Saint Peter Claver’s Story

A native of Spain, young Jesuit Peter Claver left his homeland forever in 1610 to be a missionary in the colonies of the New World. He sailed into Cartagena, a rich port city washed by the Caribbean. He was ordained there in 1615.

By this time the slave trade had been established in the Americas for nearly 100 years, and Cartagena was a chief center for it. Ten thousand slaves poured into the port each year after crossing the Atlantic from West Africa under conditions so foul and inhuman that an estimated one-third of the passengers died in transit. Although the practice of slave-trading was condemned by Pope Paul III and later labeled “supreme villainy” by Pope Pius IX, it continued to flourish.

Peter Claver’s predecessor, Jesuit Father Alfonso de Sandoval, had devoted himself to the service of the slaves for 40 years before Claver arrived to continue his work, declaring himself “the slave of the Negroes forever.”

As soon as a slave ship entered the port, Peter Claver moved into its infested hold to minister to the ill-treated and exhausted passengers. After the slaves were herded out of the ship like chained animals and shut up in nearby yards to be gazed at by the crowds, Claver plunged in among them with medicines, food, bread, brandy, lemons, and tobacco. With the help of interpreters he gave basic instructions and assured his brothers and sisters of their human dignity and God’s love. During the 40 years of his ministry, Claver instructed and baptized an estimated 300,000 slaves.

Fr. Claver’s apostolate extended beyond his care for slaves. He became a moral force, indeed, the apostle of Cartagena. He preached in the city square, gave missions to sailors and traders as well as country missions, during which he avoided, when possible, the hospitality of the planters and owners and lodged in the slave quarters instead.

After four years of sickness, which forced the saint to remain inactive and largely neglected, he Claver on September 8, 1654. The city magistrates, who had previously frowned at his solicitude for the black outcasts, ordered that he should be buried at public expense and with great pomp.

Peter Claver was canonized in 1888, and Pope Leo XIII declared him the worldwide patron of missionary work among black slaves.

Reflection

The Holy Spirit’s might and power are manifested in the striking decisions and bold actions of Peter Claver. A decision to leave one’s homeland never to return reveals a gigantic act of will difficult for us to imagine. Peter’s determination to serve forever the most abused, rejected, and lowly of all people is stunningly heroic. When we measure our lives against such a man’s, we become aware of our own barely used potential and of our need to open ourselves more to the jolting power of Jesus’ Spirit.

Saint Peter Claver is the Patron Saint of:

African Americans
African Missions
Colombia
Comedians
Communication Workers
Interracial Justice

Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

09/08/2017 - 12:00am
<em>The Birth of the Virgin</em> | fresco by GiottoImage: The Birth of the Virgin | fresco by Giotto Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Saint of the Day for September 8 https://wp.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODSep08.mp3

 

The Story of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

The Church has celebrated Mary’s birth since at least the sixth century. A September birth was chosen because the Eastern Church begins its Church year with September. The September 8 date helped determine the date for the feast of the Immaculate Conception on December 8.

Scripture does not give an account of Mary’s birth. However, the apocryphal Protoevangelium of James fills in the gap. This work has no historical value, but it does reflect the development of Christian piety. According to this account, Anna and Joachim are infertile but pray for a child. They receive the promise of a child who will advance God’s plan of salvation for the world. Such a story, like many biblical counterparts, stresses the special presence of God in Mary’s life from the beginning.

Saint Augustine connects Mary’s birth with Jesus’ saving work. He tells the earth to rejoice and shine forth in the light of her birth. “She is the flower of the field from whom bloomed the precious lily of the valley. Through her birth the nature inherited from our first parents is changed.” The opening prayer at Mass speaks of the birth of Mary’s Son as the dawn of our salvation, and asks for an increase of peace.

Reflection

We can see every human birth as a call for new hope in the world. The love of two human beings has joined with God in his creative work. The loving parents have shown hope in a world filled with travail. The new child has the potential to be a channel of God’s love and peace to the world.

This is all true in a magnificent way in Mary. If Jesus is the perfect expression of God’s love, Mary is the foreshadowing of that love. If Jesus has brought the fullness of salvation, Mary is its dawning.

