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.

Saint of the Day – Oct 14

Saint Pope Callistus I

Pope Callistus I is celebrated in churches throughout the world as a saint and martyr on October 14. The saint caused a major controversy, including a schism that lasted almost two decades, by choosing to emphasize God’s mercy in his ministry. However, the early Pope’s model of leadership has endured, and his martyrdom in the year 222 confirmed his example of holiness.

Because no completely trustworthy biography of Pope Callistus I exists, historians have been forced to rely on an account by his contemporary Hippolytus of Rome. Although Hippolytus himself was eventually reconciled to the Church and canonized as a martyr, he vocally opposed the pontificate of Callistus and three of his successors, to the point of usurping papal prerogatives for himself (as the first “antipope”). Nevertheless, his account of Callistus’ life and papacy provides important details.

According to Hippolytus’ account, Callistus – whose year of birth is not known – began his career as a highly-placed domestic servant, eventually taking responsibility for his master’s banking business. When the bank failed, Callistus received the blame, and attempted to flee from his master. Being discovered, he was demoted to serve as a manual laborer in Rome. Thus, under inauspicious circumstances, Callistus came as a slave to the city where he would later serve as Pope.

Matters went from bad to worse when he was sent to work in the mines, possibly for causing a public disturbance, if Hippolytus’ account is to be trusted. However, Callistus may also simply have been sentenced due to a persecution of Christians, as he was among the many believers eventually freed on the initiative of Pope St. Victor I.

During the subsequent reign of Pope Zephyrinus, Callistus became a deacon and the caretaker of a major Roman Christian cemetery (which still bears his name as the “Cemetery of St. Callistus”), in addition to advising the Pope on theological controversies of the day. He was a natural candidate to follow Zephyrinus, when the latter died in 219.

Hippolytus, an erudite Roman theologian, accused Pope Callistus of sympathizing with heretics, and resented the new Pope’s clarification that even the most serious sins could be absolved after sincere confession. The Pope’s assertion of divine mercy also scandalized the North African Christian polemicist Tertullian, already in schism from the Church in Carthage, who also erroneously held that certain sins were too serious to be forgiven through confession.

Considered in light of this error, Hippolytus’ catalogue of sins allegedly “permitted” by Callistus – including extramarital sex and early forms of contraception – may in fact represent offenses which the Pope never allowed, but which he was willing to absolve in the case of penitents seeking reconciliation with the Church.

Even so, Callistus could not persuade Hippolytus’ followers of his rightful authority as Pope during his own lifetime. The Catholic Church, however, has always acknowledged the orthodoxy and holiness of Pope St. Callistus I, particularly since the time of his martyrdom – traditionally ascribed to an anti-Christian mob – in 222. 

St. Callistus’ own intercession after death may also have made possible the historic reconciliation between his opponent Hippolytus, and the later Pope Pontian. The Pope and former antipope were martyred together in 236, and both subsequently canonized.

Saint of the Day – Oct 13

Saint of the Day

She was born in a little village near Montreal in 1811, the 10th of 11 children. She had a good education, was something of a tomboy, rode a horse named Caesar, and could have married well. At 16, she felt the desire to become a religious, but was forced to abandon the idea because of her weak constitution. At 18, when her mother died, her priest brother invited Marie-Rose and their father to come to his parish in Beloeil, not far from Montreal.

For 13 years, Marie-Rose served as housekeeper, hostess, and parish worker. She became well-known for her graciousness, courtesy, leadership, and tact; she was, in fact, called “the saint of Beloeil.” Perhaps she was too tactful during two years when her brother treated her coldly.

When Marie-Rose was 29, Bishop Ignace Bourget—who would be a decisive influence in her life—became bishop of Montreal. He faced a shortage of priests and sisters and a rural population that had been largely deprived of education. Like his counterparts in the United States, Bishop Bourget scoured Europe for help, and himself founded four communities, one of which was the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary. Its first sister and reluctant co-foundress was Marie-Rose Durocher.

As a young woman, Marie-Rose had hoped there would someday be a community of teaching sisters in every parish, never thinking she would found one. But her spiritual director, Oblate of Mary Immaculate Father Pierre Telmon, after thoroughly—and severely—leading her in the spiritual life, urged her to found a community herself. Bishop Bourget concurred, but Marie-Rose shrank from the prospect. She was in poor health and her father and brother needed her.

