SAINT OF THE DAY – NOV 28

ST JAMES OF MARCHES

St. James of the Marches was a Franciscan priest in the 15th century. He was born into a poor family in Monteprandone, Italy in 1391 and was educated by his uncle who was a priest. He continued his education, eventually achieving the degree of Doctor in Canon and Civil Law from the University of Perugia. He worked for some time as a tutor in a noble family, but on July 26, 1416, he was received into the order of Friars Minor in the Chapel of the Portiuncula in Assisi.

After completing his novitiate, he studied theology under St. Bernardine of Siena. On June 13, 1420, St. James was ordained a priest, and soon began to preach in Tuscany, in the Marches, and in Umbria. For half a century, he continued as a missionary and preacher. St James of the Marches preached penance, combated heretics, and was on legations in Germany, Austria, Sweden, Denmark, Bohemia, Poland, Hungary, and Bosnia. He was also appointed inquisitor against the Fratelli, a heretic sect that dissented from the Franciscans on the vow of poverty, among other things. He was offered the See of Milan in 1460, but he refused it.

Inspired by St. Jame’s apostolic example, more than 200 young men of Germany were impelled to enter the Franciscan Order. The crowds who came to hear him were so great that the churches were not large enough to accommodate them, and it became imperative for him to preach in the public squares. At Milan he was instrumental in converting 36 women of bad repute by a single sermon on St. Mary Magdalen. It is said that he brought 50,000 heretics into the Church and led 200,000 nonbelievers to baptism. In addition, God granted St James such wisdom that popes and princes sought counsel from him. He possessed the gifts or miracles and of prophesy in great measure, yet his humility surpassed all those distinctions. On Easter Monday, 1462, St. James, while preaching at Brescia, repeated the ideas of some theologians that the Precious Blood shed during the Passion was not united with the Divinity of Christ during the three days of His burial. He was accused of heresy for saying that, but no discussion or resolution was ever granted to his case, and the matter was ignored or forgotten. James spent the last three years of his life at Naples, and was buried there in the Franciscan church of St. Maria la Nuova, where his body can be seen today.

He was beatified by Urban VIII in 1624 and was canonized by Benedict XIII in 1726. Naples venerates him as one of its patron saints.

Saint of the Day – Nov 7

ST DIDACUS

Didacus is living proof that God “chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong.”

As a young man in Spain, Didacus joined the Secular Franciscan Order and lived for some time as a hermit. After Didacus became a Franciscan brother, he developed a reputation for great insight into God’s ways. His penances were heroic. He was so generous with the poor that the friars sometimes grew uneasy about his charity.

Didacus volunteered for the missions in the Canary Islands and labored there energetically and profitably. He was also the superior of a friary there.

In 1450, he was sent to Rome to attend the canonization of Saint Bernardine of Siena. When many of the friars gathered for that celebration fell ill, Didacus stayed in Rome for three months to nurse them. After he returned to Spain, he pursued a life of contemplation full-time. He showed the friars the wisdom of God’s ways.

As he was dying, Didacus looked at a crucifix and said: “O faithful wood, O precious nails! You have borne an exceedingly sweet burden, for you have been judged worthy to bear the Lord and King of heaven” (Marion A. Habig, OFM, The Franciscan Book of Saints, p. 834).

San Diego, California, is named for this Franciscan, who was canonized in 1588.


Saint of the Day – Nov 6

Saint Nicholas Tavelic and Companions

Nicholas and his three companions are among the 158 Franciscans who have been martyred in the Holy Land since the friars became custodians of the shrines in 1335.

Nicholas was born in 1340 to a wealthy and noble family in Croatia. He joined the Franciscans, and was sent with Deodat of Rodez to preach in Bosnia. In 1384, they volunteered for the Holy Land missions and were sent there. They looked after the holy places, cared for the Christian pilgrims, and studied Arabic.