Birthday celebrations bring happiness to the celebrant as well as to family and friends. Next to the birth of Jesus, Mary’s birth offers the greatest possible happiness to the world. Each time we celebrate her birth, we can confidently hope for an increase of peace in our hearts and in the world at large.

Click here for more about our Blessed Mother!

 

Blessed Frédéric Ozanam

09/07/2017 - 12:00am
Blessed Frédéric Ozanam. Frontispiece from <em>Complete Works of Frederic Ozanam</em>, Lecoffre editions, Paris , 1862 ( second edition ).Image: Blessed Frédéric Ozanam. Frontispiece from Complete Works of Frederic Ozanam, Lecoffre editions, Paris , 1862 ( second edition ). Blessed Frédéric Ozanam Saint of the Day for September 7 (April 23, 1813 – September 8, 1853) https://wp.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODSep07.mp3

 

Blessed Frédéric Ozanam’s Story

A man convinced of the inestimable worth of each human being, Frédéric served the poor of Paris well, and drew others into serving the poor of the world. Through the Saint Vincent de Paul Society, which he founded, his work continues to the present day.

Frédéric was the fifth of Jean and Marie Ozanam’s 14 children, one of only three to reach adulthood. As a teenager he began having doubts about his religion. Reading and prayer did not seem to help, but long walking discussions with Father Noirot of the Lyons College clarified matters a great deal.

Frédéric wanted to study literature, although his father, a doctor, wanted him to become a lawyer. Frédéric yielded to his father’s wishes and in 1831, arrived in Paris to study law at the University of the Sorbonne. When certain professors there mocked Catholic teachings in their lectures, Frédéric defended the Church.

A discussion club which Frédéric organized sparked the turning point in his life. In this club, Catholics, atheists, and agnostics debated the issues of the day. Once, after Frédéric spoke about Christianity’s role in civilization, a club member said: “Let us be frank, Mr. Ozanam; let us also be very particular. What do you do besides talk to prove the faith you claim is in you?”

Frédéric was stung by the question. He soon decided that his words needed a grounding in action. He and a friend began visiting Paris tenements and offering assistance as best they could. Soon a group dedicated to helping individuals in need under the patronage of Saint Vincent de Paul formed around Frédéric.

Feeling that the Catholic faith needed an excellent speaker to explain its teachings, Frédéric convinced the Archbishop of Paris to appoint Dominican Father Jean-Baptiste Lacordaire, the greatest preacher then in France, to preach a Lenten series in Notre Dame Cathedral. It was well-attended and became an annual tradition in Paris.

After Frédéric earned his law degree at the Sorbonne, he taught law at the University of Lyons. He also earned a doctorate in literature. Soon after marrying Amelie Soulacroix on June 23, 1841, he returned to the Sorbonne to teach literature. A well-respected lecturer, Frédéric worked to bring out the best in each student. Meanwhile, the Saint Vincent de Paul Society was growing throughout Europe. Paris alone counted 25 conferences.

In 1846, Frédéric, Amelie, and their daughter Marie went to Italy; there he hoped to restore his poor health. They returned the next year. The revolution of 1848 left many Parisians in need of the services of the Saint Vincent de Paul conferences. The unemployed numbered 275,000. The government asked Frédéric and his coworkers to supervise the government aid to the poor. Vincentians throughout Europe came to the aid of Paris.

Frédéric then started a newspaper, The New Era, dedicated to securing justice for the poor and the working classes. Fellow Catholics were often unhappy with what Frédéric wrote. Referring to the poor man as “the nation’s priest,” Frédéric said that the hunger and sweat of the poor formed a sacrifice that could redeem the people’s humanity.

In 1852, poor health again forced Frédéric to return to Italy with his wife and daughter. He died on September 8, 1853. In his sermon at Frédéric’s funeral, Fr. Lacordaire described his friend as “one of those privileged creatures who came direct from the hand of God in whom God joins tenderness to genius in order to enkindle the world.”

Frédéric was beatified in 1997. Since Frédéric wrote an excellent book entitled Franciscan Poets of the Thirteenth Century, and since his sense of the dignity of each poor person was so close to the thinking of Saint Francis, it seemed appropriate to include him among Franciscan “greats.”

Reflection

Frédéric Ozanam always respected the poor while offering whatever service he could. Each man, woman, and child was too precious to live in poverty. Serving the poor taught Frédéric something about God that he could not have learned elsewhere.