Finally Marie-Rose agreed, and with two friends, Melodie Dufresne and Henriette Cere, entered a little home in Longueuil, across the Saint Lawrence River from Montreal. With them were 13 young girls already assembled for boarding school. Longueuil became her Bethlehem, Nazareth, and Gethsemane. Marie-Rose was 32 and would live only six more years—years filled with poverty, trials, sickness, and slander. The qualities she had nurtured in her “hidden” life came forward—a strong will, intelligence and common sense, great inner courage, and yet a great deference to directors. Thus was born an international congregation of women religious dedicated to education in the faith.

Marie-Rose was severe with herself and by today’s standards quite strict with her sisters. Beneath it all, of course, was an unshakable love of her crucified Saviour.

On her deathbed, the prayers most frequently on her lips were “Jesus, Mary, Joseph! Sweet Jesus, I love you. Jesus, be to me Jesus!” Before she died, Marie-Rose smiled and said to the sister with her, “Your prayers are keeping me here—let me go.”

Marie-Rose Durocher was beatified in 1982. Her Liturgical Feast Day is October 6.


Reflection

We have seen a great burst of charity, a genuine interest in the poor. Countless Christians have experienced a deep form of prayer. But penance? We squirm when we read of terrible physical penance done by people like Marie-Rose Durocher. That is not for most people, of course. But the pull of a materialistic culture oriented to pleasure and entertainment is impossible to resist without some form of deliberate and Christ-conscious abstinence. That is part of the way to answer Jesus’ call to repent and turn completely to God.

Saint of the Day – Oct 12

Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos

Zeal as a preacher and a confessor led Father Seelos to works of compassion as well.

Born in southern Bavaria, he studied philosophy and theology in Munich. On hearing about the work of the Redemptorists among German-speaking Catholics in the United States, he came to this country in 1843. Ordained at the end of 1844, he was assigned for six years to St. Philomena’s Parish in Pittsburgh as an assistant to Saint John Neumann. The next three years Father Seelos was superior in the same community, and began his service as novice master.

Several years in parish ministry in Maryland followed, along with responsibility for training Redemptorist students. During the Civil War Fr. Seelos went to Washington, D.C., and appealed to President Lincoln that those students not be drafted for military service, although eventually some were.

For several years, he preached in English and in German throughout the Midwest and in the Mid-Atlantic states. Assigned to St. Mary of the Assumption Church community in New Orleans, Fr. Seelos served his Redemptorist confreres and parishioners with great zeal. In 1867, he died of yellow fever, having contracted that disease while visiting the sick. He was beatified in 2000. The Liturgical Feast of Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos is October 5.


Reflection

Father Seelos worked in many different places but always with the same zeal: to help people know God’s love and compassion. He preached about the works of mercy and then engaged in them, even risking his own health.


Saint of the Day – Oct 11

Saint Pope Saint John xxiii

Born Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli at Sotto il Monte, Italy on 25 November 1881, Pope John XXIII was elected Pope on October 28, 1958. He died June 3, 1963 in Rome and was beatified by Pope John Paul II on September 3, 2000.

Angelo was the fourth child of 14, born to pious parents. His religious education was entrusted to his godfather, who instilled in him a deep love and admiration of the mystery of God.

He entered the minor seminary in 1892 at the age of 11, became a Secular Francsican in 1896 and in 1901 he entered the Pontifical Roman Seminary. On being ordained in 1904, he was appointed secretary to the bishop of Bergamo and taught in the seminary.

His great friends among the saints during this formative period were St. Charles Borromeo and St. Francis de Sales, two outstanding intellectuals and also formidable pastors.

He served as a military chaplain during the First World War, served as spiritual director of a seminary, and in 1921 served as the Italian president of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith.

In 1925 Pius XI made him a bishop and sent him to Bulgaria as the Apostolic Visitator. For his Episcopal motto he chose Oboedientia et Pax.  In 1935 he was assigned to Turkey and Greece where he ministered to the Catholic population and engaged in dialogue with Orthodox Christianity and with Islam.

During the Second World War he used his diplomatic means to save as many Jews as he could by obtaining safe passage for them. 
 
He was created cardinal and Patriarch of Venice in 1953 and was a much loved pastor, dedicating himself completely to the well being of his flock.

Elected Pope on the death of Pope Pius XII, he was an example of a ‘pastoral’ Pope, a good shepherd who cared deeply for his sheep. He manifested this concern in his social enyclicals, especially Pacem in Terris, “On peace in the World.”

His greatest act as Pope however was undoubtedly the inspiration to convoke the Second Vatican Council, which he opened on October 11, 1962.