In 1391, Nicholas, Deodat, Peter of Narbonne, and Stephen of Cuneo decided to take a direct approach to converting the Muslims. On November 11, they went to the huge Mosque of Omar in Jerusalem and asked to see the Qadix—Muslim official. Reading from a prepared statement, they said that all people must accept the gospel of Jesus. When they were ordered to retract their statement, they refused. After beatings and imprisonment, they were beheaded before a large crowd.

Nicholas and his companions were canonized in 1970. They are the only Franciscans martyred in the Holy Land to be canonized. Their liturgical feast is celebrated on November 14.

Saint of the Day – Nov 5

St. Peter Chrysologus

The Catholic Church celebrates Saint Peter Chrysologus, a fifth-century Italian bishop known for testifying courageously to Christ’s full humanity and divinity during a period of doctrinal confusion in the Church.

The saint’s title, Chrysologus, signifies “golden speech” in Greek. Named as a Doctor of the Church in 1729, he is distinguished as the “Doctor of Homilies” for the concise but theologically rich reflections he delivered during his time as the Bishop of Ravenna.

His surviving works offer eloquent testimony to the Church’s traditional beliefs about Mary’s perpetual virginity, the penitential value of Lent, Christ’s Eucharistic presence, and the primacy of St. Peter and his successors in the Church.

Few details of St. Peter Chrysologus’ biography are known. He was born in the Italian town of Imola in either the late fourth or early fifth century, but sources differ as to whether this occurred around 380 or as late as 406.

Following his study of theology, Peter was ordained to the diaconate by Imola’s local bishop Cornelius, whom he greatly admired and regarded as his spiritual father. Cornelius not only ordained Peter, but taught him the value of humility and self-denial.

The lessons of his mentor inspired Peter to live as a monk for many years, embracing a lifestyle of asceticism, simplicity, and prayer. His simple monastic life came to an end, however, after the death of Archbishop John of Ravenna in 430.

After John’s death, the clergy and people of Ravenna chose a successor and asked Cornelius, still the Bishop of Imola, to journey to Rome and obtain papal approval for the candidate. Cornelius brought Peter, then still a deacon, along with him on the visit to Pope Sixtus III.

Tradition relates that the Pope had experienced a vision from God on the night before the meeting, commanding him to overrule Ravenna’s choice of a new archbishop. The Pope declared that Peter, instead, was to be ordained as John’s successor.

In Ravenna, Peter was received warmly by the Western Roman Emperor Valentinian III, and his mother Galla Placidia. She is said to have given him the title of “Chrysologus” because of his preaching skills.

Throughout the archdiocese, however, he encountered the surviving remnants of paganism along with various abuses and distortions of the Catholic faith. Peter exercised zeal and pastoral care in curbing abuses and evangelizing non-Christians during his leadership of the Church in Ravenna.

One of the major heresies of his age, monophysitism, held that Christ did not possess a distinct human nature in union with his eternal divine nature. Peter laboured to prevent the westward spread of this error, promoted from Constantinople by the monk Eutyches.

The Archbishop of Ravenna also made improvements to the city’s cathedral and built several new churches. Near the end of his life he addressed a significant letter to Eutyches, stressing the Pope’s authority in the monophysite controversy.

Having returned to Imola in anticipation of his death, St. Peter Chrysologus died in 450, one year before the Church’s official condemnation of monophysitism. He is credited as the author of around 176 surviving homilies, which contributed to his later proclamation as a Doctor of the Church.

Saint of the Day – Nov 4

St Charles Borromeo

No age of the Catholic Church’s history is without its share of confusion and corruption. Still, even in moments when disorder may seem overwhelming, individuals and movements eventually arise to propose the faith with clarity and demonstrate it in action. St. Charles Borromeo, a central figure in the Council of Trent, is remembered on November 4, as a model of such leadership in difficult times.

The circumstances of Charles’ birth, in 1538, could have easily allowed him to join the ranks of corrupt Renaissance-era clergy. He was born into luxury, the son of noble parents, with a guaranteed income comparable to modern “trust funds.” Early on, however, the young man signaled his intention to go against the cultural grain. He announced his desire to serve the Church with sincerity, asking his father to give away the majority of the fund’s money to the poor.