The Liturgical Feast of Blessed Frédéric Ozanam is September 9.

Blessed Claudio Granzotto

09/06/2017 - 12:00am
Blessed Claudio Granzotto | photo by Infovalli It | flickrImage: Blessed Claudio Granzotto | photo by Infovalli It | flickr Blessed Claudio Granzotto Saint of the Day for September 6 (August 23, 1900 – August 15, 1947) https://wp.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODSep06.mp3

 

Blessed Claudio Granzotto’s Story

Born in Santa Lucia del Piave near Venice, Claudio was the youngest of nine children and was accustomed to hard work in the fields. At the age of 9, he lost his father. Six years later, he was drafted into the Italian army, where he served more than three years.

His artistic abilities, especially in sculpture, led to studies at Venice’s Academy of Fine Arts, which awarded him a diploma with the highest marks in 1929. Even then he was especially interested in religious art. When Claudio entered the Friars Minor four years later, his parish priest wrote, “The Order is receiving not only an artist but a saint.” Prayer, charity to the poor, and artistic work characterized his life which was cut short by a brain tumor. He died on the feast of the Assumption, August 15, 1947, and was beatified in 1994.

Reflection

Claudio developed into such an excellent sculptor that his work still turns people toward God. No stranger to adversity, he met every obstacle courageously, reflecting the generosity, faith, and joy that he learned from Francis of Assisi.

The Liturgical Feast of Blessed Claudio Granzotto is March 23.

Saint Teresa of Calcutta

09/05/2017 - 12:00am
Mother Teresa accompanies Pope John Paul II as he visits people at the Home For the Dying in Kolkata, India, in 1986. (CNS photo/Arturo Mari, L’Osservatore Romano)Image: Mother Teresa accompanies Pope John Paul II as he visits people at the Home For the Dying in Kolkata, India, in 1986. (CNS photo/Arturo Mari, L’Osservatore Romano) Saint Teresa of Calcutta Saint of the Day for September 5 (August 26, 1910 – September 5, 1997) https://wp.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODSep05.mp3

 

Saint Teresa of Calcutta’s Story

Mother Teresa of Calcutta, the tiny woman recognized throughout the world for her work among the poorest of the poor, was beatified October 19, 2003. Among those present were hundreds of Missionaries of Charity, the order she founded in 1950, as a diocesan religious community. Today the congregation also includes contemplative sisters and brothers and an order of priests.

Born to Albanian parents in what is now Skopje, Macedonia, Gonxha (Agnes) Bojaxhiu was the youngest of the three children who survived. For a time, the family lived comfortably, and her father’s construction business thrived. But life changed overnight following his unexpected death.

During her years in public school, Agnes participated in a Catholic sodality and showed a strong interest in the foreign missions. At age 18, she entered the Loreto Sisters of Dublin. It was 1928 when she said goodbye to her mother for the final time and made her way to a new land and a new life. The following year she was sent to the Loreto novitiate in Darjeeling, India. There she chose the name Teresa and prepared for a life of service. She was assigned to a high school for girls in Calcutta, where she taught history and geography to the daughters of the wealthy. But she could not escape the realities around her—the poverty, the suffering, the overwhelming numbers of destitute people.

In 1946, while riding a train to Darjeeling to make a retreat, Sister Teresa heard what she later explained as “a call within a call. The message was clear. I was to leave the convent and help the poor while living among them.” She also heard a call to give up her life with the Sisters of Loreto and instead, to “follow Christ into the slums to serve him among the poorest of the poor.”

After receiving permission to leave Loreto, establish a new religious community, and undertake her new work, Sister Teresa took a nursing course for several months. She returned to Calcutta, where she lived in the slums and opened a school for poor children. Dressed in a white sari and sandals–the ordinary dress of an Indian woman–she soon began getting to know her neighbors—especially the poor and sick—and getting to know their needs through visits.

The work was exhausting, but she was not alone for long. Volunteers who came to join her in the work, some of them former students, became the core of the Missionaries of Charity. Others helped by donating food, clothing, supplies, and the use of buildings. In 1952, the city of Calcutta gave Mother Teresa a former hostel, which became a home for the dying and the destitute. As the order expanded, services were also offered to orphans, abandoned children, alcoholics, the aging, and street people.