Pope John’s spirit of humble simplicity, profound goodness, and deep life of prayer radiated in all that he did, and inspired people to affectionately call him “Good Pope John.”

He was canonized by Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Square on April 27, 2014, alongside the man who beatified him, Pope St. John Paul II.

REFLECTION FOR THE DAY

For Matthew the kingdom of God – the relationship between God and humanity – is clearly fulfilled in Jesus the Christ. Traditional aspects of feasting, of gathering in community to celebrate the intimate life-giving relationship of marriage, are allusions to oneness with Christ through the Eucharist. However, other aspects of today’s Gospel parable are shocking. Some invitees are uninterested, others obnoxious. The host responds with harshness, intolerance, dismissing those who refuse the invitation as unworthy and banishing one who arrives unprepared to perpetual suffering. How are we to understand these images in relation to the kingdom of God? It is helpful to remember that the tellers of our sacred stories bring something of themselves into their narratives. Written at least 50 years after Jesus’ death and resurrection, Matthew’s Gospel has a single focus. Its author speaks passionately of Jesus as the anticipated Messiah. Frustrated with those who disagree, perhaps Matthew uses the chilling image of isolation in darkness to shock his contemporaries into rethinking their unbelief. In Matthew’s Gospel, all are called to choose the peace and fulfillment of the kingdom of God. In doing so, all commit to celebrate Christ’s transformative love through their relationships with God, self and community.

Saint of the Day – Oct 10

Saint Francis Borgia

Francis Borgia was born October 28, 1510 in Gandia, Valencia, Spain as the son of the Duke of Gandia, the great grandson, from his father’s side, of Pope Alexander VI, the notorious Borgia pope, and from his mother’s side, the great grandson of King Ferdinand of Aragon.

Francis’ grandmother joined her daughther in a convent of Poor Clares after the death of her husband and held a pious influence in the court of the Borgia, to which Francis is indebted. It was with these two women that holiness penetrated into the scandalous lineage of the Borgia family.

Francis grew to be a pious young man, posessed of many natural gifts and a favorite at the court of Charles V.  It is recounted that one day Francis passed through Alcalá, followed by his escort, and exchanged an emotional glance with a poor man being escorted to prison by the Inquisition. This man was Ignatius of Loyola, and at this moment Francis could not have had any idea what an important role this man would play in his destiny.

In 1539 Francis was appointed Viceroy of Catalonia, and four years later, upon the death of his father, the Duke of Gandia. He built a university there, received the degree of Doctor in Theology, and invited the Jesuits to his duchy.

His wife died in 1546, and Francis entered the Society of Jesus in 1548, but was ordered by the Pope to remain in the world until he had fulfilled his obligations to his ten children and his duchy.

Two years later he left Gandia, never to return, and joined the Jesuits in Rome. He immediately set about initiating grand projects – he convinced Ignatius to found the Roman College, and a year later he left for Spain, where his preaching and example sparked a renewal of religious fervour in the country, drawing pilgrims from far and wide to hear him preach.

In 1556 he was placed in charge of all the missions of the Society, and his energetic work transformed them. He also initiated the missions to Peru, New Spain and Brazil.

He was elected as general on July 2, 1565, and although in poor health for his last years, he executed the governance and initiated projects of the Society with great energy. He introduced so many reforms to the society of Jesus that he was considered in some ways to be its second founder. Francis was a man of contemplation and action in the fullest sense, and clearly drew much strength from the silence of his prayer.

He died in Rome on September 30, 1572, in Ferrara, Spain, two days after returning from an apostolic journey to Spain.

Saint Francis Borgia is one of the great saints of the Catholic Reformation, and was canonized by Pope Clement X in 1670.

REFLECTION FOR THE DAY

Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it! Luke 11:28

How often have we heard a message in church about how we could be better people—how we could serve more, pray more, forgive more—and we all nodded our heads in agreement and thought, “What a great message! Isn’t that priest wonderful?” only to walk out of the building and conveniently shift everything we have heard to the back burners of our mind. In today’s gospel, Jesus doesn’t waste an opportunity to remind us that the messenger is not as important as the message—a message that simply invites us to listen to the word, retain the word, be doers of the word and be transformed by the word. Maybe we could say, “Yes, God, I will listen, I will live as you ask. I will have faith, God.”

Saint of the Day Oct 6

Saint Bruno

On Oct. 6, the Catholic Church commemorates Saint Bruno of Cologne, founder of the Carthusian order of monks who remain notable for their strictly traditional and austere rule of contemplative life.