Charles could not escape a certain degree of wealth and prestige, which were expected due to his social class, but he insisted on using these forms of leverage to benefit the Church, rather than himself. When he was 22, his opportunity came: the young lawyer and canonist’s uncle was elected as Pope Pius IV. Charles soon assumed staggering responsibilities, serving as a papal diplomat and supervisor of major religious orders.

The young man relaxed from these tasks through literature and music, taking no interest in the temptations abounding in Rome during the late Renaissance. He considered renouncing even this temperate lifestyle, for the strict observance of a monastery– but found himself more urgently needed in the work of concluding the Council of Trent.

The Church’s nineteenth Ecumenical Council had begun in late 1545, but experienced many delays. Its twofold mission was to clarify Catholic doctrine against Protestant objections, and reform the Church internally against many longstanding problems. As a papal representative, Charles participated in the council’s conclusion in 1563, when he was only 25. He also played a leading role in assembling its comprehensive summary, the Roman Catechism (or Catechism of the Council of Trent).

In reward for his labors, Charles received even greater responsibilities. Ordained a priest during the Council, he was named as archbishop and cardinal only months later. He found his diocese of Milan in a state of disintegration, after two generations of virtually no local administration or leadership. The new bishop got straight to work establishing schools, seminaries, and centers for religious life.

His reforms of the diocese, in accordance with the decrees of the council, were dramatic and effective, so much so that a group of disgruntled monks attempted to kill him. His survival was called miraculous.

The new archbishop’s efforts for catechesis and the instruction of youth were especially fruitful, initiating the work of the Confraternity for Christian Doctrine and the first “Sunday School” classes. He also gave important pastoral attention to English Catholics who fled to Italy to escape new laws against the Catholic faith.

St. Charles Borromeo’s amazing diligence, frequent travel and ascetic living eventually took their toll. The once young prodigy of the Papal Court also died young at the age of 46 on November 3, 1584. He was canonized 26 years later, in 1610.

He is the patron of catechists and catechumens.

Saint of the Day OCT 31

Wolfgang was born in Swabia, Germany, and was educated at a school located at the abbey of Reichenau. There he encountered Henry, a young noble who went on to become Archbishop of Trier. Meanwhile, Wolfgang remained in close contact with the archbishop, teaching in his cathedral school and supporting his efforts to reform the clergy.

At the death of the archbishop, Wolfgang chose to become a Benedictine monk and moved to an abbey in Einsiedeln, now part of Switzerland. Ordained a priest, he was appointed director of the monastery school there. Later he was sent to Hungary as a missionary, though his zeal and good will yielded limited results.

Emperor Otto II appointed him Bishop of Regensburg, near Munich. Wolfgang immediately initiated reform of the clergy and of religious life, preaching with vigour and effectiveness and always demonstrating special concern for the poor. He wore the habit of a monk and lived an austere life.

The draw to monastic life never left him, including the desire for a life of solitude. At one point he left his diocese so that he could devote himself to prayer, but his responsibilities as bishop called him back. In 994, Wolfgang became ill while on a journey; he died in Puppingen near Linz, Austria. He was canonized in 1052. His feast day is celebrated widely in much of central Europe.


Reflection

Wolfgang could be depicted as a man with rolled-up sleeves. He even tried retiring to solitary prayer, but taking his responsibilities seriously led him back into the service of his diocese. Doing what had to be done was his path to holiness—and ours.

Saint of the Day OCT 30

Tragedy and challenge beset today’s saint early in life, but Alphonsus Rodriguez found happiness and contentment through simple service and prayer.

Born in Spain in 1533, Alphonsus inherited the family textile business at 23. Within the space of three years, his wife, daughter, and mother died; meanwhile, business was poor. Alphonsus stepped back and reassessed his life. He sold the business, and with his young son, moved into his sister’s home. There he learned the discipline of prayer and meditation.