For the next four decades, Mother Teresa worked tirelessly on behalf of the poor. Her love knew no bounds. Nor did her energy, as she crisscrossed the globe pleading for support and inviting others to see the face of Jesus in the poorest of the poor. In 1979, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. On September 5, 1997, God called her home. Blessed Teresa was canonized by Pope Francis on September 4, 2016.

Reflection

Mother Teresa’s beatification, just over six years after her death, was part of an expedited process put into effect by Pope John Paul II. Like so many others around the world, he found her love for the Eucharist, for prayer, and for the poor a model for all to emulate.

Love Mother Teresa? Visit our website devoted to this holy woman!

 

Saint Rose of Viterbo

09/04/2017 - 12:00am
<em>Santa Rosa e San Donnino</em> | fresco, Duomo di Ivrea | photo by LauromImage: Santa Rosa e San Donnino | fresco, Duomo di Ivrea | photo by Laurom Saint Rose of Viterbo Saint of the Day for September 4 (1233 – March 6, 1251) https://wp.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODSep04.mp3

 

Saint Rose of Viterbo’s Story

Even as a child, Rose had a great desire to pray and to aid the poor. While still very young, she began a life of penance in her parents’ house. She was as generous to the poor as she was strict with herself. At the age of 10, she became a Secular Franciscan and soon began preaching in the streets about sin and the sufferings of Jesus.

Viterbo, her native city, was then in revolt against the pope. When Rose took the pope’s side against the emperor, she and her family were exiled from the city. When the pope’s side won in Viterbo, Rose was allowed to return. Her attempt at age 15 to found a religious community failed, and she returned to a life of prayer and penance in her father’s home, where she died in 1251. Rose was canonized in 1457.

Reflection

The list of Franciscan saints seems to have quite a few men and women who accomplished nothing very extraordinary. Rose is one of them. She did not influence popes and kings, did not multiply bread for the hungry, and never established the religious order of her dreams. But she made a place in her life for God’s grace, and like Saint Francis before her, saw death as the gateway to new life.

Saint Rose of Viterbo is the Patron Saint of:

Florists
Flower Growers

Saint Gregory the Great

09/03/2017 - 12:00am
<em>Saint Gregory the Great</em> | Jusepe de Ribera, also known as José de RiberaImage: Saint Gregory the Great | Jusepe de Ribera, also known as José de Ribera Saint Gregory the Great Saint of the Day for September 3 (c. 540 – March 12, 604) https://wp.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODSep03.mp3

 

Saint Gregory the Great’s Story

Gregory was the prefect of Rome before he was 30. After five years in office he resigned, founded six monasteries on his Sicilian estate, and became a Benedictine monk in his own home at Rome.

Ordained a priest, Gregory became one of the pope’s seven deacons, and also served six years in the East as papal representative in Constantinople. He was recalled to become abbot, but at the age of 50 was elected pope by the clergy and people of Rome.

Gregory was direct and firm. He removed unworthy priests from office, forbade taking money for many services, emptied the papal treasury to ransom prisoners of the Lombards and to care for persecuted Jews and the victims of plague and famine. He was very concerned about the conversion of England, sending 40 monks from his own monastery. He is known for his reform of the liturgy, and for strengthening respect for doctrine. Whether he was largely responsible for the revision of “Gregorian” chant is disputed.

Gregory lived in a time of perpetual strife with invading Lombards and difficult relations with the East. When Rome itself was under attack, he interviewed the Lombard king.

His book, Pastoral Care, on the duties and qualities of a bishop, was read for centuries after his death. He described bishops mainly as physicians whose main duties were preaching and the enforcement of discipline. In his own down-to-earth preaching, Gregory was skilled at applying the daily Gospel to the needs of his listeners. Called “the Great,” Gregory has been given a place with Augustine, Ambrose, and Jerome, as one of the four key doctors of the Western Church.

An Anglican historian has written: “It is impossible to conceive what would have been the confusion, the lawlessness, the chaotic state of the Middle Ages without the medieval papacy; and of the medieval papacy, the real father is Gregory the Great.”