Born in 1030, Bruno is said to have belonged to a prominent family in the city of Cologne. Little is known of his early years, except that he studied theology in the present-day French city of Reims before returning to his native land, where he was most likely ordained a priest in approximately 1055.

Returning to Reims the following year, he soon became head of the school he had attended there, after its director Heriman left to enter consecrated religious life in 1057. Bruno led and taught at the school for nearly two decades, acquiring an excellent reputation as a philosopher and theologian, until he was named chancellor of the local diocese in 1075.

Bruno’s time as chancellor coincided with an uproar in Reims over the behavior of its new bishop Manasses de Gournai. Suspended by the decision of a local council, the bishop appealed to Rome while attacking and robbing the houses of his opponents. Bruno left the diocese during this period, though he was considered as a possible successor to Manasses after the bishop’s final deposition in 1080.

The chancellor, however, was not interested in leading the Church of Reims. Bruno and two of his friends had resolved to renounce their worldly goods and positions and enter religious life. Inspired by a dream to seek guidance from the bishop later canonized as Saint Hugh of Grenoble, Bruno settled in the Chartreuse Mountains in 1084, joined by a small group of scholars looking to become monks.

In 1088, one of Bruno’s former students was elected as Pope Urban II. Six years into his life as an alpine monk, Bruno was called to leave his remote monastery to assist the Pope in his struggle against a rival papal claimant as well as the hostile Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV.

Bruno served as a close adviser to the Pope during a critical period of reform. Around this time, he also rejected another chance to become a bishop, this time in the Italian region of Calabria. While he obtained the Pope’s permission to return to monastic life, Bruno was required to remain in Italy to help the Pope periodically, rather than returning to his monastery in France.

During the 1090s Bruno befriended Count Roger of Sicily and Calabria, who granted land to his group of monks and enabled the founding of a major monastery in 1095. The monks were known, then as now, for their strict practice of asceticism, poverty, and prayer; and for their unique organizational form, combining the solitary life of hermits with the collective life of more conventional monks.

St. Bruno died on October 6, 1101, after making a notable profession of faith which was preserved for posterity. In this final testimony, he gave particular emphasis to the doctrine of Christ’s Eucharistic presence, which had already begun to be questioned in parts of the Western Church.

“I believe,” he attested, “in the sacraments that the Church believes and holds in reverence, and especially that what has been consecrated on the altar is the true Flesh and the true Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, which we receive for the forgiveness of our sins and in the hope of eternal salvation.”

Veneration of St. Bruno was given formal approval in 1514, and extended throughout the Latin Rite in 1623. More recently, his Carthusian Order was the subject of the 2006 documentary film “Into Great Silence,” chronicling the life of monks in the Grand Chartreuse monastery.

REFLECTION FOR THE DAY

For it was you who formed my inward parts. Psalm 139:13 Sometimes it is easy to feel insignificant. Lost in a crowd at a sporting event or mall or beach, we can feel almost invisible. Each of us is just one person among billions. How does God know me when I know only the tiniest fraction of these people? When I don’t even remember all the names of those I do know? Today, St. Paul says of himself that God, “from my mother’s womb had set me apart and called me through his grace” (Galatians 1:15).

Yes, we might respond, but he was Paul, the great evangelist. Which is why I love today’s responsorial psalm. The psalmist is testifying that none of us are small and insignificant. God knows each of us in the deepest way. He knows not just our thoughts; he knows our actions. God loved and desired each of us from the moment we were conceived. We are his. And knowing this, we can let go of our anxiety and simply rest in his love for us. Lord, help me to always remember that you chose me to be here now, doing your will.

Saint of the Day – October 5

Saint Maria Faustina

Sister Mary Faustina, an apostle of the  Divine Mercy, belongs today to the group of the most popular and well-known  saints of the Church. Through her the Lord Jesus communicates to the world the  great message of God’s mercy and reveals the pattern of Christian perfection  based on trust in God and on the attitude of mercy toward one’s neighbors.

She was born on August 25, 1905 in  Glogowiec in Poland  of a poor and religious family of peasants, the third of ten children. She was  baptized with the name Helena in the parish Church  of Swinice Warckie. From a very tender age she stood out because of her love of  prayer, work, obedience, and also her sensitivity to the poor. At the age of  nine she made her first Holy Communion living this moment very profoundly in  her awareness of the presence of the Divine Guest within her soul. She attended  school for three years. At the age of sixteen she left home and went to work as  a housekeeper in order to find the means of supporting herself and of helping  her parents.