At the death of his son years later, Alphonsus, almost 40 by then, sought to join the Jesuits. He was not helped by his poor education. He applied twice before being admitted. For 45 years he served as doorkeeper at the Jesuits’ college in Majorca. When not at his post, he was almost always at prayer, though he often encountered difficulties and temptations.

His holiness and prayerfulness attracted many to him, including Saint Peter Claver, then a Jesuit seminarian. Alphonsus’ life as doorkeeper may have been humdrum, but centuries later he caught the attention of poet and fellow-Jesuit Gerard Manley Hopkins, who made him the subject of one of his poems.

Alphonsus died in 1617. He is the patron saint of Majorca.


Reflection

We like to think that God rewards the good, even in this life. But Alphonsus knew business losses, painful bereavement, and periods when God seemed very distant. None of his suffering made him withdraw into a shell of self-pity or bitterness. Rather, he reached out to others who lived with pain, including enslaved Africans. Among the many notables at his funeral were the sick and poor people whose lives he had touched. May they find such a friend in us!

Saint of the Day OCT 29

St. Narcissus was born towards the end of the first century, and he was nearly 80 years old when he was named as the 30th bishop of Jerusalem.

In 195, he and Theophilus, bishop of Caesarea in Palestine, presided together over a council of the bishops of Palestine held at Caesarea around Easter. There it was decreed that the feast be kept always on a Sunday, and not continually with the Jewish Passover.

The bishop and historian Eusebius says the following miracle can be attributed to him: One year on Easter-eve the deacons did not have any oil for the lamps in the church, which was necessary at the solemn divine office on that day. Narcissus ordered those who had care of the lamps to bring him some water from the neighboring wells. This being done, he pronounced a devout prayer over the water. Then he bade them pour it into the lamps; which they did. The water was immediately converted into oil, to the great surprise of all the faithful. Some of this miraculous oil was kept there as a memorial at the time when Eusebius wrote his history.

The veneration of all good men for this holy bishop, however, could not shelter him from the malice of the wicked. Three incorrigible sinners, fearing his severity in the observance of ecclesiastical discipline, accused him of a terrible act. The sinners swore that they were right, adding the following to their testimony: One wished that he might perish by fire, another, that he might be struck with a leprosy, and the third, that he might lose his sight, if what they alleged was not the truth. Their accusations were false, however, and soon Divine Retribution called upon them. The first was burnt in his house along with his whole family by an accidental fire in the night, the second was struck with a universal leprosy and the third, terrified by these examples, confessed the conspiracy and slander, and by the abundance of tears which he continually shed for his sins, lost his sight before his death.

Narcissus either could not stand the shock of the bold calumny, or perhaps he made it an excuse for leaving Jerusalem in order to spend some time in solitude, which had long been his wish. He spent several years undiscovered in his retreat, where he enjoyed all the happiness and advantage which a close conversation with God can bestow.

The neighboring bishops appointed a new pastor for his church until Narcissus returned. Upon his return, the faithful rejoiced and convinced him to once again undertake the administration of the diocese, which he did.

As he reached extreme old age, he made St. Alexander his coadjutor. St. Narcissus continued to serve his flock, and even other churches, by his assiduous prayers and his earnest exhortations to unity and concord, as St. Alexander testifies in his letter to the Arsinoites in Egypt, where he says that Narcisus was at that time about one hundred and sixteen years old. The Roman Martyrology honors his memory on October 29th.

REFLECTION FOR THE DAY

I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:6

What comfort this gives me. I don’t believe that we begin our spiritual journeys on our own, but that the Holy Spirit attracts us to the path through people and events in our lives; through great love and/or great suffering. For me, it was an emptiness and a longing that only prayer could assuage. Thus, the very fact that I am on a spiritual path gives evidence that God did begin a good work in me. Having St. Paul express such confidence that God will continue to complete this good work in me always helps me take a deep breath. It boosts my faith when my prayer shifts from pleading God to work in me to increase my love for others to thanking God for all the love, courage and endurance I already have. Changing from pleading to gratitude always turns out to be the surest path into deep prayer.