 

Reflection

Gregory was content to be a monk, but he willingly served the Church in other ways when asked. He sacrificed his own preferences in many ways, especially when he was called to be Bishop of Rome. Once he was called to public service, Gregory gave his considerable energies completely to this work. Gregory’s description of bishops as physicians fits in well with Pope Francis’ description of the Church as a “field hospital.”

Saint Gregory the Great is the Patron Saint of:

England
Epilepsy
Musicians
Teachers

Blessed John Francis Burté and Companions

09/02/2017 - 12:00am
<em>Massacre à la Salpêtrière, 3 septembre 1792</em> | anonymous (Unrelated, but similar incident during the French Revolution.) Image: Massacre à la Salpêtrière, 3 septembre 1792 | anonymous (Unrelated, but similar incident during the French Revolution.) Blessed John Francis Burté and Companions Saint of the Day for September 2 (d. September 2, 1792 and January 21, 1794) https://wp.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODSep02.mp3

 

Blessed John Francis Burté and Companions’ Story

These priests were victims of the French Revolution. Though their martyrdom spans a period of several years, they stand together in the Church’s memory because they all gave their lives for the same principle. In 1791, the Civil Constitution of the Clergy required all priests to take an oath which amounted to a denial of the faith. Each of these men refused and was executed.

John Francis Burté became a Franciscan at 16 and after ordination taught theology to the young friars. Later he was guardian of the large Conventual friary in Paris until he was arrested and held in the convent of the Carmelites.

Appolinaris of Posat was born in 1739 in Switzerland. He joined the Capuchins and acquired a reputation as an excellent preacher, confessor, and instructor of clerics. Preparing for his assignment to the East as a missionary, he was in Paris studying Oriental languages when the French Revolution began. Refusing the oath, he was swiftly arrested and detained in the Carmelite convent.

Severin Girault, a member of the Third Order Regular, was a chaplain for a group of sisters in Paris. Imprisoned with the others, he was the first to die in the slaughter at the convent.

These three plus 182 others—including several bishops and many religious and diocesan priests—were massacred at the Carmelite house in Paris on September 2, 1792. They were beatified in 1926.

Born in 1737, John Baptist Triquerie became a Conventual Franciscan. He was the chaplain and confessor of Poor Clare monasteries in three cities before he was arrested for refusing to take the oath. He and 13 diocesan priests were martyred in Laval on January 21, 1794. He was beatified in 1955.

Reflection

“Liberty, Equality, Fraternity” was the motto of the French Revolution. If individuals have “inalienable rights,” as the Declaration of Independence states, these must come not from the agreement of society– which can be very fragile–but directly from God. Do we believe that? Do we act on it?

Saint Giles

09/01/2017 - 12:00am
Saint Giles | Master of Saint GilesImage: Saint Giles and the Hind | Master of St. Giles Saint Giles Saint of the Day for September 1 (c. 650 – 710) https://wp.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODSep01.mp3

 

Saint Giles’ Story

Despite the fact that much about Saint Giles is shrouded in mystery, we can say that he was one of the most popular saints in the Middle Ages. Likely, he was born in the first half of the seventh century in southeastern France. That is where he built a monastery that became a popular stopping-off point for pilgrims making their way to Compostela in Spain, and the Holy Land.

In England, many ancient churches and hospitals were dedicated to Giles. One of the sections of the city of Brussels is named after him. In Germany, Giles was included among the so-called 14 Holy Helpers, a popular group of saints to whom people prayed, especially for recovery from disease, and for strength at the hour of death. Also among the 14 were Saints Christopher, Barbara, and Blaise. Interestingly, Giles was the only non-martyr among them. Devotion to the “Holy Helpers” was especially strong in parts of Germany and in Hungary and Sweden. Such devotion made his popularity spread. Giles was soon invoked as the patron of the poor and the disabled.

The pilgrimage center that once drew so many fell into disrepair some centuries after Giles’ death.

Reflection

Saint Giles may not have been a martyr but, as the word martyr means, he was a true witness to the faith. This is attested to by the faith of the People of God in the Middle Ages. He became one of the “holy helpers” and can still function in that role for us today.

Saint Giles is the Patron Saint of:

Beggars
The Disabled
Disasters
The Poor

Another Saint of the Day for September 1 is Saint Beatrice of Silva. Another Saint of the Day for September 1 is Saint Fiacre