At the age of seven she had already felt  the first stirrings of a religious vocation. After finishing school, she wanted  to enter the convent but her parents would not give her permission. Called  during a vision of the Suffering Christ, on August 1, 1925 she entered the  Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy and took the name Sister Mary  Faustina. She lived in the Congregation for thirteen years and lived in several  religious houses. She spent time working as a cook, gardener and porter.

Externally nothing revealed her rich  mystical interior life. She zealously performed her tasks and faithfully  observed the rule of religious life. She was recollected and at the same time  very natural, serene and full of kindness and disinterested love for her  neighbor. Although her life was apparently insignificant, monotonous and dull,  she hid within herself an extraordinary union with God.

It is the mystery of the Mercy of God which  she contemplated in the word of God as well as in the everyday activities of  her life that forms the basis of her spirituality. The process of contemplating  and getting to know the mystery of God’s mercy helped develop within Sr. Mary  Faustina the attitude of child-like trust in God as well as mercy toward the neighbors.  O my Jesus, each of Your saints reflects one of Your virtues; I desire to  reflect Your compassionate heart, full of mercy; I want to glorify it. Let Your  mercy, O Jesus, be impressed upon my heart and soul like a seal, and this will  be my badge in this and the future life (Diary 1242). Sister Faustina was a  faithful daughter of the Church which she loved like a Mother and a Mystic Body  of Jesus Christ. Conscious of her role in the Church, she cooperated with God’s  mercy in the task of saving lost souls. At the specific request of and  following the example of the Lord Jesus, she made a sacrifice of her own life  for this very goal. In her spiritual life she also distinguished herself with a  love of the Eucharist and a deep devotion to the Mother of Mercy.

The years she had spent at the convent were  filled with extraordinary gifts, such as: revelations, visions, hidden  stigmata, participation in the Passion of the Lord, the gift of bilocation, the  reading of human souls, the gift of prophecy, or the rare gift of mystical  engagement and marriage. The living relationship with God, the Blessed Mother,  the Angels, the Saints, the souls in Purgatory — with the entire supernatural  world — was as equally real for her as was the world she perceived with her senses.  In spite of being so richly endowed with extraordinary graces, Sr. Mary  Faustina knew that they do not in fact constitute sanctity. In her Diary she  wrote: Neither graces, nor revelations, nor raptures, nor gifts granted to a  soul make it perfect, but rather the intimate union of the soul with God. These  gifts are merely ornaments of the soul, but constitute neither its essence nor  its perfection. My sanctity and perfection consist in the close union of my  will with the will of God (Diary 1107).

The Lord Jesus chose Sr. Mary Faustina as  the Apostle and “Secretary” of His Mercy, so that she could tell the  world about His great message. In the Old Covenant — He said to her —I sent  prophets wielding thunderbolts to My people. Today I am sending you with My  mercy to the people of the whole world. I do not want to punish aching mankind,  but I desire to heal it, pressing it to My Merciful Heart (Diary 1588).

The mission of Sister Mary Faustina  consists in 3 tasks:

– reminding the world of the truth of our  faith revealed in the Holy Scripture about the merciful love of God toward  every human being.

– Entreating God’s mercy for the whole  world and particularly for sinners, among others through the practice of new  forms of devotion to the Divine Mercy presented by the Lord Jesus, such as: the  veneration of the image of the Divine Mercy with the inscription: Jesus, I  Trust in You, the feast of the Divine Mercy celebrated on the first Sunday  after Easter, chaplet to the Divine Mercy and prayer at the Hour of Mercy (3  p.m.). The Lord Jesus attached great promises to the above forms of devotion,  provided one entrusted one’s life to God and practiced active love of one’s  neighbor.

– The third task in Sr. Mary Faustina’s  mission consists in initiating the apostolic movement of the Divine Mercy which  undertakes the task of proclaiming and entreating God’s mercy for the world and  strives for Christian perfection, following the precepts laid down by the  Blessed Sr. Mary Faustina. The precepts in question require the faithful to  display an attitude of child-like trust in God which expresses itself in  fulfilling His will, as well as in the attitude of mercy toward one’s  neighbors. Today, this movement within the Church involves millions of people  throughout the world; it comprises religious congregations, lay institutes,  religious, brotherhoods, associations, various communities of apostles of the  Divine Mercy, as well as individual people who take up the tasks which the Lord  Jesus communicated to them through Sr. Mary Faustina.