Saint of the Day – OCT 28

St. Jude Thaddaeus

St. Jude, known as Thaddaeus, was a brother of St. James the Lesser, and a relative of Jesus. Ancient writers tell us that he preached the Gospel in Judea, Samaria, Idumaea, Syria, Mesopotamia, and Lybia. According to Eusebius, he returned to Jerusalem in the year 62 and assisted at the election of his brother, St. Simeon, as Bishop of Jerusalem.

He is an author of an epistle (letter) to the Churches of the East, in particular the Jewish converts, directed against the heresies of the Simonians, Nicolaites, and Gnostics. This Apostle is said to have suffered martyrdom in Armenia, which was then subject to Persia. The final conversion of the Armenian nation to Christianity did not take place until the third century A.D.

St. Jude was the one who asked Jesus at the Last Supper why He would not manifest Himself to the whole world after His resurrection. Little else is known of his life, but legend claims that he visited Beirut and Edessa.

He was beaten to death with a club, then beheaded post-mortem in 1st century Persia. His relics reside at Saint Peter’s in Rome, at Rheims, and at Toulouse, France.

Saint Jude Thaddeus is not the same person as Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Our Lord and despaired because of his great sin and lack of trust in God’s mercy.

St. Jude Thaddeus is invoked in desperate situations because his New Testament letter stresses that the faithful should persevere in the environment of harsh, difficult circumstances, just as their forefathers had done before them.

Therefore, he is the patron of desperate situations, forgotten causes, hospital workers, hospitals, impossible causes, lost causes, and the diocese of Saint Petersburg, Florida. He is represented as bearded man holding an oar, a boat, boat hook, a club, an axe or a book. Nearly every image of him depicts him wearing a medallion with a profile of Jesus. He usually has a small flame above his head and he often carries a pen.

We remember him October 28 in Roman Church, and June 19 in Eastern Church.

St. Simon the Zealot

Little is known about the post-Pentecost life of St. Simon, who had been called a Zealot. He is thought to have preached in Egypt and then to have joined St. Jude in Persia. Here, he was supposedly martyred by being cut in half with a saw, a tool he is often depicted with. However, the 4th-century St. Basil the Great says he died in Edessa, peacefully.

REFLECTION FOR THE DAY

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children… Ephesians 5:1

Child development research suggests that children learn how to behave by watching, and being watched by, their parents. When an infant looks into her mother’s eyes, and the mother looks back at her and smiles, the infant learns that she is a delight to her mother, that her existence is good. When a toddler runs to his father to be comforted after he falls down, he learns to empathize when someone else is hurt. We learn how to do things when someone else has done those things for us. If our parents have not been good models, we may still turn to our divine parent to know how to love. Our ability to imitate God takes more than just acting out the behaviours we associate with a benevolent deity. It takes our trust—a trust that we are wanted, loved and held as his children.

Saint Anthony Mary Claret – Feast Day – October 24

Saint Anthony Mary Claret – Feast Day – October 24

Spanish prelate and missionary, born at Sallent, near Barcelona, 23 Dec., 1807; d. at Fontfroide, Narbonne, France, on 24 Oct., 1870. Son of a small woollen manufacturer, he received an elementary education in his native village, and at the age of twelve became a weaver. A little later he went to Barcelona to specialize in his trade, and remained there till he was twenty. Meanwhile he devoted his spare time to study and became proficient in Latin, French, and engraving; in addition he enlisted in the army as a volunteer. Recognizing a call to a higher life, he left Barcelona, entered the seminary at Vich in 1829, and was ordained on 13 June, 1835. He received a benefice in his native parish, where he continued to study theology till 1839. He now wished to become a Carthusian; missionary work, however, appealing strongly to him he proceeded to Rome. There he entered the Jesuit novitiate but finding himself unsuited for that manner of life, he returned shortly to Spain and exercised his ministry at Valadrau and Gerona, attracting notice by his efforts on behalf of the poor. Recalled by his superiors to Vich, he was engaged in missionary work throughout Catalonia. In 1848 he was sent to the Canary Islands where he gave retreats for fifteen months. Returning to Vich he established the Congregation of the Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (16 July, 1849), and founded the great religious library at Barcelona which bears his name, and which has issued several million cheap copies of the best ancient and modern Catholic works.