The mission of the Blessed Sr. Mary  Faustina was recorded in her Diary which she kept at the specific request of  the Lord Jesus and her confessors. In it, she recorded faithfully all of the  Lord Jesus’ wishes and also described the encounters between her soul and Him.  Secretary of My most profound mystery — the Lord Jesus said to Sr. Faustina —  know that your task is to write down everything that I make known to you about  My mercy, for the benefit of those who by reading these things will be comforted  in their souls and will have the courage to approach Me (Diary 1693). In an  extraordinary way, Sr. Mary Faustina’s work sheds light on the mystery of the  Divine Mercy. It delights not only the simple and uneducated people, but also  scholars who look upon it as an additional source of theological research. The  Diary has been translated into many languages, among others, English, German,  Italian, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Arabic, Russian, Hungarian, Czech and  Slovak.

Sister Mary Faustina, consumed by tuberculosis  and by innumerable sufferings which she accepted as a voluntary sacrifice for  sinners, died in Krakow at the age of just  thirty three on October 5, 1938 with a reputation for spiritual maturity and a  mystical union with God. The reputation of the holiness of her life grew as did  the cult to the Divine Mercy and the graces she obtained from God through her  intercession. In the years 1965-67, the investigative Process into her life and  heroic virtues was undertaken in Krakow and in the year 1968, the Beatification  Process was initiated in Rome.  The latter came to an end in December 1992. On April 18, 1993 our Holy Father  John Paul II raised Sister Faustina to the glory of the altars. Sr. Mary  Faustina’s remains rest at the Sanctuary of the Divine Mercy in  Kraków-Lagiewniki.

Reflection

If I were still pleasing people, I would not be a servant of Christ. Galatians 1:10

The need for approval and the impulse to avoid conflict at all costs are temptations that many of us struggle with daily. Knowing when to speak and when to remain silent has been a lifelong learning process. I have learned that the line between self-righteous indignation and an authentic movement of the spirit is sometimes difficult to recognize. Prayer, self-knowledge and a healthy dose of humility continue to be reliable guides for me to follow.

Saint of the Day – 30 September

Saint Jerome

Most of the saints are remembered for some outstanding virtue or devotion which they practiced, but Jerome is frequently remembered for his bad temper! It is true that he had a very bad temper and could use a vitriolic pen, but his love for God and his son Jesus Christ was extraordinarily intense; anyone who taught error was an enemy of God and truth, and Saint Jerome went after him or her with his mighty and sometimes sarcastic pen.

He was above all a Scripture scholar, translating most of the Old Testament from the Hebrew. Jerome also wrote commentaries which are a great source of scriptural inspiration for us today. He was an avid student, a thorough scholar, a prodigious letter-writer and a consultant to monk, bishop, and pope. Saint Augustine said of him, “What Jerome is ignorant of, no mortal has ever known.”

Saint Jerome is particularly important for having made a translation of the Bible which came to be called the Vulgate. It is not the most critical edition of the Bible, but its acceptance by the Church was fortunate. As a modern scholar says, “No man before Jerome or among his contemporaries and very few men for many centuries afterwards were so well qualified to do the work.” The Council of Trent called for a new and corrected edition of the Vulgate, and declared it the authentic text to be used in the Church.

In order to be able to do such work, Jerome prepared himself well. He was a master of Latin, Greek, Hebrew, and Chaldaic. He began his studies at his birthplace, Stridon in Dalmatia. After his preliminary education, he went to Rome, the center of learning at that time, and thence to Trier, Germany, where the scholar was very much in evidence. He spent several years in each place, always trying to find the very best teachers. He once served as private secretary to Pope Damasus.

After these preparatory studies, he traveled extensively in Palestine, marking each spot of Christ’s life with an outpouring of devotion. Mystic that he was, he spent five years in the desert of Chalcis so that he might give himself up to prayer, penance, and study. Finally, he settled in Bethlehem, where he lived in the cave believed to have been the birthplace of Christ. Jerome died in Bethlehem, and the remains of his body now lie buried in the Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome.

Reflection

Jerome was a strong, outspoken man. He had the virtues and the unpleasant fruits of being a fearless critic and all the usual moral problems of a man. He was, as someone has said, no admirer of moderation whether in virtue or against evil. He was swift to anger, but also swift to feel remorse, even more severe on his own shortcomings than on those of others. A pope is said to have remarked, on seeing a picture of Jerome striking his breast with a stone, “You do well to carry that stone, for without it the Church would never have canonized you” (Butler’s Lives of the Saints).