Such had been the fruit of his zealous labours and so great the wonders he had worked, that Pius IX at the request of the Spanish sovereign appointed him Archbishop of Santiago de Cuba in 1851. He was consecrated at Vich and embarked at Barcelona on 28 Dec. Having arrived at his destination he began at once a work of thorough reform. The seminary was reorganized, clerical discipline strengthened, and over nine thousand marriages validated within the first two years. He erected a hospital and numerous schools. Three times he made a visitation of the entire diocese, giving local missions incessantly.

Naturally his zeal stirred up the enmity and calumnies of the irreligious, as had happened previously in Spain. No less than fifteen attempts were made on his life, and at Holguin his cheek was laid open from ear to chin by a would-be assassin’s knife. In February, 1857, he was recalled to Spain by Isabella II, who made him her confessor. He obtained permission to resign his see and was appointed to the titular see of Trajanopolis. His influence was now directed solely to help the poor and to propagate learning; he lived frugally and took up his residence in an Italian hospice. For nine years he was rector of the Escorial monastery where he established an excellent scientific laboratory, a museum of natural history, a library, college, and schools of music and languages. His further plans were frustrated by the revolution of 1868. He continued his popular missions and distribution of good books wherever he went in accompanying the Spanish Court. When Isabella recognized the new Government of United Italy he left the Court and hastened to take his place by the side of the pope; at the latter’s command, however, he returned to Madrid with faculties for absolving the queen from the censures she had incurred. In 1869 he went to Rome to prepare for the Vatican Council. Owing to failing health he withdrew to Prades in France, where he was still harassed by his calumnious Spanish enemies; shortly afterwards he retired to the Cistercian abbey at Fontfroide where he expired.

His zealous life and the wonders he wrought both before and after his death testified to his sanctity. Informations were begun in 1887 and he was declared Venerable by Leo XIII in 1899. His relics were transferred to the mission house at Vich in 1897, at which time his heart was found incorrupt, and his grave is constantly visited by many pilgrims. In addition to the Congregation of the Missionary Sons of the Heart of Mary (approved definitively by Pius IX, 11 Feb., 1870) which has now over 110 houses and 2000 members, with missions in W. Africa, and in Chocó (Columbia), Archbishop Claret founded or drew up the rules of several communities of nuns. By his sermons and writings he contributed greatly to bring about the revival of the Catalan language. His printed works number over 130, of which we may mention: “La escala de Jacob”; “Maximas de moral la más pura”; “Avisos”; “Catecismo explicado con láminas”; “La llave de oro”; “Selectos panegíricos” (11 vols.); “Sermones de misión” (3 vols.); “Misión de la mujer”; “Vida de Sta. Mónica”; “La Virgen del Pilar y los Francmasones”; and his “Autobiografia”, written by order of his spiritual director, but still unpublished.


Antonio María Claret was canonized by Pope Pius XII in 1950.

REFLECTION FOR THE DAY

… we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ… Ephesians 4:15

Christ is the template of our lives: our model, our example, the Way. It’s the small things that add up to make the whole person. We have choices. We can choose to make a negative remark or to hold it back, to smile when we want to frown, to shift our position just a few degrees to see if the situation might look different. We can binge-watch our favourite program, or we can take that time to make soup and deliver it to a friend who is ill. We can tell the bus driver what a great job he is doing and watch his smile light up his face and light up the day. We grow into Christ through a multitude of small choices: every day, every way. Lord, though I may suffer “growing pains” today, help me to grow into you.